Mar. 12th, 2011

Jishin

Mar. 12th, 2011 12:34 pm
Because it would be silly to waste all that typing, here's what I posted about yesterday's earthquake in my Travelpod last night. (It's here, if you want to see a couple of pictures of the things that fell on my kitchen floor).

It's unusual for me to post a super current, up-to-the minute update, but I'm mostly doing this to reassure my mother.

As you might have seen on the news, Japan was hit by an earthquake this afternoon, of a magnitude of 8.9, followed by several aftershocks.

The quake hit a bit before 3 o'clock.  I was at work, and we'd just finished sending our preschoolers home with their parents.  I stepped into the washroom, and just as I was sitting down, everything started shaking.  What is it with me and being caught with my pants down?  First the plane to Beijing, now this.

After a second or two, I heard my coworkers shouting that we should go outside.  What was I to do?  I finished my business as quickly as possible, but didn't flush, for fear the pipes might be damaged; that's how hard the earth was shaking.

I ran outside, still in my slippers -- in Japanese fashion, we never wear our outside shoes inside the school -- and joined my coworkers, along with a couple of kids who'd arrived early for their afternoon lessons, and people from nearby businesses.  One little girl had been dropped off by her mother, and she was in my coworker's arms, crying.  We took turns holding her, as much to comfort her as to calm ourselves down.

All told, the earthquake lasted... I want to say twenty to thirty seconds for the initial shaking, or at least it felt like that.  Then there were several tremors, and about thirty minutes later, another big shake, though not quite as strong as the first one.  Still, it was violent enough to send us to the parking lot beside our school's driveway, since we figured at least we were out from under the power lines there.

Of course, everyone had their cell phones out and was trying to get in touch with family and friends to make sure they were safe, but the networks were so overloaded that it took nearly an hour before some could get a signal.  Since we have wi-fi at work, I was able to send an email to my mother, because I knew she'd soon be up and would no doubt hear the news and worry about my safety.

In Japan, the school year starts in April and ends in March; today, we had a videographer at school to shoot scenes for our year-end video.  He was still around when the quake happened, and later he told us that he'd been living in Kobe in 1996 when the big earthquake hit.  "I seriously thought I was dead," he told us.  "Lots of people in the buildings around mine were.  Compared to that... this wasn't so bad."

Never have I been so glad I live within walking distance from work.  The trains have all stopped running, and thousands of people are stuck waiting at various stations.  Passing by Kichijouji Station on the way, home, we saw the queue at the taxi stand stretch all the way around the corner, and figured some people would be waiting for hours.

I've got the tv on as I write this, and they're showing videos from all over: chunks of the ceiling crashing to the floor in Ibaraki Airport; a tsunami sweeping storage containers, cars, boats, and even buildings inland near Sendai; office workers grabbing onto desks; workers at a supermarket preparing food boxes for distribution; a ship being driven against a breakwater; piles of debris from the tsunami along a street in Iwate Prefecture; an oil refinery in Chiba burning into the night, the flames reaching skyward and lighting up the clouds.

Tsunami warnings have been issued for nearly the whole coastline of the Japan, as well as for other nations around the Pacific rim.  Phone lines are down, large areas are without electricity (Tokyo, or at least my part of it, has been spared), and the trains won't be running for a while yet.  Imagine: Shinjuku Station on a Friday night is bad enough when the trains are on schedule, but now, with no way for all those people to get home?

When I made it home, I was relieved to find that due to my kitchen floor being some sort of thick linoleum, the bottles that had toppled from the top shelves hadn't broken.  The only damage was to a tea cup that now has a tiny chip on the rim, and my bottle of Thai chili sauce that leaked a bit; either I hadn't screwed the cap back on properly, or it was dislodged when it hit the floor.  Apart from that, a couple of things fell of the shelves in my room, but that's it.

Tabitha was hiding under the computer desk when I got home, and didn't come out until I'd called her several times.  Her tail was all puffed up, poor thing, but it wasn't long before she was her old self again, meowing for her dinner and demanding affection.  She's curled up on my lap now, no doubt content that her little world is back to normal.

I just felt a little tremor.  Apparently, we're to expect them for the next couple of days, perhaps even strong ones.  It still feels unreal to me.  I don't come from a part of the world that's prone to earthquakes, and until today, the strongest one I'd ever felt was within my first two weeks in Japan, an earthquake in the sea a ways out from Tokyo, a 4.5 that had the bookcases in my fifth-floor room swaying back and forth.  This was much stronger than that, and really felt like turbulence on an airplane, though the motion was side to side instead of up and down.

The main thought going through my mind as the ground shook was that there was a  fundamental wrongness to the situation.  Because if the earth won't stay firm beneath your feet, what can you trust?
Today has been unexpectedly productive. It's almost as though time has stretched out, allowing me to get more stuff done! Or maybe I just didn't waste my day in front of the computer, is all. XD I spoke to my parents on Skype, scrubbed the toilet (including the floor around it!), went out for lunch with Kimberly, studied Chinese and Japanese for a couple of hours, did laundry, washed the window sill in my room (this required going at it with a toothbrush, and sloshing water all over the place, to get two years' worth of dust and dirt out from between the runners), got groceries, cooked pasta, posted on Travelpod, and did some general tidying up. To add another item to the list, here are some book reviews. Six books so far in 2011, not bad! Did I even read six books in 2010? I can't say that I did. Major fail, self. -__-;;;

A spoiler warning is rather unnecessary, as I don't go into much detail, but you never know. Have you read any of these? Please discuss!

Canada from west to east: Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw )

Spies and volcanoes: The Vesuvius Club )

The fifth installment in the Nightrunner series: The White Road )

A Russian classic redone as a comic book: Le joueur )

Creepy and short: Smoke and Mirrors )

Further adventures of the Gentlemen Bastards: Red Seas Under Red Skies )

All right, that's enough. I've got some hooking* to do.

* That's crochet-wielding, for you non-crafty types. XD

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