We’re doing okay in Oyama

I originally wanted to make a short video explaining what life’s been like the past few days so those who haven’t seen us since the quake (via Skype, of course) could see that we’re doing well.  But, we’re still trying to conserve electricity so I’m typing this from a charged laptop and only one light on in the apartment.  Not optimal video settings.

But, here’s a video I took yesterday while we were out:

TEPCO, the company that provides electricity to Oyama, Tokyo, and everywhere(?) in Japan as asked consumers to limit use as much as possible so they can restore power to the areas that need it.  If enough energy isn’t conserved in a given day, they’ll implement rolling blackouts.  Our schedule is 3 hours sometime in the morning, and from 6:20-10 p.m.  We’re into day two of the blackouts and have yet to experience any; Oyama seems to be conserving pretty well.

Past 24 hours
Anyway, we’re doing fine.  I had a bit of a freakout last night after reading article after article about the nuclear power plants and all of the destruction in general.  On top of that, we had tremors through the night again so, like Friday, I didn’t sleep much.  I was woken up by a notification on the iPad: a New York Times headline proclaiming, “Nuclear meltdown eminent in Japan.”  As you can imagine, I wasn’t in such a great mood.  Last night I felt overwhelmed in general about all of this.

Then, I had work all day.  Between playing with kindergardeners, goofing around with my elementary students, and asking my adult students how they’ve been the past few days I can say my fears have been allayed.

Oyama lies on top of a pretty solid piece of bedrock. If you didn’t see my first post about the quake, we’re 170 miles from Fukushima/Sendai, 140 miles from the power plant; we’re inland bordered by mountains and river, so no real threat of a tsunami.

We also live in a strongly-built building in a country with rigorous earthquake prevention.

A bit of anxiety
All in all, I feel safe.  The tremors/small quakes are still really unsettling (particularly when I’m sleeping), but nothing falls over.  We shake for a few seconds and it stops.  The worst part is the anxiety: not knowing whether or not it’s a full-blown quake like Friday’s.

As for raditation risks, #1 I’m from Staten Island – home to the world’s largest (now closed) dump. I worked at a bakery bordering a swamp area with posted signs not to enter the area.  #2 It may not seem like it from the news coverage, but I can’t stress enough that our immediate area is okay. Not all of Japan looks like what you’re seeing in the papers and on TV.  Having worked in the news business, I can tell you that top priority is not the people that are okay.  Sure, it’s great they’re doing fine (which is a LOT of Japan, even though you’re not seeing it), but everyone wants information about the destruction, so that’s what you get.

Our biggest problems are the possibility of no electricity, it’s difficult to find bread and milk, and convenience stores aren’t as well stocked on food as usual.  Obviously places are sold out of candles and batteries and the like, but so far there hasn’t been a pressing need for them.

A cute story
Foremost, I’d like you to know that, as far as we know, all my students and their families are okay.  All my students came in smiling as normal, except for the troublemakers, who were their normal class-disrupting selves.  Since the school is open during the proposed blackout time, I had two flashlights in class in case the power cut out.  10 minutes before it was supposed to start, Chinatsu, a 10-year-old girl in my class, tried to explain the blackout to me in English.  Just then, Leo, an elementary school boy also in the class smiled and reached into his bag.  Out he pulled a lantern in the shape of Mike from Monsters, Inc.


About Michelle

I lived in Japan for a year & a half teaching English. Now I'm blogging about learning to cook in NYC.
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