Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The new normal in Japan and at Home

It’s closing in on a week since tectonic plates moved Japan eight feet to the west in what is now classified as a magnitude 9.0 earthquake followed by a 30 foot tsunami.

The initial relief of “OK it’s over, lets move on,” didn’t even have a half-life. This disaster started as the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan, went on to cause a wall of water that tore a 6 kilometer path in the north, and is now posing a threat to poison thousands more with radiation from a failing nuclear power plant.

This is the new normal for everyone in Japan, including my family who is currently living there. It’s also a new normal for me, who is currently half a world away, unable to get there for at least another week. Why not drop everything and just go? Well, I was originally scheduled to go and stay about this time anyway. There’s a lot to do when you are leaving the country for a fair bit of time.

So, my new normal is based on a few things: Skype, TweetDeck, cable news and online news streams from Japan. I follow the story best I can without becoming obsessed. I talk to my kids every morning before they go to school, and stay up late so I can see them when they get home from school as well. At the moment they are on their own a lot because their dad, understandably is working a lot of overtime. I like that I can be there with them to be sure they are ok, ask them about their day, and make sure that they are eating.

The base is making its best effort to have relatively normal operations, although many activities have been cancelled. Kids are still going to school, but sports activities are currently suspended. Mandated standardized testing however is not. So as these kids watch disaster relief stream through their base and hear about the possibility of radiation plumes, they also get to be sure to use a Number 2 Pencil and avoid making stray marks on the page.

Meanwhile, I am making lists of things to get done before I leave, finding foster care for my pets and wondering what will happen next.

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