I imagine that everybody in the world knows about the horrific events that have been going on here in Japan. Before I talk about my own experiences, I urge you to donate anything you can to help the people who were hit hardest. My older brother works for an NGO which promotes Japan-US international relations, The Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA). They have partnered with the Center for Public Resources Development (CPRD) to launch the Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund. They have put together an ambitious and powerful multi-part plan to assist those in immediate dire need now, and also to help rebuilding efforts in the weeks and years ahead.
Thank you to all of you who have written to me here or on FaceBook out of concern for my safety. My wife and I are unhurt. Miraculously, so are most or all of my friends and acquaintances. At least as far as I've been able to track down.
I've been through a number of Earthquakes since coming here - it's an inevitability living in Japan. This, however was unlike anything I've experienced, both in strength and duration. It began like any minor tremor, shaking the apartment gently and giving my wife and I time to calmly ask each other if we should do anything. And then it started to build. And build. It lasted so long that we had time to grab coats and shoes and turn off the gas space heater and run out of the house, all while the ground was still shaking.
The first couple of aftershocks would have been major earthquakes in their own right. By that point, we and a couple neighbors had gathered in a nearby park to try and calm down. The windows in the parks buildings were vibrating so much they looked like rippling water.
Since then, the aftershocks have kept everyone frazzled and on-edge for days. They have lessened in both power and frequency, but that only makes them more surprising when they strike. Like the minor one at 5 this morning which had me leaping out of bed and halfway out the door by the time I realized it was already over. I never knew a person could feel scared and foolish at the same time.
All of which is nothing compared to the horror of the quake and tsunami up north nearer the epicenter.
I don't know what is going to happen in the days ahead. My original plan was to post more artwork from my recent shows over the upcoming weeks. For the moment, that doesn't seem likely. The rolling blackouts, panic shopping (there's very little food left on the shelves), the alarming situation at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, and a dozen other things all add up to a lot of uncertainty and anxiety.
If I get the chance, and you are receptive, I'll try to share a little more of this ... experience. (For example, we just had another little tremor).
F.Michael Kloran is a friend from the local SCBWI. He is unfortunate enough to be in Sendai right now, one of the cities hit worst by the quake. The photos and words he provides in his blog give a vivid picture of what has been happening near the epicenter. It is frightening. And the fortitude he and the people around him have been showing is humbling.
Most importantly, GIVE