MARCH 11, 2011
It's been more than a month since the earthquake, for most of us here, it felt like Armageddon. I wrote this entry back then while it's still fresh on my mind so I wouldn't forget.
My day began badly; I missed the train by a hair strand. The next one doesn’t come until in another 10 minutes. S%$#!!! Okay keep calm, they're gonna cut you some slack, you’re always early for work. Run forest, run!!! Made it! As I open the door of my English classroom, the class for my first period comes parading in the hallway. Phew!!!! Big smile, good morning kids!!!
20 minute recess. My translation time, students come to my classroom to help me read the kanji characters of my favorite book Candy Candy Final Story. School nurse knocks, reminding me of the nomi-nication (drinking ‘communication’ party) the school staff will be having tonight. Oh that, yeah I almost forgot. I usually don’t forget but this one slipped my mind.
4th period finished. No time to eat lunch. Otsukaresama de****a! Off to my son’s International Class gathering. Bought 1 salmon onigiri (rice ball) and ate in the station.
1:20 p.m. (Yamato E.S. my son's school)
Inside the home economics room. My son gives the opening speech. On with the program, kids take turns with their presentation. Some play the recorder (flute) and some recite poems and tells stories. This special class is made for foreign children studying in the school. They would get one on one lessons with a Japanese teacher then go back to their homerooms after one period. Th class is made up of children coming mostlty from Latin America, Peru, Brazil, Honduras and Chile. Some Chinese and a few Asians coming from the Philippines and Vietnam. The teacher Mrs. Kawamoto is the best. Very sweet; has the patience and virtues of Confucius.
2: 00 p.m.
After the presentation, we began cooking a Peruvian dish (forgot the name in Spanish; it’s stir a fried beef and veggies with lots of potatoes) Smells really yummy! Stomach growls. Hungry… Table is set, utensils washed and food and drinks are served. Te awasete kudasai. Itadakimasu! (Let’s put our hands together. Let’s eat!)
We all ducked beneath the tables. The teas and drinks spilled from the cups. Dishes and the window panes made rattling sounds. The tv shakes from the stand. We were rocked like a boat in giant waves, and we are in the first floor!!!
The principal announces to evacuate the building and stay calm. Less than 5 mins the whole school was in the center off the oval grounds. As drilled, the teachers and students go to their designated places, important files and supplies are carried. Emergency helmets worn and head counts are reported. As the principal gives his instructions another tremor shakes the ground.
This time we see the school from the outside. The glass windows wobble, looking like they’re about to break. The night light towers wave from side to side. The trees shivered. The earth beneath us took our balance. We all sat because we couldn’t stand up straight. This time the children began to cry. The principal announces calmly; it’s a magnitude 5.9, the epicenter 8.9.
The city disaster control announcement system echoes thru the air. Keep calm. Turn off the gas and wait for further instructions. I noticed that the cars are also stopping. They must have felt it too. Sound of sirens screaming followed. Fire trucks racing, ambulance speeding and patrol cars and police motorbikes are on the move.
Parents began to file in the gates. The teachers meet and began preparing for the next step. Some students have their house keys left in the classroom, brave teachers came back in to get it. Not a good idea I thought, but they made it back. The kids cheered. The students lined up to their designated route groups. 6th grade leaders account for the members of their area. The parents are let in, and lined up I front of their children’s evacuation groups. It’s amazing how smoothly all things went. People know exactly what to do and where to go.
Oh my God. Thank you! If I’m at work I’ll probably die of worry.
This is exactly why I turned down a promotion last year. Better pay and benefits, but my schools are an hour and a half away from my home and near the beach. Beautiful city of Chigasaki、the home for the rich and famous of Japan. I don’t know if the tsunami hit them or not. Hopefully no.
I felt nauseous just thinking about the possibility of being stranded miles and miles away and no way to get to my son. I am here now. Thank you Jehovah. I reached for my mobile phone. No signal. I dialed, no network coverage.
My cat! Michan. The Philippines. They must be very sacred. Another tremor shakes us. Not as strong as before but still very scary. We were given the go signal to go home. I looked at Hiroshi. He is calm but kept repeating our cat’s name.
Our house is just a 2 minutes walk from the school. The neighbors gathered in the center of the small street with their pets and bags. They welcomed us, with relieved faces. It was then that I noticed we were still wearing aprons and slippers. Hiroshi hurriedly opened the door calling out, “Sparky! Sparky!” No sign of the cat. I took our water canteens and filled it with water. Next I grabbed my bag of passports, bankbooks and petty cash. Tsk tsk, Michan is right. I am now grateful for his constant nagging to keep our family documents together. I told my son to get our jackets (we left our jackets at school). I took the cat’s basket; just in case he shows up I’ll lock him up and take him with us.
Still unprepared. No food to carry with me. Another tremor. We better move out.
The neighbors huddled close to keep warm, miniature dachshunds and golden retrievers squirmed in their leashes. Their owners asked us about our kitty and assured us that he’ll be back soon.
No signs of tremors, so we decided to go back indoors. Hiroshi asked me if he can stay outside and play. Are you crazy?! Absolutely N- O. No !!! Some kids are crying and he wanted to play? Arghh!!!! Vein pops. Note to self. Need to check his temperature, maybe he has a fever and it reached his brain.
Back inside, I surveyed the damage. Not much but a few broken dishes. My cupboards are earthquake proof. I smirked, better safe than sorry. All the yen I spent on those safety bars and glass films paid off.
I turned on the tv. Holy crap. The earthquake is all over Japan!!!
I opened my computer. Facebook! They must be online. My page has two messages already. First is from Albert Ardlay, then my sister and my dear Greek friend Thekla. The first one is my favorite prince, whoever you are in real life; I’m really touched that you worried about me.
I tried to call my family again, still no signal. Then the deluge of messages came in.
My Candy sisters, college buddies, farm town neighbors, highschool and gradeschool classmates, friends and relatives and more have seen the news and wrote to my wall.
I too watched in horror as tsunami hit the shores. The aftershocks are scary, I began to worry if it’s normal to have it last this long.
I lost track of the time. I began to feel dizzy. At first I thought it’s because we’ve been shaking for a while, then I realized, I haven’t had a real lunch yet.
My son saw me massage my forehead. He made me some coffee. I sipped and smiled. Too sweet! I winced but drank in the liquid sugar anyway.
It was funny how he reacted, he was more calm than I and began cleaning the mess. Rearranging the books and the DVD’s that fell.
I’m glad the internet and the power are still on. I have a way of letting my loved ones know that we are okay. Japan’s Crisis control kicked in but they couldn’t do much for the commuters stranded in the train stations including Mitsuhiro. I called my Japanese side of the family, all okay but a little scared.
I e-mailed Michan thru facebook and finally got a reply. He’s okay. Good. I let out a loud sigh. Something nudged my foot. Sparky! My cat is back!!!! Group hug with Sparky, Hiroshi and I.
We locked the door and stayed indoors. Keeping a mental note on what we might need. I was afraid to use the stove so we just settled for some peanut butter sandwich. After eating I felt a lot better.
Time. 9:30 pm.
Aftershocks still shake the house a little every 20 minutes.
I asked my son to take a bath, he was scared so I agreed that he only needed to brush his teeth and wash his face. I tucked him in and took with me a pillow and a blanket. I’m going to keep a vigil tonight, or so I thought. I laid on the couch for a while and dozed off.
An alarming chimes coming the live telecast woke me up. Another earthquake is coming on the following areas Gunma Ken…… Tokyo, Kanagawa Ken… that’s us. I got up and waited. Shaking, okay, not bad. Just a 5.6.
I went online again. My friend Thekla kept me calm the whole time. Friends all over popped in to chat and kept me entertained. It’s all good. Then Thekla relayed me a link on the Chernobyl disaster. I shuddered. More news came in about the dangers as the radiation levels surges at Japan’s earthquake stricken nuclear reactors.
The night was late and I decided to lie down with the tv on. The warning sounds kept on buzzing followed by the aftershocks. My spider senses tells me it’s okay so I just kept snoozing.
We survived the night. The news hasn’t changed much. The aftershocks and the tsunami alerts are yet to calm down.
Separate names with a comma.