Whoaaaa ooohh ooohh ohhh! (Sorry, my singing leaves a little to be desired).
Things are slowly returning to normal here. Everyone’s a little spooked about the radioactive foods but determined to get on with things now that it’s been determined we’re not going to be nuked at any second. I’m still erring on the side of caution, like not opening my windows and trying to stay inside.
But all of this has taken a bit of a toll on me mentally. I actually had a dream where radioactivity was coming towards Tokyo, and the way to save yourself was to drink a bottle of nail polish. In the dream, you could see the radioactive particles and one particle would disappear if you drank a bottle of polish. I remember being happy in my dream that I had so much polish in the house. My guy grabbed a bottle of Nubar to drink and destroy a radioactive particle that got stuck to him, and I snatched it out of his hand and gave him China Glaze Blue Sparrow instead, because it’s too sheer and gritty. I didn’t want to waste a good bottle of Nubar when an unfavorite cheaper China Glaze would do the trick!
I’m scared to think of the subconcious processes that created that dream. Probably something pretty messed up!
Although the media has moved on, there is still a lot of need in Japan. The cleanup has not really even begun yet, and almost half a million people are still in shelters and evacuation centers. Entire villages and towns are destroyed and the number of dead has not been finally tallied.
Now, I’m painting nails like mad for my Etsy shop, from which I’m donating all profits in March and April (and possibly beyond) to earthquake/tsunami relief. I’ve selected a variety of good causes, including Red Cross International and UNICEF. There are also some more localized charities helping out people and pets affected by the disaster, including a large foreign run animal shelter, ARK. They are taking in homeless pets and caring for them until they can be reunited with their owners after homes are rebuilt. I have worked with them and donated to them before, and they’re doing a great job that very few people in Japan are undertaking. Of course humans are the priority, but for people who have lost their house and all worldly goods, I’m sure having their animals taken care until they’re back on their feet will be a great relief. I wish there was more I could do but the area is simply not ready for volunteers of any kind, especially foreign ones.
Though it’s not over yet, I can say I’ve learned a few things from these events:
1. If you’re living outside your home country, DO NOT let your exit visa/re-entry permit/green card expire. You will not be able to get the documentation you need to leave quickly enough, and lots of other unprepared folks will be needing the same things you are. Instead of leaving and being able to return easily, you might not be able to get back in. This could make you reluctant to leave even when you should be running like mad.
2. You may think you’re staying calm, but really, you’re not. You’ll get the shakies AFTER it’s all over. Expect to be surprised by the heebie-jeebies at very inopportune times, and count on your concentration being wrecked for quite some time. Also, in the case of earthquakes, you will probably dive under the table every time you feel an aftershock. At least for a while.
3. Listen to news sources from at least 3 different countries if you can. I found the most factual and useful to be the daily updates from the US Embassy in Tokyo. The host country may underplay the news to avoid panic, and US sources will overplay to get viewers. Try to find a source that has as little bias as possible. Good luck with this. Don’t watch FOX News. Ever. For any reason.
4. Keep enough cash in the house and gas in your vehicle to get yourself to safety. Know where shelters or safe areas are. A whole bunch of folks on the street in a panic can be just as dangerous as an earthquake. The Japanese were super-calm and just waited outside in an orderly fashion, but the people were wall-to-wall. It wouldn’t take much to start a real panic and trampling.
5. Know how to get home or to a nearby shelter on foot or by bike. Public transport generally has to shut down in a real emergency. Lots of folks, including myself, had a 7+ hour walk from our downtown offices to our homes in the suburbs.
6. Your mobile phone will most likely be useless. You may not have a way to recharge it easily, so make sure you know or write down any important phone numbers you may need if your phone goes dead.
7. Ladies who wear uncomfortable shoes to work: Keep a pair of sneakers or good walking shoes in your desk or car where you can access them if you have to move quickly. I was never gladder to have a spare pair of Vans sneeks in my bag than when I had to make a sudden trek across Tokyo.
I know, this advice sounds somewhat paranoid. I would have thought the same thing until I went through all this. I was most grateful for comfy shoes, having proper visa documentation (unlike some people I know ::ahem:: Mr. NeverTooMuchGlitter) and knowing how to walk home from downtown.
And, of course, a great big thanks once again to everyone for all your kind words and concern. It looks like we’ve made it through OK this time. I think this will be my last newsy-type update and I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled frankening and nail art ASAP.