the shit that i do at 7:48 on a saturday morning:

go downstairs to the garage
tiptoe past the people sleeping on the couch
assess the remnants of last night
empty half drunk beer bottles
make piles of 1. recyclable 2. unopened
throw away the contents of a very full ashtray
and hide the evidence
put the dishes away, wash them
(so my mom doesn't have a passive aggressive fit)
contemplate what to make for breakfast
(but we don't have any decent food in the fridge anyway
so fuck it i'll just wait to get something for lunch)
realize how i'm the only one up
and try to go back to bed but
the sun is already out so i just
get on the computer
worry about not having work in 2 weeks
wonder how i can just stop thinking about depressing things i cannot change
remember to enjoy the goddamn weekend
and forget the existence of monday.

oh when the june gloom burns off

it's nothing but sunny skies
and free time
the perfect equation for crazy.

how quickly i've gotten used to life back at home
and how much further away 2 months ago is
and the things i used to concern myself with.

shit happens even when you have no agenda
and no expectations for the day ahead.

chilling in the garage

on my sister's 21st birthday
while she goes to celebrate being able to buy alcohol
and me not wanting to intrude on her newly legalized drunken exploits
with her friends i have nothing in common with anymore
here is where i am instead.

i listen to music i've heard a billion times before
and lean back in the old computer chair
on top of the plastic table someone brought for a party but never bothered to pick up later
i go on my laptop and look at stupid pictures on the internet
and then i open the door to cold night air in
and the dog comes in and eventually falls asleep on the floor, snoring her ass off
and mom is upstairs already asleep so she can wake up early for work
and i don't have to be anywhere in particular tomorrow or have to wake up at a certain time
and the time ticks by very slowly
and outside of the door is it night time
and there my sister is, somewhere
and i am here
not doing much at all
at the ripe old age of 25.

officially a month after i've returned from

japan and the philippines, and being back home is starting to feel normal again, even though i still have these bouts of disbelief. did i really go halfway around the world for more than a year? did i really do all those things i wrote about? somehow being back here kind of erases all of that... like i never went anywhere. like i'm back in april of 2010 with no real direction except for the here and now.

it's a lazy sunday afternoon on memorial day weekend and the house is kind of stifling. i always want to go somewhere else, find some stimuli elsewhere, get the brain going. but at the moment there's not much to be done, no particular place to go.

even though today isn't exceptionally eventful, it's been a productive month back thus far. i've (almost) secured a summer job, i've been going to the gym regularly, i'm even training to run a 5k next saturday. went on a short norcal road trip last weekend. i've reunited with almost all of my friends and family and tried to spend time with them in meaningful ways to be a better sister/friend/cousin/niece/daughter.

actually, it's a golden time for me right now. i have enough money from working in japan to last me a few months and i'm just taking it day by day, not even planning to do a whole lot, just enjoying california living at the end of may... beautiful weather, it's almost unfair.

good things can't last though, a day will come when all of this ceases to exist.

but for now...

after being away from home for so long

you start to idealize the place to a point where you think nothing can go wrong here. home is where friends and family live, home is where all things familiar surround you. should be comforting being here again. but when you come back you gradually realize more and more every day that things are exactly as you left them. the problems, the skewed relationships, the insecurity. all of it still remains.

maybe you think it's time to go somewhere else and start anew, get away from this place again. it's only been a little over a week but already things aren't turning out as you thought they would. no, things aren't that easy just because you left for a year.

but what if you did leave home again? you'd always come back. you can't help it. you need to be here, something (or someone) makes you stay.

then you think yeah, you need to create a routine. that'll make you feel better. work out again, get the blood going, eat healthier. start writing, yeah, you've always been putting that off even though it's your supposed passion. start studying, find a job you deserve. wake up at a decent time in the morning, go to bed before midnight. get back into it, just like everyone else.

you miss the life you used to lead not too long ago, but you know there's no going back. not now, maybe not ever. you wonder how long it'll take to feel a semblance of the comfort you used to feel back then.

which way should you go from here? what do you do now?

you wish you knew...

Japan 337

my last day in japan (for now.) the taxi drive to akita airport was 3 hours, and it was the most terrifying ride of my life. not only was i stuck in a small space with my cousin and friend in the back along with the stuff we could salvage, we were caught in what looked like a horrible horrible snow blizzard!! i had NEVER seen the amount of snow fall from the sky that i did that night... it seemed to blow in sideways, and along with the snow came this fog that made visibility even less than before. our taxi driver, luckily, was driving really safe, though i was still really freaked out because the roads were narrow, our car was heavy, we were driving on windy mountain roads and it was hard to see what was ahead of us. i was so happy i wasn't sitting in the front where my friend was sitting, she had to experience all that in full! i TRIED to sleep, but every time i closed my eyes i just felt even more stressed out, so for the whole three hours i was wide awake, making sure that we didn't die at the next corner (though i'm not sure what me staying awake would have done to help, sigh.) there was even a point where the taxi driver had to stop and get out of the car to check a sign he just passed to make sure we were still going the right way. man, akita doesn't PLAY with all that damn snow... and it's the middle of march!? WHAT. THE. HELL.

the trouble wasn't over once we arrived at akita airport either. it was 3 in the morning, and we neglected to think about whether or not the airport would actually be OPEN. there was NO ONE around, and our flight wasn't until 7:35, and we had no idea when they would start letting people in. what with the snow still going crazy, there was no where for us to take shelter until the airport opened! and so, the taxi driver made a call to his company, and he actually STAYED with us THE WHOLE TIME!! the airport opened at 6am, we soon found out from workers trickling in, and i couldn't believe him when he kept saying "daijoubu, daijoubu!" (i'm okay, i'm okay!) he even kept the car running the whole time so we could keep warm. let me stress this again, FOR THREE HOURS he kept the car running! and gas is so hard to come by these days, we couldn't believe what he was doing for us. it was amazing the generosity of this man... we didn't know if he had a family back home to attend to, or how freaked out he might have been by driving us through that blizzard... all in all we were just floored by his actions and decided to leave him a very very fat tip when we finally got out.

we spent the 3 hours outside the airport doing nothing except talking about how freaked out we were driving over there, and about the whole situation in japan and having to leave home early in a way we really didn't want to. as we talked, a bunch of bulldozers drove around our car, as they worked to push all the snow out of the way. some of the bulldozers came incredibly close to our car, freaking me out even further! i don't think i've been this stressed for such a prolonged period of time... needless to say i stayed up the entire night and didn't get one wink of sleep until later...

once those long three hours passed, he dropped us off at the entrance and then we left him an extra 10,000 yen (like $100+tip!) at first he wouldn't take it but we didn't let him give it back to us. he deserved it for what he did for us, and finally he accepted and left. inside the airport were some other foreigners leaving the country, and they talked to us about the escalating nuclear situation, which strangely made me feel relieved that we were leaving when we did... it would only get worse from here on out trying to leave the country...

and so we began flight 1 of 4 out of akita airport. this flight only took an hour but i don't remember any of it as i slept the entire time. when i woke up, we were in tokyo. at this point my cousin and i had to say goodbye to my two friends who were going their separate ways to LAX. i knew i'd see them again in the future, and by that point i was all out of tears and was just too exhausted for a long winded goodbye, so we laughed and promised to see each other very soon. thus began the next leg of our journey... i got some onigiri for my cousin and i to eat for breakfast, and shortly after we caught our next flight out of tokyo to fukuoka.

fukuoka seems like a nice city... it's in the very southern part of japan, completely unaffected by the earthquake and tsunami. we had a 7 hour layover here, but i didn't care, i was just happy to be out of tohoku. we spent the time eating lunch (sigh, the last time i would use japanese for a long time), then buying some last minute souvenirs for my uncle who would be putting us up in the philippines, and exchanging some cash for pesos. the rest of the time we just sat and waited for the ticket counter to open. when it finally did, and when we were finally able to board the plane, i rested a bit easier... only one more flight left.

we landed in seoul, and i thought we were almost home-free. little did i know that we had a whole mess of other crap to deal with. first of all, our connection time was less than an hour. second, we had to go through security again, with the most evil security nazi ever as he demanded to check everyone's tickets and passports again. third, we had to go to the other side of the terminal to pick up our boarding passes (as we were switching airlines as well), which involved an underground train and way too many escalators and people in our way. and once we finally got there, out of breath and sweating, we found another obstacle... they wouldn't give us our boarding passes until they had proof that we were leaving the philippines. and that meant having a paper copy of our tickets out of the country for april 29th, which we didn't have! all we had was my cousin's ipod touch, and we could check our itinerary from there, but all it gave us was an itinerary number, not the ticket number they needed. the attendants made a bunch of phone calls, and when it seemed that we couldn't take anymore, they managed to get our numbers somehow... and we were allowed on the plane. without a second to lose either, cause at that moment, people were starting to board.

my cousin was very shaken up once she got on the plane, and i was tired beyond belief. after all our trouble, i couldn't believe all the unexpected problems that came up. still, i was happy it was our last flight, and we'd be in the philippines soon. it was our longest flight too... 4 hours, and we sat right behind a crying baby, sigh. but somehow, we arrived in manila, and we soon got through customs and were waiting for our things to go through the baggage carousel. at this point, my stomach didn't feel well.. maybe it was the crappy airline food or whatever, but things didn't sit well. but over time i started feeling better, and once we were actually able to LEAVE the airport (filipinos don't line up, haha) and i spotted my uncle who was there to pick us up, we both breathed a huge sigh of relief... it was 30 minutes past midnight, and after a whole day of traveling, we made it to manila.

Japan 336

my friends got up at 3am as scheduled, and i said a teary goodbye to them as they got picked up in front of my place by another friend to go to the airport in akita. it would be a 3 hour drive for them, and a long journey after that. i was really sad to see one of my friends go, we had been together since the beginning! trained together in april last year, and she was my first friend in japan. i hope that i would see her again one day...

after they left i couldn't sleep. i stayed up and read the news, trying to see what would be the best option for my cousin and i. i decided that maybe we should leave... anyway, there wasn't anything for us to do in morioka not being able to volunteer, and supplies were running low here. life had become very stressful just staying in my apartment, and i was set to leave japan soon anyway. the only thing that kept me from leaving was saying goodbye to all my good friends here in iwate. i couldn't just leave without seeing them all in person... i felt like i was abandoning them, just when the situation was really bad. but family and friends back home were urging me to leave, and what else could i do? i stayed up til 6, and then i decided to sleep a little bit more and figure it out in the morning...

at 10, my cell phone rang. it was one of my friends, who told me through tears that she was leaving japan tonight, and she was taking another one of her friends with her. the pressure from home was getting to be too intense, and even though she didn't want to go, her family was her priority... she then asked me if my cousin and i wanted to go with her. they were planning on getting a taxi all the way to akita airport, and even though it would cost about 300,000yen for the whole ride, splitting it amongst the four of us wouldn't be that bad. it was the only way out of the city, since all the trains and buses weren't running that far, and going by regular car would be impossible as it was hard to gather enough gas. i REALLY didn't know what to do when she said that, so i told her i'd call her back. i talked to one of my best friends here on skype to make my decision... he had been stuck in kitakami this whole time, and couldn't get to morioka this whole time to see us. he told me that maybe it was best if i go home... the situation was getting dire and my family would feel better about it. i was leaving anyway, right? after he said that, i made up my mind... i had to get my cousin and i out of the country, now. and if i had the opportunity to leave with other friends, i better take it. it was the hardest decision i had to make.

directly after deciding this, my cousin started to take stuff off my apartment walls. i got my aunt on skype and managed to book a way out of here. i decided we had to go to the philippines earlier than scheduled, so we ended up with 4 flights to manila... akita to tokyo to fukuoka to seoul to manila!! but it was the only one i could find at the time, as it turned out so many other people were trying to get out of the country. it didn't matter, as long as we were on our way out. it was an expensive ticket, but we were lucky to book it. i canceled all our hotels that we planned for kansai, and then i called my boss and told him i was cutting my contract early, which i knew wouldn't be a problem since school was already over and many other of my co-workers had left already. he told me he understood, and then he said "you did a good job, stacey..." at that point i started to choke up, and then i told him quickly i was going to get as much stuff as i could out of my apartment but the rest i'd leave up to my head teacher, another one of my good friends, who was to remain in morioka.

after a solid two hours of these phone calls to my company, to my uncle in the philippines and various friends and family members and hurriedly packing our things, i took a quick look around my apartment and realized it was just like no one had ever lived in it. all the memories i had in this place came flooding back and i couldn't believe i was leaving so soon, already! i also couldn't believe what time it was already, 3pm. my friend came to the apartment to help me pack, and then we went to sundance, our favorite bar, to drop off all the extra food and water we had collected when we thought we were going to stay in morioka. the people working at the bar would be driving to the coast that weekend to bring people supplies. at least through all this, we were able to help other people by sending them these supplies. i was happy to help, in the very small way i could.

next we went to the morioka office of our company to settle the problem of my friend's car (she had one on lease from our company) and to see some other friends in town... they were amazed that the 4 of us were leaving TONIGHT, and we decided that we should have a little goodbye party at our favorite bar before we left...

after leaving the office, we went back to my friend's apartment to drop off more of my boxes (she would send them through the post office when they began to send packages again, so i left her money), and then back to my apartment to do a quick once-over before leaving. all of our things were practically packed, and i made a list to give to my friend telling her who to give my things to. at my apartment, one of my friends just got out of work, so he cycled over to my place to say a last goodbye to me. i couldn't stand all of these goodbyes, especially to him, as he was one of my very good friends in morioka and we've always had good times together. he even helped me to arrange our cab out of morioka and to akita. i couldn't help it, as i said goodbye to him i cried a lot, i truly didn't want to leave like this, but he understood and told me that his girlfriend would be at the goodbye party to say goodbye to me also.

after he left, my two friends, my cousin and i just sat in my apartment. me trying to hold back more tears, and them trying to respect my emotions and my last few moments in my apartment. after a few minutes, we grabbed all of my things, loaded it into my friend's car and we were gone...

the next thing we did was drive to my other friend's apartment (the other one who would be coming with us) and then dropped all our things off there. then we had dinner at freshness burger, which i could hardly eat, even though it wasn't much... i realized that they didn't have many ingredients so our burger was more like a half burger that they managed to scrape together in spite of all the shortages. i was happy i didn't have much of an appetite. after dinner, we went back to my friend's apartment to help her pack all her stuff since she was still at work and wouldn't get much of a chance to clear our her apartment. with the 3 of us working together the time went by quickly and we even gathered more food and clothing to donate. i made some last goodbyes on my phone to some very dear friends, and i cried my ass off even more... i don't think i've cried this much since my dad died. saying goodbye to japan and my friends who live here has been one of the most painful experiences i've ever had to go through...

around 10:00 we went to the bar to have our little goodbye party. i met up with my friend's girlfriend there (who i should clarify is also one of my very good friends too!) and then i cried again, saying goodbye to her. she's japanese, and when she told me to "genki dashite" (cheer up) i about lost it. she said that any time i'm in morioka again i should stay with her. after she left, i made more goodbyes to all my friends that were able to come, which to my surprised was a good amount! many people took pictures but i looked horrible, and didn't really want to remember all of this... still, i managed to laugh a little, and we all made promises to see each other in the future, whenever that would be...

the cab came to pick up the 4 of us at midnight at the bar. the driver was going to drive to my friend's apartment to pick up all our stuff before we left. i was surprised to see that it was just a regular cab (although i shouldn't have been) so that meant that some of us would have to leave stuff behind. we quickly arranged with one of our japanese friends to send us some of our luggages to our hometowns in the states... if anything, i've learned through their whole experience that things aren't as important as friends and family and we can learn to live with a lot less than we're used to...

the last memory i have in morioka is seeing my friends wave goodbye to us from inside the taxi window. we went to my friend's apartment to gather our stuff, and i left a duffel bag behind (full of winter clothes, anyway). finally, the four of us were on our way to akita airport, leaving the city in the dead of the night, while snow began to fall...

Japan 335

woke up at 7:30 this morning to another early earthquake warning on my phone. the last time this happened was last friday when the big earthquake happened, so this time i woke up my cousin and my friend and we hurried out the door, me still in my pajamas, them carrying bags they had placed right by the door just in case of an emergency. outside, kids were walking to school and cars were calmly driving around. it was a false alarm. the warning said it was for akita prefecture, so maybe it was for an aftershock in that area. still, we were rattled... i apologized for getting everyone up so early and they understood... it was better to be prepared than sorry at that point.

couldn't really go back to sleep after that, so we all started watching the news and getting on facebook to see what had happened. our last co-worker had been confirmed alive!! we felt immense relief after hearing that, but hoped that many others would be found as well... around 10am, my other friend came over and she was really distraught because her family was pressuring her to return home. in fact, a lot of this was happening... people back home think that our situation up here is a lot worse than it really is because of the news, so out of fear they try to convince their loved ones in japan to return home. it's a hard decision to make, especially if you have tons of responsibilities here in japan still. not only that, transportation is scarce (with the gas shortage and all) so getting to the airport is really difficult. for the time being, she decided to stay in japan.

we found out on facebook that around 1:45 another friend in town posted about a chance to give blood, so he posted that we all meet at mr. donut around that time. finally, a chance to do something, instead of staying home and just worrying. the four of us, me and my cousin and my two friends all headed out into town...

the first thing we tried to do was send a package home. my cousin and i had been steadily packing to send things home ever since before the earthquake, but now that all this stuff was happening it was something we really had to take care of. unfortunately, once we got to the post office we found out that although they were open, they were NOT sending packages. damn it, should've known. after that we just decided to get some lunch cause we hadn't eaten all day. went to a curry restaurant not too far from the post office, and i was surprised that it was actually open! in fact, a lot of businesses were open, and were basically just staying open until they ran out of food for the day. life moves on, people are going back to work...

food was pretty good. turns out there's always an abundance of rice, so we have nothing to worry about in that respect. while we were eating, we talked as normal and for a few minutes it was like the earthquake never happened. but all that went away as soon as lunch was over and we went over to mr. donut to see if we could donate blood. a group of about 10 of us gathered, but once we walked over to the clinic we saw that we couldn't donate blood either - the computers were done, therefore they couldn't legally take our blood without recording all our information.

well, nothing could be done about it. we decided to just stick around town until 5:30 because that's when we were supposed to meet some friends that had just arrived in morioka last night from otsuchi, a coastal town that was one of the hardest hit by the tsunami. i heard that they had hitchhiked to get all the way here, and that our company was putting them up in a hotel here since their apartments were totally destroyed. anyway, i wanted to hear their stories straight from them, so i was excited to meet them, and of course, extremely relieved they had arrived in one piece...

we wasted time by wandering around inside the shops that were still open. inside some clothing shops, it's just business as usual, which kind of gives you an eerie feeling... why aren't more people freaking out? why are they going back to work when their country is falling at the seams and so many people need help? in reality, i guess going back to work is all they can do... there's no way out of the city, and volunteer work is left to the professionals as untrained civilians like us would be getting in the way...

anyway, we met our friend at 5:30 at freshness burger and sat down to listen to their incredible story. my friend was napping when the earthquake happened, and him being from l.a. like me, earthquakes aren't such a big deal. but when he stepped outside and saw that everyone was started to run, he quickly ran inside his apartment and grabbed what little he could before leaving. the next time he came back to his apartment, EVERYTHING was gone because of the tsunami... he stayed at shelters for the next 3 nights and went back to his apartment periodically to see what he could salvage. the first night he had to share blankets, but the next night they had sleeping bags, and that was considerably better. one time he went back to his apartment, he found a dead body in his apartment. he said it was the body of an old lady, and he said that old people made up a large portion of the dead because they couldn't run fast enough or get out of their houses... the way that he said it sounded candid, but i know in his heart it would be an image he'd have to deal with for a long time. he told me that finally yesterday he was able to talk to someone and they had enough gas to get to morioka, so him and another foreigner in our company were able to go with him, wearing nothing but what they already had on! my friend didn't even have a jacket, so that was his first order of business in morioka, to find one. we went with them after we hung around freshness burger for a bit to find a clothing store. even though it was only 7, most things were closed, so it couldn't be helped...

at this point i decided to go back home with my cousin. my friends from further south had called me and said they needed a place to stay in morioka for the night, because they were driving to akita airport the next morning. i was in shock - i couldn't believe that so many of my friends were on their way out of the country. i didn't feel like i was in danger being in morioka, but with everyone else leaving i felt a sense of urgency... what was i still doing here? am i doing the right thing by staying?

once they arrived at my place, they all told me their stories, especially how freaked out they were about the nuclear situation in fukushima and how they were telling me i should get out too. i didn't know what to do! i only had until the 26th to stay in morioka, and after that the plan was to travel around the kansai area of japan until april 3rd, but would i be able to travel at that point? would i be able to even enjoy traveling, knowing that my friends here and many people further north couldn't even enjoy a real meal? and are people just being really paranoid about the nuclear situation? is the news just being sensationalistic? or is the japanese government just trying to keep people calm by not telling the whole truth? who do i believe?? is it better if i stay put or leave?? i had no idea and i had never in my life been so at a loss of what to do...

the questions swirled around my head so much that i didn't have any appetite, i hardly ate food that night. my friends and i went to bed, but we had to get up around 3am, when my friends planned to leave for the airport...

Japan 334

the three of us (my cousin, my friend and i) woke up around 8:30 today and got ready to get more supplies today. a friend from ichinoseki came around with her car at 10:00 so we split up into two groups: my cousin with my morioka friend, and myself with my ichinoseki friend with her car. the two of us got in my her car and went to big house to get more groceries, as she updated me about the status of life back in ichinoseki... no power, and most buildings are destroyed. a lot of displaced people are staying at the cultural center there, and her landlord had stayed behind to keep her pharmacy open to provide for the people who need it. i'm so happy she made it to morioka in one piece. she had almost a full tank of gas, but it's going to be hard for her to refill it again, so she's stuck in morioka for a while. the lines at the gas stations have been ridiculously long, and i heard that they're only letting people fill up about 2000yen worth each.

at the grocery store, i was surprised to see the whole store was open and there was no line outside, but INSIDE, man! almost all the shelves were empty, and the lines for the registers were so long that we decided to take turns waiting in line while the other got what food she could find. still, the japanese people were so calm, no one again was panicking, and the grocery store employees were working so hard! they are truly the real heroes here, and i admire them for keeping up such a strong face for everyone buying from them...

we filled up two shopping baskets full of oolong tea bottles (all the water bottles were gone!), some instant ramen, ready made curry, and some cans of fruit and vegetables that we could scrounge up. the line to pay was very long, but we spent the time sending emails to everyone to see how they were doing. when it was finally my turn, i thanked the girl who rang my items up, and told her she was doing a great job, and she gave me a relieved smile from behind her face mask.

we packed our food inside the car, and then stopped by a lawson's convenience store to buy some water there. bought about 12 bottles! luckily they don't seem to be running out of it any time soon. next, we drove to the post office to see if they were open so we could get money from the ATM, and to my surprise, everything was business as usual!! i was able to get more money out, and i resolved to return tomorrow to send a box back home.

my friend and i drove back to my apartment to meet with my cousin and our other friend and we pooled all our food and water together. then my friend went out for a while to gather more things from her apartment, so i sat down and finally was able to watch some news in english. just seeing images of the tsunami in miyagi-ken reduced me to tears, and i was unable to watch anymore after that. i still can't believe the life that we have to lead now, just living in constant unknown. we can't leave, we can't do much to help other people except stay safe ourselves. we feel extremely helpless, but at the moment, at least we have electricity, at least we are with friends and we can keep in touch with everyone. more of our co-workers have been confirmed alive, so that's been a big relief to all of us, but there is still one co-worker left missing... she was living in kamaishi, one of the hardest cities hit, (and i was just there last sunday!!) so we're all hoping she's in a shelter but just unable to keep in touch...

around 1 or so we went in my friend's car to pick up my other friend who had been gathering things at her apartment, and then we stopped by the okonomiyaki restaurant that was selling okonomiyaki bentos for only 500yen each! they looked really happy to see us and happy that they could provide for us. we happily took 4 bentos off their hands and ate it back at my apartment while watching episodes of glee, haha. watching that show actually did us a lot of good, as we had been doing a lot of worrying about everyone and everything and being able to focus on something else, at least for a little while was a big boost.

still, snapping back to reality is very hard. my brother was supposed to visit japan on saturday, but now i really think he should postpone his flight. the three of us, my brother, my cousin and i were supposed to go on a tokyo-kyoto-osaka trip starting from feb. 26th, so hopefully that can still happen, but i'm not holding my breath. who knows what the situation will be like a week from now?? i still am holding out for the best situation, and i know that the rescue workers are doing all they can to save as much people as possible and get life back on track. in morioka today, most businesses were open and i even saw some kids in their school uniforms. i've heard from some of my friends that they actually went to work today, and that school graduations have been rescheduled. life goes on, even here in iwate, and everyone is trying to get as much normality back as possible.

i heard there was an explosion in a department store in morioka. luckily i live no where near that area, but other than that i have no news. whether or not it's earthquake related, i have no idea either. i saw some tanks out on the street when we were coming back from the okonomiyaki restaurant, and i still have no idea what that was about either! still so many unanswered questions.

i'm still really rattled about the whole situation, but everyone is staying together and helping out as much as possible. i can't believe how much facebook is a valuable resource in a time like this, i've been getting good updates from friends all day. hoping for the best for tomorrow. not sure what the plan is going to be yet, but hopefully i'll be able to meet with other friends in the city and find out what they've been up to... still preparing for that strong after shock and staying on our toes.

Japan 333

woke up early today feeling utterly gross as i hadn't had a proper shower since thursday... i didn't dare take a shower in that freezing cold water, and i hoped the electricity would be back on today! i don't think i've ever gone this long without having electricity, and i realized how much we truly rely on it for EVERYTHING. what a wake up call...

once i woke up i turned on my phone and found i was able to receive and send emails much more easily! i got an email from my mom saying that she was relieved to hear i was doing okay, and i got more from my friends in the iwate area asking if i was okay and if i needed food. luckily my phone had enough battery for me to send them emails back saying that i was okay, and i hoped to visit them later in the day...

my cousin and i had a breakfast of oranges before heading out to the grocery stores to buy more food. this time we were shocked to see that once we stepped outside, the traffic lights were working again!! i have never been more happy to hear the crosswalk signal go off. we walked to big house in high spirits, and noticing that some houses and businesses had power and lights on inside!! once we got to big house, we were able to buy some bananas and some other things, the line wasn't too long at all. then we went to maruichi next and couldn't believe what we saw... the whole store was open, though they were letting only a few people in at a time. we could also smell food! they were able to cook food inside again, so that was definitely a good sign. we waited in line for about 20 minutes before going inside, and once inside, i was again so surprised to see how un-panicked the japanese people were!! no one was scrambling around for items. yes, some shelves were entirely empty, but we were able to get what we needed, and we even bought some ready-made bentos to eat for lunch. i know it's only been a weekend, but after living for 2 days in the dark (literally and figuratively!) being able to have cooked RICE was a godsend.

we happily walked back to my apartment and ate the bentos for lunch, feeling a lot better than we had felt in a while. after, i was able to contact my friend and we made plans to meet at her apartment. she had power! my apartment still didn't, but from her place i'd be able to get online and tell everyone on facebook that i was okay. on our walk to her place, we stopped by the AU shop (my phone service provider), which was open! it had electricity too, and was letting people in to charge their phones. i was in there for a good half hour emailing everyone i knew, and feeling so happy to be somewhere where there was WARMTH! my cold apartment was getting to me...

after i charged my phone up for a bit, my cousin and i went to my friend's apartment and i gave my friend the longest hug ever, i was so happy to see her after hearing about nothing for the past two days. she was staying with another friend for the past two nights, and came back to her apartment when at her place, we learned the horrible news. the earthquake was a 9.0, and the epicenter was near sendai. some of our co-workers were still unaccounted for, and many people had died from the tsunami. there were warnings of the nuclear plant in fukushima that sounded like it might explode. i was so overwhelmed with the news, and once i was able to log onto facebook and see all the messages from my family and friends, i was floored by their concern and love. thank you everyone for your words, it's really helped me out in this crazy time. i was even able to skype with my mom and cousin for a while and that's been a blessing as well. i also took a SHOWER at my friend's apartment, and dear god that was the greatest feeling ever. HOT WATER! CLEANLINESS!! a gift from heaven...

i asked my friend if it was okay if we stayed at her apartment in case my apartment didn't have any power yet. she said it was totally fine. around 5pm, we went out to see if homac (a store like target) had batteries, but by this time it was already closed. it was close to my apartment, so we decided to check that out before going back to my friend's place. to my surprise and excitement, ALL THE LIGHTS IN MY APARTMENT WERE ON!!! it was like christmas! i was so happy that everything was back on, so we quickly made plans to reverse the situation. my friend would stay with my cousin and i instead.

we ate some bentos for dinner, and my friend went back to her apartment for a little bit to get her clothes and some food, and then we spent the night here at my place in WARMTH. it was nice having her and my cousin under one roof. i was thankful that i had been able to contact everyone back home, but majorly concerned about my missing co-workers, and saddened and in shock about the rest of northwestern japan. i couldn't believe the damage that i was seeing on the news, and i realized how INCREDIBLY lucky my cousin and i were to be in the city that i live in. things could have been so much worse for us, so we continue to pray and hope for the best for others around us.

i was able to contact my friends around iwate, and there are no trains running so i take solace in the fact that they're okay, even though i'm not able to see them. i saw that online, google had a person finder, and that one of my friends back home had even made a posting about me! i quickly posted there that i was alive to make sure that no one else would worry about me.

right now life is very strange for everyone here. there have been warnings about another strong aftershock, about a 7.0 that might come in the next 3 days. so i have been cooking rice and i filled the bathtub with water just in case! i got in touch with some friends in ichinoseki (where i just was last wednesday!!) and i found out their apartments were totally destroyed, and so they were on their way to morioka to stay with us. i made plans to meet with them in the morning...

sleeping was much harder for me tonight, as all the information from the news and facebook have just been swirling around my head. i'm so worried about our co-workers and friends that still have not been confirmed alive yet... tomorrow would be another shaky day...