Rest assured everyone, I am still awesome. (staceyu) wrote,
Rest assured everyone, I am still awesome.
staceyu

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...
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