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I've been experiencing a sort of mounting guilt over not having even mentioned the disaster in Japan since the 11th, when it began. As I said earlier, I have no friends or family or any sort of acquaintances in Japan. But I do have a friend who's girlfriend is in Tokyo, and when I spoke to her a couple of nights back, there had been no news...and I can hardly imagine.

This afternoon, trying to put it in perspective for myself, I said to Kathryn, "Imagine that, in the space of a few minutes, all of Providence and the outlying metropolitan areas, simply ceased to exist. We were among the lucky few who reached eastern Connecticut or southern Massachusetts. But there's simply nothing to go back to. Our home is gone, and it isn't coming back. And then imagine that your parents couldn't get out of South County, and there are four failing nuclear reactors in Kingston, and, in all likelihood, at least one has begun meltdown."

But it's not my home, or my friends, or my family. And there's almost nothing I can do. I can't even give blood, because I'm a hepatitis carrier. I can't spare much of anything in the way of a monetary donation, and if I could, I'd have to worry about the aid actually reaching the victims.

It shuts you down. Hell, just trying to explain to people what it means that the quake was a 9.0, instead of a 8.9...that almost shuts me down.

I watch snow settle over tsunami-flattened landscapes. Speechless or sobbing faces amid the rubble. Steam erupting from failed reactors, steam laced with unknown levels of isotopes that will be deadly for thousands of years.

It shuts you down, the horror and shock of it.

I've been trying to sort through the news, sort wheat from chaff. Just finding sources that can get the science right is almost impossible. And what's happened, is happening, and will happen, most of it comes down to science. Science and politics.

I was almost twenty-two when the Chernobyl disaster occurred. I was almost fifteen during the Three Mile Island accident.

I try to find perspective, as if that can help anyone. I may be doing no more than trying to assuage some fucked-up sort of long-distance survivor's guilt.

It shuts me down. So, I keep watching the news, and hoping. There is nothing I can do but hope.


Mar. 17th, 2011 04:58 am (UTC)
It's been an exhausting week. My youngest brother works in Tokyo. He has a small ground-floor apartment in a suburb/city just to the north of the capital, roughly 200 miles or so from Sendai, and takes the train into town every day to teach conversational English to shopkeepers and salarymen and engineers. Many of his students have worked for TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.), the company that runs the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant experiencing the radiation leaks. He watches the news every day, compelled to search for the faces of the TEPCO engineers he's taught. Of course, the radiation gear obscures their faces too much, but he still can't bring himself to look away from them.

Even he feels the sting of helplessness, and he's right there.

A few weeks ago, he bought a rail pass with the plan to take a week off in Sendai or Nagano. It sounds like he had originally thought to go last week, or maybe this week, to see the plum blossoms. Instead, he decided to wait for the cherry blossoms that will be blooming in a few weeks. I'm incredibly glad he postponed the trip, but I can't even tell my mother he was considering it. She's already a professional worrier as it is.