Monday, March 14, 2011

it's the first monday of our spring break, so we took our time waking up and now the boys are in full gear, running around the house, demanding sugar, watching television or playing video games; at one point we tried to play monopoly but the attention span was too low. it was pouring down rain outside at the start; vast pools of water in the back; water trying to get down the street to an overflowing sewer, water everywhere you look. now the rain has stopped, but it's still too cold, too wet, too saturated, to go outside.

for the most part i remain glued to my facebook, where friends one by one trickle in to say they are ok or someone we know is ok. it occurs to me that i know hundreds of people somewhere in japan and some of them surely must be in the affected area; naturally those will be slowest to check in. one old student from several years ago checked in and said she was evacuated on the first day but is basically ok. this leaves me wondering who else i have not heard from. i can imagine the feeling of nuclear disaster coming one's way but can only imagine what one would do about it, how one would protect oneself and loved ones. how horrible!

i went to a website that always has good commentary on events in africa; it pointed out several things, one of which was that the ongoing crisis in ivory coast has been almost completely overshadowed by events elsewhere. one comment was that events of the world seem to be happening faster now, as if we go through two years of news within a single week, countries left and right suffering upheaval and overthrow of some unjust tinhorn-style dictatorship; this indeed has sure seemed to be true, i can't argue with a word. we don't know anyone in bahrain, but have friends in yemen, libya, saudi (hundreds), and scores of other countries where i imagine people are glued to their news sources to not only make sure their families are ok, but also to check in on national crises that totally affect national image and self-esteem.

a japanese friend, former student, wrote first thing on facebook, a solidarity-oriented message: we japanese are strong; we have to pull together to get through this; this is a huge problem but we'll persevere. i was touched and moved. the next one was longer, but all in japanese; it occurred to me that he was being pulled in a nationalist direction but partly it turns out because he's here, actually cut off from the national grief and mobilization that his country is going through. it must be somewhat like 9/11 in its ability to mobilize a nation but also to bring out the patriotism, or xenophobia (the narrower version) - and, in fact, one couldn't blame japanese for associating nuclear disaster with the u.s., or at least with whoever talked them into putting a nuke plant on a fault line. seems like we're going to bear some of the brunt of this, and that japan also is going to go through a little soul-searching, identity crisis, as it figures out how to survive in the modern era. and that's not to mention, figure out how to handle thousands dead, nuclear radiation sweeping across the land, part of the coast falling into the sea, etc. i'm not an expert, but i'd think we're in for some rocky times here.

the cold rain lingers; i've been unable to get out in the garden, or the mud, to set it up and get anything planted. i'd also like to get the bicycles out, get tires pumped up, get ready a bit for the better weather, which lasts about a month, until it gets too hot right around the first of may. got all these plans, but it drizzles and rains, and stays cold and muddy, so i stay inside trying to fend off the boys, trying to keep them occupied. i don't like television or computer games any more than the next parent, but i've not only failed to prohibit them, i've even encouraged them, just to get a moment's peace or blogging. what i need is a list of things that work, things they like, things that are healthy and that even involve them working or playing together, getting fresh air, or becoming healthier in some way. maybe i'll make a pond out in the back yard, where they can go fishing, and which has a creek leading up to it, where one can get lost, find frogs, and spend entire summer afternoons. that is, summer afternoons in the sense that i grew up with them, when you could actually hang around, comfortably, outside, without stifling heat or overwhelming bug attacks, throughout entire months like june and july, when the days are long, and there doesn't seem to be any time limit.


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