The past two weeks plus since March 11 have been unbearingly intense. I've not getting been enough sleep, because I'm still so pent up that I have trouble relaxing enough to really relax. I seem to be sleeping on the shallow surface, always alert to something going on. This has surely affected my mood adversely.
For this and other reasons, I've decided to stop my continuous stream of Twitter updates. I'm going to be very busy for the next two days anyway, until I leave for Japan Monday evening. (I'll be landing in Narita on Tuesday, also in the evening. I gather my airline, Swiss, is flying with a stopover in Hong Kong at the moment. Hey, my first time ever in HK.)
I'm really more comfortable in long-form text (as you might have guessed from my multiple-tweet streams of thought) so you'll see more blog entries than tweets. There are already plenty of other people posting timely updates of news from Japan. (I'm trying to sort my Twitter follows into lists, but it's really slow going due to Twitter being overloaded I think.) And, now many international organizations are monitoring things too. Two organizations you must track if you are interested in what's going on in Japan are the WHO (World Health Organization) and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Association).
A lot of people have gotten very angry over this, myself included. I'm not the kind of person who stays angry; my temper flares up, I yell and scream and throw stuff (or go into a deep silent sulk), then 2 hours later (or so) I calm down and look at the damage I've done in dismay. So, if anyone's feelings got hurt because of my statements, I apologize. I especially want to apologize to the expat community in Japan, whether you are still there or have left temporarily. I guess I am rather miffed at the fact that the little attention that has been given to individuals in Japan, that are not direct victims, has been focused primarily on the expat community. I know this is mainly a language issue, plus the readers back home can relate better to a fellow American, French, Canadian, Brit, etc. than a Japanese person. In any case, I let this petty irritation get in the way, and I'm truly sorry. I know that many of you love Japan and consider it your homes.
Like many others, I keep trying to think what I can do best to help Japan. Ultimately, we have to bring our best skills to the table. I am not a reporter or journalist really, but I am totally bilingual and bi-cultural, equally comfortable in Japanese or U.S. (and also to an extent a UK and European) cultural and social contexts. I know the lyrics for the Gilligan's Island theme, as well those for an old Japanese folksong. I can go on for hours about the merits of New York vs. Montreal style bagels as well as whether one curry roux brand is better than another. I'm not bragging; it's just how I grew up.
And, I do happen to think I'm not a bad writer, in English anyway. My Japanese writing needs a bit of brushing up since I don't write as much in it at the moment, but it will get up there. Reading Japanese or conversing in Japanese is never a problem.
During the course of the past two weeks, I've seen just how difficult it is to leap over language and cultural barriers. For example, even in the cut-and-dried world of data tracking, I've seen people on the English/international side agitating over how it was needed to 'get information to the Japanese', while people on the Japanese side getting resentful over the misconception that they didn't know what they were doing or where to look for data and information, and turning their backs on the rest of the world. My few attempts to bridge this gap have been rebuffed, sometimes rudely. I can understand this emotion, since I've felt it myself quite often.
Japan does have a strong will and independent spirit. The Japanese people are extremely capable. But there's no denying that Japan will need international assistance, in many ways, to get back on its feet.
Do keep due diligence on where you get your information from. If nothing else, these past two weeks have shown me how fragile the mass media is as a source of reliable information. Fortunately we live in an age where we can go directly to the source, for unfiltered information. This may be a pivotal event in that regard. We'll see.
In closing: I would like to thank everyone who has been keeping up with my Twitter rants over the past 2 weeks. I will still be tweeting, though not nearly as much. And for sure, I'll be writing. Not sure where yet; here perhaps, or a special blog, or even for other publications. (I will continue writing for The Japan Times, mainly about food, for as long as they'll let me.) But you will continue hearing from me about Japan for sure.