Friday, April 15, 2011

I'm alive, I promise!

Well, I've been a bad, bad blogger.  But I have really good excuses, including:

Teething:  Let's just say that if teething were a competitive sport, Matthias would be a world class athlete.  Poor guy.  Sleep has been elusive for all of us and I have lived in survival mode many days, feeling productive if I fit in eating and showering, let alone blogging.  Except one week of bliss in mid-March, the little dude has been hurting.  I just wish those little teeth would "come on down," Price is Right style...

His favorite teether...our fingers!

Perfectionism:  I am so perfectionistic and I have struggled with the following bogus thoughts: 1) Because I have such a large gap between posts, the blog is "ruined,"  2) Each post has to be comprehensive or exhaustive, and 3) I need a really cool layout or design that requires significant time and training to create.  I am learning to get past those feelings, and just share my thoughts and experiences a little at a time in this much needed creative outlet.

The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake: Our world was shaken, literally and figuratively, on March 11th.  Even though the impact on us was miniscule in comparison to those suffering tremendous loss in the Northeast, the earthquake and its aftermath have had a major effect on our life.  I kept trying to blog about it, but had such a hard time summarizing it during a naptime, that I just gave up.  But I need to share about it.  So, I will try to share a bit at a time each Friday, because I don't want to forget what I felt or what I learned.

Map showing effects of Japanese earthquake

Here's a bit of what I experienced five Fridays ago:

Part 1

I had just changed M's diaper, when I thought someone was banging very loudly on the door.  Which was weird, because guests and delivery people have to be beeped in and I wasn't expecting anyone.  It also sounded suddenly windy outside.  As the noise continued, the apartment began to shake and rock.  I thought, "an earthquake," scooped up Matthias, and tried to recall what I had read about how to react.  Oh yes, we should get under a table.  I looked as our dining room table, which has a center pedestal rather than legs.  It was wobbling around and looked anything but secure.  I looked around at all the objects that might fall over on us, including pieces of furniture, books, picture frames, and candlesticks.  I thought about getting under couch cushions, another suggestion from our Japan guide, but then I thought about the fact that we have an emergency escape hatch (kind of like a fire escape) in the balcony off our bedroom and a fire retardant door that can be closed to protect against a spreading fire, which can be common after a quake.  So I decided to make a move for the bedroom as the shaking kept getting worse.  I had to work hard to stay steady on my feet.  I walked/ran as fast as I could into the bedroom and huddled between the two walls in the entry way, hoping that I chose the right spot in case things got really bad. 
 The shaking just kept going and my heart was racing, but Matthias just smiled and giggled in my arms.  It was amazing to me how he could feel completely unconcerned in such a moment.  I couldn't believe the furniture was still standing with such a forceful shaking.  

After a few minutes that seemed like hours, the shaking stopped.  I thanked God that we were ok and began to wonder how big of a quake it had been.  I figured that it had felt much worse to me, a earthquake novice, than it had felt to my Japanese neighbors.  It wasn't until I heard the magnitude later on that I knew how serious it had been.  I looked around the apartment to see if we had any damage, and we had none besides several items that fell down and a few gashes in the floor caused by those items.  Our building is new and has many features that minimize damage, from the way its foundation and walls are built, to the fact that we have special locks on the cabinets that engage during a tremor to prevent a rainstorm of dishes and plates.  I wondered if it had been worse or better for Philip, who works closer to the coast.  I tried to call his cell phone from mine, but the call failed.  I tried his office line, but got no answer.  I was really worried that things had been worse on his side of town.  I kept trying with no avail, but did my best to stay calm for M's sake.  The front desk staff at our apartment came over the intercom to tell us that the earthquake had been centered off the Miyagi prefecture and that the maintenance staff would begin checking our building for damage.  We had a few aftershocks while I waited to hear from Philip, including one major one that caused our framed photos to sway violently on their hanging wires. I checked the news online and realized that the quake had indeed been massive and had caused a major tsunami.  After about 45 minutes, I got a call on our Vonage phone from Philip, who was calling me via Skype on his co-worker's iPhone.  Thank God for technology!  I breathed so much easier knowing he was ok, but felt tremendous survivor's guilt knowing that thousands of people may never get that call.


  1. Precious, Katie, it made me cry to realize what you, Matthias and Philip and so many others experienced in this devastating tragedy.

    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Mom C

  2. Thanks for writing this Katie. It is so good to hear the story and even knowing that everything is OK... It is still hard to not imagine how scary it would have been. It actually reminds me of 9-11, because I was home alone with Astrid (8 mo old) and couldn't get a hold of Vyk for quite some time. Keep up the blogging (says someone who hasn't blogged in forever).

  3. Thanks for posting-- I often wonder how you experienced the quake/aftermath and look forward to reading future installments of the story. :-)