Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Somehow the sun has made it through the thick layer of clouds covering the sky for the last five days. A man with a shaved head and a black t-shirt walks by. Spent the morning reading Japan stories and watching videos and interactive NYTimes features, trying to figure out what exactly is happening with the nuclear reactors. This is a pretty helpful graphic explaining what is going on. The good news is that my two remaining friends in Japan with who I'm in contact with are both just fine. Toshiko reported that the earthquake knocked her off her feet but her family is fine and she, in Tokyo, is also fine. Jude reported that his office "shook like fuck" but asides from the inconveniences, nothing much has changed in the big city.

Which is in stark contrast to how it's been reported here, where NPR and the BBC are constantly talking about the possibilities of a nuclear meltdown. Maybe in Japan people are trying to just stay calm in case they actually have to deal with a disaster. Whereas, here, maybe there's no harm in letting a little reckless anxiety guide our interests. I have no idea. Though I have to say the one thing that has made me a little mad has been the story of investors pulling out of the Japanese market. What a bunch of assholes. I realize that the job of investors is to make money but it sort of feels like kicking somebody when they're down, or when Britney Spears shaves her head everybody walks away. Maybe it's not a fair comparison, but isn't it in everybody's best interests, including investors, that Japan be well? That taking one for the (global financial) team is preferable to a shortsighted pursuit of profit?

The photography teacher I support on Tuesdays began the class by acknowledging that Japan's problems make the problems of teachers and students, deadlines and assignments, pale in comparison. A keen observation, that oddly, makes me work just a little bit harder as I feel a little bit of gratitude to sit with a student and talk about the next conceptual photography assignment as opposed to digging through rubble, or hashing out an evacuation plan. To be honest, I'm not often prone to personally identifying with global causes. I don't know if this is due to selfishness, ignorance, or respect for privacy. Regardless, having lived in Japan and still having friends there ups my steak in the whole thing. Same goes for the protests in Wisconsin. However, democracy in Egypt, as much as I like that idea, is more of a reach. Which is a complicated way to say that I identify with Japan more clearly than Egypt. How one sees themselves and what's important. When I see a crazy old man wandering in the middle of the street I feel sad. Same with a happy expression on the face of the developmentally disabled person. We are strange. Now I need to get ready for class. Spring break is next week.