I've gotten quite a few messages in the past 24 hours asking if we are going to the USA.
If I smoked I would be smoking and looking very nonchalant right now. I'd be sitting back in a big dark leather chair with my ankle crossed on my knee. I'd have my left hand in my pocket with my thumb hanging out - I like to leave one finger free for gesturing - and a smoke hanging lazily between my fore and middle fingers. The Tiffany lamps would lowly light my deep green velvet drapes.
I would do this because I feel as relaxed as I commonly would feel on a Friday at 10am, and because I have a tendency to counter the mood if I feel it's heading in a direction that I don't want to go. Right now the vibration is high, and not in a good way, not in the way that Andre Benjamin 3000 would advise us.
I understand the insatiable desire for information in the midst of so much uncertainty. If I smoked, I would take a deep drag right now, tell you to put down your remote control, and you, to take your hand off the mouse, and then I would put my head back and release my own plume of toxins into the air. We'd all have a fine whiskey, and we'd talk about the crazy dried octopus legs I have in a candy dish on the deep cherry wood coffee table.
But, I don't smoke, and no one is much interested my octopus legs today. The world wants to know if US citizens in Japan are getting on the free government mandated flights home from our cities. Rest assured my loved ones that there are no such flights. Not yet! There are flights offered up to US citizens. They are not free. They are only to other areas in east Asia. They are voluntary and not urged. And most of all, I would have to travel much, much closer to the nuclear power plant to get on one of those flights. They are being offered to nervous citizens who live in the affected area, hundreds of miles north of where I live. We even called the embassy yesterday to clarify who they were talking about, and it seems like no one is very concerned about Kyushu, my island. People are coming to Kyushu to wait and decide what to do. I'm already here.
I admit from my comfy chair of casual repartee that an explosion could happen at any moment, as far as I know, and that I could, within the hour, be making frantic phone calls and speeding to the airport as fast as I can on a sonic train. But right now, everything's ok. I also know that wikileaks or some such news organization could reveal a disturbing masking of true radiation levels across Japan and that I could soon be making a new and very different decision. But right now, everything's ok.
So, I remain vigilant in my search for the truth and reality of the current situation in Japan, but I live with what I know right now, not least of which is that absolutely nothing has changed in Oita since last Friday, March 11th when the earthquake and tsunami happened, including the quality of the air. I have to weigh many factors and be realistic about how costly it would be to bail right now. If I thought my child were in even a slight amount of danger, I would bear that burden, but I don't think he is in danger. There are a thousand "what ifs" and there always are. I am not in a position to make flippant decisions based on "what if" scenarios, and anyway, I don't think that's the strongest of decision making styles.
I have no expertise, no Geiger counter, no helicopter, no radiation suit. I have to listen to someone. I think when it comes down to it I have to trust the website of the The American Embassy in Tokyo. For now, we are staying. I have faith in the Japanese people and their way, and if I know anything about how Japanese people work, I think they are working very hard and very smart, and that they will do their job admirably. I expect that they will return power to the plant and the situation will dissolve within a matter of days in the news. I don't know what will happen to the plant. It will take a long time to resolve the situation completely.
Now, are you thirsty? Let's go back into the den...