Wednesday 30th March 2011
It's been a few days since my last outpouring, so I thought it time to try some cathartic writing again. I apologise in advance for the self-indulgent whinging that is likely to get spewed out...
Aftershocks have been easing off considerably over the past few days but each one sets our nerves rattling again. Our house has obviously shifted on its foundations as there are many new creaks and strange noises when the walls cool or heat and we cannot shut one of the bedroom doors at all now.
(What is it with this? As soon as I start to write a blog post we get another tremor!)
Anyway. The past few days have been rather stressful, apart from the tremors, radiation worries, and so on.
I feel very frustrated that I cannot do anything to actually help those countless people displaced by the earthquake and tsunami on 11th March. Friends of mine are doing some sterling work either raising money, collecting goods and even travelling up there to help directly with the much needed aid effort.
As you know, we are leaving Tokyo for Berlin on 11th April. This has been planned for well over a year; we're not fleeing Japan under pressure. Flights have been booked; the pets are going through the (very expensive) system and are booked onto their separate flight.
Firstly we heard that due to the Fukushima nuclear situation the airline booked to transport the animals is no longer flying into or out of Narita airport. Luckily our animal handler seems to have everything under control but the animals will have to board with him for a couple of nights; something neither of them will take well too. And that's without the stress of a long flight followed by a drive in Germany. I try not to worry too much about them, but I can't help it. I'm in major worry mode at the moment. This is rare for me, but I suppose understandable in the circumstances.
Next we discovered that OUR British Airways flight has also been cancelled! We were due to fly from Haneda airport which is very close to home. The timing was perfect, I would have had a few hours at Heathrow to do a spot of shopping and we would have arriving in Berlin (eventually) in daylight. Now - unless things change again - we have to fly on a later plane from Narita, stop in Seoul, South Korea to refuel, Heathrow for about an hour and hope to goodness we make the connecting flight to Berlin. Can't quite see that going well, can you? If it does, we will arrive in our new home at about midnight.
Apparently (according to unconfirmed sources) the reasons are twofold: there isn't enough fuel in Japan to fill the planes up for a 12 hour flight. And allegedly, the crews don't want to stay in Japan due to radiation fears... unfounded! Levels have remained constantly low away from Fukushima. It's only the nuclear plant's immediate environs that are affected.
It's vital we arrive in Berlin by Tuesday 12th as we have places to go, pets to collect and our car is being delivered.
The next round of shipping is next Wednesday when my PC will go. Eek! I shall be bereft. Before then, I have to sort out this set of shipping from whatever we can carry in our suitcases.
As mentioned here, Rhiannon has gone back to school for 2 hours a day this week. What an utter farce! I get her to school - with usual hassle and snail-paced getting-ready efforts by her, shoot home to walk the dog then have to go and pick her up again. She's hyped up from seeing some of her peers again and is utterly intolerable in the afternoons. I am not a natural stay-at-home-mum... She's not at school long enough to tire her out, but just long enough to get her anger issues and bad attitude back again (due to problems at the school - will post another time). This is all not helped by Tim being away on business this week.
(Oh bugger - another aftershock - Rhiannon due at the doorway in 3-2-1... yup, back later...)
See? I can't get anything done.
On her first day back at school I thought I'd hang around and see if I could meet anyone I knew. The lack of gaijin faces was extremely obvious. I'd say about 95% of the parents there were Japanese. I spoke to a few mums I knew who were incredulous that the school hadn't reopened properly even though most other international schools and all the Japanese schools are working as normal.
However, under some pressure (hee hee!) the Board of Trustees had a meeting and finally some sense prevailed - school is reopening properly next week! OK, so it's the last week before the Easter Holidays, but some sort of normality is due to begin at long last. And, quite selfishly I agree, I will get some much needed free time before I go completely insane.
At the weekend, we took Tim's work replacement to a nearby restaurant district - Akasaka Mitsuke - for dinner. The place was empty. Desperate restaurant owners were on the street begging us to come in to their establishment "It's OK, we have English menu!" We were the only customers in the place we ended up in which is normally a bustling, lively pub.
On talking to the owner, I learned a new word - "flyjin".
"Flyjin: A foreigner or expat in Japan (gaijin) who heads for Narita (or Kansai) at the first sign of a nuclear holocaust. Alternately fly-jin, fly jin, #flyjin, flykokujin, フライ人. Not a Japanese word and not familiar to or used by Japanese, flyjin was coined by English-speaking Twitter users."
It made me giggle, but realise people had their own reasons to go and many were told to go by their companies due to insurance issues. Those of us who stayed (stayjins?) have been castigated too, so there's no judgment from me. Well, not much... Whatever the reasons for the departures, there is a fair amount of bad feeling by the local employees who had to stay and cover extra work.
I don't believe Tokyo will never be the same again. I shall expand on this another day. It's taken me over 2 hours to write this post with Rhiannon constantly coming downstairs for extra reassurance combined with emotional blackmail.
Apologies for the massive whinge. Thank you if you managed to read it all.There's more, but I'm not going to continue boring the hell out of you any more.
In the grand scheme of things my problems are NOTHING and I am fully aware of that.
But they are mine and I needed to get them out.