I was rattled out of my tiny bed in the middle of the night by an earthquake, my first earthquake. I was in Oyumino, a relatively unknown suburb of Tokyo, in my host family’s home. I felt like I was dreaming. Half-awake, I looked around the room, looked at the walls and waited for things to start to fall off them, one by one, but it was my body that was shaking. Things weren’t shaking; the whole room was shaking.

The next morning at breakfast, Keiko was excited that I’d experienced an earthquake; she said it was a rite of passage for those who dared to live in Japan. She told me that no one was really much hurt by this quake, except for a teenage boy who was killed when his stereo system rattled off a shelf and crushed his skull.

A long weekend

Apparently we’ve had two more aftershocks here (ranging in magnitude from 4.2 to 4.5), but I haven’t felt either one and now I’m feeling left out of all the fun.

Hurricane Irene is fast on our heels and we are heading into her fury: We’re driving to Chapel Hill in a few hours for a long weekend there. Shaun and Ann-Marie are getting married and we are thrilled for them. I’m also thrilled that I get to see about 13 of my old friends while we’re in town. Thirteen friends + two sisters in four days = a very, very busy schedule, but I’m excited about it nonetheless!

Will bring many pictures back. And will not leave my purse in a gas station this time. At least, I’m going to do my best not to. See you then. Have a dry and safe weekend, to the best of your ability.

Prayers for Japan

I checked the New York Times this morning just before I headed out the door to work and I felt my heart catch in my throat when I saw the front page. The devastation in Japan is unreal right now. Some of the photographs on the NYT home page show unimaginable devastation not too far from where my host family lives. My heart and my prayers go out to the Japanese people, to all of the aid and relief efforts, and to those who are still missing loved ones. May God have great mercy on Japan now.