Patrick Tsai is a friend and sometime contributor to this magazine who has been keeping a diary of his life in Tokyo on his blog, Talking Barnacles, since last month's earth-shaking began. Last week we published his entry from March 11th, the day the quake struck, which you can find here.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
There were fewer aftershocks today, but they were getting much bigger. Also, there was news that low levels of radiation had already reached Tokyo.
In the afternoon, we went to the grocery store. Even though there was no bread, rice, tofu, etc., there were still other kinds of food available like fruits, vegetables, and cookies. Everyone was still polite. Afterward, we stopped by the drugstore to see if they had any iodine tablets. Apparently Japan has never carried them because the Japanese diet is already high in iodine from wakame (seaweed), so the pharmacist offered us some $120 US snake oil. My roommates and I decided to eat lots of wakame instead. Later, when I emailed my sister in America asking her to mail us some iodine tablets, I learned that all the US pharmacies were out because they had already shipped their stock to Japan.
Walking home from the store, Yuki was the first to notice a lot of pigeons flying around. Then I mentioned that I had seen a lot of crows the day before. We were trying to determine if worrying about these suspicious birds was unnecessary paranoia when a group of crows flew overhead, cawing madly. That left us worried. Maybe the crows knew something we didn’t.
Fifteen minutes later Ian, my roommate, called for a house meeting because the French Embassy declared that radiation might reach Tokyo in 10 hours. TEN HOURS. The situation had finally become real and I began to panic for the first time. Foreign news, Japanese news, gossip, rumor: every source said something different. We had no idea what to believe. We began to discuss the possibility of evacuating, and if so, how to do it. I really wanted to leave, but Yuki’s employer was being stubborn, and pretending that nothing was wrong. She couldn’t take time off of work yet. We had no choice but to stay. I tried to keep breathing normally to avoid a panic attack. To keep busy and focused, I continued writing my diary, which helped me calm down.
In the evening we spent an hour looking for a place that had toilet paper. Afterward, I spent an hour fighting with my ex on the phone.
Later our friend Tim came over to say goodbye. He was leaving for America in the morning. To fight off radiation, we had wakame nabe (seaweed hot pot) for dinner.
Before going to bed I packed my My Little Dead Dick negatives in a box. I planned on shipping them to my sister the next day for safe keeping in case something happened.