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Our perceived world is a boat, floating in an ocean of magma.

Here near Yokohama, I didn’t even feel the big earthquake near Niigata when it happened this morning. The TV news is full of pictures of collapsed buildings. All of the collapsed buildings are old ones, with plaster and wood walls. A gorgeous kura (storehouse) lies opened up like a milk carton, its heavy walls flat to the ground. So far 3 people have died.

Different news channels have different spins. Some are straight-up, tight-lipped, but one station has a girl running around a town interviewing people with an excited tone of voice as she stands next to rubble. There’s that Japanese jauntiness again in the face of something frightening, uncontrollable, and most importantly, natural. A woman who lives next door to a house that was completely flattened actually laughs as she is interviewed. I can’t tell if it is nervous laughter or relief.

Yesterday I was having a tour in Tokyo of a Shinto shrine and the guide said that all of nature is kami (the gods, the “greater force” of Shinto). At some point this force will come to the Kanto Plain where I live. A major earthquake is overdue here. I feel the small earthquakes all the time as I sit reading. I’ve started to ignore them, but perhaps I should think of each one as a bell of mindfulness, a rocking of the boat.

Nevertheless, the sumo tournament in Nagoya continues. Sumo tournaments used to be ceremonies to predict the harvest or the fortunes of the town. Before they wrestle, the rikishi stomp on the earth to drive away bad spirits and throw salt to purify the dohyo (ring).

The old buildings are falling, there’s a crack in the earth in Niigata. The world is fragile and transient.


Friday night: A typhoon is headed my way. It should arrive Sunday. So freaking exciting. I have my typhoon kit prepared: half a leftover pizza, a half-bottle of good sake, watching the Nagoya sumo tournament on TV. The new yokozuna, Hakuho, is kicking ass, but I still like the other yokozuna, Asashoryu, better because he is a lefty. 10% of the human race, dying prematurely of accidents from machinery designed for the other 90%. We are 10% who go insane more often than the 90%, but who are also more likely to be geniuses or criminals. And Asa still pumps his arm inappropiately when he wins. There’s that, too. Why are we affected by some people, some music, some experiences? What makes me fall hard, fast, with all my viscera and intellect?

Typhoons should bum me out, but lately I have no idea what will make me happy and exhilarated. The banal weather report guy with the the satellite photo pokes and prods it with his pointer, shows the computer rain move up Honshu towards the Kanto plain. The report for tomorrow was all blue umbrellas, all day long. I’m all giddy.

Yesterday I looked out the window at the rain. A girl rode by on a hot pink bike. She was soaked, her hair wet, clean, shiny, stringy, black. There were training wheels on her bike, but she was all alone in pouring rain. I should have run outside and gotten wet, perhaps I will tomorrow. Soak myself in it. Better than doing the dishes gathering, communing, rising up in the kitchen.

A friend tells me things that I don’t need to know. Things I doubt, but still allow to wash over me. Later I read a book while lying on my belly on the silk rug my husband and I bought from an Iraqi ex-pat. We had looked over all the rugs on display in his shop, nothing much happening inside us. He saw it in our faces, and opened a little cabinet. Inside were five silk rugs that he held up and kissed before snapping each one out in front of us. And then our rug rolled out, taking our breath away. We were just waiting to fall in love.

The book is finished, I lie on the rug and wish my baby were home. The world seems far away from me in this house.

Are things gonna change? I don’t know. I like to think so. Bring it, Mr. Typhoon. I’m ready for you.


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