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If 2011 had a word, it was change. If 2012 had a word, it was healing. If 2013 had a word, it was hope.

2014 does have a word, and it is patience.

The One Little Word project is not my idea, and it’s been around much longer than when I first discovered it late last year. At its core, it’s a journaling project, incorporating some scrapbooking and photography elements. The main thing is reflecting on your word and bringing it into your daily life. And this year, I want to be more conscious about being patient in all facets of my life.

This will, I think, be a year that will require patience, mostly with myself as I adjust to this new life of active motherhood, but also with Hannah and Geordie and with family far and near. And beyond just my relationships with people: I’m hoping for patience with my writing (including this blog!), with challenges in the kitchen, with expectations of the future. I want to be patient and not rush things – I want to enjoy Hannah’s babyhood and be present in her life. At the same time, I know I’ll be balancing my joy at finally having her here with us against the grief over Lauren that still remains and will always remain. I want to be patient with our future; whether we will be staying in San Antonio or pursuing adventures elsewhere, I want to relax and enjoy the small things as well as the big things.

I want to welcome patience into my life, along with its companion words: calmness, peace, compassion, kindness, composure, and poise. This is what I want for 2014: to take things as they come, to greet them without fighting them, and to treat people with the grace and gentility that I would hope for in return.

To be as calm and serene on the inside as I try to be on the outside.

So, I took a break for a week while Geordie’s parents were visiting. I’m not much into doing the internet stuff when I’ve got guests. Also, it was Geordie’s vacation, so we had him at home too. We did lots of touristy stuff and took lots of pictures and ate out way too much, and we all had a good time!

Last week, I also had my first prenatal appointment and first ultrasound! The appointment with the midwives was pretty standard – a lot of talking, a lot of making sure all is healthy and good, a lot of blood-taking. The ultrasound appointment was shorter but perhaps more exciting. I can’t begin to express the relief we felt at seeing that little heartbeat. Baby is developing nicely at the moment, right on schedule. The official Estimated Due Date is December 8, which is about what I figured.

Other than that, I haven’t got much else to post at the moment. I have a couple posts from last week (namely the FFwD post for Friday) that I want to get written and posted. But that’s about it. I am starting to feel a little less yucky, but my appetite is still a bit wonked out, so I’ve been trying to stick to simple foods. And easy meals! This week’s meals don’t involve much in the way of recipes, and most of them are simple techniques I’ve done lots of times before and aren’t overly complicated. We’ll see how that works out.

Mostly, for now, I’m just trying to get back in the groove of writing. Taking a week off might be nice, but it’s not always easy getting back on track. I figure writing a little bit is better than continuing to write nothing at all! I actually have quite a few things I want to write about, it’s just getting my thoughts organized and written that’s the hard part. My stomach may be feeling better, but I still feel a little discombobulated in the head. Also, tired. Napping is pretty much a daily thing for me right now.

Anyway. That’s all for today!

Nine weeks down, thirty-one weeks to go!

Two years ago, the earth shook in Japan and changed many lives forever. Geordie and I were lucky in that we lived far enough away from the epicenter of the Tohoku Earthquake to suffer too much damage. I wrote about the actual earthquake more than a year ago, and I keep meaning to finish writing about that day and the one that followed. Well, here’s a bit more of the story. Not all of it – it’s a bit too long to post all at once. I’ll write what I can manage now and try to write more later. Hopefully, the next installment won’t take another year to get done.

If you haven’t already, you should probably read the Earthquake (I) first.

—–

Though the worst of the earthquake was over, the aftershocks came steadily. I never really felt balanced the rest of that day. I put on my work clothes as quickly as I could, and I left to go to Loc City, the mall where my branch of Nova was located. I had no idea what to expect on the 10-minute walk. I tried calling Geordie again, and that got me nowhere. I wondered how big the earthquake had been, where it had originated. I had lived through weather-related natural disasters before, but nothing had prepared me for an earthquake like this.

My walk to work was usually a quiet one, but it was especially so that afternoon. Cars were still on the roads, but there were very few of them, and they went slowly. I too went slowly – the ground still moved uneasily. And at one point, I passed a car dealership that had lost a panel of glass during the quake; it had shattered all over the sidewalk. Just beyond that was a liquor store that smelled strongly of alcohol. Likewise, the 7-11 was a mess, and the three workers inside looked at a loss for what to do as the aftershocks kept coming.

A street behind the businesses ran parallel to the main road, and it had mostly houses along it, all eerily quiet. I saw only two women, neighbors, who stood clinging to the supports of their carports, calling to each other. I walked by them – there was a gap between two buildings where you could see the houses – just as a large aftershock hit. They both shrieked and held on; I had to read out and steady myself on another carport. It took nearly a minute for that aftershock to pass. One of the ladies saw me and shouted at me to be careful; I said thank you and moved on.

Loc City has a large parking lot that covers three sides of the mall. There were cars parked on the side I always used to enter the mall, and there was also a handful of people sitting a good distance away from the building. They looked like store employees. Since Nova was on the opposite side of the mall, I decided to walk around to it and see what was happening there. There were cars on that side too, and a lot more people. Most of them were sitting at the far end of the parking lot, as far away from the mall building as possible. I started walking in that direction, and it didn’t take me long to pick out my manager in the crowd, sitting on a parking bumper and looking forlornly at her phone. She looked almost relieved to see me.

Unfortunately, she knew as much (or, rather, as little) as  I did. Loc City had been evacuated during the earthquake, and nobody could go back in until it was declared safe. She didn’t think it would be any time soon because of the near-continuous aftershocks. The worst for her was that she couldn’t get in contact with any of the branch’s higher-ups, and considering she’d only been working at Nova for about five months, she had no idea what to do. So we did the only thing we could do: we waited.

About thirty minutes later, we were allowed back into the mall – employees only, of course. Not that there were any customers hanging around; I’m sure they did what all sane people would do and get themselves home immediately to find out what happened. The mall had held together pretty well: a few broken glass panels and some toppled-over displays were the worst I saw. Nova sustained little damage, but then we occupied a pretty small corner of the mall and had nothing much to make a mess of. The power was on, which was the most important thing. I logged onto the computer to find out what had happened, while the manager attacked the phone and started calling whoever she thought might be able to tell her what to do.

By this time, the tsunami warnings had been issued, and I tried to wrap my head around how strong this earthquake had actually been. It was nothing I could have imagined. Even worse, I knew Geordie was both closer to the earthquake epicenter and closer to the coast, and so must have had a worse experience than I’d had. Somehow, he’d been able to post to Facebook that he was okay, and I had the feeling that was the only thing I was going to hear from him for a while. I did the same, knowing that our families back in the States would be waking up to the news and need some reassurances.

An announcement from Loc City came over the speakers, which the manager translated for me: the mall was not going to re-open and it would be closing even to employees at dusk. The manager still hadn’t made contact with her boss, so to kill time, she settled in to start calling students to tell them that classes had been canceled. She told me I could go home, but I wasn’t in any hurry to do so, so  I told her I’d stay with her a little while longer. Again, she seemed a little relieved.

All the while, the aftershocks kept coming, some of them fairly strong. About 4:30pm, another announcement was made: Loc City was closing at once, right now. We had no choice but to leave. I still hadn’t got hold of Geordie, and I had no idea if he was on his way or was stuck in Hitachi or what. I told the manager I’d walk to the station with her; I was curious to see what was going on there.

As it turned out, nothing was happening. The trains were shut down indefinitely. Neither the manager nor myself were that surprised. Much of the Tsukuba Express is elevated, while most of the rest of it travels underground.  While it would have been nice to find them running, I can only imagine how dangerous it would have been. The local line was also stopped. The station was in the throes of controlled chaos. Nobody seemed to know what to do. Buses were still running, but the lines for them stretched longer than they’d ever been. At least thirty people were standing in line at the taxi pick-up, even though there were no taxis to be seen at all. Across the street, Moriya’s only hotel had a line out the door.

“What are you going to do?” I asked the manager.

She took a deep breath and said, “I will try to call my boyfriend. He is in Kashiwa.” She normally took the train to work, just two stops on the Tsukuba Express. Not so far, but now it seemed like a long way away. Still, he was closer than Geordie was. And he had a car. If she got hold of him, he could come and pick her up.

“That’s good,” I said. “I’ll go home too. I’ll see you on Monday.”

“Okay,” she replied. We waved goodbye, and that was the last time I saw her.

I don’t mean that in an ominous way. I heard nothing from Nova over the weekend, so Geordie and I walked by Loc City on Monday. It was closed. Tuesday was supposed to be my final day teaching, the only day of work at Nova that I had actually looked forward to. There were a lot of students I hadn’t been able to say a proper goodbye to. Loc City was open on Tuesday, but Nova was not. Even though I had come to hate my job at Nova, there were still many students I enjoyed teaching and talking to, and I wish I’d had one more opportunity to tell them so. It was not how I wanted to leave the company, but there was nothing I could do about it.

(to be continued)

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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