5:42 AM

As you may have heard, Japan had a pretty serious earthquake today!  I'm from the east coast, so being part of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, well... had me quaking in my boots!

I marked these pics to show about where we live, and the relative strength of the quake compared to where we are.  For as strong as we felt it, I cannot imagine getting closer to the epicenter!

I have to admit, I did have the beginning stages of a panic attack during the quake.  I was at work, on the second floor of our building, and I was asking a coworker for help with something. He just looked at me strangely, and asked if I could feel the earthquake.  Sure enough, that is when I noticed things starting to shake on the walls and I started watching out of the rattling window.  The shaking grew progressively stronger and stronger, and we both walked over to a doorway and started to wait it out.  It was so scary having it last as long as it did! The entire time I kept thinking "Ok, it should end now!" and it just kept going strong!

My panic attack came once I realized the quake wasn't your run-of-the-mill teensy tremor, but an actual large one, and all I could think about was getting my kids on the phone to make sure they were alright and not terrified.  Cell service stopped working (for about 3 or 4 hours, actually), but I got a hold of them quickly and they were fine - had fun with it, actually.  The earth continued to sway for several minutes afterwards. Strangely enough, it took all of us at work a few moments to realize that the movement wasn't our bodies adjusting to not shaking anymore or relaxing from the adrenaline rush, but the earth was actually swaying!

The aftershocks have been continuing all day, and as I write this tonight on my laptop in bed, I'm still feeling them!  The only person who didn't get to experience this monumental event was Lance because he was on a plane home from being on a detachment for 3 weeks!  Talk about timing on his part!

We are all ok, there was no damage to speak of (other than to my well-being), and hopefully there will be no follow up quake to match what we experienced today.  It seems as most of the damage is further up north, closer to the epicenter.  The big commotion around my area (I'm an hour outside of Tokyo) is that the train stations are not operating because, apparently, the lines are being inspected thoroughly for damage before they run the trains, and so thousands upon thousands of people (think Friday evening Tokyo rush hour crowds) are stranded at stations.  For that matter, railroad crossings for cars (which are a dime-a-dozen here) are blocked to allow for the inspection, so the traffic is INSANE! Oh... and the expressways are shutdown, too.

Needless to say, we stayed at home this evening, in the comfort of our own home and with our little family all put back together again after a tumultuous day.  I know its so cliché, but its sad and interesting to see how much you realize you take for granted once you have your own experience of some sort, and to see how much it makes you appreciate the things in life you do have.  I wish I could keep this sense of  of thankfulness all the time, rather than when crises are thrown at me.

I suppose that is my valuable lesson for the day.

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