Safecast radioactivity map.
Late afternoon March 11, 2011
Just outside Sakura no Seibo Junior College, Fukushima, Japan
Radioactivity — 0.36 + microSv/h
She is there in a small tiny apartment, cold and alone. Beaten by life, optimistic. A smile graces her face. Surrounded by madness, sane. They said, “Know when to walk away.” To get out of the burning car and take that first step. To walk away before the flames touch the gas tank, before she can’t work. To walk away before the neurons fail and it gets too hard. The ambient air shimmers with heat, microscopic nanoparticles of fallout. This Fukushima angel is the future, our future anywhere around here. Waters are rising and tempers are simmering to a boil. She lights a joint, California kush shipped in via UPS. This is now, here, there or anywhere. What is it to be alive when the car’s on fire and you’re just walking away? Where is love and home when it’s in a box, five or ten on a truck driving to a new ‘hood? Survival mode and nothing more masks the subtlety and grace of the city cloaked in a thin veil of fallout, just enough to cause her eggs to mutate 0.0001% faster, to what no one knows. His sperm count was in the red, it was a lost cause. Their marriage was a waste of time. Earth is on fire and there’s nowhere to go. Just hop out the car and run. The war on drugs is on her, on him. It’s one day in the life of the post-modern couple and we’re all looking for answers.
Radioactivity 0.36 + mSv/h, Sakura no Seibo Junior College, Fukushima, Japan.
“New map shows America’s quietest places,” Science, Feb. 16, 2015 from here.
Apple Store, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Ambient Noise Level — 75.9 dB
He is there typing on an Apple Macintosh laptop, cold and alone. Beaten by life, optimistic. A smile graces his face. Surrounded by madness, sane. The screen to the right promises human contact that costs nothing other than the purchase price of an iPhone, a photo walk in local surroundings. Off work for the week from UPS, afraid his analytics scores are not high enough to meet the cut. The metaphors of this adult kid’s hour are not that opaque. It’s going to be an admiration fest of big houses, manicured gardens, front yards, birdhouses, and fountains. Boring, at least to him.
He checks his Facebook account for the tenth time in the afternoon, realizing that his friend Kate in Amsterdam has some questions. She writes of his short story post, “Nicely written … and what is the concept? To run? On what sign? To where? … or will we all be lost? Can she get off the island? Will all marriages be useless? Will they go live underground? How long? … haha? I am building food forests for after the apocalypse … wow! Very end times … Fukushima is a horror … for all of us… I don’t dare swim, nor eat fish. No more.” He writes back, “I’d love a paragraph from you.” She replies, “Wink. Smile. Haha. Emoticon. I’ll think about it. Cool, yeah! First World War III … Revelation, this woman? Ah! She’s fine! She understands our situation very well. She’s sane, living in the end times of what, we don’t know.” “Age of Aquarius,” he writes back.
To map the normal hysteria of his baseline existence in real time, giving the real time data stream away as entertainment, is his dream. In all that, the first thing to do in a time of panic is to know where the noise is. The ambient noise of panic, joy, mayhem, ecstasy, and agony. The birth pains of a dream, a silent city with nothing but humans and spaces. No electricity, no speed … silence. To visualize the screams of terror of the masses as they withdraw. What will it take? To be subtle at first, to cloak the intention of the project in a veil of good intentions. It begins as a survival strategy, a plan for answers in an infinitely complex Gordian’s knot.
Walking home, he picks up an ounce of weed from his friend DMT Max and a set of Ziplock freezer bags. Picked fresh from the foothills of Mt. Shasta last week, he drops the fragrant, medicinal herb purchased from the Shasta Green Heart Collective into the Ziplock bags and wraps them for shipping. He writes her address on the envelop Sakura no Seibo Junior College, Fukushima, Japanand drives to the UPS Store. He mails it UPS Air Express, and goes to work. He wants to go legit, to live a good life. To be like his parents wanted him to be, a smart beautiful wife, 2.5 kids, a dog, a three-bedroom home, and a white picket fence. To not give a shit. To be cold, and care about nothing but North Face jackets, iPhones, cars, and house drapes. There’s a long way to go from here to there, it’s impossible to him now. He gets lost in yoga, cheap beer, dancing, and poetry. Head in the clouds because the ground is full of pain. Full of suffering, sonic noise. A cacophony of voices, cars, and computers. He wants it all silent, like the woods. Yet, he craves attention, affirmation, and the presence of others. Where to find that? In Facebook, or on a walk around the Apple Store? In a book, or in a bar? Where?
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…’”
Late morning March 11, 2011
Biology Building, Sakura no Seibo Junior College, Fukushima, Japan
She woke up one late morning to the sound of a nun shuffling across the room to catch an errant piece of dropped chalk. Biology class was always a drag, being right before lunch. Dazed and confused she did as she always did in times like that, she raised her hand and asked an impossible question. “What are we to do as good Catholics with the genetic editing enzyme CRISPR-Cas9 in light of Pope Francis’s stance on climate change?” She knew like every other lazy ass with a genius IQ level the best defense is a strong offense. To avoid punishment for sleeping it’s best to shock the nun into cerebral submission. “We’re talking about Mendelian inheritance now, dear, not what?” the nun replied bluntly. “I know, so am I.” Just that second the intercom came on and simultaneously everyone’s Androids and iPhones blared an emergency warning system alert.
“There’s been a tragedy today” the college president announced on the speaker. Students scrambled to decipher the EMS messages while simultaneously clumsily trying to silence their devices. “A tsunami hit one of the Breeder reactors at the nearby power plant, and we are here to inform you that there is nothing to worry about. Everything is contained, no radioactivity has been released and we have seamlessly switched the electric power to draw from backup generators. Keep calm and carry on students.” The president ended his statement, phones were quickly put away, avoiding the wrath of the nun. The chalk rolled on as if nothing had happened, under the gap in the door to the hall. The bell rang, the nun groaned, and all the students heaved a sigh of relief. Everyone left the room but the nun and her. “Why do you sleep through biology? You know more than I do, why?” “I have salsa class now, I’ll see you later,” and with that she left the classroom like all her peers before her.
Her body was a billboard for her inner state, a neon sign for her neurotransmitter ratios and moods. One flick of her jet black shiny hair to the right and you knew you dropped a decimal place, or was off count by half a step. A Sailor Moon style curtsy meant several things, you were in, she thinks you’re odd, you have it coming not necessarily balanced or in that order. Dance was an escape, a connection to space, air, and the unspeakable force of life. In a time of madness, it was her portal to the Goddess energy in her deepest recessed of her repressed Japanese female soul. As much as she wanted to be a rebel without a cause, a libertine free of restraint sexual, moral or otherwise she was tightly bound by ancient codes of behavior evolved from feudal days and before. Catholic values and theology was her grandmother’s escape after her Hiroshima. She had folded 9,454 paper cranes as prayers for peace, peace, peace after suffering severe radiation burns. Passing away before the count could reach the 10,000 target promising immortality right before the last breath of air left her lungs, a nun came and prayed with her. That was enough to bypass centuries of hatred and she died believing that there was a promised land, with a smile on her face, in heaven. That’s the memory that she had that shackled her with restraint, a dance here or there in a dark club late at night freed her inner Kali. The devi, chasing a fleeting moment of feminine memory before agriculture and city-state, freedom.
…to be continued…