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Apple-Eating with Strong Mental Power

March 19, 2011

Update:  We got a great comment and also more text from Umi!  Thanks, Umi!  We totally support her refusal of ganbaru and also her reasons!  We need some new words.  Let’s find them!

This post is for those who need a break from the news, the overwhelming and overwrought feelings, etc.  We know it’s not for everyone, so please skip this one if you feel like smiling faces, food, or silliness is not what you need at this time.

We will have another teach-in on Monday and will have more translations to post soon.  Please notice the link to the new page at the top for translations of Tomoyuki’s Hoshino’s Twitters.

We saw this video on the Irregular Rhythm Asylum blog.

It was made by Umi and friends in Oakland.  At the end of this post, you can read what Umi wrote.  We appreciate it very much.

We tried out this coping activity at our teach-in yesterday.

We cried a lot during the teach-in and also shared lots of angry, frustrated, flooded, and other tough feelings.  This activity helped when we needed breaks.  We also know lots of people don’t have and can’t get apples, but we at least wanted to respond in kind to Umi and friends.  

You can read about the teach-in in the post we made earlier today.  There are some good links for reading in that post too.

Here is the video response some of us made.

We do not want to minimize what has happened, is happening, what our loved ones and everyone in Japan is facing and feeling, what we are all facing, and what we are all feeling.  Some of us have lost people we love, and many of us have family and other dear ones in Japan. But like the creator of the original video wrote and many of us feel:  Everybody asks me if “my friends and families are alright?”. Even if I can affirm this question because my biological or legitimate family and friends are alright, it excludes so many other people who are part of my social context, so it hurts to say the word “family” or “safe”. There are people who are not legitimately acknowledged by Japanese or other governments. The feelings of how I existed there are part of my muscle-memory. This whole thing cannot be explained by the number of casualty, victims, existence as organisms, or the scenery of torn-down buildings.

We want to honor the “strong mental powers” and the “strong feelings” of everyone who is doing their best to be what this moment is asking of us.

強い気持ちで頑張ろう something?!

Please see the website NO MORE GAMAN.  We like the reference to Leslie Marmon Silko and say thanks to Umi!  We love you!

Here is what Umi wrote (the first part is updated):

以下の文章は2011年3月11日に書かれたもので、このブログを作るに至った経緯を紹介しています。

ニュースキャスターではないから、ずっと深刻面をしてなきゃいけない理由はない。節電も大事かもしれないけど、好きな音楽くらいは聴いたほうがいい。たまにはニュースから離れて、りんごを丸かじりしてみる。海さん、ありがとう。

上の映像についての説明文:

※長い文章な上に、愚痴も多いし、ビデオも不謹慎コードかもしれないので、そんな人はこちらを見て引き返すのが良いかも。
HTTP://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=AR6FZ4H8WHW )

今回の東日本大震災で、日本にいる大切な人々が被災しました。
海外にいると、日本に居るのとは違った視点の情報が入ってくるので、私個人としては地震そのものよりも、放射能汚染を心配しています。

連日の「日本人は頑張っている」等の報道によって、現地に「日本人」でない知り合いを思ったり、あるいは「もう頑張れない」とは普段から言いづらい日本の状況、そして未だに続く、しかし「頑張っている」美談に消されてしまった9/11の報道の在り方などを思い出します。

また「その場」にいない無力感にもさいなまれます。心配だと大切なする人に伝えても、私が得た情報を伝えても、かえって大切な人をを疲れさせたり、「大丈夫、あなたはここにいないんだから心配しないで」と笑われます。

こちらの人に「家族や友達は大丈夫?」と聞かれて、幸いにも「(血縁関係のある家族や友達は)大丈夫だよ」と応えることが出来たとしても、「家族」と認定されない大切な人々や、自分がそこで生きていた感覚が思い出され、すべては被害者の数や、生き物としての生存、壊れた家屋の有様だけでは説明の出来ない。

福島原発周辺のみを「被災地」とするメディアのせいで、東京以南の人々が、あたかも自分たちは「被災地」でないかのように日常生活をしているのを見ると、もっと遠くにいる自分は「冷静」に「しっかり」しなきゃいけないな、という気持になります。私には、国籍と家族の安否という二点以外に悩む資格などないのではないかという思考にさえ、気がつかないうちに陥ります。

しかし、私がもしそう言ったとしたら、「国籍」や「家族」や「学校」などという枠組みを越えた仲間かもしれない人や物事…無国籍者、路上生活者、、在日、無職、引きこもり、障がい者、道ばたであった人、戦友のような仕事仲間、ナンパしておいて飼い犬の写真をくれたおじさん(自分のことを「俺はチキータ」って田園都市線の中で言って来た変わり者の会社員)、移民、非異性愛者、トランスだったり男女という枠に疑問を持つ人、宗教の仲間、音楽、木々、海、魚、米…の境界線がかすんでしまうのです。

私には「冷静」ではいられないし、「しっかり」も出来ません。
今まさに刻々と変わってゆく、被災地で生きた自分の身体が、まるで自分がそこにいたかのように、本当にしんどいのです。私の身体はふわふわとしています。身体が動かない、

眠れない、思考のしすぎ或は思考停止、無理な作り笑いや泣くことしか許されないような感情抑制に気づくのです。まったく眠くならないのに横になっていると、寝たとしても起きたときに、身体が泣かない分だけの熱をためこんで、自分の身体自体が原子炉かのようにさえ思えてくるのです。

私は「しっかり」できない、「冷静」でいられないのも、被害であると思うことにしました。この苦しみを今生きている人、また別の苦しみのある人…とにかく誰に「資格」があるかなどと格付けをするのは一番良くないと思いました。今後ももしかしてトラウマになるかもしれないし、もしかして幸いにも私たちの心配は取り越し苦労かもしれない。どう考えていいのか正直わかりません。

ただ「被災地」という言葉でくくりきれない苦しみを得た身体と心を、私は取り戻したい。

とりあえず、一般の方というより、いろいろな情報を浴びたり、馴れないものや見たくない見たりして疲れている横浜の母親と、留学中の友達、それから長いこと家に引きこもっていて地震の前から足の踏み場もない状態で障がいのある友達、そして私自身のためにビデオを作りました。私にとって今日自分に出来ることの一つでした。

普段から気にかけてくれている同居人や、その場に居合わせた人を巻き込みました。緑の帽子の人は親友で、昔は日本で働いていたのですが、「どう振る舞って良いかよくわからないし、私なんて部外者だし」と言いかけてたんですが、私にとっては、今私がぐちゃぐちゃなのを気にかけてくれている人なので、部外者だなんて思えません。
「無理して深刻な顔しなくていいよ、向こうはそういうのテレビでずーっと見てるし、ラジオ体操さえ流れてないんだから(3.12時点)」と伝えました。リハーサルを一回したのと、撮影前にもやはり落ち込んで自分がりんごをかじっていたので、今日は軽く林檎ダイエットとなりました。

自分自身に悲しみも笑顔も強制したくない、今生きてることを感じたいという私の気持で作ったものなので、見る人の状況によっては「良いご身分のくせに不謹慎だ」と思われるかもしれませんが、御了承下さい(共有も大丈夫ですが、この文章を添えてもらえると助かります)。

ご意見や、他にこんな方法もあるよ、というのがあったら、自分のためにまたビデオを作りたいのです。外に出なくても、電気がなくても、友達がいなくても、障がいがあっても出来るような方法を探しています。呼吸法の共有を考えています。

Apple Eating!
For those who aren’t “there” & anybody who’s sick of the earthquake/nuclear stuff. (translated)
March 13, 2011/ English translation, March 14th (writings get aged so often, what the fuck?)

I suggest that you watch my favorite YouTube video rather than reading my stuff or watching my video because I understand it is too long, whiny, and may trigger you.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar6fz4H8Whw )

My loved ones in Japan are affected by the earthquakes, and by the following nuclear meltdown.

Far away from Japan, here in Oakland California, I am exposed to different sets of information than folks in Japan are. My personal concern at this point is not about the earthquakes, but rather the on-going nuclear pollution.

I read “Japanese are doing great and inherently disciplined to Gaman (coping/ persevering /enduring)” in many media, everyday. This excludes so many people in Japan who are not “Japanese” or are in difficult socio-economic situations, and cannot gaman, yet this suppresses people’s ability to articulate “I can’t take it anymore”. It is very similar to how the media portrayed 9/11 during and after the time of crisis, emphasizing how “resilient” New Yorkers were, putting all energy toward “staying strong”, which silenced many voices underneath.

I am suffering by the fact that I am not “there”. If I tell my worries or flood them with information, it exhausts my loved ones, or they have to laugh me off by saying “It’s okay. Don’t worry too much because you aren’t here!”

Everybody asks me if “my friends and families are alright?”. Even if I can affirm this question because my biological or legitimate family and friends are alright, it excludes so many other people who are part of my social context, so it hurts to say the word “family” or “safe”. There are people who are not legitimately acknowledged by Japanese or other governments. The feelings of how I existed there are part of my muscle-memory. This whole thing cannot be explained by the number of casualty, victims, existence as organisms, or the scenery of torn-down buildings.

Media portrays and legitimizes the area around Fukushima Nuclear Power Reactor as ground zero, the only place of devastation. Affected by the media portrayal, many people in Tokyo or south west seem to operate as if they are not in devastation. Consequently, I drove myself attempting to “stay strong” and “resilient”. I was trapped as if I were not worthy of suffering or traumatized at this moment besides my nationality, or whether my families are safe.

But if I accepted the thought, then I would see no horizon in it. Everything would be blurred from my sights like a thick fog because I lose my actual or potential friends and allies that I adore, am fond of, and care for… people without citizenship, street people without houses or traveling, Zainichi folks, unemployed, hikikomori, suicidals, sex workers, people who attempted to kill themselves, co-workers whom I smoked with on the way back home, a guy who hit on me on Tokyu Denentoshi-line (and ended up giving me his cute old dog, he called himself “Chiquita, just like a Banana’), immigrants, non-heterosexuals, trans, people from the church, music, trees, the ocean, fish, rice……..

I cannot be “resilient”, and I cannot “stay strong” at this moment.

I am in so much pain and so exhausted, as if I were “there” at the very place. My body that lived a life “there” feels the flux of the place, changing its dimension and forms at every second. My body feels like it is floating. I cannot move, sleep, too much thinking or stopped thinking….I realize that I suppress myself only to either fake smile or cry. I lay in my bed but I cannot feel sleepy. When I wake up, my body accumulates all the tears that I could not cry. I feel very heated, physically and literally. I feel as if my body is synchronizing with the nuclear reactor “there”.

I made a decision to claim the very fact that I cannot be “resilient” or “stay strong” as a legitimate casualty. I made a decision that if one is in pain in their own survival, or if one has any pain, I would resist ranking who is more “worthy” to claim or own the pain. This is maybe a long-term trauma, or maybe-perhaps-probably just an overreaction. I honestly do not know what to think.

However, I want to take back my own body and soul that acquired this on-going pain. This pain cannot be categorized in a word like “ground zero”.

For now, I made a YouTube video. This is not necessarily for everybody. I am sending this to my mother who is shaken in the extreme flood of information, and is exhausted from overexposure to the things that she is not used to nor wishes to see. I send this video to my friends who are studying abroad, and a specific friend who hasn’t been out of his messy house (not really due to the earthquake) for decades. On top of all, I made this for myself. This was the only thing that I could do today.

My beloved housemates and a guest who happened to be there are involved in the production. The one behind the green hat is Miriam, my best friend, who used to work in Japan. Miriam said “I don’t know what to do. I think I cannot contribute very much because I don’t know enough.” Of course I shut her up because I believe that Miriam is also experiencing the incidents, as a person who takes care of me when I am in crisis.

I told everybody “Don’t make sad or sincere faces, people everywhere saw enough of it. They didn’t even broadcast the usual aerobics on TV from March 12”. I ate too much apple from our rehearsal. And believe me, I was really eating and biting apples to cope with this terrible depression. It was a great apple diet.

I intended to emancipate myself from forcing myself to mourn or smile. I want to feel that I am alive now. Depending on your situation, you might say “What the heck, damn you, privileged Californians! You don’t know what real pain is!” I cannot blame you because I cannot know your pain. If you forward this video to anybody, please make sure to paste this text too, because I know my good friends were triggered for a while (then loved it).

I even made a blog for this for non FB users! I am looking for more methods, too. Le me know!

http://nomoregaman.blogspot.com/

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2011 4:29 am

    Hi, people from Montreal!
    Thank you so much for your great reply, I am empowered too.
    I have a request about the pasting my post.
    When I uploaded the youtube, because of the limited space, I had to render out many of the Japanese portion which is significant where I criticize the Japaneseness nationalism. This is a very important part of my life, and I personally do not like gambaru, because I had never in my life. I became a school drop out at the age of 11, and I care about other outliers in this capitalistic-military-nuclear-industrial complex.
    I loved your video, because you said your version, and I love your gambaru because I trust that we share a lot.
    But, could you just find the first half of the Japanese post so others may understand both of your message and my message in organic way with celebration to the power.

    Thank you so much! Please keep in touch!
    Love!

  2. March 19, 2011 5:35 am

    Thanks, Umi! We love the first part of the Japanese version, which we didn’t read before you told us about it. This helps a lot because we are trying to learn how to find words that fit what we want to communicate. We changed the post a little and added in the first half! It’s great! Also, your video helped us a lot on Thursday. Thanks for making it. We also like your quote from Ceremony by Silko. Some of us are also thinking and talking about her book Almanac of the Dead. Anyway, we totally love you! If we come up with some good stuff to do, we’ll tell you.

    • March 19, 2011 9:14 am

      Thank you so so much. My English writing only is less intimate, and I think that it is important that each one of us has our own stories.
      It is very hard to learn what kind of frame work that I have, examine it, and deconstruct it to make our future.
      I must say that I am really helped by your video too.
      My awkward youtube debut! lol
      I really felt torn here and there, especially when I think about how nuclear had been impacting us already in my life through my relatives who live in Ibaraki.
      But I really would like my friends and myself to have aid regardless of political points of view, if we had no energy, we would not be able to politicize ourselves in better way, but rather, we would be absorbed into the worst place.

      Silko is, I think great. The reasoning such as authenticity is an interesting topic to combat. The common reading of Silko on Ceremony is to see her as a Native American, but she herself doesn’t quite fit in. I am slowly starting to learn how to talk about this through Arab Ethnic Muslim Diasporas Initiative at San Francisco State University. I hope that we can visit each other for teach-ins. California is definitely warmer, and we also have apples!

      Please keep me posted!
      Love you,
      Umi

  3. March 19, 2011 7:02 pm

    Hi Umi!

    Thanks so much for making this connection and discussion possible by putting your video out there and also engaging us too.

    Yay Umi!

    We are thinking about stories too, and lots of us are trying to find and make new words. Some of us are also struggling with the feeling that whatever we are doing is not enough, and maybe we need a total communication/cognitive overhaul for that too.

    Silko is really good about bringing home how much we need our stories. We love your approach to stories too! If you can get a hold of a copy, check out 帝国と暗殺by内藤千珠子(especially the beginning) and also her newer book (with another amazing intro — try reading it out loud) called 小説の恋愛感触.

    It would be great to have teach-ins together!

    Oh, and the Bay Area is definitely warmer than Montreal!

    We’re sending our love to you all the time!!

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  1. Notes from Teach-in #2 | east306

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