It's hard to believe that an 8.9 earthquake just hit Japan. Even harder to think that it was my friend's hometown, Sendai, that was hit hardest. She is here in Santa Cruz studying; she's fine and her family is okay, but her home university is pretty much destroyed.
We've felt some effects of the earthquake over her on the West Coast of the U.S. in the form of a small but forceful tsunami. Waves were predicted to hit the California coast between three and seven feet. In Santa Cruz, flocks of surfers were out at Steamers - it was really clean! - and people were even surfing usually-flat Seabright. The harbor was hit hardest; around thirty boats sank and many others were damaged. More details are here.
The tsunami hasn't felt like a big deal to me. I don't have a boat, I don't (quite) live at sea level and I am far away from the earthquake and its aftershocks. I love earthquakes, but I can't imagine what it would be like to experience an 8.9. What I mostly feel here is the sense of excitement that comes along with the novelty of a state of disaster: looking at unusual scenes (half-sunk sailboats, exposed copper pipes between surges of mucky harbor water, the looky-loos spending their Friday afternoon drinking beer on the bridge over the harbor and watching the Harbor Patrol try to boat up the current) and wondering what will happen next.
Most of all, I'm touched by the amount of love I've witnessed through this catastrophe. I got emails yesterday from close Swedish friends and family wanting to make sure I was alright. After the biggest earthquake ever recorded to hit Japan, I wanted to express my sadness to Chihiro. All I could do was give her a hug.