The Reality of Japan, the Fiction of Houston

For the past year I’ve been writing a novel in Houston, where I’ve lived since ’73. A fictional memoir, a first for me, also the first first person story I’ve told. The time period is the eighties and nineties. But now, 2011, when the news we’ve been hearing from Japan is so horrific, it’s hard not to think, to empathize, to wonder, about the people who’ve survived the earthquake, tsunami, nuclear melt down, if they do in fact survive. The Tokyo Electric Power Company hasn’t instilled much confidence with its reporting on fuel rods, salt water cooling attempts, cores of containment. What is crystal clear is the character of the people, the strength of them so much stronger than those containment vessels. How else can you describe those who walk the streets where houses once stood. As stoic as soldiers on their way to battle, which in a sense they are, for their way of living. When devastation strikes, whether it be floods or earthquakes, in the poor countries especially, or New Orleans, there’s been a history of looting, of desperate pleas for help, scenes of people crying, begging, a natural display in times of great need. That ‘s not what we’re seeing in Japan. It’s almost superhuman how reserved they are. How orderly, lawful. What is it about them, these people being scanned for radioactivity, as calmly as if they were having their luggage checked, this steely sense of self discipline that keeps them going in the worse of times. I could say we should have the same steel wills here in the U. S. And there probably are some who do have that strength, never to bend. Not me. I do what I want, when I want. Most of the time. Because my wife’s going to play golf this morning, I have to answer the door soon. Our Spring check up of the air conditioning system. The kind of things we do in suburban Houston, where I live for fiction.