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Sheltering in place (in Japan)

Well, this has all escalated quickly, huh?

When Nora and I left for Japan, I thought there was a pretty reasonable likelihood we'd encounter some kind of travel disruption. I expected--even planned on--getting quarantined on our return, or having some or all of our flights canceled.

What I did not expect, however, was that it might end up being wiser for us to stay here in Japan due to the spread of the virus in the US. But here we are. And so, Nora and I have decided we're going to "shelter in place" here for an extra month, until (fingers crossed) the worst has passed.

It's kind of a no-brainer, really. The national response to the crisis here in Japan has been extremely well-coordinated. There is food on the shelves, we can still move about the country freely (though after March 28 we'll be settled in an extended stay BnB in Osaka and I expect our peregrinations will be comparatively limited) and the medical facilities seem relatively well prepared for the worst. And, quite honestly, the idea of fighting our way through stressed and clogged airports, then sitting in a petrie-dish airplane for 13 hours, just so I could get home to the house I share with my 70+ year old mother didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

So this morning I spent 2.5 hours on hold getting through to a United agent (2.25 of those hours were spent enduring the most puerile muzak imaginable) and I changed our return flights to May 1 out of Osaka. As of 3/28, vacation is over for me, and I'll be working remote from Japan, shifting my sleep/wake cycle so I can work from midnight to 8 a.m. local time (8-5 PDT).

In theory, it should all work out pretty seamlessly. I brought my personal laptop (which, honestly, is a better machine than my work-issued laptop) and the BnB has Ethernet. Everyone at my office has been sent home to work remotely through April anyway. All of Nora's college classes are online this coming term. Our pets are being taken care of by family (we both laid in extra supplies of dog and cat food and their necessary meds before we left.) The tap has been shuttered along with all the other bars and restaurants in Oregon, and while Brook (God bless him) is doing a yeoman's duty handling the abrupt transition to a growler fill/delivery model, I can continue to help manage the business end of things from here.

So (again, in theory) Nora and I should both be able to carry on just as well from Japan as from the US.

And, in the very worst case scenario, we have 90 days on our tourist visas. If circumstances require, we could even stay here through May. If things haven't resolved by then, I don't quite know what we'll do.

How do I feel about all this? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, I feel incredibly fucking blessed and unbelievably--even unjustifiably--fortunate. I have a job that I can do just as well here as anywhere else. I have enough to see me through, and I know my family at home does too. I am beyond privileged in this time of crisis. I will continue to look for ways I can support those who are struggling through this without the safety net I'm fortunate enough to have.

Anyway, that's the story from here. As of the end of this month, I'm back at work (if not back at home) and Nora is back to school. We'll both be staying in as much as we can, minimizing risk, and being the best citizens of our temporary home as we can be.

Until then, however, we're going to enjoy the rest of our vacation as best we can. We'll continue to (safely) tour the parks and shrines and outdoor spaces of this amazing country. And we'll keep hoping for the best, while remaining prepared for the worst.

Onward to Hiroshima!

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