Two Weeks Notice

Today marks living in Japan for two weeks. If I had it my way, Will and I would probably never leave. 

I don’t like change. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve has so much of it in the last year. Either way, I dragged my feet quite deeply about moving here. I was scared. I was scared of moving to another new place. I was scared of not being able to speak the language. I was scared of missing my family even more than I normally did. I was so silly. 

I love our neighborhood. It’s perfect. And I do mean perfect. If you had ever asked me to describe my dream place to live, Mikage is what I would have told you about. It’s quiet, but still urban enough for my tastes. There are flowers and trees everywhere, with a train a block away that takes me swiftly to the heart of Osaka. Our apartment is a dream. Hard wood floors, floor to ceiling windows, and a soaking tub that I can actually cover myself with water in. Even if I hated Japan, I could hide in this little slice of heaven forever. 

The language barrier isn’t as high as it was when I got here, and it’s getting shorter every day. I admit, I’ve lost a little bit of momentum in my learning, but that’s due to how much of the day I spend exploring the area. It’s a trade off I can happily live with. I’m starting to track words that I see out and about. Even if I have no idea what anything means, I can still sound words out and that gives me a certain amount of pride. Most things can be communicated through hand gestures and pointing, and enough people around here know key phrases in English than we can have a short conversation. 

With the exception of the first day here when I was fighting hard against jet lag and total culture shock, I haven’t ever felt alone. I miss my family, sure, but not any more than I usually would. And the constant stream of traveling I have planned (off to England on Thursday) will help keep any feelings of isolation at bay. It’s hard to mope about missing family when you’re planning a trip to the Great Wall of China with your brother and then a week in London with your mother in the same month. 

The only thing I wish was different here was that I had more time to write. I’ve been keeping a paper journal with me so that I can write down what I’m doing with each day, but I always run out of time at the end to transfer all of those thoughts online. I want to share all of my experiences with all of my friends right as they happen! Instagram is helping with that, but I really need to find a way to get everything online. Will has gotten the hang of it over on G+, we’ll see if he has any tips for me. 

Tonight more adventure are in store. I’m about to catch a train so I can meet Will in Kobe. We’re going to a ramen shop that he’s been trying to drag me to since I landed. There will also be some furniture scouting (our place is still a little bit bare) and most likely another pilgrimage to Lush for more bath bombs. The daily soaks here are really eating into my stash. What a hard life. There will be pictures of our evening, promise. 

Not Quite Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood

Life in Japan is beautiful, though not without difficulty. 

I have never lived in a place as breathtaking as Japan. Had I known what it would be like to live here, I don’t think I would have come. I’m very glad I didn’t know. Too often fear of the unknown keeps me from doing amazing things. 

I cannot read, speak or understand most of the language here which is a much bigger deal than I could have understood it be. Will wrote about how isolating it was when he got here, but he has several years of Japanese, even if he was a bit rusty. I had no idea, but I’m not sure you can really grasp a feeling like this until you experience it. Not being able to read? Man, I just don’t even know what to do with that. It’s the most basic skill that so much of my life is built upon and it’s so easy to take it for granted. Even going grocery shopping yesterday was a trial. I only picked up some basic things, the house was unsurprisingly void of food when I arrived, but grabbing vegetables and hangers took me about three times as long as it would have at any other store because I couldn’t read the basic signage, and I certainly couldn’t read the map. 

I also wasn’t counting on being stared at so often by so many people. I did some exploring of the neighborhood and found some parks and inquisitive children. They weren’t so bad, mostly they just tried their basic English on me, but the teenage boys who stared and then pointed and laughed were harder to deal with. I didn’t realize how much the stares and laughs would bother me, but looking back, I’ve never really had to deal with much of that. Even being a sci-fi fan, I got to skip most of that phase as most fannish things were in the mainstream pop culture by the time I came around. 

Today I shall unpack the rest of our luggage that arrived via courier last night. I was 300% done with the world by the time we landed on Monday so we decided to not try and drag the several large bags with us on the trains. It meant lacking clean jeans yesterday, but I survived. It’s been decided that much like the NYC apartment, we’ll just each have our own closets. Will get’s the one in the master bedroom and I get the second bedroom which is good with me because it has much more shelf space. Once the weather clears up, and after I’ve killed some more zombies I’m going hunting for furniture. Will and I found a great antique place when we were out on Wednesday and he told me this morning about another one. 

I still appear to be a morning person and that’s just fine with me. I get up an hour before Will which means I get most of my inbox cleared out before I wake him up and we get more time together that way. On the downside, I’ve been crashing out really early, though that may be the con crud I’m still fighting. We’ll see if this lasts. I hope it does. 

 

Japan – First Blush

For the first time in my life, I am a morning person. 

To be clear, I don’t think this will last, but waking up and being cheerful an hour before Will is a very odd experience. It was nice to watch the day break in our neighborhood and start cataloguing all of the differences between here and the other places I have lived. I watched the fog burn off of the mountains (which are much closer than I thought) behind our building. The range arches around behind us and around the train station (only a block away) so that we can see both ends of it from our two balconies. 

This may be a function of the neighborhood we live in, but I was very surprised by how much space we have and how far apart the buildings are here. Our apartment has three extra rooms we’re not entirely sure what to do with yet other than stuffing friends and family inside when they visit. I also spent an hour rearranging things in the main room (living room/ dinning room/ office) because Will has many skills, but furniture layout is not one of them. Also, the trees, grass, and bushes are all very expertly manicured around here which is very different from the forests surrounding the airport in Tokyo. From the air, Japan doesn’t look drastically different from any other place that I’ve flown to (except that NOWHERE is as green as the UK), but as we got closer to the ground I noticed just how full the forests looked. The trees seem to grow right on top of each other. I plan on doing some hiking of the mountains behind us, so I’ll find out just how real of a thing that is. 

The buildings in the neighborhood look like they’ve been thrown together with very little thought to the general aesthetic, which I really, really like. There are no standard buildings, each one is a different design (there are few – countable on my hand- repeats) and different color. It gives the area a personality that I’ve never seen anywhere else. The streets are wide, and oddly empty. I’ve got a wide balcony next to my desk that allows me to look easily at the street. I only see a few people every couple of minutes, and there didn’t appear to be any sort of morning rush. 

That’s all I’ve really had time to discover, but a representative from Panasonic is coming to meet us in a few hours and I’m sure I’ll learn and see more then. I can’t promise pictures (If I do, I’ll be sure to not do them) but I can promise to try and remember. 

Going The Distance

I feel like I’ve been going about 100mph for the last month and a half. This certainly isn’t a complaint, as I’ve been having an absolutely wonderful time going places and seeing people, but I’m very glad to be in the middle of a recovering week in Chicago. 

I love traveling and I always have. I think there is a little bit of personal magic in traveling. Yes, I know how corny that sounds. You get to learn more about yourself when you travel. How much of you is you and how much is your situation or your location? And of course, this things that are dear to you become immediately apparent. For instance, it isn’t my computer that I need, but more the ability to easily communicate with my friends around the world, and the ability to create. Of course, those things pretty much require a computer, but details and all…

I’ll admit that while traveling is awesome, being away from Will isn’t all that great. We haven’t spent this much time apart since before we were dating and it sucks. The major difference in the time zones wasn’t something we could really have prepared for. Our daily schedules have very little overlap, and we’re only awake at the same time for about nine hours. It’s more like having a long distance co-worker than anything else. 

I’m also missing New York, which I wasn’t expecting at all. Going back to the city brought great relief even though not having an apartment of my own was weird. Not having a home base is weird, in general. I had gotten used to the pace of the city even if I wasn’t going as fast as everyone around me. Now every place I go – except conventions – seems a little slow. Everything and everyone is so much closer, there. I used to hate being packed so closely, but now I feel lonely when I’m in the big empty house that I’m staying in. And how could you not love the convenience? Having three Duane Reades on our street was pretty nice. Especially since one looked sorta like a gutted, gold cathedral. 

I’m not nearly as prepared as I should be for living in Japan. I’ve been studying one of the read and point books that the wife of another liaison lent me, but until recently that had been it. Then the other night the friends I’m staying with brought me to get sushi. 

Previously I hadn’t been a fan of sushi. Until Wednesday, I had only ever had spectacularly bad rolls. I got quite the education on different types of sushi and how the different fish taste that I think will be enormously helpful for day to day life. I enjoyed most of what was ordered, but did actually have issues with the huge proportions which seemed to be specific to the place we were at.  The texture of raw fish doesn’t actually bother me, but too much of anything is a bad thing. 

In five days, I’ll be off to London for the week. Meetings with friends about Loncon and doing a bit of obligatory sight-seeing. If you’d like to live somewhat vicariously, email me about things that you’d like me to go check out. I’ve started a list of things to do, but more ideas will I think, make things better. 

10025

I’m back in NYC for a few days before I head back on the road and I feel very odd about being here. 

I’m staying with my in-laws, and while I love spending time with them, it’s very odd to not be heading back to my old place after dinner with them. It’s not like I haven’t stayed at their place before while living in NYC, but for this to be my home base…it’s just a little off. 

I’ve been having late second thoughts about all my traveling. It’s so much fun, but it’s so damn exhausting. I’m running pretty ragged after my fabulous weekend in Chicago and I’m wondering/worrying if I should try and keep this schedule up, but if I don’t what will I do with my time? Keeping busy and moving around helps me avoid the fact that Will is living on a continent that I’ve never even been to. If I stop, I will find a squishy bed to hole up in and not get out of it until Will gets back. This is pathetic. I know it is. But it’s also the truth. 

Jesus, it’s a good thing that I left the half case of Thin Mints in Chicago. 

Arisia Wrapup

I had a fantastic time at Arisia 2014. This was the second time I attended and even though this year I lacked Will, I also lacked classes which meant that I had a lot more time to focus on the people.

I took the bus to Boston on Wednesday which gave me a day to recover from moving before the crazy con stuff started and after dealing with all of the shit that the movers pulled, I was very glad to have added the travel padding. I spent the night relaxing and writing full on rage emails to our moving coordinator. Sometime early in the morning a friend, who was the hotel liaison, called to let me know there was an excursion to the hot tub planned because she had the keys to the castle and was heading down with some friends. This was approximately when I discovered that I had apparently shipped the bottoms of my swimsuit to Japan. Substitutions we’re made, good conversation was had, and the the hot tub was enjoyed.

Thursday was wonderfully slow, for some definitions of slow. I started the morning with an epic shopping run with Deb and then spent the rest if the day learning how to work things at the InnKeeper desk. Hotel work wasn’t something that I’d ever really gotten into before, I’d mostly stayed in Hospitality and Ops, and it while I’m not sad that I didn’t get into it before, I’m really glad that Nchanter brought me on board. It was so much fun and now I know what I’ll be throwing myself at once I finally pull myself away from Social Media.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are a blur of party running and table sitting. A good blur, mind you, the dessert teem was a hit, surprise surprise. Doing those things, which I don’t usually do, forced me to talk to a lot of people that I would have hidden from otherwise. Staff is my safety zone for my shyness which is why I know so many con runner and also why I work in so many damn cons. But fear of failure is a powerful motivator, and it was the push I needed to step out of my shell.

I took an extra day after the con to recover before attempting to move in to the Twin Cities, and while that turned out to be problematic for weather reasons, having an extra night in my giant pillow fort (king sized bed + seven pillows) was ideal.

I will refrain from rehashing the travel issues I had, and only say that I will never fly anything other than Delta ever again. If you’re really interested in the story you can head to my Facebook account and read about them with some very colorful language.

Arisia was wonderful and I’m very much looking forward to heading back next year.

Stutter

I am always a little bit in awe of my friend, John.

He is a writer, and he manages to post to his blog every single day. There are exceptions to this when he is traveling and taking a break from the internet, but for the most part, I get a notification every day from WordPress in my inbox letting me know that he has some thoughts that he’s dropped on the internet.

I know that this is something that John has spent years doing, and that because he is a writer it is something that he should be doing to hone his craft, but I always feel like a bit of a failure when I can’t string enough words together to make a post about where I’ve been and where I’m going. It’s not that I don’t want to share, I post all the time on FB and Twitter, but I always feel that I have an obligation to put something better together for WordPress. Deeper thoughts. Things that will contribute to the conversation of society. When I am stuck in this cycle of self-doubt, I of course never manage to remember that one of the things that John is famous for is taping bacon to his cat and taking pictures of it.

It’s easy to waste words on social media. Why is a blog so sacred? I’m sure the lack of privacy is a part of it. I could lock down certain posts, but then why bother to type them? Why not keep them in the bound journal that I keep with me. It’s not like I have nothing to write about, either. I’m on the second leg of my two and a half month long bounce around the country.

I think one of the most frustrating parts of this struggle is that I don’t know where this goal comes from. I have no desire to be a writer, though I have occasionally daydreamed about winning a Hugo. There is no story that I feel the need to tell, just guilt when another day passes without a post. Writing helps keeps the mind sharp, but so does reading and being creative in other ways and it’s not like I’m skipping out on that.

I will say, that writing here helps me explore my thoughts, and that is always a good thing. I very rarely start with something specific to say, just a nebulous thought that I want to hammer out and writing seems like the best way to do that when Will isn’t around to talk to. Writing this post has helped me trace some of these feelings to my desire to be good at everything, so I’ll always be needed and always have a place. The fear of being useless or forgotten manifests in odd ways.

But my fingers are getting tired* and there is a consuite full of friends waiting for me. I think chatting with them will help much more with my fears than sitting alone in a semi-dark hotel room wondering what the internet will think of my word choice.

*Another reason I could never be a writer, my hands cramp up waaaaay to quickly for me to have a word count of any substance to hit.

Airborn

The first leg and a half of my insane traveling schedule has not gone to plan. I’m not much worse for wear after all has been said and done, but I am going to work very hard to not piss off the travel ghods again in the future. To that end, and because I’m a little bit of an idiot, I’ve added three more conventions to my schedule. Boskone in February, and Lunacon and Anime Boston in March. Hopefully all of this craziness keeps me from losing any more of my mind while I’m in Japan not hitting the cons that I usually do.

Arisia, unsurprisingly, was amazing. It was great to hangout with friends that I already have, and working the InnKeeper desk helped me make a few more. Including a new friend that pointed out that while fandom might be dead in Manhattan, it certainly isn’t in Brooklyn. Sitting the DC17 table was also good for getting me out of my shell (I know a few of you are still unconvinced that such a shell exists) because you can’t effectively sit a bid table without reaching out to people that you don’t know and talking to them about the bid. I’d rather be a bit uncomfortable than not to my job. The bid dessert parties that we threw also seemed very successful, but I think in the future, two nights of party throwing in a row will be my limit. I was quite done with people come Monday morning.

Getting out of Boston is an adventure that deserves it’s own paragraph. I must first thank profusely Aurora Celeste for getting me to the airport the first time, and Deb Geisler who came and got me from the airport (once it was clear that I was going nowhere for the night due to a delightful winter storm), fed me delicious things, provided great conversation, a warm and wonderful place to sleep, and then a ride back to the airport the next day. Those two ladies are gems, and you should tell them so whenever you see them. If you are a friend on mine on Facebook, you can read about the delays in much more detail with much more questionable language. If not, well, you’ll have to settle for the knowledge that I’m never going to fly anything but Delta again.

I now find myself in Minnesota for the next week wondering why I didn’t just stay in Boston or better yet, escape to Cabo. It’s absolutely freezing here, and family is the only thing that could make these temperatures worth it. I’ll be heading to Supercon this coming weekend which is a relaxacon that I haven’t been to before. I’m looking forward to seeing what that is like and seeing my best friend Jesi and her husband who are driving up.

For now, back to napping. I require a lot more sleep than I used to which is annoying, but also great because you know, warm fuzzy sleep.

Pretending To Be An Adult

Thank You, BuzzFeed

Thank You, BuzzFeed

Packing, no, sorting goes well. My closet has been divided into three piles. Required during travel, shipping to Will, or Goodwill. This was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Champagne and girl friends were not required.

Which is good, because I don’t have both of those things here, anyways. Guess who cleaned out the neverending stock of unused alcohol that we had this morning? I am more than slightly pleased with myself about this and allowed myself a short celebration at Chipotle. Of course, I can’t actually eat the burritos anymore, but their guac is fair game, and what a wonderful game it is.

I have once again run out of water. Notable, because a month ago, I would have been thinking about the fact that I had run out of Coke. I have almost completely eliminated Coke from my daily diet. Not just Coke, but any soda. I still have one occasionally when Will and I go to a restaurant, but they are now a special occasion treat for me. So many of the things that I’ve been used to eating over the years have been cut from my diet due to all of the unknown crappiness that I’ve decided to make this one of the things that I can enjoy every once in a while. It’s been amazingly helpful in terms of weight loss. I haven’t been directly attempting to lose weight, but I can now fit into my skinny jeans (not that they are coming with my on my grand adventures) and that means a lot more to me than fluctuating numbers. I can move my body in ways that I haven’t been able to for longer than I’d like and that’s an incredibly freeing feeling.

I am endless thrilled with having Julie here for the week. She is unapologetically herself and that’s so wonderful to be around. It’s a hard balance to find. Am I being true to myself vs am I being politically correct enough for my environment. I don’t mean she’s a dick, because that’s never cool (and I imagine it’s not a happy self to have) , but she says what she thinks, wears what she wants and doesn’t hold back to make others feel better. Nor does she get hung up on things when others express their disapproval. She listens, decides if she’s going to do anything about it, and then moves on. I don’t know if it’s a me or everyone thing, but I find that balance hard to find and maintain. It’s nice to have someone around where I can let my hair down around that isn’t Will. Not that I don’t love and appreciate that side of our relationship, but it’s nicer to have multiple people around that I can do that with. There are a couple more on the list, but none of them are visiting me at the moment, though I’ll be seeing them in my travels soon.

Back to the neverending task of moving. My original plan was to see as many museums this week, but I’ve migrated to getting as much done on the apartment during the day and spending as little time online as possible. Quite a shift. Quite necessary.

Leaving on Jet Plane

Will left for Japan this morning. At 8:30am (EST) his car showed up, his driver helped him drop his giant suitcases in the back, and off he went.

I admit, I was a little worried about how sad I would or would not be after he left. Will and I have played the long distance game before and it sucked. And of course, no newlywed wants to split up only a few months in. Thankfully, I’ve got an intense travel schedule that will keep me on my toes and allow me to see almost everyone that I want to see before I start my adventure in Japan. I’m also really grateful that I’ll have the two flights home to use. Convergence and Detcon will allow me to see pretty me to see two-thirds of the people that I’ll be missing the most, and then Worldcon will allow me to see the rest. Smofcon at the end of the year will give me the highest concentration of friends that I’ll be missing, so all in all not a bad year planned out.

I’m digging deeper and deeper into research about the area we’ll be living in and creating a long list of things to see and document in one way or the other. I’m exciting about planning a climb up Mt. Fugi. I didn’t think that climbing a mountain would be in my plans during college, but I’m happy to add it and actually get the chance to cross it off of my To Do list. To be fair, living in a foreign country wasn’t on that list, either. I’m tremendously excited about this entire opportunity.

It’s a grey day in NYC today. It’s hard to believe that I only have seven days left in this magnificent city. I’ve got a short trip to North Carolina this weekend and then I’ll be packed and ready to go. If Will’s firm wasn’t paying for movers and packers, I don’t know what I’d do. Well, whatever it would be, there would be a lot less of it. I’m going to hit as many museums this week as humanly possible. Scratch that, enjoyably possible. I always hated running ragged during trips as a kid. Wen I visit somewhere, I want to enjoy the place. Not make myself miserable trying to pack every little bit in.

One of my fellow interns from the summer is crashing with me this week, and I have no doubt that she’s helping me keep the blues away. Julie is always full of life, and I’ll be staying with her for a while in Chicago in February.

And now, back to bed for some reading. This is probably my last lazy Sunday in months, and I’m going to enjoy it.