Living in the now?

People keep asking me how my trip was… and I keep having to pause to think about it, realizing that I’m not sure what to say, and then I end up just kind of shrugging saying generally that it was good… and not entirely convincingly.

Thinking about it now, I find it to be a lot like Mondays.

People ask me how my weekend was, and I have no idea… That was last week… I’ve already reset for the new week, and last week is all the way I’m the past now.

Being back in Houston again, living in my own house again…, I can help but feel I am right back to where I left off from here.

Second week of December, Christmas is coming, then New Year’s… more cold weather for a while…

Not the third week of January, Christmas over and Nee Year’s over and the weather likely to be ok the warmer side more and more already…

I felt the cool air this evening – love 20s and low 70s – blowing a perfect temperature over my leather jacket while riding, and I realized I expected it to grow colder over the next several days…, and also that it would do no such thing.

This is Houston – it gets warmer from here.

And so, as I look back on my past month, I feel almost that it never happened… not recently, anyway.

It feels miles away (which it actually is) and so long ago…

Just like my weekends feel on Monday mornings.

Looking at photos and telling my cousin this afternoon about part of our trip, I know that t was an absolutely spectacular trip.

But it just doesn’t feel so much like it, and I think that is mostly due to the fact that I have moved onward and am focused on what I have to do here and now, not on what happened last week or the two weeks before that, or even further back than that…

Yeah…

P.S. I keep writing 2019, though…, so maybe I’m not too much in the now, but in a fairyland dreamscape instead… haha 😛

Post-a-day 2020

Wow

I went dancing tonight.

And it was amazing.

And I met with friends I hadn’t seen in years.

And that was amazing, too.

And we all danced.

And my brother watched (and totally loved it! – Yay! -).

And it was a beautiful time, for which I am incredibly grateful.

And then my brother and I (and everyone else) headed home for the night.

And we got crammed into the train like sardines.

My brother wasn’t sure if we would make it on the train.

I told him it usually works out somehow.

I think he didn’t believe me.

His bulging eyes at the view when, not only did we make it onto the train, but so did another 20% of what had already gotten on before us after us, gave home away.

He started laughing, and it made me start laughing, and I could hardly breathe enough to catch my breath back – from being squeezed out every time another surge of people happened, and I was shoved, once again, into the pole in front of me, as I laughed so hard, I cried.

We took a selfie.

It was hilariously lovely.

And that was how we began my brother’s birthday, crammed in a train, laughing ridiculously.

😉

Post-a-day 2019

Nerves

I am leaving for Japan in only a matter of weeks… and I am slightly terrified.

I trust that it will be a perfect trip, however, that doesn’t mean that everything is automatically sorted for me for the trip.

I still am figuring out where to stay and when.

My Japanese needs a serious boost in preparation.

I need to figure out price options for when my brother is there with me, and then find and book that place, whatever it will be.

I need to reach out to everyone else I want to be sure to see.

I need to figure out if I can manage dance shoes in my packing.

I need to figure out what to bring.

I need to pack.

I need to relax just a bit, and still get my stuff handled.

Today, I started a bit of Japanese review, by watching the next episode of this silly Japanese Netflix Original I used to watch when I lived in Japan, “Good Morning Call”.

And it felt good.

It actually excited me about my upcoming voyage, as opposed to leaving me stressed about it all.

I looked up this week Airbnb options, and now have a bit of an idea as to what I might end up doing for all three parts of my Japan time.

I have reached out in the past week and a half to all but one of my super important visit people (the one had already agreed about my visiting a month or two ago).

My knees are continuing to heal, and I am gaining confidence that they will be okay by the time I am in Japan.

Hopefully, they will be healed and at full, comfortable function well before then.

Also, I am exhausted…. and my teeth hurt… my lower teeth, especially…

I had to change my aligners today, so my teeth are all sore and in pain… however, this is the first day of my final month with these aligners all the time(!!!).

Yay!!

Anyway, gotta sleep… 4-ish start in the morning… :/

Love the World.

Peace

Hannah

Post-a-day 2019

A found letter from Japan

I found this today.  It is from last August….  I suppose I sent it out in an e-mail to people… but I might have just considered sending it out, and never actually did it.  I have edited only the name of the town… just ’cause… you know, Japan.  😛

…………………………………………………..

My dearest family (and my friends who are like family),
I write to you from my new home in T—, Japan.  It is a small suburb of Tokyo, with a whopping (supposedly, anyway) 100,000 people.  I am tasked with assisting English language teachers at two different high schools in the town, one of them an art school, with specialties in painting/drawing/arts of that sort and music, and the other school a sort of engineering-for-mechanics-esque school.  My vagueness is purely due to the fact that no one seems to be able to explain to me about the schools.  On that note, no one seems to be able to explain anything to me clearly.  Guess that’s why I’m here in the first place – to help them with English, and to learn Japanese.
Going along with the lack of understanding point, I literally have no idea what’s going on around me a good amount of the time.  I was sort of trapped in my apartment the night I moved into it – I had purchased a futon (Japanese version of  a mattress – not too sure if I’m fond of it yet, ‘cause I miss my bed, but I think I can handle the futon alright) and toilet paper and towels, but that’s it.  No one could give me a map of the area (and didn’t think of it except for when I specifically asked for one); I didn’t have a copy of my address; and I don’t speak Japanese to be able to ask people for directions to get home if I went out and got lost.  Oh, and I had no phone or internet to look up where on earth to go without a paper map.
And, the best part: My predecessor told me that she had a lot of things she was giving me, so I wouldn’t need to buy most things like a fridge, storage, dishes, “that kind of stuff,” she said.  Way-to-be vague… 😛  So I had to eat food from 7/11 until she delivered her stuff to me… three days later.  No way to cook anything, because she has the electric burner for me to use.  No way to keep anything cold, so I couldn’t have fresh food of any kind for lunch at work (slash at all, since 7/11 isn’t entirely in the category of ‘fresh food’).  No way to feel like I’m not just possibly going to die (Yes, I realize the drama here.).
On top of it all, I was super stressed that I kept asking about going at least to get me a phone number, so that I could use the internet to function (map, translation, where to buy what, etc.), and they, unconcerned, mentioned that someone could take me some time next week “probably”, but I had to know exactly what plan I wanted and from which company.  Thanks, dude.  And how exactly do you propose I figure out that information with no internet, no map of the town, and no Japanese skills?
How did I solve the problem?  I went to meet another ALT (Assistant Language Teacher (Terminology for my program)) in Tokyo.  We’d become friends during the brief orientation in Tokyo earlier in the week, and she was up for helping my get a phone, so I didn’t have to stand in the 7/11 parking lot for super slow, choppy internet anymore (which I’d only discovered the night before).  Plus, I just needed some love.(1)
So I spent the day in Tokyo.  After two hours in the phone store, and using a translator (real person) on the phone, I had a new phone and a decent phone plan for the next two years.  We then went to Starbucks for a break and free wifi (for my friend to use), and we each caught up on all of our e-mails, messages, etc. from a million different people.
We then walked around a bit, and visited the Tokyo Tower area.  I had this realization as we passed one part of a temple there, that still hasn’t fully hit me.  Back home (USA), we have houses, etc., designed to look like traditional Japanese architecture, yes?  When I was looking at the temple building, my background, passive thought was the same as when I see such styles back home… and then I realized that this building is not made to ‘look like those buildings in Japan.’  This building IS ‘those buildings in Japan.’  It’s still sinking in.
(1) I can note here that I’d actually gone down to Tokyo that Friday night, just after discovering that I had internet in the 7/11 parking lot, which is down the street from my apartment (so I was able to find it without getting lost or anything – FYI streets don’t exactly have names here).  I was absolutely ready to cry from the stress of sitting around, waiting for people to take forever to accomplish tasks – unfortunately, my supervisor has never done this sort of thing before, so she had to have everything explained to her multiple times – and not knowing how I was even going to get dinner (I only found the 7/11 that night).
A friend who already had a phone (because he speaks Japanese, and so figured it out while we’d all been at orientation), happened to be in Tokyo for a festival with a coworker and the coworker’s friend, and invited me to come down for the evening.  So, I managed to access train schedules (just barely with the internet connection there), screen shotted them, and set up a rescue plan, should things not work out (i.e. I knew 7/11 had internet, so I’d go find any 7/11, and the friend would come find me there), before rushing off to Tokyo.
I walked right into my friend when I arrived in Tokyo, and was given a nice, big hug.  Hugs are really one of the best medicines.  We watched the tail end of the festival (very cool with dancing performances and drums and bells all along this long street), and then all went to dinner.  Turns out I only live a town over from the coworker’s friend, and she and I decided to be friends.  (We’ve been in touch ever since.)
………………………………………………..
Post-a-day 2018

Longest and Shortest Years

Okay, please exclude February 29th from existence for this reading and any further conversation on the topic.  Kay, thanks.  😉

……………………………………………

Thus ends the longest year of my life.  It began in Tokyo, Japan and ended in Houston, Texas, thereby making it 13 hours longer than any regular year in my life.  Last year, 2016, was the shortest year of my life by 13 hours, because it was reversed: It began in Houston, Texas and ended in Tokyo, Japan.

Before this year, my shortest year had been 2012, beginning in Houston and ending in Vienna, Austria, making it 7 hours shorter than usual, and making 2013, which ended in Houston, 7 hours longer than usual.  Those years are now in second place for the shortest and longest years of my life.

Fun, huh?  😛

When I was little, I made several lists of things I wanted to do in my life.  I remember writing into one at some point that I wanted to live the longest and shortest year possible one day.  That means spending one December 31-January 1 in the first time zone, the following in the last time zone, and then the third in the first time zone again.  I now actually have friends in both locations, so it is totally possible.  Let’s see if I can pull it off, shall we?

…………………………………………..

Just to drive me nuts, these had to clash with leap years, instead of working with them.  I’ll get there some day, I imagine.  I’ve gotten so close without even putting forth a conscious effort already.  I can only imagine what I’ll pull off in the future.  And I know it will begin with the January first of a leap year, whenever it happens.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

Getting to the airport

So, I still hate living in Japan, and it reminded me of this fact on my way to the airport this morning.  However, I also still truly love parts of this place and culture.  My trip to the airport reminded me of this fact, too.

As I struggled with three rolling bags and a guitar (I know, I know – stupid.  But it was unavoidable.), the terrible signage and lack of findable elevators was driving me insane, along with the constant rumble strips for hard-of-seeing individuals (I don’t blame anyone for that – it merely added to my struggle, is all, with the suitcase wheels constantly getting stuck in them.).  

So, rather than just being able to take an elevator to the right level, and walk flat to my airport train, and then take a second elevator down, I took what felt like an insane route, due to poor signage.  Struggling to exit the final tiny escalator (width-wise tiny), and get my stuff out of the way for the people behind me, I was totally I surprised to find myself outside with rain.  Yes, the whole station connects in a covered and underground area.  But this was the only path I could take, based on signs (which I know is false information, because I’ve been to the same area before, just from a different direction).  I finally gave up attempting to pull both big bags at once (one had the smaller rolling bag on top of it, and was somewhat impossible to manage off smooth, flat terrain), and just left one sitting near the escalator.  I trudged through the rain with the two bags, and wasn’t even sure how far I would go before turning back for the other bag.  I was unconcerned about leaving my bag, though, because 1) this is Japan, 2) it’s freakin’ heavy and hard to move, and 3) some station staff were standing right near it, and they saw me leave it there in my struggle.

I could tell the station staff guys were a bit concerned about my bag, so, when I found a spot covered from the rain, just around the corner, I propped my two bags against the wall, and started heading back for the other bag.  Of course, there were no signs for the train line I wanted, but that was no surprise – this is Japan.

As I came around the corner, however, one of the old men station workers was heading my way with my bag.  I thanked him in Japanese, and started to go to take the bag from him, but he asked in adorable English (meaning I understood, but it was not really correct at all) if I were taking the Narita Express.  I said that I was, and he just nodded, kept walking, and pointed up the escalator to the left.  I quickly grabbed my other bags and followed.

The big bags barely fit on the even smaller escalator we were using, but we managed.  At the top, I expected he might return my bag to me, but he again kept walking ahead of me, showing me the way to a train whose signs I still couldn’t find.

Remember that this is Japan (as if you could forget), so, of course, we came to a staircase now.  No alternate route.  None.  But we took an escalator to where we were, so it makes perfect sense for only stairs to follow.  But then, the upside of Japan came again, and a young-ish guy helped us carry the bags up the stairs, once he saw the station worker attempting to pick up one of my bags, as I carried another up with the guitar.  I heard the station worker comment to the guy that I was alone and carrying all three suitcases, and I smiled – people really can be super sweet here.  I in no way deny that.

So we continued on, and found our ticket barrier for the train.  I still had to buy a ticket, so he asked the window worker, and she sent me to the machines.  Unfortunately, the 7:13 train that was about to leave didn’t have any tickets available on the machine.  The next was at 8:00-ish, which started to put me into a panic.  I quickly asked about the 7:13 train, and my old man asked the window people for me.  Yet another station worker came from the window, and started tapping at the machine screen for me a few moments later.  Eventually, despite various issues, I got a ticket for the 7:13.  At least, it would let me on the 7:13.

Again, I heard the conversation happening about my being hitori desu! and mitsu desu ne.  The worker who helped me get my ticket then took over for the old man from the other section of the station, and took one of my big bags for me.  I thanked the old man profusely, and marveled one last time at his light blue eyes.  He wished me luck and courage.

I got stuck in the ticket barrier.  Yes, literally, because the one bag was too wide, and so the lady let me go back and bring my bag through the side area.  However, that meant that my ticket was eaten by the machine, since I didn’t make it all the way through the barrier.  And I only had so many minutes before the train.

The lady rushed over and opened up the ticket barrier, pulled out my ticket from a bin, and handed it to me, wishing me luck and courage, as well.  I thanked her greatly, and started rushing after the worker who’d taken my other bag.

We had just barely five minutes, and I could  tell we had far to go, simply by the fact that he was checking his watch and hurrying along so quickly.  The long corridor that greeted us as we rounded a corner made me a bit more nervous.  We rushed down the walkway, though, and he eventually declared that it would be okay.  He led me to an elevator (phew!), and we went down to the track.  The whole time, he had been talking with me, chatting about my stay and whatnot, and then telling me about where I could sit on the train.  Some good final practice for my Japanese, I suppose.  It was really nice to have someone to chat with me casually, though, especially with the physical stress and mental workout that had been going on so far today (and that still awaited).

He helped me on the train, showed me the secret seats in the wall, and wished me safety and good health.  After a few minutes on the train, the ticket checker guy who’d seen us get on came out of his little room and smiled at me as he walked past.  A few moments later, he came back and summoned me silently with the Japanese wave.  I followed, and he offered me a real seat in the cabin.  I thanked him, and collapsed into the seat.

Now, a bit of snacking and a bathroom break later, I am almost to the airport.  I don’t know how much my bags weigh.  One is for sure okay, the other concerns me a bit.  I’ve never measured 70lbs before, so I don’t know how that feels.  I’m a rather good judge for 50lbs, though, and my second checked bag is right close to 50.  My carry-on is way heavy.  But it might still be okay.  We shall see…

I still have to cancel my phone contract at the store, too.  And get through security with my Fuji-San hiking stick.  And make it on the plane, of course.  So, let’s hope for the best here, eh?

Fingers crossed!
P.S.  Oh.  And, as a side note, I happen to be sick right now, too.  It all started with the whole smoking at dinner the other night. My throat started burning then, and hasn’t stopped since.  :/

Post-a-day 2017

Getting ready to time-travel

And so one thing ends, and, with anxiety, something new begins.  Tonight, I complete my life here in Japan, and dream one last dream before I move forward to my next step.  I felt like I was in “What About Bob?” today, taking my mother’s guidance to do whatever needs to be done next – aka baby steps.  I took my baby steps all day long today, and finally got it all finished.  I even accomplished a few things I expected not to be able to do.

One of those things being seeing the guitarist I’d seen a couple weeks ago at the nearby train station, who had greeted me in English one night as I was moving my stuff to my friend’s place.  He greeted me and asked how I was doing tonight, as I was walking in Shibuya, and ended up accompanying me, with my comfortable acquiescence, to the phone shop to disconnect my phone (It was closed.), and then buying me a Japan-only Yuzu frappucino from Starbucks, and sitting with me as I finally watched the Shibuya Crossing from the Starbucks window (It wasn’t actually very impressive, but I think I never really expected it to be, anyway.), at which point, we finally discovered that we had, in fact, seen one another those two or three weeks back.  He was a nice guy, Ryo.

I ended my evening with my last gaiten zushi (conveyor belt sushi), on which I spent ¥680 (just over $6 US), and which I didn’t even finish eating.  I’ll miss such affordable sushi, but I’ll survive quite well back in Houston, I do believe.  Green smoothies and colorful veggie-based juices are calling me.

And now, at long last, I shall sleep.  Rest, anyway.  We’ll see if it really is sleep tomorrow morning, when my alarm wakes me just before 5am.  I hope I wake rested well.

Anyway, this is it, I guess.  Tomorrow morning, I say goodbye to Japan, and then I time-travel (departing 11:10am on Saturday, 12 August, and arriving 9:30am on Saturday, 12 August).

Goodnight!

Post-a-day 2017