Hello, Japan.

27 12 2009

Disclaimer: This is just a general overview of my first few days in Japan….have to start somewhere when you’re three weeks behind.

I’m about 3.5 weeks into my Japan adventure.  Why has it taken me so long to write a blog one might ask?  Well, I’m still staying in a hotel for starters – with the slowest internet I’ve seen since 1996.  Loading pictures?  HA.  Also, I wasn’t able to drive until 3 days ago.  Never have I realized how important it was to have an international driver’s license or a vehicle to drive, especially when public transportation is nil.  Not to mention in another language.  I wasn’t issued an ID card when I got here which you need to do just about anything – including get a driver’s license.  Fortunately, the Marines have recently issued me paperwork that allows me the benefits of working on base.  Unfortunately, that requires carrying around a 10 page packet of information in my purse to go along with my ITO, passport, and work orders.  That sucker was heavy before I added a tree.  Another reason for the lack of blogging is the fact that I work.  Like, a lot.  There have been some crazy issues since I’ve been here but it looks like those are getting ironed out slowly but surely.  All in all, I’m working on keeping this more updated.  So back off.

This adventure began on November 30th in the States at about 445 am.  I had stayed up all night packing and repacking, re-weighing my 50 pound bags and being terrified of what I had committed myself to.  My family all came to the airport with me, which was great.  One last kiss and a hug, off I went.  If only it was so easy.  I had to fly from Dallas to Chicago, Chicago to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Okinawa.  Talk about a long day – 24 straight hours of travel.  No screaming kids and no smelly people in the seats next to me, this new life was off to a good start.  And to top it off, all of my bags arrived with me in Okinawa!  Given the amount of plane changes I was doing, this really was a shock to me.  I had divided my clothes up into outfits and put them into different suitcases, prepared for the worst case situation.  One bag gets lost?  No problem, work clothes and play clothes in each bag; I could have gotten by with half of my stuff for a while.  But of course, when one is prepared for trouble, it never happens.  Sigh and relief.

My new boss, Ed, and the current GM of the restaurant, Miro, scooped me up at the airport like an old friend.  One that they can’t quite remember what she looks like.  Luckily, the staff had made a HUGE sign for me so they were pretty easy to spot.  It was a great feeling to be so warmly welcomed by people that didn’t know me from any other American girl getting off that plane.  They dropped me off at the hotel around 11 pm (that’s right, 38 hours after my initial start) for what was supposed to be a night of rest and really ended up feeling like a nap.

Ed was back the next morning at 8 am.  Phew, we sure hit the ground running, huh?  The first day was a big accomplishment.  We were able to get most of my paperwork complete, went to the ID office to make an appointment, met a few people at the restaurant, stopped by the beach, got phone numbers for housing agencies, etc.  Not bad for being in the country less than 12 hours!  Ed left later that evening to attend to business in Tokyo and we both assumed things would go smoothly at the ID office the next morning, it was the last bit of paperwork I would need to do.  And here I am, 3 weeks later, ID-less.  I guess we all know what assuming does…..

Next afternoon at the ID office.  I walked in, checked in, no problems.  Right up until this conversation:

ID office personnel: Last four.

Me: I’m sorry?

IPAC: Last. Four.

Me: Of….

ID: Last four of your social.

Me: Oh, okay sorry.  xxxx.

ID: Ma’am, you haven’t been entered into CVC.

Me: Um, I’m sorry?

ID: Do you know you haven’t been entered into CVC?

Me: I’m not sure what that is…

ID: Well, you haven’t been entered.  Are you active or contract?

Me: (thinking, why did you ask me if i was entered into whatever the hell if you know I wasn’t?)  Listen, I’ve been here, in this country, for less than 36 hours.  I don’t have a clue what you’re asking me.

ID: Active duty military or contractor?

Me: I guess contractor (again thinking, seriously?  Clearly I’m not military if I don’t know what you’re asking me).

ID: Go back to your seat.

Me: I thought this was my seat.

ID: Your seat in the waiting area.

I returned to my seat, my other seat and waited while getting a little bit nervous.  What was this world I was living in?  Acronym city, that’s what.  Here’s where it gets fun.

ID: (conversation in the waiting room) Ma’am, are you DoD or civilian?

Me: Well, I’m definitely not DoD, so civilian.

ID: You didn’t say you were civilian contractor, you said contractor.

Me: I was only given the two options, contractor or active duty.  I wasn’t aware there were two kinds of contractors.

ID: Well, you should have told us.

Me: Okay, so can I go back to my other seat and get my civilian contractor SOFA ID card now?

ID:  No, we don’t issue SOFA ID cards to people.  Sorry.

And he walked away.

Okay now, this was an issue.  That basically meant that I couldn’t do anything on base besides work – not go to the movies, bowling alley, PX, commissary, post office.  Non of the perks I was guaranteed when hired.  Thankfully, there were several people in the office that were very very helpful.  They led us in the right direction.  Now as of the 26th of December, ID cards are in the process and should be done by the first of the year.  I’ll believe it when I see it.

All in all, it’s been a successful three weeks.  I have finally ventured out on my own and was able to explore a little bit of town.  That blog will be next and boy, it’s a good one.  I have figured out most of the acronyms and have stumped a few military personnel along the way in regards to what they stand for.  Work is going fairly smoothly, a new job is never without slight adjustments.  Hotel living will OFFICIALLY be coming to an end after a 1/3 of a year and it won’t be a day too soon.  It’s great at first, but man.  Enough is enough.  Thanks for reading this far, I know it was another long one.  I love and miss you guys, most of you anyway.  Hope everyone had a great Christmas and stayed safe in your crazy weather.  It was 70 degrees here.  Before you get too jealous, keep in mind it also rained over 2 inches.  Sayonara.

xo





pictures pictures everywhere!

12 12 2009

I was finally able to hook my computer up to the internet here!  Which means, you guessed it…I can finally upload pictures.  Unfortunately, I haven’t taken many of Japan quite yet but these are the updates from all the previous blogs – enjoy!

Outside the art car museum, Houston

art car

one of the "art cars"

beer can house

"He thought beer cured everything"

giant armadillo

i forgot about this thing!

orange show

if you live in houston, please visit the orange show.

awkward

also in the orange show....

discovery green

art at discovery green park, houston

discovery green

this was sitting on top of the stairwell to the underground parking garage. discovery green, houston

earth earth earth

artwork at discovery green, houston

campaign time!

all of these were on ONE street corner. Lindsey's back there somewhere.

inside the cathedral of junk, austin

cathedral

on a bed at the cathedral of junk; decided a little too late i probably shouldn't be sitting there.

scary, scary sketchy ladder. cathedral of junk, austin

boliver island

hurrican ike damage in galveston. that was a house.

tandem bike

braving the seawall with the tandem bike. we eventually mastered this. galveston

fanny!

got out of the car for this picture, fanny lifesaver ring in someone's backyard. there's also an anchor...? houston

see ya later

leaving the hotel in houston; 10 weeks of life packed up onto a cart.

sam!

it's like where's waldo? but it's where's lindsey? sam houston in huntsville

family

me and stuie at the ryan bingham concert, brother sister time

stuie at ring bingham

clearly, budweiser was all that was left or this would have never happened. ryan bingham concert, dallas

see ya later texas

somewhere over alaska

And that my friends brings us up to date.  Hopefully I’ll get some Japan pictures soon.  Everything is good here so far.  It’s back to hotel living but not for long – next week I will be moving into my house!  I cannot WAIT to have an actual home rather than a hotel room.  We’re working on 4 months of hotel living and that’s just about enough for me….ta-ta for now!

xo





Houston, you deserve it.

5 12 2009

I started this blog when I still lived in Houston and clearly, I never posted it.  I thought about just not posting it at all and starting fresh since so much has happened between then and now.  The thing though is that there’s this stabbing pain of necessity in the back of my mind.  See, people from Dallas think that Houston sucks and people from Houston think that Dallas sucks.  I know this to be fact – I’m from Dallas and shockingly, I thought Houston was hell on earth when I first got there.  Slowly but surely I had a change of heart.  Hopefully some of you Dallas-ites will see this and realize Houston actually has a lot to offer (and in a very small voice – Houston has cooler stuff).    

    

 I’m just posting this the way I had initially started it and will add as I need, enjoy.    

I suck.  I know it, I freely and openly admit this.  Life has been crazy.  I have worked 16 of the last 17 days.  That’s a lot of working friends.  But, not to fret, I have done some awesome things as well.  Starting with….I don’t know, I guess about 3 weeks ago now (time frame: say, mid October).  Eek.    

Short description of the greatness:    

  • Beer can house.  Literally a house made of beer cans.  The siding, the curtains, the shed, the mailbox, the chimes.  Every.  Thing.  If you live in or around Houston, you should definitely do it.

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  • The Orange Show.  While this is not actually a show of sorts, it still leaves you thinking and wondering, what the hell was going on in that dude’s head? Basically, this guy from Georgia bought a home lot in Houston.  He decided that he would turn it into an homage for oranges and hundreds of thousands of people would show up.  Seriously.  He was also a postman so whenever he would be out and about on his routes, he would pick up random things that others had tossed aside or that he found.  For example, the stairs off of a fire escape.  Eventually, he put all of these things together to create…drumroll please….

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(that’s all I had…now to add)   

I don’t really even know where to re-start.  I had a lot of amazing times in Houston, shocking enough to you and me alike.  I was so thankful that my best friend moved there, who could possibily be sad when your partner in crime moves to the city you temporarily live in?!  It also helped that a lot of really good concerts came through town.  I was able to see Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down along with Blind Pilot, Mat Kearney, AA Bondy, Elvis Perkins, Kevin Devine, The Get Up Kids, and Howie Day.  While some of these sound a little iffy just consider that one of these nights ended in going to a club involving two metal detectors and $16 drinks while another ended in boy ballerinas on a tour bus.  Treemeister, Mr. Balloonhands.  That’s all I’m sayin.  

Lindsey and I started dance party after dance party, and I must give credit where credit is due.  Libba Heptner, queen bee of dance parties, thanks for sharing your moves at ACL ’08.  Who could ever forget.  We brought grovin’ back to Houston with the sprinkler, the lawnmower, the shopping cart, fishing, and a new favorite, the move your arms in straight line outwards in a hail Hilter motion.  It needs a name.  There is one dance party that will stand out forever in history.  Halloween 2009.  Unfortunately, my current computer was issued to the hotel by the military which means no uploading of pictures to this blog.  I have decided to wait to describe said event until I can do it right.  Who knows when that will be but hopefully within the month.   

A lot of other awesome things happened while I was there.  Just know going forward, when I say “we”, the other half of that is Lindsey.  We went to an art car museum (pictures coming as soon as possible…) and Discovery Green Park.  At the park, the city hosts free yoga, art exhibits, and a movie every Sunday evening which Lindsey and I had fully planned on attending at some point.  Oops.  We ate at a restaurant underground.  While it was a little lackluster in comparison to what was going on in my mind, can you say that you ever enjoyed your lunch in a tunnel?  I think not friends.  Lindsey, Caitie and I took a midnight drive down to Galveston to sit on the jetty eating jellybeans and drinking wine.  Not to throw you under the bus, but Caitie managed to crawl down the jetty, pee in a plastic bag and then crawl back up while staying dry from all of the elements (if you catch what I’m saying…).  Oh, she was 8.5 months pregnant at the time.  She’s since had baby Charlotte who is one of the cutest babies I have ever seen.  Again, a picture will be posted soon with mommy’s permission.  Coppy Copp and I also drove back to Galveston for an afternoon of margaritas and tandem bike riding.  Yes, in that order.  We even braved the seawall but only after we tried making a left-hand turn only to go in a complete circle to the right.  Eh, we survived.  What else.  We went to Austin for said Halloween ’09 and stayed at the nicest Super 8 in the world.  One truly had to leap to get onto the 5 foot tall bed.  There we went to the cathedral of Junk as well as the Museum of Weird.   

Lindsey’s house was not torched by the arsonist, which if you know of the situation in the Heights was a legitimate concern.  We went to a bar that only took cash and used a register from the 1800’s.  And who could forget those cupcakes?  Mom ended up sending three dozen more of those suckers to work.  The extra five pounds I’m lugging around Japan says “Thanks Gail.”  We tested a lot of bars.  We found some crappy ones but we also found some really awesome places – something about a velvet Melvin?  The people in Houston are KIND, apart from the highways of course.  Friends in fat suits, ping-pong in fat suits, popping one fat suit.  Greater Mt. Zion.  The hamburger place that also only takes cash and the awesome salad at Lola.  No, I did not forget the “s” on Lola – there just isn’t one.  The night of driving around trying to find a psychic only to give up because the girl we found was too weird.  As if a psychic wouldn’t be strange.  Free wine and the hotel.  Houston, you did me good.  

While you could argue, “Stephanie.  Several of those things you listed didn’t even happen within Houston city limits!” I would say, you’re right.  But at least they were close enough that you could do them in an afternoon or a day trip.  What’s Dallas got to offer me in that way – Gainesville?  Winstar?  Waxahachie or Weatherford?  See ya later, Houston was good to me.   

Again, it helped Lindsey was there.  As you can tell, she really is my partner in crime and it’s sort of like my right arm is missing when she’s not around.  And that arm is holding my i-phone these days.  Who the hell’s going to laugh at my ridiculous jokes?  My inappropriate comments at exactly the wrong (or right depending on how you see it) time?    I will miss her terribly over these next few years and hopefully she is able to somehow visit Japan.  Otherwise, looks like I’ll be flying to Spain.  Or Italy.  Or wherever life drops her off at.  All I’m saying is for the love Dallas, give Houston a chance.  

xo  

edit – I already know after only having posted this for about 3 minutes someone’s going to be pissed that i didn’t list the cool stuff to do in Dallas.  Lindsey and i tried, really, for a whole day to do fun things.  We rode the trolley downtown, went to a stars game, even made a trip up to Lou’s.  sorry, Houston still wins.