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See! I said it would take less than six months for me to post the next day of this meme, and it did! I'm so efficient.

Anyways, onward. Hilariously, the food that I swore I would never eat but acquired a taste for is bell peppers.

Yep, you read that right. Bell peppers.

See, in Japan, the food isn't very spicy (unless there's surprise wasabi, nom nom nom). Pretty early on in my time there, I was desperate for some good old-fashioned Tex-Mex and so made tacos. I bought some bell peppers to add crunch and flavor, figuring that if I hated them like I usually did, I'd call the experiment a failure and move on. I ended up LOVING THEM, and the weird texas-asian lettuce wrap hybrids I invented. I couldn't find tortillas the first time, you see, so I got some lettuce to wrap my taco meat in.

That meal got raves from all my friends over there. Every time we had a school party, my students were like "ARE YOU BRINGING THE TACOS???". I was pretty proud of it.

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I'm finally starting up this 30 days meme about Japan again. I got stuck on this one for a long time because I didn't really retain any Japanese mannerisms, unless you could shucking my shoes off the second I enter any dwelling. I pretty much did that before, though.

So, the end! Day 5 is done! Day 6 won't take another six months, I promise!

Oh, LJ. I should update you more often.

I started to do one of those New Years recap posts, then never finished it. Maybe I will finish it today and post it. Or maybe I will take a nap. You don't know. I'm a wild woman. I do as I please. Someday I should also finish that Japan meme. And update my other blog. And run one million errands. And skype with people. LIFE IS BUSY.

I'm late to this party,I saw Tron and the King's SpeechCollapse )

The holidays were good and full of complicated familial events and stuff. I made a decision about something and followed through on it and I think it was the right thing to do, but it made me a little sad. How's that for pleasingly vague announcements?

Then, I had surgery. don't click on this if you don't want to read some medical stuffCollapse )

I told Candice that I haven't updated this or our other blog because I feel like it would be an all-caps page of "THIS IS WHY I'M SAD" and then we made up a this is why I'm sad rap and did mash-ups of skating videos to 80's power ballads. One million friends texted or called or hung out with me post-surgery. My family is in good health. Despite this hiccup, I'm determined to try and make 2011 a good year. My new year's resolutions are "pass the pre-bronze skating test by December" and "keep trying to be better at adulthood".

Okay! That's it. Back to not posting for months at a time.
Okay, I’m going to be truthful here. I did not spend huge amounts of time off the beaten path when I lived in Japan. I did travel a lot, but I mostly went to places that are famous and well traveled by others. My favorite place that’s not necessarily in all of the guidebooks was probably my friend Laura’s apartment. Or should I say apartments – she moved halfway through my time there. See, our lives in the Tokyo/Yokohama metro area were entirely ruled by train schedules. My last train to my station from Shinjuku was at about 11:15 pm, and the last one from Yokohama was at 11:30. So any time I went anywhere, I either had to leave by 10:30 or so to make sure I made it home or stay the night. I spent a lot of time sleeping on friend’s couches and floors, especially Laura’s couch. I would go into Yokohama on Saturday night and we would party it up, then head back to her place to crash. We’d get up in the morning, she would make me tea and breakfast, and we would either head out to whatever thing we had to do together that day or go our separate ways. Seriously, we spent nearly every weekend together there for a while.

My apartment was fairly sparse – I never really decorated because I always knew I would eventually leave, so I never truly made it a home. I did eventually get nice curtains and a rug as a gift from a friend and I bought a cheap bookcase and a little table, but my apartment never truly felt like a home. Laura’s apartments were always homey. She had pictures all over the wall, books everywhere. So when I think of her place, I feel almost like it was more of a home to me than my own. I have a lot of lovely memories in those apartments. Anyone who knows me knows that the idea of “home” is important – when I came back to Texas, I did it because Texas is my true home and I knew I needed to be here to really heal after losing my mother. It was lovely to have a place to go in Japan that felt like a home, even though it wasn’t mine.

Laura herself thoughtfully provided a picture of the apartment she had in Yokohama proper. So here you are: my favorite place that’s not in any guidebook you’ll ever see, but it was definitely a great place to go and just be.

This entry was difficult to write for a variety of reasons, which is why it is coming so long after the last one. Number one was I met so many interesting people while I lived overseas, so who to write about? Number two was once I had decided, how much should I write? How much do I want to invade this person’s privacy on the internet? I am going to tell you about my friend K, but leave out her name so that I delve more into why she is so interesting.

K was in one of my advanced english classes. When I first met her, she had just spent a month in hospital and her English abilities had dropped a lot. She was very shy and unsure of herself at first, but as she regained vocabulary and ability, she became more confident. One day after class, she requested my phone number and invited me over to her place for lunch. We were allowed to socialize with students, so I agreed to go. She made a lovely, large meal and we chatted and watched a movie, and after that we started hanging out regularly. She became one of my closest friends in Atsugi.

K had led a very interesting life. She did motorcross when she was young, she had left an abusive husband, and she began to study english on a whim. She told me that she didn’t care about it in school. She never went to college, but was very smart and a hard worker in my classes. She beat breast cancer (it’s why she was in the hospital) and had a long-term boyfriend whom she loved, but had no desire to marry because of her awful first marriage. She is a kind and generous person.

One time, we went to the onsen together. For those reading this journal, the “onsen” is going to take a bath in hot springs, basically. It’s a big public bath, and when you get there you get naked and shower, getting as clean as you can, and then you go sit in a giant pool of hot water with your friends. Everyone is naked. It’s a big public naked experience. I had done it before, but only with other foreigners. I was very nervous because who wants their students to see them naked? Not me. But it was fine. It ended up being a really fun bonding experience between myself, K, and our other friend Aya.

Okay, this is a little rushed, but I want to get it up and published. For some reason this entry was very hard to write, which is why it has taken so long. Hopefully the next one will be easier!
I lived in a town called Atsugi in Japan. My actual neighborhood was called Aiko Ishida, which was the name of my train station. It was on the Odakyu line, about 50 minutes from Shinjuku and 40 from Yokohama. Basically, what that means was I lived in the suburbs, but was close enough to the city to easily go in and party on the weekends. I used to sometimes describe it to fellow Texans this way: if Tokyo/Yokohama were Dallas/Fort Worth, then Atsugi was geographically Denton.

I put some pictures in, so I'll be nice and put them behind an lj cutCollapse )
I am totally pinching this meme from Laura, and am going to try to write 30 entries about Japan. We're coming up on a year that I've been home, and I think this will be a good chance to sort out some things. I left Japan very suddenly, and I have a lot of unresolved feelings about that.

A list of all the days of the meme after the cutCollapse )



This is a picture of Candice and I at Kamakura, a famous shrine on the coast just outside of Yokohama. It has a huge, very old, very famous statue of the Buddha, which can be clearly viewed behind our smiling faces.

This picture is one of the more significant because it was taken on September 23rd, 2009, less than twenty-four hours before I found out about my mother's death. For a long time, I thought of this day as my last good day in Japan. I was very excited on this day - Candice and I were seeing each other for the first time since I left and I had just had my 26th birthday. Taking this picture is my dear friend Laura, whom I am still close to. I remember how happy I was and how charged I felt about the future at this point. I really was ready for 26 to be the best year of my life.

In the end, it wasn't. The next day we got the news of my mother's death and I spent the rest of that week in a fog. I still am caught off guard by how much it hurts, losing my mother. I know it seems stupid, like, duh. Losing a parent is rough. Some days it seriously takes my breath away. But the thing about that picture? It wasn't the last good day in Japan or in general. I've had a lot of good days since then. I went to TOKYO DISNEY, for pete's sake. That? Was an excellent day. So instead of labelling this picture "Lastgoodday", which is what it was on my old computer, on this one, it is simply "mecandicekamakura". I smile when I see it now and have a better handle on my time over there.

keep me in your heart for a while

When I was a little girl, my mom had to travel on business a lot. One time, I was really sad and asking her not to go. She gave me a little ring in a red pouch and told me it was a promise ring, and she was going to leave it with me and she would get it from me when she came home. It was a promise that she would never leave me, she'd always come home. Every time she traveled for a while after, she'd leave the ring with me.

I have absolutely no idea what happened to that ring, but I've been thinking about it a lot today. I wonder if that's why the one gold ring I always wear is such a comfort - it reminds me of being a little girl and keeping the ring safe until she came to take it back. Even though she won't be back to get it this time, I still always wear the ring.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I miss you.

Apr. 4th, 2010

So, I don't talk about my feelings a lot on the internet. People who know me know that I'm pretty open, often to the point of making other people uncomfortable. As upfront as I can be, though, I am often very reserved when it comes to my real feelings about a situation.

Beneath the cut is some talking about my feelings about my mom. I put an LJ cut there because, well, that way if you want to read it you can and if feelings make you uncomfortable, you can just skip it.

So many feelingsCollapse )

Ugghhh, okay. I am going to go put on my clothes and go to Randalls to get some muffins and spend a lovely afternoon with the oh-so-awesome Candice and her family.

You Go Around Like You Know

So, I'm going to start writing in my travel blog again. I took an extended break for a while - writing it stopped being fun after Mom passed, so I decided to go sort my stuff out in private. A lot of that stuff has been sorted and I realized that I enjoyed writing about stuff I did, so here I am. Back in action. Starting with the awesomeness that was the Houston rodeo, which I attended last weekend. I'm going to put a few pictures in the entry, but the full scope of the awesomeness is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kate922/sets/72157623458052033/

So, Candice and I got up super early to make the three hour drive to Houston on Sunday morning. We were both tired and a little crabby, but we forced a smile for our first road trip photo.



We went to Starbucks on our way out of town and for reals dealt with the dumbest, most incompetent barista ever on this earth. Put down the bong, SIR, and please focus on the fact that we would like muffins and coffee. SHEESH. Despite that small hiccup, we got on the road and drove happily along.





When we got to Reliant Stadium, there was a lot of hickish exclaiming over "DAMN, that place shore is real big!" and cursing over the expensive parking situation. We paid twenty bucks to park at a Shipley's donuts, which later turned out to be an excellent choice when we got out of there in a timely manner at the end of the night.



We finally got to the actual rodeo and betook ourselves to the wine garden for refueling with wine and a turkey leg, which is what I am gnawing on in that photo. Candice had never eaten one before and clearly had to be schooled. We ate the whole thing. After refueling, we went and met up with Valeah, Danielle, Hanna, Hanna's family, and Liz and her nieces. Candice and I procured a fried twinkie and a fried milky way at an amazing stand called Fried WHAT? It was fantastic. Rodeo food = bliss.



We all sat around eating fried WHATever and chit-chatting, then Candice and I took off to go ride the Ferris Wheel. Candice is terrified of heights and I am convinced that rodeo rides are death traps, so it was a little nervous, but we had fun.





That picture of Reliant was taken from the very top of the ferris wheel. IT WAS HUGE. Then we went inside, got ourselves some footlong hot dogs, took super inappropriate pictures with said hot dogs, then sat down for the rodeo. As usual, bull riding was awesome, as was barrel racing, but the best event ever was one called "Mutton Bustin'". It is an event where tiny grade schoolers must hang on to the back of an adult sheep and ride it as far as they can to win. HERE IS A PHOTO:



AMAZING.

After the rodeo events ended, the show began. The Jonas Brothers were playing, and I must confess that I brought a book and was prepared to self-medicate with wine for this experience, but those kids put on a real good show! I was enjoying myself the whole time. Candice was there, she saw me clapping and looking pleased. The fun was so wholesome and clean, I forgot to drink! It was amazing. I did get some good snark in when the littlest Jonas removed his jacket to reveal his tiny gun show and all the tweens lost their minds, but other than that, for real. Enjoyed it. Here is a picture of the cool lighting effectes they had:



After the show, we booked it to our car and sped away, as both Candice and I had to work the next day. It was too bad we didn't get to spend more time with the other girls, but hey, that's life.

Tomorrow we're going on a day trip to Fredricksburg. I will be photodocumenting this.