25 July 2009

I Miss Having a Home

Congrats to Sarah on having her baby! Finally the pregnancy is over! Yay! I hope for quieter and happier times ahead for her, and her family.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure no one, from the living-in-Japan group, will be reading my blog anymore. くそ。。。

Um...well. We still don't have a place to call home yet in downtown Lancaster. We've been looking at a number of places, and lots of them are dirty, and as old as Stonehenge. And some of them ended being in really shady locations. At one location, we got out of our rental car, and after looking around, Takeshi said, "I don't even feel safe on this street, during the day..."

We got a tour of 2 places this morning as a matter of fact. The first apartment was on W. Orange Street, and was a 1 BR. It was listed at $575 a month but the "tour" lady told us that the people trying to rent it out are itching to get it settled a.s.a.p. and lowered the price recently to about $475 a month. This place wasn't bad, and graded much better than most of the places we'd seen so far. The carpet was mostly clean, the places with a hardwood floor were OK, and the appliances were a mix of newer and not as new. The second place we looked at was stellar. We're looking to jump at this one, for sure, after seeing it today.

It is located on N. Lime Street and is an efficiency and is $625 a month. We get 1 off-street parking space, which is really great because trying to find a parking space on the street in downtown is not my favorite chore. That apartment is very new and very clean, with nice carpets, and new appliances. We were told that it actually used to be a dental office! There was even a small square-shaped X-Ray screen left on the wall! I think that's a very funny feature. :)

The only thing we're waiting on is a 'letter of employment' from a place in town that Takeshi is going to be working at. He's decided that the best thing for now (since we don't have a car yet), would be to go back to the restaurant he was working at in Lancaster, before we left. If all goes well, his plan is to work 2 days at his old workplace, and 4 days at the new one. You cannot find fine-dining restaurants in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. These two places are no where near what he wants to do for a living, but I don't plan to stick around this town after my final year of college!

Most of the places in town that he's wanted to try eating at that proclaimed themselves as "fine-dining", did not even reach a C+ grade in Takeshi's book, I think. Every time we go, he's torn between snickering under his breath, or shaking his head in disappointment at the menu. Ah well. Let's hope he soldiers on until we leave Lancaster again.

19 July 2009

On the Flip Side of the World

It's been a blur of events these past couple of days! We are officially back in Lancaster, PA. Right now we are sitting down at probably the only place we were happy to see again around here - the Prince Street Cafe. They have good coffee, tasty food, and Wifi. Nice place. And we LOVE the weather here! It's so much less humid here than the weather in Suzuka.

The 2 hour flight from the Nagoya airport to the Incheon airport in Seoul, Korea was quick and uneventful. Before we left Nagoya I had to turn in my gaijin card, and had my special stamp/sticker in my passport taken out (also stating my visa status in Japan thus far). I kind of wanted to keep my card! Like, even more proof that I had actually lived in Japan. Haha. Oh well - that new photo of my on the card was really bad anyway. Arrived in Korea at about 2pm. We had a 6 hour layover in Korea, though, so it went slowly - trying to find things to do, trying to kill time. Left Korea at about 8pm. We, of course had an even longer plane trip from Incheon to JFK! I watched 2.5 movies, and tried to sleep but those seats are so damned uncomfortable, but I already knew this...Arrived at JFK at about 8:40pm - factor in different time zones, yadda yadda.

The immigration process at JFK was a little scary and very annoying, in my opinion. Always nice to see people who are so HAPPY to be at work...*rolls eyes*

When we got off the plane, I personally could have gone through the "Citizens" line (which was WAY shorter) than the "Visitors" line with all of the foreigners, but there's no reason to have Takeshi go through the line alone anyway. So I stood in line with him, and we got checked in together. I stood by while the dude checked Takeshi's immigration paperwork and we gave them the address to send his greencard to. We left that station and had to go over to finger printing, and that guy was in an even worse mood than the first dude. It's the kind of mood where you feel like you're suddenly wasting their time. Sooo sorry, sir. Moving along now...

So, we stayed the night in NYC at a decent hotel in a small Korean section of the city. We picked that place in the end, because it was close to Penn Station, and we had (and still have) three pieces of luggage. The one I've been wheeling around is a HUGE and heavy and is really hard to maneuver around, and Takeshi has two smaller luggage pieces but they weigh a ton as well. The next morning we caught an Amtrak train to Lancaster at about 1:20pm and arrived in Lancaster at about 4pm.

Right now we're staying a little motel on the side of the major road, a little ways from the downtown area of Lancaster. It's only $60 a night there, but I'd still like to be at a place where the locks on the door are more...more. Haha. We have a lot to acquire and figure out as quickly as we can manage it - find and rent an apartment in town, buy a used car, find Takeshi a job, and figure out the last parts of getting into college, for me, this September.

As I say - the state of Pennsylvania is closed on the weekends, and so most of the action-taking will start tomorrow, Monday. We plan to see how much renting a P.O. Box at the local post office would cost us, because that would help with getting a car, a bank account, and anyone else who would need us to give an address. We also plan to get a rental car so we can possibly change motels/hotels (yay!) and scout out some job possibilities for Takeshi, because some of them are not within walking distance.

So lots of do. I told Takeshi today that I feel like we're a pair of vagabonds or something! Kind of homeless, too. For the moment anyway. It feels weird being back in the U.S. where I'm not sticking out in a crowd anymore, and I'm not special in any way in public. It does feel good to be able to communicate with people again, but I'm a little shell-shocked and not used to talking to people outright, so it's a little uncomfortable for me, as weird as that sounds. Food-portion size here is borderline gut-busting and a little disgusting for me - I'm focused on not going back to that portion size again.

I will sign off for now! Lots to do. Hope everyone is well and happy!

14 July 2009

1 More Day

The day after tomorrow is the 17th of July. We'll be catching our flight at around 9:45am at the Nagoya Airport.

It's been crazy these past few weeks, working to get ready to leave, - hence the lack of posting for a bit. And when we get back into Pennsylvania we'll be even busier, I'd say! At least until we settle into a new apartment, get a car, Takeshi finds a new job, and I start back at school this fall.

I've been trying to burn every single surrounding and scene into my brain, while traveling around Suzuka and such, so I can try to remember what it's like for as long as I can. Of course I'll still have the memories of Japan forever, but it's not the same actually being in the environment anymore, and really "feeling" what it was like with your 5 senses.

We'll be staying at Takeshi's family's house the night before we leave, because by that day, our apartment is to be totally empty and our utilities are scheduled to be shut off. My FIL will be giving us a ride to the airport the next day, and now I hear that my MIL will also be coming with us as well. This is totally fine, because I'd like for his parents to see us off (since they were there to greet us at the same airport when we arrived here last year). But my MIL has a talent for dramatic goodbyes. As Takeshi puts it, "She never likes goodbyes. NEVER. She's terrible with them." Ooh boy...There will be water-works for SURE, now. It's SO awkward when she cries like that (we've gone through a couple goodbyes before this). I don't know if I'll get teary at all as well. I hope not!

Today we went to the mall and bought some things for the airplane ride, and also bought some things that we knew we could only get in Japan. I bought two small リラックマ books, and a new groovy, purple watch. I also really wanted to stop by the UNIQLO store in town to see if anything was new there. I bought 3 new tops! Huzzah for new clothes :)

Tomorrow we plan to lug over the rest of our things we plan to leave in Japan for now, to the family house.

The heat has been awful for the last 2-3 days. I'm sure anyone else living here knows exactly how it feels! At times like this, I really wish we had a car, to just scoot around town in, instead of biking/walking everywhere. The other day, we decided to go to a couple of stores a little bit away, down the main road of the city. I can't really remember how to exactly chart out 1 mile's length, but it felt like we biked at least a mile TO the stores, and then coming back again. That was the worst day so far, for me, heat-wise. I was trying to keep up with Takeshi on bike, the sun is beating down on me, I'm thirsty, out of breath, and it really did make me feel nauseous near the end of our town-trek. When we stopped at a restaurant for lunch, I drank 3 glasses of cold tea in about 3 minutes. Whew!

Of course, Takeshi always acquires a nice tan in the summer months, and never burns.

I (without gobs of sun-block lotion) acquire blistery sunburns, and lobster-colored skin tones. And then I turn back to WHITE.

I'm a polar bear, it's true...I wish I could get just a LITTLE bit of a tan. Ah well.

Got to go for now. Bedtime is upon us! And then onto another day of errands!

I don't know when I'll be able to post next. Please keep reading, even though I'll be in the States now! Thanks everyone. <3

03 July 2009

Humidity Monster

I can never hope to keep my hair in a decent state, while Japan is submerged in the rainy season. I have to act like a car whenever I go outside, and try not to get a SPECK of rain on me. But then the high humidity will probably kill it, anyway. I cry inside...

Takeshi's first going-away party last Tuesday was fun! They had it at the restaurant itself after hours. There was a small assortment of food and munchies which different people brought - takoyaki, pizza, onigiri, chicken nuggets, and crackers.

The gathering went until about 1am, and everyone went their seperate ways, wishing us good luck with the move, etc.

The party really was just a chance for people to catch up on a lot of conversation. I didn't partake of any real conversation, but I was able to chill out with Mayumi-san, and Iwazaki-san, and they asked me questions about the plane ride to the U.S. and such. "Conversation" between the three of us consisted of a mix of doodles, writing, Japanese, English, and hand signals. But both sides were understood, in the end! Haha. :) Takeshi received a few presents from a few people which included a really neat digital watch.

Tomorrow we go to another party, being held by his other workplace, at the "Saigon Cafe" in town. We were going to go to an Okinawan restaurant "HanaHana" but they switched plans, probably because it was a little too far away for people to get to. It's being held at 10pm. Takeshi's friend Kato-san is picking us up! This party is supposed be BIG - about, 20-30 people, I hear. Wowza! Party-hardy.

Today we started packing things, and got three boxes done and taped up. We've packed all of our winter clothes, stuffed animals (Rilakkuma plushies mostly!) and some of my art supplies. Earlier on today we stopped by Takeshi's family's house to return some comforter blankets and a box of CDs to them, which we had been borrowing. Later on we found ANOTHER bag of comforters underneath the bed, so we'll have to make another run to the family house sometime soon.