24 November 2012

Holidays and So Much to Do!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, I know I'm a couple days late, but everything has been so busy here.  I'm leaving in a little over a month, and there's still so much to do.  I'm planning a trip to Muncie and Indianapolis in a few weeks to wrap up my remaining loose ends and to visit with cherished family.  Then there's a family Christmas dinner coming up, plus Christmas.  And I still have to purchase plane tickets, finalize my plans for my puppy's transportation, convert a large chunk of change into yen, figure out what I'm packing and what I'm leaving... the list seems endless.

In better news, David has been posting fun videos and pictures from his Japanese adventures.  Glancing at his facebook nowadays helps keep me excited as I make my preparations.  Soon I'll be posting videos and pictures of my own!

In the meantime, I mentioned in my last post that David and I did some traveling before he shipped out.  Here are some fun photographs from that:

07 November 2012

Turn that Frown Upside Down

So I came back to La Porte fairly discouraged, but still hopeful for the future.  As news of my last weekend in Biloxi spread, a truly wonderful thing happened:

Our friends, our wonderful and deeply cherished friends, rose to the occasion.  Friends showed their support on Facebook, offering words of kindness and taking the edge off of loosing so much.  Friends called to check in on me to make sure I was doing well.  And some friends even sent money to help with our move.  I've been overwhelmed by all of your loving support.  Thank you all so much.

Good things kept on happening.  After just a week in La Porte, I heard back from one of the companies I'd applied to.  I got a job offer in Tokyo!  Hooray!  It's official: I'm definitely, without a doubt, going to Japan.  And the news gets better:  I start my new job in mid-January, which means I'll arrive in Japan just two months after David (he's already there).  That is so much more than we had hoped for, and we're so thrilled that things seem to be working in our favor for the present.  So once again I'll be packing my bags and heading overseas.

With so much good, David and I decided to meet each other's family.  I flew out to New Mexico to meet his mom, and he flew up to Chicago to meet my parents (and some other important people).  So here we are, David in Tokyo and me on my way.  It seems we've tackled our first challenge together.

Friends, I'm feeling pretty good.

06 November 2012

Leaving Mississippi (Part 2)

So I was devastated.  Two police reports in one absolutely victimizing weekend.  But it didn't stop there.

I'd been having some troubles getting my security deposit back from my landlords.  They were supposed to inspect the house the previous week, but of course they waited until I was supposed to have left Mississippi.  With so much happening, I decided to stay in Biloxi an extra two nights so that at least I could take care of ending my lease.

In my extra time in Biloxi, David and I had to have another conversation.  We swung in the hammock David had tied in his towering magnolia tree, discussing the weekend's impacts.  Without the money from my car, I didn't see how I could afford to move back to La Porte, let alone Japan.  That conversation was the beginning of the changing of our luck.

David and I have been dating only since the end of March or so.  Even though we like each other very much, we're both still unsure where this relationship might lead.  We're both hesitant to commit to anything, and we're both approaching this relationship cautiously.  There have been several times over the past few months that I'd convinced myself that David wouldn't care if I were in Japan or not.  As David and I rocked gently in our hammock trying to figure out what to do, every insecure thought I'd ever had about our relationship came flooding back to me.

But then David surprised me.

He told me he wanted me in Japan with him.  He wanted to figure out how to make that happen.

That's all I needed to hear: he and I were in this together.  We still don't know where our relationship might lead, but for now, we're a team.  And we're tackling our first challenge together.

We ran some numbers.  I figured that I could go back to school sooner and get into Japan on an education visa, possibly as soon as January.  I'd been planning on going back to school anyway.  I'd learn Japanese and network while I studied, hopefully finding a job sooner rather than later.  The timing was a little cramped, but after doing a little investigating, we felt pretty confident it could work.  David would help with my plane ticket if I needed it.  A call to my parents made sure I'd have enough quick cash to get back to Indiana.  It would be tight, but it would work.

And so I finally left Biloxi, Mississippi.  I loved my life on the coast, and I already miss some incredibly wonderful friends.  But in the end--- especially after that last weekend---

Good riddance.

Leaving Mississippi (Part 1)

I'm currently in La Porte, but the story of how I got here merits a post, possibly two.

September was a very busy month.  David decided to take some time off work (basically all of October), and we both decided to do a bit of traveling and family-meeting during October before the Big Move.  So September was the month for packing and tying up loose ends.  Things were going fairly well until our last weekend in Biloxi.  Then shit hit the fan.

David threw one of his epic and highly memorable house parties to celebrate moving to Japan.  There were glow sticks, a fog machine, a slip-n-slide, and a host of other festivities.  Many friends showed up.  And some friends of friends.  And at least one thief.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  So our last weekend in Biloxi had a few important events.  I sold my car Friday night, Saturday night was the party, Sunday was the recovery and cleanup, and I was to start driving a U-Haul to La Porte on Monday.

Friday night went well:  I sold my car for $1500, which the new owner paid in cash.  I gave David $100 for something or other, then considered where I should put the remaining $1400.  It was late, so the bank wasn't an option.  Normally I'd put that much cash under a mattress or someplace stealthy, but since the house was torn apart for moving and we had guests staying the night, I decided that the best place for it would be in my wallet.  I didn't want to loose it in the move or accidentally forget it.

We spent the better part of Saturday cleaning and preparing for the party.  I baked many tasty treats.  David made hummus.  We entertained some early guests.  Then the party started.  It really was a good time.  David had devoted much time and effort into making a wonderful playlist.  The slip-n-slide was a huge hit.

But then one of my friends came to me with some bad news.  He'd borrowed my mountain bike to get to work, but someone stole it from his front porch Friday night.  I was pretty upset, but he was so apologetic that I quickly realized we'd work something out and it would be ok.  After all, I still had my road bike.

I went to sleep, but the party kept raging into the wee hours of the morning.  I woke up around sunrise, so I decided to take a walk around our neighborhoods to see if just maybe I could find my bike.  Of course I didn't, so I returned home after filing a police report.

I was talking to David when I had a terrible thought.  I snatched my purse and flung open my wallet.  But too late.  Some one--- some truly horrible, selfish some one--- had stolen the full $1400 out of my purse.  When I say that was my entire life savings, I mean that was my entire life savings.  That was the money I was going to use to buy my ticket to Japan.  That was the money I was going to use to pay for the U-Haul to get home.  That was the money that I was going to use to make minimum payments on my bills until I found a new job.  And it was gone.  Just like that.  I didn't even have it for a full 24-hours.

I collapsed.  Full-on, body-heaving sobs ripped from my soul.  All was lost.  How could I possibly recover from this?

We called the police, and despite his lip-service, the investigator literally made two phone calls, asked a few questions, then essentially gave up.  He didn't even follow-through when we gave him the names of the strangers our friends had seen looking through wallets and picking up phones.  He didn't even have my wallet checked for fingerprints, even though he said he would.  Biloxi Police Investigations disgusted me.  If anything like this ever happens to me again, I will likely just take care of it myself, vigilantly style.  I've never been so disappointed in a so-called "public servant" ever.  I understand finding stolen cash is nearly impossible, but to not even try?  My blood boils just thinking about it.

19 September 2012

Keep On Keeping On

Moving is definitely not my favorite thing.  Not even close.  For one thing, moving-- and more specifically packing-- makes me acutely aware of just how much junk I've managed to accumulate over my relatively short lifetime.  Why on earth do I still have English notes from fourth grade?  Am I afraid I'm going to forget what a sentence is and need to refer to them?  I mean, geez!

So then I feel pressure to take the opportunity of moving to purge extraneous items from my life.  But how far to take such urges?  True, I probably won't need my couch for the next several months, but I'll probably want a couch at some point in my future.  Wouldn't it be wasteful to dispose my current couch?  What if I don't have the cash for a couch when I eventually want one again?  Wouldn't it be easier to just have my couch on standby?  Am I over-thinking this?

Moving is also stressful because of all the loose ends you have to run around trying to tie up before you go.  Saying goodbye to friends, forwarding mail, settling up with landlords, selling one's house, disconnecting utilities.... the list seems endless.

And then of course there's the other end of the move: finding a new job, a new house or apartment.  Should I look for roommates?  Will my dog be accepted?  How do I make new friends?  What's in my new neighborhood, anyway?  Where can I find good doctors, dentists, veterinarians, restaurants, hair dressers?  What? I have to build up a new relationship with absolutely every professional I rely on?  And that will probably take months?  Possibly years?

And on top of all that, I have to unpack all the items that somehow made it from old house to new, and I have to find appropriate places for all those items.  And once again I find myself wondering if I do indeed have too much stuff and shouldn't I really just go ahead and purge some more?  True, I probably won't need my spare blankets, but won't I probably want them.....

Moving embodies an endless cycle of self-torture. Just when we think we're done with the process, something comes up and off we go again.  

21 August 2012

Dōmo Arigatō, Mr. Roboto

Spoiler alert:  I'm moving to Tokyo!

So to pick up where my last post left off, I arrived home in Biloxi and David and I had some heart-to-hearts.  As I said, we figured we had three options: get married, break up, or have me move independently to Tokyo and keep dating.  Neither of us considers a long-distance relationship an option.

As we talked, we realized that neither of us really wanted to break up-- we agreed that if we were both staying in Biloxi we'd keep dating.  Breaking up became a fall-back if the other two options failed.

We kept talking, now about getting married.  That would certainly make things easier.  If we were married the Air Force would pay for me to move to Tokyo, too.  I could live on base and have access to all the base's amenities.  It was appealing.  But we both feel uneasy about getting married at this point in our relationship.  We're just not there.

That left us with the final option: could I move to Tokyo?  Well, simply put, yes, I can.  My internship just finished, so I'm set to move in the next few months anyway to find employment.  I have very little tying me down here.  And I have ample experiences living abroad.

So I can move, but do I want to?  This was tricky for me to work out for myself.  If I moved, could I keep my dog?  How much would it cost to move to Tokyo?  Where could I work?  Can I learn Japanese?  Where might I live?

With so many questions, David and I got to work finding answers.  Most importantly, yes, I can take my dog with me.  There's a process to it, but it's doable.  And Tokyo is supposed to be a dog-friendly city.  So far, so good.  Teaching English is the most likely job I could find since I don't speak Japanese... Yet.  That's right: I'm officially learning my fifth language.  Let's hope it sticks.

As we learned more about the move, the more convinced we were that I could join him.  I figured if I didn't go to Tokyo, I'd prefer to move to Seattle and find a job, most likely as a landscape architect, where I'd make a certain amount of money.  OR I could move to Tokyo and find a job, most likely not as a landscape architect and be making a similar amount of money.  The deciding factor?  Not working as a landscape architect--at least for a while.

Of course, other factors came into play.  I love the challenge of learning a new language, living in a city (and not just any city, but the largest metropolis in the world), being surrounded by new experiences, trying a new career, sampling Japanese cuisine, being in a great location to do some traveling.... Really, there are plenty of reasons to move to Tokyo.  Plus, my boyfriend will be there.

So I'm moving to Tokyo.  David leaves in October.  I'm not yet sure what my plans are, but I'll work them out in the coming weeks.  Wish me luck!

20 August 2012

On the Road Again...

Well, big changes have occurred on our epic bike trip.  Very big.

Annie wrote some lovely blog posts about our first few days after my accident.  You can read them here:

Day 4-8:  Wisconsin is a Big State

Day 9 and 10: Layover in LaCrosse

As a side note, while we were visiting with Hank and his family, we learned that my good friend, Barb, had written a book about cross-country cycling, and SHE HAD NEVER TOLD ME!  Can you believe that?  When I asked her about it, she merely said, "Well, it never came up."  Oh, Barb, how I love you.

After LaCrosse, we headed north towards Minneapolis.  It was LOVELY riding.  Pretty flat and right along the Mississippi River.

Lockes on the Mississippi River!  So cool!

I decided to take pictures of the city signs we passed.

Some are less interesting than others.

You know you're in the north when soda is called pop. 

The river.

I would absolutely go back here.

We stayed here with a WONDERFUL family in a last-minute stay.

Welp.  Back in Wisconsin.

Annie climbs hills faster than I can.

This is our 300+ foot climb up onto the bluffs.  We were tired, hungry, and cranky at the top. 

But thankfully, there was a FANTASTIC organic, locally sourced restaurant waiting for us!

Annie feels better after drinking her coffee.

The sun is setting, but we MUST make it to Minneapolis tonight!

Yay!  Minneapolis!  We stayed with my good friend, Jody.
Ok, and this is where the story takes a drastic turn.  While we were in Minneapolis, my boyfriend called to inform me he was being restationed to Tokyo, Japan.  In two months.  We could break up, get married, or I could move to Tokyo.  He and I had some pretty big decisions to make in not a lot of time.  I decided to cut my trip short and fly home so that he and I could work out what to do.

Annie was understandably really disappointed in me.  I'm sure she was furious, too, but she insisted she wasn't.   I have to say she really is an incredible woman and great friend.  Instead of taking out her frustrations and anger on me, she worked really hard to be supportive of my decision to go home.  Honestly, it was a really hard decision for me to make: I wasn't sure I was making the best decision, just going with my gut feeling.  

Annie ended up deciding to take a flight to Seattle and ride down the Pacific Coast solo.  Meanwhile, I rented a car and drove back to Chicago, then flew home.