Monday, October 17, 2011

Moving Blogs....and Moving to Prague!

Moving blogs....and Moving to Prague! Come have a look...Wanderlusing Expat

Friday, July 16, 2010

I won't say Siyonara, I'll just say "farewell"

Today marks my final blog post from Okinawa, that little green fuzzy island on the other side of the planet. What a time it's been! My paradigm was cracked open - worlds and people I never thought I'd be exposed to seeped in and became part of me. And I'm not just talking about the Texans.

"Sumeba Miyako" - wherever one lives, one comes to love it. It's all in the attitude, there's really no other way to to face a challenge like moving to Asia for 3 years.

When John got the call from the JAG corps, they offered him Dayton, Ohio or Okinawa, Japan as his assignment options. Neither were anywhere on the "dream sheet" he had submitted. (Dream sheets, as it turns out, are just that - 10 places you'll dream about but never get assigned.) We both went to work that day, totally bummed out. Sitting in our sterile air conditioned offices, we googled "Okinawa" and photos of the clearest blue seas and greenest jungles popped up. By noon, we were ready to give it a shot.

Living in Asia for a limited time forced us to seize every opportunity. How many experiences could we squeeze into 3 years? Turns out, quite a few. We each logged 5 new Asian countries onto our passports. We attempted a few new languages. We made more friends in 3 years than I've made since I was a kid. Good friends, too. The friends are what have made this the amazing experience what it was. I have no doubt that we will be close for years to come. The rub of it is, we keep meeting really fantastic and fun people up until the end - it makes it so hard to leave.

We climbed mountains (Fuji, Himalayas, Pizza in the Sky). Bore witness to Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal. Met Generals and a Prime Minister, Peace activists and Buddhist monks. We mountain biked, we scuba dived - swam with sea turtles and out-swam a REALLY BIG MAN-EATING shark. We sank deep into the tunnels underneath the land-mined border of North and South Korea. Cruised down the Mekong Delta and the Holy Ganges River. We took innumerable airplane flights. John even hitched a ride on an F-15 for a bird's eye view of Japan. I planted potatoes and cauliflower in India and John planted a "Hollywood" sign on the sandy mountains of an undisclosed location in southwest Asia. John got his chops trying eight courts martial, and I knocked out a grad degree. Best of all, we got married.

But most of our memories will come from just bumming around the island. Crocheting and watching movies on Cortney's couch, dropping by the Bowman's for some Mad Men and home cooking, or running into friends at Uroko's and sharing a bottle of Awamori. Living on the Sunabe Seawall reminded me what I loved so much about college, and what I've missed since then: living in a walkable community, surrounded by friends who take care of one another. It makes life so much more enjoyable. Doors on the seawall are always open. I hope we find the same sense of community in Spokane.

We even had some international visitors, who will forever hold special places in our hearts for braving the journey. Andre, Masumi, Scot, Renee and Mark, I hope you loved Japan as much as we did! (BTW...Prestons & Lawlors, you had better make it to Spokane, because John's side of the family is out-representing you big time!)

I think about where we'd be if we'd said "no" to this adventure. Would we always lament what we had missed? Or like the people who stayed in Plato's cave, would we not even know we missed anything at all? I have John to thank for putting the fire under me to close my eyes and jump. I always thought seeing the world was something I would do later in life, on my two weeks of vacation a year. I'm so grateful that I was forced to move out of my comfort zone. I hope that I never get too comfortable, and that I continue to seek out adventure every place we go.

Off to Spokane at 5 am tomorrow. Gunner Bunner is hiding under our hotel room bed right now, dreading the inevitable 25 hours and 4 flights of travel. Eegads, so am I.

I will especially miss the Okinawans I've gotten to know. When you say "goodbye" in Japan, you say "Mata ne" which is loosely translated as "see you later". You never say "Siyonara!" because that means a final goodbye. "Siyonara" is what action heros utter before they blow up the bad guy. It is permanent. My Japanese sensai, Miyagi-san, told me I could say it when I finally left the island. So, the other day, after waiting for 2.5 years, I said it to my wonderful hairdresser, Rumiko, after my last appointment. She said "No! No Siyonara! You must come back to Okinawa!" Maybe some day we will. But for now, all that's left to say is:

So long Okinawa, and thanks for all the fish!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Our lives on the Seawall

The family portraits are in! My friend Aviva gave me the most generous gift for graduation - she did a photo shoot for us!

The shots of Gunner are TO DIE. John looks pretty darn cute too. You can see more here on her blog:


Aviva and her family have been some of our closes friends here on this island. Ever since the first day she stalked me on the internet (same way she found her husband) our lives together on the seawall have been an absolute blast. They feed us, entertain us, and keep me sane when John is deployed. I will miss them more than I can say.

Monday, June 14, 2010

writer's block.

I'm sitting here working on a project. School is done and jewelry is done until September so of course, and in typical fashion I find it IMPOSSIBLE to sit still for our remaining month on island, so I've got not one but two writing assignments I've given myself. One is a children's book and one is a grown-ups book. Both fiction. Both impossibly difficult and gut-wrenching. I am constantly beset with waves of inferiority complex, uncertainty and the urge to crawl back into my mother's womb and call for a rematch. On life. Good grief, no wonder writers drink.

Went to watch John's trial today. I have spent a good many years sitting in court watching trials - I always feel like I am watching Broadway performances of Law and Order. But when it's your husband who you knew way back when he was a goober, hockey-jersey-wearing-law-school-hopeful, it is easy to become swollen with pride. He has a natural way about the court room, and I could tell that he was putting the very nervous witnesses at ease, thereby getting the best testimony. I wish you all could see it first hand.

Must get back to the writing. Promised myself 1000 words a day. I'm using the "driving across country at night" approach - basically writing one sentence at a time. I have no idea where that sentence will take me, but all I can do is go along for the ride.

Friday, May 28, 2010

wrapping up

I just left you hanging there in Vietnam, didn't I? No, we didn't decide to pack up and move there. I just got a little lazy about the updates. After Vietnam was a wonderful 4 day stay in the Smiley Kingdom of Cambodia to visit with some of the happiest people I've ever met. Happiness, as we all know is relative - especially in the context of Cambodia. But the Cambodian's joy was sure contagious.

It was the closest to the equator I've ever been, and hotter than sin, but I'm sure I will be back there.

So, In a whirlwind tour, we got back from Vietnam and Cambodia, our cousins from England came to visit for two weeks...

I graduated from grad school...

we went to Tokyo...

had our photos taken by the talented chef and photographer Aviva... (Photos to come. REALLY AWESOME PHOTOS to come.)

...and now I sit here on my rented Government couch, pooped and in need to some strong coffee. In a mere matter of weeks (7!) we will be on the road AGAIN. This time for good. John, Gunner and I are moving West (East?) to Spokane Washington. I haven't fully processed this, but I need to because this house is going to be a nightmare to pack.

Now that I'm done with my schooling for now, I can enjoy some pleasure reading, so I've joined this website "GoodReads" which I'm totally hooked on now for reviews and recommendations. I changed the Widget at the left to reflect what I've now reading, and you can become friends with me to see all of my recent books. Click on the books to the left to go to the site.

Oh and PS, Gunner says "hi". Actually, no, wait- I believe he actually said "fill my bowl with milk or I will claw your face off." They sound very similar. Gotta run.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 18-21

Perhaps because my last trip allowed for weeks at a time to absorb a city, this 5 day tour of Vietnam seemed like a whirlwind. First of all, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is as developed as Seoul, as it seemed to us. The streets are incredibly clean, there are gorgeous buildings boh new and old. Despite it's socialist roots, Vietnam seems to be hurling itself at the market economy with breakneck speed. The streets are
completely dominated by endless throngs of motorbikes, some carrying entire families. Much like India, there is little regard for traffic signals, but the lack of errant bovine makes the ride a little more predictable, I'd assume. Walking around the city streets at night felt a little like New York City in the peak of summer. Much like in India, life happens on the street, from gambling to gossiping to slurping up their famous Pho soup on mini plastic stools.

Up north in UNESCO Heratage City of Hoi An, the unyielding temperature had us stopping for a zesty beverage about every hour or so. John got some shirts made at one of the tailoring shops. Hoi An mirrored a phenomenon I noticed in India: in each town, there are only three or four different kinds of souvenirs to buy, and every single shop carries them. In Hoi An, literally every third shop was a tailor with the exact same clothing in the display. Same fabric, same samples. So after a few blocks, the average shopper gets either gets bored, or is able to bargain down a new wardrobe to practically nothing. It seems the locals would be better served by adding some variety. Say a basket shop or something. To carry home all the newly sewn clothes. While hoi an was lovely and picturesque, it did appear to be expressly created for tourists.  

After we could take no more shopping we drove off to explore the marble mountains, these three lumps of marble jutting out of a flat expanse of nothingness. From the peak there is a lovely view of China beach. The hike to the top (more likely the raging heat) almost put me in a bad mood, but the Giant cave inside was one of the most serene and awe inspiring places I've been. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hoi An

Greetings from hoi an! Located half the way up the Vietnam coast from Ho Chi minh city. We were in HCM city for half the day yesterday and it was smolderingly hot. We stayed at the historic Majestic Hotel on the river. Last night we arrived  at our gorgeous hotel, on recommendation fro Lu and Tracey. The lush grounds sweep around a beautiful pool and line the oceanside. Every hotel here offers complementary breakfast buffet. The tropical fruits! The cheeses! The pastries! If there is anything good (anything at all) that can come out of Frech colonization it's a tradition of delicious breads and pastries. 

I have to say, though, that as we are swept down the absolutely crazy streets in our air conditioned SUV, dodging oncoming mo-peds, I keep looking longingly at the congregating locals on the side of the road. Backpacking on my previous trip, I seemed to be traveling in a different dimension. John and I are both looking for a little more "authentic" Vietnam and hopefully we'll find it in the historic city of Hoi An today! Get this, you can even work for a day at a local farm, and as excited as I was about his, John did not really consider that to be good use of our limited vacation time. I'm going to try to convince him to rent bikes today, but the madness of he mo-ped circus has him a little nervous. I say, if you want to live like the locals, you gotta be closer to the ground.