Step Four: I Wonder if I Should Continue to Title These Posts With Progressive Step Numbers

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Once again the sun rose, as it usually does, over Ōme. Let us take a small break from my narrative to show you a quick view of the neighborhood.

Early Morning Tokyo Suburbia

Early Morning Tokyo Suburbia

 

Yes, the streets are about one car width wide.

Yes, the streets are about one and 1/2 car widths wide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, now that we have gotten ourselves a bit more oriented, let us continue.

Today’s first outing involved (SURPRISE!) food. (If you are not sensing a theme in these posts, then I’m guessing you have just been looking at the pictures.) We cruised on down to Sukiya for gyūdon, which is basically a beef rice bowl: Cheap, tasty, filling.

Drive By Gyūdon!

Drive By Gyūdon!

I continued to notice throughout my venture that many of the menus remind me of the back of a Waffle House menu; there are lots of colorful pictures, and all you have to do is point and smile to order.

Fortified with rice, beef, and another cup of endless tea (it’s like I’m in Japan or something, geez!) Nathan and I set off to board the Chūō line, connecting with the Yamanote line for Harajuku station. Putting the Harajuku spectacles for a later date, we ventured over to Meiji Shrine for some “culture and learning”. According to the internet, Meiji Shrine is a Shinto Shrine originally completed in the 1920’s, and reconstructed in the late 1950’s after suffering damage in WWII.

What I saw was a whole bunch of really awesome nature, some cool old buildings, and a whole bunch of people “really feeling it all.”

Feel the Awe and Glory and Various Other Things that this image inspires.

Feel the Awe and Glory and Various Other Things that this image inspires.

And a GIANT wall of sake barrels

I may have contemplated how long it would take a normal human being to consume all the sake that could fill these barrels.

I may have contemplated how long it would take a normal human being to consume all the sake that could fill these barrels.

As we wandered the paths and checked out the courtyard of the shrine, I had hoped to have the big, bubbly, excited reaction to the realization that I was ACTUALLY IN JAPAN finally kick in.

Everyone setting up for something.... Wonder what it could be?

Appears they are setting up for something…. Wonder what it could be?

So many prayers, in so many languages.

So many prayers, in so many languages.

Here I was surrounded by all of these culturally significant examples, and instead I was feeling very calm and at peace. Which looking back at it all, I WAS at a temple, so perhaps that reaction was appropriate after all.

Purification fountain, if you are into that sort of thing.

Purification fountain, if you are into that sort of thing.

Venturing further , we came to Homotsuden, the Treasury Museum, and an open park area.

Rounded a turn in the path, only to be greeted with this sight.

Rounded a turn in the path, only to be greeted with this sight.

This was the view from the other side of the bridge.

This was the view from the other side of the bridge.

Alas, the Museum was closed

I guess I'll just have to put this on the "return trip" list.

I guess I’ll just have to put this on the “return trip” list.

So we headed back to our entrance by the Harajuku station, to our next destination (and future post), Shinjuku.

Something old and something new.

Something old and something new.

Step Three: I Make Everyone Wait Months to See What Happens Next!

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The morning of my first full day in Japan broke in a colorful display of spring. My room faced a neighbor’s vegetable garden, and I cannot think of anything nicer to wake up to than a whole bunch of growing things.

This view made it impossible not to do my yoga in the mornings

This view made it impossible not to do my yoga in the mornings

Now, admittedly, “morning” is a relative term here, as I was still adjusting to the time difference. By the time movement towards the outdoors was achieved, it was lunchtime. Lunchtime, of course, being another opportunity to eat tasty, tasty things!

Now the sushi spot that Nathan had frequented for much of his time in Japan (“Within walking distance” has many advantages) had gone the way that it appears many things do there when change is imminent: Disappears, with no warning, in the middle of the night. Because of this a substitute sushi joint had to be located… and my first battle with Japanese Automatic Doors ensued.

http://www.designsojourn.com/automatic-door/

Except the one I confronted did not have handy-dandy English

This is the height of Japanese Door technology- because not only is it a door, it is also social entertainment in a schadenfreude way. On this day it was I who provided the entertainment. As a Southern Boy, my cousin stepped back to let me go though the door first, which would have been fine if it had been in the States. But this was not the States, and this particular door did not include the English as displayed in the above picture.

So I stood there, trying to figure out how the heck I’m supposed to work this door, until a nice gentleman inside took pity on this poor American, and opened the door for me. I like to imagine that Nathan had undergone a similar experience, and was therefore helping me fully transition into the Japanese world around me, but really I think he just wanted a good chuckle.

After the customary game of charades with the staff, we found ourselves seated in a booth of the most magical land of the world: The land of conveyer belt sushi.

I figured how to work the Sushi Spaceships much quicker than I did the "automatic" door.

I figured how to work the Sushi Spaceships much quicker than I did the “automatic” door.

Now, I have been to some of the conveyer belt places back home, but I’ve found nothing on par with what they have in Japan. First off, each plate was only ¥100, which is roughly $0.98 US Dollars. Second, everything just tasted much fresher.

Intermission before grabbing more of ALL OF THE FÜDS!

Intermission before grabbing more of ALL OF THE FÜDS!

Third on my list- See that little slot at the end of the table? You put your used plates down there and it uses that to total your bill, but it is also A GAME. Every few plates, a little game animation pops up on your table’s touch screen indicating that you MIGHT win something! (Ok, admittedly, I did not actually witness anyone win anything while I was there, but I was still entertained.) And fourthly (yes, FOURTHLY) above the rotating sushi-goodness is an express conveyer belt. EXPRESS FOOD TO YOUR BOOTH! Every so often, a plate of sushi would zip past, or a covered bowl of soup would zoom overhead. And the only human interaction to speak of was with the staff up front, when you received your booth number and when you went to pay afterwards.

After a successful stuffing of the gullet with raw fish, we proceeded to Yokota Air Base in Fussa. There are two things of particular note for this base:

1- You can get a good view of Fussa from the top of the commissary

Fussa 1

Dead-Center, you can see a ferris wheel. No lie.

Fussa 2

 

 

2- They have some spectacular sakura blossoms in the spring

sakura1

You want to look at me ALL DAY LONG!

Sakura2

Come! Stroll along my flowery path!

Like, REALLY spectacular.

 

sakura3

Time has frozen, and you are OK with this fact.

 

By this time Nathan thought I had had enough Zen, and that I was ready to experience the local rail transit, Japan Railways East, so we headed on to Fussa Station.

No, Really... it TOTALLY made sense. Eventually. At some point.

No, Really… it TOTALLY made sense. Eventually. At some point.

I can only let you imagine the looks that two rather tall Caucasian redheads got as they boarded the train to Tachikawa.

Tachikawa appeared to be a small downtown, with many tall buildings, designed to sell things to tourists and locals alike.

LOFT

Artistically crooked.

Looking Up

Oh the things you can buy!

Da Citay

I didn’t actually notice the KFC when I took this.

Although they had some rather interesting methods to do so.

Umm....

Umm….

After a long first day of exploring a new land, we headed back to home. Unfortunately we were too exhausted to check out the local evening events, but it had a definite dream-like feel in the warm spring air.

Maybe next Spring

Maybe next Spring

 

 

 

Step Two: I Finally Make It to My Adventure Destination

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I woke up from my Texan respite, and started on the last leg of my journey to the land of the rising sun. Settling into my exit seat, I was excited about the extra legroom, but completely bummed by my lack of window (odd plane design) and the inconvenience of having to store everything in the overhead bins. I figured that with such a LONG (over 13hours) flight I was planning on doing ALL OF THE THINGS. I would work on my Japanese phrases (as in: Learn some.) I was going to start the rough draft of my first Adventure Blog post. I was going to plan out in detail all of the many things that I wanted to see and accomplish whilst in Tokyo.

Instead I enjoyed reading my books (the Divergent series), sleeping, and watching movies. It is very easy to convince yourself that you really do need to be watching movies all of the movies you’ve been putting off instead of being productive, especially when you are in a near sleep state and all of your words start to blend together. I think they would at least… Actually I wouldn’t know. My laptop hung out in the overhead bin for the whole flight.

Anyway, the nice thing about a long flight is that they give you wine. Not, “Would you like a tiny bottle of wine for the price of your first born?” but rather, it is right up there with a water or orange juice as a free choice to go with your meal. So I got to pretend I was a classy broad with my wine and (processed) cheese as I flew across a big ocean.

 

Keeping it classy while up in the air.

Keeping it classy while up in the air.

As my earlier post indicated, I eventually landed and pulled into the Narita International Terminal in one piece. Making it out of immigrations/customs soon became my travel trial #2.

Apparently my flight AND EVERY SINGLE OTHER INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT in that airport belched out their passengers at one time, causing a frustrating bureaucracy bottleneck. I liken the experience to waiting in line to get your badge for Dragon*Con (or any other conventions, I can bet.) There are some interesting characters waiting along side you. Everyone is a little bit excited, and a little bit nervous that they won’t get approval, and will miss all of the fun things that they had paid a lot of money to get to do. Also, not everyone smells his or her best. And the air conditioning appears to be broken (or possibly non-existent).

I finally make it to a numbered queue, with only 3 or 4 people in front of me. No sooner than I park my suitcase next to me, a smartly uniformed immigrations officer comes up and points to myself and two others. “You, you, you- come with me,” and motions to the ominous corner room labeled “ Waiting Room”.

I think this would be a good time to mention that at this point I am off the grid. I’ve no cell service, and I was not entirely trusting of the one rōmaji WiFi labeled “FREE WIFI!” and I neglected to get an actual phone number for my cousin (I never said I was a girl scout.) So as I make my way to what I can only imagine is going to involve rubber gloves and another 16 hours knocked off my trip, I begin to think of all the different strategies I could use to contact him were I detained for some reason. I am immediately relieved when the situation is finally made clear. The officials were trying to “speed up” the lines by opening up every available station…. And possibly terrorize incoming tourists in the process. (But that part was just a bonus, I am sure.) Admittedly, the officials were quite courteous throughout the whole process, a behavior I continued to notice throughout my whole trip. After about and hour or so of slogging though Immigration/Customs, I finally made it down to baggage claim where I quickly found my cousin (and the much needed coffee he brought with him.) For future travelers: Tall redheads make extremely efficient beacons when searching through Japanese crowds.

My first day in Japan was a drizzly one. By the time we pulled out of the parking deck, it was late afternoon and rush-hour traffic was starting to hit its peak. This meant that I got to experience the fun of Tokyo roads and traffic at their finest.

I don't know about you, but to me this sign makes driving down really fast hills look FUN!

I don’t know about you, but to me this sign makes driving down really fast hills look FUN!

Here I shall start my list of Some of the Things I Observed About Tokyo (Road Addition):

  • That previously mentioned courtesy stops the moment you are behind the wheel.
  • I have never seen a more elaborate setup of blinking LED lights on the road signs. If you are prone to epileptic seizures, you would be best to avoid the roads.
  • It takes a while to get used to driving on the left side of the road- even if you are just the passenger.
  • I saw these bumper stickers on a lot of trucks. They are a form of crime prevention/social shaming, with the sentiment roughly, “I see what you did there.” *

(* OK, so that is my generalized interpretation. A more accurate one can be found Here.)

These glaring stickers are everywhere.

These glaring stickers are everywhere.

  • Pedestrians and cyclists really don’t care, and so you had better be ready to stop the car at a moment’s notice.
  • As long as you have your flashers on, the side of the road is your parking lot.
  • I am not sure how everyone is able to drive around so much because gas can get freaking expensive over there (average about $6 a gallon). Plus tolls average out about $15 one way
  • Despite some of these crazy road antics, there are relatively few accidents

 

We arrived safely into Ōme, my base of operation for the week. But before getting to the house, we go to fulfill my first (so coffee was technically my first) food request of the trip: RAMEN! And while I am sorry to say that I did not get a glorious food pic to make you all jealous over, I was so hungry and it tasted so good, that my regrets are rather small on that slight oversight.

As it was my very first day (half-day) EVER in Japan, I would like to say that after eating of the most delicious ramen, I was ready to go exploring and get in as many experiences in this amazing country as possible. That would be a really great thing for me to have done. Instead, I promptly fell asleep, overwhelmed by the collective exhaustion built up over the past couple of days.  Because that is how I roll.

But that meant I woke up to a beautiful start, rearing to go, for Day 2.

Step One: I Decide to Have an Adventure

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Here's a hint regarding what this whole post (and subsequent posts) will be about. You've been warned.

Here’s a hint regarding what this whole post (and subsequent posts) will be about. You’ve been warned.

A few years ago my cousin found out he was to be stationed at the Yokota US Air Force base in Japan. His sister and I swore that we were going to take advantage of this fortuitous placement, and come visit him in Tokyo. Last year, his sister followed through on her threat, and had a wonderful time. This year, it is my turn. I decided a few months back that I needed to stop putting off this opportunity for an adventure. But telling yourself to, “step outside your comfort zone,” and actually following through with it can be a very daunting task. As luck would have it, I had already renewed my passport a while back, I had my funds in order, and my cousin was agreeable to having me come visit for a few days. I had run out of excuses. As the days counted down to my departure, the whole trip seemed rather surreal to me; was I actually getting on a series of flights by myself to a whole other country where I don’t read or speak the language? You Betcha!

While I was tempted to get these stylish American flag shades, I decided to err in a less "in your face" on my face approach.

While I was tempted to get these stylish American flag shades, I decided to err in a less “in your face” on my face approach.

One month quickly counted down to two weeks, then two days, then the night before, and suddenly Chris has dropped me off at the airport and I am boarding my first flight on my way to Japan. Everything seemed to go very smoothly for that first hop over to Dallas-Fort Worth. From check-in to gate I had no major issues, and I even had an entertaining (though not necessarily appropriate to repeat here) seatmate for the flight.

Plane #1 was rocking this in-flight entertainment dealio.

Plane #1 was rocking this in-flight entertainment dealio.

I really should have known that it was all too good to be true. As I eat my really tasty Tex-Mex late-lunch, I check to see how my connecting flight to San Francisco is doing. It is at this point that my luck seems to turn, and my first stabs of anxiety set in.

In my defense, I ordered the beer BEFORE finding out about the crazy delays that awaited me. Of course, then I was really glad I had ordered the beer.

In my defense, I ordered the beer BEFORE finding out about the crazy delays that awaited me. Of course, then I was really glad I had ordered the beer.

The flight from DFW to SFO was delayed. I knew going into this whole adventure, that I would be pushing my luck with a short (1 hour- OK, “short for me”) layover in an airport that I don’t know (and it is also pretty big), to catch the last leg of my international travel  part one- Getting There. As I watched the flight information, my hour layover gap shrank to 45minutes, and then 15 minutes… and then it became apparent that I would miss my flight all together. As I fretted over this realization to the check-in counter, they had “good news” – I would NOT be missing my flight into Japan… because it was canceled. Well, great. I had a nice big “All flights in and out of SFO have been delayed since last Saturday” wrench in my plans. (And it was a mighty big wrench. Bigger even than the really big ones that you can find at your local DIY improvement stores.) Calls were made, nails were bitten, and many a face-palm was had.

Eventually a plan was created that did not have me bouncing around to a whole bunch of other airports with further crazy delays and potential flights missed. I was lucky enough to interact with a very clever Customer Service Representative of the airline I was flying, who helped me not only avoid taking the now woefully delayed SFO flight with it’s subsequent crazy layovers and flight connections, but also managed to get me there earlier. (OK, not as early as my original cancelled flight, but still- a couple hours is something.)

As the evening rolled around, and I started to catch up with a grad school friend who lived in the in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I hadn’t seen in years, I realized that this was a pretty good detour for my adventure to have. So while I would now be arriving in Tokyo 16 hours later than my original plan, maybe I had still somehow earned some good airport karma along the route. I don’t know, but I was not going to question it.

(Disclaimer: Don’t worry! Future posts of this adventure will contain more- and much prettier- pictures. I was just not terribly photo-happy for a chunk of this beginning part… OK?)

 

(Well- Except here- Here I was a bit snap-happy. Also slap-happy.)

(Well- Except here- Here I was a bit snap-happy. Also slap-happy.)

I Am Not Sure if I Would Have a Cat if I Knew It Would Grow to Be Over 55lbs.

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A while back I wrote about my adventures in dog-sitting. In that post, I mentioned how I had never had a dog, and how, once-upon-a-time, big dogs even scared me a little. It now looks like I have signed myself up for a life-long version of immersion therapy.

Meet “Lina”.

Mrs Dog Dobalina

This is a false representation. She is rarely, if ever, this still.

Her full name is Mrs. Dog Dobalina, in homage to The Monkees’ song, “Zilch” (although my fiancé chooses to reference “Mistadobalina” by Del Tha Funkee Homosapian, which is clearly a homage to the ORIGINAL “Zilch” song- but whatever.) She is a Belgian Malinios, a breed very similar to the German Shepherd, but slightly is smaller in her final form. At this point she is 18wks and the heavy side of 30lbs. I have nicknamed her “Tank”, as her best descriptor would be “incredibly solid and oblivious to objects around her”. This includes people, furniture, cabinetry, walls, doors, the cats- pretty much anything in general. She bounces and shakes off the impact like it was nothing. Luckily walls do not bruise, and the cats are pretty good at holding their own.

Man Down

He didn’t stand a chance against “The Tank”.

Things that I have learned about having a puppy so far:

  1. They have to go to the bathroom- A LOT. And sometimes even they don’t realize that they need to go until the moment they do (on the oriental rug).
  2. You realize how much attachment you have for material things based on your reaction to the puppy chewing on it. (But I LOVED that toy that I don’t even remember where it came from or when the last time was that I even acknowledged its existence!)
  3. No matter how many toys she has within her reach, if you are not playing with her, she is BORED.
  4. It is rarely a good sign if she is Too Quiet (see #1)
  5. Similar to children and cats, the most favorite toy is often the packaging of something else.

    Box o Lina

    Yep- This is my dog, Folks.

  6. Dog farts are horrible, which can be good a good thing, as I have already adopted the practice of blaming any and all farts on the dog. So far, she has been OK with this.
  7. Awkward puppies are pretty much the best thing ever. Exhausted puppies are just below that.
  8. If you have a smart puppy, there is a very high chance that you also have a very (very) stubborn puppy.
  9. Puppy teeth are some of the sharpest objects on earth.
  10. If it is dead and decaying, a puppy will find it and try to eat it, or roll in it. Same thing goes for all poop. (Lina is becoming a connoisseur in that area. Currently she prefers duck and deer poop, but she will branch out as the situation dictates.)

The whole “training” thing has been an interesting process, as my cats more trained me than the other way around. First, I’ve had to butcher learn commands in a completely different language, as you wouldn’t want some stranger to be able to tell your dog to “roll-over” at the drop of a hat, would you? (Of course not. Those are family tricks!) Second, I’ve been trying to learn how to be the “alpha-dog” to her. I now have more empathy for parents with toddlers who are learning to push their boundaries. “If you didn’t see me do it, then you don’t KNOW that I did it, right?” (Cue the puppy-dog eyes, which, by the way, STILL do not work on me, so tough luck there, Lina.)

Puppy Dog Eyes

No matter how many versions she tries, I refuse to melt (usually).

I know that she has learned (and grown!) so much in the 6 weeks that we have had her, so I have to remind myself that despite of all her progress she is still a very energetic and distracted puppy. One whose first reaction is to give puppy kisses, and want you to play tug-of-war and get belly rubs, and contort herself in funny ways when she outruns the ball.

Tuckered out

There are occasions where I question if she actually has all her bones.

As long as she understands that I will always take the cat’s side, then I think we will get along OK.

What Happens When Your Crisis Response Creates a Worse Crisis?

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On the occasion, I come across something in the news that really grinds my gears so much that I have to set it aside to process it (lest a spouting rage-monster appear in my place). In this particular instance, it is the report of this horrific incident from the beginning of January.

The basic story begins, as many of us in the acute mental health profession are very familiar: A family member asking for assistance because their child is presenting as a danger to themselves or to others. In this case, an 18-year-old male having a schizophrenic episode, threatening his mother (by some reports, with a screwdriver). The family did what I, and many of my fellow therapists, have recommended to families in similar events; they called the police to help them get their son to a safe environment so that mental health professionals could help stabilize him. Perhaps this was a routine that the family was familiar with. Maybe they had called a crisis line, and had received a similar recommendation. I don’t know the details of why they ultimately decided to call the police that day. But of all the innumerable times that I have made this recommendation to families, I have never imagined that any of those cases would ever turn out the way that it did for this family.

The police shot him. Wait- First they tased him and pinned him to the ground. THEN one of the officers shot him. The officer was quoted by the above news medias as, “ We don’t have time for this,” before shooting the 5’5” (and under 100lbs) high school senior.

Here is the kicker- according to the above reports, the first officers on the scene had managed to de-escalate the situation. So why didn’t the story get to end there? What, if any, was the difference in the mental health training that the first officers had received verses the second responding officers? Better yet, was there any mental health training to begin with, and how could it have prevented this deadly outcome?

I don’t think that this tragedy will keep crisis workers or family from contacting the police when a family member is a danger to others or themselves. But, perhaps having crisis prevention teams who are connected with the local mental health centers, assisting to police in these types of calls would help; or at least some further de-escalation training for the force. But unless something changes, I would be hesitant to make that all-familiar recommendation to families again.

As for the officer who pulled the trigger in a claim of self-defense, he is due back in court in April.

Living with Cats Is a Poor Rehersal for Dog-Sitting

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There are times when you find yourself in situations where you are flooded with apprehension and anxiety. You wonder, “ How will I possibly endeavor to make it through this?” You may even find yourself becoming irritated at the person who placed you in that situation, only to take a step back and realize that you had a big part in getting yourself into that uncomfortable position.

My most recent example of this convoluted situation involves taking care of a dog. Growing up, I have never had a dog. In fact, even when my friends that had dogs, I wasn’t in the neighborhood long enough to get to know them all that well. For a time, as a child, I was actually scared of bigger dogs. I eventually became comfortable with them, and even to want a snuggle or two, but I’ve never been in a position where I was taking care of a dog. This goes double for taking care of a dog SOLO.

Even as a teenager or adult, I’ve never been asked to look after another’s dog for more than a few hours, and that was more-or-less on a passive level. None of my past relationships had an active roll in the family dog’s life, and so I did not either.  Did I mention that I grew up as a cat person? Yep- totally a cat person.

If this does not prove how much of a cat person I am, then I don't know what will.

If this does not prove how much of a cat person I am, then I don’t know what will.

So when my fiancé asked me to dog-sit the dog that he and his ex share joint custody over while he was away for a week, it was natural that I would be flooded with apprehension and anxiety. What if I do something wrong? What if something happens to her on my watch? To heighten the situation, this sweet dog has a terminal illness and has gone blind. So she is completely dependent on the humans taking care of her.  But I agreed to take care of her on my own, because sometimes you just have to face your own negative feelings (and it doesn’t hurt that she is so freaking sweet and adorable that you just cannot say “no” to her face.)

This face defies any chance of "No" being said. It's a good thing she's never unreasonable.

This face defies any chance of “No” being said. It’s a good thing she’s never unreasonable.

Well, the week is almost up, and I am happy to report that the dog has been very patient with my learning curve.  She has been training me to notice when she needs to do her business (as slow as I have been in picking up her cues, she’s only had one big accident), and that I spend too much time on the computer (I needed a new power cord anyway).

No really- I wasn't going to use that cord at all this week. Seriously.

No really- I wasn’t going to use that cord at all this week. Seriously.

I’ve also learned that I am willing to sit outside in the cold for hours so that she can sniff the dirt and enjoy sleeping on the grass.

So yes, I started out this week in a situation that I was not entirely comfortable with. But I was reminded that if you embrace those situations, and make the most of them, you can wind up making a new (and sometimes fuzzy) friend. Plus, now I can never say that I have not dog-sat.

(Were she a parrot, I’d seriously have no idea what to do- except perhaps, “Don’t let the cats eat her.”)

We All Have Guilty Pleasures, but Mine Have Subtitles

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Today I will reveal a secret guilty pleasure of mine: Japanese and Korean Dramas

I got hooked on them years back, and through the joys of Netflix, I have been able to fuel this guilty pleasure (much to the confusion of the Fiance.)

Recently, I was watching one of these Korean Dramas, and found myself texting a plot summary to a friend of mine because… these are the things I do. In honor of National Guilty Pleasures Day (which I may, or may not have just invented right now), I shall share with you: My Summary of Korean TV Drama (You’re Beautiful) as Sent in Text Message to Friend Who has Little to no Idea What I am Talking About (Warning: Some Spoilers- you know.. for all of you who are going to run over to Netflix after reading this post).

File:You're Beautiful - promotional picture.jpg

Think of it as an excuse to learn a new language

Girl disguises herself as her brother to keep his new place in the boy band. She knows one of the band members knows who she really is, but a second member knows as well. All three of the band members like her (him). HIJINKS ENSUE!!!!
OK- the reason it is so important for her to stay in the band is because she thinks it will help her and her twin brother (who she is pretending to be) find out who their mother is (they were left at a convent).And right now it looks like the band member that she is secretly crushing on (the “angry one”), who she knows knows that she is really a girl, might actually be… Her half brother!!!! (Dun-dun-duuuuuunnnnnn!!!!!!)

And I think that was actually the LEAST confusing way to explain that.

Update: all the members of the band now know that she is a girl. The “angry one” member that knew she was a girl from the start (that she has been pining over) has somewhat awkwardly returned her feelings, while the “quite one” member is still pining over her and she is oblivious (even after he wrote her a song).

Also: the “angry one” and the girl are not half siblings, BUT he hates the man who is her father and his twin children because they are the reason his own mother abandoned him as a child. (The “angry one” is not yet aware of the connection between the girl and her father- the man he hates!)
I sense future internal conflict!!!!!

Going into the final episode: girl and “angry one” have admitted feelings for each other, and girl has let down the “funny one” and “quiet one” down (but “quiet one” put up a fight to hold on). It has come to light that “angry one’s” mom is a jerk and actually stole the love song the girl’s dad had written years ago, and insisted that it had been written for her (but really he had written it for the twins’ mom). Lots of drama between the girl and “angry one” over whose parent screwed over the other family more (girl wins because -DEAD MOM CARD!)

Twin brother comes in town just in time for a reporter to try and unmask him as actually being a girl. All full of feels, the girl goes off and disappears while her brother settles into his place with the band. Other band members are full of own feels. Also- there is lots and lots of the same songs over and over.

Needless to say, my friend was highly amused, somewhat confused, and possibly questioning my sanity. But for me, a little absurdity goes a long way to making me and others happy (see: American Soap Operas), and that is why you will never take away this guilty pleasure.

Happy (unofficial) National Guilty Pleasures Day!

It’s just like crab walking up the side of a mountain

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Good morning, and welcome to “obligatory wedding stress post”!

As the above line suggests, I am in the middle of organizing my wedding. I, unlike many, did not feel obligated to plan my wedding and whatnot as a wee young thing. I didn’t even get in the spirit as I went through my 20’s and started collecting bridesmaids dresses from all the other weddings going on.  To be honest, as I look at the heaps of flower and linen decisions, I’m not really in the spirit now. (Exception to this will be the food and cake tastings because; um… do I really need to explain that?)

So instead I find myself productively procrastinating. I’m sure you are familiar with this skill. It’s when you put off doing something that you know you really need to be doing (very often there is a deadline looming- that is a main indicator that productive procrastination will be set off) by doing something that is aaaaalmost as important, but not right at that moment. For example: MUST DO- Finalize guest list and send out Save the Dates.  WHAT I DID-Cleaned the kitchen and baked Orange Chocolate-Chunk mini scones.

See? That way if anyone got on my case about not doing what I’m “supposed” to be doing, I just offer him or her a scone. (Unless I have eaten them all by that point, in which I can bake MORE!)

The nice thing about productive procrastination for me is that not only do I end up being more productive all over (again- clean kitchen and SCONES!) but I also usually have a breakthrough on whatever it is that is blocking me  from getting that original thing done. Sometimes just stepping away from what is causing you stress can help you from beating your head against the wall, and you are able to focus again on what you really need to be working on.

And having scones doesn’t hurt either.

sconed

A Lesson in Physics (and totally not having anything to do with an imaginary ghost)

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I never fully appreciated simple act of bipedal locomotion until I made the flawed decision to carry a padded bench down a flight of carpeted stairs while wearing socks. Up until this point in my life, I have been remarkably lucky in avoiding any sort of serious injury. I’d had my fair share of bruises and scrapes, but nothing that caused more than a slight inconvenience in my daily life. (Side note here: Chris has also hurt his foot at about the same point of the stairs, leading us to believe not that there is a physical flaw in the stairs themselves, but rather that an imaginary ghost that haunts the bathroom under the stairs is upset with the length of time it is taking us to complete stripping the wallpaper in there. But seriously, imaginary ghost- cut us a break! The previous owner had papered the whole thing in TWO LAYERS of the SAME PAPER! Geez!)

My ill-fated tumble, resulting in a badly sprained ankle, occurred a few days before the collection of 20-odd family and friends were to descend on me the fiance for our first Thanksgiving in our new home. I went from a highly productive (and not quite frantic) hostess to stuck on the sofa with my foot propped up as I attempted to 1) figure out what still needed to be done, and 2) delegate ALL OF THE THINGS.

As a person who is often better at demonstrating how to accomplish a task while describing what to do; to not see what was taking place in the next room and being left with not only just my words was initially a challenge to my verbal skills. I quickly realized, however, how well I remembered my new house. I became quickly adept at searching my memory and recalling where a potential centerpiece item might be found, or an obscure baking tool could be located. Not being able to get up and just walk over to the pantry when I received a call from those on grocery store run led me to search my memory “ Did we still have any pecans?” (The correct answer was “yes”, but really you can never have too many pecans.)

And while this year’s Thanksgiving was a bit of “Trial by Fire” in its own way, the household as a whole passed relatively unscathed. The difficult part has been the day-to-day that I normally take for granted: taking clean laundry back upstairs, for example. Another is trying to run errands, where there is a lot of walking and standing in line involved. I have new-founded empathy for those with canes and crutches that I’ve seen struggling along side me in the Pre-Christmas shopping rush.

The biggest lesson I am learning through this whole experience is how to now ask for help (and not just vaguely mention that some assistance at some point would be appreciated). This can be difficult to do when it is for something you were only recently able to do for yourself, and it reminded me how so many of the consumers we saw were reluctant to both ask for and accept offered help. But we can all use help, in one way or another, because we are always making choices that put in positions that we just cannot deal with alone. In one small decision, one small choice of action, I found myself at the mercy of both my own body and the assistance of those around me. The experience has been a humbling adjustment. (No thanks to you, imaginary bathroom ghost.)