Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bacon

I know this is a touchy subject. People get crazy about bacon - Anthony Bourdain suggests that people cook bacon around their vegetarian friends all the time because it's a "gateway protein." I get it! Bacon smells fantastic.

Still, I just can't eat the stuff. I've tried a couple times in the past few years. The smell entices me, but I don't dig on the texture, and it's not like I'm missing out on a necessary nutrient or anything. Unless you're from the South.

So Josh and I occasionally buy turkey bacon as a treat. It's not the same, of course, but that works for me. It tastes good and the texture is pleasant - if it's cooked properly. The oven or the stovetop works fine. THE MICROWAVE DOES NOT. Josh tried to cut corners the other day and cooked it in the micro for our bacon cheese veggie burgers. It tasted like Beggin' Strips. That's okay, lesson learned.

The unfortunate side effect of this is that now our microwave smells like bacon. Which has given me a possibly great, possibly terrible idea, which I would copyright if it didn't already exist: bacon coffee.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Feast or famine

Hoo, y'all. I mean, hoo boy. It's rough around here.

I don't want to get into the details, but let's just say that we're stressed out. Josh is working really hard in the band and on his master's degree, and I think I can say without compromising operational security that he'll be going on a ship for the first time soon. Living in Japan in a military environment is much more difficult than either of us anticipated, and that fact has been coming to a head lately.

See, my husband is stressed to the max. There is absolutely nothing I can do to help him, not unless he figures out what I can do, that is, so I'm stressed too from watching helplessly while he deals with it all. I love this man so much, and it's incredibly hard to sit on my hands while he keeps slogging through this tough time. Plus I'm planning a trip to the States very soon (the states of California, South Carolina, and Washington, to be exact) but traveling Space-A by myself and leaving our house empty is scary.

So where's the feast? All around us. I mean, we have plenty of money in this terrible economy and our health care is acceptable and free. Our house has a view of the ocean, we get to call our parents and grandparents for free from Japan, and our friends and family are amazing. We've got some friends here, and a decent little community to keep us sane when things get this crazy. Oh, and I get to go home for a while, albeit without my husband. And, you'll never believe what I just got in the mail.

I'm sorry the pictures are so dark, especially since the colors are much prettier than that, but I was in a rush. See, this package came yesterday from Irish, who is working hard to settle into life in the Pacific Northwest. Since she was my first knitting student (and a total natural) I gave her the needles I learned on before she left Japan. This scarf, the Irish Hiking Scarf (named after the country, not my friend, but how cool!), was her second project. See how beautiful those cables are? And how even her tension? HER SECOND PROJECT. Like I said, a natural.

I am so blown away by her generosity, and I'm still amazed that I've found a handful of kindred spirits here on the other side of the world. My life is much more feast, much more beautiful and kind and warm than it ever is scary and cold. And yet, this winter, the chill keeps creeping in.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WHAT?!

Why didn't anyone tell me that Brad and Angelina and family are in my neighborhood?! I'M NOT READY!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Two dreams

Two nightmares really, but I wanted you to keep reading.

#1 woke me up in the middle of the night. It was one of those really vivid, detailed dreams that comes out of nowhere: I was working in an office where everyone logs onto the computers via jump drive. I had to borrow three of them from other workers so I could get them rights to a project or something, and while I had them our office was attacked by terrorists. Who wanted the jump drives and stole them out of my pocket while I was distracted by the terrorism. (I know).

So I decided to tell the people whose identities were on those drives, and one of them freaked out and started screaming in my face and her eyes were all pupil and she tried to strangle me and throw us both out a window. Jeezus. I woke up with my heart racing, freaking out, and then realized that it was two a.m. and went back to sleep, only to face this nightmare:

I was a member of George W. Bush's personal staff.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

It was true in the dream though. I really like being on a person's staff: a campaign, or, I imagine, a politician's office in D.C., or working for the head of an organization I support. I like traveling, event management, and managing the head honcho at public gatherings. That's for people I SUPPORT and LIKE, not certain torture-approving, women's-health-denigrating ex-Presidents.

But there you have it. I was on his staff and we were closing up shop before heading back to Texas, and the NSA had decided he could have a Blackberry like President Obama's. But of course Bush couldn't work it, so they gave it to me to learn its functions and input the staff's contact information. They'd already uploaded and bookmarked a couple things they knew the ex-President couldn't live without:

I Can Has Cheezburger and I Has a Hotdog.

Y'all, I woke up laughing. Literally: I managed to crack myself up while unconscious.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Talk amongst yourselves

It has been strange around here. Quiet, mostly, but busy with Josh's schoolwork and cooking and cleaning and yucky weather. So to amuse yourself while I don't write, go read whatever June's up to at Bye Bye, Pie. Because, to quote her own self, man Polly, quit cryin', I'm tired and she's funny.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ku-ree-nee-n-guOH MY GOD LOOK OUT!

Remember how I'm learning katakana? One of the three Japanese alphabets? Well, by Jove, I think I've got it. I've been practicing a lot on the web and reading as much as I can in the stores - and I'm getting really good! Reading another alphabet is incredibly addicting; it's like breaking a code every day. Soooo...

I read while I drive.

I know! It's not safe, especially since I'm so slow. But while I'm driving slowly or at a stoplight, it's impossible not to try to sound out the "English" words written in kana. It's also virtually impossible, that's virtually impossible, to avoid getting into an accident. Add to that the fact that I like to take pictures of the things I pass, and well, it's a wonder I haven't crashed.

So let's make this post a purge of my bad habits, and I'll just get it out of my system and never do it again. It's hard to resist though: the other day when I was driving to Nadine's house, I saw this on my right:Tell me: could you resist snapping a quick photo of a ROBOT if you drove past one? A robot clenching its fist and stomping on a child's car? I didn't think so.

The next one, I have no excuse for, baby baby. It's very common in Japan, but I kept forgetting to snap a picture.Many Japanese people still sleep on a futon on tatami, rather than a Western-style bed. But tatamis wick moisture out of the air during humid months, and release it during the dry months - so combine that with normal sweat and sleep, and the futons need to be aired out. If the weather is dry, they're hanging all over the country with those big hooky clips.

So that's it! No more taking pictures while driving (unless the robots move!) and no ignoring traffic to read in a foreign language. The title of this post, before the OMG, means "cleaning."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

No wonder the Swedes are so slender

Seriously. Have you been to Ikea? It's an endurance trial - like a marathon, but with Swedish meatballs halfway through instead of Gatorate and tepid water.

And yet, who can resist the particle board (but classy!) furniture, the exciting and inexpensive kitchen gadgets, the names like Haarfyurlunch and Beetleguese and Appelfahrt? I can't, and neither can my friends. Even though the tolls cost $30. My love for Ikea is previously documented - and no, I don't know why there's a question mark (Anchorman-style) at the end of the first paragraph.

So on Friday, I picked Nadine and Justine up at their house and we headed over to Dorothy's to meet her and her two adorable girls for the trip. I need to take this opportunity to right a wrong on this blog: I've only mentioned Dorothy twice, and by different names. She had Nadine and me over for lunch back in September, and she and her husband (their real names are Beth and Alex - I was calling her Dorothy because she wants to go home) were our sponsors when we first arrived. They lent us their bikes, took us out, had us to their house for dinner, received and held on to the packages we shipped ahead, and were generally really great. And we have been so remiss in returning their kindness! More on that later.

DoroBeth made us yummy sandwiches for lunch, and the six ladies ate before piling into the Ivy Van for the trip. Check out these adorable little girls.

What a crew! The girls were really great in the car for the 45 minute ride north to Yokohama, and Beth drove. So nice.

When we got to Ikea, the mamas strapped their littlest babies to their fronts and I carried Hannah, the three year old, into the store. (Mothers of two are like ninjas. Notice how the non-mama ended up carrying the heaviest child? :) All the girls were great throughout the store, even though we took hours to wind our way through. Hannah, who I love to bits, got a little chilly in the warehouse portion and snuggled up with her antie Em's coat.

On the ride home we squeezed three adults, three children, and two big heavy boxes full of furniture parts into that van, and Beth drove once again. I picked up a couple new throw pillows, some new bowls and spoons for our kitchen, and other little things for the house, while Nadine and Beth each got new toy-corralling furniture. What a day! Poor Justine cried all the way home (also poor us) but for good reason - FIRST TOOTH! FIRST TOOTH! Ah, so exciting.

Back to our rudeness to Beth and Alex: we finally, finally had them over for dinner the next night. I'd been really worried about kid-proofing our house, which it turns out we didn't really do anyway despite our efforts - toddlers can crawl into tiny hidden places and find, say, the icky lost flyswatter under the couch. Ech. But we ate Nadine's smoked salmon cheese ball for an appetizer, and then sat down to dinner. Aren't they a beautiful family?
The girls had gotten word that they had to eat dinner if they wanted dessert, and this led to a little problem. See, Hannah is a very polite little girl, and she wanted dessert and wanted to eat dinner, but she just. didn't. like. it. I made a black bean chili with unsweetened chocolate - one of our favorites, and not spicy, but kind of an adult flavor. Faith, who is 18 months, loved it, but Hannah simply did not. She kept trying to eat it and I kept trying not to laugh or cry as she'd put a big bite into her mouth and then make a terribly pitiful face, as though she'd just seen someone throw up. The poor thing! Eventually we relented and gave her PB&J, and she still got her dessert.

For the rest of the night the ladies played Nintendo while the fellas talked about work, politics, and religion - what a lighthearted pair! We can't wait to have them over again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

E Pluribus Unum

I am so excited on this inauguration eve. It's 8:18pm here, 6:18am in Washington D.C., and beginning very soon, this man will be our President.
We coach Little League in the blue states and we've got gay friends in the red states, amen.

In my enthusiasm I'm in the minority on this military base, I think. I wore a shirt today with a map of Japan and a big red star on the village of Obama, whose name is in big letters across the shirt, and I got a couple 'atta girls but mostly blank stares or irritation. There are no inauguration-watching parties on base, no one staying up late in a gymnasium to watch President-Elect Obama swear his oath. But as of this time tomorrow, his face and not W's will be posted on every quarterdeck.

That will be a good day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Forgiveness

So it wasn't all my fault. I know that. But as Dan Savage says, say you've got two friends:
One gets hit by lightning, and the other plops his sopping-wet ass down on a third rail. Do both friends—presuming both survive—deserve your empathy and understanding? Of course. But one friend was electrocuted while the other electrocuted his damn self.
I think I fall somewhere in the middle there - more like I decided to walk next to the third rail (rather than on the platform) and someone pushed me onto it.

Someone pushed me - that's the bottom line. When someone does something bad, it's their fault. I blame the sailor and the bouncer for the drugs, which, incidentally, is why I feel so much safer off base in a foreign country than I do on base, surrounded by U.S. sailors. I felt safe in New York because I was married, and because I was part of this Navy club and surrounded by men who wear the same uniform as my husband every day, who are supposed to have character and honor and protect one another and our country. And they betrayed me.

So I smartened up, and I kind of don't trust anybody now, anybody I don't know well, I mean. I haven't had to learn too many things the hard way in my life, and who knows? Maybe this incident prevented something worse, or writing about it will make a couple people a little more vigilant and save some lives.

Thanks for all of your comments and emails and support. Tomorrow I'll write about dinner parties and all-day shopping trips and sweet little girls who don't like my black bean chocolate chili. For now I'm going to spend a little time with a hot cup of coffee and maybe some mac 'n cheese, and I'll get to feeling better.

Oh, and also? Turns out a friend of a friend of mine was drugged AT A FAMILY WEDDING. It's not safe out there, folks. Watch out for one another.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fault

TRIGGER WARNING.

Here's another one of those posts I wasn't sure I'd ever write - but yesterday I found this on Jezebel, and it hit me pretty hard.

Last May, in New York City, someone put Rohypnol in my drink. I don't know if anyone saw him do it, but I know no one told me anything.

It was the worst night of my life.

Josh and Navy Band Northeast were there for his third Fleet Week. I'd missed the first two, and he always came back with stories of free Broadway shows (!), great food, a ball game or two, and amazing jazz clubs. I wanted in! So I took a train down for the weekend and a kind band member let us have his hotel room for a couple nights - no roommate. What a treat.

Then one night Josh had to work, but a friend of mine and I went out for drinks. She used to live in New York and she knew her way around, so I was psyched. We went to a place in some square or other in Manhattan and were having a great time, drinking Scotch and soda and chatting with the sailors who had come in from the ships. We were wearing our wedding rings, dressed casually in loose clothes, talking about our husbands mostly. And yet.

I had too much to drink. My friend was a smoker, and I decided to join her for a cigarette, which I know now is a sign that I should stop drinking, head for home and have a big bottle of water on the way. I didn't know that then. I started to carry my drink outside and the bouncer said no, you can't bring that out here, we'll get in trouble: leave it inside on that table.

and I said: but someone could slip something into it.

and he said: don't worry about it.

So I didn't.

A little later when my friend was getting a manicure (it's a weird bar) I lost it. I felt...strange. Drunk, but worse than that, out of my mind - I just wandered off into the city. Without my stuff - my purse was around my body, but I left two bags inside and just wandered away.

It is so humiliating to tell this story. Truly it is: it's like standing here naked, in front of everybody, and pointing to the parts of myself I hate the most. My biggest embarrassment, my worst nightmare, all my insecurities on display. But I have to tell this, I just have to: this happened to me, which means it could happen to anybody, which means it IS happening to somebody right now, but it FUCKING HURTS TO TELL THIS STORY.

I passed out on the sidewalk. I don't remember where I was, or how I got anywhere, or even passing out. I just remember the outlines of two faces, a man and a woman, waking me up and helping me into a cab. I guess they must have dialed the emergency number in my cell phone, which was Josh, thank God. He's a heavy sleeper but the phone woke him, thank God. I didn't know where to go, and I was scared, and sobbing, and I didn't know my name or his name, I just knew the feeling I get when I'm with him and I knew that if I could get to that voice on the other end of the phone I would be safe again.

Josh kept shouting the address of the hotel: 38th and 6th! 38th and 6th! and finally it got through to me. By this point I was throwing up in the cab, and the cabbie could have left me on the side of the road, but he got me to 38th and 6th and then stole my wallet. (We found out later that he took the cash, bless him, and threw the wallet with all my cards and info on the street in front of the hotel. Someone found it and returned it.)

I fell out of the cab and was covered in vomit, still throwing up violently all over the street and the walls around me and Josh and all my clothes and shoes. Josh carried me into the elevator and into our room, and took my clothes off and washed them in the tub. I passed out on the bed, and I don't remember any of this since the phone in the cab by the way, and when I woke up I was still vomiting all over everything. He had to call his superior from the band, an angel of a man who took care of both of us that night.

I do remember one thing: I couldn't stop apologizing. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry baby. I was so scared and so I don't know, guilty? I guess? that I'd allowed this to happen to myself. I apologized as I was naked in the bed in front of my husband's coworkers, I apologized down the elevator and into his boss's car on the way to the hospital, and over and over as Josh sat by my bed, not sleeping all night, while I was sedated with anti-nausea medication for a few precious hours. I kept apologizing after he (and our friend, and the boss who had driven us to the hospital and slept in his Jeep outside until I was released) had to go to work at 7am on national TV with no sleep. And all the train ride home to Rhode Island.

And do you want to know the truth? I'm still sorry. I still feel like it was my fault. I know it was my fault for being so stupid, leaving my drink and going back to it, maybe even for going out drinking with a friend who is a woman in a big city. She, by the way, noticed I was gone shortly after I left and started a frantic search for me - and she never let the sailor and the bouncer (who we suspected) out of her sight.

I hope some day I'll forgive myself for what that man did. I try to dwell on how lucky I was that it was "just" the drug, the guilt, the fear, and the humiliation, that I wasn't raped or mugged or beaten or murdered. For now, here's what I suggest for the rest of us:

1. NEVER PUT YOUR DRINK DOWN AND GO BACK TO IT. Not on a date (get a new drink or don't go to the bathroom), in a bar, in a club, at a goddamn wedding unless someone you KNOW and TRUST who is SOBER is holding it for you. Even then maybe not.

2. WATCH OTHER PEOPLE AND THEIR DRINKS. Jesus Christ, if someone had seen? and helped me? Jesus.

3. IF YOU SEE SOMEONE MESSING WITH A DRINK:
First, yell: "DID YOU JUST PUT SOMETHING IN THAT DRINK?" Embarrass yourself. Embarrass him. Second, take the drink and hand it to the bartender or spill it, if you must. And third, find the woman whose drink it was and take her aside, or out of the place if possible. You could be saving her life.

4. ALL BARTENDERS NEED A POLICY. This is crucial. My proposal, if a staff member or customer sees someone spiking a drink:
a. take the drink away and save it. Tell the suspected guy (it's always a guy) that the bottle of wine was corked, or you put the wrong liquor in the cocktail, or whatever.
b. send a female staff member to tell the woman - if she's at the table, tell her they think she left something in the bathroom but it's kind of embarrassing.
c. CALL 911.

When this happened to me, the hospital staff were terrible. They refused to call the police, to test me for drugs, or anything. They kept us in the emergency room surrounded by screaming, stinking, homeless patients with bloody head wounds, and a woman who looked like she was dying of cancer in the next bed. A nurse threatened to commit suicide - a nurse on duty, not a patient. I never saw a doctor. I never filed a police report. I didn't sleep for weeks, not really, and I'll never feel safe in a big city at night ever again. I'll never go back to New York.

But really? Until this happened to me? I don't know what I would have done if I'd seen someone dropping a pill or a powder into a cocktail.

I know now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

How to eat sushi

I had to run to the store for some vegetables this afternoon - oh! And ground chicken too, which is commonplace here, and fresh and okay-tasting. Weird dinner which I don't feel like describing. Not a repeater in our repertoire. ANYWAY.

I had to run to the store for some vegetables, so I decided to walk to a Japanese grocery store from the base. See, Japanese malls all tend to have grocery stores on the ground floor which, hello, is the best idea ever - no extra stop for rice or whatever after a long day of clothes shopping; just pop downstairs! There's a mall right outside of base, and I found what I needed. But!

I was soooo hungry because I'd had to run an errand on base which I thought would take twenty minutes but ended up taking TWO HOURS so I knew if I didn't eat before shopping that I would buy all the everythings in the store. No, I haven't had coffee this late at night. Why?

So because I live in Japan, a quick snack means sushi at the go-round. Today is a Japanese holiday - Coming of Age Day - and the place was deserted, so I got to order whatever I wanted, right from the chef at the counter. My sushi did not go round.

Oh, but it was good. When you sit down to eat they bring you water and hot miso soup, which warms the bones after walking in the wind. Green tea is already at your place - little spigots in the wall dispense the hot water. Mmmm.

So how do you eat sushi? First of all, forget rolls. Sushi here is a piece of something on top of a little hand-formed cylinder of rice: nigiri. I started with salmon nigiri today. the fish is at room temperature, and so is the rice, usually, but today it was a little warm. Yum. The chef applies the wasabi and then, I learned, you can take the fish off the rice with your chopsticks, dip it in a little soy sauce, and place the sauced fish back on the rice. I'd been trying to dip the whole nigiri, but then the rice falls apart.

Eat, savor.

Oh, it was so good. After the salmon I did actually have one roll: kappa maki, or cucumber roll. But it's not a deep-fried, hot-sauce crabstick roll; it's a couple tiny pieces of julienne cucumber wrapped up in rice and nori - maybe the diameter of a dime. Yum! Lastly, since it was just a snack, I had tamago nigiri, which is a sweet omelette over rice. That, if I do say so myself, is a pretty good way to eat sushi.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Modern rochambeau: shopping beats writing

A couple days ago on Slog, which I know you read religiously because it's a Friend of EmilyTakesTokyo, Paul Constant wrote Rochambeau A-Go-Go, and linked to a bunch of amplified version of rock, paper, scissors. I don't have the stamina or memory to keep up with even the 25-choice version! Who does these things?

But I do have one to add for myself: shopping beats writing. Josh and I desperately need to get our house in order, since we really still haven't moved in. We finally sat down and listed what each room's function should be, in a perfect world, and have decided to set about making it happen.

Of course, we need stuff: dressers and bookcases and rugs and all those lovely bits and pieces that required to fit our American lives into a Japanese home. We've been on a mission this weekend, and we found a little set of drawers for Josh's T-shirts and such, and a bunch of sundry bits we've been needing.

But Internet, I am pooped! We spent FOUR HOURS looking for a Judo gi for Josh today - you'd think a martial arts uniform wouldn't be so tough to find in Japan. You'd be wrong. Even after all that time, lots of broken Japanese questions and broken English answers, the closest we came was one shop that was willing to order him one.

So I am pooped. We've been walking all day, and just like the last couple days I can't really think of anything to say. Is this January doldrums? Anybody else feeling a little uncommunicative this time of year?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Grey and rainy

Remember two days ago, when I said it was so nice and mild and sunny, with butterflies and rainbows and cotton candy gumdrops falling from the sky? Yeah. I jinxed it.

Sorry about that, Kanto Plain - I may be responsible for the crappy weather today. It's terrible: cold and grey, with whipping winds and lots of big fat rain. 39 degrees at the moment (4 C). Lucky for me I had lots of comfort food in the house today, including some more baked apples and a big pot of stew. I didn't leave the house all day, but I did have a friend over! A new friend - I'm so happy.

Other than that it's pretty depressing around here, though. I'm off to have a cup of tea and maybe a pleasant movie before bed.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stupid good: Baked apples

Okay, y'all: why didn't anybody tell me how good baked apples are? I mean, seriously. Apples are pretty good, but if you cut out the core, fill it with raisins and pecans, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake with a little water? Nature's candy turns into nature's custard.

That's really the whole recipe: Core a couple apples, cut a lil' slice off the bottom so they'll stand up, fill the hole with fruit and nuts (or Grape Nuts!), put them in a baking pan with a half cup of water and bake at 350 for an hour. You can sprinkle with cinnamon or honey, or use juice in place of the water if your apples are tart. But our Fuji apples were amazing just like this - we'll be keeping this recipe for a light, lose-that-holiday-weight dessert.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Simple pleasures

Winter has been exceptionally mild here, objectively and by local standards. They had a doozy last year, I'm told, but so far this year it hasn't hardly broken the freezing mark. Most days, it's in the 40s or even 50s and sunny, with wind. Can anybody tell me why the wind ALWAYS picks up and rushes at night, after a still day? I'd like to know. The wind combines with the chillier nights to whip through our drafty, uninsulated house.

Regardless of the weather, winter is a time for simplicity in my house. The short days send me out into the sunlight for much of the day, and when evening starts around 4:00, I want a pot of soup to simmer and bread to bake in the oven while the boy and I kick back. Good books, (video) games, and lots of knitting are the best this time of year.

So far we've been pretty successful in that department. I reread some of the Harry Potter books recently, and there has been a lot of black bean stew, chili, and even a chocolate chili in this house. I've been baking bread several times per week and knitting a sweater, new wool socks, and the ongoing blanket project.

Then one day last week I started reading a book I'd gotten for Christmas from my big bro Ben: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken. I rarely read nonfiction, but this was a memoir of the baby she delivered stillborn at 41 weeks, and of the baby born healthy a year later. You can hear the book review that pointed me toward the book here.

Hoo boy, did I cry over that book. It was beautifully, tragically written, full of honesty and pain and hope and guilt and grief - oh, me. I read the book in the space of a couple hours, weeping and occasionally laughing on the couch. I was so touched that I sent an email to the author, thanking her and letting her how important her book was to me.

AND SHE WROTE BACK!

Less than twelve hours after I emailed her, she sent a beautiful reply. I don't have permission to publish what she wrote, so it will have to stay between Ms. McCracken and me. I will say that I was incredibly touched once again, and overjoyed that since the book was published, she and her husband have had a third baby, a girl. The book alone was enough simple pleasure for one day, but the email put me over the moon.

And speaking of over the moon, and to completely change the subject, sorry to disappoint if you were really enjoying the dead babies conversation, I actually TEARED UP over a VEGETABLE in the commissary yesterday. And no, it didn't say anything about my mama.

See, I have a soft spot in my heart for Brussels sprouts. While I was raised in a veggie house - and that's really something in frozen Maine! - we didn't eat Brussels sprouts when I was growing up. I'd seen them boiled before, but ew. Then I discovered this recipe, which I've written about before, and fell in love.

Well. Since we moved out of our Rhode Island apartment in June, I haven't seen a fresh Brussels sprout. I've been buying and cooking frozen ones instead, since the flavor and vitamins are sort of, but not really, the same. But really? Freezing a leafy vegetable is not that good. Blech. I kept looking for them at the commissary and in the Japanese grocery stores, but no: UNTIL YESTERDAY! There they were, smiling up at me in the corner of the produce section.

The people around me must have thought I was crazy - grinning like an idiot with tears in my eyes, filling a giant plastic bag with Brussels sprouts. It's a joke vegetable! A punishment for naughty children; you have to eat all your Brussels sprouts.

I bought three pounds. And, along with homemade spinach pizza (Josh's birthday request) we ate every last bite.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, baby

It's been kind of a year, hasn't it?! And since this is what usually happens when I try to capture you in motion:
video
I'll stick to still images for now.



Even when we travel like this:I remember when we traveled like this:and you won my heart, all those years ago. Happy birthday, baby. I love you.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Twen-tee-seh-vehn

Why yes I DID forget to buy food coloring. Why do you ask?

I have achieved the age of twenty-seven: the first integer which requires four syllables in English, ni-ju-nana in Japanese, and the age at which Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain all died. An article from The Times Online describes it this way:
It's the age when you realise that the first flush of youth is truly over; the age when you teeter on the cusp of real life; the age when young athletes reach their peak. Hell, it's even the age when you can no longer use your young person's railcard...27, the doorway into adulthood, is a year imbued by history with a tragic resonance...

Wow. Considering the fact that I got MarioKart Wii, which was what I really wanted, I'm thinking I may be behind the curve. I'll keep my fingers crossed that this year doesn't have any tragic resonance, though. And also: teeter on the cusp of real life? Are you freaking kidding me? I've QUIT a fancy, traveling, suit-wearing job in the past year. Psh.
Dinner was delicious! The soup is an unappetizing color, though. Hm.
We had a little dinner with Nadine, John, and Baby Who Now Cries at the Sight of Me last night - Josh made samosas, I made chicken vindaloo, cauliflower soup, and a big yellow cake, and our friends brought gifts and a balloon animal cake! What fun - Indian food and Mario all afternoon. Now we're off to base for a bit, then dinner out and to bed early since Josh has to go back to work. Thanks all for the birthday wishes! Yep, we ate our cake with sweet adzuki beans on the side. Welcome to Japan!Isn't it cute?! It looked even better yesterday, but I forgot to take a picture.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Don't. Move.

This is the stationary aisle.That's right, it's time for more Engrish! This one is just a typo, I realize, but frankly I expect more from English speakers - this was taken at the NEX, on base.

This post, by the way, is for Grammy Atwood - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! to one of the first people I learned grammar from. I hope you have a fun time. (She is so irritated at me right now!)

As for Engrish, here's one from a mall I visited with Nadine - we did not attempt to eat at this restaurant, let me assure you.I'm not sure how upset I should be about the misappropriation of black American language in this poster - I mean really, it's pretty absurd. You must click the picture to enlarge it and read the text - it's unreal.

Then there's this oldie but goodie from Nadine. It would be in rust with natural salt. Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, January 1, 2009