Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The food!

Seriously, it's all about the food, right? Here are some of the highlights I've had since arriving for my visit to South Carolina:

*Mom's famous macaroni and cheese on a bed of collard greens (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)
*Mom's also famous key lime cheesecake
*Chicken paprika
*Whole wheat Greek pizza a la Emily
*Roasted Brussels sprouts with sesame-shoyo soba
*Spicy chicken lunch at P.F. Chang's
*About a million delicious salads with fruits and nuts and cheeses!

I am indulging and indulged, and recuperating from a rough month prior. What a treat.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Three years

On February 11, 2006, my parents threw a really big party. About a half hour into the festivities, Josh and I put rings on each others' fingers and promised to be true.
Everything was perfect, truly. Our friend Gloria married us on a sunny afternoon in Islamorada, Florida, on a dock jutting out into the bay. My mother and her friends decorated their friend Doe's yard with paper lanterns, palm fronds, hurricane lanterns, and bougainvillea blossoms pilfered from condos in the area. Dave Feder provided acoustic guitar for the ceremony, and a rock band for the reception. Even the cake was perfect - locally and masterfully made layers of yellow and key lime cake, raspberry buttercream, and key lime buttercream around the outside. The topper was an Eiffel Tower statue that I bought when Josh and I met eight years before, and spent a day lost in Paris.
Even the Port-a-Potty was beautiful - no, really!

What an incredible day. I still look over the pictures every couple of months and remember a million little details.

Three years into this marriage, I think it's safe to say that I am not where I thought I would be. Neither is my husband, who is currently zipping around the Pacific somewhere, trying to keep his sea legs under him. And yet here we are, in love with each other and trying to hang on to our crazy Japanese life. We have faced a lot of challenges we never expected to see, from awful apartments and broken bones to a struggle with miscarriage and an attacker in New York City. And then there's the moving to Japan. Now here I am, sitting in my parents' living room in South Carolina while Josh is a real sailor on a real ship, heading to an undisclosed location.
Strange that all of this began in Germany, isn't it? Josh and I met in July 1998 on the Sound of America European tour. Over the few weeks we spent together that summer, we fell in sixteen-year-old love. There was hand holding, there were kisses, there were letters and emails and long-distance calls back when those cost money.

Seven years later Josh joined the Navy and Inez Tenenbaum lost her bid for the Senate, so the two of us ended up in New England (obviously). On February 11, 2005 (and I'll pause so you can scroll up and confirm that that is one year to the day before our wedding) I drove to the Navy base in Newport to visit Josh, and then called my parents to tell them I was in love.

And I still am, and so is he. I hate spending this day so far apart from my husband, the other half of my heart. He is the provider, the stabilizing force, and often the comic relief in our relationship. Somehow this mouthy middle child from Maine and that headstrong only child from Sequim are a perfect match.

Except for all that mileage. I suppose there's poetry in the fact that ten years after our first unwanted separation, we're thousands of miles apart and madly in love yet again. But you know what I think about it?

Fuck the poetry. I can't wait to be in my husband's arms again.

Happy anniversary, babe.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I made it! What a trip - hours and hours waiting to see whether I'd get on the space-available flight to Seattle, then waiting there before flying to Atlanta and then Charlotte. Mom and Dad met me there and drove me the 2+ hours to their house, where I could finally breathe again.

It has been a really tough week or so. Josh is away on the ship for the first time, not for long thank goodness, but still. There's some other stuff going on too, but suffice to say that I'm in South Carolina now, eating my mother's famous mac and cheese with collard greens and cuddling three puppies. I'll be here a couple weeks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On the move

within 24 hours I hope. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I wish I was one of those people who read nonfiction for pleasure, but I'm just not. I mean, I can get into a really good memoir, if it reads like fiction. But I try to make myself read historical biographies or texts on subjects I really care about, and I can't do it. So I read fiction.

A couple weeks ago I borrowed two books from my friend Kelsey, and I've finished both of them. The first was Shogun, which I started reading before I left the States but had to return to the library. So good to finish it! That book is incredible, and gave me a lot of insight into traditional Japanese values. And how gross Europeans were in the sixteenth century.

The second, oh my goodness, was Twilight. Now, I learned my lesson about snubbing young adult fiction with the Harry Potter series. I spent about six years pooh-poohing those books, refusing to read them because I thought it was ridiculous that thinking adults were going nutzo over children's books.

Then I read one.

And promptly read five more, all that had been released, in sequence in every spare moment I could find. I love those books, and I'm rereading the fourth one now. So I decided to give the Twilight series a try on Kelsey's recommendation. But boy, it was tough to get into. The first hundred pages were driving me CRAZY, slow moving, elementary writing, not good. But as soon as the vampires entered the picture, I was hooked. I devoured the book in an evening - what a great story. It was action-packed and sexy and funny and vivid...loved it!

Of course, I was picturing Robert Pattinson as Edward the whole time, thanks to movie previews. Lucky for me the movie was still showing on base, so I met Beth at the theater last night.

It's not often I enjoy a movie with terrible acting, atrocious makeup, and mediocre special effects. But I had seen enough of the film on YouTube to expect all that, and it was really diverting to see the story on the big screen. Seriously though, no one should ever employ Pattinson again for anything but modeling - I've seen high school actors with more believable emotions on stage. And he's not even that attractive.

What a night though. After that really intense week last week, and with everything that's happening now, it was a breath of fresh air to spend a few hours at a silly movie and then talking over chamomile tea with Beth. We talked about slogans - one that helps her enjoy Japan is "Stop counting your days and start making every day count." For me, "Only floss the ones you want to keep" made me into an every day flosser. And Beth gave me a new one last night: "The dust will wait for you."

I've got a couple days left before I try to fly East, and thanks to my friend I'm going to stop trying to clean everything and spend it getting ready, stress-free, and hugging my husband. I'm so grateful for women friends.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Josh and I are addicted to espresso. It started innocently enough - I realized a couple years ago that drip coffee was giving me the shakes, and I read online that espresso has less caffeine. Plus it tastes better, especially with a little milk. So we bought a cheap espresso maker, which broke instantly, then bought a fancy one which works great. Josh has six shots every morning (!) and I have two.

On our first day in the house here, we were in a pickle. No coffee maker, no stove, no nothing. We went hunting for a coffee shop nearby but came up empty, and had to settle for convenience store canned lattes. Ick.

We rectified that situation today! Oh my gosh, what fun. Josh worked on schoolwork all morning while I cleaned and organized our junky room a bit and planned for some travel. Around 1pm we were both ready for a break, so we went on a walk around our neighborhood. We passed a cafe called Bibi that we've seen, but never open, and we decided to give it a shot. Then we met Bibi!
It turns out the place is a dog-friendly cafe, with menu items for people and their pooches. (We were careful to order from the correct side of the menu.) Bibi sat near our table and accepted lots of patting and scratches behind the ears while Josh and I enjoyed espresso, cheese toast, and minestrone soup.

The proprietors were really great, friendly and attentive without hovering. The shop has an island feel, which Josh, who has been to Hawaii, thinks is Caribbean and I, who lived in the Keys, think is Hawaiian. We'll definitely be spending more time there, sad that we don't have our own puppy to bring. (And Mom, I checked - they didn't have sweet potato dog treats.)

Community is hard to come by in this culture of the very polite and very reserved, especially since we don't speak the language. Finding a warm, friendly place nearby which has COFFEE and PUPPIES? What a milestone.