Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Barbie's new beau has a flaw

What an event! This morning at approximately 8:20, I received a telephone call. On my Japanese cell phone.

From the United States of America.

Holy smokes! That's the first one, and according to Melanie, it was easy as pie. What a treat to have my cell phone ring and hear her voice at the other end of the line.

It isn't perfect - there was a little bit of a delay, and call quality was medium, but seriously? For my cell phone to get a call from her cell phone, thousands of miles and an ocean away, at about fifteen cents per minute? It was pretty darn good. Email me if you want the name of the calling card company she used - you buy the card online and they email you a toll-free number and PIN right away.

Oh, and the title of this post? It's what I think would come out of a round of the telephone game, if the starting phrase was what I made for dinner tonight.

Any guesses?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moving forward

Lucky for me, my buddy Gaia (forgot to ask if I can use her name) is free for the festival this week. Yay! Look forward to lots of phallic photos early next week...mwahahaha.

Speaking of fertility...in the midst of the Plague last week, Josh and I had our first appointment with a gynecologist to start sorting out our pregnancy problem. It was tough to talk to a doctor about anything besides the demons screaming out of my digestive system, but we had waited months for this appointment and didn't want to let it go.

The doctor was really great; a young woman who has been in Japan about as long as we have. She ruled out a couple of things that had worried me - PCOS, or poly-cystic ovary syndrome, can prevent pregnancy but wouldn't cause repeated miscarriage, for example. We told her our story, and she walked us through a couple of possibilities. Then the lab technicians took about a gallon of my blood, and a teaspoon of Josh's, grr. I had an ultrasound as a matter of course, and we'll meet the doc again at the end of April.

Fingers crossed for something simple, please. Something easily diagnosed and treated, and a baby in 2010.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

(Don't) Need a festival buddy!

Update: Got one! See above.

Help help help!

I have this extra ticket to a fertility festival next weekend and no one is free to come! Won't anybody join me for the short bus ride, crazy sake drinking, rice-ball-throwing, phallus-themed festival?

I have to return the tickets by Tuesday for a refund, so this is a limited-time offer. Anyone in Yokosuka can email me if they want to join (sorry, no kids are allowed) and maybe I'll make a new friend in the process. The festival is all day April 5.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ahem.

Well, that was ugly. Truly. And we don't need to get into that. So to focus on the positive, I'll just tell you everything I've eaten since Tuesday night.

Saltine crackers
Half a piece of wheat toast
More Saltines
Tiny bowl of spaghetti with olive oil
Small bowl of Cheerios
Saltines again
Veggie burger
Another couple Saltines

It's Friday night now. I've lost five pounds and I'm off to drink some more Gatorade.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Laid up

My house is a petri dish. Poor Josh had a really rough night on Sunday, and we spent the better part of Monday in the ER. He's better during the day (especially with IV fluids plus some sleep-inducing anti-nausea meds) but still pretty darn miserable all night. Fingers crossed that antibiotics will kill whatever nasty Korean bug is doing this to him.

So not much going on around these parts, these days. I have made some exciting strides in knitting but I can't share them until I give my new project to its intended recipient. Hint: she's a baby who no longer cries when she sees me! Photos and updates to come.

For now I'm off to procure some more crackers, bananas, and Gatorade. And vitamin C - I hope I don't get whatever this thing is.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Home again

Josh is back! Eight days went by pretty quickly for me, although it may have dragged a bit more for Mr. Takes Tokyo. This week in Korea was actually a week on a ship, followed by a couple of hours in Korea. Poor thing. Since this is how I show my love, I've been cooking all day.

So far I've made fresh avocado and veggie sandwiches, homemade barbecue sauce, fifteen bean soup with mushrooms and savory leaves, spinach and artichoke dip, and ice cream sundaes with peanut butter…though there’s a chance I didn’t actually give him any of that last one. We’ve got a couple days off together in a windy, rainy Spring.

UPDATE: A few hours after I posted this, Josh started feeling ill. A few hours after that the vomiting began, and it hasn't let up all night. Way to cook, there, Emily. I'm still fine, so I'm taking him to the doctor this morning.

Friday, March 20, 2009

February Wayback #2: Shower weekend

One of many perks about my parents' adorable house is its location. Sob and Boo were kind enough to live in the Florida Keys until just after I got married, and then move to South Carolina, which is where I went to college. And therefore is where some of my best friends live! So the trip to see the 'rents often doubles as a reunion with friends, and this was no exception. My buddy Jess was kind enough to have a wedding shower in February, giving me the perfect excuse to drive to Charleston.

My friends and I went to Columbia College in Columbia, SC, which is smack-dab in the middle of the state. My parents live in the northwest corner, and Charleston is in the southeast, so Columbia is a good stopping point. Lucky for me, another buddy and her family met me there for lunch!That's Boo, the only other one from our little crew whose occupation is hausfrau. Her husband Lionel and son Xavier, or Professor X, just welcomed a baby boy to the family in January. Logan (Wolverine!) slept through the lunch date, and missed the good times.

Sadly, Boo couldn't come along to the shower, so I drove on alone. Now, this was a big occasion for me as well as for the bride and groom. See, Jess and Merrick have been together for years, and thanks to the stupid Army spent the first couple years of their marriage apart. They are renewing their vows and having a big party for friends and family next month, and we are all thrilled. The reason it's a big deal for me is that somehow, thanks to living off-campus, studying in Washington and working too much during college, I had never met Merrick. I was convinced he was a ruse perpetrated by my friends...until last month!

I am here to tell you, he is real. And for some reason his presence makes me goofy.I'm sure it had nothing to do with the chianti I had at dinner.

Speaking of dinner? One of the best I've ever had. Perfectly cooked blackened mahi atop wild mushroom risotto with a whole-grain mustard cream sauce. Holy mackerel.

The next morning Jess took the cat for a walk before we left for the shower. Not kidding.The shower was so much fun. Jess's mom Lorraine was our lovely host, and she rocked. Check it.There were games, I won a prize, and Jess got enough lovely gifts to fill the car! And then some.

Best of all, another one of our friends made the drive and partied with us. We didn't quite have a quorum from the Class of 2004 (plus a couple) crew, but we got to sit around for a couple hours shooting the breeze in Jess and Merrick's screen porch that afternoon. I'm so lucky.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fair winds and following seas

Perhaps the biggest drawback to Navy life is, of course, also one of its biggest perks: I get to meet and make friends with new, exciting, diverse people - and then one of us has to move away. Sadly, that second part (which is the drawback, in case you were stymied by my nonparallel structure there) was on the docket tonight.The bigger one is Gresh, a sax player and real asset to the music program here in Yokosuka. The little fella is Rory, who was just warming up to me. And by "warming up" I mean he had finally stopped screaming when I entered a room. I think of him as RRRRRRRRRORY! because we like to make dinosaur sounds and claws at each other. I match wits with toddlers.Look how big Justine has gotten!

The big band is away, and there's another drawback! Josh couldn't be here to see our friends off. So Nadine, John, Justine and I went to dinner with the Laings on this their last night. They requested this little Thai place near the main gate - how unfair that they had only discovered it this week!

Seriously, the food there is incredible. It's a little pricey at a couple thousand yen apiece, which is actually pretty median for Japan, but the food is unbelievable. We all ordered enough for an army, including shared dishes of spring rolls, spicy squid, vegetables in oyster sauce, green curry, glass noodles with shrimp and sprouts, and my personal favorite: coconut milk chicken soup. HOLY MACKEREL. It was so good. How is it that delicious food can turn a sad occasion into a tender moment?

We had such a nice time. Oh, and there was a little romance in the air.G.K. took time for a prolonged goodbye with wee Justine, which was so cute I died.

Living in Asia is a real challenge, even more so if you've got a couple of kids under five. This family, more than most, is due a nice, easy tour and a break from deployment and foreignness. I'm grateful for their friendship, Kate's in particular, and if we must say goodbye, I can't imagine a better reason than to see our friends head home. Farewell.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On baking

1. Whole wheat pastry flour is the food of the gods, and should be available in military commissaries.

2. I need a kitchen timer.

3. Roasted banana cake still smells good when it's overcooked.

4. If dishes had any self-respect, they would learn to wash themselves.

Also, did you know that the Army has outlawed pit bulls? As pets on Army bases, and I guess probably in baking too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hangin' around

Did I mention Josh is gone again? To yet another foreign country, on a ship, again? Yeah. This time around he should be gone less than two weeks, which means he should be home soon, which is very, very good.

In the meantime, I'm cooking a lot of things that he doesn't like much, like coconut curry and soup and whole wheat banana cake. Okay, that last one he would like, but not the other two. I've been seeing some friends, one of whom is moving back to the States this week, and volunteering at the Red Cross.

That's about a third of my time. The rest of it is spent on DVDs of The West Wing - thanks, Joe! How come that was such a good show? And why don't we have more like it? Are there more like it and I'm missing them by living overseas with no satellite? Oh my gosh, this is a good show.

So I'm off to it. Season two at the moment and the President is considering reelection. What a glamorous life I lead.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

February wayback #1: Asheville

After much hand-wringing and stress over flying space available, I actually arrived in South Carolina after just one attempt, on February fifth, after about thirty hours of travel. I spent most of that first week relaxing and recovering with my parents and the dogs (and the cats, both of whom are crazy and one of whom lulled me into a false sense of security before attacking my wrist. NO POST FOR THE CATS.) The first day that we were all home and I felt up to anything, we decided to drive to Asheville, North Carolina for lunch and window shopping.

Except that it wasn't window shopping because I bought a million things, but whatever. Since it turns out I'm a giant baby who gets nauseous even on perfectly straight roads, much less windy mountainy ones, I drove. I drove and managed to almost get hit by a car, run into a guardrail, and drive on the wrong side of the street.

Did I mention I was a little discombobulated last month?

Everyone survived and I came back with some really great finds. Once I figure out where they go in my house I'll have pictures, but for now let me just say that there's a tree of life bedspread in the closet, a weeping buddha statuette on my dresser and some outstanding Nepalese Lumbini incense burning in the entryway.

Oh, and we did get that lunch, even though my parents' favorite spot was closed. We found a place with Turkish food, YUM. Falafel is one of those things that I just can't get right, even with Bertha, but this place did not disappoint.I drove home too, without incident mostly, and we returned after dark to some disapproving puppies and one very sweet crazy cat, and then the other one. I don't miss the other one.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Entertainment in South Carolina



I'm sorry I didn't write more while I was visiting my parents in South Carolina. These first six months in Japan have been very trying, on so many levels: feeling so foreign, not working, missing my friends and family and of course struggling with miscarriages. I hadn't realized how badly I needed a time out, and by golly, I took it.

So what did we do for entertainment? A lot, really - we took a day trip to Asheville, cooked elaborate meals and baked fancy desserts, visited Dad's work and had friends over for girls' day. Mom and I made and bought jewelry (woohoo!), mixed custom aromatherapy fragrances for ourselves and others, and knitted up a storm.

But most of all, we cuddled the puppies.Can you blame us?! See, a couple years ago my folks moved from their Florida Keys stilt house to an utterly charming farmhouse in upstate South Carolina. The house, unlike most of the McMansions in the surrounding area, sits on three acres of land: land which, I mentioned to them when I visited, simply begged for a dog. So one night in 2006 we watched a dog show and heard a description of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This dog weighs less than twenty pounds, was bred as a companion and bedmate for royalty, and is generally thought to have the most agreeable disposition of any pure breed. Oh, and they need one walk a day and lots of hugs, and that's it.

The stars aligned. My parents The Cat People fell in love with the breed (after, shall we say, some gentle prodding from me), found a reputable breeder in the area, and procured their first-ever dog, Rudy. Here's his baby picture:I know. I KNOW. He's still that cute. And less than a year later, they decided he needed a baby brother, Nemo, the blenheim. Then their breeder called one day to tell them that she had a five year old mama dog who was ready to retire, so Madison came into the picture.
Zero to three dogs in two years - mwahahahaha! My little plan is working!

So there you have it, folks: a month of R&R and good old care for the soul, wrapped up in sixty pounds of sweet puppy. How could anyone resist?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Kurihama Day Tripper

So Operation Tidy House? Lasted one day, and is maybe 10% done. Turns out I'd rather spend time cooking and hanging out with Josh than cleaning up. Oh, and hacking up a lung has consumed a fair bit of my time as well - I've got a superfun case of Welcome Home Bronchitis, or something.

Before the debilitating coughing started, Josh and I got to enjoy our first weekend together. On Saturday I found a monument to Commodore Matthew Perry's 19th century landing in Japan - the Black Ships show of force that precipitated Japan opening trade with the United States. Josh learned a bit about Perry in Newport, where Perry's Japanese successes are still celebrated with an annual Black Ships festival. Neither of us realized that his historic landing was so close to our house - just three train stops away.

The walk to Kurihama harbor was a little longer than I would've liked, but it was a cool, dry day and we both needed to get out together. Finding the monument was really simple, and I am pleased to say that we were the only non-Japanese there that day. It's kind of gratifying to find a tourist spot with no other foreign tourists. There's a beach there, a bunch of dive schools, and then this big monument facing the water.
That's a map of Commodore Perry's route around the world - makes my flight to Japan seem pretty wimpy! As I said, though, it was a long walk, and we were pretty wiped out. Luckily, benches!And this is Japan, so the landscaping was beautiful, sparse, and immaculate.
Now we've seen that little piece of history from both sides of the world. Crazy, huh?

We took a different route back to the train station and passed a gorgeously decorated Shinto shrine. I wish I knew more about Shinto, and I'd like to learn before we leave here. For now it was enough to see the decorations, and the first sakura - the iconic Japanese cherry blossoms - of the year!
I can't wait for more of the trees in Yokosuka to pop open with sakura. The effect is unreal.

We were hungry on the way home, and Josh's coworker Nina had told him about a conveyor belt sushi place near our house. We walked there from the train and, hallelujah, it was so delicious! And reasonably priced! And WALKING DISTANCE FROM OUR HOUSE - we'll be spending a lot of time at this place, let me tell you. The fact that it was packed with Japanese patrons (and again, no other foreigners) was high praise for the food. I had my first California Roll since I left the States, and it was pretty good! I'm so happy to be home.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Travel and home

Oh, it's so nice to be back. I had the easiest travel in history, folks: a long enough layover to eat and blog, very little turbulence in flight, decent food, helpful attendants and considerate seatmates. I arrived in Tokyo at 2:40 pm - that's on the runway - and was through customs, with luggage, across the airport and ON the BUS at 3:20. Unreal.

Now I'm back and Operation Tidy Home has begun. Wish me luck - and let me know in comments what you'd like to hear about from my trip.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Transit

O'Hare airport, concourse C, on a Tuesday morning isn't as busy as I'd expected. My gate is made up of a few American tourists, some obviously military family members (like me), and a bunch of Japanese tourists and businesspeople waiting to go home. Their faces make me smile - now that I know what it's like to go home to your country, your culture, your people, I love seeing that anticipation in others' faces.

Myself, I am happy to be returning to Japan. Well, more precisely, I am happy to be returning to my husband. Marriage is so strange, so much more powerful than I expected. Particularly marriage overseas, including unemployment for one half of the couple. I rely on Mr. TakesTokyo much more than I did when we were both working. I didn't expect that...I should have, I suppose, but I thought he would rely more on me, not the other way around. I am finding now that after a wonderful, relaxing, fun-filled month with my parents, I am excited to head home to Josh and our life together.

It's not exactly a brilliant revelation, is it? That I love my husband and want to be with him after a long, forced separation? But after a very rough start to 2009 in our Japanese life, my excitement to return is a very pleasant surprise.

There is another reason for my happiness, besides Josh: I decided not to fly space available home. That's right, after three years of business travel on my own, I the fearless traveler chickened out and paid four figures for a real plane ticket. Space A is much scarier than I expected, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit it. Military wives fly Space A all the time, with babies and family crises and no friends in Seattle. I have no babies to wrangle, no crises to contend with, and heroic friends in all the major West Coast ports. But the thought of flying to Seattle to impose on my friends' hospitality and small apartment, with no cell phone and no guarantee of ever flying out for free, was just too much for me. So with excellent advice from my mother and Josh's support, I heated up Ye Olde Credit Card and bought the Maximum Economy Uber Cheap (kinda) ride home.

And I immediately felt better. I mean physically: I had had an upset stomach and near-constant anxiety about unsure travel until I clicked "purchase" for that flight. Even the 17 degree black ice at 4:00 this morning, as Dad drove me to the airport, was better than the way I'd been feeling about Space A.

So here I am, feeling fine and ready to face 13 hours of knitting and movies and catching up on the podcasts I ignored while spending long, luxurious days with my mom. I have so many stories to share, and pictures of their cute puppy dogs, and even snow on the ground in South Carolina.

I'm back, folks. Thanks for hanging around.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Heads up!

Bad blogger on the move!

I've been very naughty, nearly two weeks incommunicado. Now that I'm on my way back to Tokyo (which still needs taking), let's start fresh.

Fingers crossed for a safe journey, if you please.