Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone...


How on God's Green Earth has it been almost 6 months since my last post. UGH. I feel like scum on the bottom of a frog that lives in my brother's toilet. Here's a synopsis of what's happened since then:

  • Ajax left for a few months and came back (crazy job)
  • I got a promotion at work (not sure if I already told y'all that)
  • Made more friends (who didn't see that coming)
  • Discovered more fabulous bars and restaurants (yeah, I'm predictable)
  • Had my birthday
  • Had A's bday
  • Partied amazingly hard in Tokyo
  • Partied amazingly hard in Tokyo on HALLOWEEN (words cannot express!)
  • Ajax's parents visited for two weeks (so much fun)
  • Thanksgiving shananigans at mi casa
  • Christmas events on-base and off-base
  • Bachelorette party in Tokyo
  • Got my hurr did
  • Going back to US for 2 weeks to see fam and friends
OKay, enough for one day. Don't want to stress my poor lil blonde brain! It's thai food night. Got to get mentally prepared!



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Wouldn't Want to Have it Any Other Way...

I'm addicted and I just can't get enough... of Japan.

So... you may or may not have noticed my penchant for lists. I love them. They keep me organized, help me put things in order, and generally keep me happy because I know what is left to do/buy/ignore. I thought about starting this particular collection of words a while back but I didn't think I could make a good sized list out of it. Well, now that I'm a seasoned veteran of Japan (a whole 6 months! What! What!) I feel competent enough to put together a reasonably decent list. Hrm, "decent" may not be a good word for this list... maybe I should just stick with calling it a "list" with not other descriptive terms. Anyhoodle, thar she blows.

Things Japan has taught me/ What I've learned since I moved here:

1. You can fit much, much more than you think you can into a 5foot tall fridge. (No I'm not talking about me climbing in it... this time) All I'm trying to say is that when you have to compact your life a bit, it's easier to go ahead and either work around it (i.e stock the pantry better) or just deal without (do I really need two jars of mayo?) than to wine and moan and get nothing settled. 

2. If you are dumb enough to reply with "Mr. Roboto" to a  Japanese person who just says "Domo Arigatou" they will not laugh. They will probably shun you and then talk smack about you later because you are a dumb dumb gaijin. I watched in terror as some dumb dumb kid said this to a sweet old lady and she seriously just huffed and turned and walked away.

3. Toilet seats can and should be heated. I don't feel like this one needs any additional explaining.

4. There are piss-poor drivers in EVERY country, in every area, and in every city. Bad drivers are not specific to one race, culture, or religion. The jury is still out on gender differences. Japan has just as many buttheads on the interstate-type-thing as North Florida. Which leads me to my next point:

5. Roombas will pick up an entire bag of spilled rice if you give it long enough.

6. If you want to dry something in the Japanese dryer, you better only put 2 things in it. Those two things better not be denim. It will take forever. And it will take longer if you're in a hurry to rush out the door in an outfit that's currently in the dryer. (It's like watching water boil.) You're better off hanging things out to dry. Which involves not only hanging all your stuff up outside but also involves watching the weather to make sure you don't come home to even soggier clothes than when you left in the morning.

7.  I really hate the cold. Yes, I do understand that I've always said this... but now that I've lived somewhere that gets legitimately cold in the winter, I can OFFICIALLY say that the cold and I do not get along one single bit. 

8. Hurricanes and typhoons are the same thing. (Wait, I may have forgotten that I learned that in middle school... meh.) The only difference between the two weather thingys is the hemisphere they are located in (I think). Also, hurricanes go from Category 1 to Cat 5+. Typhoons go from 5 on down to 1. It's backwards... much like many other Japan things.

9.  The best pick-up line to make new Japanese friends is "Do you all want me to take your picture?" The girls travel in packs just like US girls... and they always want pics taken.

10.  Driving on the left side of the road is way easy. Now, I don't recommend you go out and try this in the US. For one, you will probably get a major ticket if not carted away by the po-po because they think you're whacked out of your mind. But driving was one of the easiest things to adjust to over here. I drive on the right side of the car on the left side of the road. I dig it. When I went back to the US for 2 weeks after the earthquake... I was afraid to drive on the side of the road I learned how to drive on. Weird.

11. If you go to unlock the house with your key... you turn the key the opposite direction that you would in the US (for most homes). I turn the key clockwise to unlock the door and counter-clockwise to lock it. Try it on your own door, you'll see how difficult it is to try and master.

12. No matter how amazing you were at recycling back home in the states (not saying I was... I was horrible at it), you will not be good enough for Japan standards. When I say they attempt to recycle everything, rest assured that I mean EVERYTHING, not just the bottles, cans, and paper. You have to take each of those categories and divide it up multiple times. Glass or plastic bottles? Are the plastic bottles PET? Paper? Is it cardboard, printed on office paper, or a paper milk carton? Cans? Well you have to take the paper off of them which will obviously go in one of the 82 paper categories. Don't even get me started on non-PET bottle plastics. Holy hell. I'm making a great effort though. My favorite days are Monday and Thursday... burnables days. Stuff that I cant fit into any other category goes away on this day. You'd be surprised at how much doesn't fit into any of the other 9,000 categories. 

13.  I said I would never get Twitter. Now I'm a full-blown twit. I said I didn't need Skype. It's always up on my MacBook. Never thought I would write a blog, but I'm doing that now too. Thing is... when you're away from the people you love so much, you do random things to keep in contact with them. Some of my friends aren't on Facebook or Gchat... so I got Skype to instant message them. I got the Twitter because I could follow things from back home AND get all the Japan earthquake, nuclear plant, typhoon, tsunami, and volcano warnings ASAP.  I blog so people know what I'm doing. I really want my friends and family back home to know I'm doing better than okay and that I miss them on a regular basis. And despite how much fun I do have pretty regularly, I still do hold down a full-time job, work out 5 days a week, teach conversational English to two students, try and study my Japanese,  and explore Japan. Moral of the story: I miss my peeps. You all should visit. It's worth it.

14. I never want to live anywhere with crows again. You laugh? You try living with these devils. Try taking out the garbage while they give you the stink eye from a fence post 8 feet away. They can and do attack. Ask the kid who stuck tree branches in his bike helmet because his friend got attacked while riding his bicycle one day... *shudder*

15. There is no rhyme or reason to Japan fashion. EVERYTHING goes. I can walk out of the house in thigh high socks, combat boots, a men's tee shirt, volleyball shorts, a beret, and 55 watches on my wrist/arm... totally kosher. I could also walk out in a full ladies suit and no one would give me a second glance. The Harajuku girls are just like in the videos. No holds barred fashion. I use the term "fashion" very loosely because 1) I am a horrible  judge of it and 2) I don't even know what it really is. But whatever "it" is... "it" is accepted fully in Japan. I love this place. 

Well, that's my list for now. I'm sure it will need to be updated soon. I'm continuously learning things here... not only about Japan and it's people but about myself too (that's pretty deep for a Tuesday night blog lol). 

Hasta Luego!



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Please Don't Stop the Music...

CAUTION: For the next 2 to 30 minutes (depending on how fast you read) I will be bragging about my luck and expertise in the music arena. Not playing music, I’ll leave that to the talented people, but my knack for getting into, getting backstage, getting free stuff at, and other participatory concert stuff. My shenanigans are known all around Monticello the world. This post is full of name-dropping and awesome music memories. If you don’t want to hear about how awesome I am… this particular blog post is not for you.

Me being awesome. In case you needed a visual.

I’m not exactly sure how many of you all actually know me… but if you’ve barely met me for 5 minutes, you know how the first thing I ask people is “Know of any good concerts to go to coming up?” (Okay, the actual first thing I typically ask is “Do you have any beer in the fridge?” or “How old do you think I am?” or “What’s your favorite dirty word in Japanese?”) Whatever, I usually get around to asking about music at some point during my meeting with a new person.

Seriously, I may have a concert addiction. (An addiction I apparently share with Emo kids. UGH) I have been to nearly 120 separate concerts, starting from the time I was about 11 or 12 years old. I have seen legends like Santana (YOINKS!) and BB King (hilarious guy) and Bob Dylan (meh…). Also in my repertoire of performances seen are Bon Jovi (“Bon Jovi ball sweat is like angel tears”- not me), Dave Matthews Band (J) and the Twisted Sister Tribute Band (better than the original and way more makeup).  Lest you think that I have a rock-oriented brain… my music preference extend way past those of any one particular genre. Keith Urban (*swoon*) and Kenny Chesney (turbo energetic) are two of my favorite country live-music peeps, as is Gary Allen (more swoon). I’ve gotten drumsticks, tee-shirts, backstage passes, set lists, tickets, guitar picks (over 50 collected- WOOT!), handshakes, been on tour buses, and was even given a phone number by Chris Cagle’s guitarist. I'm a boss.

Another boss

This kind of thing doesn’t happen because I am some crazed celebrity musician stalker. I genuinely enjoy concerts, music, and talent. Celebrities don’t make me all weak at the knees and nervous and scared. I think that might be why I get backstage a lot (that and because I win things CONSTANTLY). Personally, I think it’s easy to hang out with me. Musicians don’t want people freaking out and screaming about how amazing they are… well, they might, but that kind of reaction doesn’t float my boat. Also, I’m nice. I talk to people and try and help out. The guitarist for Cagle (I won’t name names) gave me his number because I offered to help him pass out flyers for the concert, I thought he was some college kid trying not to die in the heat while giving out the brochures about the show. Turns out that he wasn’t. And my girlfriend, Carolyn, and I ended up on the tour bus hanging out and eating pizza with the band, Chris, and the crew. Fun, right?

Been to concerts at fairgrounds, opera houses, bars, clubs, stadiums, Churchill Downs, civic centers, patios, and basements. These venues have been located in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Miami (not Florida), Mexico, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee… and now Japan. I recently attended my first Japan concert (OMG right?!) I know what you all are thinking… “Oh that crazy Megan, she gets herself into so many predicaments, I can’t wait to hear about this.” Alas, my friends, there are no crazy stories about this concert. Unless you call going to Tokyo, to see a TALLAHASSEE band, crazy! Or unless you think that meeting the 5 bands in a restaurant and eating with them is crazy. Or unless you think getting a free backstage pass and ticket, that would have normally cost $100, is crazy. Also, if you think spending the night in a “hotel” room the size of an office cubicle (a small one) is crazy. And especially if you think that partying for the rest of the night along with your 10 new Japanese friends and missing your train home is crazy… in that case, yes, this is a crazy concert story. Well dang, I guess I blew all the surprises in the story. But as is usually the case with my blogging, I’ll give to the quick run-down of what had happened.

How I view myself lately

I found out there was a concert in Tokyo. This concert happened to be with American bands (and one Swedish band, I think). Went to Tokyo to spend the day and later attend concert. Went to lunch. Listened in on American tourist convos at Freshness Burger. At one point one of the tourists said something hilarious and I laughed, spraying my drink all over my burger. I was busted. They knew I was eavesdropping and asked me if I spoke English. My response: “Si!” Lol. Yes, yes I did say that. They laughed, I laughed, Japanese people scowled. They asked if I lived in the area or if I was visiting. Living. I asked the same. Visiting. They asked where I was from. Tallahassee, FL. I asked them. Tallahassee, FL.

WTF? Yes, they were the bands playing that night. I ended up joining them the rest of the afternoon. The amazing bands included, Mayday Parade, the Summer Set, Anarbor and With the Punches.  They were so awesome. I helped them practice Japanese. Took pics of the guys with their adoring fans. Played rock paper scissors and participated in all sorts of non-raunchy band fun. It was a blast. Got a pass into the show. Which I never expected them to do… okay, I did expect it because I am awesome and I’m from the same freaking town as the headlining act. And I could kind-of-sort-of-pretend-to-maybe-partially translate. Hell, they didn’t know how much Japanese (I don’t) speak. But everyone was turbo nice (with the exception of one of the foreign guys who was creepy).

So the performances were amazing. I didn’t see the first 2 groups because I was outside the area conversatin’ with the locals and the Mayday guys. Heck, I was so happy I would have talked to a brick wall with a face drawn on it in chalk. (Actually, I may have.) But this isn’t a “judge Megan” story… so I shall continue on. After concerts were over, stuck around  canoodling and hanging with the awesome new Japanese lady friends (whom I met because I asked if they wanted me to take a picture-see, niceness- and they wanted one with me too. They really only spoke Japanese, but finally communicated in the universal language by asking me “Facebook?” So now we’re all facebook BFFs).  

No, this picture has nothing to do with this story. 
But I bought a flamingo for my office at work and wanted to show people. 
His name is Fred. His name is Fred because I like alliteration. 

We were there forever. I realized that it was 11:30pm. Oops. The shows started at 6pm. I was there almost 7 hours at that point. Can I make the train home? Nope. Can I make the train to a populated area with hotels? Yup. So off I went with my new buddies. We got into Shibuya and decided to hit up one more club. It was fabulous. Do I remember the name? No. Could I find it again? Not without assistance. We stayed there for another 2 hours and then we called it a night. They all lived in the area so they could go home but I needed a hotel type place. I was taken to this awesome little place called Moopi (?).  

My new posse. We rock.

Moopi is a manga comics place for dorks and for people who miss the train and for people who want to take a nap during lunch break. It was 1200Y ($15ish) for 8 hours at Moopi, which included your own personal computer, TV, and cubicle with a locking door. The floor was made out of pleather couch material so you could pass out in comfort. If you felt like they hadn’t cleaned it well enough, they provided antibacterial wipes to make you more comfortable. You could take a shower. Buy the soap and rent a towel (shower cost: 100Y- $1.25USD). You could buy Ramen to eat. You could chillax in your cubby and eat and watch TV and surf the net and sleep and completely not care about missing the train. That’s what I did. 

My cubicle in Moopi- no I didn't make up the name.

When the girls had gotten me checked into Moopi, they headed off to their houses. I took my shower and thought about how amazing life was. I Facebooked with a couple of my US people because they just had to know about my night. 8 hours later… after being too excited to sleep a full night, I explored Tokyo a bit more and then headed home with a big shit-eating grin on my face. Life was good.

That’s my 1st-concert-in-Japan-awesomeness story. I’d say more, but just can’t risk making you any more jealous than you already should be.

I love you guys!


Monday, July 11, 2011

So Tell Me What You Want (What You Really Really Want)...


It's Ajax's mom's birthday today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope it's wonderful! I got a cake to celebrate... but since it's probably not a good idea to ship it from Japan, I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and eat it myself. How horrible, right?

On another note: I've gotten quite a few emails from people wanting to know what I want or need over here (I think people believe that I live in some third-world country where I can't get Coors Light or Lucky Charms and don't have access to anything but a squatoilet (yes, squat toilets are definitely alive and well in Japan. Remarkably easy to use, I might add). But never fear, dear Blog Readers... I am (for the most part) able to access most of the comforts of home, with the exception of a few items. I have compiled a list of things that I'd like IF you just have to send me a package over here. Seriously, this is not a request to get massive amounts of stuff, I promise. This is just for all my wonderful people who have asked me to compile this little list.

Things I could get shipped here but it's a hassle:
  • Aveda tea (actually, any decaf tea... the boyfriend and I go through a lot of tea... at least two cups nightly)
  • Aveda hair products- No Aveda here. :(
  • Rice crispy treats cereal- Obviously the best cereal on earth, and I can't find it on our bases.
  • Cheap clearance FSU stuff- I give FSU gifts to students/neighbors/landlord (we have to give presents out a lot here... it's like a cultural rule). So I'm trying to populate Japan with Seminole fans! Bumper stickers, cheapy hats and on-sale $4 tees are perfect. They eat them up! Or scrunchis! The women still love scrunchies here!!! And I know they go on turbo sale after football season because no one in the states uses them anymore. 
Things I need/want but won't buy myself:
  • Cardigans- I wear them to death here
  • Flat Shoes- I can buy them off base here but they are so expensive.
  • Magazines- Have to restock the bathroom reading material since Ajax lives in there.
  • Eyeliner- Base has crappy selection and off base is like 1100Y ($14) for eyeliner. WTF?
  • Funky earrings (especially cheap awesome ones from Country Dollar back in Tally-Tally ladies, hook me up!)
  • 100 calorie snacks and almonds - I do buy these for myself but I eat tons of them. 
Personal things from you that I would love:
  • Cards from you (SHOUT OUTS to Katie and Care! Carolyn sent me my FIRST piece of mail in my new mailbox... It was very exciting business! :) And Katie sent me THREE cards that I got all on the same day... they were hilarious! :) Made my morning to go to the post office and get cards.)
  • Printed pics
  • Old USBs full of music!!! Especially newer music (think past 6 months).
  • Visits. Seriously... when I say people have an open invitation to stay in Japan with us.. I mean it. We'd love to have visitors.
That's it for now... Ill probably think of more later but this is what I put together in about 5 minutes. I love you guys. Have a fabulous week. 

Stay out of trouble! 


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

There She Is... Miss America...

 A blonde walks into a bar...

It sounds like the beginning of a horrible punny joke, right? Right. Yes, the time has come for me to tell you about my amazing experience while meandering through random places around my train station in Japan. There are a few things you should know about me (if you don't know me that well or just happened across this blog):

  1. I am random.
  2. My randomness is only superseded by my willingness to try new things.
  3. My willingness to try new things is only superseded by my height.
  4. Japanese business men love me.
  5. I end up in crazy situations on a regular basis.

Two Fridays ago I was bored at home... as is typical before a great "OMG Megs seriously, I can't believe that happened to you" story. I decided to go for a little bike ride. (And by 'little bike ride' I do mean little. My bike is not the appropriate size for a 6'2" person. *le sigh* story of my life here in Japan.) I hopped onto the bike o' destiny and took off towards the glorious setting sun (i.e. the area with all the bars). By the time I got to the train station area, I was drenched in sweat. It was that hot outside. So you can just imagine how sexy I looked. Still in work clothes, sweating like a hooker in church, and makeup running... I had to beat the men off with a stick. Why couldn't I have been born rich instead of good looking??? 

Parked my bike in the little bike holder doowhomper and headed into the tallest building by my station (100Y for 3 hours isn't bad in Japan considering it's better to do that then have them tow your bike- And yes, they tow bikes). I'd never been in this building before but it looked promising with its colorful signs and pachinko parlor on the bottom floor. I told myself I'd stop at the first bar that would let me in. 1st floor... closed. 2nd floor... closed. 3rd floor... possible nudie club- pass. 4th floor- WIN! 

I walked to the open door and immediately people started screaming at me, so obviously I started to run away (those Japanese are feisty, the last thing  I need is to get smacked down by a Gaijin-hating ninja). One of the ladies came out and stopped me by saying "First beer free!" Well, if you didn't know by now, two of my favorite words are "beer" and "free" and when they are combined, it's like the heavens opened and the angels were singing. Walked back in the bar with Sue (real name is way too long to spell) and met Kiu, they were the bar owners, both women from China. Basically the only Eigo (English) they knew was "First beer free!" There was a Japanese man at the bar next to where I sat down and he did a bit of translating for everyone. Then we got out our handy-dandy iPhones and Droids and used the translator apps to continue longer convos. It was great. The bartenders loved having me there, it made for great conversation for them and I think I'm now their token American friend. 

Note: Google translate is not always accurate. Be warned!

More people came in for their after-work beverages and social time. I was introduced to everyone. I had tons of snacks and Sue and Kiu were absolutely spoiling me rotten. One gentleman came in and introduced himself as (I kid you not) Crazy Uncle Tom. But it was more like "Kazy Awncur Tomb." My translating buddy told me that the guy was a typical patron of the fine establishment and always did crazy stuff.  I didn't think an 80 year old man could be too crazy, but I quit trying to guess what will happen in Japan months ago. (Japan's slogan should be  "Welcome to Japan. We do crazy shit here!") And when this older guy shows up, his crazy rubs off on everyone else. I'll give you a quick synopsis of the next two hours' events:

  • Was proposed to- TWICE! (That makes my 4th proposal from Japanese men since I've moved to Japan)
  • Was asked to "Teach them how to Dougie"- I guess they don't understand that I'm extremely white.
  • Arm wrestled- and lost.
  • Stood up to be measured next to every person that came into the bar.
  • Took pics with everyone (Sue still has to email me the pics)
  • Had the bar owners stand on chairs next to me so they could be my height.
  • Got free sushi, snacks, and tofu... and my free beer. 
  • Laughed constantly.

    But the best part was when "Uncle Tom" said something to Sue in Japanese and she turned on the karaoke machine. Up until that point I didn't even know it was a karaoke bar. (But seriously, what bar isn't a karaoke bar in Japan?) At that point, Uncle Tom said "Hit it!" (Yes, just like in the movies) and Sue turned down the lights and turned on the disco ball. I was already laughing so hard I though I was going to pee my pants. The he started singing:
    "There she is, Miss America. There she is, your ideal.
    The dream of a million girls who are more than pretty
     can come true in Atlantic City." 

    LOL I don't even know all the words but he sang it in such amazing Engrish that I started crying laughing. Best song choice ever!!!!!! By the end of the song he was on one knee in front of my chair holding my hand & grinning like crazy (did I mention he was missing about half of his teeth?). I had no earthly idea what to do so I applauded & got him a drink. I guess that probably means we're married now. Ajax might not be too happy about that.

    I think he was trying to tell me that I was a good-lookin' tall girl. 
    But I can't be sure.
    After another 30 minutes of fun singing and partially understood conversations, I headed out to go home and crawl in bed. We took a group photo and then they watched me leave and waved out the window as I rode away. Which was very sweet but it sucked because I ended up running into a telephone pole... they surely saw the whole thing.
    So that, wondermous blog readers, is the story of my random excursion. And yes, I will be going back again soon.
    Love Y'all!

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    It's a Small World After All...

    MWAHAHA! Now that song is stuck in your head for the rest of the day. But in all seriousness, it is a small world. I've definitely come to find that out in the past few months here. A few examples:

    1. A friend from college came here for her honeymoon and stayed literally 2 miles from where I live. She stayed with...
    2. Another person who went to college with us who lives in my neck of the woods here. (lol Just kidding, there's no woods here.)
    3. My wonderful little ginger Meems lives about 40 miles from me and I finally got to see her a couple weeks ago. And I got to meet her adorable son and show my guy off to her. 
    4. I have several people from FSU who are coming to visit Japan... and they made these plans before I even decided to move here.
    Even after the earthquake, and subsequent tsunami and radiation freak out... I still maintain that Japan is a fabulous country. The area I'm at is relatively calm... more like Tallahassee than Orlando or Miami.

    Work is going... well, work is just going. It's definitely pretty stressful at times. There are definitely days when I'm glad Ajax is on the ship and not at home because I'm sure he would get the brunt of my work-wrath. But it's only stressful because I make it that way most of the time... because I put everything I have into my job. I definitely see my efforts paying off though. Things are starting to change for the better. I'm helping to implement new policies and I'm personally redrafting procedures and handbooks. I love the crew that I supervise (and a few of the higher ups). I'm not sure who all knows (obviously if you're on Facebook then you couldn't help but to know) that I was the commencement speaker at a graduation ceremony at a base 2 weeks ago. It has been extremely nice to get to hobnob with some of the big-wigs of the military world through my job. I had a great time getting to visit on of the sites where my job has an office and to have the honor of being the youngest graduation speaker in base history. It's also fabulous to have a Captain tell you that he's sat through dozens of graduation speeches and that mine was the first one to make him laugh out loud.  Basically, I'm a badass. But you already knew that didn't you? Of course you did. 
    Hydrangeas in my yard. :)

    So... in addition to being the most awesome college programs coordinator that the world has ever seen... I've recently decided it's time to get back in shape. (Yes, round is a shape but I'd prefer not looking like a beach ball.) It has only been a week and a half since i started this shiznit... but I'm loving it. Smoothies with spinach and frozen no-sugar-added fruit OR a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Mid-morning almonds or healthy snack bar. To the dining hall on base for a nice lunch ($4 for lunch including drinks and they give you the calorie and fat content of everything so you can be conscious of what you're putting in your stomach). Bottles of water throughout the day. Leave work. Head to gym (rented a locker so I have NO EXCUSES).  Weight training, stair climber, elliptical, stretching, sometimes sauna. Head home. Eat a banana. Small dinner. Hot decaf tea for dessert. Pretend to do P90x every other day. (I say pretend because the other day this happened (exerpt from Facebook status update):
    Day 5: 3.75m on elliptical, 20 flights, & P90X. Im counting P90X although I quit 20 mins in. What had happened was they started doing these circle runs... around a towel on the floor. Which OBVIOUSLY made me think of the Mexican hat dance. Which in turn made me think of making a margarita. It was very "if you give a mouse a cookie." I ended up watching the rest of the DVD w/ a drink in my hand sitting on the floor.
    See, I am rocking this healthy stuff. At the gym today I had one butthead tell me that I wasn't stretching right and that "the gym should train people before they let them run amok in the workout areas."  Then he continued to monitor my stretching with his vulture eyes the rest of the time I was in the area. SERIOUSLY, homeslice? I worked in a friggin' gym for 2 years. I am 25 years old and can still do a full split. I can bend my body in half and put my hands flat on the floor while standing up. I can do a pretzel and put my feet behind my head. AND I  can touch my tongue to my nose. Dude... I'm more flexible than you will ever be and it's because I know how to stretch. Do not tell me I can't stretch. I was livid. I took the aggression out on the stair climber for 20 minutes though. Note: If you are a health buff please don't kill my dreams by telling me how not hardcore I am... I'm trying. I may not be able to run a 5k yet. But dangit I am making a change one step at a time. Funny enough I look forward to going to the gym every day and waking up to a fresh smoothie. My top 5 reasons for loving the gym:

    5) It's so ginormous! I never have to wait for machines or have to get off of the treadmill because someone else wants a turn.
    4) They turn on MTV music videos for me... I don't get the English MTV at mi casa in town. So it's really a nice treat to get something to sing along to.
    3) Working out with massive amounts of military men checking me out is good for my ego.
    2) I want sexy abs. IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN DARNIT!
    1) They clean the gym with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers

    Seriously, who doesn't absolutely love Mr. Clean Magic Erasers? If you don't then you're a communist. Those things are amazing. Ajax bought me some as a going away gift.
    Crazy snake statue outside of the PuroLand gates.

    That's all the attention I can give you guys right now. I just got home from the gym and wanted to write some stuff down to share! I need to hop in the shower before I start killing the house trees with my stench. Yes, I have tiny house trees that look like Christmas trees. Ajax was all like "Meg these trees look kinda brown think they might need water?" My response "They're supposed to be brown they're growing their summer coat." I love them. I guess I don't love them enough though, like most of the plants I've sorta-tried to care for... they're not looking so hot lately. Whatever, that's what God invented green spray paint for :). They boyfriend will never have to know!

    Future awesome updates will include the following: Hello Kitty Land, having a drunk Japanese man sing the Ms. America song to me, being proposed to in a bar (another drunk Japanese business man story), how Keno is the best game on the planet, finding more bars, and "Boy Scouts: Cute and Wilderness Ready Young Men or Business Mafia Swindling You Out of $20 for a Car Wash? You Decide."

    Hasta luego! More to come!


    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Takin' Care of Business...

    Hi Folks!

    I know I've been such a slacker keeping everyone posted on what I've been up to lately. Work has been crazy due to the after effects of the earthquake, tsunamis, and nuclear reactor situations (oh my!). In addition to dealing with students dropping and adding classes left and right because of the disasters, I'm doing three people's jobs right now because we're working on hiring folks in the office. 
     Sometimes you just need a mini-biiru!
    However, I'm doing pretty well with all of it. I've done such a good job that's I've was asked to deliver the commencement speech for a college graduation in Sasebo, Japan in June. I'm was absolutely freaked out... it was weird enough writing my "professional" bio, let alone writing a grad speech (the last grad speech I gave was my high school one, and I rushed through it!) But... I ROCKED THE HELL OUT OF IT! *does the happy dance* 

    The photo above is from Haneda Airport on my way to Sasebo. 
    One of the flights was cancelled due to "volcanic gas." Ha, only in Japan. 
    I have so much more to talk about... I promise I will do more of an update tomorrow. Just wanted to tell you I'm not dead. :)

    Love y'all!


    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Don't You Forget About Me... (Don't Don't Don't Don't!)

    Yes, we all know I've been a super-slacker lately. But there's just so much going on that I haven't had time to barely think straight, let alone sit and formulate the uber-brilliant posts that you all are accustomed to me writing. (I am so humble)

    However, there is one thing going on that I cannot stop thinking about... my BFF (yes, I just used BFF in a sentence) Katie just walked across the stage this weekend to receive her Masters Degree. Going that far in your field of study is no easy task and she worked hard for her degree. I am so excited for her! She really is one of the most amazing people I know and it's so awesome to know how far she has come and how far she's going to go in life (when you give your life acceptance speech, just remember the little people ... and me).

    I love you friend.


    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Thank You for Being a Friend...

    I've come to find out that Japan is full of my people... the kind of people who love short skirts and love women in them. However, if you thought that skirts were short on me, with my long legs, then you would freak out over here. I see girls in micro mini school girl skirts here, the kind you might see on a skanky Britney Spears' video. When I say they leave very little to the imagination... I mean it. It probably sounds like I am a little obsessed with skirts, but I really can't get over how tiny they are in Japan. When I first saw them walking around I asked Ajax why people were going out clubbing in the middle of the day. His response: "Meg, they're just getting out of high school classes." It's their uniform. Hell, I should have grown up here! I got in trouble constantly in the US for my short skirts and shorts (in my defense though... I'm 6'2"... it's extremely difficult to find shorts and skirts that meet the "fingertip length" rule). 

    Work is good. It was weird being away for several weeks. I missed the routine stuff. I'm a gal that needs a schedule. Put me to work. Make me feel useful and efficient. That's the kind of thing that makes me happy.

    I have to tell you about my crazy weekend. Friday night we stayed at this awesome (and cheap, because all the Americans evac-ed Tokyo) hotel in Roppongi, a part of Tokyo. Friday night we got to hotel and immediately left to go find friends in Shibuya at an awesome bar. So much fun. I ended up meeting this one fellow named Simon. Probably the most crazy Australian ever. Exchanged info with him so we could hang out again with him and his wife sometime soon. 

    Next day got up and headed to Yoyogi Park near Shibuya. Gorgeous weather. Thousands of people were there. It was fun. The guys tried (Please note that I used the word "tried") to fly a kite. And the Japanese looked at us funny because the crew we were with brought a grill along to BBQ lunch. We watched people play football, kids playing soccer, and a weird martial arts-type of class. Around 2pm I decided to leave because I was having a major allergy attack.

    Let's talk about cherry blossom season for a bit. I LOVVVVVE the cherry blossom trees or "sakura" here. They are gorgeous and breathtaking. Literally... they are breathtaking, because along with cherry blossom season comes allergy season. My eyes constantly itch, my nose runs, I'm hacking and wheezing like a 90 year old asthmatic. It's bad. I'm currently on crazy Japanese allergy meds. I asked my coworker what was in them and he said "Well... it won't kill you." I'm not sure if thats a comfort or not, but oh man do I feel better, I may not be able to feel my face, but I'm not sneezing. :)

    So I must have looked a little confused and/or out of place on my way back to the train station to get back to the hotel because I had a young Japanese man walk up to me and ask if he could help. Now, I knew which way the Shibuya train station was... but I was going to wander and find another train station (because I'm like a professional train-taker now). But this gentleman wanted to walk me to Shibuya train station and practice his English along the way. Who am I to discourage learning? So I walked with him. Matsuro was his name and he lived in Seattle for a year for college abroad. I exchanged information with him so we could do dinner sometime and he would teach "you and your bifrenn" Japanese. lol

    Sunday was ball game day. After the game we headed home on the trains to our small little station. Once there we wanted to grab dinner before trekking home. Popped into a small restaurant and had the best two hours I've spent in Japan as of yet. The couple who ran the place were amazing. I really think we were the first Amerika-gaijin in their building. (Also, for future reference, when I talk about a small restaurant in Japan, Im not talking about Huddle House small. I'm talking about the size of a bedroom, small. These people run businesses on the first floors of their homes and live on the top floors. It's just how they do things here.) They took pictures of us for their advertisements and used a translator to try and speak with us. The pickled octopus or "tako" was sooooo good. And the gyoza was the best I've ever had. YUM! The wife was from Korea and the husband was Japanese and they were sweet and just so dern cute, they were the kind of people who you hope have grandchildren because they would spoil them so much. When we were leaving, they gave us a gift of salted seaweed flakes. I opened a pack the next day. I like them! Im already ready to head back to that place to visit again. We'll have to take them some sort of gift. They'd really appreciate it.

    Just so you all know, it's not always super easy to live in Japan. A lot of the time it is easy, because I'm working hard at my job, traveling all over, eating amazing food, and hanging out with Ajax. BUT, there are lots of times where I miss my people and life back in the US. When I get frustrated at my job, I wish I was back with my old coworkers. When I get lonely when I'm home by myself, I miss being able to see friends whenever I wanted to hang out. I miss being able to go to my used bookstore and pick up something random to read (base store does not have anything good and the stores in my area are all written in Kanji and Hiragana.) I miss calling my mom every day after work just to chat on my drive home. And I miss not having to deal with a crazy, mangy, caterwauling cat outside my house every night (seriously, I'm going to make a video to show you how loud this thing is!). So if you think I don't miss you or the US, you're wrong. But the good far outweighs any negative here for me for right now. I'm having a most excellent time, don't get me wrong. But I do miss old stuff (no mom, that's not an "old person" joke). 

    Anywho, I need to go grab some lunch and be productive. If you haven't sent me your address yet, please do, along with any Japanese item requests you might have. :) If I don't know what you want, I can't get it for you! Also, if you have gchat... add me so I can keep up with my peoples.

    Stay out of trouble,


    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Take Me Out to the Ball Game...

    Japan is really great! 

    It's definitely been a whirlwind. It's calming down pretty quickly though (thank goodness- because I dont know how much more crazy I can take). My favorite thing is still the amazing vending machines. It still blows my mind that I can get a hot can of coffee out of the same vending machine that I get a cold water! So weird. Those brilliant Japanese!

    I got to go to my first baseball game yesterday in Tokyo. The Yakult Swallows versus the Yokohama Baystars. I happened to have a red shirt, so I guess I officially became a Swallows fan. First off, I would like to say that the Japanese do baseball right. We were near the stadium about 2 hours before the game and ALREADY people were inside cheering and singing. I guess they do their tailgating inside the stadium as opposed to outside in the parking lots like I'm accustomed to. Also hugh on my list of things I love about Japanese baseball... the fact that they let you bring pretty much anything into the park to eat/drink. I mean anything. We showed up with plastic bags full of Asahi biirus and ChÅ«hai drinks. In addition to the drinks, we also brought in: strawberries, cooked kale, chips, edamame, peanuts, frozen fruit balls and many more other items we thought we'd never get away with bringing into a game.

    You think the FSU Animals are nuts? They don't have anything on the Japanese!!! Almost every single person brought several different accessories for the game. They all wore jerseys, they brought umbrellas (there's a chant that goes along with it about the other team being washed up), they all brought team towels, and they had bats that they banged together. Probably about 90% of the time they were chanting and singing! It was awesome! I started making up words so I could chant along! It was a phenomenal experience.

    I have so many more things to tell everyone about the past few weeks. There's just too much for one blog post! :)

    More to come,


    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    Promises Promises...

    Heya, I know I've been an absolute slacker lately. Apparently making time to blog when I'm actually around the people I started this blog for in the first place is proving more than a little difficult. 

    I'm back in Florida for the moment being. It's been really nice seeing friends and family. I'm a little limited in seeing everyone I want to see, mainly because I don't have a car, nor do I want to rent one (maybe I'm just being lazy, but it's nice just sitting around and catching up on shows and just chillaxing at mi madre's house). 

    But just to give everyone the short version about why/how I came back: Ajax asked me to go, my base approved "voluntary" evacs, work approved taking off 2 weeks, his parents had me on a flight 3 days later to ATL (THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!), my mom got me home from ATL to Tally (I love you Mama), after 2 random security checks/fondlings, a little stay in DC, 8 hours in ATL, and an emergency landing in Valdosta, GA... I was back in Tallahassee, FL. :) Believe it or not, the trip was fabulously zen. The only exception was the stay in DC because the loudspeaker announcements every 2 minutes were extremely loud and annoying. It was nothing like the quietness of Japan that I had gotten used to.

    Yeah, I'm at my US home again. It's really nice to have multiple homes in multiple countries. It makes me feel oh-so accomplished. Since I've been home it's been wonderfully relaxing: pedicure, massage, church, hanging with my best friend, helping with church youth group, sleeping in, massive amounts of delicious mommy-made food, family egg-roll dinner, giving Japanese trinkets to people, and seeing all of the people who were worried about me overseas. I really am lucky to have on amazing support system of people. I feel very blessed.

    That's about all I have for you right now... got to go get ready to make a run to Georgia with Mom for food and random adventures. 

    Hope you're all doing awesome. :)


    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Party in the USA...

    I'm baaaaaaaaack! MWAHAHAHA! Well, I am back in CONUS (Continental United States- I pick up weird lingo from my job) for the next two weeks. It's going to be crazy and Im going to miss Japan like you wouldn't believe... but I'm here and I am safe. :) I'll post more on why the US was the right decision to make for the moment being and how insane my flights back here were, but that will come later. Right now I need a pedicure and some freaking pasta.



    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Quiet Riot...

     Updates from Facebook (which has been helping out all the foreigners in Japan the past few days- seriously, Facebook deserves some credit for helping us out!):
    Japan Earthquake Information - Updated Mar 15, 7:30PM

    Please refrain from over-stocking supplies
    Food and supplies are selling out from the stores in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, however this may cause in running short of supplies for the worst stricken areas. Japanese government has announced that there are enough supplies in stock. Please act calmly with patience.

    Scheduled Blackout
    There are scheduled blackouts in Tokyo, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka everyday until further notice.

    There will be scheduled blackouts in Yamagata, Niigata, Aomori, and Akita between 3/16 to 3/18.

    Areas will be divided into groups and each group may experience few hours of power outage at scheduled time.

    Please refer to the Yahoo! JAPAN Emergency Information (English) - link to English list of groups to find out which group you are in and what time the power outage will occur in your group. The list will be updated often. Please check the list for the latest groupings.

    The Facebook website will not be affected by this blackout.

    Train Operation in Tokyo Metropolitan area
    To conserve energy, there will be limited train operations. Please refer to below links for the latest information.

    JR | Metro | Toei | Tokyu | Odakyu | Keio | Tobu | Keikyu | Keisei | Seibu

    About this box
    Earthquake Information is currently being displayed in Japanese for those users using Facebook in Japanese, and in Korean for those users using in Korean.

    I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends...

    Hello All,

    First off, for any of those who haven't been updated as to how I am doing over here in Japan... I'm fine. Please don't be concerned for my safety. Saying that living in Japan has presented me with some challenges is a gross understatement. I wanted to send a mass email with some bits of information just to give y'all an idea of what has been going on in my neck of the world lately and to clarify some things going on over in this area of the globe. 

    Friday at 2:46pm (Japan time- duh) I was sitting in my office at work when my coworker, Mac, mentioned that he was feeling an earthquake (which is definitely the norm around these parts). After about 10 seconds he looked at me and said "This isn't right, get your shit, and let's go. NOW!!!" and he ran out of the office. Now when a man who has lived in Japan for over 20 years yells and runs... I follow! I sprinted down he hall, down the two flights of stairs and out the door behind him in enough  time to be the first people out of the building and to be able to watch the old building (THE oldest on my base) shake about 2-3 feet side to side. We could barely stand up outside. This went on for at least five minutes. It was really unnerving to see people around me who had lived in Japan for years and years start crying and calling family members. That's about the time that it hit me that this definitely wasn't normal.

    We went back inside the building to crazy amounts of things that had fallen and broken. We had two lights fall from the ceiling. Our fridge fell over. One bookshelf broke. Our computers and file cabinets had toppled over. A table fell behind our storage closet and is still currently blocking us from being able to get inside for supplies. Other people in our building had their tvs fall off stands and break. And the building stairwell railing broke. We got evacuated from the building because it was assumed to be unstable and they would have to inspect it before we could return to work (wait...I'm sensing silver lining here!). By 3:30pm I was told to head home to make sure I still had one. 

    The drive home was insane. A 5 mile drive took me over an hour with the traffic, I dumbly assumed people were just freaked out and wanted to make sure their houses were okay (which was partially true) but I didn't grasp just how bad everything was until later. I really didn't have any clue what to expect when I got to the house. Alex had been able to talk to me via gchat (Thank God for gmail) the entire time this was going on and definitely helped put things in perspective for me (don't turn on the lights when you walk in, check for gas leaks, leave the door open for easy escape if necessary... those Navy guys are pretty dern prepared)! I walked in and everything seemed to be fine. The worst that happened was that everything fell off the walls, couple of frames broke, DVD tower toppled over, fridge doors were open, and tv had fallen over (out of sheer luck, the tv fell towards the wall behind it and not the other direction towards the ground). No gas leaks, no power failure, no burned down house, no lack of water and no cracks in any walls. We were/are definitely lucky. I pretty much thought this was over at that point, and I was wrong.

    Alex told me I needed to turn on the news. I managed to get it onto Japanese news (that in and of itself was tough - there are like 30 remotes!) and could see that this earthquake extended far past what I could have imagined. Even by just looking at the pictures and videos on the Japanese news I could tell what was going on. People in Tokyo were quickly uploading pictures and videos of the happenings there, from ceilings falling in Narita airport, to buildings cracking in half near Shinjuku, and mass shaking all around the city. The center of Tokyo is less than 15 miles north of where Alex and I live and work. The trains had been stopped everywhere within about a hundred miles of Tokyo. And if I've learned anything from living as a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan, it's that the trains do NOT STOP. That is how everyone commutes to and from work. Trains just do not stop here, end of story. Tokyo was dealing with some major problems. Again, we got lucky.

    After nearly 30 minutes of freaking out about not being able to get any news in English, and not knowing where everything was coming from, Alex calmed me down enough to help me figure out how to get CNN. The news showed what was going on in Tokyo, they showed what was happening in more northern regions of Japan. I could see that the quake(s) had caused a major set of tsunamis that had radiated towards the town/coast land nearest to the epicenter of the earthquake. Myagi Prefecture just happened to be the most unfortunate area on the planet on Friday. Two of the main towns in the Myagi prefecture were Sendai and Ishinomaki. Most of the videos you've been seeing on CNN and MSNBC are from those areas. The videos look like something straight out of an action/ adventure movie... or a horror one. You've undoubtedly seen images of people floating on rooftops, of people being rescued from cars that have been carried miles from where they were parked, and you've probably seen the images from the massive amounts of water tearing apart everything in its path. I can assure you that these videos are absolutely authentic, that the interviews from people on the news are true, and that there is a major disaster that is still occurring in the country I currently live in. 

    Since the earthquake and the tsunami, there have been issues with nuclear reactors. Japan is one of the world leaders in nuclear power and technology and these types of power plants give electricity to over 30% of Japan. These plants are very important to this country and right now they are (in an effort to down play it a bit) "on the fritz." We are having rolling blackouts (scheduled power outages to conserve energy so that we don't use everything up and then have a major power outage for everything  run by TEPCO in my area). So since Friday we've been having blackouts at work and home 2 hours at a time 2 times a day. Not a big deal for us. And the more we go without electricity at work and home, then the shorter the blackouts are.

    I  just had a townhall meeting on my base and we were reassured that everything is safe and they would continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds. My area is looking pretty good. I am over 100 miles from the plants that are having the technical difficulties. I promise you we're not getting any nuclear green rain, and birds are not falling from the sky (although if the crows started dying here, I wouldn't cry about it. Those things scare me more than radiation). The bases in my area are taking precautionary measures by having people try to stay indoors as much as possible... but it is only a precaution. Please do not assume that if I step outside to go to the car or to make a phone call that I will magically turn into some radioactive weirdo. (I'm weird enough as it is, thank you very much.) I have the facts on the radiation levels and how non-detrimental to my health and well-being that Japan is at the present time. That does not mean that I'm not completely mentally flipping out. I am human, after all. This is scary stuff here, people! I hear the word "radiation" and as a non-scientific person, I go a little crazy. Alex's mom and dad sent me this link all about radiation. It's a great information source and if you want any information on what's going on over here to dispel any rumors you may have heard, check out the link. Radiation Info

    So that's been the past few days for me. Exciting, don't you think? Yeah, I'll pass on this much excitement. Right now I have enough confidence in the US Military, the US Embassy, the Japanese government, and Alex... that if there was a real reason for me to go home to the US... I WOULD. Yes, I have moments of freaked-out-ed-ness (shhh, that's totally a word). But those freaked out moments have been relatively few and far between and I honestly do believe that (based on the research I've done as well as what experts and other military personnel have told me) I am safe here. If that changes, if my feeling of being protected here changes, then you can bet your sweet patootie that I will be on the first plane out of Dodge that I can find. 

    What was originally reported as a 7.2 earthquake was then elevated to a 7.9 earthquake. From a 7.9 earthquake it was elevated to an 8.8 earthquake and then 8.9 and now it is apparently sticking at a 9.0 on the richter scale. Since then we have had over 305 aftershocks, more than 30 of which have been over a 6.0 on the scales. 15,000 people have been rescued. There are at least 8,500 more people still registered as missing. Google's People Finder site has been very helpful in putting families back together. 

    Right now Alex is on his way back to Japan on the USS Blue Ridge. (Regular updates on the Blue Ridge can be found here: USS Blue ridge ). Alex is going to be back soon to assist in whatever rescue and relief missions the US Navy needs him for, there will be a lot of flying for him in the near future so please keep him in your prayers. He's going to have a lot of work to do in the upcoming months. He's probably the one that's going to be flying a lot of the goods and foods to the areas around the site where the tsunami and earthquake hit worst. 

    As for my part in all of this, I am working with the Red Cross (Pacific Far East) to get donations to help out. I've been told specifically that they don't want your stuff. Stuff costs money to ship and to store and to transport, and that's extra money that they could be spending on food and water and shelter for the people who need it in Japan right now. In the past 48 hours I've collected about $700 just by talking to people on base to get donations for the Red Cross- I've had another $200 come in from people telling me they've donated online. Seriously, if you do ONE thing for me this year, please let it be a donation to the Red Cross. The best way to do that is by going to: Red Cross Japan Relief. On this site you click the top little dot for "Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief." Just to let you know what you could be giving for $20, you'd be providing- 5 meals of rice and water, 2 blankets, and a week of bathroom necessities... and possibly even more. Really any amount helps. And then you get to be an awesome citizen and tell people that you have a friend/family member in Japan and that you did something to help out when the country needed assistance. YAY! Also as incentive, any of my people that donate $25+ dollars and tell me about it, Ill send you something randomly awesome from here (when we get mail services back). Yes, that's a bribe. Don't care. :) You can also send a text and automatically give $10. Seriously, this is so easy. If you don't, I won't disown you or anything, but I probably would give you a dirty look if you were here. 

    Right now it would be so easy for me to give up and come back to the US. But Im not. As of this moment I am sticking it out and trying to help out the best way I know how, by raising money for these people who have lost everything and by talking to my people and keeping them updated on what's going on from a local perspective. Consider me your local representative as to what's going on over here. Feel free to ask questions. I'd be more than happy to try and explain things to anyone who wants. 

    PLEASE pass this email along. You guys know that I'm no spammer, we just need some major awesome US of A assistance right now. I thank you for everything. If nothing else, I hope this email will convince you that I am safe and currently not in harm's way. I'm sending big hugs to all of my friends around the world. If you have gchat please add me- It is the best way to contact me any time of the day. If you have facebook, I'm posting a lot of updates on there. If you have a computer (and obviously you do) this info will be posted on my blog here. You all have been so wonderful and supportive and I am very thankful that I have such a great network of people in my life.

    Domo arigatou,



    M. Swiggard

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Seeing Things (For the First Time)...

    Today isn't really going to be a well-formatted blog. I mainly have a list of random things I've noticed about Japan/my area/life in general that I want to share with my people. Some of it's dumb, yes (but who doesn't expect that from me anyway). Here goes:

    • The crows here have no fear or anything and if I die here then it will probably be because of death-by-bird-attack. These things are huge! They are scary and mean and there is no doubt in my mind that massive amounts of small pets (ie. children) have been carried off by these creatures of doom.
    • I have been obsessed with the drinks here. The milk tea is one of my favorites (basically tea with milk and sugar already added to it so all I do is pour and warm it and enjoy). Powdered green tea is huge here too. I found a green tea soy latte this morning at the 7&Holdings (7-11) and it is delish. I've found two new favorite alcoholic beverages one being tequila and tonic with lime. As my mom pointed out, I'm basically "drinking my way through Japan." Doesn't sound like a bad idea to me. 
    • The other day I met the Japanese Snooki. (For all of yous guys who don't know about the train-wreck that is Snooki from Jersey Shore... you're better off.) But yes, there's a girl who works at the on-base quicki-mart who looks just like her. I swear I will somehow get a picture of her as per your Facebook requests for me to do so, but I haven't seen her at work since that day last week. (However, if she really is like Snooki, then she probably got fired.)
    • I still hate snow. It snowed again yesterday. One minute it is pouring down rain and the next minute the rain was big white fluffy flakes of sadness. I would have preferred a flood.

      • Driving in Japan rocks! It's been a lot easier than I expected. People are pretty nice and let you out into traffic and they always give a courtesy honk or wave if you help them out in traffic. :) Got my license Friday. Saturday i took a test drive into work to see if I could navigate with my Droid GPS. I couldn't. Droid is out to get me. I ended up in the middle of some rice field (no joke) and Droid said that I had reached my destination. So I tried putting in the location of the nearest train station and that got me to the general area and I could find my way from there to work. I also got lost on the way home and had to employ the same method of finding the nearest train station on my navi system and finding my way home from there (at least there's some greatness from me knowing the train systems here by heart now)! On Monday I did it again. Stupid me thought that putting in work address would get me there but I was wrong, so I did the train station thing to get to work and from work on Monday. This morning I tried something new (and scary as hell). I threw my phone in my purse and tried to get there on my own... and I DID IT! I didn't backtrack or make a wrong turn or anything. Just paying attention to the signs and landmarks got me to work. Needless to say, I feel like a freaking genius right now. :) 
      • Saturday night i went to Hachioji, which takes about an hour to get there by train from my house. Since it takes so long and because I wanted to stay out late with some new friends, I looked online and found a cheap yet nice hotel to stay at. The main trainlines close down at midnight, but my local one closes down at 11pm. So I would have had to leave Hachioji by 10pm, which was just unacceptable for me. :) I stayed at Hachioji Plaza Hotel. So nice. 
        • Hotels here are a bit different than the US. The rooms are smaller, the bathrooms are smaller (think cruise ship size) but the amenities are fabulous. They make it so all you have to bring when you travel is day clothes and makeup. They had a bathrobe, pjs, slippers, toothbrush and paste, hairbrush, snacks, green teas, coffee, mints, mouthwash, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, free breakfast buffet, razors... they had it all in my room. It was fabulous. That plus check in at 3pm and check out at 11am all cost 5500yen ($65). Such a good deal. Plus it allowed me to sleep in a bit and explore the town on Sunday.
          • I am no karaoke novice. I've been known to bust a few ear drums in my day. But Saturday night was ridiculous. 3000 yen for all you can eat AND drink AND sing for 3 hours with 10 other people. I had such a good time. We pretty much sang the entire soundtrack to Top Gun (my NAF guys can thank me later) and we rocked the heck out of that place. 
            • Sunday when I was exploring Hachioji, I finally found two of the things I'd been looking for in Japan since I got here to make my boyfriend's Valentine's Day present. (Don't judge me on it being March and just now getting his Vday gift... I just got my first paycheck and got a bank account out here so I could withdraw yen... because most places don't take credit cards here. AND I couldn't make it when he was around.) So I finally got the items I needed to make his gift. Went home. Made it. AND IT LOOKS AWESOME! I'd show pics but I want to surprise the heck out of him when he gets back. Seriously, I rock as a girlfriend. You guys are going to be impressed. 
            • Something that is on my list of things to do is to get packages sent to people back home. HOWEVER, I have no clue where my address book is, and I live by my address book. I think it's in one of the boxes that I haven't had shipped yet (Ajax gets pissy when more than one of my huge packing boxes is delivered to his work APO address at one time). So I am trying to redo my address book. Please email me your address, at some point or another I will be sending all of my friends and family something from over here. So if you know me, send me your address. :) Please and thanks. 
            That's about it for me today. Still loving life over here! I hope you all are doing well!