Time to just be current, even if I'm way behind (on posting and even replying to your kind comments - I will, and, truly, thank you). More pictures, 9 months worth, will come sporadically, here and there, now and then. If I try to play catch up, I'll be overwhelmed and will never update. Again. It breaks something inside my Messy Tessy but Neat and Tidy little mind, but I may as well step out of my comfort zone and live on the edge. Wheee!
So, life is good. Yes, while I was MIA, I signed on for another year of Japan and another year on the JET Program. Really, it's kind of hard not to love this life I get to live. My dear Tom is still holding down the fort with the meow faces (and he's been here to visit me, and I there to visit him, and modern technology like Skype completely rocks), and we agreed that another year makes sense. The money isn't at all bad, the job market at home isn't at all good, I just became debt free (w00t!) and am ready to start seriously saving money, and I'm having a really super awesome good time here.
With the combination of an excellent transportation system and being surrounded by mostly younger people (though the one even older than I am is the nuttiest and most wild of the group), I spend a lot of time out and about reliving the college days I didn't really have, and it's been a ton of fun. Back home, I rarely go out. It's expensive, I don't believe in drinking and driving, and it's just different. Here, I make a point of being out and about in the city. If I miss my last train, I can stay out until the first one of the morning at some all night karaoke place. I can't sing well, at all, and nobody cares. A lot of them are not all that great either, but it's fun.
About half of our group of 10 that arrived at the same time last year has left, and it was really hard to say goodbye to people I'd grown so close to and got used to seeing on a somewhat regular basis for dinner, drinks, karaoke and hilarity in between. Doing this thing that I am doing, you expect to meet Japanese people, but in reality, you make really good friends with people from all around the world, the other foreigners, the other JETs, here doing the same thing. We got a whole new batch of folks (more than twice the size of my incoming group of 10), and already some friendships are forming. It's different from our small group, but it's good in a different way, maybe. Some of us went to a ridiculous but fun Cat Cafe where you pay about $12 to have a cup of coffee and spend time with cats in a room. Only in Japan. Well, I hear, now other parts of Asia, too, but as odd as it is, it is not surprising. This kind of stuff continues to amuse me and make it fun to be here.
I traveled all over Japan last year, seeing every place I should have seen last time (yes, later, sometime, pictures), and this year I am expanding a bit. I leave for South Korea on Sunday for five days. How many times over the past decade I've wished I'd gone when I lived here before, and now, it's happening. I've learned to mostly read Korean (it's easier than you think, easier than Japanese) and can say "hello," "beer please," "(whatever food item), please", "thank you," "you're welcome," "where is the bathroom," "do you speak English?," "can you speak Japanese?" (many do), and I'm hoping that's enough. I do not even know how to say "my name is..." Also, the numbering system is confusing because there are two of them, so, if needed, I will resort to gestures or just writing numbers on paper. It's not like I never have to resort to stick people drawings here in Japan where I supposedly can speak the language some.
So, yes, I am back, still, I think, but I will be gone for about a week. When I return, there will be pictures of South Korea, and I will feel like I'm skating on the edge by skipping ahead to current. I do what I want. I'm living the very good life, indeed, and I know well enough to appreciate it and live it to the fullest as best I can. Thank you for letting me share it with you, too.