Tuesday, January 31, 2012

One Day a Food Stall Appeared in a Parking Lot

Once in awhile in Japan you see a stall selling takoyaki (a yummy little ball of dough with octopus inside, which I usually initially translate as octopus balls but then have to back up to explain) or another selling taiyaki (reminds me of a pancake on the outside but cooked to look like a fish and then filled with red bean paste - or creamy custard when it's your lucky day!). Both of these are delish! I suppose it's possible for one stall to sell both of those and to also suddenly appear in the parking lot of your local grocery store last week. That's what happened out here in the middle of my nowhere.

Also, the guy that was in there behind the counter had wandered across the parking lot when I took the picture, but he watched me raise and aim my iPhone, clearly to take a picture, and he looked at me curiously. I'd bet you three octopus balls that inside his brain he was thinking "crazy foreigner." It's not like people walk around my grocery store parking lot taking pictures. If they do, they are likely to be one of us crazy foreigners. Is all.

I took the picture on my iPhone, then got playing with it in the BeFunkyFx iPhone app. I liked some different things about several of the different effects, so here's the same shot four ways.
16(1)/366 - Takoyaki and Taiyaki
16(2)/366 - Takoyaki and Taiyaki
16(3)/366 - Takoyaki and Taiyaki
16(4)/366 - Takoyaki and Taiyaki

Monday, January 30, 2012

Love Me, Lick Me, Vegas Burger Me

A day at the mall where I am looks something like this:
15(1)/366 - Lick Me.
(Taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Photobucket)
15(2)/366 - Las Vegas Burger.
Beef/onion/creamy white almost like cream cheese sauce all on top of a burger.
I'm halfway through McJapan's Big America Burgers Maggie's Personal Challenge Campaign
More info on this one is here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Around Town

Still have that surplus of photos I talked about yesterday. So, today there are 6, mostly taken around town. Or at Mc Donald's (definitely NOT in my town). But all within the past week.

14(1)/366 - Big America, Grand Canyon Burger.
McDonald's does silly stuff here. I try every new burger in a series and take it as a personal challenge.
As I type this, I have lunch plans today to go try the current one, the Las Vegas Burger.
(taken with my big girl Nikon D5100)
14(2)/366 - Comfy Shoes.
It's hard to find my size here. Got these at home for $14, and they make me smile every day.
(taken with my big girl Nikon D5100)
14(3)/366 - Wild Garbage Cage
This is where my untamed garbage goes. The sign reminds us to follow the (very many) rules.
It's OK. I have a calendar and a wall chart to keep me in line help me understand what day is which garbage.
(taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Instagram)
14(4)/366 - Open Space
I live in the middle of nowhere. So I'm always struck by this modern new building in town.
It houses our Board of Ed, so we meet here for weekly meetings.
No heat or AC, though, so let's don't get too excited about the modernity of it all, yah?
(taken with my big girl Nikon D5100)
14(5)/366 - From the 3rd Floor.
This is what I see when I walk out of about 3 of my classes each week.
I don't love climbing the stairs, but I love the view.
(taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Instagram)
14(6)/366 - Tall.
This is one of the two tallest things in town, not counting the hills/mountains.
(taken with my big girl Nikon D5100)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bonus Round

I've been taking way more than one picture a day since I started this whole blogging again and posting a picture a day thing. It can't be helped. Consider today something like a bonus round, and expect another as soon as tomorrow. Or so.

13(1)/366 - My lucky cup.
It's most lucky on a lazy weekend morning.
13(2)/366 - This is me within the past week.
My hair is finally growing out from the ridiculously way too short cut
I got at the barber shop. Last April. Yes. There and then. Innywho, it's growing.
13(3)/366 - Reading. Been doing it again.
Also, if a book is pretty good, but there is something  else I'd REALLY rather be reading?
Then the first goes under the stack. Life is too short not to change books whenever you just goddamn want to.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Haiku Friday - January 27th, 2012

Haiku Friday

here's my school's genkan
no outdoor shoes go past here
in/out shoe box trade

12/366 - Shoe Boxes (getabako)
Taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Photobucket
Most every school, home, doctor's office, gym and many other places in Japan have these at the entrance so that you can exchange your outdoor shoes for some kind of indoor shoes or slippers. To me, anymore, it just makes so much sense that I can't stand the idea of outdoor shoes being worn around inside.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Japanese Tea. And Not Japanese Tea.

Japan. Green tea. Those go together, right? It's true.

I fell in love with the whole concept of Japanese tea ceremony back in my college/university days and delved into it quite a bit for my senior project. Then, I lived in Shizuoka prefecture 1995-1998, THE green tea prefecture the way an American would say that Idaho is THE potato state. (I may or may not even have a Hello Kitty tattoo involving this prefecture and its very green tea-ness. If I did, probably Mt. Fuji is part of the scene. Maybe. I'm pretty sure I don't, however, have a potato tattoo.)

This time around living in Japan, I've become somewhat of an honorary member of the tea ceremony club at my junior high school. They let me show up at the club and learn stuff (lots to learn - people study for decades). Once in awhile one of the gurus of tea invites me to huge tea ceremonies in beautiful places (imagine this during cherry blossom season, be still my heart). Back in September, they even let me wear kimono and serve tea for the moon viewing tea ceremony here in town. It was a huge honor. Technically, I wore a yukata (summer kimono, not as fancy) because it was still stupidly hot, and I was much more in the ranks of my yukata-wearing students than the kimono clad adults who knew what they were doing (and did so with awe-inspiring fluidity, beauty and grace) after decades of study.

I could drink my weight in real-deal matcha tea. It's kind of like the artificial Starbucks flavor but then actually and really and truly authentically powdered tea that's distinctly bitter (in a good way) and not at all artificial. If you haven't had real matcha, you just haven't had real matcha. Yet. Someday, please do. If you can get someone who knows what they are doing to serve it to you with all of the ritual and grace, even better. If none of those are options, I still think Starbucks matcha lattes are pretty tasty when they are the only option.

For all the green tea surrounding me, it's a big of a challenge here to find the kinds of tea I usually drink back in the States. You know, the gazillion different flavors and varieties and herbals and not all lining the shelves of every grocery store? In my town, aside from a bunch of green tea and stuff I can't understand, we have 1 box of 6 not so great flavors of herbal. There is a reasonable selection at the import store in the city, but getting there isn't super cheap or fast (roughly 1 hour and US $10 each way), and their prices are just cheap enough that I bother looking but just high enough that I never buy any.

While I was in the States over winter vacation, I stocked up. One night Tom and I wound up at Big Lots, and they happened to have a brand I'd never tried. And it was vanilla. And it sounded great. When I finally made a cup this morning at my desk during my free period, hoping to make lesson planning smell better, I fell madly in love. Sadly, I'll probably never find this exact kind again (if you've been to Big Lots or other super discounted places, you know how the inventory changes), but I intend to savor every single sip while I have it.

11/366 - Lesson planning smells better with vanilla tea
(Taken on my iPhone and toyed with in Instagram)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Snow and the Spirit of Friendship

It's been cold the past few days where I am. Thankfully, this year, for reasons unknown, my school has decided to heat the teachers' room, unlike the past two winters. The classrooms have always had kerosene heaters since I've been here (though we are not always allowed to use them). Others around me have been talking about snow once in awhile, but it wasn't until today that we got some.

I'm from Chicago. And I've been to Sapporo (they get 6 times more snow!!). So I know a bit about snow. I hate driving in it or shoveling it. If it happens to start falling when I don't own a car or a driveway or have anyplace I need to be other than where I am? I'm as excited as a 5 year old seeing it for the first time. Magical, snow is, when I don't have to alter anything about my day in response to it being there and can just smile and laugh and giggle and take pictures.

Snapped hastily on my iPhone hoping it wouldn't get too wet while it was coming down hard (then ended 15 minutes later) just outside my school.
10/366 - Snow and the Spirit of Friendship
(the kanji 友愛 yuu ai means, roughly, friendship, though it's more whatever you'd call in English the kind of love and respect that is shared between friends - so, in short, I'm going with something like the spirit of friendship for lack of a better exact translation)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Corn Soup

Corn soup (technically, corn potage, and that's what Japan calls it) is all the rage in Japan. It's made with lots of milk and is so creamy and delicious. It's pretty much everywhere in Japan, whether in the form of powdered instant soup mix or in a can sold from the vending machine or by the carton at your local supermarket. Often near the supposed "pizza." I don't know why.


9/366 - Corn (Potage) Soup. By the carton, even.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Morning Commute

I was really hoping to get out and about with my real camera at some point over the weekend, but just when I looked up, boom, it was already Monday morning. I still owed my blog a picture, so nothing fancy, but I took this quick shot on my way to school on my iPhone and later toyed with it a bit in Photobucket before posting. This is the Monday morning commute to school here in my tiny town. Once in awhile I forget to remember just how surrounded by hills/small mountains I am until I look at a picture like this and contrast it with all those pictures on my computer and in my mind of back home in the flat middle of America (Chicago, Tulsa, take your pick) where you can just see forever and ever. Both have their merits.

8/366 - The Monday morning commute in my tiny town.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cute Blood

I remember when I moved to Japan the first time and was brought to building with super cute cartoon characters everywhere and was a little startled and confused to realize that this place was not a toy store, candy shop or daycare but a bank. Where they expected me to put all of my yennies. I giggled. Nervously.

There is nothing that Japan can't or won't turn into a cute little character. It's everywhere, all day, everyday. Even when you donate blood. After March 11th last year (hard to believe it's already been almost a year), I braved the strict requirements and related paperwork and possibility of being told no and went and donated blood. I'd heard that some foreigners had tried and been unsuccessful, but it really wasn't too much of a problem (though it helped to read an English translation of the form before going and trying to fill out the Japanese one), and before I knew it, I was in a bloodmobile painted with the cute little blood donation character on the outside and some friendly folks who took my blood and oohed and ahhed at any little thing I said in Japanese and gave me rehydration drinks and a little snack.

Somehow I let 10 months pass before donating again on Saturday, but Kenketsu-chan was right there waiting. She has her own entire website (linked just right there on her name), and even if you can't read Japanese, it gives you and idea of the silliness I'm describing. Otherwise, there's just this quick shot from my phone on the way in.

7/366 - Kenketsu-chan, making blood donation super cute.
(Taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Instagram)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Party in a Tiny Town. With Aloe. And Yogurt.

I might have mentioned that there are four of us English-teaching foreigners here in town. Last night, that population was increased 5 fold (oh my gosh, I did math!). Or more. There were at least 20. Plus about 3 Japanese people. One of our group hosted a pie party to celebrate a new oven, and it was a great excuse for people to come all the way out here from their own tiny little towns and play drinking games eat pie. Most people have only toaster ovens here. I wound up buying a bigger one (let's don't get excited, it's still tiny and bakes about 5 cookies at a time) shortly after I arrived that, get this, is a toaster, a microwave and a legit-bake-me-a-cake oven all in one. It is weird putting a metal pan in what you used as a microwave to warm up your lunch a few hours ago. So, one of our group also bought one of these magical devices. It's identical to mine. That's because we have one DIY store close to us, and that's the only one they sell.

As will happen at a party, drinking happened. I wanted to take it easy and also get some fresh air, so I ran out to the Lawson's conbini (convenience store, way more convenient and with more edible food than back home) just down the road to get something little to drink. You can always count on Japan to provide weird drinks, candy and, well, everything, really, and yogurt as a flavor is fairly common. As is aloe yogurt (honestly, one of the reasons I wanted to come back to Japan - it's so good!). What I had not ever seen was an aloe yogurt cocktail with small bits of aloe in it. It was amazing!

6/366 - Aloe Yogurito. Because that's not unusual.
(Taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Instagram)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Haiku Friday - January 20th, 2012

Haiku Friday

Hello, my old friend!
Haiku*! (how) I have missed you!
Let's three-seven-five!

standing on friday
stretched out like a long hallway
my weekend awaits

5/366 - One last look back down the Very Many Windowed hallway of my school before the weekend
(Taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Instagram)
*Haiku is three syllables in Japanese. Two in English. So, take your pick.
(Also, it's well into Friday where I am, here in the future.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tools of the Trade

I'm not a real teacher. I play one in Japan. I teach at a public junior high school where there are three grades (called 1st, 2nd and 3rd but equivalent to 7th, 8th and 9th grades back home). I love teaching, and I do think that I really don't suck at it. At least not in this exact role, teaching English to Japanese students. Including the three years back in 1995-1998 that I did this same thing, I'm in my 6th year of doing this kind of teaching. Technically, I'm and Assistant Language Teacher. What this means varies considerably by school and then, too, by individual teachers within a school. In my case, thankfully, most of the Japanese Teachers of English with whom I teach give me free reign to do what I want and allow me to bring to life and practical use that which the students have been learning in our dry textbooks.

Textbook Tangent Start
A word about textbooks, while I'm bothering to talk shop. The ones my school uses are not nearly as bad as some I've seen, but I'm perplexed by some of the choices made in their creation. For example, my first years learn to say "I treasure..." (fairly advanced) before they learn "I can..." (super basic). By the third year, the textbook gets unnecessarily depressing. For example, the topics include, in very basic English (too basic, really, considering the depth of topic): landmines in Cambodia, starvation in Sudan, refugees in Kosovo, the plight of black Americans before the Civil Rights Movement. The way the textbook chooses to teach "could not..."? Can you guess? Here's a direct quote.
In those days, there were many things that African-Americans could not do. There were toilets that they could not use. There were seats on buses that they could not use.
I cringe every time we get to that chapter. On the one hand, yes, this is an effective use of the prescribed grammar pattern to express quite simply something very complex. On the other hand, this is English class. And this is sad and depressing, and I just don't understand the point of including it when there are a million other ways that don't suck any remaining joy out of learning English (joy that is already damn little for most at this stage of studying for high school entrance exams). If we are teaching American culture, let's absolutely cover this topic. If it's just a way to make a grammar point, it seems a bit heavy handed to me. Is all I'm saying.
Textbook Tangent End

I plan about 80% of my classes and lessons start to finish. I would love for this to be more like 100%. Today I found out that there are some things in the works that might bring me closer to this number. I'm not sure how much of it was a vote of confidence in the work they've seen me do and how much of it was just a vote of necessity, but I took it as the former and smiled about it. When I first heard about it, it was mid-class while the first year students were doing an activity I created for present perfect tense (X is Ying.) using character cards. They were goING nuts with it and smilING while speakING, you know, English. I was, too.

4/366 - Tools of the Trade
(Taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Photobucket)
Also, I laminated these. Laminating is my favorite hobby as a (kind of) teacher. I have only laminated about 2 things in the 2.5 years I've been here, but it made me warm and happy both times. If I could find a good enough reason to do it without it being an unnecessary waste, I would laminate the shit out of something every single day just to do it. And then put magnets on the back.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1, 340

I went to the hospital yesterday. Don't worry. It's a minor issue. There was a discussion and exam, and a test was done. I was in and out on my lunch break (OK, maybe plus 10 minutes). They gave me the bill, and it was all I could do not to laugh. And then hug and kiss everyone. I restrained myself and just smiled at them a lot instead so they knew I was hugging them on my insides (or just thought I had bigger problems). The bill was 1340 yen. At today's exchange rate, that's US $17.45.

Now, in fairness, I had an allergic reaction to the cure (not good times, my friends, is all I'll say). So I went back today. In and out on my lunch break again. The follow up was 570 yen. US $7.43. Again with the desire to hug and kiss folks.

3/366 - My Hospital Bill
(Taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Photobucket)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nah-bay, Bay-bee

One of the best things about winter in Japan (aside from the kotatsu, that fabulous table with a heater under it, covered with a quilt and somehow not the fire hazard one might expect) is 鍋物 (nabe-mono, or just nabe for short, pronounced nah-bay). The roughest translation I could give would be a hot pot of happiness and warmth and joy filled with broth and meat and veggies cooked on your table (usually at home, and bonus points if said table happens to be a kotatsu). You can grab out whatever yummy bits you want as you go and add some more along the way, so even whiny-assed somewhat picky eaters can join. If you really know how to nabe awesomely, you can put some ramen-style noodles in the broth at the end. Oh, it's good stuff.

There are a bazillion ways to make nabe with varying broths and ingredients (again, here will give you some idea). Just the broths alone, I've tried everything from soy milk to curry-ish to kimchi to tomato to soy sauce and a whole bunch in between, and I've never had any nabe that was anything less than fabulously filling and delicious and warming and full of happy.

Every winter (if it sounds familiar, it's because I shared this a couple winters ago as well) our wonderful little group of English-learners in town appears in one of our living rooms with with a hot pot, a table top stove (or a schmancy electric set version) and all the ingredients for a nabe party just for us. We look forward to it all year. Last night was the big night. I still feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Nabe is like getting a big warm hug from the inside when it's a cold winter night outside.

2/366 Nabe Party. Of Love. And Kimchi. 
(Taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Instagram)

Monday, January 16, 2012

In

It was SO nice to hear from my old bloggy pals in comments on my last post. Really. Thank you for keeping me in your reader or whatever other modern magic that led you to here shortly after I posted for the first time in half a year. I was surprised and touched and warmed.

Having dipped my toes in the water and finding it so warm, half of me wants to jump fully in. I miss how, when blogging regularly, it forced me to see my world differently and more fully. I noticed things that I otherwise wouldn't have because I was looking for pictures to take, looking for new ways of seeing the same thing to express it poetically in haiku format on Fridays, looking at life around me and stopping to contemplate Stuff. Looking. Not just wandering around with my eyes open so that I wouldn't walk into anything off of any cliff that may have appeared magically in front of me, but actively looking. Seeing vs looking. Hearing vs listening. Waking up with breath and a pulse vs living life and experiencing its heartbeat if I paid just enough attention.

What I don't want to do is find myself treading water, trying to force creativity that won't come, in order not to drown in some kind of blog universe failure. Feeling obligated to attempt to be witty or creative or even just boring but public on schedule can kind of negate all that happy heartbeat of experiencing life effect I get from blogging.

As with everything, for me, always, it comes back to balance.

I don't necessarily want to post only when the spirit breezes just right across my left ass cheek on a sunny afternoon because that might mean falling out of the habit entirely (again), but I don't want to be boxed in by inconvenient or claustrophobic rules.

I mention inconvenient rules specifically because now that I have a big girl camera (that I love but have barely started growing into), I don't carry it around all the places my beloved point-and-shoot used to go. It's with me usually, but not always (like when I just run down to the conbini for rice wrapped in bacon - yes, 7-11, only, though). I do, however, always have my iPhone (thank you all the gods in all the world for this gift), which is small and allows me to upload pretty much anytime, anywhere instead of plugging in a whole camera just to get one stinkin' picture to post every.single.day. So, what I'm getting at, is that if I were to do some kind of a 365/366/whatevs, I'd be most likely to be able to do it every day if it was a photo project. I can take a picture daily, whether I feel particularly creative or not. And. In that case, some of the pictures would not fall under the category of "look at me play with aperture (and other words I've only learned recently) and take 'real' pictures" but possibly sometimes more under the "hey, this was in front of me, so took its picture. maybe I played with it in Instagram, too" category.

(feeling the warm water reach approximately my navel, saying it's OK to gaze...)

It's my blog and (maybe) my 365/366 project. I guess I can do whatever the hell I want, whether I want to practice and learn to glide like a graceful swan or just splash around artlessly for my own amusement. What I really just want is to feel like this outlet is always open, reminding me to get my feet wet again, to taste the salt on my lips and to breathe it all in, even if I choose not to plunge in head first every day. I just want this to be here, especially because I hope for such inspired days. And, to that end...

(feeling the warm water reach approximately my neck)

Jen and Tara both said I should do it. So, I guess I'm in. On my own terms and starting with just what was in front of me on my desk, captured with my iPhone and toyed with in Instagram. We'll go from there. See you, um, guess that's tomorrow, then. And all year. Apparently. Whee?
Photobucket
1/366 - A Fairly Pink Desk Assortment in January

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hi Again

It's January 15th where I am. A quiet Sunday morning with a cup of coffee, and I find myself here where I haven't been since my last post on July 13th, already half a year for those who do math. I wound up in Google Reader yesterday for the first time in many months, and I got a little caught up on some of my favorite blogs (I was too out of the loop to comment, but if you are reading this and I know that you have a blog, there is a decent chance I know what's going on in your blog life, and you guys are beautiful, creative and awesome as ever). I was delighted that two of my favorites who last I knew had been separated have reunited their families and seem happy. I actually smiled. Then I started thinking about my life since the last time I posted anything here. So much has happened, and so much has stayed the same.
  • So, yes, as last post mentioned, I went home for a few weeks in July. First to Chicago where Tom finally met the family after nearly a decade, and I think it was a mutual love-fest. 
  • My brand new and scary Nikon D5100 dSLR camera was there to greet me along with Tom. I'm still very much a novice, and I haven't had a ton of time to truly learn to use it to it's potential, but I am loving it, and I do understand picture-taking stuff I didn't before I got it. I've only used the zoom lens that I bought with it in the package once. This year I hope to have used it, and appropriately, at least a few times.
  • Photobucket
    Me, Tom and my new camera toy at The Bean, Chicago, Summer 2011
  • My sweet orange baby kitty, the one you've seen in a million pictures here that came back to the States with me from Japan with me back in 1998, had been very sick before I came home. Long story short, while I was home we found out that he had cancer. Timing allowed me to be there to hold him and love on him for a few days and then say a very peaceful goodbye. I was amazed at how peaceful it was. As heartbroken as I was (and crying as I write this 6 months later), I am grateful for the day he wandered in my life, and I think we both felt well-loved, and that somehow made it oddly easier to say goodbye. It was time. We knew it. I will carry his whiskery little orangeness in my heart forever.
  • Photobucket
    Saying Goodbye to My Original Orange Kitten of Love, Summer 2011
  • A new JET year began at the end of July/start of August, and I hit the jackpot. There are four of us (two JET, two non-JET but basically similar) in my tiny town, and it has not always been hunky dory. We got some new folks that I LOVE and another that I LOVE but didn't get to spend nearly enough time with last year stayed on this year. The four of us get along famously, and it is truly a delight, the very thing I'd wished for from the start when it was lacking. 
  • Photobucket
    Looking out over my tiny town from the 3rd floor of my school at the start of a great new JET year
  • In September there are a whole bunch of days off right around each other that, if you fill in with a few vacation days, make for a really nice chunk of time off. Well, maybe only a week, but only at the cost of 3 vacation days. I went to Taiwan. It was truly amazing. I could easily live in Taipei, especially since so many people can speak Japanese, oddly. Time and again it happened that way, that Japanese was our best, most efficient medium of communication. And we'd all laugh when it went that way. Anyway, the amazing food, the awesome night markets, the friendly people, the big-city modern subway system filled with people who automatically give up their seat to someone who may need it more - all of this and more made me love Taipei.
  • Photobucket
    Taiwan in September 2011, a feast for all the senses
  • In December I took the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). It's changed since I took it a million years ago, so I took the same level again, Level 3, but this time it's a bit harder and renamed N3. I actually hardcore studied Japanese in preparation, something I hadn't done in years (studied anything, really). I felt prepared. On test day, at first much of it was really easy, making me feel like I would pass with flying colors, and then there was the reading and grammar section that may have annihilated me badly enough to fail the whole thing. Results come out in February, so we'll see. In either case, I plan to take N2 (the next hardest) this year. I've already started studying for the July test. While I can get by in my day to day life in Japan, it's a little embarrassing how broken my Japanese still is after so many collective years of living here (3 years many moons ago, and 2.5 yeas now, not counting the 4 years of supposed study in college, where, looking back and comparing to recent college grads, the last two years of it were a bullshit waste of money because we were not required to actually use any Japanese - it still shows).
  • In December, I also went home for Christmas for the first time in many years. Tom met me in Chicago. Then we went down to Tulsa. I packed up a bunch of my stuff for him to take with him when he moves up to Chicago this year in advance of me. That's the plan. Chicago next. At least for a few years, and we'll see from there. As much trash as I talk about Oklahoma (we don't see eye to eye on 99% of political/social issues dearest to my heart), it was sort of hard not to listen to country music while looking at that gorgeous Oklahoma-style sunset and romanticize the best parts of it. I can't go from here back to there, though. We know this. Still, any of you who were reading back in the day know how much our pit stop in Tulsa saved us by having a job for Tom when Portland didn't. We took a chance, a big leap, sending him there, then grandly reuniting there when I lost my job half a year before I'd move to Japan. Tulsa worked out for us and will always have a place in my heart.
  • Photobucket
    That amazing Tulsa sunset, January 2012.
    This is straight out of camera, in all it's glory. 
  • It's January. A new year. A time for resolutions and new starts. Most people have this conversation around the first of the month. It's halfway through it, and I'm just now getting around to thinking about it. From above, I know that I want to learn my camera better and find a reason to use the extra lens I bought with it. I want to take and possibly even attempt to pass the next level of that Japanese test. Tom and I plan to meet somewhere in May for Golden Week (last year, it was amazing Thailand), but we don't know where yet. In any case, I'd like to visit at least one country for the first time this year, ideally with my love. I debate whether I want to get all the way back into blogging and all that it ends up entailing. Part of me wants to because I do miss it, but I don't miss how consuming it can become. So, no promises, but I would like to not be such a stranger around here. We'll see.
To anyone still reading this, thank you for reading.