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Tuesday, May 30

The Disgusting Post… or Important Instructions for the Facilities... You Decide

Please recall that I have not been there yet, but I am reading as many books as possible to prepare myself for what I will find in my new country. There is one thing I have repeatedly read about that disturbs me more than others. The toilets.

In every book or website, someone always has something to say about the toilets. At first, I rather scoffed at their descriptions. I actually felt a little surprised that they were making such a big deal out of this. And then… I saw a picture.

The fear took over. I mean, really… how does one keep their pants dry? Does one switch to full-time skirt usage perhaps? Or just launder a whole heck of a lot more?

The information provided in my most knowledgeable books describes the facility as basically a hole in the floor. Doesn’t sound so bad to someone that comes from the country of Jiffy Johns. You don’t touch those, I’m sure! Or any toilet for that matter! Let’s be honest… we all use our foot if there is lack of automatic flushing going on. So why would you want to touch a toilet there? And wouldn’t the lower bowl be much more helpful in not giving you Charlie horses when having to get your leg lifted into the origami positions that those small quarters only allow?

This weekend I came across some better information. Directions on the usage. Shouldn’t they hang those on the wall? Or perhaps make a folded purse size sample for you to carry along? I guess the Japanese are smarter than us as they just expect us to know what to do in there. But since we are not all that smart, I give you the directions for proper bodily drainage in the Japanese toilet:

Step 1. If you are at home, please remember to remove your house slippers and put on your toilet slippers. These come in many colorful, latex varieties! Handy, don’t you think? But what does one do in a public toilet with open-toed sandals? I hate to think.

Step 2. Don’t bother with a stall door because I am just not sure there is one. I really hope the holes aren’t too close to one another. I would really hate to be cheek-to-cheek with anyone I wasn’t on more than a first name basis with. It has been indicated that some places there are unisex facilities. Wh…wh…what?! How do you not catch a spray from the man next to you using a urinal? Try not to go at peak times? Onto step 2.


Step 4. Face the wall and squat. In some places, I hear there are even different colored tiles to show you were to place your feet so as not to get wet toes-ies.

Step 5. Business as usual! Hope you got some strong legs if you feel like taking your time. And please be careful not to miss. No one wants to stare at that after you have exited.

Step 6. TP. Oh wait… there is none! It’s totally a BYOTP kind of place. Be warned. I did read that there are some places that have TP vending machines. Please do not ask anyone if they can spare a square. I think in a society where politeness and proper behavior reign supreme, this could be considered in poor taste. I do suggest a large purse, ladies, to carry your own Charmin. And gentlemen, shall we debate the man purse?

Step 7. Flush. Use your slippered foot and press the handle down. I shouldn’t even have to go this far explaining this step.

Step 8. Pants up and you are on your way.

Don’t forget to wash your hands though! I hear that the Japanese have come a long way in the handling of their private business. One read described a water recycling toilet. “Handwashing water collects in tank, then is used to flush the toilet.” Now that is sanitary and compact, people, or what?! No time to use a sink? Use the toilet!

I have also read that there are new fancy commodes that have a variety of electronic buttons to use for freshening the bowl and yourself. Let’s all hope that the buttons include pretty pictures or there may be unpleasant surprises.

Please don’t forget to remove your toilet slippers and return your feet to your house slippers. You don’t want to be traipsing around your house in those nasty, little suckers.

Now that I have put the fear of God into those who plan on coming to visit, please rest assured that any home I choose will include Western style accommodations. We are way too American to not have sitable toilets. And satellite TV! I just want to prepare you as best as I can. Because… isn’t that what friends are for?

Wishing you much success in our future lavatory!

Monday, May 29

Who's Your Daddy?

Kimono Hubby and I went to a barbeque this weekend at a friend's house. The friend has a little 4-year-old boy. After we played with him for some time, the little boy went inside to tell his mommy that he really liked Karen's daddy. Poor Kimono Hubby.

Saturday, May 27

Destiny Calls for Another Goodbye

I have been blessed with finding someone with a sense of adventure that matches mine. A little over two years ago, we were married. But since the day we met, we have imagined and deliberated on the time when we could move to a new place together, or even a new country.

We have traveled to at least one new place a year. Some were in the United States and one was to Greece. In three and a half short years of being together, our list of trips is one that I would say is pretty decent. We have been to places that he has dreamed of and some that I have. When we don’t have the financing or the time to make a big trip, we explore the area we live in or where our parents live. Every new experience is something I treasure so completely. Even those that are just around the corner.

I have never been happier than when I am seeing and doing something new. Destiny, fate, luck… whatever you want to call it. Something draws me to these new places and experiences. When it calls, I have no will.

Years ago, I came on a trip to Virginia with some friends. We spent a great, fun-filled weekend in the area. After only three days of being here, on the drive home to Pennsylvania, I made the decision that I just had to move to Virginia. That it was some place new that I just had to try. Another instance where destiny had a hand and I could do nothing but to follow, if even a little blindly. It took me all of three weeks to quit my job, find a place to live, coordinate a roommate and get myself moved. What an amazing experience it has been.

As of July, I have been in the DC area for five years. When I came, I started at a company I worked with back home as their account representative. I had heard so many good things and the opportunity was one that I couldn’t miss. At the time I went in for my interview, it was my first time in their office. Anyone could see instantly, all those wonderful things their previous and current staff had told me existed in their everyday atmosphere. The presidents, the team, the office itself exuded the right amount of professionalism and welcoming. The office was laidback but extremely organized. The people, smart and savvy with their techniques. It was a well-maintained, small company where everyone feels accountable for their projects and the company’s success. It was creative. And I couldn’t wait to add to it. The people that worked there were well-respected. The company itself is well-revered in their field. It was just what I was looking for. I began two weeks after the initial interview and here I stayed for all those years.

Those people that I met so many years ago on that interview day, they are still bosses and colleagues. But they have also grown to be friends. I have shared up and downs with them. There was a lot of laughter. There were a lot of tears. Some were work and some were life in general. Through it all, they became more and more important to me. This job, the people that I had spent so much time in the last five years, had become a family to me. This was the first job that I felt like I truly had a place. It was the first time I felt that the people I worked with understood and accepted me for the person I was, both professionally and personally.

In the 15 years I have been someone’s employee, this was the first place I really liked and wanted to work hard for. The first job I felt sincerely good about.

When we were told we were moving in January, there was nothing else for me to do but go and tell my “family” the big news the minute I put the phone down. Most people would hold off on telling their employer that there we leaving the company until the very last minute. That was never an option for me. They knew how badly we wanted this move. To not share that one of our dreams was coming true was unfathomable.

February came and I gave them my official, written notice. My final day is July 14th. Some days it can’t come soon enough. Others, I wish it would never get here.

I know that every employee is replaceable. However, I am hoping that those people that I spend five days a week with know that it is so much more than the job that I am leaving. While I do love the job and know that it will be hard to find another like it in the future, it is the friends I have made in this place of business that saddens me to leave behind. I wish that they feel the same way about me.

The company will find a perfect replacement to sit in my chair and fill my office and complete my tasks. But I pray they don’t find another me. Because I am sure I will never find another them.

Friday, May 26

The Modern American Geisha

God knows I love the shopping. In fact, if you ask Kimono Hubby what my hobbies are, he would be hard pressed to come up with more than that one. She likes to spend money, he says. This is disheartening though. I am not that shallow. It isn't even about being shallow. It is more of a need for me. The new dirty word. A big old monkey on my back. And it is getting worse.

We found out we were moving in late January. We couldn't have been more excited! The research had done prior to picking Japan. We knew what was there for us to see and do and experience. We knew we would love it. Now all that was needed was the indepth information. Where to live, visit, eat and stay. And there was born another perfect excuse to go shopping... we must buy travel books! Lots of them! Off to Borders and over $100 later, we headed home with four books. All basically the same, all about Japan, all with generally the same tourist traps indicated. I scanned the stack and was done by the end of the day. This wasn't going to be enough. Must buy more, the little voice said. Two days later I find myself at Barnes and Noble. This time you really need to know about the culture, the little voice says. You don't want to be the American idiot that doesn't respect their customs or is oblivious to their traditions. I purchase another three books on culture. At home, I peruse the newest accumulations and again I am done by the end of the day. But how did they come to be like this? There must be books about their history that explain this better. Another trip to Borders. While we are here, we totally need this book on Japanese phrases. The voice is ever so persistent. And I return home, now with 2,000 glorious years of Japanese history in my little hands! Success is mine! Bah! These are so boring! I just can't be pleased. One week, hundreds spent, ten shiny, new books on my shelf and I couldn't care less.

Why the burning need always for more? I try to blame it on the area I live in. Everyone is so materialistic here in this city. I wasn't like this back home. Now, I need to keep up. I need more stuff. But if I am calling it stuff, is it still a need though? And is it really even the area I live in? Is this just my problem?

I have been teased about this need. And it doesn't even bother me. I do feel like I need when I don't. And I do try so hard to control myself. I avoid the mall for a whole month. And then one tiny whim hits me and I must go to the Gap. The Gap, people! Who needs the Gap? A place that sells the same clothes year after year? If you bought it once, you bought it 100 times! But the voice is still there. RIGHT NOW!, it says. Powerless against it, there I am on the same day that damn voice spoke up, buying more things I need.

Once I was at the beach with some friends. When you are with friends, there is always a need for shopping. That need is totally justifiable. I hear you. Don't argue with me! Anyway, we came across a store that sold some of the tackiest things we have ever laid eyes on. And yet one friend stands beside me and says, we totally need those shorts. They are green... and say "bootylicious"... on the ass... but, oh, yeah! We totally need these! And we run to the counter with the exquisite goods tightly squeezed into our hands.

I cannot tell you how many times I find myself in this situation. I do swear though that it rarely is a purchase of such blatant tackiness. *sigh* I do love those shorts though. Even with the booty not so licious anymore.

Lately the voice has one great excuse. You need it for Japan. Damn, girl. You be way too big to be fittin' in their clothes. Belly shirts and minis are not a good look for someone with all that junk in the trunk.

Who can argue with that?

Off to the mall, I go armed with my one and only preciousssss credit card. (Do I sound like Gollum?) I buy shirts and skirts and shoes! Oh the lovely shoes! I buy for Kimono Hubby because certainly he can't wear their clothes either. And he totally has needs too! He just doesn't know it.

No one could ever need while I am around to stop it.

But stop it must. Not now! I'm not strong enough yet. But when I get to Japan. I'm sure I can do it. What clothes can I possibly buy in a foreign country where the tallest people only come up to my boobs? Oohhh... won't you have a pretty new house to decorate? Gah! Shut up already voice!

And the vicious cycle continues. We all want a simple kind of life. But let's be honest. It is never going to happen again. Even the simple things need to be paid for with the biggest price tag. Am I even winning if my need may be simple but pricey?

I will find a way. I want to change. I want to be as simple as I can. And there is no better place than a land that is all about simplicity and inner calm! I should probably stay out of Tokyo though. Pray that my resolve doesn't crumble when the first sign of a 4-level mall comes into view. It is time to prove to my husband that there is more to me than the shopping. He knows it. He just forget sometimes. My job in my new home, my new land, will be to bring those other interests back to the foreground. It is time to shake this monkey.

Oh, but please don't fault me for one new purchase? Pretty please with sugar on top? I must have the coveted kimono! Purple and red with dragons on it! When you come to visit, I will arrive at the airport to pick you up, dressed in my beautiful garb, and I shall calmly bow to show my respect. And you will know that, with the calm aura that surrounds me, I have changed who I am. The shorts will still read "bootylicious" on the derriere and I will proudly sport them under my lovely new kimono. But I will have conquered the need, that old monkey. Because we all have the strength inside of us to be better people.

And then I will turn around... and I will moon you with the finest of grace. And you will know what it is to be the modern American geisha.

Thursday, May 25

I could have said this so much more eloquently... but it's a start

Happy Birthday to me! And let me just say that as a 15 minute old blogger, I have absolutely no idea what I am doing! It took me the afternoon just to write the profile! But I am here to learn. And to tell stories. Being that only maybe three of you reading this even know anything about online journaling, it's pretty safe to say that you won't notice if I screw up anyway. So on with the show!

My purpose... and I do have one. I'm moving to a land far, far away in less than two months. Japan. I shall be turning Japanese! But not in the naughty way that the song says. And really not turning Japanese because that is just not possible this far out of the womb. I digress. (You will notice I may do this often. Please forgive.) I will be living and breathing all things Japanese and yet I have only just touched on learning the many things that I will need to know about the culture, the people, the language. My plan here is to share with my family and friends all the ridiculousness that I will be involved in. You all know me and know this is true.

I would love to sit in front of the computer and write 50 emails a day to all of my lovely friends back home. No offense, but I just do not see this happening. First of all, I hate being on the computer. Second, I am moving to a foreign country y'all! What lame ass would sit on the computer all day?! I will be busy acting out of the poor, defenseless Japanese so I have stories to share. Third, I really hate the placement of our mouse at home. It gives me shoulder cramps to be on the computer more than 30 minutes because the clicky thing is just so darn high. Am such a sissy. And fourth, I actually will indeed have something called work to do despite what the husband has told you. I just no longer will be paid for it. Unemployed/Student status here I come!

So the plan is to write my little stories here. Because I like to write! If you want to read it, feel free. If you don't, I don't really care. Ok - I care a little but that is because I am uber sensitive. See told you I was a sissy. I just have always felt kind of icky deep, down inside sending group emails to friends. It's so impersonal! Especially if they really couldn't care less. (But then, do you call them friends?... hmm... quandary.) I just hate feeling like I am forcing myself on anyone. Online journaling seemed like the best alternative to not be so in your face. Please feel free to comment too! That's done with the little clicky thing in the bottom corner that says "Comments." Not being condescending, just helpful and hopeful. Please don't tell me I suck though. I know, I know. If you write online, you are opening yourself up and letting strangers into your world. So I guess anyone I don't know can tell me I suck. But if anyone I know tells me anything of the sort, I will beat their ass. Oh, yes! I will. I know where you live and I will still be able to get you. Even if only for two months. After that, I guess you can say whatever the h-e-double hockey sticks you want. If anyone Japanese says anything about me though, watch out! I could totally take you! I'm totally bad ass! Yeah! Okay, okay... I kid! Am very scared. Please don't hurt me or I will have to scratch you like the girly girl I am.

The disgressing!

That is the plan, people. Hope you like it! Hope you read it! And I really don't care if you don't! *sniff*