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Monday, August 17

The Bullets of our Summer

It has been the perfect summer so far. Busy… but not too busy. Hot… but not too hot. In honor of this perfect summer, I have been very lax about updating. The funny thing is that, for once, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about that.

There’s been a lot going on. Much of it was actually quite noteworthy and deserves more attention than I plan on giving it now. It’s a gorgeous day out. The baby is taking his afternoon nap. In the essence of continuing to enjoy my summer, this will be an update strictly by bullet point.

  • We spent the early weeks of the summer traveling back to the states. First Massachusetts to visit Kimono Hubby’s family and friends and then on Pennsylvania to visit mine. We spent roughly a month stateside, the longest we have been able to experience American normalcy in over three years now, and it still seemed like the usual one week trip. It just goes too fast. In MA, there was both the fun stuff: met our niece, went to her baptism, hung out with friends at old favorite restaurants, shopped (oh God, how I shopped.), visited Quincy Market and the North End with our friends Lisa and Kyle whom we met in Japan but had since moved to Germany, saw normal Fourth of July fireworks on the New England coastline, visited the Children’s Museum in Providence. Then the not so fun stuff: dentist appointments for KH and myself (it had been more years than I care to reveal) and an appointment for a missing immunization for KP at the Naval Clinic in Newport.

  • On to Pennsylvania, where the fun stuff began immediately with one of my very best friend’s wedding. The rehearsal dinner was at a local pub, brunch at the kind of diner I miss so much, the wedding at an old mill where the bride had chosen one of the most flattering bridesmaid’s dresses I have ever worn. (And I’ve been in nine weddings, ten if you count my own, so I have a good handle on bridesmaid fashion.) More fun stuff: a party where all of our closest friends came from miles around to converge on my parent’s house, more shopping (seriously… oh God, the shopping), more favorite locales visited with friends and family, and a long weekend trip with my immediate family to Ocean City, Maryland. We all used to go every year, but for obvious reasons it has been again over three years since we last made a trip. Three extra grandkids have been added to the mix since our last trip. Somehow we still managed to go to our past favorites like Brass Balls Salon, Mug and Mallet for crabs and beer and Seacrets for de Pain in de Ass. Not to mention, it was my baby’s first time in the Atlantic. He ate plenty of sand, washed down with loads of sea water. It’s really hard to teach a baby not to eat the freaking sand. Who knew? We also had some not so fun stuff there too: a vet appointment for our other baby, Bruiser, who seems to be living high on the hill. He’s gained a few pounds in my parent’s care and was even more fun than usual to drug and take to the veterinarians. Yes, you have to drug him or there would be another bloody, wet, furry scene like at his last appointment. No, I am not exaggerating. I can’t even go back to that vet out of absolute embarrassment. Sadly, my parent’s cockatiel Janice Joplin had gotten sick right before we came so we had to find a special bird vet and spent many hours driving there and back nursing her back to health. Sadly, JJ ended up passing away a few weeks after we returned home. But despite sick animals and our own medical quirks, everything was just too perfect and ended all too quickly.

  • Since we returned home, there is the fun but boring stuff that I wouldn’t bother writing about… lunches with friends and a pool date. Of which, there will be only one because with only two hours at the pool and most of it under an umbrella and wearing sunscreen, I still ended up getting sun poisoning complete with nausea and fever and itching that has been left ever since. Stupid sun. We now are content to wait for the afternoon, when the sun hits the other side of our house, where KP is content to spend forever playing in the baby pool and I can sit there with my feet cooling at the same time.

  • Then there was the big news (literally) for KH. While I am not at liberty to talk about his work on this forum, he was asked to be interviewed by Fox for a show called Backstage Pass. It’s the Entertainment Tonight of Japan. My dear husband is no stranger to the Japanese media, but this was quite an honor. It was a full day even that began early on the morning of Friendship Day on Yokosuka Base. On this day, the Navy opens up the gates to the Japanese public to visit designated ships and to enjoy many entertainment festivities and American food. They go wild for the pizza and it ain’t even the good kind. KP and I got up early to watch the man of the house in action. We had no idea how big the interview was going to be until the film crew and the hosts arrived. The Japanese certainly knew who these two gorgeous women were though. They flocked to be around them! KP and I only left because we had late lunch plans with some friends, who were in town for the week, followed directly by dinner and drink plans with other friends. The whole crew was just so wonderful and friendly. We were told repeatedly that we would be hooked up from here on out with invitations to the big movie premiers in Tokyo. Can’t wait! Most importantly… it just never ceases to amaze me how awesome my husband is not only at home, but at work where he is truly valued, appreciated and respected.

  • I also got to see my first retirement ceremony for a naval officer. One of my dear friends in Ikebana International has been enjoying their second tour in Japan and had come upon that revered day of his career when he gets to say his official farewells. His speech, the CO of the base’s speech, the passing and honoring of the flag, the Colors… all of it brought me to tears. This is the kind of event that KH gets to go to often, but I would never have had the opportunity without having become friends with this amazing woman. I’m so happy for both and them and so proud of their serve and sacrifice for our great country.

  • In the midst of all of this, I turned another year older and closer to dead. While I can’t seem to get KH to honor the whole concept of a “birthday week,” he and some Japanese friends made sure it was a perfect weekend. For Saturday, my friends took me to a bakery style restaurant where we feasted on multiple courses, made even more special by the next-to-last course of Kobe beef. They treated me to a unique Ikebana artful container made of wood and pottery, of which I can’t even begin to tell them how much I will truly treasure. For Sunday, I spent the day hanging out with my boys at home, made complete with gifts of an uncut peridot necklace from KP, a wooden and glass Japanese candle container from KH, and a divine strawberry and white cream Japanese cake. I was willing to make dinner, but at KH’s insistence, we ended up at my favorite Thai Erawan in Yokosuka where I ordered way too many dishes, but it didn’t stop either of us from near licking those plates clean.

  • Then there was the Bon Dance Festival at the Shinmei Shrine here in Zushi. We walked over, hiked the steps to the shrine where a ring of Japanese and even a few American dancers in kimono circled a high stage crowned with a man playing Japanese drums. We would later meet the first player, a grandfather who proudly told us that the next drummer up was his own grandson. We left the festival gifted with bags of snacks and more good (continuing really) impressions of our Japanese hosts. My only sadness on this night was that I had left the camera on the table at home and didn’t get a single picture of this hot summer night scene.

  • We do not live on base, but we are obviously associated with the Yokosuka Naval Base. Typically, my only visits there are when I need American goods from the Commissary or Navy Exchange, but on one particular night, the base didn’t something I haven’t seen in all my time here… they got one fantastic and currently relevant bands to come and put on a completely free concert for the sailors and their families. The All-American Rejects put on one fantastic show! I’m not sure that they knew what they were in for, however. Many people brought their young kids, making the scene way more family than fan-based. References to drinking and partying, along with the numerous swear words that flew from their mouths, was not entirely appreciated by all of the audience. I tend to be of the thought though that the parents should have known better and not that the rock stars should be something other than who they are. I believe that events like these are essentially for the sailors, and not as focused on their dependents. Unfortunately, most of the big ships happened to be out to sea and missed the concert. Nonetheless, it was wonderful to hear GOOD, live music again and get a little taste of stateside normalcy that is so often craved. I personally thought their comments were stinking hilarious.

  • The beach bars are back up and obviously have been for some time now. Last night, we waited for the late afternoon sun to come out before making our way down. It turned out to be yet another perfect night in a long summer of perfect nights. We dined on curry and ramen, washed down with chu-hi, while the sun filled the sky with the fiery colors of evening. In the distance, Mount Fuji made a glorious appearance for a full beach of revelers.

I felt like Fuji-san came out just to show us how quickly the summer was fading away from us. While the heat will remain here much longer than it would back home, the Japanese live by the calendar and not the outside temperature. Soon they will be again wrapping themselves in scarves, coats and hats. This is probably my last summer here in Japan. There is just so much to say about that. But for now, I’m going to get back to enjoying the day, leaving these many mixed feelings whirling in my heart for another day.