Tall Girl in a Small Country

or, how to feel like an amazon, just by moving halfway around the world

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"Happy Clappy" a kids show (I think it comes on Kids Station).  Despite being surrounded by Engish, it still retains its charm for me thus far.

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Mid-underway blues

We’re a little over a month into this underway (Navy-speak for deployment of ships).  It’s been a long month. 

I think the fact that the school year wrapped up right around the time my husband’s ship pulled out made things harder.  During the last month and a half of the school year, I was subbing at a special-ed parapro at the middle school on-base.  At first I didn’t know if I would want to stay with it, but the kids won me over (despite some of them being frustratingly apathetic).  I’m hoping to go back to the position as a permanent hire in the fall, but I won’t know anything until August.  Until then, I feel like I’m just killing time…

It’ could definitely be worse.  At least out here the small ships don’t have big long 6 month + deployments.  The trade-off?  They’re constantly in and out.  I have to say goodbye all the time.  In the 9 or 10 months that we’ve been out here, they’ve left about 9 or 10 times. 

I think the most frustrating part is that it’s always an ”expect me when you see me” goodbye (because it’s always easy for me to think of my life in sci-fi/fantasy terms.  Not that I think of my husband as Gandolf and myself as Frodo, because that would be odd; obviously he’d have to be Samwise if I’m Frodo, but that’s not the point here).  We usually have a general idea of when he’ll be back, but their schedule is constantly in flux.  There have also been several times when they had to go with less than 24 hrs notice.  Most of these were only a few days long (they’ve had to leave port for typhoon avoidance twice, both of which fucked up 3 day weekends they sailors were supposed to get), but the day after the big Kanto earthquake the hubs got a call circa 930 telling him that liberty was set to expire at 1600 that day, when they’ve had originally been set to leave several days later.  Due to the voluntary departure, I didn’t get to see him again until I returned from the states at the end of April. 

This underway has been harder than the last few because he’s cranking (working in the mess hall).  It’s especially rough on him, because he’s had enough time on the ship that he had finally started to feel like he’d found his place in his work center, and like he was starting to feel competent in his job.  Then, after about 9 months on the ship, they sudden tell him he’ll be in the mess hall for 3 months, washing dishes and really not thinking too much.  The shift in gear from working on complicated radar systems to kitchen bitch duty has been rough.  Also, the hours they work them while underway are completely absurd.  He has to be up by 4 or 5 am, then sometimes doesn’t get done til 11 or 12 pm, meaning he has barely had time to sleep, much less sit down and read/write emails. 

My husband is worth all the frustration, the loneliness, the general bullshit.  He really is.  But, that doesn’t make it suck any less when he isn’t here.  So, for now, I wait, and hope they get back sooner rather than later. 

Filed under navy

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From Milspouse Fill-in #48 @ Wife of a Sailor, since I’m trying to actually blog with some sort of regularity, and would like to reflect on my existence as a mil spouse.

1.  Does your Significant Other read your blog? Why is this a good or a bad thing? submitted by Mrs. Alana’s Miscellany

Honestly, at this point, I think one of my friends back in the States is the only person reading this blog (my own fault - I never built up much steam posting).  I think I’ve mentioned off-handedly to the husband that I was trying to blog, but he barely has time to read the emails I send him while he’s underway (not too much longer…).  I don’t think it would be a bad thing if he read my blog; it might give him more insight into life on the other side. 

2.  What is one item in your house that holds the most sentimental value and why?submitted by The Albrecht Squad

I still hold dear the cat (I know, most people cherished teddy bears, but my stuffed animal companion is a cat) my maternal grandmother gave her to me when I was about 3 or 4 years old.  Soon after, my g-ma passed away, so my cat has definitely served as a reminder of her.  “Kitty” (because like most 4 year olds, I was really creative at naming) has survived being dragged around, thrown in the dryer, and all sorts of other abuse over the 23+ years since I got her.

3.  When it comes to water fun in the summer do you prefer the beach, the pool, a lake, or the sprinklers? submitted by The Turvo Times

Ideally, it would be a lake.  I grew up a 5 minute drive from a TVA-made lake, where we would swim nearly everyday, from Memorial day to Labor day.  I’ve yet to find any lakes/swimming holes here in Kanagawa, and I’m not too fond of swimming in the ocean (salt water, jellyfish, the small possibility of encountering sharks, paranoia). 

4.  What is the one special thing that you do for yourself to get you through the first week of a deployment/separation?  submitted by A Creed and a Psalm

I buy way too many sweets (daifuku for dinner?  sure!).  I have an insane sweet tooth, especially for Japanese sweets.  If I had a place where I could scream and not startle the neighbors, I’d probably do that too, but no such luck.

5.  What is your biggest guilty pleasure website? submitted by Christine’s Little Blog

Regretsy is pretty damn amazing.  It makes me laugh really loudly (probably to the annoyance of my neighbors) on a regular basis, even though sometimes it makes me feel dickish that I laugh so hard at it.  I also love Cake Wrecks

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Note to self - check expiration dates on food before ingesting

I really have to get better at cleaning out my fridge.  Day before yesterday I picked up some side dish-type food at the grocery (pre-cooked edamame, inari sushi, and steamed kabocha squash).  I only ate half of the serving of kabocha, then went to put it in the fridge.  At this point, I noticed there was another half-eaten container of kabocha.  I should have thrown it out immediately, but I though “oh, I’ll know the difference.  I’ll remember to eat the kabocha on the bottom shelf, whatever.” 

I was wrong.

So, yesterday evening I finally decided to eat some dinner-type food (lately the hot weather makes me want to eat a lot less).  I saw kabocha in the fridge, got it out, and ate it cold (I think steamed kabocha is really yummy cold).  It tasted fine, didn’t look furry.  Only when I opened the fridge to get out some kale did I see the other container, which had the current day’s date on it.  I immediately fished the plastic container from the kabocha I’d just eaten out of the trash.  The date on it - 6/29/11 (well, “11/6/29” since date is year, month, day here in Japan). 

I talked to my former Navy corpman friend, who told me not to freak out and make myself vomit.  I would probably be 100% fine.  About half a day later, my stomach has started feeling really wonky, and I almost threw up in my mouth just before I was going to leave the house for power yoga.  Instead of working out like I was planning, I’m sitting on my couch, feeling pretty shitty. 

So, my advice (this is mostly to myself, for later when I start to get lazy about cleaning out the fridge again) - when you see rather expired food, throw it out right then!  I fear I may have ruined kabocha for myself, all because I was too lazy to take a sec and throw the old-ass squash out. 

Filed under food stupidity

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I’m still here…

…well, to be more accurate, I left the country for a month, but I have been back for a while.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m a military wife (these words still feel kind of odd to type, but it really is a big chunk of my identity at this point).  After the earthquake and the worries about the nuclear plants at Fukushima (which is approximately 200 miles NE of Yokosuka), the US military allowed dependents to go back to the States while they assessed the situation. 

I honestly wasn’t jazzed about the idea of just up and leaving Japan for an unknown amount of time, because at that point no one knew when we’d be coming back.  I didn’t feel really worried about the radiation, especially since the main concern was radioactive iodine; as someone who has been on thyroid hormone replacement for about 10 years now, I know that I could have my thyroid removed and would have no change in my quality of life (they might have to adjust my dose, but that happens occasionally anyway, so it’s really not a big deal to me).  At that time, my husband’s ship was away, helping with relief efforts in the Fukushima/Sendai area.  He wanted me to go back to the States so he wouldn’t have to worry.  I don’t blame him, since his chain of command told the sailors that they were sending their own families home, and were generally taking a “better safe than sorry” stance.  So, about 2 weeks after the quake, myself and my cat boarded the plane for the US.

Being back in the States was so bizarre.  I think the fact that I hadn’t planned the trip back was a big factor in having such culture shock.  The first thing that occured to me when I got off the plane was that it was very strange hearing announcements made in English.  I’ve managed to get very used to hearing anything that comes out of a loudspeaking in Japanese, trying to pick out words here and there.  Annoyingly, a few days after I arrived back in the States, the husband’s ship pulled in to Yokosuka.  He and I get to spend so little time together as it is, so feeling like there is time that I *could* be spending with him if I had only stayed back in Japan was really kind of a bummer. 

On the other hand, I did get to visit with my family and friends.  I’ve missed everyone so much, and I managed to see most of the people I wanted to (sorry to those I missed, but I was sharing a car w/ my dear mother-in-law).  Most people wanted to talk about the situation in Japan, so it meant a lot of reassuring folks that the Navy was closely monitoring the situation and only did the departure “out of an abundance of caution” or whatever the phrase was we kept hearing. 

When I was back I also ate way too much food.  My pal Die and I hit up Green Sprout, an amazing vegetarian chinese restaurant in Atlanta, which really made me miss living in the land of way more easily acquired vegetarian/vegan foodstuffs.  I took advantage of being able to buy veganaise, and tried Daiya, a new (to me, at least) melty vegan cheese (for sale at Kroger in Dalton, GA, of all places).  My little bro is going veggie, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, so I took him to a vegan restaurant up in Chattanooga.  Sluggo’s North Vegetarian Cafe is pretty great, by the by, and I plan to stop by next time I’m on that side of the globe.  Since coming back, I’ve stopped eating seafood (it just skeezes me out), and I’ve been eating vegan at home.  Maybe one day I’ll get good enough at Japanese to explain what I do and don’t want to eat, but for now when we eat out I’m okay as long as I can just not eat any meat/seafood. 

After a month of waiting to hear something, the Dept of Defense decided it was safe to head back to Japan (something I had suspected for some time, since my husband and all the other property of the Govt. had been allowed to be on land for a good chunk of time, enjoying the cherry blossoms without me, much to my chagrin).  It was a mad rush to get back.  They issued tickets, which I had to have changed at the last minute (I was only about 24 hour out from the time I was scheduled to leave out).  The  travel office seemed keep on using American Airlines…guess they got a good deal…which meant I couldn’t fly on any one flight for more than 12 hours at a time (a bizarre rule for traveling with pets).  Since I was flying out of Atlanta, and American Airlines doesn’t service ATL to Los Angeles (this seems insane to me - Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the US, but I guess that’s mostly Delta traffic), my itinerary was ATL -> Dallas/Fort Worth -> (having to run to catch my flight at) LAX -> Narita, meaning Kat and I spend approx 24 hours in transit, from the time we left my mother-in-law’s place in Dalton at 3 am, to the train ride back to Shonan Takatori at circa 6 pm the next day (all the time people wanting to look at the “kawaii nyanko” - cute kitty).  Despite the harrowing trip back, it was a relief to be back in my house, with my silly husband.