Once Upon a Tanbo

Archive for March 2008

Hey all!!

I am now back in Japan!! It was a fast week back home.
I can’t believe how quickly the time flew by!! But I was able to pretty much get in everything that I wanted to do!

I definatly helped to contribute to the American economy with my spending. I bought so many things!!
I spent maybe 500 on clothes (hit up a lot of sales) and about 150 on various food items! I came over with only one suitcase but returned with the suitcase, a duffel bag AND a box full of goodies. Thank goodness Ryohei ditched class to help me home from the airport.. i’m not sure that I would have made it without him!! (I had about 50 kilos worth of luggage all together) but now my pantry is stocked with cookie, brownie, and muffin mix. Instant mashed potatoes (Ryoheis fave), Rice a roni, Tuna and Hamburger Helper etc. I also brought home 30 flour tortillas which I am currently freezing for later. I got various other things as well oatmeal ( I love the peaches and cream and strawberry and cream kinds so I bought a box of each), Hersheys Hugs! (love them!), International Flavors cafe mixes (Aztec Cocoa, French Vanilla Cafe and Chai Latte) I also picked up dried mixes for Hummus, Falafal, and Refried Beans. So When I feel the urge for middle eastern or mexican food later on I can make them.

While in America I had so many different types of foods.. Vietnamese, Mexican, Traditional Home cooking, etc.. I didn’t get to have Greek food which was a disapointment but I had Rubios Fish Tacos twice… (probably only a California thing, but absolutely delicious)

Anyways seeing Ryohei was great. I gave him a big hug and lots and lots of cuddles. His tests are so soon.. actually we’ve started to realize that unless he gets specifically the Niigata Prefectural office we may not end up in Niigata. The other 4 tests he is taking will be within the Kanto area which includes Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Tokyo, Nagano etc… so if he gets a position with those we may end up in a different place than we expected. Personally I wouldn’t want to live in Tokyo but I wouldn’t mind somewhere like Chiba or Gunma… seems like most of the people I’m meeting these days are from Kanto anyways so I’m sure it wouldn’t be lonely there.. hmm… well I hope Ryohei passes and gets placed wherever we are supposed to end up! I’m really really looking forward to not being the only worker in the household.. espicially after my shopping last week. hehe..

Well, I’ve got some chicken marinating in a homemade teriyaki sauce.. off to attempt to cook it in the broiler!! (my first time!!)

I need to catch up on reading all my blogs!!!!!


In America

Posted on: March 22, 2008

Well, I just took two Tylenol PM so I’m praying that tonight I will be going to bed at a resonable hour. For some reason, I’m still on Japan time, thus I slept my normal schedule of 11pm to 6am… however translated into California time, that equals 7am – 2pm or so. Not very helpful for planning long day trips, such as the one I am making tommorrow to see some of my friends in the OC.

I got in on Weds. evening California time and have been having a pretty great vacation so far. Today we hit the mall and I must have spent about 500 dollars on various clothes mostly som springy/summery skirts, a few wrap tops, ballet neck tops, a pair of jeans, a pair of work pants, and some new bras at victorias secret. I still need shoes and underware and pajamas. I have a little more spending money so hopefully this can be accomplished.

I’m also buying food items, in particular Ryoheis beloved instant mashed potatoes and my beloved bagged cookie dough mix which i try to bake (with varying degrees of success) in my microwave oven.

I guess being in Japan so long I forgot about all the variety of things you can get here and its overwhelming to be faced with what deodarent or toothpaste or even cookie mix i want to bring home knowing it will be months before I can get a replacement.

Of course, I’m missing Ryohei a lot. This is the first time since we moved in together 3 months ago that we’ve spent this long apart. (I think I spent the night at Anas once after he came) so its been really lonely sleeping alone espicially in the spare rooms queen sized bed.

Of course my wonderful cat, Misty is here. She usually sleeps with my mom and stepdad but shes been coming in with me to sleep every night since I got here. In fact if I try to sleep alone shell come and scratch on the door until I open it up. But shes getting old anyways.. shes 13 now so I don’t know how much time we have left so I’m getting all the cuddles I can.

So do I miss Japan, well.. I guess yes I do. Ryohei and my apartment and job and life are all there. But given the convience and variety that America provides not to meantion being able to fit into clothes that are not the biggest size!!! (pleased to see that despite a little weight gain i’m still around the same size!! one not found in japan hahah) I missed clothes shopping ALOT. Its just not as fun when you know its not going to look really great on you.

I went to all my old favorite stores, Banana Republic, New York and Company, Express, Victoria’s Secret and my moms favorite Kohls (which is somewhat discount shopping but I got 4 tops and about 8 skirts plus a new wallet and some socks for less than 250 dollars so I’m happy!) I can’t wait to have new clothes for work!

Besides shopping I really haven’t done much but this weekend should be busy.. like I said I’m going up to the OC tommorrow to see some old friends from when I was back in high school! Sunday we are having a huge family Easter dinner here, Monday I’m going out with my Dad, and Tuesday is my last day to shop and pack before I head back to Japan Wednesday morning!!!

Anyways thats about it! I miss Ryohei soo much. I wish he was here with me. He still hasn’t met my family so it would be nice to introduce them. But yah I miss him! I got him a gorgeous blue cashmere sweater from Banana Republic (his favorite!) so I can’t wait to see his reaction!!

Well my bags are packed and I really am ready to go…

Yes I am off to America for a scant week or so after over a year and a half of being in Japan. My suitcase is incredibly light with about 2 days worth of clothes (I intend to go on a buying spree once I am there..) as well as presents for my family. But thats it! Took me all of 30 minutes to complete.

Sadly Ryohei will not be going with me this time, he has classes that he can’t miss, but we have decided to both go back in December together. Imagine that, being able to go back twice in less than a year?!

I am really excited about going back, obviously I need new clothes. When I took a look in my closet while I was packing I was just so disheartened. I go through phases where I just need new things to wear, and while some Japanese clothes are ok, they just don’t tend to fit as well as I would like them to, and they definitly not nice enough for work.

It doesn’t help I’ve gained probably between 3-5 kilo (haven’t weighed myself.. ) in the past 2-3 months which I am going to attribute to the cold, my desk job, and starting of oral contraceptives.. don’t even let me get started on how big my chest has become (not in the good way) But yah, so I decided (as I do every spring) that I need to do some body matinence once I come back in April. To be honest, my diet isn’t too bad.. although truthfully I do have a love of sweets, but it can be oppressed. Its just the lack of exercize which kills me. So I have decided to invest in my first piece of exercize equipment and buy a stationary bike once I get back from America. I was considering join the gym, but I know (from experience) that I won’t keep it up after the 2-3rd week, but if I have a piece of equipment in my own house where its just sitting their looking at me I know I will do it. Add in the fact I can watch tv and do it, and that will help me. I don’t need to lose like 20 – 30 kilos.. it would just be nice to get down 10 or so like I was last year. I really think that for the most part, my job as an English teacher was much more active – standing and walking around during classes, walking around the school on my free periods, and playing with the kids and lunch and now my office job means just sit sit sit… last time I had an office job I gained a ton of weight as well.. ;(

Anyways – moving on from that topic..

I’m going to America soon!!!! I just hope that I’m not like I WANT TO STAY HERE… thats one of my biggest fears. Right now I’m ok with living in Japan, I just hope a trip to America is not going to disrupt the nice balance that I’ve found here. At this point between friends going home, wanting new clothes, and just waiting for my trip in general.. America is seeming like a better and better option, but at this point with Ryohei it just isn’t a long term one. I’m not sure how much one week will do to ease my fears that a life forever in Japan will be ok.

But in any case new clothes and lots of yummy food.. (I’m not even thinking about dieting on my trip home!) are a lot to look forward too!!!

I’ll try and get in a post during my trip!!!

Wrote this yesterday but didn’t get around to posting it til today! I think its all still relevant!

So here I am at work again today…
Mondays I am usually somewhat busy and have things to do, but today (Tuesday) I’ve completed pretty much everything I have to do and its still not time for lunch. I think that I’m just antsy because its only a week before I will be flying back to America for my vacation.

I just need a change of pace for a little bit. I’m so tired of working, I think sometimes I just need a break. If I had more stuff to do it would be better, honestly I should be studying but since passing 1kyuu I just haven’t felt in the mood for it. As a result my Japanese has gotten worse. It really is just like normal muscle, if you don’t use it for a while it starts to atrophy. Of course I use Japanese at work and home everyday, but its always the same stuff. I just get in a pattern of the same things over and over again. At least if I’m studying I introduce myself to new words. Actually, I do have a paperback novel here that I feel like I could read, but its almost too much effort. I really need to kick my butt in gear though. I think sometimes that I will just suck up the language by living her, but I know that without some effort from my side, I will never achieve the level of fluency that I want. (ok so I’m done rambling about Japanese, since its so boring!)

Anyways, I had a really nice weekend. On Saturday, I met up with Mandy and baby Toshi along with two other girls who live in Osaka who are also married to Japanese men and have young children. One of them is Amimomi who I met through one of my favorite forums and the other was through a similar group on facebook.

It funny how I was just feeling so sad and lonely last week, and then I was able to meet a couple really cool new people. We met up in Nishinomiya to have an Indian lunch, we had to wait about 45 minutes to get seated, but once in the restaurant was very accommodating especially since we had 2 infants and a toddler with us. We had planned to go to a park after lunch, but it turned out to be too far of a walk so we ended up having coffee at Starbucks for an hour or so. After that we all went our separate ways, with Mandy and I headed back to Kobe and the two other girls going off to Osaka. We are all relatively young (our ages ranged between 23 and 29) so it was refreshing to meet some more people my age in the area. By a random coincidence, all of their husbands had the same name (but different kanji)! Being the only one who didn’t have a baby wasn’t as ackward as I thought it would be. In fact, it was kind of nice to be able to give them a hug and play with them, but not have to change diapers or deal with crying or crankiness. I was so occupied that I missed my BCP by two hours though, hopefully there won’t be any repercussions from that. (yikes)

But yah it was a lot of fun! Even though it was the first time meeting for all of us (except me and Mandy) I think we got along really well and we’re hoping to meet monthly or bi-monthly.

Ryohei had another practice exam on Sunday. He was 9 points away from passing the exam (he got his score back already) so he was pretty disappointed, but I reminded him that he’s only been studying for about 2 months and still hasn’t covered the material so I said that was very impressive!! He’s trying for 6 or 7 different types of jobs, with all the tests being spread through the months of June, July, and August. He’s trying for the Niigata Prefectural Office, the Kanto District Court Offices, National Government ranks 1 and 2, Tax Collection Office, his hometowns city hall, and possibly a grassroots type association in Niigata.

In particular he’d like to work for the Niigata Prefectural Office or the Courts office. In particular the Courts office is very family friendly and has one of the earliest return times of all government positions so I would really be greatful if he could secure a position there. The first round tests are still about 2-3 months away, but the time is moving so fast that the will be here in no time. I think we are both praying that he passes this year, although we have some options open for the future.

If Ryohei doesn’t pass this year, I am still contracted to my job, so he will continue to study and probably work part time and try for the next years tests. (You find out results in August but don’t start until April of the next year) If he passes for the 4/2010 start work we will be going to live with my parents in America from 8/2009 for about 6 months so that he can pick up some English and so I can get my drivers license and have a little more time to at home and spend with my grandparents etc. If Ryohei doesn’t pass either year, I am suggesting that we relocate to America for a few years since I think there are more possibilities for us as a career wise and family wise there. However, I am very confident that he will pass at least next year if not this year, so it will probably not come to that.

Anyways, I know its far off, but I like to plan in advance… (not sure if it’s a good or bad point of mine)

Theres the bell!
Yay its lunch time! Signing off!!


Posted on: March 11, 2008

I wrote a nice long post today at work but I forgot to mail it so no posts for tonight!! I’ll try and upload it tomorrow.

One more week until my American vacation!!

Ryoheis computer broke so we can’t upload pictures to there anymore so I uploaded all his pics to my computer.
I’ll post a couple interesting ones from my photo library!!

Me at age 4months?

Me at age 5

A picture from Ryohei and my anniversary

Ryohei with long hair before I knew him in college

On the town with Ana

With Mandy’s baby Toshi who obviously wants out!

I feel like today is going to be one of those “vent” type days for me. I have been feeling so tired lately. In a way its good as all of the days of doing the same thing over and over are blending together, but in a way its depressing.

I’m hitting what in probably the first really hard thing about staying in Japan and that is that pretty much everyone I have made friends with in the first 2 years I’ve lived in Kobe is leaving and will be gone before the end of summer. In particular, next month my best friend from my first year (who I had a falling out with about a year ago but in the last few months have patched up our relationship) and my best friend from my second year here will both be leaving within a matter of weeks of each other. The other friends I have are all 2nd year JETs who will be moving on to bigger and better things when their contracts are done this summer. In my “original plan” I would have been going home then as well.

Not that I feel like people should be staying here because I am. It just feels so lonely to think that all of them will be moving on with their lives while I stay behind here. Obviously some of us will try and stay in touch, but besides my friend Ana, I don’t think that there will be enough of a bond to keep in lasting contact once they leave Japan. For me, it just seems so hard to stay in touch, especially if we had little in common besides being in the same country at the same time. Other friends, who’ve connected with based on hobbies, views, or just unexplainable chemistry are easier to stay in touch with, but to be honest with an exception or two, I just haven’t really found that here.

I think I’m a little jealous too. Its not in my future plans anymore but of course part of me wants to go home a well. Although I haven’t come across some of the discrimination and issues my friends have, I miss being able to eat my favorite foods, buy clothes that fit my curvy body type, and take in the sights and culture of living in America. I miss the informal feeling when meeting people and not having to worry about the sempai/kohai relationship, or committing other cross-cultural no nos. But, at this point, it doesn’t look like I’ll ever be able to “live” in America again. Ryohei, although he doesn’t mind visiting, has shown little to no interest in pursuing a life in America. He wants to live in or as close as he can, to his home town and raise our children in the countryside of Japan.

He’s had to make some sacrifices as well, back last year when I told him I hated the salaryman life he was pursuing in Tokyo and that I couldn’t deal with his 16 hour days and his irritability as well as the distance, he quit. He tried to find a way to make us both happy, although it’s a very difficult path, he’s shelled out a lot of money for his schooling and he studies about 10 hours a day for his tests, if he passes he will have a stable, decent paying job with 20 days of vacation a year that you can actually take and his work hours will be 9-5:30 without overtime.

But yesterday when I went to coffee with some JET girlfriends who are leaving and they asked me things like “Why don’t you take Ryohei back to America?” and “Are you really ok with living here your whole life?” and “You should be speaking to Ryohei in English more so that he can learn it.” It’s so frustrating… even if I try to explain it’s like they can’t comprehend why I’m doing things the way that I am. It seems like every one I know is headed on to their next stage of life and I’m just stuck. I don’t want to be in Kobe for the next year and a half… I really want to move on as well. But that doesn’t depend on me anymore. I have to stay here because of my work because at this point I won’t be able to find a better deal that will will give me translating/interpreting experience as well as a decent salary and vacation package. I think about moving all the time, I think about how much I want to start a family and spend time outdoors and being active instead of gaining weigh by sitting on my patoot all day in an office. I’m greatful that I came to Kobe because this was how I found Ryohei but it is not where I want to spend the rest of my life.

My life isn’t all bad of course, besides feeling stuck and lonely I do have one happy thing, being with Ryohei is great. I am so happy that of all the people in the world that we ended up together. I’m feeling so blue lately but just being with him makes me feel complete. Maybe he’s the reason I feel like I can stay here, I wouldn’t ever want to give him up.

But I’m bored and there isn’t going to be a change coming for a while. Watching as everyone else takes off from the sidelines doesn’t feel so great. I’m trying to meet people who are in the same position as me, people who weren’t born here but have decided to stay here and raise their families here… maybe that’s why I feel an affinity with fellow bloggers Lulu and Nay who like me within the next year or 2 will be married and starting their new lives in Japan. Actually I enjoy reading all my favorite blogs (see right) they are all women with a lot of courage and spunk and reading their various stories encourages me when I sit at work with nothing to do except cross the days off my calendar as I wait for July 2009.

Note: I wrote this post while at work today feeling sad and gloomy, now that I’ve had some time to come home and breathe in the fresh air I feel a lot better. I also saw Ryohei after work and we talked a little bit about how I’m feeling. Anyways its the weekend! Time to pass out for about 48 hours!


Posted on: March 5, 2008

So I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for my next installment.
Maybe not?

Anyways I’m back in the same old groove, but busier. I’ll be leaving for America in two weeks, and everyone at work has been loading up the assignments so that my regular work load has been doubled. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I’ve been feeling really exhausted after work. Not only that, but 3 days next week I will be out of the office traveling with foreign groups that are visiting the city. I actually enjoy this type of work. I enjoy working with tourists and visitors so I wonder in the future when we move to Niigata if I would be able to work at some of the ski resorts nearby helping out foreign customers. I like making sure people are having a good time and I enjoy helping out, plus I don’t really want to be sitting on my butt all day like I do now.

I go through periods of watching Japanese and English TV, at this point I’ve been sucked into the exciting world of Project Runway and I am devouring season 3 via streamed tv websites. However I still try to make time for some of my favorites. Some people don’t seem to like Japanese tv in particular, but I have a few shows that I try to watch every week.

The three that I currently am “into” are Megane no Antenna, Quiz Hexagon 2, and Kenmin no Himitsu. Megami no antenna (on at 7pm on Mondays) polls womens opinions various topics such as “Things your children have said that make you happy”, “What sort of issues do you have with your husband” etc. It’s just interesting to get into the mind of the Japanese woman and see how much I personally agree or disagree with them. Maybe if I ever make any Japanese housewife friends, this will be the show to talk about. Quiz Hexagon 2 is Wednesday at 7. I enjoy this show for its cast of loveable idiots and brainy people. Its pretty famous and the one with all the celebs sitting in the three rows of colored seats answering various trivia questions. Most of the time I don’t know the answer as well, as it will pertain to Japanese kanji or history but occasionally with world trivia and English questions I will know the answer and gloat to myself as the contestants struggle to answer. haha.. Actually I’m a fan of quiz shows in general! On Thursdays at 9 is Kenmin no Himitsu, or secrets of the various prefectures. This is a recent show, it’s only been going on about 3 months. The premise is that it gathers a group of celebrities, each representing one of the prefectures of Japan, and introduces customs, words, and foods found specifically in a certain prefecture or region. I really enjoy learning about the different places in Japan and the show has a humorous format which makes me laugh a lot. So many shows focus on just going around Tokyo or other well known spots. I’ve always been a fan of shows that focus on the inaka.

One thing that I wish I could have seen was the Okusama ha Gaikokujin show. My last house didn’t the channel it was on, and it ended about a month before I moved into my new house. There doesn’t seem to be any place or watch or download it. As I know some of the people who read are foreign wives, is there anyway/place to find old eps? I’d be curious to see what it was like. Better yet, has anyone you know been on it? Hehe…

Anyways I’ve digressed.. and I doubt your here to listen to me babble about tv shows. So, yes married life is good!! Just about the same as engaged life, not too much has changed. We now have our fancy marriage certificate hanging on our wall. They butchered my name in it sadly. Usually as a foreigner we get a nice (dot) between our first and last name but on this its just a comma.. Plus they added my middle name to my first name. So where as my name is/was バーチ・サラ before, its バーチ、サラルイズ on my marriage certificate. Yuck, not cute at all. Anyways I shouldn’t be complaining.. but still I wonder if even in 40 or 50 years from now I will look at it and cringe like I do now. Even though I would
like my children to have middle names I don’t think we will be putting them on the birth certificate otherwise it will end up something like 小林 佳允ブレンドン on all their documents to come.. Of course on their American passport I want to put something like (Kain/Kyne?) Brendon Kobayashi. Yes, its still too early to think about kids, but if all goes well… maybe in a year from now. Ryohei and I have had names that we’ve liked since around the first month or two since we started dating, yes we talked about stuff like kids even then. But then again my mom knew that if she had a daughter she wanted to name her Sarah years before she even met my dad.

Gah.. digressing again! Sorry!
Anyways things are going really well! On Friday night, I felt a little nervous up inside.. I think that without the whole shabang of a big ceremony, it really just feels like another day, but the responsibility is a lot greater. Up until Friday I could have just left, gone home had
no ties here.. but that’s all changed now. It feels a little embarrassing, but since making it official, I feel this whole new wave of love for Ryohei, it’s so weird. I find myself just gazing at him and just feeling a lot more peaceful. I wonder if it’s just a honeymoon feeling, but I feel really happy in our decision to get married a little earlier than we had originally planned.

Also, having made it official, I feel much much more inclined to start planning for our wedding in the future. Today I started researching venues back in San Diego, I don’t want a huge ceremony but a reception with my family and friends from high school and college suddenly sounds really appealing. I’ll be going over details with my mom when I’m home next week.

Anyways, thats about it for me!! Long and sort of rambly update! This week and next week are going to be so busy.. and then after that its a week and a half of vacation!!
I can’t wait to get new clothes and eat lots of yummy bad for you goodies!!!