Once Upon a Tanbo

Archive for October 2008

Today Ryohei and I went on a date for our 2 year Anniversary to Kobe’s Nunobiki Herb Garden! It was a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend it as a datespot/day trip for anyone in the area!

I actually got to take off a day of work and got free entry/discounts on food since I am worker for the city. It was such a good deal! (And it was nice to take off a Wednesday!)

We slept in and left the house around 11:30pm it only took about 30 minutes by train to get to Shinkobe Station where the cable cars to go the park take off. We rode a 10 minute cable car with an awesome view of Kobe! When we first got there I wanted to go shopping at the gift shop but Ryohei INISTED we had to eat because he was starving. So we went to the special Herb Garden Buffet. It was absolutely delicious. All fresh vegetables and meats flavored with herbs freshly picked from the garden. They even had herb sherbert!! I like the lavender and rose hips one while Ryohei liked the basil and lemongrass ones!! There was also a wonder kabocha with cinnamon and parsley which I will try to create (most likely unsuccessfully) at home later on.

After stuffing ourselves with good for you and yummy food, we went to the gift shop to do a little shopping. I really wanted to buy some potted herbs to take home with me, but we don’t get a lot of light in the apartment and winter is coming up, so we’ve decided to wait until we get settled in Niigata. I am looking forward to having a few pots of basil, rosemary, thyme, fennel, sage etc for cooking in the future!

We end up getting yummy smelling stuff. I got a small pot of jasmine perfume. It smells just like blooming night Jasmine and I love it! Ryohei was obbsessed with everything yuzu and got a citrusy hand lotion.

After that we walked around the herb garden and took our time checking out all the herbs and just enjoying the beautiful day. Since it was a weekday there weren’t many people there which was really nice. Just a few older folks and one or two young couples with kids.

We then went to a spice grinding exhibit – it was really fun! I really want to get a mortar and pestal and ground some of my own spices. It will give me something to do on the cold days of winter in Niigata (lol)

Even though we had only eaten a few hours earlier we stumbled upon a small cafe – with scones!!! And cheap too! We got a plate with two small sized scones with berry jam and cream for only 300 yen. After reading all of Gaijin Wife’s posts about scones I had been craving them and we decided to split it! It was Ryohei’s first time to try them but it seems that he enjoyed them too so hopefully when we get our oven I will make some and we will have a proper tea time!

After our short break we strolled around some more and found a grassy knoll to sit on. And it was the first time in so long… it made me feel really nostalgic for my days as a kid growing up and going to parks back home. It was really beautiful though.

Anyways it was a really nice date! I’d love to go back again some time!
Of course I took pictures!

If you are interested here is my album from facebook – its public access so just click on the link and check it out!!

Piccies!

Ok.. so seeing the slur of deliciousness and recipies that all the friends on my blogrole are posting I thought I might as well jump in the fray.

To be honest I’m really not that great of a cook… but I am trying to get better! And tonight I really wanted a nice bowl of vegetable soup!! I haven’t made soup ever and i based my recipie after one I found online and it turned out really nicely. I would have liked to simmer it longer but Ryohei was about to die of hunger. Next time I make it, I’ll try to do it on a weekend when I don’t have to worry about a hungry husband coming home lol.

Vegetable Soup

1/2 medium onion minced
1 can diced tomatos
2 stalks celery
1 medium potato
1 carrot
1 zuchini
2 handfuls of spinich leaves
50g packet of mixed beans (optional)
75g chopped bacon (optional)
about 4 cups water
1 block connsume soup mix (or boullion)
2 teapons minced garlic (i just use the pre chopped stuff)
Italian herbs and spices
Salt&Pepper
Olive oil
Parmesian Cheese (which I didn’t have 😦 )

Directions

Saute garlic, onions and bacon in olive oil on low to medium heat
When the onions are transparent(ish) add in the diced tomatos and heat over low for 2-3 minutes
Add in all other vegetables except spinach and add water and heat to boil
Add consumme block
Add other spices, salt and pepper to your liking
After coming to a boil simmer until all the vegetables have become soft
(I did this for about 45 minutes, but I would have liked to do it for at least another half hour to get more flavor)
Add sliced spinach and stir
Simmer for another 10-15 minutes
Serve with crusty bread if available!

This was honestly a delicious dinner and I felt we got quite a good serving of various vegetables! Ryohei asked me if I would make it again which is usually the sign that he likes it lol!

I love soup in winter and I like getting a good serving of vegetables so I am more than happy to oblidge!

Relationships interest me. I think that I am insatiably curious about people and how they work – it would explain the degree in psychology which currently has no other use except to buffer my resume.

Anyways, I’m veering off… usually when I feel comfortable enough with a friend to ask a semi-personal question I will ask how they met their partner. I think I’ve written in this blog about how I met Ryohei, but I’m not sure if I talked about the connection that we had right off the bat, if that makes any sense. I’m glad that we did though, because maybe the day after I met him, I recognized he was going to be an important person in my life (although just HOW important I may not have realized at the time) and I replayed that meeting him with him over enough times that despite the passing time I have some pretty clear memories of it.

I met him at a time in a life when I was quite… free… I suppose you could say. Before coming to Japan I had just gotten out of a long and complicated on and off relationship, and let me say that releasing me in that state on the unsuspecting young men of Japan may have not been such a great idea. (lol) I think at one point before I met Ryohei I had lined up dates with 5 or 6 guys in as many days. Not that they were “dates” just going out with various guys I had met at clubs or sitting next to my table at a café, or on the street… (ahem) Anyways, all of these guys were disappointing in one way or another. Although most were cute and some were fun to talk to, none of them really left me with much of an impression and I don’t think I saw most of them more than once. But to be honest, I don’t think I was particularly looking for a serious relationship (and none of them got past 1st base btw) so when I met Ryohei (friend of a friend) I wasn’t really expecting anything to be different.

But of course, it was. It wasn’t that it was instant fireworks the moment that we saw each other. I was in my suit since it had been culture festival day at my school (I was working as a teacher then) and not presentable and he was hung over from a night out of drinking before. We had emailed before we met, but there was no flirting or anything, pretty much just I’m meeting up with some friends want to come?

So we ended up going to the little okonomiyaki restaurant near my house. (I had been the one who invited him when a guy I seriously had been lusting after cancelled on me last minute) It was four of us, my other American friend and a mutual Japanese friend of ours. He vaguely knew OF me from our mutual friend, but we hadn’t met before and he hadn’t met the two other girls. BUT in true Ryohei form he was friendly, polite (he offered my friend his jacket when she was cold) and he made me laugh. He lived over an hour from me and I remember trying to think of ways to make him miss the last try home so that he wouldn’t have to leave so soon. And we ended up going to karaoke with… this random (loud) guy.. and then somewhere it came down to the three of us (me, random man, and Ryohei) all spending the night at my friends house – she lived about 2 mins from me but my place was an absolute mess and there was no way I would have boys come over. (one of the reasons some of the previous guys were stalled at first – lol)

But I was still in my damned suit, so I ran home for a quick shower first and when I had changed into my pajamas and brought a blanket with me to her house she was siddled up next to Ryohei on the couch and I felt jealousy twinges. I was absolutely not interested in the other guy, and neither was she so he ended up realizing there wasn’t any play going for him and fell asleep on the floor while Ryohei sat sandwiched between my friend and I on the couch while we put on some movie… I think he was totally freaked out because he had his hands in lap and was barely moving lol. I guess I can’t blame him – we were speaking all English and she obviously was slightly interested in him and… I, well I just fought the urge to put my head on the shoulder of a guy I just barely met (I’m not very touchy with people I don’t know (when sober) so this should have been my first sign, d’oh!).

Finally – the movie ended and she went to bed in her room, leaving Ryohei and I alone in the living room (with sleeping random guy). Obviously, nothing happened. We went to the separate couches and said good night. Poor Ryohei had some commitment the next morning so he had to leave super early and I of course would sleep through everything. He also tells me now that when he said good night to me he really wanted to give me a kiss on the forehead. (aww) I had wanted to kiss him too… but it just seemed too sudden and too soon.

The next day, I went back to my usual business… I had a “double date” that night with the friend from the night before and we ended up in a private karaoke box liquored up and playing the “Ousama (King) Game” – where you pretty much can make anyone do anything with the other players, with two very tall, attractive men. So there was a lot of… “action” going on, but the whole time I was thinking that I had been happier last night with average looking, average sized nice guy Ryohei. So after taking the last train home, I drunk mailed him with “I’m drunk” (sigh- not one of my prouder moments) Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve drunk mailed guys before, but usually it just ended with a mail back usually with the kind of context that I would not write on here and that usually got a big ignore from me. I am/was not an (ahem) seeking physical gratification girl as much as a seeking emotional gratification one.

Anyways I figured that Ryohei would send the same type of mail and I’d see him for his “true colors” and wash my hands of it. I was incredibly surprised to hear my phone ring instead. He actually called me because he was so concerned. And we talked for at least 2 hours that night… and the next and the next and so on. We had agreed to meet up the next Saturday in Osaka to eat dinner but then slowly with each phone call it grew into an all day date at the Osaka Aquarium which then led to an all night of dancing/ him worrying about me and renting an all night karaoke booth just so that I could sleep off my alcoholic haze to a morning of him taking me (very hungover) the 2 hours back from Southern Osaka to my apartment on the first train of the day.

Through the hazy memories of that morning, I realized how happy and lucky I was to have him there with me. From that day forward, I don’t think there has been a day that has passed when we haven’t had some sort communication with each other. Even when we found out less than 6 weeks after we started dating that he would go to Tokyo, we still kept up our relationship. After me swearing up and down before I would never ever do LD again. And then when his job in Tokyo was hell on earth, he listened to me and bit down the last fragments of his Japanese man pride and quit his company to come and live with me and study for the komuin exams…

And now he’s landed his dream job despite the doubts of his parents, friends, and ex-coworkers, and he’s landed me – the demanding but hopefully amusing American girl that gives him crap about stupid things but is excited as a puppy whenever he comes home from work at night.

So many of my friends tell me that I’ve got a great catch and I believe them. Yah, there are days when I would like to have him sleeping on the couch… or maybe even the street… but the days where he makes me smile and laugh outnumber them so much more. I try not to think too hard of the future, I know that our relationship is still young and despite some trials we’ve passed already there will probably be even more to navigate in the future. But, I think we bring out the best in each other and he is my family. The best one I’ve got.

(I want this feeling to be written down and out there for the days when I wonder why the heck I got myself into this kokusai kekkon business in the first place.)

Happy Anniversary to us.

So I was just minding my own business yesterday when a huge BEE flew in through the window. I live on the 4th floor so I figured opening the small window without the screen wouldn’t be a huge issue. (oh was i wrong)
It was HUGE about the size of half my pinky finger so of course I was freaking out. You should have seen me in Nays house running away from a fricken fly!!

Of course my apartment is only one room – so that meant I had to get out… after I watched it from the genkan for about an hour wishing so brave man who would kill if for me would walk by. (My own brave man was at work – grr)

After none came by and my nerves were shot, I just decided to wait it out until Ryohei got home from work. So that I did.. I walked around my neighborhood for about… 4 hours. And when Ryohei finally got back, the FUC*** was gone… I don’t know if it found its way out the window or is making a nest somewhere in one of my closets.. but I sure didn’t sleep well last night.

Well at least we have a huge can of bug killing spray now in the case it or any of its kind decides to return!

Oh – and that window is staying permanently shut from now on. And in our new apartment every window is having a screen!!!!

Ohhh I HATE BUGS!! especially stingy/bitey ones!! ;_;

Having a good cry and some thoughtful reproach later, I’ve decided to get in one more post before the end of the night.

Reading my last one, I realize that perhaps it was just a little too much and that I shouldn’t be asking people’s opinions if hearing them was going to effect me so much. So, for the time being, I think I am going to refrain from that type of post and just stick to the usual random updates on life (as boring as that may be)

As usual having Ryohei here helped, he was suffering from an upset tummy all night but he still took the time to talk with me about some of the things I wrote about in the last post. I love that guy so much. He does little things that amuse me so much, for example I told him to pick us up some pudding from the store on the way home and he never emailed back. When he showed up without a bag I was a little surprised, but I soon knew what was going on. He had stuck them in his work bag, he thought he was soooo clever playing dumb, but I know how his mind works. lol Still it gave me a good chuckle.

I haven’t been having as much inaka hate lately. I guess I haven’t written much about it, but there are slowly things that I am looking forward to, and realizing that just because I live in the inaka, doesn’t mean I am alone. I have to credit my weekend with Nay for helping a lot and going to her “inaka” and seeing her and Naoki so happy. Despite just reading blogs, I feel like there is a strong and supportive network out there and that there are people I can go to, both online and in person for a variety of issues.

Ryohei and i have been looking and cars and apartments and all sorts of fun things, and I am looking forward to picking out furnature and appliances etc! I feel like I was so negative all last month, and it had so much influence over all my thinking. I’m feeling so much more postive and strong now.

Yes, there are still insecurities… things I worry about and things I fear. I think I’ve been a control freak on my life too long and I just need to let go. This will be the year when that process starts.

At least I picked the best person to do it with, if I start to fall apart I know Ryohei will be there to catch me and that makes me the luckiest girl in the world.

I am really trying to decide what to do about my contract. I’ve written about it here before, but I think I’m just going to write out the pros and cons and ask you lovely readers what you think. To be honest I keep flip-flopping back and forth because there are a lot of factors at work.

Leaving my work 4 months early

PROS
– Ryohei and I do not have to separate, we can go straight to living in Nagaoka together
– I will finally be able to leave my job, which is pretty much a waste of time and be able to work part-time (English teaching – I’ve gotten two offers already) since I really need a break
– I will be out of my current apartment (broken apart/bad AC etc)
I will be not working full time so doing things like exercise and cooking healthy meals will be more possible
– I can finally get/start using an oven (this is a big deal lol)
CONS
– Obviously, I won’t be getting my salary any more. I don’t want to talk money too much but I am pretty good at savings so it – would be forgoing quite a bit of money which could be helpful in the future (~4,000 dollars or so)
– I will have to clean and get rid of all the stuff in my apartment which has had people constantly living in it for the past 15 years (If I stay I can just pass it on to my successor next summer)
– I will only have a little over 1.5 years of translation experience to put on my resume.

Staying through summer

PROS
– Ability to save quite a bit of money before moving up to Niigata
– Ryohei can live and commute from his parents house for the first 3-4 months or so we can save up to live in a slightly nicer apartment/ buy slightly nicer fridge/washer than we could afford that just moving up straight away.
– Will have 2 years of translation experience and 1kyuu, so perhaps getting (technical) freelance translation work will be easier*
– I will probably lose weight because I tend to eat less when I live alone (This always happens)
CONS
– Living alone after over a year of living together will be very difficult.
– If we get pregnant in the next couple months, I will have to spend part of my pregnancy alone. **
– No AC when it starts getting hot.
– Work drains my soul and no Ryohei to kiss me and make me laugh after a bad day

*Notes*

* If I DO end up getting some sort of big literary translation project or two, this obviously will be less of a problem. In fact I’d probably be much more for quitting since I would have a supplementary income coming in. For the most part a lot of the literary stuff once you get your foot in the door with one publication its easier to get work, although the pay isn’t as good as technical. (Technical translation is more difficult, but it pays well and there is always a market for it. MOST agencies I’ve seen want you to have at least 2-3 years experience. Sometimes in the area you want to specialize in… Probably the closest to what I do would be law/environmental translation but I would need to start reading specialized books/dictionaries to gain more vocabulary and understanding. And to be honest – I’m not sure if I am ready to delve fully into that world since I want a break from all that at the moment)

** In the case that I am incredibly fertile and fall pregnant in the next month, I would be due before my contract ends. In which case I would probably work here (as much as possible) until my maternity leave before going up to Niigata. There are a couple issues with this, but I will think about them more IF that situation arises.

There are a few random things but pretty much it works out to being apart from Ryohei or making more money (both in the present and possibly in the future). It’s a really difficult choice. I get so lonely, and I don’t have a lot of friends in Kobe so I know that most of my time will be spent by myself… but the money I can save just for working 4 extra months would be really helpful in various ways once I did move up.

There is just too much going on and I don’t know where to turn…Ryohei is fine with both choices so its really up to me. I just wish I knew which would be better. I feel weird putting all this out there, but sometimes I get so caught up in stuff and need a little perspective. Is being apart for 4 months worth the extra money? What would you do?

Well I finally had some time to sit down and actually write about my trip to Shizuoka! There won’t be any pictures in this post but the one below it and Nay’s post have plenty if you care to see!

Saturday – Had a nice relaxed Saturday morning packing and getting ready for my trip. I made sure to leave with plenty of time since I really did not want to miss my shinkansen. I love riding in them and I have only gotten to do it 2-3 times the whole time I’ve ever lived in Japan! I arrived at Kakegawa Station around lunch time and Nay was waiting there in the station to take me to her house! From the first moment we started talking I knew we would get along well! Not that I really had any doubts, I think that when you read about a persons life pretty much everyday you have a good idea if you will get along or not! (Or maybe that’s just me) She also introduced me to Naoki who was a little shy at first! (Very different from my talkative and trying to crack jokes Ryohei)

We had a little lunch and then went to the beach by Nay’s house! It was soooo gorgeous. Unfortunately I wasn’t wearing very appropriate beach clothes and ended up being soaked! But it was a lot of fun and I felt like a little kid again! Digging for clams and feeling the salty sea breeze. I was reminded so much of my childhood in California. I’m so jealous of Nay since she lives 5(!) minutes from that beautiful sandy beach. After the beach we went back to rest up and chat. After that we went out for Tonkatsu! It was very yummy! I really enjoy tonkatsu but try not to eat it too often since its not the best thing… but yum! I love all the little extras that came with it as well… pickles, freshly steamed rice, miso soup, and cabbage!

When we got back we had the infamous scrabble match, Naoki started out very strong. It is QUITE embarrassing to be crushed by a non-native speaker! And then I had a strong stint in the middle, and finally at the end Nay pulled out some great moves! But alas, I took the lead on the very last play of the game. Oh by the way… Naoki was TRASH TALKING me during the first half (ok… and maybe I was doing a little back as well) It was so hilarious! Because he would be like “Oh if I used those letters I would have gotten xx points more than you!” He had seemed so soft spoken at first, I guess that game brought out the true Naoki! He was very funny!

Sunday

We knew that Sunday was going to be a long day! We planned to have a BBQ at this little place by a river about 45 min. or so from where Nay and Naoki lived. Naoki’s friends also came. Not sure if people know this but Naoki went to school in Nagaoka (where we are moving) and so he and his friend (also went to Nagaoka) tried to tell me some of the good parts of living there…. Which were pretty much… “we had fun driving in the mountains” and “the sake is good” Not much help since I can’t drive and I don’t drink often (especially not since I’m trying to get preggers!) The BBQ was great! We had so much food! Too much actually! We didn’t even get to all of the meat so I guess that its still sitting in Nay’s freezer as I speak. We also played badminton! It was so much fun! I tried to find a set at our local 100 yen shop but couldn’t! I may have to try and find another shop. I really want to be more active and it was fun to play badminton – not to mention that just from 15 mins or so of playing my butt was killing me the next day!

After the BBQ we went back to the apartment and relaxed for the next few hours. Nay and I talked a lot, and at one point I was “mysteriously” made to go inside one of the rooms for 5 minutes while Naoki came home from a “mysterious” shopping trip. (lol) After that we had Nabe!! Naoki’s friends came back so the 5 of us had a huge nabe and watched Nay and Naoki’s wedding video! (aww) It was a really beautiful wedding! Even though I wasn’t able to make it, I really felt like I was there and Naoki’s speech to Nay at the reception made me all teary! By the way… the highlight was the zoom in “kiss the bride” moment which Naoki’s friend wanted to watch more than once! (haha)

Around 8:30 or so we called up Lulu on Skype! It was the first time we ever talked as a threesome and it was so fun! I love those girls they are so crazy. Actually I felt kind of bad because Nay and I both want to have children relatively soon so we were talking about that a lot and I hope we didn’t add unwanted pressure!! (sorry, L!) But anyways we were all laughing and having fun! It really is so great to find people of about the same age and same stage of life. The three of us have just seemed to really click since we all found each others blogs!

After our call, they had a little birthday party for me complete with a delicious chocolate cake!! I was so “surprised” and happy! Nay also gave me a couple books/magazines = English language reading material!! It was really a great, but tiring day! I slept like a baby that night!

Monday

After how crazy things were the day before, we decided to take Monday easy. REALLY easy. Pretty much I was in my pajama’s most of the morning just talking to Nay. We talked about a lot of things through out the weekend. A lot of them involved our families (back home etc) and our thoughts on living and bringing up (bilingual) children in Japan. We have a lot of the same apprehensions and a few different ones. But it was really great to have someone to talk about that with. A lot of my friends already have children so I’ve gotten to see them in action, but there are still so many things I don’t know. Knowing that Nay and I are going to start trying for our first babies around the same time is really comforting! Both in the fact that we will be going through the same things at the same time, and in the future we hope our children will be close. Actually, I’m a little embarrassed to admit it but I bought my first baby “thing” while I was there. I found a soft and cozy Totoro (I love Totoro!!) blanket at Nay’s near by store and although a little pricy – I knew I really wanted it! I’m not a huge fan of most of the “baby themes” common here in Japan – Baby Mickey/
Mickey/Minnie, Winnie the Pooh, Hello Kitty, Anpanman etc… but I do love Totoro/ Studio Ghibli stuff! Its really expensive, but I’d love to have a few pieces!

After I bought my blanket we picked up some omiyage (sweet cakes) for Ryohei and drove past Kakegawa Castle on the way to train! Ryohei likes Japanese history/castles etc so when we both go to visit we will have to go in and check it out!

Anyways I had an uneventful ride back to Kobe and I was so happy to see Ryohei who had dinner waiting for me when I got home!! He is the best! So it was a wonderful weekend, good friends and fun!

I really loved both Nay and Naoki! You can really see how in love they are – yappari newlyweds tte ii na! Its always interesting seeing the dynamic in relationships, especially international ones, but I think that they a really special wonderful couple, and I’m glad to know both of them!

Its only a month and a half or so before we can meet up again! Yay!!