Wednesday, February 2, 2005


It feels like so much happens every day, it's hard to keep up. Not just with the blog -- with my life!

Yesterday we had our big snow of the year. Like Portland, OR, my last home, we generally get just one snow each year. The one yesterday closed my southern base and left my northern base dusted with the white stuff. It was beautiful, but I live on a steep, high hill and had some traumatic issues driving to work. My brakes locked several times while coming down into town and I thought I might just meet my Maker. Terrifying really. (What in the hell are breaks good for if they can give out?) The worst part was that I thought I was going to hit a group of Japanese people when it happened -- there were several standing along side of the road, each holding a tiny bucket full of (presumably) salt, and peacefully sprinkling it on the road, almost like it was a meditation. It's not the most effective way to do it, but it's the Japanese way to do it. After a few attempts, I made it to work ok, and then worked from home until noon today to avoid the early morning freeze. Today it's almost gone. Remember that post when I mentioned that Japanese homes don't have insulation? Yes. It's cold.

I am three weeks into my eight week Japanese I class (which I've taken 1 1/2 times before) and am finding it both fun and bothersome. It's hard to sit in class from 6:00 to 9:00 two nights a week after working such full days. It's exciting, though, when the light bulb goes on and I understand something my sensei says. Tonight I had to tell a story about a picture in the book. I said, "Tomorrow Biji-san is going to the bank with his friend, Sato-san." It was kind of a thrill. I am particularly bad at foreign languages (I've learned this after more than your average number of tries at more than your average number of languages) but I am really hoping to learn Japanese. If my nerves don't snap first, I'll finally make the move to Japanese II next term.

I have a new friend who lives near my house and we're going to get together tomorrow. She speaks a fair amount of English, which is really a bonus. I met her a week ago while I was skipping my Japanese class . . . (I really am trying -- it's just hard.)

Work is going OK. I've been doing great for about two months at keeping it in perspective, and right now it feels kind of out of control again. The company kinds of owns us over here -- I hear that a lot from ex-patriates of different companies -- so you end up getting jerked around a lot. Conference calls at 11:00 PM or 5:00 AM (because the stateside folks wouldn't want to stay past 5:00 PM, right?), out of town meetings coming up with no notice that require me to cancel my personal plans, a workload that requires a 60 to 80 hour work week to manage. It's not that bad all the time, and definitely worse for those at higher levels than myself, but it does take significant effort to not let the job gobble me up.

I'm preoccupied with moving. I haven't received approval yet from our home office, but I'm expecting it this week. I packed up almost everything last Sunday (when I get the approval, I think the process will go very fast, so I wanted to be prepared) so I'm living out of boxes. Isn't that fun? I'm really grateful that the new house is only 2 miles away. That will speed up the actual move.

That's not all that I've been up to, but that's all the time I have. Just now I was about one second away from posting a picture of the snow on the base. Yes, the secured US military base. Isn't that STUPID? Talk about getting voted off the island.

More soon!

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