It's not purple. It's lavender!

So all this Visa nonsense has gotten complicated. I'll have to wait until my arrival in Japan to get my work Visa, and just go on a tourist Visa (on which you can stay for up to 90 days). The problem is that immigration in Japan didn't get my COE completed in time, but I'll have it in hand when I get there, I believe.

Anyway, none of this is a big deal, happens all the time. The only problem is going there on a tourist Visa on a one-way flight...typically the airline won't let you do it. They're afraid immigration in Japan will deny you and make you turn straight around, which usually happens on the airline's dime. So, as a precaution my employer informed me that I should buy a one way ticket to Seoul within 90 days (which I won't use) and MIL will reimburse me. So I've been all over the internet trying to find a ticket to Seoul from Narita for under $300. I think I got it, but boy, it's been hectic. I can't wait til we go into Tokyo after I arrive and change my Visa status so I don't have to worry about this crap.

Anyway, boooring. I have so much to do this weekend. I stupidly waited to buy travel compression bags and I won't get them til Monday. So I have to do this really funny thing where I lay everything out but have to wait til Monday to actually pack the clothes in. Ug.

I've barely started actually packing. Most of my time has been spent making lists of things to buy or to pack. Oh well. I guess that's a somewhat organized way to go about it. And yes, my big suitcase is leopard-print with fuschia lining. Laugh all you want, it was the only reasonably good quality and cheap one I could find, and it has about a million side pockets. Very handy.

I've been reading blogs of lots of former MIL employees, and it all seems so great. I've also been fascinated by the allusive Mt. Fuji in the past couple days...maybe if I get in better shape I'll climb it. Maybe not.

I'm thinking now that I'll probably spent my week off after arrival in Kamakura or Nikko. These are more traditional villages in the Japan Alps, and they seem awesome. And of course I'll be in Tokyo a bunch. And Narita. I can't believe how different everything is going to be in just a little over a week. Living in Japan won't make my life better neccessarily, but I'm excited for the new experience and the chance to push myself out of the rut-like comfort zone I've gotten myself into.

I cannot wait to see my family and friends next week. I'm a little sad that it'll be at least a year before I see my mom's house again...as weird as that sounds. I love that house. It's beautiful, warm, and cozy. Maybe I'll take some pics of it before I go. I'm a little sentimental, aren't I?

In other news, maybe I'll eventually move to New York after all...I fell in love with NYC when I was 12 years old, but decided that I probably wouldn't want to live there several years later. But everything is feels like an open book in my life now. And I really want to go to France. There's so much to see. I think I need to live to 125 so I can do it all.

Thumbs up: being positive, having Blake in my life, Skype/Google Voice, Amazon.com, meeting other future ex-pats.

Thumbs down: again, my anxiety. It's a bitch.


How do you wanna DO this?

Resources used to learn Japanese:

-Rosetta stone: first thing used, and it is helpful, but I haven't used this in weeks.
-Pimsleur: just audio tracks, but my favorite thus far...I do each lesson at least twice, and the tracks are set up to repeat words you've learned for better memorization. It's pretty great. The only problem is that there's no visual reference for the words, so sometimes I have to look them up online in Romaji...I'm a visual person.
-Japanese for Busy People: A pretty famous book that I downloaded in PDF form with its accompanying Kana workbook
-Japanese is Possible: An ebook from Maktos.com. Semi-effective so far.
-A friend sent me a Kana program for the Mac called "iKana". I've been messing with it a bit.
-My sister sent me a link a while back for practicing Kana and it seems very helpful: http://www.realkana.com/

And, that's about it. I'm mostly focusing on coversation rather than Kana recognition, but I'll get there. A lot of people recommend flash cards, but we'll see. I've never really put much effort into learning a language before, but I'm determined to learn Japanese to get the most out of my stay there. Who knows, maybe I'll learn it and then more languages down the line? I'd love to learn French...and Spanish...and Portugese...and German...fuck.

Anyway, enough about that. I'm madly in love with my Frommer's Guidebook of Japan. I read The Rough Guide to Japan, but the Frommer's is far superior, and it will definitely be the one I lug around in my bag for the first few months. It made me feel way less scared about staying in a Ryokan (a Japanese style inn where traditional customs are observed), and it also allowed me to accept the fact that I will get lost in Tokyo at some point. I'm ok with it.

Still trying to figure out what I'm going to do during that free week after I arrive. I thought about staying in Osaka, which I still may do. With all the shit on my mind before I go, I'll most likely just wing it.

Also, watch this show. It's excellent.
Michael & Michael Have IssuesPremieres Wed, July 15, 10:30pm / 9:30c
Music Video
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

Genki: Leaving soon. Blake's amazing, supportive, and wonderful self. Overcoming pettiness around me and accepting things at face value. Michael and Michael Have Issues.

Not so Genki: Panic attacks. My lack of exercise over the past month. My fear of flying (so stupid).


Sir Nerdalot...bear with me

So, in light of hearing so many people's opinion of the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie, I've decided to put my two cents into this blog (well, more like twenty cents, actually)...

First and foremost, I stand by the fact that this was the best movie so far. It happens to be my favorite book in the series, so I was ready to be let down. It was not verbatim to the book and I certainly had some issues with it, but it was an amazing movie, nonetheless. More on that later. First, here were my majors beefs with the film:

-The subtraction of the Ministry plotline...ok, I get why. Scrimgeour can easily be introduced in the last two movies, and the muggle Prime Minister scene wasn't THAT significant. But, seeing as how the last movie had so much to do with the Ministry, a little shout out might have been appropriate...
-Ginny Weasley. Oh boy. As adorable as Bonnie Wright is, that girl did not have the sauce to pull off Ginny. And to be honest, I felt she was a bit imposing at parts. Her standing next to Harry on the Quidditch field barking orders instead with the rest of the team, her next to Harry when Dumbledore died instead of Hagrid...it just didn't feel right. Which sucks, because Ginny Weasley is an excellent character.
-The memories of Voldemort left something to be desired, but once again, I was ok with this. They'll find a way to explain the rest of the Horcruxes that Harry and Dumbledore talked about in the next two movies.
-Ginny and Harry in general. What was with the "Let me feed you" and "Let me tie your shoes" parts? Kinda creepy. Once again, if Bonnie Wright had a bit more sex appeal, it may have worked. I dunno.
-The Burrow fire scene....WTF. Totally and completely unneccessary. It didn't happen in the book, and I don't think it really added anything to the movie. And why didn't they "auguamenti" that shit? Is the Burrow just gone now? I could gone on about this, but I'll refrain.
-The cave scene, which is my FAVORITE chapter in all of the HP books, was heavily abbreviated. It still got the point across I suppose, but I wish they would have put a little more into this amazing and intense scene.
-And here is my BIGGEST problem with the movie: Harry isn't petrified when Dumbledore dies. Harry's entire character is based on the fact that he can never just stand by and let shit happen. And Snape shushing him did not justify it. How hard would it have been to petrificus totalis Harry? Ugh. Hated that.
-And, of course, the subtraction of the battle at the Astronomy Tower stairs, which really could have added some much needed drama in this scene. The Death Eaters simply walk out of Hogwarts la-di-da, with only Harry to stop them. Totally dumb.
-Is the Fleur and Bill sub-plot just going to be wiped out? So no wedding with Kingsley's Patronus saying "The Ministry has fallen, Scrimgeour is dead"? That's a pretty important part to leave out...
-Helena Bonham Carter a la Bellatrix LeStrange. Ok, I like HBC as an actress, but she has not impressed me in her role as Bellatrix. She's always slinking up behind people, touching them, and whispering in their ear in this seductive way and she is acted out so one-dimensionally. She's a major villian in the series and I really thought more could have been done that gave you more than just the Cliff's Notes to her character: sexy, evil, and fucking crazy.
-Lastly, the awkwardness between the trio at the end left the movie on a weird note. Ron was just sort of standing aside and not saying anything. I kinda get why they did that but it made him seem so distant and weird. no like.

Ok, so with all those issues, you'd think I hated the movie, right? Nope, not at all. I understand that the movie cannot be an exact copy of the book. The movies are meant to be an adaptation of the books that can still stand on their own as a good movie! This was my problem with the 5th movie...there was no depth to it. They didn't work on building the chemistry of the characters on screen in OotP, and the movie was a super sped up outline of the important parts of the book essentially. Don't get me wrong, there were some cool scenes, but overall I felt the 5th movie was just...empty.

The 6th movie had everything the 5th movie didn't. And the camera work/way it was filmed was so much better! It was even quite artful at some points. Namely, the scene where Draco is crying at the sink after just seeing Katie Bell, and there's a quick but effective wide-angle shot of him hunched down over the sink, shirt slightly untucked. Here's what else I liked:

-Hermione shooting birds at Ron (amazing that they put this in, so awesome)
-Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes
-The train scene where Draco broke Harry's nose...exactly as I imagined it. Complete with *CRUNCH* sound
-Draco Malfoy in general. Tom Felton kicked ass in this movie. He wa barely a footnote in the 5th movie, and he certainly made up for it here. You really feel bad for him, and even get a little bit of Draco that you didn't get in the books: his experiments with the Vanishing Cabinet. Oh, and can we say sa-whaaaank as far as his suits go? When he picked up his briefcase and exited the Hogwarts Express at the beginning, I turned to Blake and say "Oh look, it's Executive Draco". And he had the snarly-lip expression as usual to complete the effect. Very nicely done.
-Luna Lovegood. And her Lion headdress. She's perfect in the movies.
-the Pygmy-Puff cameo...
-Harry, Ron and Hermione. They were perfect. IMO, they never played their parts as well as they did in this movie. Ron was hilarious. Harry actually had a personality. Hermione was adorable and awkward and exactly as she should be.
-Cormac McLaggan. Skeezy and spot-on.
-The Potions class scene, where Hermione gets frazzled by Harry outperforming her.
-The Slug Club
-Lavendar Brown. Amazing.
-Sectumsempra scene
-Harry and Felix Felicis ("That would be counter-productive, sir!")
-Terrifying scene with the Inferi!
-The wands held alight when Dumbledore died (although I would have preferred the actual funeral) and the Phoenix in the sky.

Alright, off my soap box. Needless to say, I love Harry Potter and feel those who haven't read it blow it off as some children's book all about the power of love and friendship. It's so much more than that. And honestly, I really think the 6th movie gave the essence of HP as it is...and not just some cheesy recapping or summarizing.

Dope: off subject, learning Japanese is going very well for me. Learned how to say "where is...?" today and also the words "avenue", "here", "there/not here", and lots more. Watashi-wa Nihongo-ga skoshi wakarimasu.

Totally not dope: going to work this week, worrying about money after my arrival in Narita on the 1st, and general nervousness.


Bostonian Blake reads Brautigan

I got a new camera. It's tiny and most excellent. And it has HD video...which will be great when I get to Japan and see all kinds of crazy and beautiful things that can only be captured on video. Unfortunately, I don't leave for another 2 weeks, so the most interesting thing I can record is Blake speaking with a Boston accent (he sometimes will do it for DAYS):

Mind the giggling from behind the camera...my bear cracks me up.

Note: Blake, to those of you who do not know him personally, is not from Boston. He learned accents from the Leonardo DiCaprio school of acting (sorry B).


Everything in its right place

As my departure to Japan is in just a little less than 3 short weeks, I thought it fitting to pay respect to the many things I will miss while I am away:
My siblings (I only had good pics of Constance and Mel, but this applies to every single one of them), who are brilliant and beautiful people.

My mother who loves me no matter what, even if I'm being silly or boring, and supports me so much. She's far too cool to exist. If she finds a way to come visit me in Japan, I will jump up and down with glee. Really.

All of my friends, especially Katie and Lauren.

My nieces, who are the smartest and funniest little girls on the planet. One day, I want to take them somewhere exciting and foreign. And, buying them gifts in Tokyo will be easy and really fun, considering every little thing there is wacky and pink in color.

My three kittens who love us and each other so much. I don't even know how I'm going to not see them for a year.

Especially Myoshi, who is the best cat in the whole world.

And last but not least, my Blakey. Best friend and boo bear for life.

Honorable mentions include:

-Thanksgiving with my family. This year I think they're doing British food, but next year I believe we're finally doing Japanese! I think the idea is that I will use my newly gained knowledge of traditional Japanese food to put together our menu.
-Christmas in the US.
-American TV (mainly The Office...but that's what the internet is for)
-Being in the same time zone as my friends and family
-My adorable apartment in DC
-A bed with Blake
-Manna, Inc. Not all the permitting bullcrap, but my coworkers and bosses
-Kentucky, most of all.

I was lucky enough to get the most adorable apartment in Japan...courtesy of Gail, the very awesome girl that currently lives there. I'm keeping all of the great Ikea furnishing she decorated it with, and I'm very excited about all of it. Since I've posted the link everywhere else in the world, I may as well do it here!

Here is a video tour of the apartment before it was decorated, taken when the previous resident first moved in (scroll to the bottom of the post): http://www.todayisunderconstruction.com/2008/07/bloggin-on-sly-youll-see.html

And here it is as it will look when I move in, after it was decorated: http://www.todayisunderconstruction.com/2009/07/updated-apartment-tour.html

I've already met two people who will live in Japan the same time I will, and I'm not even there yet. Things are looking very positive, and I can't fucking wait.

Over and out dooders,



All my yarn is 30% off at my Etsy site: frankenskein.etsy.com

It all must go by July 28th, so please snag it up! I'm also still accepting special requests till about the 19th or 20th of July, depending on the order size/fiber availability.

It really is amazing yarn and I already have too much yarn for my own good, so I'd hate to see it go to waste! As a reminder, all of my yarn is made from animal fiber that is either from local farms or recycled mill end fibers...so it's a eco-friendly purchase!