Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jet lag recovery in style

Yup, I'm back from the islands, after three solid days of traveling. It really takes quite a bit of work to get to a Pacific island.

Jet lag affected me almost as soon as I got back home, since for some reason I can never sleep on planes, even if the flight is 12 hours long...but at least I was comfortable, because somehow they seated me in business class, woohoo!! I was able to stretch out and I think that's what kept me from getting a Charlie Horse last night. It seems like every time I do a long-haul flight, the first night back I get a nasty Charlie Horse that wakes me up in the middle of the night. Long legs + teensy coach seats with next to no leg room = ouch!

I feel a little stiff today, but I think that's from a combination of traipsing through three airports and two train stations with an overweight suitcase and three other bags, and then sleeping on an American bed last night after 3 weeks of sleeping on a futon in Japan. Er, that's a Japanese futon, not futon in the American sense of the word. Quite different. Actually I'm thinking of trying to get a platform bed and switch to a futon mattress rather than a traditional mattress because I think the futon reduces back pain. Plus, easier cleaning and airing out! But then, there is the slightly complicated matter of finding such furniture here in South Carolina and then of course affording it. Hm.

Anyhow, I decided to wear something comfortable and stylish today, and it's such a relief to wear something that isn't wrinkled and musty from being in a suitcase. Plus this sweater is super soft and comfy. Plus, the entire outfit, including necklace and shoes, cost me less than $100.00. Not bad, huh?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More fun from the island

That last one is my new desktop wallpaper :) I still can't get over how clear the water is. Have you ever seen anything like this?

Friday, December 25, 2009

A belated Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas (yesterdat) everyone!

Today in Miyako, the wind is unbelievably strong. And I have a cold :( Yuck. So, I decided I needed a hairstyle that would stay put all day and not get blown around, so I put it into the mass of braids here. It reminds me of how we used to wear our hair for football games during marching band. Ah, memories.

So, even though I'm self-conscious about looking fat, especially in the legs, when I'm in Japan, I am loving wearing leggings here. Super comfortable and convenient for all the sitting on the floor that you are always required to do here. I don't have many pairs right now, but I'm really tempted to buy more to go with some of the new dresses and skirts I have (well, new to me-- some of them are "new" from Goodwill!). The tunic I have on in this picture is actually going on three years old now, wow. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago when I bought it, but I guess it was. I would looooove to stock up on cute clothes here, but alas, my suitcase is only so big, and it's already threatening to not close properly with all of my newly accumulated stuff.

Also, I've been living in cardigans like this one. Soooo comfy. Stuff like this actually makes me like winter a little bit.


Miyakojima and South Carolina-style winters, that is. Anything north of the Mason-Dixon latitude would not be nearly as pleasant.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Greetings all from Okinawa! It's not quite as warm as I had expected it to be, but it seems it's far warmer than back home in good ol' SC. Evidently the forecast was calling for flurries in SC. Flurries...SC....those two things just do not seem to go together. Even though it's chilly here, it's still in the mid-60s, and it's supposed to warm up more by next week. Which means, with any luck, I can go snorkeling again!!

Yes, that's right, the first day I arrived here, I went snorkeling at a beautiful beach with crystal clear water. I could see all the way to the bottom when I was in water that was probably 15-20 feet deep. I saw so many types of colorful fish swimming in and out of the coral reef! I think I can only name one of them, and I'm not even sure I'm correct with that one. Luckily I found an island guide that includes pictures and names of all the fish you are likely to see snorkeling, so I'll have to check the ones I've seen and then translate them at some point.

There is so much that I've done and seen so far, it would take a very long time to type it up, which I don't have right now because I'm getting ready to go out to see a local music show! But here are some snippets of my adventure so far:
*I walked about 30 miles in one day, at first because I was exploring and then because I got lost.
*I accidentally hitchhiked.
*I drank apricot-flavored sake. And today, peach-flavored sparkling sake.
*I have no idea what 50% of what I've eaten is. And it's going to stay that way.
*I've made several new friends who are fellow travelers here at the same guesthouse.
*I've watched local songs performed on sanshin. And I'm going to again tonight!
*I found a sesame snack that might be even better than my beloved Chinese restaurant sesame balls- beni imo dango (picture here: It's a type of purple sweet potato mashed and fried with sesame seeds. Yummmm~~

Monday, December 7, 2009

Color on a grey day

Another fashion post!
Since it was grey and gloomy outside today, I decided to play around with photos inside. My apartment is tiny, so I'm looking for creative places to take photos. I'd like to have a fancy-schmancy camera, but I kind of like how this one turned out.
I went thrifting on Sunday and found this awesome skirt for only $4. Love it! I got two other skirts as well, which were also $4. I love this one because it has a cute pseudo-kimono print, which I think suits this week perfectly.
Also, you probably can't see it very well, but I'm wearing this amazing purple nail polish. I love purple nails! It cheers me up when the weather is less than stellar...and when I'm working on another paper >_<

My last paper is due on Wednesday at 3:00. I guess that means it's time to get cracking, huh?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Where does she do her shopping...?

Yes, her bag says "JENNY THONG."

I was emptying the memory card for my camera (which I'm really bad about doing btw) and found this picture from my last trip to Japan. I'm dying to know where she got such a bag!

Lace & denim

Today I feel kind of blah. I don't know if I'm sick, stressed, or my body is just adjusting to my new diet + exercise plan, but I don't feel like doing anything today. So I tried to make myself feel a bit better by wearing something pretty. And what's prettier than lace? I got this cream lace dress on clearance, and not only is it comfty, but it's not a one-season dress. Here's my winter version with brown leggings, fuzzy clogs, and a denim jacket. I think the jacket gives it more of an edge and makes it casual. I'll have to try creative ways to dress it up in the future when the situation calls for it.

I also went thrifting today and found some great steals, although I found the best steal of all for K-- near-new Merrell shoes for $4.50!! Why couldn't they have had some for women, or at least some very small men's ones?! They look so comfty. Here's a link to a pic of them: Nice, huh?

By the way, see how the trees still have all their leaves in the second picture? That's South Carolina's version of winter. And no, I didn't wear a coat today. I love it here :D

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lighter days

Too much stress has been going on in my life lately, so it's time to lighten up a little. I decided to go shopping with K today to update my wardrobe a little. Allow me to model a new find paired with some older pieces. Dress is new, the rest is not:

Also featured here is my lovely backyard.

Here are some other pictures from my life here in South Carolina~

Fabulous shrimp cockail at @116

Sightseeing at local plantations

Dexter at 6 months. I want him to be tiny again!

Boscoe loves that South Carolina is almost always sunny!

This is a fellow resident of our neighborhood. He guards the little plant nursery near us after hours, even if his version of "guarding" consists of walking up to the fence and wagging when anyone walks by. Isn't he gorgeous?

I haven't been taking very many pictures in the past several months, which is inexcusable in this age of digital cameras. So I'm going to make an effort to take more pictures. I'm sure I'll take tons starting next weekend anyway :D

Friday, December 4, 2009



This time next week, I will be sitting on a plane, about 30 minutes from landing in Tokyo. I feel like it's coming up so quickly, even though I've been planning it for several months. There are so many things to be nervous about... but instead, I'm trying to focus on the things to be excited about!

So, I didn't ditch my professor. My director decided to have me proceed with my defense, which I did. And at the meeting, the two of them asked me if I would like to pursue a concurrent M.A./Ph.D. instead of only the M.A., which is my current plan of study. They said to really go in-depth with what I want to do, it would be best to extend my thesis and do two field trips instead of one short one, then take a semester and try to get published.

Which is great.


My director neglected to tell me all semester that I have to get board approval to work with human subjects, and now since there are four business days left until I leave, there is not enough time to get the certification pushed through. Which means, I cannot conduct any official research on this trip. So a lot of questions are going through my mind, like, should I try to do a Ph.D. even though I don't feel ready for it? What happens if I can't get funding to do a second research trip next summer? There is no way I can fund it myself *again* and if I only go to part-time status next fall, I will lose my assistantship. Also, I can't take out any more student loans. I was so excited about the prospect of going to Korea, and I'm just not feeling excited about this. It wasn't part of the plan. I'm not good at my theoretical classes, and I have to be able to ace those to even keep my head above water in the Ph.D. program. And if I can't even do a second trip next year, what will happen to my plan for my thesis? Is there even a point in going over winter break? I'm missing Christmas and New Year with my husband and family because I thought I was going to be doing some valuable research for my thesis. But now it looks like I will just be sitting on a tiny island in the Pacific.

The silver lining is that I get to mull all of this over while strolling some of the most amazing beaches in the world. And that seems like a pretty decent silver lining to me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Busy as a bee

This is one of my favorite pictures I've taken. No Photoshop used here, just the beautiful colors of the natural world.

I'm working on my thesis like crazy, even though I have yet to do any actual field work. So far it's twenty pages long, and when all is said and done, including appendices and references, I think it's going to be between 80 and 100 pages. It'll be pretty amazing to have a 100-page paper sitting around, just to look at it and say "Hey, I wrote that!" Hopefully it will be worth it, 'cause I haven't had a real weekend in... I don't even want to know how long. The first partial draft will be sent to my director by Tuesday, and then I will BREATHE! At least, until the 24th, which is when I have to do my oral defense of the research proposal. It's very intimidating, but right now all my worrying energy is reserved for getting as much of the actual thesis done as possible before Tuesday.

I'm also getting geared up to head to Okinawa in only 34 days~~woohoo! This will be the most unique trip I've ever taken. I'm excited but also slightly nervous to stay with strangers the whole time and speak only Japanese for a month. But the way I see it, my life is an adventure, and I want to seize every opportunity I can. It turns out that my friend won't be able to travel with me after all, which is too bad. But at the same time, speaking only Japanese for that long will probably make me pretty ペラペラ when I get back. (Note to self: don't forget to bring a dictionary!)

Time to go back to the salt mines and chip away at the thesis, then plan three English lessons, then put together a presentation. Zoom!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Well, it's definitely autumn in South Carolina, which means it's pouring rain and the forecast shows no signs of it letting up. While walking from class to my parking space this morning, I got completely soaked, even though I was using an umbrella! I really need to invest in a proper pair of rain boots before all my jeans get destroyed.

In more cheerful news, K and I have already applied for jobs together for after I graduate. It took only about 24 hours after submitting all the application paperwork before we both received the news that we have interviews! I am really excited because although the positions don't begin until next August, they are in....


No, I've never been there, and no, I don't speak the language (not more than "hello," "I love you," "I'm so sorry," and "tell me right now!!"--all learned from melodramatic TV series, I might mention), BUTTTTT I'm really feeling ready for a new adventure. Plus, the money is excellent and we would be able to travel to other part of Asia. I've heard that the interview is pretty darn easy and that it's mostly to make sure that you're not lying about being a native English speaker (p.s. I am.).

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Here in South Carolina, the growing season is all year long, so we don't have much of a change in seasons. The flowers that are in bloom change periodically, and right now, one of my favorites are in bloom-- azaleas. It seems to be a tie between what the most favored flower is here, azaleas or magnolias. Luckily, they seem to bloom at alternate intervals, so I don't have to choose. I miss the scent of night-blooming jasmine that seems ever-present during the summer months, but now the university campus is covered in colorful blossoms. It's really nice.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call that my grandmother, who was diagnosed with cancer in early August, had passed away. I was in the car two hours later, drove all night, and arrived at my parents' house just after dawn. It all happened so suddenly, and everyone was in such a state of shock, that a lot of planning and errands fell to me. It was stressful and I didn't get much sleep at all while I was there, but I wanted to put a lot of time and care into it because my grandma had always put such time and care into helping me. I can't really say much more without upsetting myself. It has really been a transitional time in my life. It's very difficult to not be able to talk with someone you usually talk to 2-3 times per week.

On top of that, I've started my thesis research and my travel plans for my research trip in December are pretty much hashed out. One of my friends will be joining me as a travel buddy/research assistant, and I'm really excited about that. She hasn't been to Japan in a long time and I think we'll have a blast. I've even made some internet friends who are willing to help me with research once I arrive in Japan. I can't believe it's only two months away now! Staying focused on that project is helping to keep my mind off of other things. The scary part is that I will be doing my research proposal oral defense next month. Yikes! It'll be a relief next semester when I only have to attend one class and I can officially devote 3 whole credit hours to thesis work instead of the measly 1 I'm enrolled for now, on top of my full course load.

I have a feeling the rest of the semester is going to fly by.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Country Living

No, that's not a description of my life recently, that's the title of a magazine that's stalking me. For some reason, I've started receiving issues of Country Living magazine, which is pretty much irrelevant to my life. Today, they apparently took it up a notch because when I came home, I found a package on my front porch with a Country Living tote bag. The magazine says I've paid for a subscription. Even weirder, this magazine comes to my correct address. My address is not that complicated, but 85% of the mail I receive has some sort of error.
Here's the thing. I get something like 15 or 16 magazines a month. The reason for this is that I had about a zillion frequent flier miles but I wasn't planning any trips at the time they were coming up on their expiration date. Luckily (?) said airline offers other rewards, and I used up all my miles on magazines about either fashion, health, wine, or food. The funny part (to me, at least) is that the airline still had my parents' address as my default address, so my parents get shitloads of magazines every month for me. As they come in, they tell me the title of the magazine so I can go to the magazine's website and change the address so future issues will be sent here. I plan to take a huuuuuge stack of these babies to a used book store around Christmas.
Country Living, however, remains a mystery, because it never arrived at my parents' house before coming here. There was no yellow forwarding label or anything. And now, the mysterious tote bags. I even interrogated my mom, thinking that maybe she signed me up as a joke, but no dice. Maybe the publishing company saw that I'm getting every single other magazine they print and assumed that I had a subscription for that one, too. Whatever.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

You came in with the breeze...

...on Sunday morning, you sure have changed since yesterday.
Anyone else remember that song? Ah, it takes me back.
For the past week, my beloved sunny South Carolina has been anything but sunny. It's been switching between stormy, drizzly, and gloomy. I know we could use the rain, and I remember that last August it was like this for a few weeks too, but it sure is depressing. Somehow it seems to match certain events in my life lately.
My classes are starting soon, and I found out yesterday that the financial aid department has screwed up my awards. My husband says they'll be able to fix it easily on Monday, but I'm not so sure. I always seem to have the worst luck with things like this. I haven't even bought my textbooks yet, so I need my financial aid awards ASAP. I'm worried that, due to the nature of the office's error, I'm going to have to start the whole process over and re-apply for what I was already awarded and it will be several weeks before I see a dime of it. I know it's pointless to sit here and worry about it, but unfortunately that's one of the things I'm best at.
My car had been acting up, getting progressively worse over the summer. After I dropped a few hundred bucks on it during our vacation fiasco in May, I thought everything would be all right with it. No such luck. It started shuddering and making noises, and then on Friday it had one heck of a time even getting over 15 mph. I began toying with the idea of trading it in for something more reliable, because I had a feeling the transmission's days were numbered. So yesterday, we spent the day browsing used car lots. Long story short, the last place we went to took a look at my car to get an idea of how much I would get for a trade-in, and they ran a quick test to come up with a number. The number they gave me was half of the Kelly Blue Book value, because the "tranny" as the salesman called it (interestingly I've only heard that term associated with transvestites before this), was ready to fall out- in addition to everything else that was wrong with it. Sigh. Two hours later, I waved good-bye to the car I had driven since junior year of high school and rode off into the sunset in a shiny green car that's only a couple of years old. I hate the idea of having to deal with a monthly car payment, but it's better that than my old car keel over on the highway and have to pay for a tow and thousands of dollars' worth of repairs on the spot. The new one isn't nearly as sporty as my old one, sadly. It's an actual "grown-up" car, with four doors and everything. Weird. But even weirder than that, last night after I got home, I was cleaning out my purse and I found a fortune from a fortune cookie I got a couple weeks ago. The fortune reads, "Something on four wheels will soon be a good investment for you." There are lucky numbers on the back, and I'm really tempted to play them in the lottery!
The other big news that I haven't felt much like talking about is that my grandma, who I'm very close to, has been having health problems for the past year and a half, and was officially diagnosed with cancer about two weeks ago. She's been hospitalized since then at one of the top cancer centers in the country, but the symptoms of her particular cancer are making it next to impossible for her to eat anything. The prognosis they gave her was not very bright, but also not terribly dire; however, with her caloric intake hovering around 500 per day, her condition is not improving. I had already planned to drive up for a few days this coming Thanksgiving, but yesterday my parents called to say that they were flying me up next weekend to see her. I need to visit her, but I'm also terrified of it. I don't think I can eloborate any more about it right now, I'm finding that it's even difficult to type about this.
Meanwhile, it's really been helping to play with my cats. It's comforting that no matter what is happening in the outside world, cats still need attention every morning at 5:00 am and kittens still cause mayhem in surprising ways.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Long See No Time?

Where have I been? Around.
But I've been doing lots of things this summer. I can't believe it's August already and classes begin *gulp* next week. I'm a little reluctant to go back because I'm nervous about starting my thesis for real. I already have a fat stack of library books on my desk waiting to be skimmed for potential interest to my project. I found a professor who is willing to direct my thesis, and my adviser says it sounds promising. Let me tell you, it gets a whole lot scarier once you tell people your ideas and commit to following through with it. I've also signed on to do part-time environmental volunteer work in exchange for room and board on the island where I will do research.
In addition to getting that set up, I've been tutoring several students multiple times a week in ESL, reading, grammar, writing- anything you can imagine that has to do with the English language. It's actually a lot of fun, and I'll continue to work with three of my students throughout the school year. I'm glad I get to keep working with them, but I don't doubt it will be a full schedule what with taking classes full time, not to mention my assistantship, which I've already started. My professor e-mailed me early in the summer to see if I'd be interested in helping him with one of his many projects over the break. No assistantship was available for the summer, so he's been giving me as many hours as I want on his own dime. I really like working with him, I just hope he's not putting any kind of financial burden on himself to keep this going. I'll be happy once the department is handing out my paychecks again in a couple of weeks. Right now, my work with him consists of proof-reading typed transcripts of letters written by Civil War veterans with the original handwritten manuscripts. It's incredibly interesting, but every now and then I give myself a bit of a headache trying to figure out what a certain word is.
I got my back-to-school haircut this morning, hurrah! I realized I hadn't been to get a trim since March... wow. Slightly embarrassing when my hair stylist pointed this out to me. But she's great and understands how scatter-brained us grad students can be. I just need to do a bit of back-to-school shopping and I'll be set. I got myself a couple of spiffy new lunch boxes-- well, bento boxes-- in Osaka, so that base is covered.

Things I want to do before summer vacation ends:
1. Go to the beach. The ocean beach, not the lake beach.
2. Finish the novel I'm reading.
3. Go for a walk by the river.
4. Get Korean ice cream one more time (melon flavor of course).
5. Sip a pina colada in my back yard.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New home, new friends

(water bottle shown for size comparison, not for kitten food or bedding!)
As you know, or maybe you don't know, I love animals and will feed any creature that shows up at my front door looking hungry. For the past 8 months or so, I've been feeding a stray cat that I call Butternut, as well as her grown-up kitten Sprinkles, and a male cat. They have gotten so friendly and tame that they will just walk right in the front door and into the kitchen to get a snack, and sometimes jump up on the couch afterward to be petted for a little while. Well, a few months ago, Sprinkles had some kittens of her own. I was hoping to pet them, but they're pretty skittish and we still haven't been able to get close to them. We figured that Butternut wasn't able to have kittens anymore because her hips are kinda messed up and her tail just kind of dangles there, she can't lift or move it.
And then one night last week it stormed. While it was raining, we heard a strange little sound, like a bird. Husband got up to look out the window on the front door and didn't see anything. So he opened the door and said "OH. MY. GOD." So of course I ran over there. There on the doorstep, taking shelter from the rain, was Butternut. Next to her was the tiniest black and white kitten I've ever seen, mewing pathetically. We scooped them up and dried them off and put the kitten in a box with a towel. Butternut was pacing and acting weird, so we let her out after a while. She didn't come back, so I decided to sleep on the couch with the kitten box next to me so our other cats didn't interfere with it (earlier Bijou gave it a good bop on the head...). Husband had an early shift and left around 4:00 in the morning. Butternut still wasn't back. But around 7:00, I was awakened by a familiar sound... I opened the door to find a tiny, shaking orange kitten all by herself, crying. I sighed and picked her up, dried her off, and put her in the box next to the other one. Obviously they were siblings, as they curled up next to each other and went to sleep right away. Sure enough, a couple of hours later, Butternut returned and came in to feed them. And now, almost a week later, they are still in the apartment.
It was all adorable and I love kittens, but we already have two cats. Plus, Butternut decided to bring them the week before we give up that apartment for our new one. The selfish part of me wants to keep all three of them, but that doesn't seem very practical. It's like a cat soap opera around here, honestly.
Well, I'm glad I can enjoy playing with kittens at least for a few days :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sweet Summer Nectar

ATTENTION: If you are lucky enough to find this jar in your local grocery or specialty store, get it!!

This is a jar of yuzu tea mix. It looks a little like runny marmalade, but you don't spread it on toast. No, you mix a few teaspoonfuls into a glass of ice water, or soda water, or hot water, and make iced yuzu tea, yuzu soda, or hot yuzu tea, respectively. It's that easy. My favorite way to have it is in iced tea form. During these hot summer days, this stuff is heaven.

I first had iced yuzu tea at a Korean restaurant in Japan on a hot day. I had never even heard of it before, even on previous trips to Japan, and I was sad when I finished because I didn't know where to get it. But then I did a little internet research recently, and discovered it comes in huge jars like that. And lo and behold, one of the Asian markets in my city carries it!

I'm trying to not use the entire jar today. But, no guaruntees.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Well, to follow up on my last entry, all is well in the household world. Well, my household, at least. Husband was not mad at me and later told me that I was right and he was sorry (!!). Can I get that in writing, please? Haha, just kidding. He really is a good guy when you get down to it. And right now, he's at work! His new job, despite the unsavory schedule, seems to be something he likes and the pay is decent. "Decent" is about all you can hope for here in South Carolina. He gets to travel all over the state and sometimes across state lines, which is really neat, but it also means that often he will be out until 3:00 a.m. or later. So, although I feel a little lonely, I much prefer this to the alternative.

To try to fend off this loneliness, I've decided to take up some new hobbies. One of these is It's a site that lets you send a postcard to a random person who could be anywhere in the world, and then you in turn receive a postcard from another random person anywhere in the world. Today I sent one to the Netherlands! It's really cool, and it blows my mind that someone, somewhere, is preparing a postcard to send to me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

When it rains...

Well, you know how the saying goes.

We managed to make it back home on Saturday, after having to get a tow to a garage in the nearest town. Luckily, my FIL snuck his AAA membership card to my husband before MIL demanded they leave (without saying good-bye...or anything else, for that matter). So, the tow didn't cost us anything. The repairs were a different story, unfortunately, because it wasn't just the absent belt that was the problem, it was a part that holds the belt in place. After spending half of Friday in the smoky waiting area, we were able to drive back to the beach house, our wallets considerably lighter. We thought we would be able to relax then, but of course we discovered that in her haste to leave us, MIL hadn't cleaned a single thing in the beach house, leaving us to scrub down the entire thing. The way the rentals work is you either clean everything yourself before you leave, or you pay an extra $100 for maid service after you check out, which, at that point, we obviously did not have. So, instead of relaxing on the beach or the dock, our Friday evening was spent cleaning and packing. By the way, I found out that the reason she ended up hating me did not start out as my fault. She became irate that the brake pads on her car needed to be replaced (which she demanded be done the minute they started squeaking a little, on the first day we were at the beach house) and she didn't want to spend that amount of money. So, stewing about this, according to FIL, I became the easiest target because I began avoiding her when she was in such a mood- and when I say "mood," think of the way a sulky four-year-old child acts immediately after throwing a tantrum. She bitched about every single thing FIL did, and most things husband did, so I wasn't about to get in her path. Apparently this angered her to no end. I also didn't jump up right after every single meal and offer to do the dishes while she was slamming things around in the kitchen, which pretty much sealed my fate. And then, each morning when she emerged from her bedroom cursing and stomping and husband and I were safely watching TV out of her way, I neglected to say a cheerful "good morning, how did you sleep?" to her, the final nail in my coffin. My husband won't speak to her because he's so angry about the whole thing. Not that she has deigned to apologize, though.

I felt relieved, although still smarting from MIL's treatment on the ride home. Just when we thought we could finally relax and get back into our normal routine, we found out that husband had lost his job. This was not a total surprise, but it still didn't help matters considering what we spent the day before on the car. Then, I checked my e-mail, only to find that my summer teaching position at the university had been canceled. Newly unemployed, we looked over the pieces of mail that had arrived in our absence. Among them was a curious certified letter from the court system of the county where we lived a year ago. Lo and behold, it was an order to appear in court as a result of a claim our former landlord made- that we hadn't paid the final utility bills. Last summer, I thought all of this had been resolved when they sent us a letter demanding a ridiculous amount of money for it, and we sent them photocopies of the cancelled checks with the proper amount and "Utilities for [address]" written very clearly in the memo. They never responded to that letter, so we considered the matter closed. And now, here we are an entire year later, receiving this bullshit.

And lastly, we are moving to a new place, which should be a joyous occasion. The new place is smaller, but it has a tiny yard, plus a washer, dryer, and a dishwasher! Hallelujah! Also, it's $50 cheaper per month that what we've been paying. The not-so-joyous part is that we had to fork over the first month's rent yesterday when we picked up the keys. We also had to pay the final month's rent on our present apartment, which left us stretched a little thin. Then, we found out that the water company wants to charge us a whopping $75 to start service at the new place.

My husband turned to me and said, "Well, at least we can't say our lives are boring."
I looked at him for a moment, then replied, "Have I ever, in the six years you've known me, complained that my life has ever for a single minute been boring?"
"No," he said. "No, you haven't."

Friday, May 29, 2009

"Well, at least it can't get any worse than this..." what I was thinking yesterday as I dashed for shelter from a downpour, the sudden storm cutting our visit to the botanical gardens short.

Rewind a little.

Woke up yesterday morning, MIL still not talking to me (or husband for that matter) but has decided we will all go to the gardens, a 50-minute drive away. Decide to head out immediately as storms are in the forecast for late afternoon. The cursing and muttering under the breath begins even before we settle into the car, followed by railing about needing to stop for gas, despite the fact that the needle read well over a quarter of a tank. We stop for gas about halfway there. During the stop, Her Highness decides she also needs a snack, and, apparently forgetting her speech 3 days earlier about never eating fried foods, demands we stop at the Golden Arches. The car now filled with the scent of burgers and fries, we continue the final 25 minutes to our destination.

The man at the desk is friendly and politely pretends not to notice the bickering. We set out for the gardens, which, predictably, are a Huge Disappointment to MIL (although I quite like the honeysuckle, magnolias, and decorative fountains). The clouds begin thickening overhead right as she finds something she likes (and I use "like" in a lukewarm sense)- Canadian geese. She sets off across a clearing to chase them with her camera, shooting looks and insults as the rest of us warn that geese are not friendly. I mention that we should hurry; the sky is growing increasingly dark. No acknowledgment. Finally she returns from her goose photo safari and I mention again that we should hurry, to which MIL irritably announces "If we get wet, we get wet. Who cares."

All right. She has complained about every single thing so far this week, including how dirty the ocean water is, how hot it is, the swarms of flies that are seemingly invisible to everyone else, the air conditioning being too cold, the air conditioning being too hot, the Southern accents of everyone here, FIL "burning" dinner.... the list goes on. And on and on and on.

But if she is OK with getting drenched, which looks inevitable, then I decide to leave her to it and make a mad dash back to the visitors' center with husband following. The bottom falls out of the skies about a hundred feet from shelter, and we are pretty wet when we arrive. After we have wiped down with paper towels from the bathroom and refreshed the Band-Aid for the ripe blister on my foot, they arrive at the visitors' center. I simply stand aside and make way, and bite my tongue to stop myself from saying anything, even as the cursing grows louder from the direction of the bathroom. The nice man at the front desk from before tries to make light-hearted conversation about the storm sneaking up, and husband obliges. Fifteen minutes later I find myself in the front seat of the car, MIL in back while FIL and husband arrange umbrella and towels in the trunk.

"Well, this has been one HELL of a vacation," she says, her voice dripping with contempt.

I bite my tongue again.

Fast forward four hours after we get back to the beach house. Husband and I have just returned from generously buying take-out for everyone, and notice the car is a little hard to steer. The battery light also comes on. As the car is going on ten years old, we assume that the battery needs to be replaced, and it needs more power steering fluid. Back at the house, husband decides to check the levels, only to find that the serpentine belt has been completely shredded.

FIL allows us to take his car the fifteen miles into town to the auto parts store to get a replacement belt and a tool with which to do the replacing. We buy it, get home, and realize they gave us the wrong belt. Go all the way back into town to exchange for the proper belt, then stop by my uncle's house and ask him what he knows about this kind of thing. He offers to come over and do it. By 11:00 pm, the car still has no belt. We are in need of either a different tool, or a tow to the nearest garage. FIL offers to take us the following morning to a different auto supply store for the tool.

Fast forward to this morning. MIL refuses to let FIL take husband into town because she wants to leave.

Fast forward to now. Being stranded on this island is looking increasingly likely as I listen to MIL slam things around downstairs. I am staying up here until she is gone, having a breakfast of Cheet-os which are left over from last night.

After all of the things I have been thinking this week, right now I am at a loss for words.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009



I'm curled up on a wicker loveseat in a beach house that sits about a hundred yards from the ocean. I can hear the waves as I type this. I'm back from Japan, after a wonderful vacation. This is supposed to be Vacation Part II, but as I am spending it with my constantly bickering in-laws, I am somewhat less than relaxed. The tactic I am choosing to implement is ignorance of the situation, which shows on the surface but certainly not underneath. It also backfires because my MIL is constantly sulking and pouting and cursing under her breath when she is not sniping at her husband, and in this way pleads for someone [read: me] to notice and ask whatever could be the matter and sympathize. Unlike my brother-in-law's girlfriend, I refuse to play this game. I can't help feeling that she deems me a dud as a daughter-in-law, but I am who I am. Drama games are not a part of that.

I had expected to relax on this loveseat for several hours, listening to the sound of the waves. In the interval between my opening this new post and writing this sentence, a lawn service van has appeared at the neighbors', and I find myself now listening to the clatter of lawn mowers instead of the ocean.

I can't help feeling that it mimics this week at the beach in its disappointment.

Three more days.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Leaving tomorrow


Even though I've done a lot of traveling, and I love seeing new places, I am still afraid of flying. I know that I can't let fear rule my life and hold me back from the things I want to do- I gave up too much when I was younger because of my insecurities. Taking this trip with my husband is something we've wanted to do for years, and I can't let my fear stand in the way of that. I just feel like when I'm up there that I'm in an impenetrable vortex. I imagine that a lot of this comes from all the solo flying I've done in the last several years. This time will be different, this time I'll have someone there with me. When I flew to Paris a couple of years ago, it was a very bumpy flight, and the landing really scared me because it was still bumpy and it was dark outside. Plus, no one was with me or waiting for me at the airport. When I went to Vancouver, I felt OK knowing that my best friend was going to meet me at the airport. So this time, I'm bound to feel a little better, right? This is our belated honeymoon, so I want to enjoy as much of it as possible

Starting tomorrow at 8:30 am, I have a 2-hour flight, then a 12 1/2 hour flight, then a 1 1/2 hour flight. Goodness... Well, after that I can order a dozen magazine subscriptions with my frequent flyer miles again, hahaha!

Right outside the window, I can see a birdnest in the tall tree over the driveway. A robin just landed on the side of it with a prize in its mouth. And then-- several tiny mouths reached up to get their share! What a great thing to see. I didn't know any eggs had hatched until now. This time of year is absolutely beautiful in this part of the country.
Soon I will see what it's like on the other side of the world :)
Hopefully we will make friends there, like we did with this little guy here!

Sunday, May 10, 2009



Today I ate the first strawberry from my strawberry plant!!
Juicy & sweet ♪
The peas and beans look great, and the squash plants are all in blossom. Not bad for our first attempt at veggie gardening. The plants like the weather; it's already hot and humid here. This makes the cats verrry lazy!

Boscoe is probably up to no good, as usual...

Monday, April 27, 2009


Sometimes it's hard to know what to hope for. These plants have it easy. All they hope for is sunlight and water. It's very simple. While there is an appeal in that, the plants also don't experience the joy that people do when everything goes right.

It is night-time now. The hot day has come to rest under a dark sky and cool breeze. My fan is still running, the constant hum my only company this evening. The large tree outside my window has its full summer foliage now, so I cannot see the stars. But I know they are there.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April Tanka 1

Flitting through the leaves
Cardinals flutter with song
The scent of new life
On the wings of the season
A new nest in the branches

Monday, April 13, 2009


Aren't they beautiful?

These are growing in a lovely walled rose garden in my city. Roses bloom so early here, it's wonderful. The entire city smells like flowers: azaleas, roses, violets, wisteria, so many different types.

It's been so warm for the past few weeks that we've left the windows open even at night. This must be the most beautiful time of the year for South Carolina, before deep summer sets in.

Everyone seems to be enjoying spring!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


A snapshot of my Now:

It is warm outside, with a soothing spring breeze that makes the new leaves of the tree outside my window clatter softly every so often. The air is filled with the chatter of many birds as the night draws closer. My cat relaxes half-asleep on the rug in the living room, ignoring them. I admire the blooming greenery visible from my kitchen table over a cup of tea, but my nose is teasing me with the smell of a juicy steak wafting over from my neighbor's yard on the breeze. I love this time between daylight and turning the lamp on.

Welcome to my days.