Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Humble Pie

This past Sunday, Mark and I went to the Misato Children's Home to volunteer time to some children that may not have much but had the spirits of lions.  The children's home had children living there that were only going to be there for a little while and those that unfortunately, unless adopted, would spend their lives there. 

We sent up Christmas trees and stacked presents and even made sure Santa could come say hello, or konnichiwa to the children and show them some Christmas cheer.  Christmas may not be a big deal in Japan but commercially it has caught on.  Their worn out basketball gym was turned in to a place of presents, cookies, and fun for a couple of hours.  There was a spot on the floor that reminded me of a home my aunt used to live.  I was glad that she got to move from that little shack before she went home to stay with her Lord.  I was taken back to when I was 8 and I didn't understand why someone had a hole in their kitchen floor and it wasn't fixed.  The worn spot in the children's gym, from water, or use, would soon become a hole in the floor, and again I could not understand how this could not be fixed.  Thank God I found out that the CE group may have plans for the gym and the children's rooms.  This was just the 1st of many humbling moments for me.  I am very emotionally when it comes to children and this was one of many times I fought back tears.

Mark and my good friend Naomi-San was one of a few translators when brought with us.  She had the kids line up, call their names, and receive pictures with Santa.  Not really sure if Santa spoke Japanese, but smiles translate in to any language I imagine.  After the children received their gifts, some assembly required, lucky for the children the volunteers were engineers, they played for a bit before taking their gifts to their rooms and eating the buffet of sweet treats all lined up and ready for them.  One little boy was so excited and didn't want to leave his toy and he had an accident on the floor.  I was touched at how everyone came together to help the boy and still put his toy together so that when he came back, it was ready for him.  The children played musical chairs, ate, and then the highlight of the day, basketball with the CE group.  The children LOVED playing basketball with all the guys and a couple were really good, scoring points in spite of having a brick wall of a smiling soldier standing at least 6'6" in their way. 

It was time for us to go at 2:30 PM.  Time had come and gone and we found out, no worries, we can schedule visits anytime.  As we all said our arigato gozaimasu's and had our bows and filed out of the gym, the children trickled out to say their good byes as well.  There were bye bye's and even an I love you, thrown in with the Christmas wishes they sent to us.  Now, I have 2 visions in my head I can't get out.  1.  The smiles and the laughter that bellowed out of the gym on that day.  My face had not used all those muscles to smile in so long it hurt.  2. The many Crocs that were worn and the one pair of yellow Crocs that had a hole in the front so that one child's big toe stuck out. 

There are some things that I will never understand and for those things, I simply pray, and thank God for giving me the ability to help, even in small ways.  It is hard for me to see and think about the children around the world that were not wanted, abused, or sent to find a better way of life.  With people wanting to adopt babies, how many children will have the chance to find homes?  What crushes my heart is that even with those like Mark and myself who want to adopt and do adopt, still all children can not be taken from where they are.  I just hope, pray, and have faith that there are more places like the Misato Children's Home where children still remember how to smile.  I hope there is someone that is telling them, if you work hard, no dream is too big.  I pray there is someone telling them, you are worth so much and I hope they believe it.

Merry Christmas from the Scott's.

On a lighter note, we shall see next week if I am off to the States for about 2 weeks, fingers crossed, though bitter-sweet for Mark, he gave me the trip...kind of...if it goes through, I will blog.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My furisode day and be@rbricks night.

Here she is, my furisode and all it's glory. My kimono truly made me feel like the "Belle of the Ball". I am sure I got looks, but luckily, unless I make myself notice, I have never been one to notice if people are staring or sharing hateful vibes. As soon as I arrived I found another kimono enthusiast. She approached me and we discussed kimono for a while.  I was really happy to have found someone that shared my passion on the island until I received a, "I don't know if you know what you are wearing?"  I quickly told her my side of the furisode story and she replied, "yeah it's okay since you are a foreigner."  Exactly, and all the compliments I received from the locals, be they Okinawan or Japanese, I think I did pretty darn good.  Many of you know I have had a love for this culture as soon as I found out about Japan, I have a love for Korea more, but living in Japan is something Mark and I dreamed of doing together and we are happy God grants us the ability to share the experience with Him, each other, and all of you.  I give credit to a few people for this outfit. First off, Mark for totally going along with all of this and assisting in kimono research and Yoriko-San for saying I should go ahead and get the kimono.  My husband's coworker Naomi-San.  I can NOT say enough about this woman.  She originally was finding out info for me on wear I could borrow other pieces for my kimono with quickly turned in to, "wait, Talya, if you are going to wear this more than once, why don't we find somewhere to buy the rest of your pieces for cheap?"  This quickly turned in to her acting on my behalf with the people I bought my furisode from, World Friend Produce, Kimono Takikawa.  Here is their link with some facts about the different style of kimono. http://www.wfp.co.jp/e1.html .  Naomi-San gave them a budget of $200, she asked me what am I looking to spend and I told her.  In the end it cost me $236, and I am missing some pieces that I will collect.  For the party Naomi even let me borrow the additional pieces I would need.  She also called when we were worried that we hadn't heard from them and she even politely let them know she was upset that they were taking so long and that I need my kimono back and I think 1 day later they said it was ready to be mailed back.  Mark and I quickly wanted to do something for Naomi-San, she did so much for me, she has done so much for Mark as well.  She us no, she does it because when she was in the states, someone did things to help her and now she will do the same.  Part of us wanted to give her something anyways, but 1. we could always pay her back my helping someone else as she has helped us, and 2. No means no!  No does not mean maybe or ask me until I change my mind.  Also, if you get a Japanese person a gift then they will feel they need to get you one in return.  Mark works with amazing people. 

Now let's discuss how it felt to be in this kimono...I was told you have to walk like THIS, not THIS, you have to sit like THIS, you have to move like THIS.  I thought I would need to be careful or looking too American, which I am sure I did anyways.  The kimono wouldn't even allow me to move like an American with my long steps even if I TRIED!.  As I was being wrapped in and cinched together by Mama-San, I could feel my back becoming straight as it should be without me hunching over.  It corrects you posture without you doing a thing other than getting dressed!  Mama-San's daughter joked with us, saying, "It's like a hot dog wrapped in a bun, ne?"  We agreed, but more like if the hot dog was wrapped in a straight jacket.  Mama-San asked if I was okay.  I believe I was.  She dressed me, put my clothes in the box I had my kimono in, got my shoes ready for me to step in as well as put my other shoes away.  She also did my hair before and I was so excited to see my hair is now long enough to go up again!  I paid her, thanked her, and then it was time for Mark to escort me in to the car. BUM BUM BUM.  I read magazine, well looked at magazines and figured what the pictures were saying, so I knew how I would need to get in the car.  Our car is low, but I plopped myself in and had already given myself enough room before I attempted this.  What I was NOT prepared for is that the obi was so tight around my ribs that when I sat down and my body was settling, I couldn't take full breaths!  I started to yawn from lack of oxygen and could only take short yawns so my body made me yawn even more and I soon became light headed.  That also had help from the fact I han't eaten since breakfast.  I had a cheesestick to tie my over till dinner, we stopped by work to show off to Naomi-San and others, and then I had to accomplish my next feet....the bathroom.  I am sure some of you guess who that would go.  You pull it back in layers the best you can and tuck your sleeves or throw them over your shoulder and do you best not to make a mess.  That part was NOT glamourus as all.  You have to put your layers back together as well.  No fear though.  It loosened up as time went on.  They tie it that tight because they know that it will shift on you and in order for it to stay together, you wrapped it up like a corset!  Mark carried my plate so I didn't have to walk with it when it came dinner time, he served me as well as my movement was limited and I was beyond careful even if my kimono is washable.  I was unable to eat a lot and after a while I become tired and so was my body!

What have I learned?  Obviously furisode is not your everyday kimono, but I knew that, you don't even wear it to tea ceremonies.  It is strightly a party thing.  Christmas, New Years, balls, and weddings.  I am not even sure I can wear this one on my birthday.  Make sure I have an escape plan!  If I don't want the night to end, bring a change of clothes because after 6 hours of wearing the furisode, you are done.  Don't plan to eat or drink much.  You don't have room for food and going to the bathroom becomes a necessary evil.  Was it worth it?  You are darn right it was, I can't wait to learn to dress myself and buy more kimono, different ones that can be worn on different occassions.  I saw the cutest kimono and obi with a cat on it!!!  The obsession grows!

I am long winded today, sorry.

BE@RBRICKS!  I have NO clue what these even were or that they were going on sale until I got a message from a friend to look out for them.  I have looked for them, Marked helped me, and they were a topic of discussion in our house for a while now.  During certain seasons, drink companies will put little trinkets with their beverages and Suntory, who has the right to Pepsi products has decided to honor Gundam by having asked the creator of be@rbricks (bearbricks) to make some cellphone straps with bears made to look like Gundams.  Gundam is a popular anime in the states and in Japan that has created shows in the 70s until today.  Mark and I looked and I noticed that in some pictures when they have done these promotions before the Pepsi has not been in the refridgerated section.  So, last time we didn't see them, Mark simply showed the Family Mart clerk the picture, asked about the bears in Japanese and he walked right back to the back room and opened up a case and we had our pick.  We bought the case.  They were sold out on sites that had people preordering them so mark and I thought we hit a jackpot, but alas, I may not buy too many of the cases as it doesn't seem like they will be worth the same as the Devil Wears Prade be@rbrick, but we shall see.

Well, Mark and I are off to volunteer at the orphange and spend some time with some kiddos they may not get much attention.  Luckily Christmas doesn't mean much in Japan so they aren't reminded they have no family in what is our holiday season.  We are really excited to get the honor of volunteering our time to bring some smiles.  I also would like to take some time to honor Toys for Tots.  So many charities that we give money to out there we may or may not see where it goes, but Toys for Tots is not asking for money, simply a toy.  I think some people may shy away saying I can't afford another gift, but I would say, you would be surprised at what little can bring a smile to a child that has nothing.  Mark and I bought the cutest stuffed bear for a little boy or girl on Black Friday to drop in the box.  I heard on the radio and didn't realize, they give presents to teens as well.  13-17 were the group most needed.  I bought a pink purse that I would use myself!  I thank God we could do something like that this years as some know times have been hard and without children of our own it's easier but again, why worried about spending so much money when for some many that have not, it truly is the thought that counts.

Omedetou Christmas from the Scott's
(I now know a Christmas song in Japanese, I may post me singing it.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video Time!

Since I have an up coming Christmas party that I have been waiting for and what I believe is a vacation coming up, I will take this time to post videos that I never have before so you can view Mark's and mine adventures.

Typhoon Chaba on the loose.  I got my experience of being out in a typhoon and I am not quick to do it again!

Ah the aquarium.  I am glad we got year passes.  I hope I can go back soon!  I think Mark enjoyed it as well.

The sights and sounds of the Naha Tug of War that happens once a year with the world's biggest tug of war rope.

Last but NOT LEAST.  My singng debut.  I am NOT shy when it comes to karaoke with friends and I am not under the delusion I can actually sing.  I love having a good time and this was one!  Mark's coworkers and my friends Nate, Sara, Justin, Brandon, and Mari tagged along with us and we had a blast.  As you can tell.
I will be taking plenty of pictures and videos of my Japanese kimono experience.  Keep a look out for it as I will be getting something done that many Japanese do when they need to get extremely dressed up.  Many do not know how to put furisode on themselves.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The everyday times of the Scott Family.

On Thanksgiving weekend, Mark and a coworker/friend of Mark's Schuyler and I went to Churaumi Aquarium in Nago.  It's one of the world's largest because it hosts one of the world's largest fish, the whale shark.  They had 3 of the giant sharks there as well as other features that were nice.  Mark, Schuyler, and I figured we would buy year passes and so we will be going back.  It's a nice escape from Chatan but extremely busy.  Next time we go we may sneak away on a week day so we can be close to the only ones there.  We made a day of it, making sure to watch the whale shark's feeding.  They also have dolphin shows but they are currently out of season as it is cooler here now.  Also on Thanksgiving weekend, we went to see Harry Potter The Deathly Hollows part I and it was amazing!  I loved it to bits and can't believe I have to wait till next year to see part II. 

Speaking of it being cooler, we are now in the winter months, well duh, December is winter, but not for everyone.  This year there are times we can get away with wearing shorts still.  It still gets very warm, though it seems my coworkers are even shocked by this.  As soon as the sun goes down though it is very cool and requires me to wrap up.  If we go out with friends to karaoke it is warm inside and usually involves me spending time trying to figure out what to wear to be comfy both outside and in.  I left all my boots in Tennessee, Ohio, and Wyoming.  So I dropped the ball on that one thinking that 50s would not be cold enough, boy was I wrong.  Wyoming may have got me prepped for the cold, but Tennessee and Okinawa brought me back to humid temperatures and sun filled days.

Our days are not very busy anymore since we made the deadline on closing our house.  We are no longer home owners, which is FANTASTIC, since our house has been on the market since Thanksgiving of last year.  We are glad to see it go and were happy to have such a nice house.  Since we are in Japan though it wouldn't do much good to still have a house in Wyoming.  I start school in January.  I am ready to get back in to it after receiving my associates in May.  I am ready to push on and keep on going.  Not sure if I will work much longer as many know how stressful it has been and I would like to focus solely on my studies, but I also have to do what is best for my family.  I may stick it out as long as I can, but if things keep going the way they are who knows.  There is something to be said about not having good communication and it takes it's toll!

Speaking about school in January, I decided to take advantage of a military spouse program for those wanting a certificate or associates.  I already have an associates so I decided to do the certificate in hopes to add classes to my bachelor's major of Asian studies.  I am ready to be back in the classroom and ready to focus.  I have seen how much I can do when I try, but then again, only math is my WORST subject.  Mark and I are both in school and we really enjoy it.  It's so amazing to see where God has taken us both on our journey together.

My kimono will be paid for today!  I will receive it this week from Tokyo and I am all ready for the full Japanese experience of getting dressed up in one of the dressiest kimono you could wear.  Generally, the furisode, the type of kimono I bought, are for young ladies that just turned 20 and for young ladies to wear until they are married.  Married and almost 30 I got the go ahead from Japanese friends and now I am wearing it to a SPORTS themed Christmas party.  They didn't always have it themed and then decided to change it!  As adults we don't get to dress up much and to think they almost made a dress code for an event I had been planning for since October!!!  They said it was okay to be semi formal, well little do they know it will not be for Talya Scott.  I promise, it is not in my nature to go agaisnst the grain on purpose, but I have always like doing what I want to do.  I think they realized they made a mistake when many went back and said why change the Christmas party at all.  Oh well, we will see how it goes.  We hope to get some friends together for Christmas and make the best of being away from the big family gathering I have grown to love.

I am off to work now.

Sayonara from the Scott's

Monday, November 15, 2010

Onsen Time

…cause bathing in a group is always fun.
Lisa asked me if I tried this yet, and now I have!

Mark and I went decided to try going to an Onsen for the 1st time on Veteran’s Day last week. For those of you who do not know what and onsen is, it’s a Japanese bath house. Still clueless? A Japanese bath house is where you go and soak in a hot spring, sometimes natural, sometimes not. Basically an overgrown hot tub. This one is not made to look natural, it is like a shallow swimming pool and they mix in special ingredients to make your soak good for you skin and your body inside and out. For this area, you must wear a bathing suit. In other hot spring areas clothes are not worn. When you are done soaking in the pool you then go inside and take off you swim suit and dry it in the spinner. Time to get naked with the locals. Since this part is in the dressing room you will see people with their towels wrapped around them, hiding as much as possible but yet if it shows, no one really cares and believe me, everyone around you could care less if there is a “nipple slip”. Too bad the Super bowl wasn’t at a Japanese bath house, huh? There is another closed off area where you are allowed to wash, but if you are looking for western showers, you will be looking for a while. In the bath you will see stalls that are not closed off, stools, buckets, and a metal cup with holes in the bottom. Don’t ask me what the metal cup is for, I doubt I could tell you what the shallow plastic bucket is for, I assume rinsing. You sit on the stool in your shower cubical and in front of you are a mirror and water faucets, along with a removable shower head. The water is turned on by you pressing the knob like the timed water sinks you may see in public restrooms and there is one for the shower head and for the regular faucet. It’s by your knees and I am thinking is used to fill your rinsing bucket, and your feet. Never mind sitting beside other people, only women for me, they aren’t worried about you, or if they were I made sure not to pay attention. My eyes were on me only. After your shower you can get dressed, which is what Mark and I opted for or you can go for another soak in bath water. In Japan, you bath water is purely for soaking, not for washing. After you wash, you go relax in the tub. There is a larger one, where it seems is big enough to move around in as Mark found out on his side that old Japanese men like to exercise in the larger tub kept at 40 degrees Celsius. There is also a smaller tub, made to look like a natural mini hot springs in which you can also soak in. You will not be in here alone though and no one has their clothes on, be advised. Now, if I had someone with me that could coach me through this experience, I may have decided to be a bit braver. As it was, it was my 1st time and I don’t like to offend the locals and with a culture of rules, I didn’t want to do it wrong! At least I watched enough anime to know, you wash 1st. Anime is good for something beside entertainment. It is funny how much Mark and I learned from anime and how the Japanese people are surprised at what Mark and I know. We often get a, “How did you know that?!” Mark and I laugh because those who know us know we have been priming out life for Japanese living, but as much as we like to be “in tune” we don’t know as much as we would like, but we are changing that and are not afraid to ask questions and our local friends are not afraid to answer. Mark is now addicted it. Mark not only loves water but he loves jacuzzis so it’s a double win and has been asking to go back since last Thursday. Maybe we will go again soon.

Some things you may need to know about bath houses:

Luckily the one that we went to, Chula-U, is used to American costumers so they will allow Americans to have tattoos. If you are Japanese, however, you are not so lucky. For Japan, it is still a sign of the yakuza to have tattoos, so they will not let you in the bath unless you find a way to keep it covered, which in a place that demands you to be naked, good luck with that. Again, with Chula-U you have to be clothes in the one hot spring, but not in the bathing part.

Don’t go expecting to take pictures of this part of Japan and its culture; I am sure you can guess why. Picture taking in the bath house is strictly prohibited.

If you have a problem with being naked around people and naked people being around you, I suggest you stay at home. There are no changing rooms that we are used to and, young or old, nakedness in not a big deal for the Japanese.

It’s a place to go and relax, take your time, bring the family. It’s good for your skin and fun for the family. Would you pay 1,000 yen to take a bath, not always, but Mark and I will go back soon I am sure!

Food for thought?
Yakiniku, Korean food with a Japanese name and you cook your food for yourself on a grill or hot plate depending on the place.  At the "Red Roof" it's a grill and it's crazy delicious. 

Sayonara from the Scott’s!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


What, you were expecting the lottery?

I have had an extremely busy week and by busy I mean getting ready for my 1st parent teacher conferences. Yes, that is bound to be ENDLESS fun as I have to be in early and leave late on a Friday and I am bound to make someone angry. That cannot ruin the GREAT day, minute, week, month that one conversation has turned this time in to. This blog is going to be very anti climatic for some of you but for some of those reading they will feel the same joy. I plan to celebrate tonight all by myself with a relaxing bath, as I will not have time to bathe tomorrow morning as I require Starbucks on my way to work tomorrow, and drink a Ramune, my favorite Japanese drink that is in my opinion blog worthy, minus the marble tonight though. Before I force you to read some of my other ramblings I will give you a hint, November 30th is the new happiest day of my life…okay maybe not, but you get my point.

Mark is gone, I am home alone, I am having mixed feelings about this as I decided NOT to go on an ITT tour and save the money and spend it on others for the upcoming holidays. I still owe a special friend a couple of special gifts.

I take this time to introduce you to:

Running/Walking pre-twilight on the Sunabe seawall.

As I am walking early one Saturday morning, before Mark was awake and before the rooster was crowing. Yes, there is a rooster in our neighborhood. I am seeing men and women what appears to be leaving the “Moon”; a local eatery and bar with pool and slot machines. As I notice the long night for the group I am mindlessly rocking out to my Keane on my iPod and running along, showing that I am hardcore to the drunken cab hailers. I continue to run toward the sea wall and I notice a man with his head in his hands sitting on the cub outside of yet, another bar, with what I figure were his wing men, making sure he was okay. I couldn’t hear what they were saying because I was too busy jogging along with a smirk on my face. I see some other people, a big group of Japanese girls, so people crashed on benches and this is at 5:30 am. Then I see it, the coup de grace of my run/walk/jog. Two men making a yin and yang symbol with their bodies on a bench on the seawall. This stopped me in my tracks, enough so to notice that they were Americans and I can only assume that they are military. This coupling told me a story. The two, hammered out of their minds, missing curfew and having nowhere else to go, decided to head to the one place they knew they could sleep for free and wouldn’t get busted by town patrol, my jogging path, the sea wall. I continued on after this, laughing to myself wishing I had my Japanese iPhone. As I am coming back, I pass the two again, they are still there, silently yin and yanging each other and I remember, I can still download pictures on my American iPhone that my new Keane album, “Night Train”, is being held hostage on. So OF COURSE, like a 15 year old that has never seen men cuddling, I take a picture. As I take said picture to my own folly I am “busted” by a Japanese woman that gives me and the men a giggle and wishes me an, ”ohayou “to which I laugh in spite of myself and say, “ohayou gozaimasu.” Feeling rather accomplished I walk home receiving another ohayou from what seemed to be a member of the avid walkers group of which I became a part of that morning.

Now, the moment you have all be waiting for. It’s not a baby, so get that out of your heads, the day will completely stand still on that day and no one will hear from me for about a week I am sure as I will have to spend all of my time talking to my family. This is something very important to Mark and I, something we have been waiting on for a year, something that will open up the doors of Japan, Korea, and the USA. The house will soon be in contract. We have a buyer, we are breaking even, and we couldn’t be more grateful or thankful for this gift for the Lord Almighty. The house will be closed as of November 30th and we will no longer have to pay one more payment on a mortgage for a house we are no longer in. We are happy to see it go. It was our 1st house. Mark and I have learned so much from being home owners and we can’t wait for the day to come, but right now, is not that time. We are in Japan and we are now going to use that extra money to save, save, save, get our little baby boy Hercules (aka Lees, aka Herca Boy), and visit hopefully Korea and mainland Japan. We are now going to be planning a big trip back home and many things won’t strain us. We will be working hard to take care of many, many things. So there you have it, there is a big weight of my hubby’s and my shoulders and we are over the moon happy, excited, and I hope you all are excited with us. We now have no ties in Wyoming other than my friends and by bizarre citizenship. Yes, I am STILL a citizen of Wyoming, I am a Wyomingite. If you would have told me that 10 years ago I should have looked at you like you were the stupidest person on this earth. No more house, good by Nimmo Drive, we thank you, sorry if we are not shedding tears of sorrow.

Now it’s bath time and rest for my big day tomorrow. Nothing can ruin my high, well maybe a few things, but why bring up the bad with all this good?

Sayonara from the Scott’s!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pull or get out of the way!

 This is the last Friday I have to spend alone, but with the tank on empty and nothing being for free, where does one go without the husband? I am thinking nowhere. This is the last Saturday Mark has class. I shouldn’t have suggested Saturday classes while I am visiting my husband in Japan, but I figured it would be quick and painless. Boy was I wrong.

      The Naha Tug of War was enjoyable if you like the feeling of Time Square on New Year’s Eve, which some do and some don’t but something tells me it, was not that bad. We actually got on the train pretty fast after the show, though we did have to wait in a line that wrapped around the station. Nationals got a free ride home or to the festival after the tug of war, we did not. They estimated that down near Kokusai Street where the tug of war is held there were over 250,000 people that gathered for the yearly tug of war. Only about 15,000 of these people assisted in pulling the rope. Since we pulled a mini one in Chatan back in August, Mark and I were just fine missing out on pulling this rope. To join in on pulling the rope it is more than suggested that you wear long pants as well as tennis shoes due to the fact that the street is packed like sardines and the chances of you getting stepped on is great. All ages come out for the tug of war and watch who will win the battle of the north and the south. Though the result of this battle just gives the winning side blessings and good fortune for the next year and it is a custom to retrieve a piece of the rope from the winning side to bring the good luck to you and to your home. More often than not, the tug of war ends in a tie. The giant rope is not moved enough to give one side alone the glory and bragging rights. They have a time limit and at the end of that limit or in the event one side actually wins, the golden ball in the sky releases streamers and confetti for everyone to revel in and for the cleanup crew to keep busy. After the rope pulling you are welcomed to a giant festival a few meters down the road, a little over a mile. There are rides, food and game vendors, and a beer paradise much like the Eisa festival but much larger. They have fireworks at the end of the festival and luckily we did NOT see the mad dash home because we left early to beat the crowd.  God willing I will be there next year. I may even pull the rope, or just skip the rope, walk Kokusai Street and go to the festival. We shall see.

   I am going to be alone. I can’t give away too much, OPSEC for all you knowledgeable on military terms. While I am alone there are 2 tours I can take. There is a tour to Ie Island, which you are taken to my a 30 minute boat ride then get to go on a hike, or I could go on a tour to the butterfly observatory. Both of these events are right up my alley, though mentioning the journey to Ie island made Mark a little jealous, so I may not go, or I may go anyways, because hey, it bees like that sometimes. :p I think I now know what to get Mark for Christmas though, we will see what I can put together in the upcoming holidays.

    Speaking of holidays the season of turkey and ham is approaching and Mark and I are honestly just considering letting someone make it for us! I have cooked a turkey twice and the rest of the dishes once. I don’t consider myself a good cook so in order to make it a great Thanksgiving, I may need to leave it in someone else’s hands. American holidays are observed by the Americans and as Mark found out from his Japanese coworkers; many look forward to being able to order a big, juicy turkey from on base. Our holidays seem to be the only time you can get one with ease. Next week is Halloween and at the school I volunteer at, the kids will be having book character day and the teachers have to dress up…now I need a costume and have a week to find one with limited cash flow. I am a creative person though; I am hoping I survive this. At least it will be on a Friday! Did I mention we have to take them trick or treating…is it selfish to ask for prayer?

Sayonara from the Scott’s!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Es pink, no?

Ahhhh, my kimono.  This past Friday I purchased my 1st kimono.  Not without some major drama surrounding it, because that is the only way I am able to do things it seems.  Regardless, all will be well soon and the kimono will be used for many occasions.  The kimono I am wearing was put on after I told the kimono ladies I was looking for a kimono for a Christmas party. I tried on a cheaper one and the I was happy with my choice until the one lady, while speaking Japanese said, basically, for a party, you want to go big. They then put on me this pink number, a furisode, meant for young, unmarried women. With a beautiful purple obi, which I was unable to purchase. Then, my ears were flooded with, KAWAII, Kawaii, ne? Which is translated to Cute, yes?! Of course, I know what kawaii, ne? means, I am a girl and it is a part of every woman and girl’s vocabulary. So then the lady takes out my camera, we got to get a picture of me in THE DRESS, right? Hook, line, and sucker! It was beautiful and they were telling me, its okay for me to wear a furisode. How could this be, I am almost 30 and MARRIED. Isn’t this a big taboo!? I sometimes am super careful and don’t want to offend the nationals so I didn’t buy the kimono, I walked out without it. I quickly called Mark and went to his work to have a Japanese intervention. I 1st talked to Naomi-San who like me saw a red flag and said no. Don’t buy this one; it is for woman who is NOT married. So, I was right, I wasn’t about to be hustled or lumped in to the “dumb American” group I created myself. So then, after talking to Naomi-San and learning I made the right choice, I then go to see Yoriko-San who told me the complete opposite. Yoriko-San informed me that it is okay. I look young and I don’t have children, this is more than okay. Then she brought over “Mama-San” and Mama-San not only gave me the thumbs up she told the tale of old singers that now love to wear furisode on stage because the others are not dressy enough and everyone wants to pretend they are young. Yoriko-San had to translate for Mama-San. So with my new found confidence and my go ahead by my Japanese friends I bought the kimono of my dreams, IT’S PINKU! It’s a furisode and my furisode can be worn to any dressy occasion such as New Years parties, weddings, nice romantic dinners, but nothing less than that. I couldn’t go out with my friends in this type of kimono. Houmongi are meant for married women to wear and was the type of kimono I was looking for before I bought my pinku kimono. This would be the ones I would wear out and around just at an evening singing karaoke or going to the izakaya, but even the houmongi have different levels of dressiness. I am able to get away with the furisode because I am young women, so I bought it, and it’s absolutely kawaii, ne?! One of the guys working the venue even took a picture of me as well. I felt famous and drifted off to Talya World…When I bought it, an American woman, and a British woman asked me if I was going to hang the kimono and art for my house, I politely told them, PSH, NO, I am wearing this, act like you know I am obsessed with Japan and Korea!

Now, just because I bought this beautiful piece does not mean I know how to get in it or that I now have all that I need to wear it. I still need an obi, obi cords, tabi socks, the kimono shoes (which also have a name but I forgot), the underwear and collar that go underneath, hair accessories, the scarf that I need to tuck inside my obi, and the basic kimono strings meant to ties the kimono together and used to keep it in place. I will then need to find a place, which my Japanese friend Yoriko-San has found a couple, that will dress me for a fee. I still have to find out the cost when you have the kimono, without, 21,000 Yen and up. That’s over $200 to rent a kimono and have them dress you. With some places though, that includes pictures and hair styles, as well as makeup. This is starting to look like my Christmas gift for this year.

I still don’t have a yukata, the summer kimono, but you can get them for good prices around here as well and will get one closer to the summer. Those are easier to wear and I will need to learn to put on my yukata myself. I will find a murasaki one, purple, to wear. These kimono are only for the summer, you cannot wear them any other time, unless you have it on around the house.

So there you have it! I bought my 1st kimono, I am on a kimono high. Anyone who knows me knows, of course, I would have this pink contraption as mine, the kimono hustlers must have smelled it on me. This will not be my last kimono purchase. Good thing Mark understands.

Sayonara from the Scott’s!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Milk is out to get you!

Boring it was not, I had a blast. I just figured it would be boring to those who are kind enough to read my rambling thoughts. The military ball was lovely. By now I am sure you all have been bombarded by my pictures of the event. Services did the food. I am sure there is only 1 person who reads this that knows what that means so allow me to just say, usually services food is what you eat to sustain life. We have had food on base, usually our Saturday morning breakfast that has been really good. Then, you have food prepared by services, like on Okuma, where Mark and I were having a romantic get a way to that we wish we would have packed out food! The food at the ball was outstanding and I was really prepared for the worst. For a $40-50 ticket, they did a wonderful job. I guess with that many colonels in one room, you had better. (Military Joke) They had Mr. Dan Clark as a speaker. Never knew who this was but he has had his hand in helping create the 1st Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Best speaker I have ever heard. My speech class came flashing back and everything our teacher said made sense. You actually wanted him to keep talking. A Very entertaining and a very interesting man. If anyone gets a chance to hear him or learn about him, I encourage you to do so. There was dancing, but we didn’t dance. It was pretty funny because after the Cupid Shuffle was played then Cha Cha slide, the more he played the more people left. We tried to check out the other party, because they had to split the ball it was so big this year, but though there were having a good time, it wasn’t going to happen. The Scott feet were not in the mood to move I suppose.

I completely forgot to tell everyone about the milk. Gyuunyuu! On base milk is the scariest thing you will ever drink. I have not had milk off base basically because Mark and I can not read Japanese and don't want to buy the wrong thing. Yeah, you assume that the carton with a picture of a cow on it would be milk, but we have bought things before in error and an error in milk we cannot afford. Okay, maybe I am making more out of it than I should, I'll leave it for you all to decide. Mark bought milk Tuesday, Sept. 26th, 2010. The Sell By date? Oct 24th, 2010 is that date. Sept. 26 is not even when the milk was put on the shelf! Milk that last forever long, milk that we have a month to drink. Technology is wonderful or an abomination? So, Mark and I are low on groceries, my options are running low and cereal with milk seems to be what I crave every morning. The milk is low and I know that if I pour this milk on my cereal we will be out. That is not the point, the point is that when I pour my milk to get ever last drop I also got every last CLUMP! THE MILK HAS CLUMPINESS NASTY ON THE BOTTOM. The “even worse” part for me is, IT WASN’T SPOILED! Yes, the clumps were not sour milk. Flashback to a conversation I had with my coworkers when I had just started, everyone loves to shop on base, it’s cheap, we go, the nationals love to go, they even bring their friends. People escort as many as possible to come get this cheap, food. From American, Korea, Mexico, Japan, everyone shops on base. The one thing, well I won’t say one, because there are a couple I am sure but the one thing my Japanese coworkers shy away from buying is, yes, THE MILK! Because why? Because, “it has the “cheese” in it,” as my coworker Ms. K told me. Ms. G agreed. So far, I had not encountered “the cheese” so I figured it was just a once in a while thing. I am believing now you get a surprise at the bottom of every carton just like our cereal boxes when we were growing up and will now throw the last of the milk away. I had cinnamon rolls and milk for breakfast just now and I feel like I am going to be sick. It may have been a onetime thing and goodness knows I won’t tell Mark because he will look at me with his forehead scrunched and maybe rightly so. Moving on…

Big changes going on at work, I am confused, what else is new? They moved me out of my one class and put me in another, for a month, or 2, or for good? I am seriously along for the ride, getting everything out of learning more Montessori. One day I hope to get certified and have my own school.

I may not be going to school on the 25th of Oct. Getting signed up and getting things paid for by the military is turning in to a royal pain.

I have much to do. Need to get some things done around the house and play with my Instant Immersion Japanese lessons Mark bought for me.

Sayonara from the Scott’s!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BEER FEST, for those who drink it, and sushi!

No, the sushi was not at beer fest, sushi outdoors...I don't think so.
A couple weekends ago was the Orion beer fest. If you don’t drink beer, no problem, this is really an event that has something for everyone. Beer, of course, Eisa dancing, which is something special to the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa islands), carnival games, GREAT food, even a haunted house. ***Quick side note*** Summer time in Okinawa/Japan is the spooky time, many spirits come out to play for the people of Japan in summer and don’t wait for our October.*** Some of you are wondering, what is Orion, I have never heard of it? That is because you can’t get it in the States. It is from Okinawa and it stays in this region. You cannot get in overseas. It is made by my personal favorite, GOYA…yick! Did you get that I was lying? The Eisa dancing beer fest goes for 3 days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with a fire work (hanabi) show sending off the big event. Bands play the whole night and there is even a dancing area. Don’t be afraid of getting in after bed time, the party ends at 9:00 pm. Enough time for you to party somewhere else. Good luck finding a cab though, we were forced to walk with fellow comrades to the “Gate 2 street” and found a cab down there when the crowd thinned out and the partiers went inside their respective bars and clubs. At the beer fest, a man that obviously had his beer goggles on proceeded to tell me I was cute. I feel that at 29, I am too old to be cute, but I will take it anyways. Though this man is not my husband, he didn’t show me harm and so I took the “compliment” for what it was and went on about my business. Drunk people that are not harming me or other are really amazing creatures, I would love to study them.

Say sayonara to the festival!

Our search for Ramune continues. We used to be able to get our favorite Japanese soda out of a vending machine by the house, we found out Monday it was sold out! Not sure if there will put more in. Ramune is a drink where you have to push down a marble with a plastic piece sold with the drink. You then must catch the marble in the notches in the bottle to make sure you can drink it. The marble will get in your way and you won’t be able to sip it if you do it wrong. You can actually get ramune in the States. I actually treated myself to it in Cheyenne, Wyoming. If you can get it there why not in Jackson, Tennessee, oh but when Suncoast was still alive, you could get it there. I have found only 2 more places now where I can get Mark and I’s favorite novelty drink. The Marine commissary, and Gordie’s, the burger joint by the house. I must go on a quest, and find out where I can get my special drink, though this is okay, I shouldn’t treat myself to it much. I don’t drink carbonated drinks that often and I would like to stick to that. Studies show drinking water keeps you young. Good thing I trained myself a long time ago on the goodness that is MIZU! See I am learning Japanese.

Fugu! In English? Puffer! Yes, some of you know and saw I have decided to eat fugu, blowfish. I have lived to tell the tale. What I didn’t realize is it really IS a big deal. You have to have a license to serve fugu, not anyone can serve it, which is a good thing. You have to practice many years to get your license. There was actually a time in Japan where after WWII there were many homeless and hungry. They would eat the scraps that the restaurants threw out. There was no way of knowing what they were grilling and eating and those who had the misfortune of finding the fugu, not know what it was, died quick deaths. Japan had so many deaths, that General MacArthur had to put policies in to place about people serving puffer. Now, I wonder if my blow fish and puffer is actually the same thing. I know, you are thinking, “Duh, Talya,” but hear me out. IT WASN’T EXPENSIVE! That was the main, uuhhh, factor for me, and where I ate it at was a little place, not elaborate or expensive. Though the walls are covered in pictures of Yoshi with famous people from all over the world, it doesn’t add to the price. The blow fish I ate was 450 Yen I believe; maybe even less, which right now is about 6 dollars. My hamachi (Yellow tail) was close to the same price, being more expensive or a little less than. The blow fish may have been the cheaper one, which then makes me think it wasn’t the fugu we have been taught to fear, with good reason of course. So with those factors, I wonder if I actually ate the potentially deadly fugu. Maybe in Japan you get it dirt cheap, I somehow doubt it, but you never know. I guess the best thing would be for me to ask. On to important matters, was it good!? It was, it was alright. Hamachi is my all time favorite and I order it wherever I go. Friends that have eaten sushi and nigiri with me know this. So would I eat it again, sure, but I am not sure if I am one on taking chances.

Nigiri is my favorite type of sushi. As pictured above, there is my blowfish nigiri as well as Mark's shrimp.  Better not try saying this word in the wrong neighborhood if you don’t know how to pronounce it. Knee-gili. R’s are L’s and visa versa, but L is not in the Japanese alphabet. Anyways, nigiri is the type of sushi where the fish sits on top or rice. In between the fish and the rice is wasabi. This is the Japanese way. It is not Japanese to eat nigiri sushi without the wasabi sandwiched between the fish and rice, this is something that Japanese restaurants have done, depending on where in America you it nigiri so Americans won’t complain. So remember for all of those who like nigiri out there, if it doesn’t have wasabi already, you’re doing it wrong! Sushi with seaweed is maki sushi. Maki means roll. I am sure you guessed that one by now for those who eat sushi. Sashimi is slices of raw fish without rice, it is expensive, but oh so tasty.

I was, am, on a quest for a new job, but is the grass really greener on the other side? Something I have to pray about.

Sayonara from the Scott’s!

Quick Stories Time and Quick Facts

“Ms. Talya, why don’t you speak Japanese?” little “M” asked me at school today. I informed her it was because I didn’t learn when I was a little girl. Ms. Kozue was tickled by this and so was I but more so than I was. I mean, really, why don’t I speak Japanese, or better yet, what is so wrong with M’s question when you have all types of people that can? I think her question was valid, a better answer would be because I was raised in Tennessee where I learned hillbilly and ebonics instead.

Naomi-san and another one of Mark’s coworkers noticed a beautiful lady walking to Mark’s work, and they were curious to find out who it was. Naomi was surprised that it was me, I didn’t know whether to smile and say thank you or be offended. She then informed Mark he was luckily, apparently only on certain days.

I am very used to driving on the other side of the road, I only once thought about driving on the right side, and it was a very brief moment, I, however, always go for the left side of the car almost every time I go to drive.

After work every day, Mark and I find time to watch various anime shows. We do not have cable, though we could get the satellite to watch the AFN (armed forces network). We do not, we save our money for other things.

I am paid in US dollars, not in Yen.

I do not drive anywhere I don’t have to, I always have Mark drive. I do not know how to get many places on my own, but I am learning. I also will not go in to any stores without Mark, or without money as I am afraid of offending people, though really, it’s not that bad, I am just a paranoid person.

I eat sushi at Yoshi-hachi’s. It is pseudo Japanese style seating, where the seats are on the floor but there is leg space underneath so that it is like sitting in a chair. I always have trouble getting down there and getting up and our shoes are removed before we go to the eating area.

It is hot here, just like it is in the southern states.  It is late September and temps are still reaching 90.  The humidity is brutal, luckily there is the beach, but Mark and I rarely seem to go as real life is in the way most of the time, and without fail, it will rain on the weekend.  The beaches have blocked off areas for swimming and those areas are shallow.  Most everyone is at the beach on Sunday because that is also the day that a lot of the Japanese nationals have off.
I am closer to China than I am to Tokyo.
There is a difference between Okinawans and Japanese.  There is an Okinawan language/dialect, but you are most likely to hear Japanese anywhere you go.
I hope to be able to blog more, life is catching up with me, there is much to do, school will start for me in a month and Mark is busy with school and work as well.  Hope we can find time to relax!
Sayonara from the Scott's! 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me), I need raw fish, and I'm turning Japanese!

This is a picture I put on facebook with me holding $2000 worth of Japanese Yen and I didn’t really put a back story on it so I figured I would explain it on my blog. Just so everyone knows…which I am pretty sure everyone already knows, Mark and I are not rich, we are not selling drugs, and we don’t have that kind of money lying around, until the 1st of the month that is. The military takes care of us enough to keep us in a nice apartment and to make sure we can pay the gas and electric bill. Of course when Mark got to Japan he needed a car to get from here to there and around the island and so he has money for that as well. Many places on Okinawa do not take debit cards or credit cards for payment when it comes to paying your bills, they still believe in getting cash in hand. Cash is universal and as Americans we have learned to live without the filthy paper and would rather put it on a card, but not here. When the 1st comes and the bills are due, Mark has to go to ATMs across the island and withdrawal his hourly amount so that we can pay for our bills in cash. Which I was always taught, NEVER carry that much cash on you, but on the 1st of the month it is a must. Rent is paid, the car note is paid, and a few other bills. While I log online to have my bills taken out electronically, Mark preps for an all around town excursion to square away funds owed. He can sign up for his to come out electronically, but there is a certain way it has to be done and blah blah, military jargon, blah blah, but Mark will sign up for it when the house in Cheyenne, Wyoming is sold. Yes, those who are keeping up, the house in Cheyenne, Wyoming has not sold. Yes, believe me, WE KNOW. That is the cause of us borrowing and begging, and not being true adults, we know. Besides, cash in hand always means you get paid, right? Money talks in every language.

I CRAVE SUSHI AND SASHIMI! I live in Japan and I have had sushi and sashimi twice!! I know, it honestly ought to be a sin, like a real sin. I fussed about it to Mark the other day, which then he did what Mark does, and spoils me and takes me to the best sushi and tempura place Chatan has to offer, only to find out it was closed because of the typhoon and tropical storms. It is a fresh fish market just like in Seattle, just maybe not as big, I wouldn’t know because it was closed! I did get to go to an awesome Japanese bakery. Everything is an art here, I wish it was more like that everywhere I go. The bad part about the bakery is that I am addicted to Japanese sweets. I have a spot in Columbus, Ohio that I go to every time I am there. (The Crescent Bakery) Shame, shame. I have now been to my Japanese bakery the same amount of times I have eaten sushi, I need sushi in my life, this IS Japan after all. The best sushi in the world and I am busy eaten katsu and yakitori, this just will not do!

Another shame, people pronouncing Japanese words wrong. While you are here, I assume you wanted to be here, there are few places that people in the military should hate, BELIEVE ME, Japan is not one of them. Sure you don’t belong here, but for all the people you meet that don’t like you, which chances are you haven’t because if you are anywhere you are suppose to be, the people have manners. While you are here, why not at least try? The Japanese won’t make fun of you for trying, believe me. Actually, they appreciate it! There is no where I have been where English is not the primary language where they weren’t appreciative that you tried. Japan is no different, just don’t be the American that thinks you belong here because guess what, married to a local or not, you don’t! Yes, you learned the language and we think that is cool, but don’t go up to the Japanese and pretend you know more about speaking Japanese than they do. That’s just rude. As much as all of us who love Japan would love to be Japanese, we aren’t, get over it, ha ha.

I should have some new pictures on facebook from Beer Fest/Eisa Dance Fest.  As always, come check them out and I will have some more about the event next week!

Sayonara from the Scott's

Friday, September 3, 2010

I'm bringing Grandma back!

That's me, GRANDMA!  Grandma is now an inside joke to Mark and I, but I will now share it as it has humor and also, old Japanese men seem to be bold as brass at times.
Mark's coworker, Yama-San, was introduced to me around week 2 or 3 of me being on "The Rock". (as my dad and other ol' vets seem to call it)  Mr. Yama, is an older Japanese man that has been working with the military for awhile now and is close to retiring.  After meeting me, Yama-San comes up to Mark at a later time during the week/month and tells him, "Your wife is very granuma, granduma (we are unsure of the actually Japanese word/slang)".  Mark of course hears what I heard when Mark was telling me the story, I LOOK VERY GRANDMA!?!?!  WHAT!?!?  Come on, I am starting to get my "crow's feet" but Grandma...really?  Why would another man say this about a man's wife!?  Mark was mistaken and after looking at Yama-San quizzically, Yama-San explained, "you know, granduma," using his hands to make a large coke bottle, "sexy."  So after I got a chuckle and a sigh of relief, I thought out loud of course, "wow, Yama-San was comfortable enough with Mark to tell him I was sexy?"  Which shows to me, older people will say what they want in any culture, especially in Japan, they have earned that right.  Though as the Western World rubs off on Far East culture, the respect levels are changing so I've read.  It also shows me, some people will say anything, I can't imagine it ever being okay in a work place for a man to call another man's wife, sexy, especially in the military, but this is Japan and Yama-San seems to be the head rooster as far as the Japanese civilians go.

Mark and I walking on the sea wall the day before Typhoon Kompasu

Typhoon Kompasu, I have been confused by you and all that you do, did.  I will clear this up for all who don't know, as I was unsure until Mark schooled me.  Yes, let me say it now, I got schooled.  I knew this was true, but I went back on what I was telling people because I hate to misinform.  Typhoons are hurricanes that start in the area of the world we are in.  They have different names only because of their region.  So my little friend, Kompasu was in fact a hurricane because typhoons and hurricanes are the same thing.  Okay, Typhoon Kompasu passed very quickly for all the hoop-la it caused, but as I found out, it only causes hoop-la for Americans.  The Japanese will be mindful of the storms, but are used to Americans thinking it's going to be worse than it actually is or, as Mark likes to do,...exaggerate.  They also have the mentally of, whatever will be will be, and that is the way, so now we move on, changed, but move on.  Kompasu was also our 1st typhoon, so of course we made sure we were prepared, unsure of what this weather would bring.  Typhoons and tropical storms are common for this time of years, our season running from August to October.  Right after Kompasu hit on Tuesday, tropical storm 10 began to head our way and it seems we will be passed but will still receive strong winds and rain this weekend.  Just in time for the largest Eisa dance performance of the year for Okinawa, that happens to be accompanied by a beer fest.  So all types are brought together in one place.  Now, every base event has been cancelled but as the Okinawans have been getting ready for this weekend long event, I am doubting much will stop their plans to party this weekend and luckily it will not be near as much rain or as strong as Kompasu, this weekend.  Kompasu passed by us making us wonder, okay, what was all the fuss, it rained, and it was like a normal windy day in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The fuss was that once Kompasu actually came to the island, they did clock wind gusts at over 105 mph.  Once it gets to that point they order all military to stay indoors.  Kompasu, traveling north of our city, Chatan, left all the miltary facilities alone except the ultimate water playground for military, Okuma Beach.  **Side Story on Okuma*  Okuma is my favorite beach, Mark took me there to stay the night the 1st week I arrived on Oki.  You can jet ski, mini golf, camp, boat, eat, and they have a STARBUCKS!!! Okuma is a 1 1/2- 2 hour drive north from Chatan-Cho**  Okuma was hit hard, destroying the beach area as well as piling the road with tree clutter.  They sent 200 soldiers up to the northern part of the island to help reconstruct and clean up Okuma.  Mark went in to work early to help print the maps needed for this job.  It is expected to take a week or so to clean up Okuma, I am unsure when the beach will be back open to us.

I am finally getting ready to start school for my bachelors in October.  Mark has already started and I am not too far behind him.  Depending on how things go, I may be able to finish before we leave Okinawa, though Mark is extending, so I hope I have more time!  We love Oki and the opportunities it and God has brought our family, we pray for more.  Mark's major is Computer Studies and I am choosing Asian Studies.

Now it's time to enjoy our very rainy, 3 day weekend!  Sayonara from the Scott's!!

In other non Japanese related Scott family news:
THE BENZ, may she r.i.p.
The Back Story: For all that don't know, in 2007, Mark bought me a 2000 C230 Kompressor Mercedes Benz for a Valentine's Day gift.  I know he spoils me, too much, I admit, but he is a giver.  I am trying to changer my taker ways.
Now as many do know, on  January 8, 2010, Mark and I were in a car accident, in which I was driving Mark to work.  On that sunny, yet cold, day, where the roads were actually clear from snow and ice in Cheyenne, a man pulled in front of us, not wanting to wait for another light and though I slammed on the breaks, as Mark held me back from the air bags that did not deploy, but should have, we collided with the man.  The force then pushed us right, causing me to bump another car on the street that was full of people waiting to turn left on to the road we were on.  Our car, the "Mers" as Mark called it, and my "baby" was totaled and the man that caused the wreck received a ticket.  This started a LONG chain of hurry up and wait.  We found out yesterday, that as of August 24th, our case that had to go to an arbitration forum was found 100% in our favor and that the clams that I didn't do everything I could have to stop the accident was false.  Mark and I are so glad it's finally over!  The man's insurance company argued that we could have done a better job to stop the collision and that we were 20% at fault.  The forum agreed with USAA that we were not at fault and that the man that drove in front of us was.  So the Mercedes is gone, justice was served, and USAA has taken care of us again.

I know I am dramatic and long winded, but you love me right? ;)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kompasu is on the way!

I figured I'd blog a bit before work.  Mark and I are normalized for sure in Okinawa.  Mark has gone back to school and will get is Associates in Applied Science after he takes his last 2 classes!  We won't stop there.  Mark and I both will continue on with school.  I just may need to decide on what I want to do since I can not get a degree here on Early Childhood Development.  Sorry for all typo's, I am in a rush, sort of.

Most already know we have an Air Force ball coming up that I can not wait for.  I get to dress up and I am sooo ready.  The only bad thing is, American sizes in Okinawa are very hard to find.  I found one store though and I will be going back Wednesday I hope, after Typhoon Kompasu has blown through.

Typhoon Kompasu, who just recently was upgraded with it's typhoon status and given a name, is heading our way.  Kompasu will hit sometime tonight in the early morning hours and the forecast for tomorrow is TYPHOON.  Really, that was the weather forecast given on the Kadena forecast.  Not rain and wind, typhoon.  I was hoping for a day off, but our little island could be a super model it's so skinny that Kompasu will pass by quickly.  While it's here it will be picking up speed for a Cat 1 to a Cat 2 and heading on it's way to China.

In other weather related news.  Last week on the 18th or 19th of August I happened to be looking out while Mark was at the ATM and I saw a strange cloud.  I was watching it as it seemed to grow, get longer, this cloud was growing a tail.  Then it finally hit me that this funny little cloud could possibly be a tornado.  As I recalled the fact that we never had tornadoes in Hawai'i, I asked Mark to look at this cloud and then quickly decided I was in fact seeing things.  We went on about our day and had dinner with some of Mark's classmates at the Garlic House.  Where you can buy fried garlic cloves, I didn't though.  Yesterday, as we were discussing what was at the time, tropical storm 8, Mark had found out, and confirmed that I did in fact see the beginnings of a water spout that did touch down on the water that day I saw the mini funnel in action.  Very interesting watching a tornado form.  Like I always say, why go looking for crazy stuff to happen and get a story to tell, if you are blessed enough to live long on God's earth, your stories will happen.  I sure was not looking for the water spout.  So, for those of you that don't know, tornadoes are uncommon on islands, they rarely touch down on land, they are more common on the ocean where the water connects with the funnel cloud creating a water spout. 

Now, I better get to work before I'm late!

Sayonara from the Scott's!

Friday, August 20, 2010

4:28 AM on a Saurday morning and I am thinking of work...BLEH

For those of you who don't know, I have started my new job at Sunshine Montessori School as the Montessori Teacher in one of the primary classes.  It will probably be two classes by the time this year is said and done.  Chances are I will be assisting with Kindergarten as well.

I have received enough questions about my line of work, more so the fact that I work off base, that I have decided to dedicate this blog to my civilian job...off base, and owned by an American. 

1st, Kadena AB (Air Base) can only house so many American soldiers and their families, i.e., why Mark and I live off base.  As a matter of fact, our next door neighbor is a young woman that is Mark's coworker and her husband.  (He makes a mean pot of chili and I beat them and Mark in Monopoly ha ha)  The same is said for military funded businesses such as, the BX, the "shops" our soldier's work in, and the CDC (military funded, but NOT free, childcare).  The military can try, but simply can not accommodate all of the people they employ here in Japan and elsewhere.

2nd, There is money to be made in childcare in cities, towns, and islands who are occupied by military bases, where sometimes both parents MUST work, like the many children whose parents are "dual military" (both parents working for Uncle Sam) or people want their children in actual PREschool and not in the CDC with is basically daycare.  Yes, people, my job, is not to be Mommy or Daddy, my school is not a daycare, I am not a babysitter, I do not cater to their every whim, I am a teacher, that teaches.  Yes, I comfort, and guide them to adjust, but in my school, we don't wipe noses, the child does.  I do not change diapers.  I prepare lessons for a young group of children and provide them with the know how to carry on tasks needed for every human being to function while also preparing them for academics in the years beyond the time they are there with me....okay, I am off my soap box.

Some people, both nationals (in this case the Japanese citizens) and Americans have decided to market on the fact that people love to make extensions of themselves, multiple times, in the form of your little bundles of joy. And of course (I know, I started with AND and I'm a teacher, get over it, it's my blog!) every parent wants nothing but the best for their mini mes.  Of course, like our churches, people love different teaching styles.  That is where my Montessori school comes in to play because we are not your traditional school and we are not for everybody.  For every 10 people I meet that coo over Montessori like I do, there is 1 that does not, and that is fine....now I am rambling, I said all that to say this.  Not all military children can or do their parents want their child to go to on base child care, the CDC.  There may be no room, parents may be ready for their children to be exposed to something other than being on base.  So, in my school, it is primarily American children.  As a matter of fact, out of my 18 kids, 3 are Japanese, with only 1 being "full" Japanese.  My coworkers are Japanese and Filipinas that have lived on Oki for a long time or were born in Oki.  My boss, though born in Korea, is American.  I am the only American teacher, as my boss has moved and she is out of the classroom.  American children are, how do I put this nicely, acclimated to different customs than Japanese children, there for, I was brought in to help my little fellow Americans understand that you need to listen to all of your elders. :)  I have also been trained in the Montessori philosophy for 2 years while my coworkers have not.  I am there for those reason, and I love the little keiki, of course!  You HAVE to love our job to work with kids, or at least understand them very well.  They are not little adults, they are children, they need to be able to have the freedom to be just that, cause goodness knows, it doesn't last forever.

Okay, now for the part you've all been waiting for, let's talk about the Japanese.
  1st off let me say, that in the defense of the Japanese, (if you perceive this story to be one in bad taste.) the people I am about to refer to were called Chinese by my coworker, Glenda, and she knows better than I do, but I heard the words, "Kawaii!!", which means cute for those who don't know, in Japanese.
 Now for the story of the week:  These women, who appeared to me to be Japanese, saw our little troop and of course, a group a kids playing on a play ground at a botanical garden outing is beyond cute, it's ULTRA CUTE!  So what do the young women want more than the shave ice and beer they were carrying around?  Pictures of and WITH the kids of course!  Now, understand this, many of you know they love to take pictures, and come on, we do too, they just have the....whatever you want to call it...to ask if they can take pictures.  Now another thing that you shouldn't be surprised about if this ever happens to you, they like taking pictures WITH you at times.  So of course a child loving culture would want to take pictures with the cutest bunch of sweaty kiddos you ever did see.  So they ask to take pictures of and with the kids, and children, especially American children, being natural hams, (Not all are.)  after receiving their teacher's go ahead, and some even before, quickly comply with the request of the nice, young ladies.  Yeah I know, right, GO FIGURE!  They got the peace signs up and the kids got the peace signs up and the group of about 6 of them pass around cameras and the kids are cheesing and the ladies are cheesing and there are, "KAWAII's!!" everywhere.  I just watched with my American eyes and observed with my American mind and took it all in.  This is normal for the Japanese culture, and I was okay with it, and it made me smile.  It's nice because though we may be different we obviously have one thing in common, we can see the simple and complex beauty that is found when children are allowed to just be children.  My only problem, you may have just started drinking, but please keep the beer away from the children.  It's Japan, you can buy beer many of different places, but beer in hand with picture of kid....I am not comfortable with.  Though, she may have passed off the cup, I could not see as I was supervising another group.

PICTURE TIME! This is the Southeast Botanical Gardens close to Kadena's Gate 3
You would have thought there was a Chick Fil A near by.

Sayonara from the Scott's!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm afraid of Americans. Japanese kindness. The confusion which is my skin.

Let's talk about driving in Japan first.  It's not new news to anyone forced up on my new posts on facebook, that I have recently obtained my Japanese driver's license.  I have a bad feeling that this has put a target on the Scott family's back for the USAF, but anyone who knows us knows we don't do anything, NICE and eeeasy,  (Okay I will refrain from inserting Tina Turner lyrics) and in order to work off base, I need this little white piece of paper.  Am I getting used to driving on the left side of the road? Yes, I am doing pretty well.  Some friends and family have asked, "How is it, do you like it?" To this I answer not at all for several reasons:
  •  I am now grabbing for everything on my left side, which is weird to me.
  • I literally feel like a brand new driver, never having done this before.
  • My fellow Americans can't drive and cut me off and pull in front of me, so I am very afraid of being in an accident.
  • Accidents are bad here because multiple drivers can be found at fault and even if my fellow American pulls out in front of me and I hit him, I could be at fault as well for not letting them out.  Accidents can get expensive fast!  Insurance and chances are the person you hit or hits you will file a claim against you.
  • The roads are made by mixing in coral from the ocean, this makes things very slick when it rains, which it does ALL the time, and though I and the Japanese slow down, my fellow Americans do what they do at home when it rains and snows....go faster.
I will have to get used to all these things, and I feel that I am, slowly, very slowly.  I start work on Monday, so that will be my 1st day driving solo without Mark to guide me and whistle like the the person in front of us can hear him if they cut me off.  If I have learned anything so far on the Okinawan roads it's drive it like you stole it and be patient and polite to the nationals, because that is what they are used to.

Speaking of being polite.  The Golden Rule really means something in Japan.  Oh if we could all turn Japanese.  Wait a minute, don't get all jumpy.  The Japanese are so polite and have everything down to an art.  I wish more of our customs were like theirs.  Though we might be gaijins (non Japanese, American trash), they smile a lot, make you feel welcome,  and take their time with all they do, it shows.  The service and the end product trump the speed of getting something done.  They do things the efficient way, whether you like it or not and I am okay with that.  For example, having a meal at a restaurant run by the Japanese:
      You come in and they seat you or you seat yourself and you are always greeted by more than one person that works at the restaurant. You are brought  little glasses of water, a pitcher to refill your glasses when you need to and there is no waiting for water, and menus.  The more the place is used to having English speaking customers, the better the chance is that they will read our minds and give us English menus without even having to ask for them.  You look over everything and when you are ready to order your food, you slip up your hand, and believe me they are waiting for it, and say, "Sumimasen".  Most of the time if you are not Japanese, you don't even have to do that.  They come over, take your order and review it with you.  It is normal to say the quantity after you order something.  Then they walk off or punch it in at the table and you just sit back and relax.  You are brought things to munch on depending where you are and when they bring you your food you also receive your ticket.  What if you want to order something else?  Put your hand up and they will just add it to your ticket most of the time by stapling another ticket on.  When you are finished, you go up front and pay for your meal, then leave.  You are never waiting for your waitress or waiter to bring you your ticket so you can leave.  Efficient!  Not just with food, with everything.  Machines or you don't do the work that a person could do for you because again, service and presentation are paramount...guess what, they still have full service gas stations!

I have finally given up on caring if people care or are just curious about the color of my skin and my heritage.  I have finally learned to lighten up.  *applause*  Now it still grinds my gears when I hear a person with a southern draw ask, "ARE YOU MIIIIXED?"  Cause you know it takes us 5 years to say our words.  I have realized, some people are just curious and are going to be.  It's not just Tennessee, the Okinawans sometimes care too.  I have had a couple of Japanese ladies I have had the honor of meeting ask me if I was from or part Okinawan, as well as some AF gentlemen.  I have realized that my kind of beige is the type that wherever I go, people think I am from that place.  American, we know you are not just white or black, Hawai'i, some kind of Asian or pacific islander, Okinawa, Okinawan and something else.  So whatever, as long as people aren't jerks about it, I will talk about it.  That is what helps us learn about one another, right?

Things I have learned in Japan:
The Japanese are polite, and it's beyond wonderful.
You better NOT wreck and goodness forbid you hit a national.
Everywhere you go you get the little hand towels before your meal.
There are many ways to say, "thank you."
There are seasonal dishes at restaurants that you may only see a certain time of year.
On a walk, some Japanese will greet you just as we would back home, so you better have your konichiwa or konbanwa ready!
The Japanese may coo over your child, saying hello, little tickles, even the men, this is normal.

Sayonara from the Scott's!

Festivals, Bathrooms, and Taco Rice...it's not Mexican at all.

It's been over a week so I suppose I need to fill everyone in a bit more this time.  Don't worry, I will attempt to make it easy to skim over.  Even with the story I will be posting, I will leave something out and I will make sure to post on facebook if I do.

1.Tug O War
2.The John, The Loo, The Throne..
3. Taco Rice, bring your Tums
4. The sky is falling, the sky is falling

Tug of War, Japanese style.

Every 12 years in Chatan they have what is called the Sankamura, which is the 3 town tug of war.  Chatan, our town, hosts it and they do a big festival/ceremony  for the rope and those who are going to pull it.  Of course they had to scare the bad spirits away...for 2 hours...before actually pulling the rope, but hey, I was along for the ride on that hot day, so all was great and I really liked being able to experience this.  There is much I am afraid of leaving out, but let me say this 1st.  After one round and rope burn, I was ready to tap out and did.  One local national proceeded to tell us in Japanese that we were not done yet when we left early, but I didn't agree with that..I think we were.  This rope if you can kind of see it in my picture, was so thick, it stood up from the ground all the way to my knee.  The big rope had side ropes that people branched off of to pull.  We were pulling for the wrong team, so I am glad we didn't win, Chatan did win!  That is our city.  Which ever of the 3 cities wins the tug of war wins bragging rights as well as the spirits smiling on their crops, which are sure to be plenty..must have been before the city was covered with concrete!  The cities competing for glory were Chatan, Dendo, and Tamayose.  After the couple of festivals I have been to I have learned the Okinawans and Japanese don't do anything half way, except for the little guys and girls, and everything is larger than life.

Bidets and more.
Some may not like my next topic, it's about the toilet.  I will try to keep it as classy as one can when talking about the bathroom and some may just choose to skip this section.  It may be a known fact that Japanese toilets are weird, but add glorious to that list too!  I will be adding pictures to this blog or fb hopefully of one toilet that has scared me, but in time of emergency, I will not turn down.  The buried urinal.  It looks like something that belongs in a boys restroom in an elementary school except it's lying on the ground, and buried. I am not completely sure which way is which but since it works out in the end, so be it.  The scary part is I am wondering if it is for *cough cough* BOTH functions.  Some places you go, there are unisex bathrooms.  I was mortified when I found this out myself, first hand.  I begged Mark to go with me so I would not be alone,  the 2nd time I had to go back, but I don't think he got how completely uncomfortable and American I was at the moment.  I thought at first, maybe I just didn't lock the door right and the other person didn't realized it was occupied, but after talking with Steph Pak I found out my suspicions were very real and the same thing happened to her at a KFC near Kokusai Street and the guy that was in the bathroom explained to her, it was normal, and apologized.  THE BIDET!  I was just going to  leave that one alone, and open the offer that if anyone wants to discuss it further, come talk with me, I'd be happy to, but today I ran in to bidet ultra, IT HAD HEATED SEATS!  Mark simply said, you'll like the bathroom at lunch today and I knew exactly what that meant.  Mark hears about bidets all the time from me now, I sing their praises and love it when I find a place that has them, I remember all the places I have been to that have them....I will say that I am amazed by them more than I should be and I will leave it at that. *wink*

Taco, Taco.
Taco Rice..ole..Believe it or not this is an Okinawan original, born and raised in Okinawa and some places have even went as far as being Taco Rice fusion restaurants.  Which we went to one today. My opinion on Taco Rice:  Not going to go out of my way to eat it.  I would take it over pizza, but then again, I hate pizza and would take anything over pizza.  Honestly it's not that bad but you better not fill up on it and/or take your medicine for acid reflux or heartburn because unfortunately it doesn't settle well.  Mark loves the stuff, so do his coworkers, but I, Talya, am officially, not a fan.  What is Taco Rice?  Picture steamed sticky rice, that you would get with your Japanese meal, now put seasoned meat on top, finished off by cheese, lettuce, a bit of tomato, and always, salsa, home made might I add, on the side.  There are various ways to make this dish from simple to elaborate (which we had today).  You are given a spoon and you may choose to do what Mark and I among others do: dip your spoon in the salsa and then proceed to get a spoon full of your Taco Rice goodness. 

Big Ol' Jet Airliners.
Can we pretend that air force jets flying in the afternoon do not exist, I could really use a nap right now, nap right now, nap right now. (Me trying to be clever, changing B.O.B. and Haley's song Airplanes).  WHEN I came to join Mark at our lovely apartment I was so thrilled, I still am, I love our space, it's just enough for us and Hercules in February.  Some told Mark, "Ooooo, the jets are SO loud in that area!  Don't rent there!"  There is a sign right before you pull on to our street that says, "No more Sunabe Air Base."  I thought it was just some protest sign put there by someone that didn't like our all American apartments. Well, I found out soon during my 1st full week here what are the commotion is about.  The flight line is right by our beach and our house which can be pretty cool except when they are flying jets that surly can break the sound barrier very loooow above our house...and beach...and road...and town.  It is the loudest thing I have EVER heard, EVER.  Let me just say, the Jackson tornado of 1999 went down my street...above my apartment...I lived on the road with the bus garage, remember what happened to it?  Yeah....jets trump tornadoes.  I woke up from my nap today thinking there was an air raid and that Kim Jong Il finally pushed the button!  I still love our place, we are the 1st renters in the apartment, evah!  So that is amazing but those jets...oooo those jets...God Bless the USA...lol

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beni-imo, goya, and ray fin, oh my!

Okay, anyone who knows Talya, knows I like to eat!  Experiencing the culture is only half way done unless you are eating or trying the local food.  I am glad God gave me the good sense of humor to try ALMOST anything, once.  Here are some of the foods I have tasted.  I can't say the same for Mark.

Goya:  This Japanese gourd has another name but in Okinawa they grow it and use it a lot more than the mainlanders I am thinking.  There is even a dish that is considered "Okinawan Soul Food" called Chanpuru that is cooked through out Okinawa and is a true Okinawan dish.  Have I tried Chanpuru? No.  Will I ever? NO!  The reason why?  This adventurous soul has already done my Okinawan right of passage by trying goya.  Now, for those of you like me, that aren't going to take anyone's word for it but your own, try it, and hey, YOU may like it.  There are still things I would try after someone gave me a bad review.  For those of you who take my word as good, save your taste buds for something else.  Goya is bitter!  I tried it fried, and even dipping this gourd in batter and soaking it in oil, a southern girl's dream, was not enough to save me from the bitter taste.  It's soft.  Almost reminds be of a slightly tougher avocado, but unlike an avocado the taste is not mild and I quickly found something to wash my palate with.  Want to read more about the harmless looking but not so tasting goya?  I found this website: http://www.wonder-okinawa.jp/026/e/column4.html

Sting Ray Fin:  This dish was grilled when I tried it and I don't have many words for it other than I was glad to have tried it.  Could I eat a full plate of it? No, but if offered to me again, I would take a piece.  I tasted this at the local izakaya so in that setting you wouldn't eat the whole plate anyways. (Don't know what an izakaya is? Read my 1st blog ;-) ) The ray fin reminded me of jerky in consistency.  It was chewy, crispy around the grilled edges.  It also didn't have a heavy fish taste to it which made it more pleasant than dried cuttlefish.  (Tried that yucky dish in Hawai'i)  They actually used a charcoal grill and I am finding out that with many foods in Japan, this makes all the difference in the world!

Beni-imo:  Beni-imo shall be nicknamed by me here forth, TROUBLE.  Sweet Potato Ice Cream...YUM YUM!  Blue seal, which is a popular chain  of ice cream shops on Okinawa, exclusive to Oki might I add.  You can by all kinds of flavors, think Baskin Robins.  Since the sweet potato is a staple here in Oki, I went out on a limb and tried it, and I am so glad I did.  I am now going to have trouble trying the mango or pineapple ice because I have fallen in love with beni-imo.  Go ahead, tell Mark, he knows me and I am sure he already knows.  I see a Blue Seal and I am instantly begging to go for ice cream.  Come out and visit, try the beni-imo, you will be glad you did.  It's sweet, no after taste, and very refreshing on a hot day, which we have many off!  Here is a link if you care to snoop around. http://en.blueseal.co.jp/index.html

Yakitori (best grilled on an open flame!) to Yakiniku.  Sushi, sashimi, and seaweed. Beni-imo and my continuing quest for butter fish, Mark and I are chopsticks deep in many Japanese, Korean, and most of all Okinawan dishes and I have only been here a week! We are exploring Oki and loving every minute of it.  I hope to have many pictures very soon from our Hiji Otaki hike, our Okuma Beach trip, and Kokusai Street, 10,000 Eisa Dancer fest!

Sayonara from the Scott's!