Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Packing Requires Chocolate

I knew that it wouldn't be an easy task. I knew that it would require planning and time. But I didn't know that packing two year's worth of clothes into two suitcases could be this stressful!

It seems to me that my suitcases have shrunk--there's less room in them than I thought there was. And at the same time, I have more clothes than I thought I had! This is not a good combination.

So it only makes sense that I shrink down my clothes in order that they fit into my "shrunken" suitcases. I'm doing this by putting my garments into big plastic bags that zip tight, and then sucking all the air out with a vaccuum. It's somewhat amusing to watch my clothes quickly shrivel up in the bag, looking like a giant raisin in the end. I love that this technique saves space in my suitcases, but I wish it would reduce the weight as well!

Besides clothes, I am also packing chocolate. (That way I'll be sure to have sweet treats while I'm in Japan.) And besides packing chocolate, I'm eating chocolate while I pack! I find that this helps to keep my stress level down, haha.

Even though I still have eight days to go until I leave, I'm packing now while I have the time. My last week in the U.S. is extremely busy! Ariel and I are going to Iowa to visit our friends Carrie and Stacie, Friday though Monday. On Tuesday, I'm helping Ariel move into her apartment in Bloomington. And on Wednesday--the day before I leave--I'm spending the day at the great Indiana State Fair.

This past week has also been busy. (What's new?) Ariel and I have been doing things that she's wanted to do, like ride bikes in the country, having a picnic and visiting the state museum. We've also visited my friends, attended a wedding and made a trip up to Ft. Wayne over the weekend.

With all of this activity, I think chocolate will be necessary to keep me going!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hmm...that's interesting

Interesting is an interesting word. (It takes a journalism major to be interested in pondering this! haha)

But when you think about it, the meaning of interesting is so ambiguous. For example, if you were to ask someone's opinion of a movie, and he or she told you that the movie was interesting, you most likely wouldn't know exactly what that meant. My friend Albert once told me, "Interesting is what you call an ugly baby." While I think that babies are extremely cute, I think he makes an interesting (as in amusing/entertaining) point!

I find it interesting (in a not-so-good way) that Starbuck's does not have free wireless internet. At least the one near my house doesn't. I just found this out. Before today, I had never taken a laptop to a coffee shop, even though that seems to be a common thing to do. This could be because #1 I'm not particularly fond of coffee shops and #2 I've never had a laptop! Being out in public is a first for my brand-new laptop. Isn't that interesting? (as in compelling)

So anyway, here I am sitting at Meijer in the cafe, where there's wireless internet. I'm with my "girlfriend" Ariel, who is also typing away -- sending e-mails, downloading music, etc. Of course what we are working on is very interesting! (as in captivating...this blog post, for instance! haha)

I picked Ariel up at the airport two days ago. She's from Singapore, and it took a total of 24 hours in the air to finally reach Indiana! Isn't that interesting? (as in kind of impressive) And I thought that my 16-hour flight was long! She actually flew from Tokyo to Chicago to Indiana--which is the same route I'll be taking--but had to fly from Singapore to Tokyo first.

It's so great to have Ariel with me for the two weeks before I leave. It's interesting (as in kind of crazy/ironic) that we're switching lives in a way; she's moving from Asia to Indiana, and I'm going from Indiana to Asia. She's going from the "work world" to school -- grad school at IU. And I'm going from school to the work world.

Ariel likes to ask me all kinds of questions about life in the United States. Her response to my answers is usually, "That's interesting." I think it's interesting (as in thought-provoking) that she finds the different aspects of American culture interesting. I'm sure that I will find the culture of Japan interesting (as in fascinating) as well.

When I was at the airport with Ariel, of course I couldn't help but think of how I'll be back at the airport in just over two weeks from now! Instead of Ariel, I'll be the one carrying heavy bags around airports, suffering from jet lag and being alone in the midst of hundreds of strangers. While these aspects of traveling don't sound interesing, (as in appealing) I'm sure that it will all be worth it once I arrive in Kuji and start making it my home.

And once I'm in Kuji, I'm sure to have more interesting (as in all meanings of the word!) times than I can really count!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An Update...

on where I've been and what I've been doing the last couple weeks since I haven't written.

I got back from family vacation a few days ago. We drove over 2,200 miles and through seven states--not including Indiana. So now we're closer to our family goal of being in all 50 states. (Five of the seven states were new ones for us.)

I always enjoy going to new places and doing new things. And of course, I love a good adventure! Some of our adventures were: going to a battlefield in Mississippi, visitng a Native American museum in Oklahoma, digging for diamonds in Arkansas, visitng Hot Springs and ending up in Branson, Mo., which was an adventure in itself!

There are a lot of different shows and restaurants to choose from in Branson. One of the highlights for me was going to The Roy Rogers - Dale Evans Museum with my dad and seeing a show there. It was exciting to meet Roy Rogers' son and grandson and hear them sing! I realize that last sentence probably doesn't mean a thing to most people my age, but I grew up watching Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger. (That's what you get for having a dad who's into cowboy shows!)

As a family, we saw the Shanghai Circus and the Jim Stafford show. The circus was amazing because the young Chinese acrobats could move their bodies in all kinds of crazy ways and do incredible things! Jim Stafford was hilarious and entertaining, and I think everyone had a lot of fun. I really liked the shows, plus Silver Dollar City, the amusement park we went to in Branson the next day.

Overall, I enjoyed spending time with my family, which is something I won't be able to do for a while. I'm going to add pictures from vacation to this post a little later.

Also as part of the update...

I now have my work visa for Japan, my international drivers permit, and I pick up my new laptop tomorrow! I took care of all these things the week before I left for vacation. While on vacation, I had several hours in the car to think about Japan and get myself psyched.

So I'm getting ready and set for my grand adventure, and I'm excited to go!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

When I hear the word "courage"...

I admit, I immediately think of the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz. And then my Musical Tourette's syndrome kicks in, and I start singing, "If I were king of the forrrrrest!!"

But seriously, the cowardly lion is not the epitome of courage. He even has the word cowardly in his name, for crying (or roaring) out loud! Instead, there is a whole group of people that comes to mind when I think about courage.

I'm thinking about the men and women who are willing to sacrifice their own lives to defend their country, specifically U.S. soldiers.

Last week at VBS, a lieutenant named Emily Armstrong spoke to the older kids about what it was like to be fighting in Iraq. The kids were preparing to send care packages and letters to soldiers, and it was good for them to learn more about the sacrifices that war causes some people to make.

It was also good for me to learn first-hand about life for the troops in Iraq, and I couldn't help but try to put myself in their shoes. (I mean boots.) And believe me, it was a scary thought! I can't imagine there being anything fun about being in Iraq -- in extremely hot weather, weighed down in protective gear that makes it even hotter, eating "food" you don't enjoy at all, being away from family, and knowing that you may not live to see them again.

Talk about bravery! Listening to Lt. Armstrong speak about the awful conditions in Iraq really put things into perspective for me. Many of the soldiers fighting are my age! It's hard for me to imagine the kind of courage they have.

People think I'm brave for moving to Japan. No, I'm not the brave one. I'm not putting my life on the line. Although I'm leaving my family for a year or two, that's about the only similarity there is between what I'm doing and what soldiers do.

I've been praying for the U.S. troops for a long time now. Two years ago, I adopted a soldier in Iraq through Soldiers Angels who I send letters and packages to. It's the least we can do for these brave men and women. Hopefully very soon they will all come home, back to their families and friends.