Saturday, January 9, 2010

Donut try this at home...

So, some of you have been wondering what happened to the doughnuts from Mr. Donut. Well, after I left the shop, I got my luggage out of the locker where I had stored it for the afternoon. Now, by this time, I had acquired multiple packages, so I stuffed them wherever they would fit. The donuts went into my large suitcase.

The next time I thought about the doughnuts was well after I checked my bag. Needless to say, by the time we met again, they were hopelessly stale.

Those were some well-traveled doughnuts.

Friday, January 8, 2010

...a break from regularly scheduled programming

OK, so technically it isn't Jan. 7 anymore. However, my day has not ended yet, so this post totally counts! And the day where I went to bed and then woke up an hour later and blogged totally counts too, because the date had not changed yet!

So today, I am taking a break from the story of my trip because it is very late, and I am too tired to think. Today was another lovely day, though! I saw work friends this morning, did some packing, went to my favorite stylist and ran into an old friend from work who I did not think I would be able to see on this trip, and then spent a wonderful evening with 3 good friends! We went to one friend's house and just enjoyed chatting and eating and spending time together. It was just lovely. I meant to get home by 10:30 at the latest...but I arrived home around 12:30. Oops.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Four sunrises in three days, part 2

When we last checked in with our heroine, she had managed to hail a cab and make her way to the hotel in Chitose. Let's go back and find out what happened next. Liz?

"Well, I made it to the hotel without incident. It was a great little place...little being an operative word, but that was no problem since it was just me. The staff was really helpful - they arranged my taxi for the next day and arranged a take-out breakfast for me since I would be leaving before breakfast opened. The next morning, when I went to check out, I was surprised to see that the take-out breakfast was quite a lot of food!

My taxi arrived at the airport just as it was opening. I actually had to wait a while before I could even check in, as the JAL counter was not open yet. During this time, the sun rose. This was December 24, sunrise #2.

The flight to Tokyo was nice and uneventful. It was so interesting to watch the snow slowly recede to nothing. Before I knew it, we were in Tokyo. I had one final milk tea before departure, and before I knew it, it was time to depart for America. It was kind of interesting to watch the slow accumulation of people who looked and spoke like me...none on the train, a few in Sapporo, and a whole bunch in Tokyo. And several people in Tokyo spoke with southern accents! I think I heard someone randomly let out a cheer for the Saints (or some football team). Why not?

Once I boarded the plane, stashed my carry-on, and shoehorned myself into my window seat, I struck up a conversation with my neighbor. She was a very nice Australian lady who was going to visit her daughter on the East Coast. We had a nice chat until the plane was airborne. I really couldn't have asked for a better neighbor...well, I suppose Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome (and single) would have been nice.

I was really struck by the difference in the flight attendants on the JAL flight and the American flight. The JAL attendants were very uniform - they all were dressed in matching uniforms and had matching hairstyles. The uniforms and the hairstyles were much more on the formal side. The AA flight attendants were all wearing different variations of the uniform and had very different hairstyles. Some were decked out in Christmas decorations. It was really interesting to see the differences between the two airlines.

One of my favorite things about the international flight was watching the movies and TV shows on my little screen. I did watch one of the most boring movies known to mankind, but most everything else was pretty good.

The sun set relatively early on our journey east. It was a beautiful sunset way up there. Ahhhh. I highly enjoyed it. Then, we passed the International Date Line, and it became December 23 again. As we continued eastward, and time managed to progress, it became December 24 again. Changing time hurts my brain.

After what felt like quite a long time, we finally saw the lights of land. America! Hurray! Somewhere over the western part of the country, the sun rose on December 24 again - sunrise #3. It was simply an amazing sunrise - colorful and fabulous.

Well, here is about where I will have to end for this evening. Good night!"

Thanks, Liz! Everyone, be sure to tune in tomorrow for the next enthralling installment in our series!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Four sunrises in three days

And now, for the never-before-told story of my trip to America! Prepare yourself for a harrowing tale full of drama, intrigue, and Starbucks.

OK, so maybe the above description is a bit dramatic. I'm jet lagged? You know, it really is amazing. Jet lag is like the ideal all-purpose excuse for every moment of stupidity. Unfortunately, it was a quite valid excuse for my first several days home - hence the blog about my trip almost two weeks after the fact. I do think I've just about worn out the jet lag excuse now...but when I go the other way I will have a whole fresh crowd to use it on.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I left my house about 6:00 am Japan time on December 23 (Happy Birthday, Emperor Akihito...thanks for the holiday). This would have made it about 3:00 pm Central time on December 22. Oh, before I left my house, I got to experience the fun of pouring windshield wiper fluid into my toilet to keep the remaining water (after flushing out the pipes) from freezing. I have no car, but I have a jug of windshield wiper fluid. But anyway, after taking care of the pipes, unplugging everything, and obsessively checking over my apartment, I headed out of my apartment...full of nervous excitement.

I towed my large suitcase, rolling carry-on, and mesenger bag out into the snow, and encountered a new problem...how to operate rolling luggage in the snow. It's trickier than you would think. The suitcase decided to take on a new part-time job as a snowplow. The snow was not too deep, but enough fresh stuff had fallen to mae things kind of difficult. I wrestled the luggage to the one place with packed down snow...the road. Yes, the same road that cars drive on. My big suitcase is about the size of a small car in Japan, so it worked out ok.

Finally, I made it to the intersection generally frequented by taxis. I stood on the corner of the road and waited for a taxi. No taxis came, but I think I got several strange looks. I decided that the corner was not the best place for me and my caravan of luggage, so I piloted it over to the bus stop. I couldn't really get to the sidewalk, because of snow, so I just waited and hoped I wouldn't still be there when the buses started running. Well, I continued to wait, but no taxis came. This had never happened to me before, so I finally broke down and called a taxi. I think that was my first phone call in Japanese! The taxi came quickly after that and took me to the train station. Once on the train, I enjoyed my first sunrise, and we were off! It was, as usual, a lovely train ride.

I spent a wonderful afternoon in Sapporo with a good friend. We had a leisurly lunch of sushi and then did some shopping, as no trip to Sapporo would be complete without a shopping marathon! That evening, we went to Mr. Donut and I bought two doughnuts that I was really looking forward to eating (I wasn't hungry when I bought them). I think we said our goodbyes somewhere between 6 and 7 pm and I caught the train for the town of Chitose (where my hotel was).

The train ride was going to take a little while, so I pulled out a book and read for a few minutes. I felt a bit anti-soial, so I put my book down. A few minutes later, the lady next to me started talking to me. Well, she and just about the whole train (including the conductor) got worried that I was going the wrong way (there is a separate train that goes to the airport...and I was obviously going to the airport at some point). After several conferences, they determind that I was going the right way and where I needed to get off. It was so sweet and so cute that complete strangers would take an interest in where I was going!

Soon, I arrived at my station and caught a taxi to my hotel. And my story will have to end there for now, because I want this to post while it is still today!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Beautiful day

Well, I almost missed blogging today...I am getting up early in the morning, so I went to bed early. I happened to wake up a few minutes ago and randomly remembered that I had not blogged today. So, since I really need to go back to bed, today's post will be fairly short.

Today was a wonderful day full of family and friends (and some delicious food). Weirdly enough, it snowed for most of the morning and afternoon. It didn't stick much, but there was definitely some precipitation going on. I sorely missed the sunshine I've been happily soaking in, but everyone was excited to see the snow, so that was kind of fun!

Sometimes I wish I could spend all my time with family and friends (and maybe some delicious food). I know this is not at all realistic! Oh, well. I will savor every minute with everyone now, and look forward to what the future holds for all of us.

Have a happy, happy day! I hope your New Year's Resolutions are still going well!

And just for a little fun...here is a video of one of my favorite artists! My brother gave me her new CD for Christmas (thank you!!). She is performing one of her first songs that really made her famous. Well, it is a bit modified, as she is on Sesame Street! Enjoy!

Bliss 1/3/09


Where are those places where you find pure bliss? Outside? Inside? With others? Alone? I was just thinking about this, because January in Mississippi has always offered up several blissful times. For me, spending time with my family and my good friends is quite blissful. Sometimes, I just like to stare at them! Soaking up enough family and friends in 17 days to last me for 7 months is a bit of a challenge, but I'm doing my best!

There is also something about running errands after the holidays are over but before it's time to go back to work or school. I love the feeling of just being out in the afternoon - especially when it's sunny. For me, it feels like the world has almost returned to normal - but there is nothing especially pressing to do - and the newness of the year just washes over me with the sunlight.
It's really nice.

Thinking about Japan...one of my favorite moments in Japan is when I take the ferry in August or September when it is warm enough to sit outside. I love to stretch out my legs and soak in the morning sun as we travel west, and then gaze at the beauty of the setting sun while we travel east in the evening.

I'm excited to see what moments of bliss the Hokkaido winter will bring! I've been enjoying the winter so far, but there is a difference between enjoying something and experiencing that wave of bliss. Oh, I remember one in particular...the first snowfall! I felt a little bit like a kid on Christmas Day. I can see moments of winter bliss happening on the train, when I can soak in the beauty of the snow without soaking in the snow itself.

What about you? Where are the places where that wave of bliss rolls over you?


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ummm...uh oh

OK, maybe my resolution to blog every day in January wasn't the best idea. Here it is - just January 2 - and I'm pretty much stuck. Ummm...I'm still having a wonderful time with my family and I got to see two very good friends today! I love my family and friends! Today was just a lovely day - I only needed my coat when I took the dog for a walk this morning and when I went out this evening to pick up a friend at the airport. The sunshine was plentiful and did not completely disappear until after 5...sigh. It was lovely. I also visited my mom's scrabble club this morning - I mostly went to say hi. I ended up playing one game - naturally, I lost by a huge margin! :-) It was fun, though!

Well, I'm done for now! Maybe I will come up with something wonderfully insightful for tomorrow! :-)