Snow Days for All! (or I’m embarrassed for us all)

Today was a snow day for locals schools and the federal government, apparently out of fear of the “2-4″ of precipitation” forecast for the day. It ended up being a wet slushy day with roads that weren’t much different than a heavy rain, but for better or worse, I got another day with the family. We bundled up and trekked out for some better inclement weather gear for the Eminent Child who later shed tears when all the other kids were too cold to play with her. I guess not knowing how to drive in the snow is correlated with not knowing how to dress your progeny for playing in it either.

I was able to get a little bit of studying done but it’s just so hard with the family around. I don’t want to complain about family time as its extra precious to me but Korean study is proving so difficult for me, I almost wish I was alone here. I really underestimated how much free time I had in Abuja when contemplating language learning.

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Snow! (The Horror!)

So it snowed a little bit yesterday, not much more than a dusting, really.  It was enough for the local school district to cancel all school related activities which meant that the second ballet show had to be cancelled (it was hosted in a local school auditorium). It was disappointing for the Eminent Child as she’d arrived early in case she was needed as an understudy (she wasn’t) but most of all, she’d finally gotten some fantastic sausage curls in her hair.

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The weather did get a bit uglier at night when the temperatures dropped and freezing rain coated all the trees. The Eminent Canine woke me up around 2:30 and we went out for a constitutional break where I was impressed with the austere beauty of the iced up trees. I could hear branches breaking in the distance. If I had a tripod I would have set it up but had to settle for some high ISO handheld shots.

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This ice was enough to cancel classes for the local school district on Monday. Apparently they are still without power late into the day so I’m expecting Tuesday to be a snow day too.  There’s also forecasts of up to 4 inches of fluffy too. Considering how ill-prepared people around here are for snow (it’s almost as if I’m in Seattle!), I wouldn’t be surprised if I get the day off tomorrow.

The Nutcracker

I'm currently sitting in an empty theater watching the dancers warm up for the show. We found what seemed to be a decent ballet studio for the Emminent Child when we arrived and she was excited to qualify for an advanced class. She has rehearsal thrice weekly and was able to get a spot in The Nutcracker even though she joined in September. It's been a lot of fun for us.

They have 6 shows: Thursday, Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. The EC opened on Thursday and performs early today and late tomorrow. Between when I started writing and just now I was informed the house wasn't open and I had to leave, so now I'm sitting outside enjoying the 50 degree sunshine.

This morning I made pancakes, muffins, eggs, bacon and coffee but didn't have time to drink my coffee. Sure wish I had it here now but we were rushing out of the house late (predictably).

12.04.2013 Wednesday

Korean classes dominate my life but there is actually quite a bit going on. Since we’ve moved to the DC area in August, we’ve switched apartments, gotten a puppy who’s doubled in size (but still fits in a shoe box), temporarily taken on ANOTHER cat for a friend, gotten teaching jobs, had perhaps the best Thanksgiving meal ever, bought a car, sold a car (not the same car!), reunited with several old friends, made several new friends… It is such a whirlwind.

Right now the biggest thing on our plate is opening night of The Nutcracker Ballet. The Eminent Child is performing Thursday, Saturday (matinee), and Sunday (evening). Once that winds down, we’ll prepare for a weekend trip to NYC to see the Rockefeller tree. Beyond that, I’m not exactly sure what the schedule is going to be.  I was hoping to be able to visit the folks and friends back home for Christmas but that looks like it won’t happen now, unfortunately.  The Eminent Partner and Child will be in Asia after Christmas, if anyone wants to visit.

Is there pressure to marry in the U.S.?

According to this article, the Dutch aren’t hung up on marriage and have a better quality of life as a result. Maybe (probably) its due to how little I’ve lived stateside as an adult, but I was surprised to hear of any pressure at all.  Do Americans really feel that they aren’t achieving or are otherwise unsuccessful if they don’t get married? Even the desire to get married seems odd to me. Marriage should be something that finds you, not something that you go looking for. Searching for it is going to lead one to make bad decisions as people are more likely to overlook issues and elements upfront that ultimately manifest in stressful and perhaps relationship-ruining ways later on.

An Eminent Silence

All three of my girls, the Eminent Wife, the Eminent Daughter, and the Eminent Feline, departed Abuja for the last time last Friday. The paperwork for the Feline came down to the last hour before the driver picked us up for the airport but we got everything done (including a last minute photocopy on a neighbor’s printer after the constant power outages blew mine up. So many wasted ink cartridges, grrrrrr……). They departed Abuja without incident but had a helluva time in Frankfurt when the Feline decided to go DevilCat on everyone and escaped from her carry-on case. It took a couple hours, threats by staff to call the apparently uber-expensive fire response team, and several scratches to get her calmed down and back in her case. But she made it on the flight and through customs without the 180 quarantine, so all’s well that ends well.

Today marks 4 weeks till my own permanent departure. Plenty of work to do, including a significant amount of writing as well as the standard rigamorole of checking out (changing magazine subscription addresses, arranging packouts, selling vehicles, selling personal goods, saying goodbye, final meetings, separating clothes and other household effects into three categories: vacation (2 suitcases)/ training (600 lbs for a year) / Korean (see everything else in a year!), and so on).  Busy busy!

And as a slight aside, I’m oh-so-excited to watch tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones. Several friends are watching but haven’t read the books and it’s going to be so much fun to see their reactions!

Excuses, excuses

How quickly five months flies past.

The biggest reason I haven’t posted much here is that much of what is going on with me isn’t suitable for posting on a public blog. Not that there is any big problem or scandal going on, but when one’s life is dominated by office politics during the day and scotch and cigars in the evening, it’s better to ride it out in silence.

I’m down to four weeks left at post. During the last few weeks, I’ve got to finish up 3 large writing assignments, host some representational events, and complete my annual review. The latter will be quite an interesting experience due to the aforementioned office politics and deadlines. In addition, there’s a lot of work to do winding down and checking out of the embassy and housing. I’m hoping to sell off most of my stuff as well, so there’s that additional negotiation and hassle. Needless to say, it’s going to be a whirlwind.

My family has been visiting here for the last week or so. They came down to help sort out what stuff goes to the States for our year or so of training and what goes to Korea. We only get 600 pounds of stuff to the U.S. which boils down to about 6 suitcases. The rest of everything else gets put in storage until we arrive in Asia in June 2014. They are also bringing the Emminent Feline back to Japan with them to avoid logistic hassles with me and my intended month-long road trip in July. It looks to be good to go but we’re finding that the interface between the Japanese and Nigerian ways of doing things isn’t easy. Hopefully we avoid the 6 month quarantine in Japan.

My band has played its last show, at least the last with me.  It was an amazing adventure with them and we really turned into a good band by the end. We went from by-the-book covers to originals with our own arrangements of covers and a lot of jamming and just relaxed fun music making.  Every show was better than the one before and while I still have a long way to go before I can confidently call myself a bassist, I know I made huge strides in what I brought to the stage. Being able to have the confidence to play a song I’d never played before live on stage with just a couple notes whispered to me as the music started was so exciting.  It’s honestly quite sad to say goodbye to it, as we all know we still had a lot of growth potential if we’d been able to play together for another year. But no regrets, only tremendous memories.

I’m done brewing beer. I only made about half of what I intended. Two of my last three batches didn’t ferment. I know that I messed up the first of those two by letting my mash temps get too high but I don’t know what happened with the last one. Perhaps my yeast finally gave up the ghost? I wish I would have been more consistent with it but it was fun and produced some drinkable swill.  I’m excited to pick it up again eventually.

I don’t know what all will happen between now and then but I can say with relative consequence I’ll be back in Idaho for the 4th of July.

Cherry Blossom

Self-portrait of me and the Eminent Child by the sakura tree near our house.

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My little butterfly

Happily standing in a cold wind watching the Eminent Child at swimming lessons. She’s working on the butterfly now and has passed crawl, backstroke, and breaststroke. Once she finishes this course she will then work on qualifying at 50 meters for all strokes. She’ll learn turns as part of that and her swimming education will be complete.

They started out with styrofoam floaties tied around their waists but now she is free and clear in the water. She is pretty strong in her legs and I’m watching her run over kids during warmups. She does need more upper body strength for gymnastics though and I have faith she will build that up once she gets enrolled there.

Last night she started the 3 day backflip course. For a rank beginner she did good. Ballet has helped with flexibility and the ability to do a bridge with her back arched and hands and feet on the floor.

The gym is great too with fun but disciplined coaches. A few of them will compete in Olympic qualifiers in a few weeks. One of them just joined the gym a couple weeks ago after finishing college. He went to school in Sendai, one of the closest cities to the earthquake last March. He mentioned that he lost 3 people in the tsunami. He’s from the greater Tokyo area so it wasn’t family and it sounded like classmates. I didn’t really know what to say to that.

Sweet Home Minamigaoka

It’s wonderful to be home again, almost 1 year exactly from when I left Japan and 3 months since I’ve seen my girls. I’d been in Nigeria for 8 months and a day and a break was needed. The trip was fairly uneventful, running about 32 hours door to door including travel to and from airports and the layover in Frankfurt. I was able to sleep for a couple hours on each end of both flights (6 hours from Abuja to Frankfurt and 11 hours from Frankfurt to Nagoya) and didn’t have any jetlag, surprisingly. I did get about 12 hours of sleep a night for the first 4 nights though.

Life here is great. It’s cold but not freezing, a welcome change for someone like me who appreciates all four seasons. The Eminent child finishes 2nd Grade tomorrow and has been on half days this week so I’ve seen a lot of her. She has been going to a short gymnastics class for the past few days and is probably going to start on a regular basis soon.

The food here is absolutely phenomenal, I have to say. The internet is stupefyingly fast and I geeked out the first few days just updating all the software that I wasn’t able to get downloaded in Abuja due to the slow speeds and frequent interruptions.

I am sensing that its going to be a tough transition back to Abuja life after this time home. I’m pretty good about dealing with the separation by distracting myself from it with friends, books, gaming, and so on, but life is just so good now, it’ll be hard to put it back in the box. The key for dealing with the distance is to not dwell on it, so hopefully I can get back into the swing of things quickly and not fall into a black hole of homesickness.

Unrelated but interesting note: With the weak dollar and effect of uncertainty in the global economy and Iranian sanctions, gas in Japan is about $8/ gallon.