Thursday, January 25, 2007

Our Future Home

Well, the verdict is in. My husband and I will spend the next year of our lives in Iruma, Japan, a smallish city on the far outskirts of Tokyo. According to Wikipedia, Iruma is...

"a city in Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo, located on the island of Honshū. As of 2003, the city has an estimated population of 150,176. Iruma and neighboring Sayama are famous for the tea they produce. Iruma also has well-known textile and brewery industries."

So far, I've been unable to determine how many miles Iruma is from Tokyo because I suck at judging distances. My guess is that Tokyo is close enough for day trips, but too far to travel for dinner or bar hopping. However, since Iruma is apparently famous for its well-known brewery industries, we'll likely have all the drinks we can handle, right in our own city. The employer also sent us a layout of our apartment and it's either two or three bedrooms, which is larger than any place we've lived in the U.S. Sweet!

Yesterday we received our Certificates of Eligibility in the mail, and now the only thing left to do is send the certificates and various other documents to Atlanta so that we may get our entry Visas. That and pack, move, sell our cars, sell our desktop, buy a laptop, drop off our cats, etc., etc., etc. The trip/move finally seems real now!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Confirmed Kill

Last night, I learned that my younger brother has had a confirmed kill in Iraq. He's in the Marines and was deployed last September, and every time my mother or other brother calls I worry that it's to give me terrible news. Only when I hear them speaking normally do I breathe a sigh of relief.

I can't help but wonder about the man who died, or more specifically, about the family he left behind. Did he have a sister who dreaded her sibling going off to war, a sister like me? If so, what is she feeling now? Does his family even know what happened to him? I realized that it's not so much the man's death that troubles me, as it is the grief his family feels. Because if things had gone differently, it could have been, may one day be, my family and I struggling with overwhelming grief.

When I watch the news every evening, I am sickened to hear about the death tolls in Iraq, and I desperately hope that my brother wasn't one of the ones who died in that day's car bombings, roadside explosions or gun fights. To me, and most of America, the insurgents are nameless, faceless shadows, confirmed kill man included, and it's easy to forget that these men and women, misguided though they may be, are real people with real lives. To someone, confirmed kill man was a brother, father, son or husband, and the realization that MY brother has killed someone else's brother, causing my worst nightmare to became a reality for someone else, makes me uneasy.

That being said, better him than my brother, better his family than ours. That may be selfish, that may be wrong, but that is how I feel.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Hasta La Visa!

Good news! Our employer called today and we will receive our Visa certificates on Wednesday. Not only that, but we can mail them to the embassy in Atlanta, rather than driving several hours there and back to exchange them in person. Hooray!!!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pieces of Me

  • My husband and I have to be out of our apartment in Charleston by January 31st, ten days from today. This week will be the last at our jobs and when we we'll have to say goodbye to our friends. However, until we go to Japan we'll be staying temporarily in Beaufort, which is only an hour and a half away.
  • We still haven't heard from our employer about our Visas. An alarming amount of time hasn't passed, but I thought we'd have the Visa certificate by now. I'm not anxious (yet), but I will be if we don't hear something by the end of the month.
  • I found a couple of blogs written by foreigners living and working in Japan, My Life as a Gaijin and Mike's Blender, in case anyone would like to hear from someone who is already there.
  • According to various message boards, websites and blogs (like Mike's Blender) some people look down upon the school where my husband and I will be working. The reasons vary, and I think a lot of the negativity stems from "evil corporation" mentalities (the company is huge), however I'd be lying if I said it doesn't bother me. In all honestly we took the jobs so that we could travel and have an adventure, and while we'll certainly work hard to give the students their money's worth, it's not prestige or admiration we're seeking. However, it still bothers me. I'm hyper-sensitive about people not liking me.
  • Last night, after my husband left the house to play poker with his friends, I went online and bought a new digital camera. Our old camera has a measly 3.2 MP and no optical zoom. The new one has 8 MP and 5X optical zoom. Sweet! My husband wasn't thrilled, but he took it better than I expected. Even though we are broke and can't technically afford new toys, we'll use the hell out of the thing during our travels, and we can't very well wander exotic locales with an obsolete camera. At least that's how I see it.
  • After researching shipping costs, I found out that it would cost approximately $300 to ship our desktop to Japan. As our computer is only worth $700 or so, that wouldn't be too practical. However, my husband and I simply cannot live without a computer so we'll have to figure something out. My hope is that we'll get a new laptop. He wants to trade our desktop for his parent's laptop. We'll see.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Freaky Friday

***Warning! This post is Un-PC. If you are easily offended and/or pride yourself on living a life of flawless political correctness, you may not wish to proceed. Thank you.***

I'm fascinated with news stories and television programs about medical oddities. I'll drop everything to watch a show about two-headed babies, parasitic twins, 200 pound tumors and elephantiasis. I've never been to the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, but I don't doubt that I could spend several hours gawking at the exhibits. My husband thinks my fascination with medical abnormalities is a bit on the demented side, as do a few of my friends, but obviously I'm not the only one into this stuff as TLC and Discovery Health offer a variety of bizarre medical programs. I've enjoyed several such programs lately, thanks to the ridiculous amount of free time I now possess, and it is this same free time that has allowed me to catalogue a few of my favorite oddities for your viewing pleasure. Dear blog readers, I present to you: Lady Wanderlust's Gallery of the Weird and Wonderful.

Many of you have probably heard of the baby girl in Egypt who was born with two heads. If not, you have now. The baby's name is Manar, and according to Snopes, she is 10-months old in this photo. Last night, I watched a show about her birth and separation surgery, and the facts of this case case amazed, as well as disturbed me. Before I saw the program, I thought that the extra head was brain dead, however I was quite mistaken. Both of the twins had fully developed brains and the extra head was conscious. It showed video of the developed twin smiling and the extra head crying. At the same time. The medical professionals in the video said that it was not uncommon for one girl to be asleep and the other awake. That is just creepy. The extra head was living on her twin's blood supply, so doctors had to separate the girls before Manar died, but I want to know what would have happened if they'd remained fused (in the imaginary situation that the extra head was not life threatening). Would the head have been able to speak? The program mentioned a boy in India who lived to the age of four with this same condition, but it didn't say if the extra head could speak or not. The boy died of a snake bite of all things. If you want to look up the show, it is oh so imaginatively titled "Born With Two Heads," and the schedule is listed on Discovery Health's website. If I were the producer I would have called it "Two Heads Are NOT Better Than One." Har har har har!!

A few weeks ago, I saw a program featuring sixteen-year-old conjoined twins that look like a two-headed person. Both girls have their own lungs, hearts and other organs, but everything below the belly button is one. Apparently the girls each control one side of their body, and while you would think this would be cumbersome, they're able to move around like a normal person. The show followed the twins as they earned their driver's licenses, attended classes and chatted on Myspace, (this may or may not be their profile) and I was surprised at how normal they seem and how well their classmates treat them (I'm sure having a camera around didn't hurt). In one segment they flew on a plane, and while the camera didn't really show it, I'm sure people were gawking like crazy. What would you do if you saw a two-headed person in the airport? Of course, one has to wonder how they'll handle dating and sex as they share reproductive organs. I'm sure the twins will have all kinds of nasty perverts after them seeking bragging rights.

Then of course, there are people with massive tumors growing on their body. Some of you may have already seen footage of this girl. I haven't watched any programs discussing tumor abnormalities recently, but Discovery Health and TLC show them from from time to time. There's one called "Super Surgery: 200 Pound Tumor" which features a 120-lb woman with a (surprise, surprise) 200 pound tumor glommed onto her body. Can you imagine?

I've long had a fascination with the medical condition known as fetus-in-fetu. In completely non-scientific terms, fetus-in-fetu is when one twin absorbs the other while in the womb, with the absorbed twin leaving "pieces" behind. At least that's how I understand it. According to an article on, (who knew there was such a site) fetus-in-fetu is "an encapsulated, pedunculated vertebrate tumor representing a malformed monozygotic, monochorionic diamniotic parasitic twin included in a host (or autosite) twin." Got that? If not, the simple, non-dramatic video above is explanation enough. Quote of the day: "And as the fluid came out, I put my hand inside and to my surprise and horror I could shake hands with somebody inside."

Here are photos of parasitic twins that I found on this site. A parasitic twin is similar to fetus-in-fetu, I think, except the absorbed twin appears on the outside. I just can't help being fascinated...

The site has tons of photos about a variety of medical abnormalities, but that's all I'm going to post today as it's nearly 3:30 in the morning. What a life I lead! Many of you are sure to think I'm demented for my interest in fetus-in-fetu and the like, but oh well. Perhaps I am. Is there anybody else that shares my sick fascination with medical oddities and also willing to admit it? Come on.....

Peace out!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

We're Still Waiting...

As this blog is supposed to be about my life/future life in Japan, I thought I'd give an update on our status. Presently, my husband and I are still waiting to receive our Certificates of Eligibility from Japan. Once we have those, he and I will travel to the Japanese Consulate in Hot-lanta and exchange the certificates for our actual work visas. After that, we buy our plane tickets and go! We should hear something in the next week or so.

At this point, the trip still doesn't seem real to me, even though we're tentatively scheduled to leave in a little less than a month! I think once we get our visas and buy our tickets it will seem more of a definite thing. Meanwhile, we have to be out of our apartment in Charleston in exactly two weeks so there is a lot of packing and organizing to do. After we leave Charleston, my husband and I will stay at my in-laws' beach house in Beaufort until it's time for us to go to Japan. Well, this post is getting boring, so there's your update. Hopefully I'll have some exciting news soon.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Me!! Me!! Meeeeeee!!!!!

Over 100 Random Things About Me

1. My birthday is Feb 22. I share it with George Washington, Edna St Vincent Millay, Ted Kennedy, and Drew Barrymore, among others.
2. I have two cats King Oreo and Allie Cat
3. I failed my driver's test two times, and when I finally passed the instructor told my father and I that I didn't know how to drive.
4. When I was kid I cracked my left arm while playing tag at church. That's perhaps the most serious injury I've ever had.
5. I am a big ghost nerd and own at least a dozen books that contain so-called "true" ghost stories. I also work at a ghost tour place in downtown Charleston (until Feb. '07 that is).
6. I saw Titanic 7 times in the theater.
7. I have two brothers that are or were in the Marines. One is currently in Iraq, one never had to leave California.
8. My middle name is Jenine and I don't like it.
9. I yearn to travel the world.
10. I once had face fungus!
11. I used to taunt my brothers with a song called "Date Due" based on the date due card in the back of library books. Example: "David is a date due, date due, date due. David is a date due all day long."
12. My first car was an '85 Ford Tempo that I called Ole Bessie.
13. I've been skydiving.
14. Two years after I skydived with the company, one of their planes crashed, killing one and injuring several others. The instructor jumped out, leaving the customers onboard, (they had chutes) and the company had no insurance policy due to non payment. They're still in business.
15. I can barely swim and am wary of deep water. This fear was further aggravated when I saw a man drown in the ocean this past July.
16. I'm allergic to poison ivy. I can get it via the air.
17. I'm horrible at math. I can barely add two digit numbers in my head.
18. I had my first pedicure last month (Dec. '06).
19. I was once arrested for using a fake ID.
20. My favorite author is Stephen King.
21. I love to read about King Henry VIII and his various wives. Anne Boleyn is my favorite historical figure.
22. I was in a church puppet group that traveled around the state and country competing against other church puppet groups. We were called The King's Kids.
23. I have a phobia of fire. As a child, I constantly had nightmares my house burnt down and I used to wander around at night certain that I smelled smoke.
24. My nickname is high school was Ghetto Booty.
25. I used to want to be a cheerleader because I thought it would make me popular.
26. I wish I could dance well. Or at all. Several people have told me that I'm a horrible dancer.
27. Tara Reid annoys the hell out of me.
28. When I was a child all of our pets died premature, gruesome deaths. Heart worms, cars, dogs, disease, culture shock. You name it, we had a pet die of it.
29. As a kid I wrote dozens of scary stories. I once wrote a story about a "horror lump" that grew under a family's carpet.
30. I have approximately ten journals that I kept from second grade to college.
31. In high school I thought I was "alternative," which means I spent a lot of time brooding, listening to Marilyn Manson music and wearing Vans shoes.
32. I've never been able to make straight As in school because of math!
33. I used to stalk a boy that lived behind me. I memorized his class schedule and would "happen" to walk by his classrooms. This was in a junior high.
34. When I first moved to a new high school, I sometimes hid in the bathroom rather than eat in the cafeteria alone.
35. I love amusement parks! Especially roller coasters.
36. I once got 3 tickets in 2 days due to an expired tag and inspection sticker.
37. For Halloween, I've been Jem, a butterfly, a bloody monster, a gypsy, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rainbow Brite, among others.
38. When Britney Spears first came out, people consistently told me that I looked like her.
39. I've quit two jobs by just not showing up or calling.
40. I can't take a shot in a one gulp. I have to sip. Naturally, that means I can't take shots of hard liquor.
41. Cats are my favorite animal by far.
42. I once stole a book and bookmark from the junior high book fair because I wanted to see how it felt.
43. In junior high, I used to go to the roller skating rink almost every weekend.
44. I've applied to Big Brother and The Real World more than once (although now I think The Real World is lame and basically soft porn).
45. My husband knows the runner up in the Miss America 2006 pageant, Monica Pang.
46. Kelly from The Amazing Race 7 supposedly had a crush on him. They danced the night away at prom despite having separate dates. She went on to become Ms. South Carolina (what a pimp).
.47. I love to read other people's blogs. The more personal the better.
48. I've been in a high speed chase.
49. One of my boobs is bigger than the other.
50. My curfew in high school was midnight. My brothers had no curfews.
51. I've only been out of the country twice (so far) and that was to Cancun, Mexico and England.
52. I've tried weed and I hate it.
53. I've passed out one time in my life and that was at an Incubus concert (in the lobby, before the concert began) in front of two cops and approximately 100 people. I wasn't high or anything.
54. I hate walking in water where I can't see the bottom. It grosses me out.
55. I love 80s hair bands.
56. I've never had large groups of friends, but the ones I have I'm very close to and they will likely be friends for life.
57. The friend I've known the longest is D. We met in 2nd grade.
58. The friend I've known the second longest is K. We met in 6th grade
59. They are both on Myspace and on my friends list. I am addicted to Myspace and check it multiple times, everyday.
60. My favorite alcoholic drinks are Red Bull & Vodka and Rum & Coke.
61. I used to have my navel pierced but it fell out before it fully healed and closed up overnight.
62. I used to have my ear cartilage pierced but it hurt like hell so I took it out.
63. I got my ears pierced when I was 8 or 9 and the holes are still there.
64. I frequently mourn the fact that I have no fashion sense and wish I didn't dress so plainly.
65. I weigh 15 pounds more than I did in high school.
66. I despise milk. I can eat it in cereal, refuse to consume it by itself. Nasty!
67. I am terrible with money and owe all of my limbs to various student loan lenders.
68. I like to pick fleas off my cats using a flea comb.
69. As a sophomore, I went to the prom with a German foreign exchange student named Kai.
70. I have fallen over in my chair twice. Once in the middle of class and once in front of a big boss at work. The work chair had wheels.
71. I think MTV has become really lame.
72. I've streaked.
73. I've been skinny dipping.
74. I hate when people order wine at rowdy bars or clubs. I think it's pretentious. Drink beer or liquor!
75. I've ridden to the hospital in an ambulance.
76. I love to read.
77. I hate to cook or clean.
78. I've seen Vanilla Ice perform (way after his peak) and was angry because he wouldn't pay attention to me. He kept staring at the girl next to me and even gave her a bottle of water. I got nothing.
79. I love to travel but flying makes me a bit nervous.
80. I've been to Mardi Gras.
81. Sometimes I think I have heart problems.
82. I've never been in a physical fight with anyone other than my brothers.
83. The only girl who made it known that she did not like me was named Casey. She wrote bitch on my locker and threatened to kick my ass (via her boyfriend who I stalked. See 33).
84. I am a striped! yellow belt in Tai Kwan Do.
85. I changed my college major two times. (Psychology, Journalism, PR).
86. I minored in Spanish but remember next to nothing.
87. I once lived with two males in a trailer, or "manufactured home."
88. I've never been to Las Vegas and I really want to go.
89. I hate to exercise with a passion.
90. I love cherry pie, anything chocolate, and french fries from McDonald's.
91. I've worked at Carl's Jr, a Baptist church camp, Wal-Mart, The Olive Garden, Dillard's, Farmer's Insurance, Mangrove Software, The Child Abuse Council, Mercury Insurance, AIM Healthcare, and now a ghost tour company.
92. I have no idea what I'm going to do when I finish grad school expect not teach.
93. I learned to drive a stick shift when I was 16. My dad made me.
94. I've been in three car accidents. One of which caused me semi-serious injuries.
95. I hate nearly all chiropractors.
96. I hate nearly all "personal-injury" lawyers.
97. I don't have health insurance right now.
98. I think Oklahoma City is better than most people believe it is.
99. I've voted both Republican and Democrat in presidential elections.
100. I like to write about myself.
101. I feel stupid when I have to order coffee in "venti" or "grande" sizes. I think one is supposed to feel sophisticated.
102. I've lived in Oklahoma City, OK, Tampa, FL, and Charleston, SC in the last four years.
103. I used to find the moment when the lights go on and everyone exits the movie theater very awkward and uncomfortable.
104. In high school, I dyed my hair every shade of red possible.
105. I hate watching football!
106. I HATE the tradition at wedding receptions when the DJ or whoever announces the newly married couple as Mr. and Mrs. Groom's First Name, Groom's Last Name. For example, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Blow. It's as if the woman loses every speck of her identity once she is married. I forbade the officiant from addressing us that way at our wedding.
107. Sir Mix A Lot's 'Baby Got Back' is the only song guaranteed to get my "dancing" at a club.
108. I like to google people I know or used to know.
109. I spend HOURS searching for random people on Myspace and get really excited when I find one person after three hours of fruitless hunting.
110. Through Myspace, I have reconnected with three cousins, an aunt, two third cousins, a girl I haven't seen since 4th grade and one since 6th, old sorority/fraternity buddies, high school friends, and various other random people.
111. I despise the phrase "preggers."
112. I like getting emails that I know are urban legends and then proving them wrong via

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Picture This

Have you ever looked through your photos and wondered about the strangers in the background? Have you asked yourself, who is that person? Why is she making that strange face? What is he staring at? Have you ever wondered how many times you appear in a stranger's photo looking silly?

Well I do. And while you probably don't assemble, scan and post such photos, I am just that bored tonight. Here are some photos of random background people that make me laugh:

At what is this fellow gazing so contentedly?

Drunken female dancing, of course!

The dude in this photo is much less impressed.

After all, this photo was taken at Banana Joe's in Tampa, FL. Home of the lesbian cheerleader incident. PS: The girl, uh, bending over is not me.

This guy came out of nowhere when I was trying to take a picture of my friend dancing.

Nothing says patriotism like wearing flag pants to the club!

When I first saw this photo I assumed Mr. Bunny Ears was a friend of the other girls, but it turns out that he's just some random guy.

The couple in the background makes me laugh for some reason (although we aren't looking too cool ourselves).

He looks deranged. Or high.

D's dancing causes men to grimace in terror.


This giant isn't sure what's going on behind him.

The guy in the back looks terrified!

Help Me!!!

This photo contains my favorite random background person....

He's wearing a kilt with some sort of weird suspender things! I suppose it could be a wax figure rather than a real person. I can't be sure. However, I like to believe it's a live man.

Anyone else notice weird looking people lurking in the background of your photos? If so, do share!

Saturday, January 6, 2007


Well, I don't have a whole lot going on right now. I spend my days watching court reality shows and entering random sweepstakes, my nights working at the ghost tour company downtown. In addition, I've wasted countless hours reading strangers' blogs, stalking people on Myspace and viewing skydiving mishaps on You Tube. Fruitful times indeed. These are the days of nothing that I longed for as a graduate student, but which seem long and boring now that they are reality.

In nerdier news, I'm also trying to learn this. Hiragana. Apparently, the Japanese use three different syllabaries or system of characters: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Kanji is the one with thousands of characters that foreigners like me have virtually no hope of learning, so naturally it is the one used most often. Katakana is used to represent foreign words, while Hiragana serves to indicate the readings of Kanji or to replace Kanji all together. This information I learned from the website of my employer, and I don't quite understand the differences yet. I've chosen to learn Hiragana first because apparently that is where Japanese language students are supposed to start, and because many train station signs are printed in Hiragana as well as Kanji. That sounds rather useful. I've memorized nearly all of the characters and their corresponding syllables, so I could likely figure out how a word written in Hiragana is pronounced, I'd just have no idea what it meant.

Hiragana appears in this strange little video. I recognize all but two of the characters.

I can't wait to get to Japan and see this stuff for myself! Too, too funny.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Humping Tourette's Syndrome

I have a rather ridiculous problem that I like to refer to as the Humping Tourette's Syndrome. I don't mean humping as in the literal act of sex, but rather the act of furiously pumping my crotch back and forth in order to represent the act of sex. If I have a few beers in me I never know when an attack might occur, but when one does it is always at a highly inappropriate time, although I'm uncertain if there is ever an appropriate time for feigned humping.

Last night my husband's friend joined a group of us at a local bar for New Year's Eve. He is the same friend who had sexual relations with my married friend at our wedding after party, and a few girls in the group knew of his philandering. In fact, we had discussed it earlier in the evening. When he arrived at the bar, my husband brought him over to our table to make introductions, but before he could begin I shrieked, "HEY! HEY! This is the guy!" and followed with frenzied humping motions. The five or so girls at the table exploded with laughter and/or looked at me as if I were insane, my hubby's poor friend turned around and walked away and I felt like the biggest dumb ass alive. I seriously had no idea I was going to do that. I just turned around, saw him and immediately began making humping motions like some sort of crazed banshee. The attacks always come without warning.

At my wedding reception two weeks ago, I made humping motions in front of my mother when talking about consummating our marriage. Fortunately she's used to my odd behavior and didn't appear too shocked, although my friends found it awkward. I've humped the air while singing Hangin' Tough at a karaoke bar (on stage of course) and while recounting the karaoke incident to others. I just have no control over the motions of my crotch sometimes. It's a dilemma indeed. Anyone else share this problem?