Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Just Enough Time.

When we first moved to Nagoya, and I had dreamy ideas about all the excitement in store, I was invited to a luncheon with a fellow who runs an expat group here.  I had eyes like an anime character seeing something totally kawaii for the first time, all glittery stars and hearts. “I love it so much here!” I exclaimed.  He asked how long I would be staying in Japan, and I responded "3 years!"  with a smile.  His response?

That’s just enough time to learn to hate it.”

Oh no, it's not packing, it's building a new cat-tree.

Fast forward 2 years and 8 months:  Today a moving crew is coming to take a bunch of stuff off to start the customs and shipment process.  In 9 days, Mac Bubba and I will be on flights back to the states. Permanently.

I feel the need to share this very important box from my time packing, featuring my face wash.  Before we moved out here, I bought what I estimated to be a 3 year supply of my favorite face wash.  I may have overestimated by, say, 20ish tubes of the stuff.  My face will be clean FOREVER.

But the point here is that fellow was wrong: I DON’T hate Japan.  It is beautiful, it is steeped in centuries of culture while still embracing technology.  The people have a love and respect of their environment that is evident in how well they manage their trash and how organized they have made their mass transit.  The food is simple but made with such reverence it never ceases to amaze me.  And, of course, there is the wonder that is the 100 yen shop.  I will miss those.

I don’t particularly like living here, but I know I will come back to visit.  I am grateful to have been afforded such an exciting opportunity to come to, live in, explore, and become part of Nagoya's community through The Mister’s company, and I am glad that I came along with him on this second international adventure.  But, it would be a waste of the last three years to let little things continue to chip at me long enough to make me regret having had the experience at all.  

As you may have noted from the year-long sabbatical, I burnt out pretty hard here, and I need to be back in a place I am comfortable and confident. 

For the first few months back in the states will be without The Mister, since he must finish out his assignment and that keeps him in Japan until December.  But I couldn’t wait any longer; and I’m realizing from how quickly and without question, The Mister’s company just approved this whole process, I am not the first spouse to have had this same realization.  

It is a bummer to be apart like that, of course.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not excited about the part where I get to go home.  So I’m trying real hard to just focus on that.

And so, start the countdown.  In 10 days, Mac, Bubs and I will be home. (and like, jet lagged out of our minds, so give us a couple days to check back in, right?)

SPECIAL NOTE:  In keeping with tradition, when I fly with Bubba, I live-tweet the experience.  If you’d like to follow along on twitter (@KpQuePasa), we will start the fun up on the 21st of September (if you’re in the States) or the 22nd of September (if you’re in Japan) and will be tweeting from Us leaving the apartment for the airport and continue until Mac is delivered to us at our new home on the 23rd or 24th (depending on your timezone as you follow).  I previously used #AirBub11 and #AirBub15.  This time it is… you guessed it:  #AirBub17

In the meantime, check out Bubba’s existential crisis over cardboard boxes all captures on my instagram:

today's little language lesson:

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Getting 'Tooned Back In.

Been a bit of a CRAZY whirlwind here lately.  And it’s also been extremely run of the mill.  A little of column A, little of column B.  But that’s life anywhere, I suppose.  You get it.

With the knowledge that I no longer have a steady readership, but that my family and friends do still use this space to keep up with my life, I wanted to make sure y’all knew I am not neglecting you — simply trying to keep my feet under me and on the ground as we run this last leg of our time in Japan.  So let me vomit out some quick updates for y’all.

The Mister and I had a friend of his visit from the states this past week.  And in a monumental surprise, The Mister coordinated with BFFJ to have her join us for that visit as well!  Somewhere on The Mister’s phone is a video of me at the airport grumpily asking him why on earth he would be video recording me when we were waiting on his friend and then I saw BFFJ and got all blubbery so I won’t be sharing that snotty, joyful mess on the internet, but I will share a photo to prove that BFFJ was here and that she was so kind as to take while we trekked ALL OVER Japan.
Literally, all over Japan.  I’m exhausted.  How The Mister went back to work again this morning is beyond me.  

We’ve finally begun to firm up some details about when The Mister’s company will send us home stateside.  We’ve still got a few things to work out on the homestead front before I can give out real dates, but it’s getting closer and closer and I’m getting excited about home.
don't worry big guy, you're still the most handsome.
Mac has had a few sincere lumps that have made him start to look a bit like Igor.  To be clear, they’re not bothering him, they just look unsightly.  Lumps are a common thing in dober-breeds, and Mac has had a few removed in the past, but that never makes the discovery of new lumps any less concerning.  Particularly when the vet here so kindly explained that they could test the growths (he has 4), but if the results are not good, he’s simply too big for their facilities to offer any treatment options.

Thankfully for us then, they’re all currently benign.  (There’s one on his tummy that they couldn’t get 100% confident results on, but it’s not growing quickly, so it should be okay until we get him home to big-dog vets).  Whew.

Bubs is good, though with the last few vacations he has hit his limit for wanting to spend time at the pet hotel.  Last time I went in to pick him up, the lady who runs the hotel drew a little kitty face on a dry erase board and then added angry eyebrows and teeth to indicate that Bubs had been a less than kindly guest.  But he forgave me my sins by the time we got home and I gave him some sushi-seaweed and let him bask in some porch sunlight.  Hopefully he chills out a bit before our next planned trip in August.
I’ve continued, in between all these things, to plunk away at learning animation.  Friends and family, I’ma share this here so you know that I’m still working at my animation aspirations, but I want to be straight forward that I have gotten into a REAL NICHE of animation on the you tubes, and it might not be your jam, and that’s a-okay, but I’d appreciate if you don’t just maybe keep that to yourself at the moment.  
If you don’t like the content, just appreciate the fact that I drew every one of those frames by hand from scratch.  And then I went back through each frame and cleaned up the outlines.  And then I went through each of those frames again to color them.  

You see, on the you tubes (yes I know that’s a stupid name for YouTube, I’m pretending to be old and out of touch for comedic effect), there is a genre of videos called “let’s plays.”  For the un-indoctrinated, these are videos of people playing video games and commenting over the top of them.  They remind me a lot of when I was a kid and you’d go to your friends house to play Mario but they only had one controller so you just chatted and because of that I sincerely love them.  The Mister does not share this love, and I get that.  But for the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time letting playlists from a group called the Game Grumps chatter away in the background of my life while I go about life at home.  And the Grumps have started a whole new genre of videos where animators take the audio from their videos and make little cartoons out of the jokes they tell.  Turns out that’s a lot more fun to me than the little exercises I was using to learn.  SO.

I originally started posting little blips of animation exercises which you can watch on this playlist:

And now I’ve got a few videos of animated Let’s Plays that you can check out at the links below (fyi there are like 1 or 2 swears in each of these if you have to protect your ears from such things):

Aaaaand I’m working on more because I find it way fun to listen to a dialogue in one context and sort of twist it to make it a funny toon.  

On that note, I’ve got some background panels to work out.  So I’m off!  
What have you been up to?  
How are your babies?  
Your teams?  
Your jobs?  
Your weather? 
(ours is getting back to armpit humidity level… yay?)  
Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017


We took a real-live vacation y'all!  

And I took little snippets of video throughout our whole week to make a "quick and easy" blog post.

And then I got home and realized I'd recorded 3+ hours of video on my phone.

So quick and easy it was not.  But I did finish the video and posted it below - click to watch!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hana[meat] 2017

Today is Mac's Gotcha Day!

8 YEARS ago I went to a SPCA event and fell in love with those -once orange, now white- eyebrows.  I've had this pup by my side for some of the craziest, most life-changing things I've lived through.  Lots of celebratory snuggles and treats and running around the little neighboring park shall be taking place today.

night one.  he was the same size as Bubba.  so smol.

Instead of a blog post today, last week we finally got a chance to check out Hanami.  If you're unfamiliar, this is the annual celebration in honor of the cherry blossoms blooming throughout the country.  It happened to coincide with a lot of rain this year, so we were lucky for one good day to jaunt over to Tsurumai park for the have one last sakura flower hurrah.  Mac was also pretty pumped*.

Check out the vid below, and have a great day!

(click to play or click here to open in a new window)

*You may remember from previous years when I mentioned the awesome food truck guy who sells kebabs and happens to be in the same place in the park each year for hanami.  He always remembers Mac, and Mac DEFINITELY remembers him.  I obviously played around with learning editing software on this little video, but I have to add that what you don't see here is the moment when Mac actually realizes there are food trucks in the park, and he immediately beelines to the spot where this particular food truck always is.  Mac and Meat Friend are for sure biffles.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Do You Remember The Time When I Was Electrocuted?

This morning, The Mister texted asking for a video of Mac doing his trademark “Moon Walk” trick.  It triggered a soundtrack for today consisting entirely of Michael Jackson.  I’m a “Dangerous” (on cassette tape, no less!) era kid - 
What was your MJ album of choice?  
Tell me in the comments!

*also if you want a giggle, here’s said Moonwalk video, which you should watch before lawyers swoop in and are all “you used less than 30 seconds of his songs and are gaining nothing monetarily from their use!  Cease and Desist because fun is illegal!”*

So.  Hi.  It’s been a hot minute.  Let me catch up quickly on life here since… well, November:

  • Kp2 and her SO moved back to Australia.  I am so happy for her to be reunited with her sassy little puggle dog… but I miss her bunches.
  • I have done approximately 0 things of notable interest outside of the daily “wake up, clean house, grocery shop, lather, rinse, repeat” mantra, and I’m struggling to find motivation to expand past that.
  • I failed the JLPT again.  For the third consecutive time, I passed every section of the test individually but missed the cumulative number of points needed for a pass by an infuriatingly small number.
  • We have officially entered our last year here in Nagoya.  Which means we’ve also entered into that lovely feeling of being constantly in limbo with regard to having any idea what the company really intends to do with us and on what timeline.  Note the sarcastic use of the word 'lovely.’

And so… the blog has suffered.  Like any other person with a presence on the internet, I prefer to share the things that make me happy, because spending time putting together verbal vomit on things that have made me sad or upset doesn’t do too much for me beyond making me more upset while also worrying my friends and family.

That said I’m about to spend a little time putting together some verbal vomit regarding the lights in this apartment because today we had ANOTHER LIGHT GO OUT.

But stick with me, maybe I can make it funny.

Lightbulbs are one of those things which have made me very aware of my inability to work outside my cultural comfort zone.  Because it should be. SO. EASY. to replace a light bulb.  I should be able to take the burnt out bulb from the socket, buy a new one at the store, and then come back plug it into the socket and rejoice in the light of the lord.

We’ve had a few lights burn out in our time here… our first one took me three trips to the store and then one very flustered call to an unhelpful “relocation expert” to finally successfully change.  Other bulbs… have just remained burnt out because we didn’t have a ladder and I was not keen to have to relive the feeling of a grown ass adult woman being the origin of every “how many [insert disparaged ethnicity/ gender/ occupation/ generation here] does it take to change a lightbulb?” joke.  I can change a lightbulb in the states, no problem.  Just so we’re clear.

Our shower room light died last year because that room is used for showers and as such the connections rusted and corroded.  Who’s surprised? We weren’t.  The “relocation expert” took days to bother getting someone lined up to come and fix it, so there was a week or so where the poor lighting lead to some “creative” leg shaving styles.  

A month ago the main light in our living room went out while The Mister was away with a navy commitment.  Determined to fix it myself, I push our arm chair underneath it so I can get a better look at the tiny kanji on the light shade instructing me to simply turn the shade clockwise to open it and access the bulbs.  I did this, but my gut told me it didn’t feel like it was turning “correctly” and so I let it go, admitted defeat, and contacted our “relocation expert.”  It took three days for any solution to get back to me; a duration of time that included me going to the Daiso to buy a stretchy headband and two little clip flashlights to make myself a headlamp by which to read.  

is it funnier if I keep pretending that's just a joke or
if I fess up and show you photographic evidence that I really did that?

The solution I eventually received was to simply keep turning, get the bulbs out and replace them, then twist the shade back on.  So.

*somewhere around here you may be noticing an outside force which seems to make every frustrating encounter I’ve had with our lighting a tad MORE frustrating.  I would touch on this further except I have actually tried to on 5 (FIVE!) different occasions to expand my thoughts on the subject and those writings are… well on every occasion that tangent has turned into a very ugly tirade.  To be clear, they make me laugh really hard and it helps me get the ick out of my system, but if I’m going to hell I don’t need to be dragging anyone with me.*

So. I’m back up on that arm chair and I did manage to get the shade off and the old bulbs out.  With NO ONE’S HELP I MANAGED TO FIND THE RIGHT BULBS FOR THE FIXTURE. (This is a personal win that I might have celebrated as if I had just received my first Oscar.)  
And then I went to put the shade back on while standing on an armchair, while on my tippy toes… and the entire fixture just unplugged from the ceiling and rested itself in my hands.

To reiterate, I am standing on my tippy-toes on an arm chair for all of this.  I can’t see to be able to line this stupid thing back up to plug it back into the ceiling.  We don’t have a ladder.  So I take a deep breath and do what I had tried so hard to avoid:  I call the “relocation expert.”  I explained I do not have a ladder or similarly sturdy structure in the house upon which I could stand to put the light back up.  That they need to get me help.  

Let’s long story short the ending - the response was “looks like you just need to plug it back in, good luck!” And so I waited another night or two until The Mister came back home from the navy, we went and bought a ladder, smashed into our little car, lugged it up to our little apartment, and we fixed the damn ceiling light ourselves.  Then, after joyously dancing around and double-fist-flipping-the-bird at the ceiling light, I proclaimed that I would NOT be dealing with another light bulb situation in this apartment; if something burned out we would just consider it mood lighting.  The Mister agreed, and we went out for Thai food.  It was good.  mmm, Pad Thai.

given the opportunity, I would gleefully 
become an endless looping gif of pad thai noodle consumption.

Yeah okay so then this morning the light in our entryway burnt out and there are zero windows there but also it is where the only full-length mirror is in the house and ugh it’s just one little lightbulb and we OWN a ladder now so I might as well.

This had every opportunity to go smoothly.  Old lightbulb out.  New lightbulb acquired.  New lightbulb in.  Switch on... and feel like I’ve leaped out of my skin because even though I did my part right the electricity is not going to the bulb but is instead zipping right into my finger through the light switch.  I shrieked.  I fell down.  I peed my pants a little.  It was a proud moment.

…I took a moment to get the rainbow of colorful language out of my system, and I have emailed the "relocation expert."  So let’s see where this goes.  Or not.  I mean, it’s a little hard to see in the dark. 

We’ll have to train Bubba to be a seeing-eye cat in that section of the apartment.

Random tangent I just have to share:  Today is Bubba’s 11th Birthday. He’s been along with me for over a decade and he’s still the most handsome little tabby cat who croaks instead of meows and holy gosh all the snuggles today to celebrate.  Sorry that we had to put you on a diet recently dude, but we gotta keep you in spec to weigh in as “carry on size” when we are all ready to leave Japan and come home.

*wait wait! where do we go from here?  I can promise that... I will try.  It will not be once a week, but I will try to be more frequent on this blog, and I suspect there will be more things to talk about as we prepare to go HOME, so stay tuned.  Meanwhile, I would remind you I am much more active on Instagram because it is very quick to update.  So.  You know, there's that.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Year in Review 2016


Well goodness, hello.
If you’re reading this, we’ve BOTH made it to 2017.  Let’s make ourselves at home.  I hear they have bananas.  (you know, for now.)
If you’re unfamiliar, each year in January I take a second to recap my previous year’s hopes and aspirations, and make a plan for the coming year.  It’s been nice to look back at these, so that’s what’s about to happen here.  You ready?  Let’s go.

2016’s goals:

1.  Pass the JLPT 4 (Japanese Language Proficiency Test, level 4). 
Did I do this?  Maybe?  Very possibly not.  There are only two testing dates a year for this exam.  In July I sat the exam and passed each section individually… but I did not get enough cumulative points to score a pass for the whole shebang.

I sat for it again in the beginning of December.  I felt confident going in, I felt WAY less confident coming out.  Results post in February, so… this one remains to be seen.  If I failed again, I will sit the exam *again* in July.  Third time’s the charm?  I take some small solace in the fact that at least if I failed, then the guy who unabashedly cheated off of me (SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL?!**) also failed.

and I'm particulately proud of the suite
I put together that not only
celebrates a marriage of two people,
but a marriage of two cultures.
2.  Do something I'm proud of with FINvites.  
I put together 2 large wedding packages during the past year, and had a slew of smaller pieces I created for clients throughout the year.  I am pleasantly surprised at how I managed to keep a queue of work going for this little business even though I’m so far away from it’s home-base physically… So I’m proud of that.  We’ll mark this in the win column.

speaking of... nudge nudge wink wink, instant download valentines are up in the Etsy!

3.  Another 4 Fabu Arts. 
4 Fabu Arts has been a goal of mine each of the past few years, and it’s always my favorite goal to look back on.  It’s another check in the win column.  
My baking game leveled up impressively, if I do say so myself.  

Spice cake with gingerbread cookie villiage.

With the PokémonGo craze rolling in, I made an adorable Bulbasaur costume for Mac, and an equally adorable Charmander stuffie that’ll rest on your shoulders.  

I made not one, but two(2!) piñatas for birthday celebrations.

And I began the journey of teaching myself flash animation.  The Mister got me a Wacom Cintiq Tablet for Christmas, so this learning will certainly continue.

4.  Maintain the pant size, and loose 10 lbs.  
Welp.  That’s a half-nope.  I maintained the pants size, I did NOT lose any weight.  Any.  I’m actually up a few lbs at the moment, because Christmas happened and the cakes I made were not just pretty, but also delicious.  But I mean, I can still get into my pants without having to do that thing where I lay down on the bed and wiggle the zipper while sucking in with all my might, so I’m okay with it.
mmm... kinda.

So that’s 2.5-3.5 out of 4 goals marked *win*  I’ll take it!

Now let’s take 2017.  There’s a lot that’s on the docket to happen, and I’m going to take a slightly different direction with goal setting this year.  For one, I’m done setting public weight-loss goals for myself.  Instead of constantly reminding myself and others that I’m not where I want to be, maybe I can start to get comfortable and happy with myself as I am.  So what goals will I set?

  1. Take an actual. Vacation-only trip. With just my husband. That’s planned ahead of time.  Specifically, a trip To Disney Land Japan. 
There are a lot of reasons this has not yet happened, and all of them make me mad at us as a couple.  We have to plan ahead, set aside money, make reservations, and then punch the people who want to steal our time in the face.  This can’t be spontaneous in any way, which is still something our American-ness mucks up CONSTANTLY.  We sit on planning crap until it’s too late, and rather than stressing out, spending a ton of extra money, and trying to mash a square peg into a round hole to make things work, my immediate reaction is always “eff it, no, I’m staying home.”  

So I’m putting it out into the ether.  I’m “secreting” this.  I have never been to a Disney park.  I want to go to a Disney park.  It’s not a temple, which is great because I love the many temples of Japan, and they are beautiful, but I’ve seen so many that they’re losing their wonder and that’s unacceptable.  I need a different thing to visit and enjoy.  And I want to go with just my husband, because there’s already going to be a million people there, I don’t want to have to keep track of more than one person.  Disney 2017.  This is the year, dammit.

2. Continue to learn Flash animation as a guilty pleasure which I feel zero guilt about.
I love making art for people.  LOVE.  But I realized somewhere around October that this past year I didn’t make a single piece of art which wasn’t intended for someone else.  I put my drawings up on Redbubble and Etsy for sale.  I made a bunch of trinkets for craft fairs.  I created designs for FINvites.  I painted and baked for friends and family.  I even started cross-blogging for a Japanese ex-pat site.  I love that I made all of the things I made, but it also affected my creative flow because I’m too concerned about what others will think about that art instead of just making what I want to make.  As such I’ve decided animation must be JUST for me.  I will likely share what I make.  But I’m not making a single animated thing for anyone else.  In just the little time that I’ve had to play with the tools The Mister gave me for Christmas, these little blips of animation have made the wheels of creativity turn at a speed I haven’t felt in a while.  And I’ve felt motivated to actually make the ideas I’m thinking of, which is perfect.  To keep me growing in this skill, I’d like to have at least 15 seconds of animation created for each month of the year.  (that sounds like not a lot, but I promise at 24 frames a second it is.)

3.  4 Fabu Arts.  
 As with previous years, this can be any 4 things that I create.  This can include animation, but I have a feeling the animation will serve to pave the way for lots of things.

4. Get settled in a home that is conducive to a PUPPY.  
I’ve long had a life plan which stated when a critter in my family turned 6, another critter would be added, because I know in my heart of hearts that on the unfortunate day that I will have to come home without a Mac-dog, if I have to see dog-things that do not have another dog to claim them, I will be irreparably broken.  I gambled on this when I agreed to come to Japan with The Mister, knowing Mac would be 9, and as a big dog, well into “senior” category, when we returned, but it will wait no longer. 

We’re officially on the last stretch of The Mister’s 3 year contract.  We’re hoping that it wraps up a little shy of the actual 3 years and we repatriate in the fall.  There’s a lot of work involved in this - figuring out where exactly we’ll be calling “home,” getting Mac and Bubs on planes, me trying to find a job which I can be happy in that will also work with whatever plan we settle on when we come back to the US, and I’m sure, a number of arguments with the people who handle our relocation.  We have an actual team of people who will help us accomplish this goal, but sadly that doesn’t make it an easy process.  So wish me luck.
Either a puppy will be adopted and added to the McD family before the end of 2017, or we will be ready for a puppy and waiting for the right one to become available for adoption.  Ideally, we’ll even be fostering a senior pup, because I’m still riding high from the feel-good that Little Miss Addie Pants gave us back in 2014.  

In short, I’m setting 2017 up to be a year that I take care of things that I need to be a happy person.  Because I would like to feel good enough about my life to get back to sharing it on this blog in a consistently fun and amusing way.  

What are your goals for 2017?  
Tell me in the comments!

*Full disclaimer:  I don’t know that this is a return to regular blogging.  Part of me wants to, and another part of me needs to be real honest that I don’t want to come back to this regularly until I know I can regularly write fun accounts of life in a positive voice.  I’m working to stop stalling out in grumble-cakes town, but that’s not something I’m going to do online.  That’s Ms. Lippy time.

**I just need a minute on this because I likely won’t be going back to write about this test on it’s own.  There is a set of rules that comes with your ticket to sit this test, and one of them outlines that cheating is strictly forbidden and results in immediate failure of the test if you’re caught cheating.  But if you’re caught cheating, the person you’re cheating OFF of is seen as an accomplice, and ALSO fails.  So even though I watched this guy LEAN OVER in his chair to look at my answer sheets, if I would have called him out I would have for sure failed that stupid test.  Lame to the lamest.