These roundups are quickly approaching the 5 year mark (month 60!). I love keeping them up as a quick and easy journal of everything that’s gone on each month that I’ve been on this expat adventure. I wonder if I should keep numbering them after the five year mark passes though? What am I going to do, keep numbering them into the hundreds? I feel like that’s like those people who tell me their kid is 26 months old. (He’s not. He’s 2.) Maybe it’s time to just use the month name + year format I started tacking on a few months ago and drop the month counter. What do you guys think?
…ok, so did my ramble about roundups make you forget that I haven’t posted anything for 2.5 months? What? No? Goddamit.
I do love that so many of my readers check in when they haven’t heard from me in a while. (Be sure to follow my social media if want more Cubicle Throwdown – my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all get updated much more than the blog!) But as the date of the last post got farther and farther away, I just felt more and more overwhelmed with trying to write something. I have a list sitting beside me of posts that need to be written – my New Years trip to South Korea is still not done, and neither is my trip from March to the Philippines. Neither are about 30 other posts. I’m not the kind of writer who is happy just writing a few vague sentences about a topic, so the amount of stuff in these trips that I want to write about is really making me put it off. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of breaking posts about a single trip up into multiple posts… but maybe I need to get over that. Writing something is better than nothing.
I decided to break my writing dry spell in the easiest way possible – just do a huge overdue roundup, put a bunch of photos and videos in it, and hope that appeases everyone for a while! Time to crack open a strong chuhai (Japan’s 9% highball in a can that will knock you on your ass after a few) and get down to business.
Let’s see what happened in May and June…
What I’ve Been Doing Since the Last Roundup
I honestly had to look back at my agenda to see what I’d been doing for two and a half months. Things are kind of a hazy blur. Summer has been in full brute force here in Japan for about 2-3 weeks now, and it’s affecting me physically. I know a lot of people get winter depression. Well, I get summer depression. I’m super, SUPER cranky and I forget everything constantly. I’m miserable and I stay in my house all the time. I hate the summer weather here. It’s way too fucking hot, and Japan’s ultra-conservative dress code means I’m stuck in long pants and t-shirts all day in my schools, sweating through my clothes with no AC. I fainted in a 2nd grade class last week, and yet they still won’t let me take my water bottle to class because Japan. I am OVER IT. Thankfully this is the last week of school until September. The weather in September isn’t any better (it’s worse) but at least I get a six week break in the middle to hide out in the AC and read Architectural Digest all day. Best news: my elementary schools are getting AC installed in their classrooms (in November, which is long after we’ll need it this year… something to look forward to though for next year!)
In May, I didn’t do much. I had a lot of “Japan life” stuff to take care of, including the never-ending saga of trying to get my Canadian drivers license transferred into a Japanese one. I had to provide mountains of paperwork proving that I had been in Canada before coming to Japan (when in fact, I had been living in Honduras for most of it). I finally managed to get the right documents together and I am now the proud owner of a Japanese drivers license. Bonus: I got to take the “new driver” stickers off my car! Non-bonus: the licensing officer informed me that I can no longer claim foreigner ignorance of Japanese road laws if I get stopped. #tradeoffs
At the end of May, I took my first solo Japanese road trip to go visit my friend in Hyogo prefecture, which is up on the main island of Japan. I had an amazing time exploring the Tanba and Sasayama areas with friends and the driving part went off without any problems (a rarity for me here, as I’m garbage with following the GPS). I’d like to say I’ll write about it soon but at the rate I’m going you can expect to hear about it sometime in 2018. Here’s a teaser photo for now:
In June, I spent quite a while sick and had my first hospital visit in Japan. It was actually not as bad as I expected, and I had a very friendly doctor and nurse who spoke some English with me and treated me very well. I ended up with a severe bacterial infection in my upper intestine somehow… it was not cute but I felt much better after being treated (which cost me a grand total of $14 thanks to my Japanese health insurance). From looking at my agenda, it seems that in June I also went to the mall a lot, ate a lot of ramen, and managed to go to kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) five times. Go me!
At the end of June, we had a big thank you/goodbye BBQ party for the ALTs in my town who are leaving this summer. We have three girls leaving, and three girls plus a guy coming in August. I have talked to the new ones online already and I’m looking forward to meeting them when they get here! I’ll miss my friends though. I hate goodbyes and despite all my years on Roatan with the most transient people ever, I still don’t love saying see ya!
My Most-Liked Instagram Photos
In May, it was a tie between two photos from my trip to the Philippines – a pretty pink pineapple, and a beautifully photobombed waterfall selfie:
In June, it was legit a picture of an orange tree I was growing from a seed… seriously. I don’t know why people liked this so much. It also makes an appearance in my 1 Second Every Day video in May… sadly he did not make it, but I have three others that are now growing into proper little trees!
My regular Instagram side note: my personal policy is that Instagram is a give and take platform. My profile is private and if you don’t have any photos on yours or you’re selling crap, I won’t accept your request! There’s just too many scam/spam profiles out there, so I don’t accept anyone who doesn’t look like a legit user.
In Case You Missed It
There was just a couple posts in the last couple months:
I also made an appearance in the GirlsThatScuba video for PADI Women’s Dive Day! I’m the first scuba diver in the video – recognize my amazing Roxy leggings? I’m visiting my favorite fish of all time in that clip (my video is by Umi Productions) … my queen triggerfish at the Roatan dive site Seaquest Shallow. Remember when I got her tattooed on my leg?
1 Second Every Day
I use the 1 Second Everyday app to quickly chronicle my time here in Japan by taking a one second video every day. At the end of each month the app puts it together, and you end up with a 30-second video each month. It’s cool because it shows what I’m actually doing/seeing each day, not just all the highlights of super fun stuff once in a while that end up on social media. (Not sponsored! I just like this app!)
- one of the reasons I’ve been so busy the last couple months is because I had a massive move & redesign of my virtual assisting business website. I had some help getting it moved off a Drupal site on HostMonster and onto a self-hosted Wordpress with my current Cubicle Throwdown host, BlueHost. After the site move, I had to start again from scratch (on purpose!). I created a new logo and branding, re-wrote and updated all the content and did all the theme tweaks, etc. myself. I’m starting to get somewhat familiar with Wordpress now and I feel like I can use it comfortably. All the backend stuff (hosting + domain shit) is still a mystery to me though and never works when I try to change things, so I’m very happy I was able to hire fantastic tech help. As I slowly transition to being able to work online and be completely location-independent, fixing and updating my site (which had been around since 2010 and rarely/never updated thanks to my lack of Drupal knowledge) was on the top of the list of things to do and I’m very happy it’s finally done.
- in the same vein, my current online work is booming to the point where I had to tell clients that I needed to scale back my hours because I was left with zero free time to enjoy my life in Japan. They were super understanding which was wonderful and this all ties back to me moving towards location independence when I leave Japan. I know that the work is there when I have the time and freedom to do it. For now, I’m enjoying taking on smaller, non-urgent tasks that I can do when I have free time.
- making some fun work and play connections with my girl Katie of Katie’s Hustle. She is a superstar and I can’t wait to see what kind of scuba/travel/charity things we can work together on in the near future! Also hoping we can dive together very soon!
- uhhhh, I moved a fucking site (see above). The highlight is that it’s done and I learned a lot and have new skills and knowledge. The lowlight is that I was often slamming my laptop shut in frustration and nearly in tears more than once. I am forever grateful to Lizzie at Dankybit for doing all the backend work in moving my site, and all the assistance she’s kindly given me long after her invoice was paid. If you need any help with websites, SEO, etc., Lizzie is your girl.
- I have had monster headaches trying to deal with Rakuten, the Japanese credit card that I have (the company is kind of like a Japanese Amazon – a massive company with online shopping, cell phone plans, credit cards and more). Trying to hook that up to my bank account has been a nightmare. I found out after weeks of phone calls and mailing forms back and forth that the katakana for my middle name was different on my credit card and my bank account – they don’t match, but it was an issue of no one being able to say/write my middle name properly in Japanese so I ended up with two different Japanese pronunciations/writings of it. If you’ve never lived in Japan I’m sure you think everything here is super tech-savvy and futuristic. If you’ve lived here, I know you know what a process this has been to fix this issue. My poor supervisor has spent entire afternoons on the phone and sending faxes and taking me to the bank to try to fix this. Being a burden on people all the time here is getting old.
So far July has been pretty fun – my friend from Hyogo that I visited in May came to see me and we went all over my prefecture, I went to a festival at one of my kindergartens, I went on an overnight class trip with my 7th graders and I’m in the middle of planning a few cool local trips in Japan for my six-week summer holiday (in between hiding in the AC, naturally). More on this in the August roundup, and hopefully some posts between!
So, that’s it for this roundup! You can see all my monthly roundups here.
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