Monday, March 28, 2011

read or write?

Warning:  this might be the longest post ever, but it details what felt like the longest trip ever!

The past few days I've been finding myself choosing between read blogs or write a post and I've been choosing to read.  You all know I'm safe, I figured the details could wait.  This post is probably going to sound whiny but it was a pretty miserable trip.  That being said, they did a SUPERB job of making it as anti-suck as they could!  I consider myself a pretty experienced traveler.  After 2 years of "stand by" trips when I worked for Delta, I've pretty much seen it all.  This trip will go down as one of the worst of my life but I can't complain because it was free and I had it MUCH better than many of the people that traveled with me.

The journey started when we dropped our bags off between 1500-1700 on Thursday afternoon.  

We had a briefing at 1700 to tell us the schedule for the rest of the trip then we were sent home.  We were told to be waiting at the nearest school bus stop at midnight.  A bus picked us up about 0030.  That's where I said goodbye to the husband and our puppers =(

  We arrived at the gym around 0100.  We checked in and were weighed with our carry on baggage in order to get an exact weight for the aircraft.

After waiting for quite some time, they brought in dogs to sniff our bags

They were prepared with racket ball courts turned into play areas to keep the children entertained

Finally about 0400 people started crashing where ever and how ever they could

Around 0600 they started loading us onto buses

After some discussion and a few cigarettes, the bus drivers decided on the best route from our base to the AF base where we would be flying from

We arrived at the AF base around 0830 and were loaded into a large room where they had coffee and donuts and projector set up playing Wall-E (I told you, they tried to make this as painless as possible).

I was unable to sleep on the bus, so I was approaching 24 hours without sleep and the crankiness was setting in.  Luckily I had some wicked cute (and surprisingly cheerful) kids to keep me awake and happy =)

They processed our passports and f'd up my paperwork then we waited around until 1330 when they started loading us onto buses to be bused out to the plane.  

This whole time, I was supposed to be traveling with a friend who was traveling with 5 children but we were in different groups and for accountability reasons, I hadn't seen much of him.  When I got to the plane, the flight attendant asked if I was traveling alone and I explained that I wanted to sit with my friend.  She told me she couldn't guarantee that I could get a seat near them but if I wanted, I could sit in business YES, PLEASE!  Even when I worked for Delta, I never had the opportunity to travel on this plane much less in business elite, I couldn't say no!

 I can't lie, we were like kids in a candy store, playing with all the gadgets.  That green light?  yeah, that's the MASSAGER IN THE SEAT!  After no sleep and lots of sitting in bleachers/on buses, this was pure bliss!

 I managed to get a solid 6 hours of glorious sleep before the guilt kicked in (I know, I'm an awful person, I totally ditched my friend and his 5 kids) and I went searching for my friend.  I offered to stay with the kids for a couple hours while he went upstairs and slept in my seat but he declined.

We arrived in Denver, CO about 0930 local time which put our time since leaving the house around 24 hours.  The kids were enjoying themselves much more than the adults at this point

We had to get our bags before we could proceed through customs and some local soldiers helped keep things in order

From customs we were bused to another holding area where they checked us in (this is where I discovered they had butchered my paper work.  They had me down as "mom's maiden name-my last name, Jessica".  They had my mom down as my sponsor instead of my emergency contact.  oops.  Then they had my final destination as City, TN instead of City, IN.  OOPS! both I suppose are fairly easy to make mistakes, but they combined to make my processing a nightmare!) They had child care set up, including a giant bouncy house, video games and lots of red cross volunteers to help keep an eye on the little ones.  This was such a big relief for the parents who were exhausted by that time.  They had a wall of food for us and showers and cots available in a separate room.  After more processing, most of us were handed our boarding passes for a flight that evening to our final destination. Some people weren't as fortunate and were put in a hotel in Denver until their flight the following morning.

As soon as I was "set free" for my final flight, my 1st stop was a bathroom to brush my teeth.  I don't think I've ever enjoyed brushing my teeth that much in my life!

I had a connection in Chicago and I was terrified that after all of that, I was going to get stuck in O'Hare airport but I made it into Cincinnati around midnight local time putting my total travel time at 36 hours.  I feel awful for those that were traveling with children, those that had to spend the night in Denver and those that didn't get to enjoy the lie flat seats.  As exhausting as my journey was, I'm sure theirs were 1000X worse!  
If you were keeping track, that was 5 bus rides, 4 cities, 3 flights and 2 really long days!

I slept for almost 36 straight hours after getting in, waking up only to shower and eat once.  I think I've managed to kick jet lag in the butt after only 3 days which is WAY better than I was expecting!  I'm feeling pretty well rested and enjoying the comforts of "home"

I can also now say the real reason I chose to come home is because Jason has deployed "up north" to help with the clean up and rebuilding of the areas hit hardest by the earthquake/tsunami.  With him gone, there was no reason for me not to take the free flight home.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Home sweet home

Just want you all to know I made it back to the states safely. I have quite an adventure to share with you but I am working with very little sleep on top of jet lag so it may be a few days.

For now, I leave you with this photo of me sleeping on a lay flat seat in business elite somewhere over the pacific =)

The adventure had some highs and lows, this was definitely one of the highs!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, March 21, 2011

11/52 {round}

It took me all week to notice something round and then 3 different round things came at me within 10 minutes...

Our speed limit signs here are round instead of the rectangles we are used to in the States

the filter/lens cap feel off my camera and broke into lots of round pieces

 and I packed some DVD's into my "oh shit" bag

how YOU can help Japan

I've received many requests from readers wanting to help the country of Japan.  Over the past few days, a few great ways to help have been brought to my attention so I'm going to pass the info along for you to use/not use how you see fit.

1st, I follow a local photographer who has shared some AMAZING photos and stories over the past 10 days.  He was on the 26th floor of his office building in Shinjuku when the 8.9 earthquake hit last Friday.  If you'd like to know what it's REALLY like in Tokyo right now, I suggest you start here and read through the newer posts (you have probably seen some of these photos photos on CNN's iReport if you watch CNN).

He has been working with a great organization, Second Harvest, to get supplies packed and shipped north to the heavily effected areas. (why am I 28 years old and still struggle with the proper use of effect/affect?!?!?  I hope that's right)  It's a local organization that is accepting financial donations from all over the world.  You can donate financially here.  Just FYI, 1,000 Yen is approximately $12 USD with the exchange rate right now.

The 2nd specific organization I'd like to highlight is our local Girl Scout/Boy Scout troops.  They are collecting backpacks to donate to children who have lost their homes.  They're asking for the following items:
  • paper, pen, crayons
  • comics
  • flashlights w/ batteries
  • stuffed animal
  • playing cards
  • hat
  • tissue
  • non-perishable snacks
  • games
  • hats
  • small blankets
  • hairbrush/ comb
  • toothpaste/ toothbrush
  • lotion
  • chapstick
  • sanitary items / toilet paper

Any clothes items should be new.
Provide extra batteries for electronic items.

They also need the actual backpacks.  They are collecting items until April 30th so if you live in the states, you have plenty of time to donate items.  This is a great way for schools or play groups to get involved with the support efforts.

Here are a few more that I know of:

I hope this info is useful to some of you.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

still here

I just looked and it's been 3 days since my last seems like 3 hours ago.  For 10 days now, we've all been on a roller coaster ride that we I just want off of.  Not once have I ever felt like I am in ANY danger here.  NOT. FOR. ONE. SECOND.  If I did, I would NOT be here.  I would have already bought a plane ticket and be back home in Ohio with my family.  Instead, I've been here trying not to listen to the hundreds of thousands of rumors that are flying around, dealing with a sinus infection and trying to see as much of my husband as possible.  

Part of me wants to just stay here and hide in my quiet little bubble of a house

Part of me wants to help my friends get their 5 children to the "safe haven"

Part of me knows that for every person that leaves, that is more energy/food/water that can go north to help those in need

Part of me doesn't want to leave my friends that are staying

Part of me is EXTREMELY HOPEFUL that our "safe haven" will be the CONUS Continental US location of our choice, aka HOME

Part of me knows I'll be extremely lonely if I stay here

Part of me really doesn't want to leave and miss the Cherry Blossoms (shallow, I know, but true)

Part of me is going to miss my puppers like CRAZY!

Part of me wants to stay behind and help out with what I can here

Part of me wonders how long I'll be away from my husband

Part All of me is tired of not knowing and just wants this roller coaster to end!!!!

PS, just so there is no confusion, I do still plan on leaving whenever they get the planes here

Thursday, March 17, 2011

straight up

Ok ladies (and gents, if there are any out there that read this).  I spoke about 30 minutes too soon yesterday.  Depending on what blogs you read, you may have heard this or that.  Things seem to be quite different depending on who you ask or what news you watch.  I'm going to tell you how things are going here and what I say applies to our base and our base only.

Yesterday we had a FRG meeting scheduled at 1530.  I blogged about our rolling blackouts then stopped by my husbands office before heading to the meeting.  In the time between my post and the meeting, shit hit the fan.  The word "evacuation" was flying EVERYWHERE, friends from other bases were posting things on FB and lots of people were starting to panic.  At the meeting, our Battalion Commander got up and told us pretty straight up how it is.  The President signed an order for Military Assisted Voluntary Departure of Dependents.  THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE ARE BEING ORDERED TO LEAVE!  It means we have the OPTION to depart if we feel necessary and the government will provide transportation to and lodging at a "safe haven".   We were told to pack a bag with clothes for 3-4 days and be prepared to leave with in a couple of days if we choose to.  At this point, we do not know when we will leave, where we will go or how long we will stay.  The plan is changing by the hour and I won't be confident in the plan until the wheels are up on the plane and even then, I'll probably still have some doubts.  At this point it is also unclear whether or not pets are going to be able to travel under this voluntary departure option.  As you can imagine there is a LOT of confusion and speculation going on right now.  It may not seem like I'm giving you much that you haven't already heard but I'm simply being smart about what I say, the last thing I want is this blog starting more rumors.

Ok, so what about me?  What is my plan?  Well, without saying too much and breaking opsec rules, due to my husbands job and what that means for him, we have decided that it's best if I go.  Hopefully soon, I'll be able to elaborate a little more on that but for now, that's what you get.  I will say that I am NOT leaving because I am worried about anything here.  I feel completely safe here and don't feel like there is any need to leave.  We just feel I can do more good by traveling with friends who are departing the area with small children.  Plus, I'm up for an adventure and this is sure to be one!

Stay tuned.  The lap top is coming with me where ever I go, so I'll do my best to blog as things move along.  And please please please keep sending prayers to Japan!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

rolling blackouts

Update from Japan:

Since Monday we have been experiencing "rolling blackouts" which are basically scheduled power outages that last 3-4 hours and rotate through the cities of Japan.  Day 1 was great, we were able to keep our power use to a minimum and the scheduled black out was cancelled.  

I sat out and enjoyed a cold drink and a good book on a warm spring day instead of watching Grey's reruns

Tuesday we weren't as lucky and around 4 pm (right in the middle of a community briefing from our Garrison Commander) they shut off our power.  We knew this was coming and if you listened to the warnings, you were prepared.  After the briefing, we still had about an hour of day light time left but after the sun went down it quickly became apparent that there is only so much you can do in the dark.

Using a flashlight, I was able to finish laundry

and make my husband dinner

which he quickly ate before getting back to work.
When I showed up with his dinner, he was sitting in the parking lot with 2 generators going, testing out some equipment in the dark.  I pulled the car up and he worked while I read in the light from the headlights.  Not the most romantic dinner we've ever shared, but it was nice to spend a little time with him.  They've been working 14 hours shifts 24hours a day all week and there is no sign of things slowing down in the near future, so I'll take what I can get at this point!

Today we had our power turned off from about 10am-1pm so I resorted to a "lunch" I haven't has since I was a child.  Cheese and (turkey) pepperoni on crackers

It's scheduled to be off again this evening from 5-830, so I've planned grilled chicken Caesar salad for dinner.  Tomorrow we are scheduled to be in the dark from 6-10am and again from 2-530pm.  These blackouts could potentially go on for up to 3 months.  I'm running out of creative ideas for meals already and I can see us getting tired of PB&J and tuna after a few week.  Any suggestions?!?!?

All in all, I'd say we have a it pretty good considering the circumstances.  I'm more than happy to give up my electricity for a few hours a day if it helps the people who are suffering up north.

I will continue to blog as much as possible about the conditions and ongoings over here.  If you are concerned about us, I suggest you stop watching CNN/Fox News.  We are far enough away from the nuclear power plant that even if it went into complete meltdown and the winds were blowing directly at us, we would be 100% safe.  We're far enough inland that tsunami's are not a threat to us.  Our base has assured us that there is a 6 months supply of food here so we're not going to starve.  If you have any questions please feel free to email me directly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

OCONUS milspouses

I'm begging each and every one of you to learn from what we are going through here in Japan.

When you move over seas, your spouse is "required" to fill out a NEO (I think it stands for Non-Combatant Evacuation Orders) packet containing all the forms that would be required for you to evacuate the country you are living in should anything happen.  I knew NOTHING about this packet until my neighbor mentioned it to me yesterday.  When I asked my husband about it he said he'd get the forms for me.  When I asked him why he didn't take care of this when we first got here his response was "I didn't feel like dealing with it".  Really honey?  Thanks, I appreciate that!  Had something more serious happened while he was TDY, my butt could have been stuck here because he "didn't feel like dealing with it".

I understand that most of you probably have spouses that would take care of something like that but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE double check...right now!  

When we 1st moved here, we never could have imagined that we'd be living through the worst earthquake in Japan's history but we are and I'll admit we were not prepared.

I hope some of you can learn from our mistakes.


Monday, March 14, 2011

finally some happy news



This last week has been so stressful/scary/nerve wracking/draining, I feel like we just survived deployment number 3!

Yeah, that's right, he was conveniently in the states on TDY this week and missed all the excitement around here.  Poor guy got "stuck" in Las Vegas for 3 days while I was here trying not to panic.

Even though I'm sure I'm not going to see much of him around here for a while, I'm happy that he's home!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

more videos

if you don't watch any of the others, you should definitely watch this one all the way to the just blows my mind

this one is from Yokosuka Navy Base about 30 miles south east of me

Friday, March 11, 2011

10/52 {morning}

I'm not a morning person but there are 2 musts for me when I think of morning:

music and makeup
(and yes, I skipped the gym and slept in that day, don't judge)


this video is in the shoppette on our base



That was without a doubt the scariest thing I have EVER been through.  We felt about 2 full minutes of pretty scary ground shaking.  Light poles were swaying, cars were rocking back and forth, and the ground under my feet was rolling.  Things were shaken off of walls and drawers were rattled open. 

(my kitchen may have been a mess before the quake but the drawers/pantry doors were not left open...I'm too OCD for that) 

We are still experiencing aftershocks 8 hours after the initial quake hit.  I cannot report on my immediate community due to OPSEC but I know the trains in our area are currently not running and people are having to walk home from their jobs in Tokyo and friends are reporting convenience stores have completely bare shelves.  We have not had cell phone service since the quake hit.  We have not seen any effects of the tsunami at our location and we currently have power and internet access although land phone lines are down.
Thank you to everyone for your concern, love and support!

I took this video after the 1st 8.9 hit.  Please excuse the terror in my voice, I was just a bit shaken up....literally!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Lately I've felt like people are not appreciating my time and that PISSES ME OFF!  
Don't ask me to do you a favor and then gripe and complain and throw a fit when I want to do it my way.  If you want things done your way, DO THEM YOURSELF!  
Don't ask me to volunteer at an event and then expect me to pay for a ticket to enter that event...if my time isn't enough for you then you don't deserve it or my money.

*sigh* rant over


I got back into the crossfit groove last week and I was doing pretty well until today.  I had an awful migraine yesterday and went to bed for the night at 5pm.  I felt great when I woke up at 7 this morning (yes I slept for 14 straight hours) so I made a smoothie (my typical "breakfast") and headed to the gym.  I made it through about 3 of 10 rounds before I was pulled from the workout right before I passes out by the coach.   I felt like I was running out of steam way earlier than I should have been but I refused to quit.  I guess I looked pretty pale so she said enough was enough and made me stop.  I learned a pretty valuable lesson.  Don't skip dinner and expect to WOD the next day!  Doesn't work!


I have been working with the same three ESL students (Hi Hirona!) since I started in November but I decided I'm ready for more so I picked up a few new students this week.  I forgot how nerve wracking it is to start fresh with someone but I definitely felt much more prepared this week than I did back in the beginning which helped tremendously.  One of the girls is 18, just graduated high school the 1st of March.  She didn't pass the test to get into the college she wants to go to, so she's taking a year to do nothing but study.  Then she'll take the test again next year.  I am so inspired by her dedication!  I would have said screw it and went to the community college or just gone out and found a job.  I don't know many 18 year olds like her.  I'm looking forward to working with her.  The other student is a few year older than I, working as a receptionist (a position I've held in the past) and we have similar tastes in music/movies/actors/actresses.  We're going to have some awesome conversations, I just know it!


I made a list.  I currently know (including blog friends) more than 25 people that are pregnant.  That is insane!  No offense if you are prego, but, I'M TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT BABIES!


I've been approached to be on the board for both the spouses group and the local PWOC chapter.  I have ZERO desire to step into a position on either board.  It's been much easier to turn down the spouses association than PWOC.  I've told them since day one I'm not interested but there just aren't many people who are able/willing to step up.  Most of our members are Japanese ladies and aren't able to serve on the board.  I'm asking, if you believe in prayer, to pray for me to be led to serve.  As of right now, I'm just not feeling it!


Thanks to those of you that helped me select a pair of shoes for the wedding I'm in this summer.  I went with pair number 3!


This week I decided to start using my Twitter account for more than just blog giveaways....I still have no clue what I'm doing over there, but if you'd like to find me, you can do so @bleudressnjapan


Since I can't post without a photo, only a few more days until this is my life
photo from google images....and I totally picked it because I'm 99% sure she's reading Twilight =)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Amazing Race

So apparently I've been living under a rock spending my free time out exploring Japan instead of watching TV.  I had no clue until today that we actually do get SOME current TV shows here, just a day late or so.  I still can't stream and we don't have a DVR/TiVo, so I will probably continue to not watch much TV, but as I'm writing this, I'm watching this weeks Amazing Race (and contrary to what I believed this morning, I do get to watch the season premier of Army Wives tonight).  It's so neat to see them in Japan, at places I've been to.  Their 1st stop, in Kamakura, I've been there.  The archery they learn, they have a festival to celebrate it next weekend and I'm going.   

The way they talk about the driving is completely accurate IMO.  If you get into an accident, they will 100% call the police!  They weren't being "dramatic", that's how things work in this country.

The pit stop for this leg of the race was about 15 minutes from Yokosuka Navy Base for any of you Navy readers out there.

And just in case you were wondering, I'm with Jaci and 100% Team Cowboy!  I love these guys!
photo credit CBS

PS. Anyone notice anything different up above?  No?  Look higher....see it now?!?!?  There is no longer a dot blogspot at the end of my URL, I finally took the plunge =)

Hope everyone has a fabulous week!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

9/52 {pattern}

I am in love with this kimono I purchased recently at a recycle shop for $25!  The colors, the price, the PATTERN, I love it all =)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tokyo Marathon

I've been in a major blogging funk.  When I actually have time to blog, I'm just not in the mood, so I put it off.  I've been crazy busy, which is the way I like life to be but I can feel myself getting burned out.  I need a break! (my breaking point was when I jumped back on the CrossFit bandwagon for the 3rd time.  I love it, but it seriously pushed me over the edge!)  Luckily I'm getting that much needed break in 2 weeks when I get to tag along on Jason's TDY to Okinawa =)  (Kara, we should do lunch, I'll email you!)  Until then, I'll continue to be crazy busy and love it, but I may not make a lot of time for blogging over the next two weeks.  I apologize in advance.

Over the weekend, we (Jason, myself and about 15 of our friends) rode into to Tokyo to cheer on our friend (and a couple other people they know) who was running in the 5th Tokyo Marathon.  

He was running to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project and it's still not too late to donate, if you're interested you can do so here.

I'd never been to/watched a marathon but I'm 100% sure after seeing so many people limping around afterwards, that it's something I NEVER want to do.

It was fun to take photos though =)

 after some random Japanese woman got tired of listening to the SCREAMING Americans, she tapped our friend on the shoulder and pointed at us.  He had his music up and was in a zone and almost missed us!

that's a great guy running for a great cause (he's also from a GREAT city;-))

there were some interesting costumes, both on runners and supporters

the runners were greeted with Taiko drummers along the last .6 kilometers

I was a little surprised by how many people were taking photos and texting during the run

 Dave, finishing strong

Dave and his wife Laci, they're from our hometown and pretty awesome people

I just liked this cute girl and her McDonalds

and it doesn't happen often, but I was caught in the act