Beverly Hills, 90210

Time…the only thing that never stops.

A flyer was hanging in the staff room where I was teaching third grade. That was 2.5 years ago when I applied to be an ALT in Japan. The first year, I did not get the job. I was devastated. January came around, 2018 and I thought…I’m going to try one more time. I applied and interviewed for the same position. February 4th of last year I received the call that I was chosen for this job. 13 months ago (almost to the day) the excitement began.

[13 months later-current day 日本]

People don’t say “Happy Valentine’s Day” here. My dad and I went out for sushi. It was his first time EVER having sushi…he loved it. I couldn’t figure out how to order what I wanted. I asked for help (which I would have never done before) so I know I’m getting braver. Much like Christmas, Valentine’s day felt like just a regular day here. I always liked Valentine’s day-not because it’s all about romantic love but because it is about spreading love. I celebrate Valentine’s day with my students in America. We all make Valentine’s for each other.

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I remember being a kid, excited to pick out a special Valentine for each person. In the Valentine boxes you would get a few Valentines that were clearly messages for the person you found cute, the teacher and your best friend. I wonder if I was the only person who put special thought into who got what Valentine-at such a young age?

My dad has already been gone 2 (almost 3) weeks.  I had an incredible time. I enjoy when he is here because it forces me to get out and explore. Sometimes, I prefer sleeping all day and not changing out of my pajamas. I hate to do that when I am in Japan…when my dad is here I know there will never be a day spent at home in pajamas. I like that.

 

We spent at least one week trying to find a place we had been…a crazy busy place with lights, people, shops and barely enough space to cross the road comfortably. After going to Osaka for the 3rd time trying to find this exact street…I remembered we had to take a subway to get to this secret location. Okay, it’s not a secret. It is Namba. A place more packed than I have ever been. This ended up being a BIG day for us. Maybe too big…We were out and biking or walking for at least 12 hours and by the time we got we were BEAT, hurting and unable to move. The next day my dad departed and it took him nearly 24 hours to get back home. Me, I went to bed at 7pm.

 

I’m trying to find the motivation myself, to get out and explore on weekends even without somebody here to explore with. I hate the feeling like I am wasting time and missing out on new experiences when I stay home for an entire weekend. This weekend I NEEDED to stay home to have a leak fixed in my apartment. Sunday, I did get out and go spend a day at the zoo. I had that happysad feeling while I was there.

 

That has never been a feeling I get at the zoo but I have never been to the zoo alone. I spent a lot of time watching each of my favorite animals. Some seemed happy as ever and others seemed lonely. I saw emotions in animals that I feel myself.

 

Animals are too good for people, but we need animals. I have loved animals since I was a young child. I’m thinking about my dogs right now. Dogs are the only friends/family that never let us down. They are the only living beings that will be excited to see you each and every time you come home, whether it has been 5 minutes, 5 days, or 5 years. Thinking about the bond people create with dogs is incredible. The bond dogs create with people is incredible. I got my first very own dog, Sawyer, after we lost our greatest family member of all, Winnie.

 

She was the best dog I’ll ever know. I got Sawyer and my mom got Barkley, the cutest brothers of all. When Sawyer was a puppy he was goofy, playful, the best snuggler and (still is) my biggest love. Barkely, he’s a lover, napper, jacket loving sweetheart, with the best smile. Our first dog that has ever, SMILED!

 

When Sawyer was/is sick, I felt/feel sick. When I was sad, Sawyer was sad. when I was happy, Sawyer was happy. When Sawyer was hurt, my heart hurt. If Sawyer doesn’t like somebody…chances are I won’t either.

It is beyond words to describe the relationship that a human can make with a canine.

In Twilight, the Vampires-they choose one. What do they call it, imprinting? It’s like a dog chooses one human to love and protect for all of their existence.

 

It’s like my dog is here to do this hardest thing in the world…love me unconditionally, every day, for his entire life.

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I miss people, hugs, driving, ketchup and ranch with my fries…but most of all, I miss my dogs.

 

The hardest part of being away from home, is being away from the dogs. I’ve said this several times. Mostly to myself. I was somewhat embarrassed of the statement. Then today I realized, why would I be embarrassed for loving my dogs unconditionally, the way that they love me?!

 

The hardest thing about missing animals is that there is no way to communicate with them. Over any technology, the voice is unrecognizable. I have no way to let them know that I didn’t leave them…I love them and I miss them. I’m ashamed that I was uncomfortable with saying out loud that most of all, I miss my pets.

 If you have never felt the love and friendship of a dog and cannot understand my feelings, I’m sorry for you. Dogs are a miracle sent from above.

 

In a month, I will be moving to a new school. In a week, 9th grade students will be done with junior high. Preparing myself for the high possibility that I will cry at graduation. I remember listening to Vitamin C-graduation song after each graduation (6th grade, 8th grade, 12th grade). Beginning with my first graduation in elementary school-I cried. Since I have been teaching, at the end of each school year, I cry. It’s the leaving part.

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I’m not afraid of where I’m headed. I’m sad about what I’m leaving.

Transitions are happy, sad, scary, exciting and inevitable. I recognized this at a young age and I still feel the exact same about change.

I’m going to miss the students and staff here. Every six months, ALT’s switch schools. That means, a new bike ride, new staff, new students. HappySad.

 

Last week I send out 10+ letters. I’ve got a few post offices that I am a regular at. However, I FORGOT to stop on my way home on this day. I had to go to the main post office that is open late. While trying to send off my letters the employee was telling me no. Now, I understood what she was saying. No problem. However, I send mail out at least once a week and never had trouble before. I was sending my brother a bell. She said goods and letters/writing cannot be sent together. It ended up being more of a task than it should have been. I opened the perfectly sealed mail to show her the bell. There was a sticky note on the bell-which I had to take off in order to send the bell. So-since you won’t get the sticky note…here it is.

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Do you know what one of my friends said to me the other day when I asked for their address to send a letter…Why don’t you send a text message? No, no no no. In my opinion these forms of communication are not comparable. I’d much rather put my time and love into something that will brighten your day and make you smile when you least expect it rather than a text message which we all get, daily. I believe in crazy, stupid, love and I believe in the magic of letters. I’ve been sending letters all around the USA and I sent one to England too! Making my way around. What I enjoy most about sending mail, is knowing that you got it…

 

My time alone has resulted in self-reflection.

I’m learning that not everything I think about myself, is true. I am looking back at where I was and how I ended up “me”.

This was sparked by a letter I wrote to my Lucy Lu. She is a friend I’ve had for 13 years now. I was thinking about when we first met, in high school. Holy goodness, life seemed hard at that time. Life was hard at that time. What I remember most about when we became friends, is the pain. At sixteen, I thought my life had to be the hardest life ever lived. Seems like an exaggeration and I wish it was, but I really did think my life was more difficult than most. At the time I had people who told me it would be okay, and this too shall pass. At the time, I didn’t know they were right.

 

Sure, my problems were all due to my own actions, thoughts, and decisions but I didn’t know that. Being the cause of your own pain doesn’t make the pain hurt less. People told me that one day I would thank the man upstairs for the route my life took. Now, I understand. Had my life gone the way I wanted it to at that time…I never would have moved to Arizona, I wouldn’t be in Japan…and I wouldn’t have the heart, understanding and appreciation for other people that I do now I think we become what we want to be, because of who were.

 

I was mean. Now, I would like to think I am one of the most genuinely kind people out there.

I hated. Now, I love deeply and freely. When you love, there is less pain, hurt and sadness.

I bullied. Now, I have no tolerance for it and I can help on both ends of the situation.

I lied. I’m as honest as can be.

Dignity? Now I do the right thing even when no one is looking.

There is a reason life doesn’t go the way we “want” it to.

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One thing that hasn’t changed is my anxiety. I’m going to be intentional about trying to change my thoughts. Last week, my mom text me, “goodnight love you” and I responded with “Love you more”. Next message I got was, “No, not possible, I am in the hospital blood clots”. I was in the middle of a store, holding a ballcap that said “smile”. I dropped it as I read the message and said, “WHAT” loud enough for the whole store to hear me. I placed the hat back on the shelf and left the store to call my mama.

This is a prime example, where I might book a flight back home before even knowing what is happening. My mom had been there for the day and I had no idea. Nobody told me…Can you believe that?! (Joke..)

Ignorance is bliss.

I hate being uninformed, but I also hate being informed. I did a better job this time of controlling my panic and it helped that my mom waited until she knew what the problem was, to tell me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have made it out the door that day. It is hard for me to function in the mist of the unknown. Mama will be okay and is back home. POSITIVE thoughts.

 

I keep seeing the forecast in Spokane, SNOW, cold temps…and I’m here starting to drip sweat on bike rides.

 

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Evening bike rides are a highlight of my day. It feels like the fall evenings in Spokane. It reminds me of being a child. It is the perfect temperature for playing hide in seek around the neighborhood in a t-shirt. The air has autumn like briskness in it. Or maybe it is more like the beginning of spring. Still a little winter coolness in the air, but the sunshine is bright and bringing nature back to life. I think that is my all-time favorite part of the year. After winter, when the squirrels start coming out to play, the birds chirping wakes you up and the flowers, OH-the flowers.

Seeing children outside playing baseball brings me joy. It reminds me of playing catch in the street out front of my parents’ house and the point game at hutton with the boys. My dad would hit baseballs and say how many points the catch was worth. Whoever caught the ball, got the points. Kind of like flies up, with points. I was just there to catch the occasional 100point sissy hit that was hit just for me. I’ve seen this played (rarely) since I was a child…but I was sure that was a game invented by the Binger’s.

 

 

My entire life I thought my family was the original owner of multiple sayings, mannerisms and customs. Now, when I see other people doing these things I discover that it is not a Binger Invention.

I got to go to Sasayama which is country side here in Japan! It was beautiful and incredible. I am looking forward to my next trip out there. I am craving stars and wild animals. I haven’t seen the stars since I moved here and I’m still on the prowl for some wild animals (with racoon dog and wild boar at the top of my list).

 

 

I ate duck and snail. A slug with a shell. Not my style but I had to try it (a second time).

 

No middle names here. Japanese have a first name and family name.

I stopped biting my nails.
I got my first haircut by myself. I didn’t realize how long my hair is…I cut enough off that it now feels short…even though it’s still longer than I use to keep it. About time for me to go super short.

Finally finished a quilt for my nephew. Made with love and made in JAPAN! [He got it today! YAY]

Happy March! My favorite month. Strange that the school year is coming to an end, IN MARCH. A student gave me the most thoughtful, heartwarming, gift that I have to share with the world. I let this student borrow a book, “HedgeHugs”. A book about hedgehogs who have to learn how to hug without hurting each other. She knows that I LOVE hedgehogs…and she made these most precious, cute, hedgehogs that I adore. She also made a “reasons why I love you book”. I’ve never received a gift so thoughtful or loving. I am so lucky to have this job.

Someone asked me last week…if I woke up with my dream job, what would it be…

My answer…I’m doing it. A teacher.

Gratitude.

Lastly-Rest Easy Luke Perry. Believe it or not-some of my most important life lessons came from this man in 90210. 90210 is another thing in life that has never let me down. It has supported me in happy times and in some of the worst. To my first heart throb.

illie

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