2014年9月28日日曜日

Ups and downs...

Life has been hectic. Yasushi got a new job which is so much better than his old job, I have been pulling 10 hour days at my current job due to 30,000 people coming from Japan to see Arashi in concert at Ko Olina Resort last weekend, and we moved into our new home but still have a lot to do before we are really settled in (and not enough money or tools to do it all at once).
Chinami has been talking little by little, and loves to count things. She can count up to 10 perfectly in English and almost as well in Japanese. She knows the alphabet, and is getting better at hiragana. When we walk outside, she loves to "read" random license plates to me.  Also, Chinami can swim. I put her in a swimsuit with the padding around it so she can float, and she swims around and around. When she turned 1, I had thought about enrolling in swim classes with her to teach her to swim, I am glad I didn't waste the money! All I needed to spend was $5 at the thrift store on her swimsuit and now she is a natural swimmer! She also loves to jump into the pool, and she doesn't even have to hold her nose like her Mommy (In my case, toddler swimming lessons definitely would have helped!!).

I turned 28 at the beginning of the month. Since we were strapped for cash, it was a low-key birthday, we had some nice dinner and wine from Costco the night before, and then on the following Saturday we used a meal coupon I had been holding on to since Christmas to have a fancy lunch at the Surf Lanai in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. 
28.....it's almost 30 which is a bit scary. I've always been the youngest one among my peers, and recently, I am not. However, there is still so much in my life that is brand new and so much to look forward to. I have my beautiful daughter to teach and learn from, I own a home, and with my husband's new job, I can look forward to spending time together as a family once or even twice a week, and we may even be able to have family vacations once a year!  

Also, for the first time in my life, I am starting to get the help I have desperately needed for the past 15 years. I have been diagnosed with C-PTSD and will start therapy as soon as I can find a babysitter for Chinami. Getting the diagnosis in itself was a relief. All these years wrestling with the symptoms, being screamed at by my mother that I had "psychological and emotional problems" and was a "nut", when I started to show signs of depression as a teen, then going to college and forming relationships with healthy, non-abusive people but still engaging in lots of risk behaviors in an attempt to fill the void and gain acceptance from someone, and then from there the depression, suicidal thoughts, emotional flashbacks, and panic attacks got progressively worse. 
I understand now that I usually start a stress response or a panic attack in reaction to very specific emotional triggers, namely, being shouted at, threatened, or if someone uses a statement towards me like "you are a moron" "nut" "crazy" "why can't you do anything right"  "you are a horrible person", basically the same kind of verbal abuse I grew up with. 
Some days are better than others. Some days I am up at 2am, work,  cook,  clean, go out, have fun, and other days it is an effort to drag myself around, and the times I am not at work I find it hard to muster up the effort to do anything. Sometimes if I am tired, and have a stress response, panic attack, I will actually black out. This past week I had one where I became dizzy and could not look at bright lights for the rest of the night. I know I have to take this one day at a time, and I also know that this will never be fully cured, for the rest of my life. I eat mostly fruits, vegetables and lean protein, don't smoke, rarely drink, I do moderate exercise for 30 minutes 3x/week and ride my bike to work 15 minutes one way 2x/day 5x/week. I drink lots of water and green tea and eat dark chocolate as a treat. I have been eating a large variety and quantity of fresh local vegetables as a main part of my diet since I lived in Japan (and discovered that there was more to food than meat, potatoes, and salad.) and since I came back to Hawaii I added superfoods, smoothies, and exercise. Plus with breastfeeding, I am now down to 110lbs, almost 20 lbs lighter than I was before I got pregnant. I do yoga, meditation, my spirituality is and has always (since I was about 13) been nature-based. 

But in the end, these things are not a cure for C-PTSD, or any other mental health issue that is caused or intensified by childhood trauma. I try to "follow" these "healthy living" feeds on Twitter and I'm tired of seeing the same "inspirational" bullshit that if you "just think positive, you'll be happy" or advice to let painful things go and leave the past in the past, tomorrow is a beautiful day, etc. Even "depression/anxiety" feeds posting to "think positive" and "every choice you make is yours" etc.  Guess what: I would LOVE to be happy and rainbows and sunshine every day, and to just shrug off my panic attacks and bouts of depression. I would LOVE not having emotional flashbacks and painful traumatic memories, and I would LOVE to be able to cure all of it by just eating some kale, doing some yoga, and going "well I'm just going to think happy thoughts today!"  but that's not going to happen. I was raised by someone who hates me and is absolutely fine with the idea of me being dead. That doesn't go away too easily. But hopefully with therapy, I will finally be able to overcome the effects, so I can put even more energy into NEVER becoming the same type of non-parent to my own child(ren). 

2014年7月24日木曜日

Our new home!

This week has been a rough one for our family. On Sunday night, Chinami had a runny nose and I had a slightly red right eye before going to bed. Monday morning, I woke up and my eye was bright red and swollen half-shut. I went to Long's and bought some hand sanitizer and some eye patches before going to work. That night, Chinami had a high fever and a nasty cough. Tuesday, we took her to the doctor and she had a cold and ear infection. Wednesday, Yasushi had a fever, headache, and sore throat, and I was starting to have the same symptoms as well by the afternoon, and so he got me some medicine too when he went to the doctor. Thursday, I finally went to the doctor, and he told me my eye (which wasn't red anymore but still swollen half-shut) was not pinkeye, but likely connected to the other symptoms.

After the doctor's appointment, we all went to Shirokiya for a very important event--
the signing of our escrow and loan agreements. It was over an hour of signing things about flood zones, termites, loan rules, paying the loan directly out of the bank account, etc. Since our lender, real estate agent, and the escrow office representative/notary public were all Japanese ladies, the signing was conducted almost entirely in Japanese. (side note:I remember trying to get any kind of Japanese related service in Pennsylvania, what a joke that was! Just one of the many reasons I feel blessed to be able to live in Hawaii.) Chinami was so tired she fell asleep during the meeting. But we plowed through it all, and at the end, handed over a check for almost 125,000, or pretty much our entire life savings, sending our account into a dangerous state until the next paycheck. And from October, we start mortgage payments. But we will have our own home.

If I had to try by myself to purchase my own home in Hawaii, I wouldn't qualify for any kind of loan until at least 2016, and even then, I probably wouldn't be able to qualify for a big enough loan to actually buy anything, not even the 1 bedroom part of this shack we live in now. I have two people to thank for our dream finally coming true.

The first person to thank is Yasushi. In addition to working his fingers to the bone 15+ years to perfect his skill as a Japanese chef, he spent the last 2 years in a truly horrible work environment, and even though I told him to quit several times for the sake of his health, he refuses each time, insisting he would hang on so we could buy a home. I

The other person to thank is my grandfather, Max Kaplan, or "Poppy." He scrimped and saved and stayed frugal his whole life, at times wearing clothes or shoes with holes in them or living on cheap food to accumulate a savings that the unselfishly left behind so "his children and grandchildren could have a good life". When we first saw the condo, we fell in love with it. However, the price was 348,000 and the most we could offer was 320,000. Our offer was, of course, rejected, and I counter-offered with 335,000, adding an extra 15,000 to our downpayment that came from the account my grandfather had made for me. If it weren't for him, we wouldn't have been able to make the counter-offer that got us our home. I like to think that this is what he had imagined when he set aside that money...using the money for my education, a permanent home for our family and his only great-grandchild. It's his birthday today, so Happy Birthday, Poppy, and thank you!

The condo itself is a 2 bedroom, in the same neighborhood we live in now, close enough to Waikiki for the 4am bike commute and Yasushi's work as well, a 5 minute walk from Chinami's preschool with elementary, middle, and high schools in close walking distance, it's not a "nice" neighborhood like Manoa or Makiki, but not seedy Waikiki or Ala Moana area either. The condo is 12 floors high and ours is on the 8th floor. We don't have our own washing machine, which was a minus for me until we went to the laundry room on the top floor, you can see the ocean and Diamond Head. There's a park and a pool on the grounds, which is pretty nice since we don't have to clean it ourselves and can use it all year round, and Chinami loves the water.

Since it is a 2 bedroom, renting out 1 bedroom is something we will probably have to do for a while. Since we are in such a good location, close to UH and Waikiki and bus lines, it should be easy to find someone to rent a room to.

More to come!

2014年7月14日月曜日

Chinami will be 2 years old. ちなみ2歳になる!



I can't believe it has already been two years since I carried Chinami in my belly, gave birth to her in this one-bedroom shack, and started my life as a mom.
In just those two years I have watched her amazing growth.
And here's what Chinami does now:
Chinami can run, jump, ride scooters and tricycles, climb up ladders, sofas, and my back. She has no fear and will try and jump off of my shoulders or the play structure. On the rare occasion we have gone to a park with swings, she tries to swing by herself. She also loves Daddy's moped and motorcycle and is not scared of the loud sound at all...if the key is in the ignition she can start the engine and rev it up herself.

She can say a handful of words, mostly in English.  She started saying "thank you" around her 1st birthday, which were her first words. Then, she said go, shoes, hello/hi, bye, ball, me,耳 ねんね、いないいないばあ、and recently, Daddy, bus and fish and she meows, barks, and quacks. She understands English and Japanese but if I ask her to say "shoes" or "go" or "thank you" in Japanese, she will reply in English....when I am talking to her or asking her if she understood me, sometimes she nods and goes "un" but I'm actually not sure if she really did understand...
Another thing that started happening a few months ago is I realized she knows most of her ABCs.  I was asking her which page of the ABC book she wanted to color, and I was pointing to the letters, and she named them correctly. I can go through the ABCs in order with her, or in random order, and she can name most of them if she really tries. Numbers, she can say "two" and "go" which is five in Japanese. so counting to 10 might be interesting for her. She also says in sequence if I say a letter of the alphabet, she will say the next one, or sometimes with numbers I say "1" and she says "2", etc. I like to think that she is confused with her languages and wants to learn the foundations before she really begins speaking. She still uses signs to convey "eat" "drink" and will do a "poop" sign or a "help" sign if asked. The help sign is important for her to know when she gets frustrated trying to do things on her own.
Speaking of doing things on her own.....she is starting to be able to put on her shoes and clothes on her own or with a little help. She knows when she goes outside she needs her shoes, and when she comes inside, they come off. She is very good at cleaning up after herself, sometimes it takes a little coaching but when she focuses she will make sure every last toy is in the bin.

Around her 1st birthday, she had just discovered Elmo. She still loves the furry red guy, but she enjoys watching Pocoyo, as well as Frozen, Wreck it Ralph, and she plays/watches Angry Birds on the iPad. We also watch Doraemon, Totoro, Ponyo, Pokemon, and Sailor Moon. She likes the opening song to Sailor Moon. I try and keep the English to a minimum and work on Japanese with her at home, but hiragana is more difficult to remember than the ABCs so it will take a little longer. She likes nursery rhymes in English and Japanese and has remembered little dances to several. She sings the "EIEIO" in "Old Macdonald" and tries to sing "Twinkle Twinkle" and "ABC" but stops after the first couple bars. She still likes Morning Musume and knows several of their newer songs and mimics the dances pretty well. There are a couple songs she likes to try and sing along to as well.

She still breastfeeds about 2-3 times/day and eats a variety of different foods....she likes cookies and ice cream but also stilll loves roasted asparagus, carrot sticks, avocado, and any and all fruit. She eats meat too, especially chicken, likes beans, chili, curry, and of course, rice and noodles. We are working on eating with a fork and spoon, drinking from a cup is no problem. When she is finished she will lift the plate up and delicately place it somewhere else before wrestling out of her chair+tray.


I love her silliness when it's the two of us. She is so sweet and funny and I love to tickle her just to hear that laugh. Sometimes she's mad at me, or wants something she can't have, and that's OK too. Yes, those times are stressful, but she is a person and she feels frustrated and angry at times too, and I need to show her that it's OK to have those feelings sometimes. It's my job as a parent to guide her, teach her, build her up, encourage her, not to hurt her and make her feel bad about herself.

Happy Birthday Chinami! <3 Yasushi and I will keep doing our best for you <3



ちなみがお腹の中にいて、そしてこのぼろい1BRアパートで出産してお母さんになった日からもう2年たちました。
その2年間で彼女の素晴らしい成長を見てきました。
そして今のちなみは:
走ったり、跳ねたり、スクーターや三輪車を乗ったり、はしご、ソファ、私の背中なども登ったりします。恐がることなく遊具や私の肩から飛んでみたりもします。たまにブランコのある公園に行くとき自分でブランコに乗ろうとします。そしてやすしのスクーターやバイクが大好きで大きい音にわくわくする様子です。鍵があれば自分でエンジンをかけることもできます。。。
少ししゃべれます。殆ど英語ですけど。。。初めての言葉は1歳位の時からThank youで、そのあと行こう?をいうとgoと答えたり、くつ?をいうとshoesと言って、くつをはいたりしますね。あと、ball, ミー(me? ちなみの「み」?どうかな。)耳、ねんね、いないいないばあ!,ball,  Daddy, bus (これはバスと言われてバスをいうではなく、Sをわざとはっきりだしてbus), fish, 猫、犬、アヒルの鳴き声のマネっこなど少しの言葉はしゃべれます。2歳児には少ない気がするけど。。。。手話で食べる、飲む、ウンチ、助けて、なども少しできます。日本語でも、英語でも話しかけられたらわかるらしい。特に、私が話かけたり、質問したり、わかった?と尋ねてみたりする時「うん」と一所懸命うなずいて答えることもありますけど。。。そういう時もなんか怪しいね。。。


そして数か月前からわかったことは、ちなみはABC結構覚えているらしい。クレヨンと遊んでた時、ABCの塗り絵どれにする?と聞いて、見せてたら、文字に指さすとちなみが頑張って言ってました。順番通りでも、ランダムに指さしてみても、4分の3位は答えられました。数字は、2は"two"と5は
「ご」でなんか滅茶苦茶ですけどまあいいか。
ちなみはまわりにトンガ語、サモア語、隣の子と遊んでいる時にマイクロネシアの言葉など、いろんな言葉があるから混乱しているのかなと思います。皆とコミュニケーションを少しずつとれるようになるかな?それともちゃんとABCなど覚えてから正式に言葉の勉強をしたいという気持ちなのかな?どうなってるのでしょうね、ちなみの頭のなか。
ちなみは2歳になって自分でしたい自分でできることも増えました。靴を履いたり、着替えたりすることも上手になってきました。おもちゃのお片付けもちゃんとしてくれて、最後の最後まで集中してする時もありますね。
1歳の誕生日位の時からエルモが大好きになりました。今でも大好きらしいですけど、ポコヨも最近大好きです。アナと雪の女王、シュガーラッシュ、アングリーバーズなどもよく見てます。一緒にドラえもん、トトロ、ポニョー、ポケモン、セーラームーンも見てます。ムーンライト伝説という歌が好きみたい。私はどうしても日本語を教えたいので、英語を控えめにしています。ひらがなはABCより
難しいみたいですので時間かかりそうです。
ちなみ歌が大好きです。英語と日本語の童謡の手遊びもいくつか覚えたり、ちょっと歌ってみたりします。あと、モーニング娘14のダンスのマネもよくします。

今でも一日2-3回位授乳します。食べ物はいろんなものを食べてくれます。もちろん、クッキー、アイスなど大好き、でも前と変わらず、アスパラ、人参、アボカド、ほとんどのフルーツ問題なく食べてくれます。卵、肉(特に鳥)が好きです。豆、チリ、カレー、ご飯、麺、全部好きです。丁寧にフォークとスプーンで食べることはまだ覚えてるところですが、コップから問題なく飲めます。そしてお腹いっぱいになったら丁寧にお皿をどこかにおいてから席を立つようになりました。

二人きりの時ちなみのユーモアと可笑しさが大好す!。かわいくて、面白くて、その笑い声を聞くためにごちょごちょするのが大好きです。時々私に怒ったり、持っちゃいけないものをどうしても欲しがったりしたりしますね。そういうのはやっぱりストレスがたまります。でもちなみは人間で、人間はだれでも怒ったりイライラする時がある、ということを覚えなくちゃいけないんです。そういう気持ちを無視したり、怒っちゃ、泣いちゃいけない!ではなく、時々そういう強い気持ちがあるということを教えます。親としての仕事です。傷つけたり、苦しい思いをさせたりではなく、優しく対応したり、指導したり、応援したりするのは私の仕事です。

ちなみ、誕生日おめでとう! 私とやすしはずっとがんばりますよ<3

2014年4月11日金曜日

Things I miss about Japan: Vegetable Juice

Even from when I was a small child, I always liked healthy food when given the choice. I would enjoy a snack of fresh fruit, and choose a sorbet over chocolate ice cream. Even though I spent my middle and high school years eating pop-tarts, sugar cereal, hot dogs, cheese sandwiches on white bread, or ramen noodles when made to prepare my own meals, when given the choice in the supermarket, I would always go for fresh fruits and my favorite, the veggie sushi rolls. 
When I went to college, I had a meal plan and was able to enjoy a lot of food on campus, however the prices of food off-campus were scary, especially at my new favorite places, the Japanese market and the Natural Foods market. But at least on campus, there was a Jamba Juice, my new obsession. 
Then I went to Japan. I have never been a picky eater, but just in case, I decided that I would eat whatever my host mother cooked, especially since there were two young children in the home. Except for the first time I tried bitter melon and natto, I kept this promise, and for the bitter melon and natto, they are acquired tastes, I could handle after the 3rd time and now I like them both. 
After the school year was over and I moved to my husband's place for the summer, it was time to explore living and eating in Japan on my own, and it's also when I started Youtube. which resulted in videos like this. 
I miss Japan's vegetable juice. 
I started drinking vegetable juice almost daily at some point during that year, and after I moved back to Japan in 2007 as well. 
The most common kind of vegetable juice is the orange kind, made up mostly of carrot and apple juice, which is a yummy combination by itself, but the juice can have from 7-30 different kinds of fruits and vegetables. And then there are the different colors. There is the green one, which has a bit more of the clear fruit juices and more green veggies, there is the pink one that might have peach juice, strawberry juice, or a little beet juice, there is the purple one that is made with purple carrots and sweet potato and maybe grapes, there were yogurt blends, 50v-50f, 30v-70f, low calorie kind, imitation kind that was half sugar water with added vitamins, there were little jelly cups made with the stuff, the list goes on. And the best thing, of course, is if you were lucky enough to find a sale or an off-brand in some dusty little shop, it was as cheap as 100-150yen per 1 liter bottle....as much or a little bit more than water. 
Some of my days off, when I was alone, I would be too lazy to cook for myself....I would just down a few bottles and then finally make dinner before Yasushi came home. When I had the flu and was stuck in bed for 3 days dizzy with a fever, vegetable juice and Pocari sweat were my sustenance. 
And now, here in Hawaii, I do see the same juice for almost $4.00 a bottle. Which usually wouldn't be a problem, because I would just find a reasonable local alternative. However, the American equivalent, v8, simply does not measure up. Their main product is 100% vegetable juice with mostly tomato, which is not as easy to chug as the sweet apple-carrot blend I was used to. It tastes like bland tomato soup, served chilled. Or in the case of the green v8, some kind of weird green tomato soup. It also contains salt. V8 also makes a 100% juice called Fusion which is similar to the vegetable juice in Japan, however at almost $6 a bottle it is also not something I can chug a bottle of without thought. We do pick up a case of the cans at Costco when they are on sale, though. 
I don't usually complain about not having my favorite juice. However, in the past couple months I have had to go on a juice/bland food diet twice.
First time was when I had my wisdom teeth out last month. To make sure I didn't get a dry socket, I went on a liquid diet the first two days and slowly introduced soft foods from the end of  the second day. I had Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf gift cards from the holidays that I put to use to get some liquid cake and stockpile some calories, and the rest of the time I made do with every kind of v-8 I had on hand. And the second time was this week, when I woke up feeling tired and queasy and simply could not stomach any food, I took sips of water and black tea, and finally ate some canned pineapple in the afternoon and chicken soup at night. Today, I had Greek yogurt for breakfast, a salad for lunch, a fruit and vegetable smoothie for afternoon snack, and soba with tofu and wakame for dinner. As you can see, I am still eating/drinking well, but doesn't mean I don't miss my "yasai seikatsu".





2014年3月12日水曜日

Honolulu Festival!!! and other events

Twitter and Facebook are great for recording life events, but sometimes you just have way too much to say for 140 characters or 300 characters or however many they limit you to!

This year has been a whirlwind of activity every day for me, working a full-time job 5 days a week, and since from November of last year until the end of February this year, I worked on my days off at a Japanese daycare, filling in for the owner/head teacher as she went on maternity leave. It was just from 7-12:30 in the morning, but since I try to wake up around 3 or 4 am on my days off anyway, it wasn't that much trouble. The week after I finished at the daycare was the annual Honolulu Festival, which the company I work at plays a huge role in, so we were busy! Plus, Spring Break is coming up and we have so many tour bookings coming in from Japan.

When I was still a student at University of Hawaii, I volunteered in the Honolulu Festival for three years. The first two years I volunteered with the Japanese Culture Club and as a team, we worked on the Daijya-Yama float and danced in the parade with it. The first year I learned the dance, and the second year, me and one other girl were suddenly chosen to teach and lead the dance as there were no other people who had experience! The third year I volunteered individually and helped carry a mikoshi through the parade. And then finally, this year, I was able to actually attend the parade as a spectator with my daughter.

Before that, however, there were two whole days of the festival to enjoy. On Friday, as part of my job, I led a group of elementary school students through the Honolulu Convention Center as a special program that allows the students to enjoy a preview of some of the different things they will see on Saturday and Sunday. My tour group was a class of well-behaved 3rd graders from Hokulani Elementary School. About half of the students had some Japanese heritage and more than a few could speak the language conversationally. I think I would like Chinami to attend Hokulani!

On Saturday, I went out with Chinami to the Convention Center after her nap for a couple hours of fun and music. She enjoyed the taiko and shamisen performances and got to hug one of those giant fuzzy mascot things, and had so much fun just running around.

On Sunday, we went out as a family, rode the bus to Waikiki as traveling in a car was just not an option with the main road being closed, and Chinami loved holding Daddy's hand as I carried her on my back. She got bored of the parade, so after walking around and looking at some of the floats that were waiting, we went to Wailana Coffee House and ate a pleasant, yummy, CHEAP dinner (click on the name for my Yelp review!) and then we walked over to the beach by the Hilton just as the fireworks started. The fireworks were amazing.  We had been debating whether to watch them or just go home early as I had work the next day and Chinami needed to go to sleep when I did, but staying out a little later and watching the 20 minute show was definitely the right decision to make. Chinami was satisfied with all the food she had eaten and watched the fireworks intently. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she began to clap, still watching the fireworks. They were that spectacular. I have watched fireworks on New Year's Eve, July 4th, etc both in my hometown (The Penn's Landing fireworks, fireworks on the baseball field at a Phillies game, etc, pretty big budget things) and in Hawaii, and been to several fireworks shows in Japan.....Japan has turned fireworks into such an absolute art that it leaves our American fireworks in the dust, or smoke, if I may. The fireworks on New Year's Eve and July 4th are usually just big gaudy "lets celebrate by blowing things up in the sky and making lots of noise WOOOOO" events....This was a carefully calculated and well crafted work of performance art in the form of fireworks.  Apparently there was also music that it was synced to but we did not have a radio with us. Around the 15 minute mark, the fireworks that seemed to endlessly sparkle and keep exploding as mini-fireworks, over and over again were particularly stunning.

The Honolulu Festival embodies one of the main reasons I want to live here and raise Chinami here. Sure, the traffic sucks, the parks are overrun with homeless, and it is literally impossible for most people to work for minimum wage and afford housing, but at least here she will be able to experience both my culture and her father's culture, with a bunch of other ones just for fun that I hadn't even thought about (How many people can say their child understands English, Japanese, Tongan and Samoan??) I'm excited to be a part of a company that takes such a huge part in it as well. Maybe Chinami will be in the parade some day too.

So now the Honolulu Festival is over, and I have Tuesdays and Thursdays off. So I decided to get in contact with the owner of Segway of Hawaii again. I miss zipping around on those things and sharing history and aloha with guests to my (new) home so much! She welcomed me back, and I will be working there Tuesday and Thursday mornings on an on-call basis. I went and saw her on Monday after a hectic day at work involving a delayed plane, juggling a tour dispatch, a big workload, and a flat tire on my bicycle that ended with me ripping the tube out and leaving it on the side of the road as it started to rain, and biking home with just the tire on the rim singing Cee Lo Green's song, you can guess which one.

On top of all this, yesterday morning I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed. I had been having pain in them and it was just time for them all to go. Luckily, they were all in straight so the whole procedure took about an hour. No pain, plus I was watching Avatar on their movie screen goggles. And all I had to pay afterwards was the tax, thanks to dual health coverage. (Ironically I paid the tax with my tax-free medical allowance from my paycheck....ahh benefits!)

Well, I have to get ready and go to work, it is almost 3am!

2014年2月4日火曜日

Bicycle commute!!! 自転車通勤


At my new job, I work from 4am-12 or 1pm, 5 days a week. So that means I usually wake up around 2 am, feed Chinami (so hopefully she will sleep a little longer in the morning for Yasushi), prepare her lunch and my lunch for that day, and get on my bicycle around 3:30 or 3:45, depending on my predicted workload that day.
I started riding a bicycle to work when I worked at KCC Farmer's Market and Segway of Hawaii last year because riding the bicycle cost almost nothing compared to a monthly bus pass or $5 round trip, and it was much faster than waiting for the bus and then riding it, plus the walk to and from the bus stop. I wanted to leave and get home as fast as possible for Chinami. 
However, now, I don't have the luxury of a choice. But just because it's my only choice, that doesn't make it bad. There are several benefits to commuting by bicycle.
1. Cheap - my bike cost almost $200 after repairs and buying a U-lock. A monthly bus pass would cost $60 (no buses run at 4am anyway) and parking in my building costs $150/month.(Can't drive and my husband needs the van to get our daughter to school anyway) I've had this bicycle for 2 months so far (my other one was stolen) so I am pretty much going to come out on top in this aspect. 
2. Convenient - Going to the bus stop to catch the only bus that goes to Waikiki which goes the scenic way, I would need at least one hour to get to Waikiki. On my bike, I'm there in 20 minutes at the very most! 
3. 15 minutes a day of easy cycling easily burns 80 calories. Which between that and my 15 minute yoga flow explains why I eat those snacks at the office and still haven't gained a pound!
4. Safer and faster than my only other realistic means of transportation -- walking. My coworker, an old man, used to walk to work, about 30 minutes which would be about the same amount of time it would take me to walk. However, he got mugged and spent a week in hospital, which is why he drives his car instead. If it's not safe for an old local guy to walk in Waikiki, it would be about as safe for this 110lb haole girl to walk in Waikiki at 4am as it would be to drink gasoline while holding a lighter!! 
However, there are drawbacks, and the biggest one is--
1. RAIN. Right now most of the country is in a polar vortex or whatever and getting craploads of snow and cold weather advisories, but here in Hawaii, we have plenty of wind and rain to tell us Winter is here. I still have yet to think of a good way to bike in the rain, for now I just pray to the nature gods to give me a chance, and when that fails, wear board shorts and a raincoat and change into my work clothes when I get there. Also --
2. the road? or the sidewalk? There are only a few places on my route that have designated bike lanes. The rest of the time I'm on the sidewalk, dodging homeless peoples' tents and pedestrians, or in the far right lane weaving around parked cars and nearly getting hit by rude drivers who think people like me are crazy for biking in the rain -- as if we have a choice.

Still, the bicycle commute is the best as far as I'm concerned.

いま私のやってる仕事は、午前4時から午後12時か1時位までです。ということは、いつも2時頃に起きて、ちなみにおっぱいあげて、(そうするともうちょっと長く寝てくれるかな?と思うので)私たちのお弁当の用意して、そして仕事の量によって、3時半か3時45分位に出発します。
セグウェイとKCCファーマーズマーケットで働いてた時から自転車通勤を始めようと思いました。バスより安そうで、早かったからです。ちなみのためにとにかく早く行って、早く帰りたいという気持ちでした。
今は自転車通勤以外のチョイスがないんですけど、それでも自転車通勤はいやにならないんです。いいことがいくつかあります。
①安いです。今乗ってる自転車は修理代やロック代合わせたら200ドル位したんですけど、バスは往復5ドル、定期券60ドルもします。(しかも払っても、4時に走ってるバスは一本もありません。)車通勤の場合はうちのビルの駐車場代は月150ドルです。(運転免許もないし、車で行ったらちなみは保育園に送る方法がない。)今の自転車まだ2ヵ月しか乗れてないけど、それでも安い方ですね。
②便利!ワイキキ行のバスは家から10分離れたところで乗って、遠回りしてワイキキ行きますので、少なくとも1時間が必要です。自転車通勤だと20分以下です。
③15分自転車乗れば80カロリーの消費になります。だから仕事中におやつばっかり食べちゃってても、まだ1キロも増えてないんですね。
④他に私に可能な通勤方法は徒歩しかないです。自転車の方がずっと安全で早いんです。同僚のおじいさんは前30分位徒歩して来社してたけど、1回襲われて1週間入院してしまってからずっと車で通勤しているそうです。ローカルの普通のおじいさんが歩いて通勤できないなら、この50キロ白人女性にはとても無理ですね。ライターをもってガソリンでも飲むと同じ位危ないじゃん。
ただし、いやなこともたまにありますね。今一番いやなのはーー
①雨!!!今アメリカ殆ど真冬で大雪と低温警告などがあるけど、ハワイの冬はとにかく雨と風が多いんです。まだ雨でも快適に自転車通勤できる方法はわかりません。とりあえず雨が止むようにと祈るか、水着のショーツと雨具で自転車乗るしかないんですね。そしてー
②道路?歩行者のところ?自転車専用の道路が少ない。ホームレスのテントをよけながら徒歩道で行くか、車にはねられる可能性高い道路に行くか、のチョイスです。雨で自転車乗るなんて馬鹿って顔もされたりするし。自転車でしか行く方法ないってば。
それでも、自転車通勤はすばらしいと思います!

2013年11月30日土曜日

Thanksgiving 2013!!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. A day long regarded as a day to pig out on a decadent meal of American "comfort foods" and a day to give thanks for the ability to do so. I did both of these things.
Our Dinner


I made a turkey seasoned and stuffed with just bacon, garlic, and onions. (and some Costco no-salt seasoning) 
Wild brown rice and red and black quinoa, soaked overnight and then made takikomi with turkey broth, chicken bouillon, and diced celery and carrots. 
 Creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, corn, brussel sprouts, and gravy. 
 dinner is served!!

Dessert: a double layered kabocha and sweet potato pie, with a crust made of cheerio crumbs, butter and sugar, topped with some whipped cream (from the can!) 


Yasushi came home from work at around 3pm--he got the evening off for Thanksgiving, and he joined Chinami and I for dinner. When you work in the service industry that mainly caters to Japanese customers, getting American holidays off is a privilege, not a right, but this year we were extremely lucky, Yasushi getting the evening off, and me getting a paid holiday in between my usual days off for 3 consecutive days off.

I'm not just thankful to have a work schedule flexible enough to have been able to spend Thanksgiving with the two people that mean the most to me in this world....I am thankful just to be able to work. With little working experience in the US, the competitive job market in Hawaii, and the fact that I have to rely on the kindness of my neighbors, my husband who is working 60+ hours a week, and expensive childcare to take care of Chinami when I am working, I was not confident that I would be able to get a good job....but instead, I got a great job where I can lead groups of guests and hopefully make their day a little better, and I also work in an office with great co-workers, a coffee machine, and needlessly complicated communication systems and excel sheets. Oh, I am also thankful for the kindness of said neighbors. They have given Chinami so much love and taught her so much, sometimes I wonder if Chinami thinks she is really Tongan instead of hapa.

And then there's Chinami. I'm so thankful to be able to be her mother. I'm thankful for having had such a healthy, easy pregnancy, a peaceful home birth and more than enough breastmilk to nourish her and help her through all the difficulties of being a toddler. I'm thankful for every hug, kiss, and smile she gives me, and I'm even thankful for the times she tells me "no" too, because that's how I know that she will be strong and independent. I am also thankful because becoming her mother has helped me overcome many hurdles within myself that were holding me back, and for the first time in my life, I truly have confidence in myself, mentally and physically. I also am thankful to have access to the Internet and library, which gives me a wealth of information which I can use to better my life and my family's life, and work to break the cycle I was unfortunately

born into.
Anyway, with the cost of living the way it is here in paradise, we don't have much in the way of material goods. The money we earn that isn't spent on the bare necessities is mostly put away in hopes that maybe someday we can own, not rent, our home. And I'm fine with that, because I know from experience growing up, that no matter how much you spend on superficial matters and material things, it will not make you happy. Love from my family, working for my money, and being informed and confident, physically and mentally, make me happy.

And the bacon infused turkey was really, really good too. :D