Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

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The Great Tajmahal is actually behind me.

It’s a small-ish looking restaurant that obviously serves Indian food. The wife has heard that it’s good. We haven’t eat there yet because whenever we have the rare date night or we want to go out to eat in general, we typically don’t think of Indian food.

We live in Japan. We either think of ‘Japanese Cuisine’ or we think of eating food that reminds us of home.

Point of fact? The last time that I remember getting Indian with the missus (ETA: We have gotten Indian since this was written. It just wasn’t TGT. Sorry about that TGT!), we were still living in Cleveland. At any rate, I call this picture my “looks like home” picture.

Aside from me being a cheeky shit regarding the strategic positioning of signage, and if you totally disregard my mention of Japan and the location I included, this photo looks like it could’ve been taken anywhere.

Personally, I’d say that this easily looks like Brooklyn, Ohio. What about you?

When a Man Loves a Woman.

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And then there’s this beautiful son of a bitch.

I concluded that I would be remiss if I didn’t showcase the real reason my family is currently living in Japan. It’s because of this foxy lady right here.

Not only did she join the USAF because it was the right decision to make for all of us, but her presence in this branch of the armed services elevates the standards of everyone she interacts with on a daily basis. I’m sure she might have something contradictory to say, but we both know that my keen observation skills are infallible.

This photo was taken outside of the Cocoon Tower at the start of the workday, in the middle of the week in Shinjuku, a city outside of Tokyo, proper.

Fun fact? If you linger on the sidewalk a little too long during this time of the day, you will get trodden upon.

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The “Wally” that I am referring to is not this guy.

During the mid-90’s I attended an all boys, Catholic high school in Lakewood, Ohio. Since I did not come from a family of ‘means’, I never had a car of my own to get me there nor did I ever have any friends that I could ride in with. My only option was taking the busEveryday the bus would take us by this old folk’s home. I have no idea what type of facility it was. The only thing that I remember for sure was that there were always old people coming and going. 

One of said ‘old people’ was Wally.

He was just this scruffy old man who was always stationed in his wheelchair, facing the street. Obviously, he was a resident of said establishment. Regardless, my teenage brain always thought that he looked ‘like a cool guy’.

One day, well after I graduated, I drove down to see if he was still there. The weather was phenomenal that day. It was the type of day where it would be positively criminal to spend any amount of time indoors.

When I drove by he was out there in all of his scruffiness.

Before I knew what I was doing, I had pulled into the closest spot, got out of my car and I started walking towards him. I had no idea what in the fuck I was going to tell him. The entire four years that I was there, I had never even bothered to say ‘Hi’.

So I introduced myself and I told him that I went to the high school just down the street. I also told him, that I never said ‘hello’ in passing and that I came out here to correct that and to let him know that I was thinking of him.

He was completely tickled by this. As I drove away, I honked my horn and yelled goodbye at him. He waved, enthusiastically, and saluted me.

That was about ten years ago. I never learned any specifics about him. A regrettable fact now that I’m older.

He’s never out there anymore. It’s just an empty piece of sidewalk now. But whenever the weather turns nice, my thoughts turn to him. At least I finally said hello.

How I Came into Fatherhood.

Here’s a quick history of how my son, Finn, was shuffled onto this mortal coil.

It was 2005. My wife and I were talking about having a baby. Basically what that means was that she was yelling at me a whole lot and I was trying to stay calm.

What we decided, amidst talks of having children, was that we needed to move.  We were paying too much for the apartment that we were living at and we wanted to find some place cheaper and smaller. And that’s what we did: We went from ghetto living to trendy neighborhood as most young couples do in their mid-twenties.

In a poorly decided attempt to save money, and because I had the most flexibility in my work schedule, I decided that I would let our leases overlap so that we would have one month left in our ‘soon to be’ old place and one month all ready started in our new place. The idea behind this was for us to move into our new place at a leisurely pace.

I had a set work schedule and no other commitments so I would be doing most of the work by myself. I was ok with that because my wife was working full-time and going to school. She would be relied on for packing. No biggie.

What really happened was I did all of the moving except for two days. One of the days, I needed my brother to help me move the furniture and the other day my wife jumped in on the last big move. Prior to her jumping in at the last-minute, she yelled at me the entire month.

I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I worked a full-time job. I was sociable when I was home, and I was moving us. On my own. Everything I did was wrong. Yes, I admit that I was a little unorganized when it came to unloading the van. I was by myself and everything was in the general area of where it needed to be.

I couldn’t win.

All of this happened during the month of July. Eventually, August rolls around. It’s still ‘ain’t no fuckin’ way I’m wearin’ underwear today’ kind of hot. She’s still yelling. I try to get out of her what’s going on, and it’s a lot of generalizations and non sequiturs. I seriously start to question things. I get to the point of mentally preparing myself for going our separate ways.

 

Towards the end of August, I get a call from her while I was at work.

 

(her) “I got good news.”

(me) “ooook.”

(her) “I’m pregnant.”

I don’t remember what in the hell I said after that. I couldn’t talk very well. I couldn’t think. The only thing I could do was move. Everything was sooo clear to me right then.

The entire drive home from work, I kept thinking ‘She’s pregnant. That’s why she’s been acting like such a whack-bat. She’s pregnant.’

When I got home that night, we talked. About what, I don’t know. I was just happy that I knew what was going on.

The next nine months flew by.

Finn at age 3

(Yes, he’s under an umbrella in the house. But what the camera isn’t showing you is that he’s also naked).

How I Came to Live in Japan.

I have never really been a fan of summer. Doubly so, since I have lived in Florida for the past couple of years. (I try not to stereotype, but there’s really no reason for anyone to actually live in Florida. Sure, a fraction of the general population leaves something to be desired, but nothing is helped by the fact that the Sun is essentially trying to kill everything that attempts to go outside between the months of March and December).

What also doesn’t help my general dislike of summer is the fact that it’s been designated as the time of year for vacations and hooliganism (e.g. kids tend to think that they should get a break from life around this time of the year).

What a load of fly-blown bullshit.

Vacations should happen whenever it is appropriate and economically convenient for the person or people involved. As far as kids thinking that they’re entitled to a break, fuck that noise. I don’t get a break, why should my kids?

Every year, my wife and I have made a point of securing workbooks for our children for the grade that they would be entering in, in the fall. TO DATE, they have been consistently ‘better off’ for it. 2 out of the 3 children have maintained ‘honor roll’ status (the 3rd has been a solid ‘B’ student).

For the record: I’m not Hitler about it. They devote an hour a day to their workbooks and then they help out around the house. Other than that, they are generally free to do what they want as long as no one, and nothing, dies.

Point of fact? When I was a kid, my parents thought I should be able to “enjoy” my summer and “do what I want”. The following school year was always an educational nightmare for me because I retained little of what I learned the year before and no one was making sure that I was doing anything intellectually stimulating (defined as, the opposite of what I was doing: watching reruns of My Favorite Martian and playing endless hours of video games).

I digress.

This past summer, through an unusual, but expected set of circumstances, my wife, a Captain in the USAF, received orders to relocate herself and her family to Japan.

That’s right: I am now littering the Internet from the Land of the Rising Sun. (Fun fact: while I haven’t confirmed this, I’m fairly certain that Japan is referred to as that because THE SUN RISES AT 4 IN THE FUCKING MORNING DURING THE SUMMER).

Suffice it to say, there will be more writings about Japan, our journey here, and the usual drek I tend to prattle on about.

In sum, I will leave you with how I found out that we were moving to Japan. You may get a chuckle out of it, or it may confirm what you all ready know about me (that I’m an idiot).

One day in the kitchen of my former, Florida abode, I was using our food processor to get down on some dinner prep before I had to pick up my kids from school. After I had cleaned up and was ready to leave, I go to put the food processor away and the damn thing slipped out of my hands and hit the floor.

Rather than try to save it or perhaps catch it on the rebound, I got the fuck out of the way because it’s heavy as hell and can easily break a foot when it is in a gravitationally dangerous state.

After I regained composure, I surveyed the damage.

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This is a present-day photo.

Naturally, I was sweating bullets because my wife had bought this a while back and she had come to think of it as a fourth child. The name plate was popped out and, as you can see, there was a massive crack in the housing.

My first thought was, “Welp: I’m fucked. There’s no way that this is going to work”. After I checked the remaining integrity of the base and popped the name plate back in, I plugged it back in to see how bad it was.

It worked perfectly fine. I switched out multiple attachments and it was still fine. My next move, I thought, was fairly obvious.

I packed up everything nice and neat, put it in the one cabinet that she’d never go in, and buried it under other kitchen gadgets. All of this was done with the intent of blaming it on the movers the next time we move.

Five minutes later, I got a text from my wife saying that we were moving to Japan this summer.