Saturday, April 30, 2016

Refusing Tea in Japan

One of the hardest, most unexpected things I had to do in Japan was refuse tea.  I didn't know it was costume to offer foreigners free tea, or maybe it was only this one place we visited, because it only happened there, twice.

It was a really cute sweet shop full of wrapped food gifts and little cream puff like cookies.  We found it after eating at Denny's, because it was across the street and we wanted to investigate. 

These really adorable ladies were working there, and one of them came around with a plate with three cups of tea.  It was so sweet!  And she was so excited to give it to us.

The only problem is my brother, sister-in-law, and I are Mormon, and because of this we don't drink tea.  I've never been in a situation like this, and I didn't want to offend, but I also must live what I believe, and so I said, very apologetically, "Ocha o nomimasen.  Gomen nasai, ocha o nomimasen."  "I don't drink tea.  I'm sorry, I don't drink tea."  Over and over again.  She seemed to understand and was very nice, but I felt very bad!

And then, the day before we left, we went to the shop again and another lady was working there, and she brought out tea to us, and once again I explained that we don't drink tea.  "Watashitachi wa ocha o nomimasen."  She seemed to understand, and I can't remember what she asked next, but I understood it, I think, and I explained to them (the other lady from a few days before was there), that "Ashita watashi wa Amerika ni kaerimasu."  "Tomorrow I go back to Amerika."  She repeated "Wakarimasu!" over and over.  I can't remember everything we said, but it was a fun little exchange.

But it really is hard to explain cultural differences, especially when they're religious.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Favorite Engrish Find in Japan

If you have a few spare moments in which you don't know what to do, may I recommend, you won't be disappointed.

So I was hoping to find some Engrish while in Tokyo.  I didn't find too much, but I find these English study books at a 100 yen store near the Tsurukawa train station.

"This note book has been differently made up to each subject.  We would hope that your marks will improve."  And this is on a blank English study book!

And I find it interesting that the Japanese kanji study book and English book have different side bindings.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What I Ate and Drank in Japan.

 What I Ate and Drank in Japan.

Or, in other words, how to visit Japan and still eat like an American.

Above is a picture of my sister-in-law Krista and I buying our first food/drink item in Japan.

I bought a bottle of water.  She bought tasty orange juice.

I was nerdy excited to use a Japanese vending machine for the first time.

And then we debated whether we should eat at this train station or eat in Tsurukawa.

Hindsight, we shouldn't have waited.

 When we did get to Tsurukawa we found a nonsmoking fast food rice bowl like place, and ordered whatever seemed to have the most meet and wasn't curry.  This place had a ticket machine, an electronic touch screen, and there was an English option.  Oh, and pictures!  A lot of food places in Japan have menus with pictures! A lot of times you can just point, and try to look fancy and say "Kore o Tabetai desu." or was it "kore o kaitai desu"?  (Actually, I'm already forgetting what Japanese I know.)

 On our first breakfast we ate at Denny's.  There was one about a mile from where we stayed, and we walked there a few mornings.  It was a very pleasant walk.  And there was a nice sweet shop across the street that sold packaged cakes and gifts.

The Japanese like their scrambled eggs runny, and their bacon isn't quite right.  I did like the salad, and I should try to eat salad for breakfast more often.  Also, those little pound pancakes were good.

 The first page of the Denny's breakfast menu.  I got the meal set.

 Krista got the soup.  Actually, this soup looks pretty good right now.

 The vending machines!

And you can use the Pasmo/Suica prepaid cards on the vending machines in Tokyo and surrounding areas, whether the touch pad says Pasmo or Suica, they're pretty much interchangeable.  I actually got and used both cards when I was there.

 My favorite water :0)  I loved this water!  It was around 100 yen a bottle.


 Tempura shrimp noddle soup.  I love tempura, but this is sadly the only tempura I got on the trip.  And the soup made it heavy so I could barely pick it up.

 We got these graham like cracker chicks at the Tokyo station.  There were advertisements for these in different stations.

 What I ate before heading into Tokyo Disney Sea at the shopping center next to the monorail.

 What Michael ate.

 And the cute little dessert cup.

 You can't eat wherever you like in Japan.  There's rules, especially in Tokyo.  No eating or drinking while walking or standing on the sidewalk, or on trains.  But you can eat in parks!  We know this because we saw an elderly couple eating at this small park, so we knew we could too.  But beware, you won't find trash cans, so you have to carry the trash around with you.

 McDonald's!  Yeah, so I ate about 3 or 4 Big Macs while in Japan.  They don't taste the same.  Also, you order them as a meal set, and chicken nuggets/fries/salad is considered the side item.

 What I ate after visiting the Skytree on my last night.  This was the closest I could find to wheat bread.  The Japanese are obsessed with fluffy white Wonder-like bread.

And a KFC.  We didn't eat here, but I thought this was funny.

We did have Baskin-Robbins ice cream, and it was pretty good.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Don't Limit Yourself

"Don't Limit Yourself and don't let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do.  Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities.  You can achieve what you believe you can."

~ Thomas S. Monson

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Mysterious Man in the Purple Shirt: What is Love?

On October 9th, hanging out at LAX, my brother, sister-in-law, and I decided we desperately needed real food, after enduring that weird stuff on the plane.  I can't remember the name of the restaurant, but it had a lemonade theme, very California, and is in the Delta terminal.  I write this because of something that happened.  Something probably not worth mentioning, but it's actually been on my mind, and has me contemplating stuff.

When I was in line I first got the broccoli salad and some couscous something or other, and then I decided to get the Salmon.  (Insert here, the salmon is cold, but cooked, just to warn you.)  But it was taking forever for them to get me the salmon.  So I stood and stood while Michael and Krista moved ahead, bought their food, and went to sit down.  I was still waiting for the salmon.

After I got it and moved ahead, my eye caught a glimpse of the chocolate cake, and after spending a week in Japan finding difficulty eating stuff, the chocolate cake looked mighty good.

I passed it, and then turned around to get another look, deciding whether the cake was truly worth it.  But when I turned around I couldn't see it.  Someone was standing right behind me, close, blocking my view.  Some guy wearing a purple shirt, a button up dress shirt I believe, and instead I stared at the wall gathering my thoughts.  Mainly because I was shocked.  But also because of what I was feeling.

I felt that zing.  That something.  That feeling where you feel molecules move.  A feeling I haven't felt in a very, very long time.  And it surprised me.  And that made me nervous and self conscious.  So I stared ahead, afraid to look up.  I inquired then to the gal at the counter about the chocolate cake, saying something about we all needing a little cake in our lives, or something like that, and then she handed it to me and I faced the direction of the registers.

I couldn't look up to see who the guy was, so I decided I would walk up to the register and causally glance back, unassuming, and sneak a peak then.  But when I got to the counter and looked back, who ever it was was gone.

So it's a mystery.

 But, even though it's strange, I'm thankful.  Thankful because I haven't been next to a guy in a very long time and felt that.  I know this sounds kind of pathetic!  But you have to understand my circumstances.  When I moved to Utah I joined a singles ward, 19 with the average age around 27.  Then when I got to be 27 the singles ward I was then in became young, the average age around 22.  And now I'm in the mid-singles ward, and it seems like there's 3-4 girls to every guy.  I've given up on love.  I didn't realize how much I have truly given up on it.

And for a moment I felt hope.

And I hope now that I may feel it again.

So many girls my age have given up, but I know I can't.  Man it's painful, my chest hurts writing this, but I have to cling onto hope.  In this modern World so many girls have given up having a family for other pursuits.  But I feel there's nothing wrong with wanting a family.  Call me old fashioned, because I am.  Unashamedly so.

And then this all reminded me of something.  See, there's a lot of divorce in my extended family.  I have one aunt whose been married seven or so times.  And many of my cousins come from broken homes.  My Mom's parents divorced, at no fault of my Grandmother, when my Mom was 13.  I've learned so much from those around me.

But when I think of my Great Grandma and Great Grandpa, Granny and Gramps, theirs is the greatest love story I've even seen.  They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and more.  It was a special event.  There was a huge party.  And they deeply loved each other till the very end.

Then after my Gramps passed away I sat down and read his life story that he wrote out with his hand, and I read something that amazed me.  "I saw Welma again at the Sheridon store one night and later the neighborhood kids had a party at the store upstairs.  Still my heart didn't flip flop.  She was just one of the girls."  And that's how the greatest love story I've ever seen got started.  No flip flops.  And I listened to an interview my Mom and Grandma gave my Granny on cassette tape a few years ago.  She mentioned she didn't feel any pitter patter when she first saw my Gramps!  He was just one of the guys.

I sometimes think modern society gets love all wrong.  We think it's all about the flip flops and the pitter patters, but it's not.  Those come, but what makes a marriage successful involves so many things.  Marriage is complex, and yet simple.  Ups, downs, and the in between.

And once again one of the greatest lessons I've learned is thanks to my Great-grandparents.  I heard a lady asked once how she kept her marriage together, and she responded, "Back in my day when it was broke we fixed it."

We really need to learn from those who have come before.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Going To and Coming Back from Japan

 I'm finally doing it!  I'm finally going to finish writing my Japan posts, heh, six months after the trip.  It's crazy knowing that it all happened six months ago.  That this time in October I was still recuperating from the trip.  But it was all so incredible.

On October 1st Michael, Krista, and I took the 8:18 pm flight from the Salt Lake City airport to the Los Angeles airport.  We then spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express, and on the next day took the 12:30 pm flight to Narita Airport.

 I claimed the window seat.  Gazing out the window on a flight is one of my favorite things to do, and we followed along the coast from LAX to Monterrey Bay.  In between Ventura and Santa Barbara I spotted the little rock island my Grandpa Stufflebeam claims he helped build by driving a truck and dumping the rocks.  He was a bit of a tall tale talker, so I didn't always know what to believe, but he was a truck driver all the way up to retirement, so I think there is truth to this story.  Whenever I would drive by this island, connected by a pier/bridge along the 101, I would think of him.

 We landed at Narita airport, Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, on October 3rd around 4:30 pm.  We were hungry and tired, but excited, and our first mission was to get a bus ticket which would take us near our apartment in Tsurukawa.  Thankfully we took the bus, because our first experience with the train system around 8 pm was a bit overwhelming.  The humidity was shocking.

 Getting the bus ticket to Tsurukawa was easy, much easier then I thought it would be.  The bus counter is found right next to the exits.  In hindsight I'm glad we got the bus tickets instead of taking the NEX to Shinjuku station.  We would have been so confused, and not quite sure where to find the Odakyu line.

The silence on the bus was equally nice and disturbing.  No one talked, at all, during the few hour bus ride.  It was so quiet.  But it was fun seeing the Tokyo highway system, and seeing Tokyo from a distance along the Ocean. I marveled at bridges, Ferris wheels, and the giant Skytree in the distance.  It was nice seeing Japan turn from daylight, sunset, to night.

 Heading home!

It's amazing how quickly six days pass.

Time moves too fast.

On Oct. 9th we woke up and cleaned the apartment, was at the Tsurukawa station around 9:30 am to take the slow local train all the way to Shinjuku, hopped on the NEX around 11:00, and flew from Narita to LAX at 4:25 pm.  We landed around 9:30 am that same day, and our flight to Salt Lake was at 4:38 pm, still Oct. 9th.  I was sad to leave Japan, but happy to be going home.

October 9th 2016 is officially the longest day of my life!

And I had hardly any sleep the couple night before, combined.  Just couldn't sleep.

 Manner Mode!

I spent a lot of time looking out the window thanks to manner mode.

That's not a bad thing.

 Our last time passing through Shinjuku.

 NEX really is the best way to travel to and from the airport.

 I was so exhausted, but I didn't want to sleep.

I didn't want to blink.

I kept watching the outside, taking in each moment, and observing the landscape as it changed from one scene to the next.

 Thanks to a strong tail wind I think the trip back was around 8 hours.

We had a 6-7 hour layover at LAX.  I tried sleeping in those uncomfortable chairs at the airport, and was so tired I think I managed to drift off a few times.

I'm so thankful for the trip, but it's always nice to come home.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What Not To Do When You're Trying To Save Money: Disney Store Edition

What not to do when you're trying to save money.

#1. Don't walk into the Disney Store.

This is a very, very important step.  Especially if you like fun Disney stuff like I do.

#2. If you walk into a Disney Store, don't look around.

Hard, I know, but don't, especially if you haven't been in a while and everything's new.

#3. Don't look at the new Alice in Wonderland display.

 That's what did me in.  I got curious and dazzled.  And then I saw this cool time, steampunk, whatever it is ornament.  And I kept looking at it and looking at it.  And then I couldn't help myself.  I bought it, because it's cool, and it must have some significance in the movie because every doll was holding a little time ball in their hands.  Don't know what the time ball is called, or what it is, but I can't wait to see the movie and find out.

It's going to be an interesting movie . . .

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Provo City Center Temple Dedication

 A few weeks ago the Provo City Center Temple was dedicated, and a few weeks before that I went to the open house.  This temple is the 150th temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints in operation.  So amazing.  I still remember when Gordon B. Hinckley announced the plans for smaller temples, therefore allowing more temples to be built around the World, and many members in other countries would no longer have to travel so far.  Shortly after that announcement the Fresno temple was built and dedicated.  That was the first temple open house I went to, and it was very exciting.  No more youth trips to the Los Angeles temple.

The Provo City Center Temple, which was once the Provo Tabernacle before it caught fire, will always have a special place in my heart.  I got to perform in two back to back years in the Wasatch Choral festival, the first year with LDC, and the next year with BYU Woman's chorus.  I sang in Stake Choirs there.  Robbie graduated high school there.  That's super cool.  But I have so many memories.  Many people here do.

The Temple was beautiful as I finally got the chance to walk through it.  I love how they honored the tabernacle by using rich woods and other details.

I feel so blessed to live in a place with so many temples.

(The Provo Tabernacle, a few years ago)

Friday, April 15, 2016

My Love of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Disney Runs Deep.

 You have no idea how long I've been looking for my Star Trek tricorder.  A little more then a decade.  I thought I had lost this medical tricorder toy.  My scientific tricorder is still missing, and I think it's permanently lost, but at least I have this fun mock up from the show Star Trek TNG.

It really doesn't take much to make me happy.

 I also found my Star Wars PEZ.  Pretty sure the candy inside isn't edible, but it's still fun.

 In my closet I have a storage box with my 40+ action figures from the original Star Wars trilogy, and in there I have a Death Star PEZ.  I should go digging for it so all my Star Wars PEZ can happily live together.

And I found a 45th anniversary Disneyland pin!  I didn't really collect pins back then, but this is a cool addition to my growing collection.