December Follies

December 2013 began with a cough and sniffle.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, working with children all day four days a week it was inevitable that I catch a virus or two and it is not unheard of for me to get sick during the holidays as a general rule.  For some reason the season wreaks havoc on my nose and chest no matter where we are.  This year was double the threat and did not disappoint.

Still…I was determined to go do things.  The ladies I work with gathered for dinner one night at a Yakiniku type place, the food was amazing!

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The husband and I went to a pub crawl in Yokohama and met some interesting people.  Had a nice time really and this was just after getting over a nasty cold over Thanksgiving weekend which took two weeks to work itself out.   This is a meetup group that he joined, they gather once a month or so to hit the British/Irish pubs in Yokohama.  It’s a mix of Japanese people wanting to practice speaking English and hoping to meet someone special and a mix of many other nationalities.  We met a couple from Russia, a couple from China and Korea, a few from the UK and a couple of Aussies over the last few months.  It’s really an interesting group of people and a few that creep me out but hey, what’s getting together with strangers without the creepy ones in the mix?

We also had our command holiday party, which I blogged about here and some random shopping days throughout the month.

20131213_202157 The Husband all spiffed up.

20131213_201102 My friend Andrea and I at the holiday party, after some wine.

I went out with a friend Andrea to go to Tokyo to see some illuminations that are supposed to be really amazing.  It would be her first time on the trains without her husband so she was a little nervous.  I was pro enough to figure out how to get to Rippongi with only one hitch in the changing of trains that we figured out quickly and got back on track.

Tokyo Midtown is a plaza with shopping, art, restaurants and a large outdoor patio area that they had rigged up with lights to create an amazing scene.  When we stepped out of the train station we saw an Italian restaurant and decided to go in for an early dinner and some wine to get us ready for the crowd we were about to encounter.  After, killing a bottle of wine we ventured out to find this plaza which was only a few blocks away.  We found it and the line for the light show was realllllllly long.  We jumped in line and found it moved fairly quickly, but we had to get a little defensive for our spot in the line, this couple of older Japanese ladies were trying to nudge ahead of us.  We allowed them forward but it was a struggle to keep the rest at bay behind us.  The line moved along around the bend, down the steps, through the plaza, up the steps and out the other side, around the bend, down the lane which was lit up with some festive tree decorating and such.  Finally, we got to the illumination area and were not disappointed.  It was great, the crowd moved enough that everyone got a decent look at it from different angles.  First it was blue, then some designs with white and red, it was really a great show.

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After that we went to find Santa Street, which sounded like it would be a bunch of different Santa decorations and such but ended up being only a few Santas that were set up in different areas of the plaza…meh.  We decided to head back early and go have some Chu-Hi’s in Yokosuka.  Chu-Hi is a drink here that is alcohol mixed with the flavor of your choice.  Tons of different flavors to choose from.  We ended up shopping a bit and called it a night.  It was a fun time with a good friend.

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Picked up this treat at the Shinagawa train station pastry shop, it was cranberry cheesecake. YUM!

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We had a second meetup group gathering to do.  We grabbed a hotel room at the APA Hotel in Rippongi so we didn’t have to worry about catching a train. YES!  Two more cranes to add to our collection!  This was a group in Tokyo who gather at pubs there, we had not gone to any with this one yet so it would be new people and it was at a pub that was doing a traditional English Christmas dinner.    It ended up being turkey with mashed potato, peas and carrots.  Not bad but I was expecting a goose or something hah!  To our surprise a couple of the people we had met at the previous pub crawl showed up here and we had fun with them.  They invited us to join them to bring in the new year in Tokyo at a pub they frequent who has a live band and such.  Sounds fun, we are in for that!

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When walking back to the hotel we came across a fetish bar, first I’ve seen here. hah!

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Should be a great start to 2014 if I can kick this cold by Tuesday night!

In-Door Heatwave

Christmas decorations are out, Thanksgiving menu is planned, gift lists are made, holiday scented candle purchased.  

Is it winter yet?

Yes it was rather chilly last week, barely reaching 60 most days and yet on the weekend it was up in mid 60’s again.  I’m ready for full on winter, let me break out the cold weather clothes and put away the summer shirts please.  This back and forth stuff is getting tedious.

I like it cold.

The when and why of that eludes me.  I grew up in the desert where it did get cold in the winter but not excessively and it didn’t last very long.  At some point in my life overcast skies and coats with cute scarfs and gloves took place in my heart.  Maybe it was when my body no longer looked awesome in a bikini.

I love bundling up.  I hate bundling up and stepping inside a mall or store or restaurant or business and get blasted with 75-80 degree heat.  Do they not know that we are all bundled up ?  That the use of heat to that extent makes me have to remove most of my clothing to be able to breathe in their establishment?  I have all but given up on wearing turtlenecks and sweater combinations simply for this reason.  I’ll end up sweating then back out into the cold and yes … next day guess what…I’m sick.  Is it too much to ask that these places recognize the energy crisis and keep the heat to maybe 60?  I could at least keep my coat, scarf and maybe hat on without breaking a sweat.

The airport…I have a bone to pick.  I don’t know who ultimately “owns”  airports but blasting the heat when it’s still in the 50’s outside is just unnecessary and honestly, it’s offensive.  With the energy crisis and financial crisis most of the world is currently dwelling in does it seem reasonable for you to over heat a building of gargantuan size and capacity?    No!  Oh and FYI most travelers are not wearing tanks and shorts.

The mall…I have to carry my coat, gloves, maybe scarf and possibly hat along with my bag and any shopping bags I end up with, until I reach the doors to the winter wonderland that is the outside.   Put bags down…put hat on…put coat on…put scarf on…put gloves on…pick up bags…reach for the door and realize the sun is now out…put bags down…take gloves off…hunt down sunglasses and put them on…put gloves back on…grab bags.  Ready…ok!  The cold blast of air makes me grin all the way home…unless I’m with the husband and he’s driving with the heat blasting.

Alone in my car, in winter, I drove with the window cracked so I got the chill air in the face and a slightly pink nose, cheeks and chin. 

Going for walks in the snow was my favorite part of the year I spent in Michigan.

What will be interesting is choosing where to settle once the husband retires.  He loves the sun and heat and I love overcast and cold.  So, the current compromise is that we will live in the heat but have a second home for me to go hibernate in somewhere in the mountains or up north where I can enjoy the winter and he can enjoy the hunt.  Still several years away but the saving for a down payment for both homes will begin after the holidays this year.

I have plans yo!