New Year Stumbles & Oops

IMG_1278I don’t typically believe in New Year resolutions. I think they tend to set us up for failure, and (as a risk-averse individual) I generally try to avoid such situations.  I prefer smaller, bite-size endeavors, knowing that only some may stick – and that’s okay!

For instance, I wanted to take just the month of January to detox in a handful of ways: no drinking, more plant-based food, more exercise, a tighter budget, less time on social media, and a re-strategized job search (although I am working part-time now.)

This is fairly standard stuff after the holidays, which are saturated with rich party food, alcohol, excessive spending, and social, yet sedentary, activity.  Given that the months leading up to December were also full of the eating out, drinking, and dismissal of routine exercise that comes with hosting guests and trips to Vegas, I’ve been needing that detox for a while now!

But, 2018 has had other plans so far. I did give up drinking, but I am not reaping the benefits of feeling more energized because I’ve been sick since the day after Christmas! So, I likely wouldn’t be drinking anyway. Also, because of said sickness, I haven’t revamped my approach to jobs nor have I gotten any exercise (scratch that – I went for one bike ride last week.) To add insult to injury, Chuck’s income unexpectedly went down a couple hundred dollars per month via our military housing allowance, so… new budget incoming…!

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Then, my cat Momo was accidentally out after dark and had a violent encounter with
some large animal – perhaps a raccoon, or maybe a coyote. We found her in severe shell shock, covered in mud and excrement, but otherwise physically unharmed (thank God!) She did develop an infection in her toe, when we discovered one of her claws had been ripped out. So now she’s on a plethora of meds and wearing the Cone of Shame. This series of misadventures and vet visits has led to yet more spending and more Mac n’ Cheese/pizza nights than I’d care to admit. Anyway. I’m going to have to re-think this little lady’s curfew!

But despite my moaning, I am still feeling pretty great about 2018.  I may not have adhered to all of my January plans, but there’s always February! I’m also in the throes of planning a short trip to Cabo with Chuck, during his pre-deployment leave in March… screw that budget! (Just kidding – we are trying to use our credit card points to save quite a few bucks.) I am excited, though. I’ve missed planning trips!

We are enjoying temperatures in the 60s and even the 70s, I’m starting to feel more comfortable at my job, and Mo and I are both finally on the mend. I also applied for three full-time jobs in the past 24 hours and cleaned the house top to bottom 🙂 It smells so good in here!

Now, I’m about to dust off my cruiser bike, Trixie, and careen down Oceanside Boulevard to get the Lavender Honey Latte I’ve been dying to try at Revolution Roasters. Y’all know I love my lavender! Maybe it’ll give me the boost I need for even more afternoon productivity. Forward and onward…

Happy New Year and Godspeed!

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Annie, I need you…

Annie Bean was the cat that everyone liked, even if they typically didn’t like cats. And when I say everyone, I mean that fairly literally. Many people close to me passed through Annie’s life at one point or another, making note of any number of various traits: her laid back demeanor, her pleasantly plump figure, or her sassy self-assuredness, juxtaposed with her surprisingly social and tolerant approach to strangers.  The fact that Annie was so known, liked, and even loved has made her memory that much stronger and the comfort that much greater in her untimely passing.

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Coming Home

The first thing I said to my dad when I got off the plane at Dulles two-ish weeks ago was, “I’m not doing this again till I come home for good in 3 years.” It also happened to be Father’s Day. I am officially the worst daughter ever. But seriously, what a trip! As I’ve mentioned before, my new job sent me back home to the DC area for two weeks of training, which I was not thrilled about only because I had just recovered from the lengthy trip over here in the first place. “What do you mean I have to go back already?!”

All in all though, it was a wonderful visit,and I am grateful for the free trip back (minus the flights themselves and associated recoveries…those really were quite agonizing.) In a serendipitous twist of fate, my aunts and uncles from Florida – one of whom has terminal brain cancer – just so happened to be visiting my Dad during a portion of my stay. It was wonderful to spend time with her, and to take her to the National Cathedral, which was one of her many DC bucket list items. There was prayer, lighting of memorial candles (I lit one for Habu Lily), and tours of all my favorite nooks and crannies. She even found the perfect set of rosary beads to take home.

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I was also able to spend some quality time with my in-laws, which included a tour of the West Wing. It had been a while since I’d visited the White House at all, but this was a particularly up-close and personal view of where all the action actually occurs. I was struck by how understated most of it was, and kind of proud that our President is not entitled to anything overly opulent or pretentious, as many other world leaders are. Still, it was exciting, intriguing, and greatly tickled my fancy. I know Chuck was super jealous to miss out on this one!

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 I was not authorized a rental car, and I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured to drive out to lazy Springfield to see me while I was home on such short notice, but I was lucky enough that a few friends were able to come have dinner with me at my hotel. I took no pictures, which is very unlike me, but we all had a great time with our unexpected opportunity to catch up in person. Houlihan’s was the hotel restaurant that wreaked havoc on my body for the first week before I adjusted to its mediocre fare, but I now associate it with some pretty fond memories, with both old friends and new. 🙂

The training itself was overwhelming at first – at least due in part to my excessive jet lag (who can sit and pay attention for 8 hours straight every day when your body’s clock is on the other side of the world?) – but I learned a great deal and met/bonded with some pretty cool people. We are scattered at military installations all over the world, but it’s nice to know people everywhere. Odds are good that I will run into them again.

I can’t lie, though. While I miss my friends, family, and many things about ‘Murica, my countdown to getting “home” again started rather shortly after I arrived in DC. I’ve only been in Okinawa for about two months, but it’s funny how Home has become wherever Chuck and Annie Bean are. I mean.. who would have thought? 🙂

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Living the adventure

Last night, on the eve of our big 3-year adventure in Japan, a good friend gave us a beautifully written card:

“Chuck, when you proposed to Nikki – could either of you imagined how the next years would lead you to Japan? Surrounded by cherry blossoms, your decision that day led you down a path that could never be known to either of you in that moment.”

Ironically, last night was the 4-year anniversary of our engagement, which took place the midst of DC’s Cherry Tree Festival (albeit in a quieter part of it!) Now, we are headed to the land that gave us those cherry trees, starting a new phase of our lives across the world.

We have had a fantastic time here during our break. We spent quality time with family, friends, and the city we call home. We celebrated our democracy with a private tour of the Capitol, honored our history with visits to the Air and Space, Natural History, and American History Museums, and just plain had fun by trying new restaurants and enjoying respective girls’ nights and guys’ nights out and about town (with a side trip to New Orleans!)

Now, I am simultaneously excited, nervous, and a little bit sad as I prepare to fly to the Far East later this afternoon. I will miss everyone, and I am sure I will have moments of nostalgia, but Chuck and I both have a sense of adventure that will ensure we make the very most of our time in Japan…

“…I hope the same thought applies to the time in your new home – letting things come one day at a time, knowing that the next adventure is right around the corner.

Actually, scratch that – you’re living the adventure today!”

Family Reunion in the Sunshine State

This past weekend, Chuck and I met my sister, her wife, and my Dad in Florida to see my extended family for the first time in – I don’t know – 4 years? It was a great visit, and Chuck met most of my relatives for the very first time. (I think it’s safe to say that he was a hit!)

We also drove a few hours north to visit members of Chuck’s family, and stopped in adorable St. Augustine for lunch along the way. As luck (and my Facebook habits) would have it, one of Chuck’s old platoon sergeants noticed one of my check-ins while visiting my family, and called to let us know he happened to live right in the area! So, we got to reunite with him and his family too.

All in all, a fun (albeit exhausting!) weekend down in sunny Florida.