Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Home Alone December 1, 2010

Today is the husband's first day at work and thus my first day alone (with G of course).  hmmm, what to do?  I am so thankful for my time in London prior to this overseas assignment.  I no longer fear wandering around a new city, asking for directions, getting lost, not knowing the currency, where to find the post office, the grocery store and how to utilize the subway system etc.  These things paralysed me for a few weeks in London in 2007.

G and I decide to venture to Don Quijote - "THE" place for home electronics and I need a hairdryer, dammit!  Our US appliances work here in Tokyo, same plug/different voltage. However, since I have not lived in the US since 2006, am no longer in possession of a great number of US appliances.  First - train is not pushchair (read stroller my US friends) friendly.  I drag pushchair down 2 flights of stairs, purchase train ticket (don't get me started, thank god for station attendant) all whilst holding firmly to the squirmy 2 year old screeching "Train coming! Train coming!".  We make it to Don Quijote - 6 levels of hell.  I kid, kind of.  In reality 6 levels of an overabundance of merchandise displayed in a very tight space.  Accompanied by music at a decibel level I cannot describe.  And flashing lights drawing you to the "blue light specials".  Found a hairdryer (1 of 25 models) and a toaster oven- bonus!  Lose G for 1 minute and start panicking.  Find him pushing buttons on model portable DVD players trying to locate Barney.  Drag him out with a promise to go to a park.

We are fortunate enough to live close to Arisugawa Memorial Park-green, lush, pond for fishing and most importantly a sizeable playground with swings, slides and sand pit.  After a Starbucks stop off, where I see a number of western women but no children, we proceed to the park where we meet quite a few kids  G's age.  They are all accompanied by their Filipina nannies/housekeepers/cooks thus explaining the lack of children in Starbucks.  Note to self: look into childcare.  Maybe someone could live in that maid's room afterall....

Aliens - Monday November 29th

Today we are going to the local ward office (Shibuya) to apply for our Alien Registration cards.  These cards identify us as non Japanese residents and they must be carried with us at all times, in place of carrying our passports around.  Apparently if we are stopped and asked for the card and are not carrying it, mon dieu!, we could be taken to the local police station where we will be interrogated and then required to apologize (in writing) to whom, am not sure.  Just know that this must be done in Japanese.  I find this rather humorous.  Our designated corporate assistant/translator/chaperone does not see the humor in this.  In reality she is a godsend as nothing in the ward office is in English.  She has prepared all of our documents in so much as all we need to do is sign our names.  Thanks god.  She also assists us with opening a bank account and our membership to the Tokyo American Club (TAC) - the essential membership for any expat in Tokyo, as well as for quite a few Japanese as well.

Our neighborhood is fabulous - quite a few local restaurants, cafes, stores, pharmacies, salons, 2 Starbucks and a KFC.  Random.  We decide on Mexican and hit up La Jolla tonight.  Margaritas are delish, same cannot be said for food although the owner and his wife dote on G, who relishes the attention although obviously hasn't a clue what they are saying to him.  When he starts singing Baa Baa Black Sheep at the top of his lungs in a restaurant with a 25 seat capacity, we take this as our cue to leave although owners seem to enjoy as they are clapping along.

November 26, 2010 - Hello Tokyo!

12 long flight hours later and we've arrived in Tokyo!  Flight was uneventful and I actually go to watch two movies - Salt (don't judge me, I like Angelina Jolie) and The Kids are Alright with Annette Benning and Julianne Moore.  I actually didn't hate either although would only truly recommend The Kids are Alright.  I digress.

We land and 8 suitcases and 3 carry ons later, we are loaded into 2 awaiting corporate cars by drivers wearing white gloves and speaking no English and driven to our new apartment in Hiroo.  Upon arrival we are greeted by our relocation guru - Katayama-san who has helped us find the apartment, and has arranged for "survival kit" furniture and utensils for us prior to our air and sea shipments arriving.  He has also arranged for the security system tech, the cable tv and internet tech and assorted others to visit us on and off throughout Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  Through my jetlagged haze, I semi comprehend how to work the security system, intercom, television and lighting systems in our apartment.  In reality, I just start flipping switches on and off to see what works and hope I don't set off an alarm.

This apartment is huge - approx. 2700 square feet.  4 bedrooms, family room and a maids room.  I must post a photo as this maids room is in reality a closet with it's own bathroom.  How anyone can be expected to live in there is beyond me.  Our air shipment (mostly clothes) will arrive in 7-10 days and our sea shipment will take 6 weeks.  In the interim, we have: 1 couch, 1 coffee table, 1 tv, 2 beds, 3 nightstands, a desk, a chair, a dining room table and 4 chairs and serving ware/cutlery for 4.  Oh and an iron/ironing board.  This is our "survival kit". It's much like camping.  G is obsessed with the dishwasher and parking his matchbox cars in various cupboards and/or appliances.  I know this will come back to bite me in the a** eventually, but it keeps him occupied for now.

Oh what a glamorous life I lead.  (very tongue in cheek)

November 25, 2010 Sayanara London

After almost 4 years in London, the boxes are packed, our suitcases are loaded, the cat is in a temporary kennel (awaiting his flight on Dec. 1) and the husband, G and I are off to Heathrow for our 1 pm flight to Tokyo where we will begin our next expat adventure.  Everyone seems to be taking the move in stride, but I am verging on tears for most of the car ride to the airport.  I think it's a combination of factors - lack of sleep and stress being two of the biggies right now.

To be honest, London and I have had our fair share of ups and downs.  When I arrived jet lagged and sick in January of 2007, it was literally raining horizontally and I think it stayed that way for most of 2007.  I had just left my job as an Insurance Broker in NYC to join the husband across the pond and experience life as a trailing spouse, expat wife, haus frau, desperate housewife...you get the picture.  I was in no way prepared for what any of those terms really mean and this blog is not the place to explore it - that's what therapy is for.  ;-)

 Fast forward to present day and it's an altogether different picture.  I truly love London and all that it has afforded me the past few years including but not limited to amazing history and wonderful travel opportunities.  After being unsure if "mom" was a title that I wanted/needed,  I have a 2.5 year old son, G, who is the light of my life and the best thing that has ever happened to me (cliche but true).  I also have met and established lifelong friendships (I hope)  with some of the funniest, most intelligent, caring and adaptable women that I've ever known.  I will truly miss our coffees, lunches, girls nights out, Hampstead Women's Club, Bunco, shopping excursions and I could go on and on....

We're flying Virgin first class to Tokyo and I can only assume that that corporate HR person who booked our seats does not have a 2.5 year old.  We've yet to take off and G has discovered the seat recline/transition to a bed button as well as the reading light and the call button for the flight attendant...it's going to be a very long 12 hours.

My mantra is and will continue to be Keep Calm and Carry On.  See you in Tokyo!