Geez, I didn’t realize it’s been three weeks since I last wrote in here! I’ve thought about it a lot, and I had some ideas for things to write, but now that I’m sitting at my computer, of course those ideas have all flown away.

I’ve been pretty busy lately, in part because I started my new job. No specific details online for obvious reasons (though my coworkers already told me that they Googled me during the interview process), but I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s an interesting challenge. I’m an interaction designer for a security software firm, designing user interface graphical elements like system tray icons and desktop icons and other non-iconic things. It’s an area of design I haven’t done a whole lot of before, but I’m starting to get the hang of it–it incorporates a lot of the general ideas I try to keep in mind when designing websites. I also have a great group of coworkers, and the environment there’s really nice. I’ve really enjoyed it so far.

I will admit, though, it’s been a little strange working in such an American working environment–one guy had studied some Japanese on his own and greeted me with an “ohayou gozaimasu” (good morning) once. But I actually miss saying “osaki ni shitsurei shimasu” when I’m on my way out, and I’ve even forgotten how to let myself into my boss’s office in English, now that I can’t use “shitsurei shimasu” upon entering and “shitsurei shimashita” on my way out anymore. I also have to stop myself from bowing to the people I’ve been meeting this past week. It feels so weird!

In other news, I bought a car on Saturday–a Mazda 6. It handles wonderfully, is gorgeous, has all these great features, and I love it…but then I started hearing this clanking sound Sunday night, like a soft drink can was rattling around somewhere to my right and in front of me. I took it in on Monday, but they were unable to duplicate the sound on their own, and the tech guy and I went for a drive today and still couldn’t hear it. I got my car back today, which is good–I’ve driven the loaner they issued me more than my actual car! Hopefully it’s nothing serious–especially since I have to drive a long way on Sunday to attend the wedding of a guy I’ve known for nearly 20 years, ever since my family moved to metro Atlanta.

I got hit with my first big wave of homesickness for Japan yesterday evening, as I was putting up more of my Japan photos on Flickr (I’m over a month behind, and still not quite done yet!), and after I put up an autumn-themed print I’d bought at Loft and several of the watercolor postcard prints of Ikeda that I’d bought at Gasping Lady’s restaurant in my cubicle. I’ve also been exchanging messages through Flickr with a former ALT in Yamashiro, the town bordering Ikeda to the southwest. It’s really cool that several people from the area still have fond enough memories of it to keep in touch with it and try to find out about it online.

To kind of combat the homesickness, I gave Hannah a call and we talked for about 45 minutes. Hannah used to live downstairs in our apartment building in Japan–she and I came in together and she left after a year. It felt really good to make all these references to Japan and our ALT community and have her totally get what I meant.

Oh, and the izakaya we went to for my birthday (it feels like it was ages ago, not just three weeks) was all right. It was pretty good for an American restaurant, especially considering that there isn’t a huge Japanese population here the way there is out west, but it still left something to be desired. I’ll have to try my luck again if I ever make it up to New York or out to the west coast.

I really miss it. There are some things I’m glad to have left behind, but on the whole…I can’t wait to go back.

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