I seriously didn’t mean to go nearly 2 months without posting. I remember times where going more than a week without posting was nearly inconceivable. Currently I’m doped up on Nyquil and about ready to collapse to work off the last vestiges of this cold that’s been kicking me around since midway through last week, but at the behest of the sweet anonymous commenter who asked me to post, and at the behest of my dad who’s bugged me about whether or not I’m keeping this up, here I go.

So, uh, yeah. Happy New Year!

I regret having to take down the gorgeous Japan-styled calendar from Loft which hung at my desk for the 3.5 months of 2007 that I worked in this job, but I have a styling planner that I use instead. (I have two calendars hanging in my cubicle, courtesy of Etsy. My job’s a creative one, but methodical enough to make me long for lots of pretty things.)

A lot’s been going on. I designed and sent out my own holiday cards this year, the majority of which went to Japan, to my friends and former students and colleagues and even to my old board of education and community center. I hope they all made it. I went to visit family in Ohio for the holidays and spent a lot of time with my friends. I’m still living with my parents–but very close to making a final decision about which apartment complex to move to, and hopefully moving soon. I’m looking forward to it.

In early December, I took level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. I did better and worse than I thought I would, but I think I passed, and my private teacher and I have started working slowly already towards getting me ready for level 2 next December. I’m glad I’m keeping it up, but my conversation skills are definitely slipping. I also will be attending a meeting of a bimonthly Japanese/English book club in a couple of weekends; the book for this month is Nijuushi no Hitomi/Twenty-Four Eyes. The copy I have is all English, though…we’ll see how that works out. It’s an interesting read, about a teacher and some of her students from prewar, wartime, and postwar Japan, with very pacifistic overtones. It takes place in a village on Shodoshima (an island in the Seto Inland Sea, between Honshu and Shikoku), and there are references to locales in nearby Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku, and to places in Kagawa-ken that I’ve actually visited (Tadotsu, Kotohira, Takamatsu, Yashima), though I haven’t actually visited Shodoshima itself. I’m enjoying the book so far.

I still think about Japan daily. In fact, today I got a nengajo (new year’s card) from an elementary school teacher I worked with, the principal at my Monday-morning school, the really lovely lady who took such good care of me when I was homesick my first year. I’m in touch with my former bosses through e-mail (one even offered to try to send me homemade osechi-ryouri, the special new year’s food; though it obviously couldn’t make it, it was a sweet offer!), and more occasional touch with several other Japanese friends, and in pretty good touch with several ALTs, but it’s already surprising who I’ve lost touch with. Conversely, Genna‘s still set on coming for a visit, and I’ll have to check in with Chalice and Joe. I also may be traveling out to California in April or so, where I have every intention of seeing Hannah, and I scored a really wonderful 45 minutes of phone time with Lindsay this past week (first time in nearly two years) while she was back in the US.

And as of this week, I’ll get a chance to revisit many of those people, because I’ve booked my plane tickets for 10 days in Japan in March! Immediately on the tail end of attending SXSW Interactive in Austin for business (I won a free membership, even; scroll halfway down the page!), I fly to Osaka and make my way to Tokushima in time to attend my junior high’s graduation ceremony, watch the 2008 Tokushima musical, and just see everybody and everything again. I’m really excited for this–it feels like an epilogue of sorts, to round all this off. Leaving Japan in August was…mixed. I’d come off that pretty bittersweet Hokkaido/Tohoku vacation and was ready for it to be over, but it really hurt to leave at the same time. I hope that this trip will be much more upbeat, and that I can come away with the knowledge that these people and places will always be there, and that while my time as a Japanese resident has ended, my ties to the country and the places and the people will still always be there. I can’t wait to see it all again.

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