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It’s Been Awhile

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve had a busy and stressful couple of months. I’m now on vacation in Florida, halfway around the world from home.

Getting Here

The plane trip was terrible. I bought my tickets from United against my better judgement because they were the cheapest; I’ve never had a problem-free ride with them. This time seals my resolution to never buy tickets from them again. To be fair, some of the problems were thanks to weather, over which they had no control. However, I wouldn’t have been in the places with weather problems if they hadn’t first cancelled my original flight because they had no plane to put us on (it never arrived and they had no backup) and then insisted on getting me on the first flight out instead of just letting me overnight in Tokyo. In Tokyo, I have an old friend who would probably have let me stay at her place. Instead, I ended up having to stay a night in the Newark airport, dehydrated from running around from counter to counter between flights up to that point with no chance to really take care of myself. To top things off, there were almost never service representatives at the United desks, which meant I had to bug one of their partner airlines to get taken care of.

A couple of good things came out of all that, though. One is that I found out that Air Canada has really friendly customer service people, both on and off of their planes. Another is that I met some great people among the other customers. I had some wonderful chats with random people, used my silliness skillz and ability to speak Japanese to help keep some kids occupied while their stressed parents took care of reaccommodation, and sat next to an awesome older gentleman on the first flight I took.

He was a Japanese man who had been living in Canada for a very long time — longer than I’ve lived on this Earth, in fact. His English, therefore, was excellent. He had had an interest in visiting North America from a young age. For his first trip over in 1978, he couldn’t find a flight to the exact place he wanted to go, so it was suggested that he take a flight to Anchorage. From there, he was told, he could easily get a flight down to Seattle. (He didn’t say how much luck he had with that, as our conversation turned other directions, but that would certainly be true today.) Eventually, on a stay in Canada, he met and fell in love with a woman from Taiwan and ended up settling in Canada because the only language they had in common was English. xD

Our topics of discussion varied widely, though I think bilingualism and piano music took up the biggest chunks of our conversation. We learned a few things from each other, though. I now know what the Japanese equivalent of chicken soup is for when you’re sick. He and his wife have hopefully checked out Kyle Landry’s channel on YouTube by now. Talking to him helped keep the flight from getting dull.

I didn’t get all that stressed while I was traveling. I wasn’t doing so hot when I was at the worst part of being dehydrated and hungry with most of the shops closed in Newark, but a very friendly TSA agent pointed me to a Subway in a different terminal and that sandwich and 40 oz. water made everything better.

Anyway, I made it.

I’m spending my first few days with my grandmother, who lives here in Orlando. She’s getting up there in age, and although she’s been able to retain her house with help from friends and family, she has a lot of health problems and can’t maintain the house very well. So I’ve been helping her with cleaning and just keeping her company. Not terribly exciting, but very nice.

Here soon, two friends of mine will arrive from Alaska. When they get here I’ll be transferring from Grandma’s house to the hotel we have reserved. It’s near Disney World, where we will be spending five days of our time here. Madmoose and I are big fans of the Disney theme parks, and are looking forward to having enough time to see all the Disney World parks in one go.

Ragingmoose, Madmoose’s wife and the second person coming to meet me here, is one of those silly people who believes the Disney parks are for kids, so it’s taken us some years to convince her that this big expensive trip is worth it and that she should come. We tried a few years ago, but she said no at the last minute. This time, when we started making our tentative plans, she said that even if she decided not to go (or was unable to because of failure to get time off as a junior employee) that Madmoose could still go without her. That was good to hear, but he and I are both very glad she is coming, too. :D It wouldn’t be as much fun without her.

Aside from spending time at Disney, there will be some more time spent with my locally-located family and some time spent just putzing around Florida. Ragingmoose and I will both have some homework to do, so there is that, too. We have tickets to Arabian Nights and Medieval Times, since neither Ragingmoose nor I have been to any such dinner shows.

On a more personal level, I am looking forward to access to peanut butter, almond butter, beef jerky, and sunflower seeds. As well as not wondering what menus say (or assume you know). I already miss the cleanliness of Japanese airport commodes.

Surprisingly, I also miss the ability to be understood in Japanese. That flight from Toronto to Newark was probably the most dangerous flight I’ve ever taken, those pilots did an amazing job getting us there safely, and I felt like I was unable to express my gratitude properly because the words I would have used in Japanese just don’t exist in English.