Thursday, 30 October 2008

Home Sweet Home

I've now been in my new place for a little over two weeks and I love it. I've bought bookcases, plastic drawers for my closets, a desk (well two small ones), a floor chair, a small sofa, a washing machine, a fridge (only the fridge doesn't live with me yet)... Nothing is fancy or expensive, but I picked out every single piece. From the colour of the curtains on the sliding door to the balcony, to my Indian bedcover on my couch, each piece is something I chose.

It feels like home.

A friend who had seen my empty apartment came over a few days ago and was very impressed - she walked in and squealed and immediately said "it is just like you!" I smiled as I realized just how happy that comment made me. My last "home" was a dorm room, identical to or a mirror image of the more than three hundred other rooms in the building. Sure I had my sheets on the bed and pictures on the wall, but the room wasn't me. Before that I lived for 8 months in a lovely but terribly bland furnished apartment in a town a couple of hours outside of Tokyo. It wasn't the same as the next room, but it had zero personality and since I wasn't happy in the town in general and, from the minute I arrived was looking forward to the day I would leave, I had little motivation to make it feel like home. Before that I lived in a furnished apartment in Tokyo that was definitely not lovely and had no personality either. It was dark and everything felt old, used, and mis-matched. It wasn't me either. Before that I lived in the Girl Scout Centre in India - in a lovely sunny and airy room that I really quite liked. But as much as my name was on the door and I did make efforts to personalize the room, the furniture and basic layout were the same as all the other rooms along the hall. I knew that somebody else had lived there the year before me, and somebody else would be moving in a few months after I left.

As I began to think about where I've lived over the past few years, it occurred to me that it has been more than 4 years since I lived somewhere that felt like "mine." Somewhere that didn't feel like I was just staying there for a while. Somewhere to call home.

(notice the Halloween decorations? Thanks Liz!)

(don't mind the piles of junk)

(a washing machine! I bought my first washing machine!)

(I can cook!)

Friday, 24 October 2008

Moved - NFA

I've moved. So my address has changed. The Japanese post office makes it easy, providing a year of mail forwarding for free. Changing my bank and postal savings accounts were easy. Changing my internet required phone calls to 3 separate companies. At work I had to submit one form for my address chang and one for a change in my train fare to work (almost all Japanese companies provide transportation compensation, as do many volunteer positions). Changing my address at school is proving to be a lot of footwork.


Welcome to Japan, technological heaven, home to electric toilets and... paper forms? Yeah. Even 10 years ago at my first NA university all I would have done is log on to the uni's website and change my address. Now? Well I walked into the grad office and filled out an address change form and another one for a change on my student card for my train pass. Then I went to the international office where they dug out my form, and had me write my new address in the provided blank. Then, since I'm a TA, I had to go to the certificate office so my pay slips would reach me. Each time I ask I discover there is somewhere else I need to go so I'm sure I've missed an office or two...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

October's Manners

I downloaded Tokyo Metro's October's manners poster at the start of the month, and kept thinking that I'd come up with something thought provoking or witty to say about it... And then came moving insanity. As I've mentioned before I've moved more times than I can count, and so I really should know how to do it by now. I start off well - putting things in boxes by size and whatnot, wrapping breakables and generally taking care of how I pack. By the time I get to the end, however, I end up just randomly throwing everything into a box and hoping for the best. The only saving grace this time around was that I didn't give up on labeling boxes, so I can find something I need fairly quickly. Since I don't yet have bookcases or other pieces of furniture to hold books and documents I can't really unpack yet. So the boxes remain, randomly being pillaged as needed. More inconvenient, however, is the fact that my apartment is still without a fridge and washing machine (currently staying at the home of a friend who lives nearby but is crazy busy), and gas. I got the internet connected immediately, and figured that the gas could wait until I had time to go and buy a stove top. Sunday was a warm day and, having spent the morning moving boxes, I decided to have a quick shower before I went out for my Thanksgiving dinner. I turned on the water in the tub, waiting for it to get warm... It didn't so I fiddled with it for a few minutes to no avail. I then remembered seeing a panel on the wall in the hall, so I went to check it - sure enough a water heater. So I flicked the switch to 'on' and went back to the bathroom. I gave it another few minutes to warm up, but still nothing. Yeah, I'm a bit slow. It took me a good 5 minutes to realize that the water heater was gas powered and since the gas wasn't connected in my apartment that meant I had no hot water... Sigh. Tokyo Gas is coming today. Just in time too, it has gotten chilly and wet the past few days, perfect weather for soaking in a Japanese tub when you come home from a long day of classes! Trying to get enough warm water to wash when all you have is an electric hot water pot is annoying and time consuming... Just saying!

Anyways, where was I? ... Ah, yes, October manners.

With the distracted-ness inducing piles of boxes around me, my inability to enjoy the wonders of finally having a tub, and having to prepare presentations for my grad courses (one last week, two this week, and one or two next week), my mind just isn't functioning properly. So I'm going to leave you with the thoughts of two other foreign women in Japan/bloggers: Green Eyed Geisha and Geisha Interrupted, and ask you for your thoughts too...

Friday, 10 October 2008


You've reached Sarah's blog. Due to moving insanity, Sarah's brain is temporarily not in contact with her body. Please leave your name and message after the beep and Sarah will get back to you as soon as her brain returns.



Sunday, 5 October 2008


I signed (or rather "stamped") the contract for my new place today. Very exciting!

While I probably won't move until next weekend, since I got my keys today, I figured I should go and see my new digs. It was dinner time so I picked myself up some dinner and headed "home."

I found the place without difficulty and let myself in. As I was looking around, however, I discovered that a squatter had moved in. I sat down to dinner and had a chat with George. I kindly offered George a few days to pack up his things but my landlord, who showed up a few minutes later, was not willing to let George live rent free for even a few days. So poor George was treated to a couple of shots of roach-be-gone and then squashed with a wad of toilet paper.

I'm hoping George doesn't have too many family members - I am looking forward to living on my own again!