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2017-Aug-22, Tuesday 09:27
dorchadas: (Music of the Spheres)
I didn't get a chance to see the entire eclipse because I was at work and I wasn't in the path of totality, but around 1:05 p.m. yesterday I left the office and went outside to the south terrace, where a couple hundred people were all gathered and watching the sky. I also didn't have eclipse glasses, but thanks to a tip online, I turned off my phone and watched the reflection of the eclipse in the glass. It was visible through the clouds and got a bit darker and colder, but it wasn't super dramatic. That didn't stop me from getting misty eyed, though, because nature is amazing. We knew this eclipse was coming in 1932!

My father was more dedicated than I was. He drove six hours downstate and took this picture:

2017-08-21 - Eclipse image
dorchadas: (Blue Rose)
Last weekend [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I took a vacation, sort of! We went out to Portland for [twitter.com profile] faylynne and [twitter.com profile] ntcomplete's wedding, and unlike the last time we were there in 2015, the weather cooperated. For Portland, anyway. It was cool and cloudy--just the way I liked it--and being next to the Willamette meant that sometimes there were passing boaters, though at least they cut the motor when they noticed that there was a ceremony happening. But everything else was lovely. I especially liked the sling that the maid of honor, [twitter.com profile] faylynne's eldest sister, had rigged up to allow her new baby to participate in the ceremony.


I also loved how most of the wedding party entered to the main hobbit theme from The Fellowship of the Ring, while the bride and groom entered to an instrumental cover of the Legend of Zelda fairy fountain theme. Link smilie

The ceremony was extremely short and to the point. After a brief opening, the couple gave their vows--almost inaudible to us sitting in the back, but from what I could tell a variation on the traditional ones--and then exchanged rings, soldiering through [twitter.com profile] ntcomplete dropping them when the best man handed them to him and [twitter.com profile] faylynne initially trying to put the ring on his right hand. Then they kissed, the ceremony was over, and the guests all went back to the hall for drinks and snacks before the reception. I drank red wine and gin, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd drank white wine and cider, and our friend [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek does not drink, but we were all united in our love for the snacks. Caprese skewers and grilled cheese shooters, with a tiny bit of grilled-cheese sandwich stuck in the top of an ounce or so of tomato-basil soup in a shotglass. It was delicious and I'm amazed that I haven't seen it anywhere else.

Inside, we took our seat at the labeled tables, each themed after a specific fantasy setting. The three of us were seated at the Tortall table, which immediately made [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek text his girlfriend. She was unable to attend due to a family emergency, but despite not really being geeky at all, she's read the Song of the Lioness books and would have instantly recognized the table title.

Then was a buffet dinner and dancing. I was initially a bit worried that no dinner preference had been specified, but [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd correctly pointed out that it was almost certainly a buffet. And it was, with nothing that we can't eat. The salmon and asparagus were especially tasty. Weeee smiling happy face

We did not dance, at least for my part because none of the songs being played are the kind I like to dance to, but the dance floor wasn't particularly well attended. There were a lot of people chatting and eating, and then speeches and cake.


I don't like most cakes, but they did look wonderful. And they were made by the maid of honor. I heard a couple people asking [twitter.com profile] faylynne if her sister was a chef, and her reply was that her sister had taken a pastry class one summer.

As we left, we got a bit of a chance to chat with both of them. [twitter.com profile] ntcomplete tried to sell [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek on attending PAX and mostly succeeded and both of them told us about their honeymoon in Japan and how they wanted us all to go back in 2020 when the new Ghibli Theme Park will be opened. I mentioned that was also when the Nintendo Theme Park would be open and that's in Ōsaka, far away from the Tokyo crowds. [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek suggested making the Japan trip a biannual thing and you know, that sounds like a great idea. Walking chocobo

[twitter.com profile] faylynne also mentioned that she had been practicing Japanese on DuoLingo and how shocked she was when the writing suddenly changed and she realized she had to learn another syllabary. All I could do was nod, half sagely, half sympathetically. I've been there.

She wants to get to conversational Japanese in time for 2020. I wish her good luck. She will need it. Sad pikachu flag

Other things I did in Portland!:
  • Stayed with my sister, who kindly put us up in her apartment's spare room!
  • Went to House of Ramen, which featured build-your-own ramen so [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I could have porkless ramen. We got a small size bowl, also known as "the size ramen is served in Japan." My sister and her boyfriend split a regular.
  • Went to the farmer's market and bought a bunch of cheese and smoked salmon. They also had delicious macaroon cookies but we were too full to eat them.
  • Bought some Edo Jidai-era lacquerware at the going-out-of-business sale at Shogun's Gallery.
  • Went to Moonstruck chocolate, which I obliquely wrote about here.
It was a lovely way to spend a weekend.

Ten years!

2017-Jun-09, Friday 17:21
dorchadas: (Link and Zelda sitting together)
And many more to go!

Today is [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my ten year wedding anniversary. Kawaii heart emoji As I posted on Facebook, to put that into perspective, I made sure to set my AIM away message to "AFK, getting married" on my wedding day.

Unlike most events, since ten years is a nice round number we actually bought presents for each other. Usually our celebrations consist of going out to dinner or lunch, and we did go out to lunch today at a pretty good restaurant, but here we made an exception and also bought gifts.

click for pictures )
It's been a great ten years and I think it only looks up from here! Kirby heart
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
Here's a backdated index for all the posts I wrote about [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my trip to Japan with friends!
  • Friday, July 15 to Saturday, July 16 - Chicago to Tokyo - Mostly on airplanes.
  • Sunday, July 17 - Tokyo - Meiji Jingu, shopping, and Shinjuku park.
  • Monday, July 18 - Tokyo - National Museum, Clothes shopping, meeting a friend of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd for dinner in Shinjuku, and the Final Fantasy cafe.
  • Tuesday, July 19 - Himeji and Hiroshima - Himeji Castle and a drinks truck in Hiroshima.
  • Wednesday, July 20 - Hiroshima - The Peace Memorial Museum, shopping, and a kagura performance.
  • Thursday, July 21 - Miyajima - Itukushima Shrine, climbing Mount Misen, and staying in a ryokan.
  • Friday, July 22 - Chiyoda! - Visiting and having dinner with our old students in the town we lived in!
  • Saturday, July 23 - Kyoto - Racist hotel, Pokemon center, and surprise festival performance.
  • Sunday, July 24 - Kyoto - Gion Matsuri parade, Fushimi-Inari, and parade at Yasaka-Jinja.
  • Monday, July 25 - Kyoto and Ōsaka - Sanjūsangendō, Shitennōji in Ōsaka, and the Tenjin Matsuri in Ōsaka.
  • Tuesday, July 26 - Kyoto - Hōnen-in in the rain, lunch in Gion, the Kanji Museum, and Torin yakitori restaurant.
  • Wednesday, July 27 - Tokyo - Otome Road, Akihabara, and gaming in an arcade.
  • Thursday, July 28 - Tokyo - Sailor Moon Cafe, the Ghibli exhibition in Roppongi, Super Potato, and dinner in Ginza.
  • Friday, July 29 - Tokyo and Toronto - Sakura manjū, one last ramen, and a flight home that worked out in the end.
What a wonderful trip!
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
The first thing we did this morning after showering, before we packed and before we even ate breakfast, was to finally eat the sakura manjū we bought on Miyajima in the Hello Kitty store.


I'm as tasty as four apples.

They were delicious.

Then we packed, checked out, ate toast and tea/coffee because the soup had pork again--I don't understand how Sakura Hotel offers halal ramen and then has pork in seemingly every soup they make--and walked to the train station. On the way, I learned about this exhibition which I'm now really sad I didn't know about a couple days ago, when we were over near Sunshine Mall and could have gone. Yōkai are one of the parts of Japanese culture that doesn't get much play abroad, like kagura or foods that aren't sushi or ramen, and this would have been a great chance to see them. Sigh.

We stopped at Chocoholic so [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture could get a present for her roommate and then got on the Yamanote Line heading for Tōkyō Station, where we got off, went outside the gates, got tickets for the Narita Express, went back through the gates, and waited for the train. While we were on the platform, I got one last onigiri for the road. Fatty tuna and spring onions. Then the train started moving, and I said goodbye to Tokyo.


また今度ね.

The train ride was an hour and the only problem were two businessmen sitting ride in front of us who randomly picked seats until they found an occupied one and then loudly spent the train ride discussing business. But that was short, and then we got off the train and made for our terminal. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had some お土産 (omiyage, "gift souvenirs") she needed to buy, and as long as she was doing that, I picked up some for my Japanese tutor as well. I hope she likes green tea. I've met Japanese people who don't. I've also met Japanese people who don't like fish or rice, which strikes me as almost debilitating. You know, like how I'm an American who doesn't like pizza or hot dogs.

Then we went to the food court and had our last bowl of reasonably-priced ramen.


¥880. About $8.25.

We went to go check into our flight but accidentally went to the wrong wing of the terminal, and then when we did go to the right wing, found our airline, and got in line, we got an attendant who must have been new. Her English wasn't that great (and my flight-related Japanese isn't either) and had some trouble finding our reservations and boarding passes. But she did eventually find us with some help from her co-workers, print out our boarding passes, and send us on our way.

We got through security in three minutes because Japan isn't invested in stupid security theatre that just wastes everyone's time and money, went through immigration in about the same amount of time, and proceeded to the gate.


Hopefully!

We went through the airport, stopping to say goodbye to [livejournal.com profile] tastee_wheat and [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega at their gates, and then made it to our gate. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went to buy some sakura-flavored kitkats to use up the last of our yen and we settled down to wait, along a few Buddhist monks and a giant horde of schoolgirls probably going on a school trip. No wonder the flight was full.

Fun fact: kitkats are popular in Japan partially because the name sounds like 屹度勝つ (kitto katsu, "I will surely win").

The flight boarded slightly late and we were sitting across the aisle from each other, but as soon as we got on [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd asked the man sitting in the middle seat to move to my aisle seat and he happily did so, so we got to sit together again!

We also sat next to the monks, but didn't talk with them. There was also a kid who thought having to put on his seatbelt when we hit turbulence was worse than being tortured to death and decided to shriek his head off for a while until, presumably, he tired himself out and fell asleep.

About a third of the way through the flight, I started to feel really cramped. I don't usually have problems with claustrophobia, but airlines are the exception. It wasn't until I compared seatbacks with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd that I realized the problem--the man in front of me had lowered his seat by about 15 cm and I really was dealing with less space. So I immediately rammed my knees into the back of his seat--by which I mean "sat normally, thanks airlines!"--and was rewarded by him shifting repeatedly as I did. And eventually, after enough shoving, he moved his seat back upright. I am not above petty revenge against people being inconsiderate.

We also flew above a lightning storm, but I was not sitting by a window.

Breakfast was pretty tasty:


No pork to pick out this time either!

We landed in Toronto to the news that they didn't actually have a gate for us and we'd have to take a bus to the terminal. Then we went through customs and I was all set to get annoyed until I realized that this wasn't bullshit Canadian security theater, it was bullshit American security theatre because we're going to America. The highlight was the customs agent saying he could tell we were married because we answered all his questions in unison.

Then we got to the gate and our flight was delayed an hour.

And then it was cancelled! So we had to go out through Canadian customs and pick up our baggage and hope we got another flight. Except our baggage wasn't showing up, and when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went to ask about it, they told her that our flight wasn't canceled and they were loading our luggage onto the plane, so we ran back through US customs and back to our terminal to find our flight was delayed due to...weather.

Ah yes, weather. Oh Chicago.

Ignorant Air Canada employees aside, after a two-hour weather delay we got on the plane. Then we sat there while they loaded in some extra luggage, and while I'm normally contemptuous of people who check carry-ons on the plane, I think it makes sense in this case. Then we taxied away and sat again on the runway. Then finally, finally, we took off at 8:35 p.m. Eastern.

Then we flew through turbulence pretty much the entire trip.


The sun and the storm.

We landed, taxied to our gate, and got our luggage in much less time than I was expecting because we went through customs in Canada. And now I'm posting this from the ride home, and unless our apartment has burned down in our absence, there's nothing further to report.

Thus ends the Japan Trip 2016. What a wonderful time! I'm so glad I got to go back and visit our old students and show all the places we came to love to our friends. The only problem is...now I want to move back.

Maybe someday.

Steps taken: 13245

Chiyoda!: Friday

2016-Jul-22, Friday 23:29
dorchadas: (Chiyoda)
One benefit of staying in a ryokan is that you get both dinner and breakfast, so after sleeping in almost until the last minute, I was awakened by [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd with exactly enough time to make it to breakfast after a quick shower. And such a breakfast:


Get in my mouth.

We had to eat a bit quickly in order to make the ferry, and originally I thought we were going to miss the shuttle from the ryokan to the port and would have to walk. What was I thinking? This is Glorious Nippon, after all. They held the bus for us, loaded our luggage into it while we paid for the room, and then drove us down in time to catch the 8:25 ferry and the street car that was just leaving after that.

We didn't try to make the 9:40 bus after arriving at 9:35, so we popped into a 7-11 to withdraw cash and get snacks--I got a melon pan, om nom nom--and then up to the bus center, where we bought tickets and asked for the proper platform to board the bus. I thought it was eight, but I was misremembering. It was nine, like it's always been.

Also, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd accidentally bought us children's tickets instead of adult tickets and we were worried for a moment, but we were being silly. This is Japan, and the ticket counter exchanged them for free. They were actually the same price, so I'm not sure why the 北部 line even offers separate tickets.

On the bus, we learned that Pokemon Go had finally gone live in Japan, causing a frantic burst of activity as [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega captured every unclaimed gym in sight.

And then, we arrived in Chiyoda.


From the highway. That building with wings is the community center.

Kaminaka-san, Hattori-san, and Sunada-san were all waiting to meet us at the bus center, and after a round of hugs (hugs! In Japan!) we started on our short tour. First we went to the Geihoku Cultural Center, new since we lived here, that had exhibits about local folk crafts like weaving and rice growing, about kagura performance, and about the festival of Mibu no Hanadaue. Then we went to Mibu itself, walking down the shōtengai where the festival takes place and ending at Mibu Jinja, where we went for hatsumōde our last year in Japan.


Not as impressive now, without the snow and lanterns and crowds of people. I wish I had a picture of that night...

After that, we drove up to a viewpoint on top of a hill, and after a short walking path, we found our way to 壬生城跡 (Mibu shiroato, "the ruins of Mibu Castle"). I didn't see anything that looked remotely like a castle had ever been there, but there was a spectacular view:


Facing toward Ōsaka.

After that, we went to look at our old house, still pretty nice looking and still sitting next to the abandoned twin house next to it, and and then off to Chiyoda High School! Unfortunately, due to the Japanese policy of transferring teachers after only a few years, very few of the people that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd taught with were still there. There were a couple, though. Umeki-sensei, who teaches math, and Nishihara-sensei, who teaches science, and the school nurse were all there. We also ran into Koyama-san, mother of Kazu, who I wrote about in this post and who is now a high school student. We didn't talk for very long because Kaminaka-san had set us a schedule, but we looked around for a bit in the school and then continued on to the Yae-sogo Communtiy Center for lunch, where we were met by Nakamura-san, the other Hattori-san, and Bōno-san.

Lunch was amazing. They had remembered I liked sake a lot and brought two small bottles for me, one of local sake from Chiyoda and one from Saijō, where the sake festival is held every year in late August. We had conbini bentō and okonomiyaki, as well as dessert jello from somewhere. I got a grape and aloe jelly that tasted exactly like the drinks I used to get from vending machines. We chatted, and I did a lot of translating to and from Japanese, and there were only a couple times where I just brought the conversation to a halt because I couldn't think of how to express an idea. It was amazing. Why did we leave?

Oh yes. So [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd could go to school and fulfill her dreams. It's a good reason! And yet, when I'm here, walking around Chiyoda, speaking in Japanese in a way that I was very uncomfortable doing when I lived here the first time...

If I had moved here before knowing as much Japanese as I know now, I'd be conversationally fluent. But, well, there's nothing to do about that now. I just have to keep trying and keep studying.


また今度, I said as we left. "Until next time..."

And we will be back, someday. Sooner than five years.

After a three-hour meal, we had to catch the bus back to Hiroshima, so we took the taxi Kaminaka-San had chartered and packed away the hand-made pottery pieces he had made for each member of our group, including [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek, who wasn't there due to having not been in Hiroshima with us, and we got on the highway bus and started the trip back. After the trip, we walked to our hotel--not Hotel Active, sadly, because there was a weekend price spike that made it not worth staying in--but in Toyoko Inn on Heiwa-Ōdōri, which was further but not significantly so. We were scheduled to meet some old friends from our Japan days, who happened to all be here at the same time in a weird serendipity, and after we checked in that's what we set out to do, though [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega and [livejournal.com profile] tastee_wheat stayed behind because they were still incredibly full from lunch.

The tabe・nomihōdai was at Sōgo, not Mitsukoshi like we originally expected it would be, so it took a bit longer to get there than we thought it would. Not too long, though, and once we made our way through Sōgo to the special beer garden elevator and went up, we had a couple hours of drinks and food with friends. The food wasn't that great, but I got some nice use out of the bottle of sake that it didn't seem like anyone else was drinking from, and a lovely time talking to people I hadn't seen in years. And some Japanese practice with an acquaintance, though I think because of the beer, she forgot that I'm not that great and just launched into full native speed and I followed along as best as I could.

At ten they threw everyone out. Some people were going on to a bar called Koba and originally I was planning on joining them, but on the walk there I started getting more and more twitchy in a way that told me that it was time to go back to the hotel. So I said my goodbyes, walked back to the hotel with a friend, and read until [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd came back and then went to bed.

Steps taken: 14050.

Note: If you're interested in more about Chiyoda, I did a whole blog series about it here.

We went to Alinea

2015-Nov-07, Saturday 20:23
dorchadas: (Chicago)
A friend was coming into town, and since we had never met in person (welcome to the future), might as well make our first meeting as impressive as it could possibly be, right?


GRAFFITI - matsutake, maitake, parsley

We had a seating at 8:45, and we were originally planning to meet up at a nearby restaurant at 7:45 for drinks, having been warned by [livejournal.com profile] stephen_poon that the wine pairings were excellent but simply too much food, but said friend's boyfriend had apparently decided to wear jeans. Since Alinea had sent out an email with a dress code advisory that included jackets for men, he went off to buy some emergency pants and they didn't arrive at the pre-Alinea restaurant until ~8:30, much too late to get drinks. We did at least get in a round of hand-shaking and some chatting before we headed over, though.

We arrived right on time, walked into an unmarked grey building down an incredibly dim hallway lit by faint purple lights, then turned left into Alinea, which wasn't nearly as menacing as the preliminaries led me to expect. The hostess let us look into the kitchen, which was bigger than the rest of the restaurant (unless there were tables upstairs, which is possible), and then let us to our seats and the meal began.


TORORO KOMBU - hamachi, ice fish cracker; UNAGI - pickled plum, white sesame; CORN - miso, nori, togarashi

The first thing they asked us is whether we wanted to add an additional course--apparently the white truffles had come in, so they were offering a white truffle risotto shaved table-side for interested parties. For $125 a person, everyone at the table had to agree on it. The boyfriend and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd both delegated the decision to their respective SOs, and after a moment's consultation we decided that we would be fine with the regular menu. The waiter assured us that we would not be disappointed, and, well, he was right.

I say "the waiter," but there were actually four. Five if you count the guy who came in at the very end to dish out the final course, but he barely said anything and only showed up for a couple minutes. Otherwise, it was the best service I've ever had anywhere. New utensils with every course. People who went to the bathroom had their napkins taken and replaced. Water never ran below the halfway line. Every single course had an explanation of what was in it, a suggested way to eat it--especially imporant with the first course, which was a thin shell of satsuma filled with star anise liqueur, and the waiter was very adamant that we shouldn't try to eat half of it at a time--and explaining what they had changed for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I, since we requested no pork and no shellfish for probably obvious reasons.

I mean, unagi isn't kosher either, but there was a lot of pork they used (pork dashi, at one point), so we managed to avoid that, at least.


FOIE - duck, quince, borage; LEG - duck, persimmon, burning oak; BREAST - duck, grapefruit, cinnamon

Thirteen courses is a lot, even spread over three hours, and by the end of the night we were incredibly stuffed. It's a good thing we didn't get that white truffle risotto because I don't think that I would have been able to eat the desserts. Plural. There were three of them.

There was some concern that there wouldn't be enough food, since high-end restaurants have an occasionally-undeserved reputation for offering tiny plates for inflated prices. I know it's a bit hard to tell scale from those pictures, but each course was probably the size of a hipster restaurant's appetizers. Imagine ordering thirteen of those. I'm pretty sure that's enough food for anyone.

And it was amazing. It's really hard for me to pick which course was my favorite, and if you asked I'd probably have to specify a different answer based on what category of favorite it is. For example, my favorite conceptually was the second dessert, which was green apple taffy that had been inflated with helium into a balloon. You ate it by removing your glasses and sticking your face onto the balloon, puncturing it, and eating it as it deflated.

My favorite in terms of taste was probably the duck trio pictured above. I really like duck.


TROPICAL FRUIT - rum, vanilla, kaffir lime

There was a menu at Alinea a year and a half or so ago that was explicitly Japan inspired, but [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I didn't have (or felt that we didn't have) enough money at the time to go. Fortunately, it turned out that the tickets we got were pretty heavy on the Japanese influences anyway even if that wasn't the basis of the meal.

tl;dr: It was amazing and I'd gladly go again. I'm not sure if it's the best meal I've ever eaten--[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my wedding anniversary dinner at Hotel Miyarikyu was up there--but it's definitely in the top three.

If you want a good idea of what goes on, including the mood, here's what's effectively a trailer for Alinea. It includes the green apple balloons and the last dessert that's pictured above.

Oregon Vacation

2015-Jul-19, Sunday 14:58
dorchadas: (In America)
I tend to write pretty detailed posts about my vacations because even though they're mostly only of interest to me, I like to have a record for when I go back and reread old posts. But this time I was gone for two weeks and, taking into account how verbose my blog posts tend to be, a detailed account of everything I did would run for 10,000 words and be exhausting to write, so I'm going to do what I did when we first moved to Japan and didn't have any internet and write a series of smaller segments and put them all in one post.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)


As of today, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I have been married for seven years! And on the balance it's been pretty fantastic. I'm going to quote what I said on Facebook about it because I liked it:
I'm supposed to put in something about it seems like yesterday and blah blah blah, but it doesn't, really. Time has passed--a lot of it, relatively--and we're better for it. Part of our wedding vows were to help each other grow into the person we want to be, and my wife has done a lot to help me toward that goal, and if there's a long way for me to go still, that is no reflection on the effort she has expended, but only on my ability to put it into action.

Seven years! That means we beat the odds, but I always knew that was going to happen. I'm usually a pessimist who assumes the worst, but on this I had no doubt.

I love you, dear! Here's to seven times seven years more. 💛💙💜💚❤️💗💞

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לזְּמַן הַזֶּה
The bit at the end in Hebrew is the Shehecheyanu, the blessing for doing new things or doing things for the first time. I think reaching seven years of marriage counts.

And the hearts are a bit odd. Well, that’s the problem with translating emoji to Unicode.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd are pretty iconoclastic when it comes to relationship customs. We don't get each other presents for birthdays or holidays, we celebrate Valentine Day's and White Day instead of Valentine's Day, and at most, we'll go out for dinner as a celebration. So tonight, we went for hamburgers with friends. Sure, $6.50 for fried pickles is ludicrous, but the burgers were fantastic. And the buns are made at Red Hen Bakery, where we get pretty much all our bread. 11/10 would nom again. Just...hopefully with a different waiter who didn't constantly forget our requests.

Oh, speaking of our vows, there are a lot of people we've met who haven't heard them, and since we wrote them ourselves and I still have them, I'll repeat them here:
Me: [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, today I take you as my wife and companion. I promise to share your happiness and be with you in your sadness. To always be open and honest with you, and to help you grow and become the person you want to be. And though our vows are short, they are merely a summary of all the promises we have already made to each other, over dinner and on walks, and as we gazed into each others’ eyes.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd: [personal profile] dorchadas, you have been my best friend, accomplice, confidant, and my greatest comfort. I promise to share your happiness and be with you in your sadness. To always be open and honest with you, and to help you grow and become the person you want to be. And though we will have our differences, they will never be so wide that we cannot hold our hands across them.
I've heard it said that the best thing for an introvert is to have someone you can be alone with. And as I sit here, writing this blog post and playing Fall from Heaven while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd checks Facebook on the couch behind me and we both listen to our favorite podcast, I'm reminded again of how true that is.

So yay to us, and yay to many more long years of marriage!

Graduation Time!

2014-May-12, Monday 18:14
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
Not mine, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's. After three years of schooling, on Wednesday she finally got her Education Specialist degree and is now fully qualified. Yay!

...well, other than having to finish out her internship. She mentioned that even though she was graduating, it didn't feel like much because she had to wake up and go to work the next morning. There's only a couple weeks of school left, after which she has to find something to do during the summer so she won't go insane, and then we'll be a DINK household once again.

I was surprised at how short the ceremony was, probably because I was remembering the enormous production that was my own graduation. It wasn't a general ceremony, though--it was just for the School of Education--so there were only about a hundred people there and the whole thing took maybe an hour and a half. The speaker was some guy from somewhere who gave a speech whose impact on me you can probably tell by how well I remember who he was. I was honestly a lot more affected by the way the announcer kept saying magnum cum laude instead of magna cum laude. It's petty and stupid and it annoyed me way out of proportion to the severity of the offence.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has an official hood now, which she's occasionally been wearing as proof that she's equivalent to Superman. Sadly, it's not structured the right way for her to wear it as a wizard's cowl.

She'll probably be going back for a Doctorate in Education, but that's a question we'll deal with in a year or so. In the meantime, yay!

P.S.: 祭 (matsuri) isn't really the proper Japanese for this--graduation ceremony is 卒業式 (sotsugyou shiki)--but damned if I'm going to split tags that finely.
dorchadas: (Perfection)
That was the hashtag that was apparently decided on by the participants.

Yesterday was [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega and her fiance's wedding. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I arrived late thanks to having failed to correctly predict traffic and, not being sportsball fans, not realizing there was a Cubs game that would foul things up. Also, a bus was late, which added ten minutes to our arrival time right there. We assumed that it would be like most social events and start slightly late due to last-minute difficulties that would crop up before hand and have to be fixed, but it was much better-planned than I was expecting and started apparently a little early. When we arrived, there were some people waiting out in the hallway who mentioned that the door opened almost directly onto the front of the auditorium. After a brief argument with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd about the propriety of just barging in, I just barged in--well, barged in quietly--and came in during the solemnization, so at least we didn't miss the important part!

The ceremony was quite short. We were only maybe five minutes late, and it was over a few minutes after we arrived.

The bridesmaid/groomsmen speeches were a nice insight into the past, because [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I were in Japan for quite a while and missed a lot of the context for [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega and her S.O. meeting. Apparently, he was originally spoken of as "that jerk at work," and it turned into one of those situations where everyone else is just waiting for the...whatever the happy version of "for the hammer to fall" is. For the rocket to take off? That would fit the wedding's theme. Anyway, by the time we moved back, when we came into Chicago looking for an apartment and called [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega to see if she wanted to get dinner while we were in the city, she asked us if it was okay for her to bring her new boyfriend. And, well, it all worked out wonderfully.

The reception was in the same building, with a great view of the Chicago skyline as the sun set behind us after we moved upstairs from the wedding area to the reception hall. The reception was nice, with a lot of small cozy tables that were sci-fi ship themed:


I haven't played Final Fantasy VII, but I can't complain too much about that one. If I had a complaint at all, it'd be that I didn't get sat at the Epoch.

Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega's dress was fantastic. It had a high collar that made her look like a space princess, and having seen it now I'm pretty sure there was nothing else that would have been more suitable. Edit: Now with pictoral evidence!:


In more personal news, I revealed to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd another one of the secrets I've been keeping for a while. I posted on Facebook that "If I can kill Super Mutants to it, I can dance to it," but I hadn't told [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd that I had taken swing dance lessons a long, long time ago, back when the swing craze was in full swing. Not very many, it's true, and not for very long, and at this point it was almost 20 years ago, but I at least remember enough not to fall over and to be able to keep my feet in place and swing [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd around. I pulled off a dip, too, though not as gracefully as I might have liked. And it was fun. Maybe I should give in and attend those dance lessons.

[personal profile] fiendishfanfares and her husband were there too, which caught me by surprise even though in retrospect it was totally obvious that they would come. It was nice to see them again, now that we're all old and scattered to the winds and only unite for major social events like this.

So yay. Mazel tov!
dorchadas: (Default)
I haven't been to that many weddings. I might have had an inflated image of how many other people attended when I was younger, but it seemed like I would always hear people talking about going to this or that relative's wedding, but I was the oldest cousin and no one in my parents' generation that we were close to got divorced, so the very first wedding I ever went to was when I was in university and the first wedding of a family member I went to was my own. My cousin's wedding last weekend was the second.

Well, I guess it wasn't technically a wedding. My cousin is Mormon, and the actual ceremony took place in a local temple and wasn't open to most of the guests, so what I went to was the "ring ceremony" and reception afterward. It was pretty short: the bride, groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen walked up, my aunt and uncle gave the invocation, the bishop gave a five-minute speech, the couple exchanged rings, and everone filed out. Cue reception.

Apparently, Mormon receptions are typically potlucks, but my cousin kind of went halfway and had food catered but it was pretty casual. Hummus and small sandwiches, beef and bell peppers, tons of cheese, fruit plates, and so on. Frankly, it was one of the best wedding feasts I've ever had, and I include my wedding in that--I honestly don't even remember what we ate at my wedding, other than having cheesecake instead of traditional wedding cake.

One cute point is that my cousin made up a reception schedule with times listed for the father/daughter dance, the bouquet toss, and so on. She was apparently thinking of people who wanted to stay for the cake and leave after, or who didn't care about the first dances, and so would want to know when things were so they could plan where they would be when they happened. It does make sense, I admit.

In addition to the wedding, I also got to see [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3 and [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b, which was definitely a highlight of the trip. [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went to Pike's Market and Piroshky Piroshky (which sadly didn't agree with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd), the Seattle Aquarium, lunch at a place that [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3 knew of, SAM, and then we had to go to the surprise rehearsal dinner that we hadn't known about until the previous evening. We only had time for brunch with [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b because the wedding was the same day, but she drove up from Federal Way--for which I give her props, after seeing all the construction everywhere and how LOVELY Seattle traffic is--and took us to Lot No. 3, which was fantastic. They had candied bacon on the menu, which was nothing like I would have expected it to be, and a pickled pear salad with enough goat cheese to drive a goat into a homicidal rage. [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b had some pulled pork benedict with sauce that was rich enough for Croesus. I know it's not that useful a recommendation for most of the people reading it, but I can recommend it if you're ever in the Bellvue area. Om nom nom.

It rained every day, of course. Including the wedding, but my cousin had planned ahead and set up a tent outside. As we say in Japanese, "さすがシアトル!"
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
I suspect that will cause more psychic damage than any lack of celebrating Easter or Christmas, neither of which I've cared about at all for decades at this point. Is WASJ even a category? If it is, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

I wrote about my meeting with the rabbi a month ago, and how it was a bit confusing, and the beit din I went to was kind of the same. I was told to expect it to be half an hour long--not explicitly, but because the people who were going before me were going in at 10, and I was going in at 10:30--but I think it was maybe 10 minutes. And while I knew I wasn't going to be hauled into a bare cement-walled room and interrogated, the questions were even less...pointed, I guess, than I expected. What would I do if the court decided that I wasn't ready or turned me down in any fashion. What was it that originally attracted me to Judaism. How long had I been studying. If I had to give an elevator pitch for what the tenets of Judaism were to someone, what would I say. And, that's about it, though I did spend some time thinking about the answer to the questions. Especially the last one, until they told me that a verbal bullet point list was okay.

Maybe it's because one of the cantors on the panel had a nephew who went to Penn. Nepotism, ho!

After that was the hatafat dam brit, which was exactly as unexciting and clinical as a medical exam, white gloves and all, and I don't really have anything to say about it since it'd be like talking about medical problems. Moving on.

I think I threw the cantor who was observing me in the mikvah for a loop because I had memorized the blessings I was supposed to say. They were on my left as I entered, in Hebrew and transliterated, but I was supposed to face forward because that was the eastern wall. So I suppose it was a good thing that I had them all memorized so I wasn't constantly turning all over the place. Not that anyone else would have seen, because the only person directly looking at me was the cantor who was acting as a witness, and that only during the actual immersions to make sure that I was completely surrounded by water on all sides.

The preparation to get into the mikvah actually took longer than the immersion itself. There was a checklist in the preparation room, and it involved cleaning basically every part of the body (including belly button and ears), brushing and flossing teeth, showering and shampooing the hair, cutting and filing nails, removing all jewelry, brushing out tangles (which probably took as long as everything else combined), and finally putting on disposable slippers and heading out into the hallway.

Being a modern cynical millennial, I didn't expect to feel any different after the ceremony was over, but I was wrong. I did feel different, though I suppose in a kind of unquantifiable way. As I came up from the last time immersing myself and said the shehecheyanu, I hesitated over the last few words. Not because I was afraid of saying them, or because I was nervous, but I guess because it felt...momentous?

I'm not exactly sure how to describe it, since it wasn't really a physical feeling, but it certainly did more to convince me that modern society doesn't place enough stock in transition ceremonies. Liminal states should be marked. Despite that, though, I really wasn't nervous beforehand. I suppose it's my WASP upbringing ramming that necessity to be stoic--or at most, bemused or irritated--under all circumstances into me. Maybe it's because I did a lot of research into what to expect, and when the mikvah attendant and the mohel called beforehand to talk to me, so I already knew everything that was going to happen.

My parents attended on somewhat short notice, though [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had a training session that she couldn't get out of. My parents even dressed up formally because they didn't really know what to expect. I forwarded one of the emails I got to them, but it was a bit light on details, and most of what I knew was from the perspective of the person who was getting in the water. Then there was a lot of waiting around, but it all worked out in the end.

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ יי אֶחָד.

Edit: Oh! I should mention that as part of the process, you have to pick a Hebrew name--not surprising since taking on a new name is another one of those old transitional ceremonial things that seems mostly lost in modern life. I went with בָּרָק (Barak, meaning "lightning"), both because I liked the meaning and because it's very similar to my given name. When I mentioned it to my parents, they pointed out that I could have also gone with Abiathar (אביתר, "Father of plenty," pronounced "Eviatar" in modern Hebrew), since I have an ancestor named Abiathar Evans who fought in the Revolutionary War. I didn't think of that, but I don't really think it's an intrinsically better choice. I like Barak.
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
So yesterday was the wedding of [livejournal.com profile] sephimb and Dayna on Saturday. I mentioned briefly in my post about [livejournal.com profile] spacialk's wedding that hers was the first "traditional" wedding I had been to, at least in terms of the pop cultural idea of weddings--dearly beloved etc., etc.[livejournal.com profile] jdcohen's now-wife is a Quaker, and a Meeting isn't really the sort of thing that one expects to find in a marriage ceremony. Unless one is a Quaker, I suppose. And not the way I'm a quaker.

Anyway, they got married at Pottawatomie Park in the wooden pavilion there, which I hadn't realized was even there until a few weeks ago when I went on that boat ride with my parents. It was all strung up with purple bunting and a sign with the bride and groom's names on it, the guests sat on the picnic tables within as well as a few chairs laid out for the occasion (prompting a comment from the minister that it was the only wedding he had officiated at where the guests sat on picnic tables), and--in a moment that both I and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd thought would have been amazing and then it actually happened--the bride descended from the top of the tower down the stairs to the thrilling musical strains of DJ iPad.

The most memorable moment was probably how right when the couple went to exchange rings and take their vows, the sun, which had previously hidden behind clouds that apparently had an 80% chance of rain, came out and shown down right into the dais that they were standing on. It was pretty fantastic.

There was one thing that bothered me, that I'll spoiler here because, after all, it wasn't my wedding: There was a whole lot of Jesus in the ceremony. I mean, it was a Christian wedding, so of course there was going to be invocation of Jesus' blessing on the union, and that didn't bother me. It was the proselytization. The minister kept hoping not only that the union would be blessed, but that the people in the audience would let Jesus into their hearts, and come to understand him, and blah blah blah. It was honestly really creepy, and after the first time I stopped bowing my head during prayers because I mean really? I'm here for a wedding, not a tent revival. Instead, I said the Shehecheyanu to myself.

But I didn't say anything to anyone else about it, because it's not my wedding.


The reception was...well, it was a wedding reception, at a building I hadn't realized even existed and took us a while to find because there weren't any signs until you already turned into the complex where it was. It was actually a nature center, but there was definitely a room that was set aside for banquets, a kitchen, and a catering staff, so I suppose that they had planned for this sort of thing. Anyway, the most memorable incident there was when DJ iPad played Sandstorm, which to a bunch of DDR kids who went to high school in the 90s and early 00s--as most of us who went to the wedding were--was pretty irresistible. I don't know if that's the most packed the dance floor got during the reception, but it was at least in the top three.

I was also able to correct a longstanding injustice. See, when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I had our own wedding, we made the guest list and everything was okay...except there were two people that we forgot to invite. We talked to them both and mentioned that it was just that we forgot, not that we had intended to slight them or that it was a deliberate insult. It takes a weight off my shoulders, albeit a small one, and corrects a worry that those people had that we secretly hated them. That was a good outcome.

Yay! Weddings!
dorchadas: (Slime)
I'm probably going to make this song my ringtone back in America.

So, first, the sad part--I did not make it all the way to the top, because I got altitude sickness after (somewhat foolishly, obviously) not bringing oxygen along. I got up to one of the 8th stations (there were 4 or 5 of them), started to feel nauseous and hyperventilate a bit, and decided to climb back down to the last of the 7th stations where I had left my climbing partner--after the 5th or 6th climb between stations that was just scrambling over rocks in the dark at a 45 degree angle, she decided that she had had enough.

Yeah, that's another thing. The lower parts of the climb, below the 7th station, are a kind of switchback inclining trail. It's mostly volcanic ash with bits of uneven stones, so it's not really easy climbing, but it's still about what you'd expect. Once you get to the first 7th station (the "7th station" is 5 or 6 separate buildings spread out across maybe 150 meters of vertical distance), everything after that is basically a trail in name only. There's a bunch of rocks, and there are helpful iron spikes about a meter long driven into the rock, placed maybe 2-5 meters apart depending on where you are on the trail. Climbing consists of making your way up the rocks (so, it is actual mountain climbing by the dictionary definition). If you're doing it at night, hopefully you have a good enough flashlight, because otherwise you'll probably slip and break something or nearly fall and kill yourself (which almost happened to me at least a dozen times).

Also, a hint--nuts and beef jerky are excellent ways to get protein back, but they are also usually very salty and water is heavy and/or expensive on the mountain. (-_-)


Sunrise from the place we ended up staying for the night (outside, in the cold).

Was it fun? No, not really. As I said in response to a few other people's comments: "Having climbed Mt. Fuji is really amazing. Climbing Mt. Fuji is awful." Would I go again with better preparation and try to make it all the way up? I might, though I'd probably do it differently--start in the late afternoon, climb up to one of the higher rest stations and sleep there until 1-2 a.m., then keep going and make it up in time for sunrise. I'd also make sure to be in better shape than I am now. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd wants to try climbing together when we come back to Japan, and that might be nice.

Yay!

2008-Apr-03, Thursday 17:35
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd got shortlisted for JET!

We'll be leaving for Japan in July.

In the meantime, it's...more waiting!
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
And I'm sure some of my friends will start posting wedding pictures soon enough with fun captions, like "u has a flavor *num num num*" for the kiss and "noooo, they be stealin' my cake!" for when [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3 ganked a huge piece of my cheesecake.

For those of you who weren't there, the wedding went off with only one hitch--the rabbi was late. He gave an excellent ceremony though, and managed to slip in a comment about having red-haired children during his address to the couple at the end. The weather was perfect. No cicadas, totally blue sky (leading to a couple sunburns, though) and no wind, so none of the problems that we had all the rest of this week. And even though we were unmiked and the guests were a ways away, everyone could hear us.

Our vows, for those who missed them )

The reception always went really well, and thank you for everyone who came and also, thank you for everyone who left a gift. More specific thank yous will be going out after we get back from our honeymoon :)

I asked her...

2006-Sep-30, Saturday 19:48
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
...she said yes!

^^

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