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Summer Simmer

Weather-wise, summer is winding down here on the East Coast but as for me, I’m just getting started!

Moving to Halifax so late in the year meant that I missed a lot of great festivals and events but lucky for me, the fall weekends are still packed with fun things to do. This weekend the Gottingen area of Halifax was celebrating 250 years of history with the Gottingen 250. Friday night was the final North by Night Market of the summer in Squiggle Park which I was lucky enough to check out.

North by Night Market

North by Night Market

There were a number of food/beverage vendors to chose from to satisfy your Friday night cravings. I was disappointed not to find any vendors serving alcohol, I think I got a little spoiled by festivals in Tokyo where there is always alcohol (and lots of it!). Since I couldn’t satisfy my alcohol for a hot Mint Shiso lemonade from Lemon Dogs Lemonade which I must say was pretty damn good. The natural lemon flavour was strong so the mint and shiso flavours didn’t really come through as much as I had hoped but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. I also got to sample the Maple Spice lemonade which was also pretty tasty.

Lemon Dogs Hot Lemonade

Lemon Dogs Hot Lemonade

I wasn’t actually hungry when I arrived at #nxnmrkt but I thought why not indulge anyway? There were a few tables selling vegan fudge and cookies and another selling homemade stove-top fudge but when I’m at a festival sweets aren’t normally my go-to, I go big with the mains. We had two choices: Gourmet grilled cheese sammies from Halifax Press, which I have passed by a number of times at their regular lunch time spot (corner of Bell Road and Summer Street) as I go home from work and Food Wolf which I have been told is pretty rad. I opted for the simple but tasty N.S. Cheese Mixer from Halifax Press. It was definitely a great grilled cheese sandwich but I think next time I indulge in a Halifax Press grilled cheese sandwich it will be one of the more gourmet options rather than the classic.

Mmm grilled cheese

Mmm grilled cheese

Saturday consisted of another trip to Gottingen to take in more of the festivities for Gottingen 250. I stopped at The Nook on Gottingen for an Americano and smoked salmon on a Montreal bagel. I enjoyed the view of Gottingen Street from the counter, when given a choice I always choose the window seat so I can people watch.

Lots of foliage but I still had a decent view.

Lots of foliage but I still had a decent view.

Americano + Smoked Salmon on a Montreal Style Bagel

Americano + Smoked Salmon on a Montreal Style Bagel

After my little snack at The Nook, I headed over to the main stage area to check out some music. What a great vibe! It made me feel extremely grateful for living in Halifax. These are the kind of things I live for; community, festivals, good vibes. I was able to catch some amazing local hip hop artists including ECMA winners Universal Soul who have been on the scene since 1985! It was a good show. Unfortunately, I had to leave a bit early because I worked early Sunday morning but I still had a great time.

I was up bright and early (5am!) on Sunday and, I never thought I’d say this but, I’m actually really starting to enjoy the early mornings. The walk to work is pretty dark and peaceful and by the time I finish I still have an entire day to enjoy. The plan for Sunday was to check out more of the Gottingen 250 festivities and see my girl, Ria Mae perform but I wasn’t really feeling up to it. This mornings rainy weather had me (and a lot of my coworkers) feeling a bit lethargic so I opted to stay in and get some things done around the house.

There’s something about Gottingen Street that fascinates me. When I lived in Canada all those years ago, particularly when I lived in the Lower Sackville area (aka Sack Vegas) I was always under the impression or was told that Gottingen Street was dangerous so I avoided that part of town. I’ve taken the bus down Gottingen a few times since I moved here and what I saw was abandonment. I didn’t see what I saw over the weekend which was a vibrant, hip neighbourhood full of young, entrepreneurial spirit, unique shops and a whole lot of character.

This is definitely an area I will be exploring more.

A lot of little things came up between the time I bought my ticket and the day I was suppose to depart. A lot of things that would normally be considered par for the course and I believed them to be stresses that I had to work through to prove how much I wanted to return to Japan. These stresses included everything from subletting my apartment to visa application struggles to re-booking flights and they did not cease.

By the time that July rolled around, I had come to accept the struggles and found a happy place and was open and accepting to whatever was going to happen. It was also around this time that I decided that I only wanted to go to Japan for a year, save money and return to Halifax to attend pastry school. Between the time that I bought my ticket and my schedule departure date I also became very close to someone I was seeing, this made leaving difficult but I knew that we had it in us to make it through a little separation. I realized during those few months that creativity, passion, love, friendship and family are what matters most in life and I became aware of a sudden desire to settle physically. I still want to see the world but I want to have a home town.

On August 9, the night before I was scheduled to leave I attempted to check in online with no luck so I had to wait until the next morning to check in at the airport. We arrived at 6:30 and seeing the line I attempted to check in at the kiosk, no go. I stood in line behind a few professional hockey players who were being checked in and when I finally approached the counter, the counter agent, without a smile, promptly said, “you missed your flight. You have to rebook.” Confusion set in, and I thought “what do you mean, I missed my flight, it doesn’t leave for another 50 minutes?” The words didn’t actually come out of my mouth because I was exhausted and having a hard time comprehending what she was actually saying to me. Luckily my partner was there and he asked what my options were to which she responded with a customer service card with a 1-800 number on it. That counter agent was probably just doing her job but the least she could have done was to smile or offer some sort of sympathy, I wouldn’t even had cared if it was fake sympathy. I called the number she gave me and the woman on the other end of the phone was shocked that I wasn’t allowed to board my flight, she offered to rebook for me but I had to pay an additional $340 on top of the roughly $1500 that I already paid. Money was already going to be tight for the first two months I would be in Japan so I decided (after much thought, deliberation and coffee) that maybe this wasn’t meant to be as I had originally thought. To be completely honest, since I had already let go and was willing to accept any outcome, I wasn’t that disappointed about not going back to Japan.

I was returning to Japan with the delusion that I would have the same life as I did the last time I was there with the added hope that life was better than it was in Fredericton. Maybe it would have been great, but then again maybe not. There were reasons why I had left Japan in the first place and my friend Beau who left Japan around the same time that I did warned me that I would have an “oh shit!” moment when I got there see everything that is wrong with Japan.

To quote myself, “Thinking back on when I decided to leave Japan it did feel like my time was up, that I had learned all I needed to learn and that it was time to move on. When I left, I didn’t regret it and even now in the confused, unhappy state that I am in I still don’t regret leaving. I have felt nostalgia for Japan since leaving but regret is something I have never felt.”

Having my plans of living in Halifax bumped up by a year and being open and accepting of that has been surrounded in nothing but positivity, good things and synchronicity. Travel/accommodations between Fredericton and Halifax worked themselves out somehow, I got interviews/jobs and a rental immediately, all of which I am very excited about. My neighbourhood and this city are incredible and I’m excited to explore them more. The more I learn about Halifax, the more excited I get.

(I even passed by one of my favorite Halifax artists the other day on Spring Garden Road, Ria Mae. Check her out, she’s incredible!)

Thanks, Halifax!

My beautiful city

 

So, I’m in Halifax

This certainly wasn’t my plan for this September but I’m going with it and things are amazing because of it.

So how did I get from one of my last posts where I was writing to praise the Japanese consulate in Montreal for their speedy processing of my Japanese visa application to living in Halifax? I would like to blame it all on Delta Airlines but there were many factors involved in my being grounded it just happened that Delta Airlines’ policies and procedures were the most recent.

It all started in January 2014. It was the middle of a horrendous winter in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The positivity and inspiration I felt after returning to Canada was simmering down, leaving me feeling unmotivated on a regular basis. There were constant snowstorms and many days that were -30 degrees fueling the hermit nature of many Canadians in winter. I wasn’t getting out much, most of my time was spent working a job that was unsatisfying for a company that was uncaring and unorganized. Despite my position as assistant store manager, I was still struggling financially. I was lonely and constantly thought about my six years in Japan, the friends that were still there and how things and people were so much different/better there.

I convinced myself that I was meant to be in Japan and was desperate to get out of Fredericton and out of retail. I took an online TEFL certification course and found myself searching various discount flight websites almost daily for the cheapest flight to Tokyo. After a few Skype dates and email conversations with different friends I decided to get in touch with my previous employer to find out if there were any openings for the upcoming school year. As it turned there were a few assistant and ELS (English Language Support) positions coming up. My previous experience as an teachers assistant and my new certification to teach English as a foreign language made me a desirable candidate. Interviews were held, an offer was made and shortly after that my ticket was bought.

It wasn’t as exciting this time around, the idea of moving to Japan. It was stressful thinking about getting rid of/storing all of my belongings. I didn’t have a lot because when I moved to Fredericton in 2013 something was always me telling me that I wouldn’t be there for very long, that it was merely a pit stop. I had what I needed to get by, daily necessities, a bit of furniture but nothing that was considered unnecessary. A lot of my stuff was still packed away in boxes, Fredericton never really felt like home so I couldn’t figure out why I had been drawn there in the first place until I was about to leave.

I was excited about seeing my friends, eating amazing food again but mostly I was excited to make and save more money than I had been in the past year. I was seeking happiness in the wrong places and relocating for the wrong reasons. I can say that now because I can see a bit more clearly now that I am where I believe I am suppose to be.

To be continued…

It’s Real

Love...

This is the most beautiful and real quote I’ve ever read about love:

“The one thing I know for sure is that feelings are rarely mutual, so when they are, drop everything, forget belongings and expectations, forget the games, the two days between texts, the hard to gets because this is it, this is what the entire world is after and you’ve stumbled upon it by chance, by accident––so take a deep breath, take a step forward, now run, collide like planets in the system of a dying sun, embrace each other with both arms and let all the rules, the opinions and common sense crash down around you. Because this is love kid, and it’s all yours. Believe me, you’re in for one hell of a ride, after all––this is the one thing I know for sure.”
― Beau Taplin

One Less Worry

As it turns out, I didn’t have to change my flight after all.

My passport, with a visa attached (I assume since I haven’t actually seen it) arrived in the mail today. I spend over $70 last Friday to send and receive my visa via priority mail. The Japanese consulate in Montreal only received my application on Monday which means they processed it in two days. Because I was so worried about not having my passport back in time I included a handwritten letter with my application explaining my situation and the time constraints I was under and asked them to speed up the process, if possible.

I thank you, Japanese consulate for being able to process my application in such a short amount of time.

Now the only anxiety I have left is a result of having to reorganize my suitcase. Do I really need so many clothes?

Visa Update

I finally received my Certificate of Eligibility from Japan this week and I was able to send everything off to the Japanese Consulate in Montreal. My visa should be processed and back to me by August 7. Because of the delay I had to change my original flight which was departing on August 3 to one week later. I’m still flying out of Halifax but now I’ll be heading out on August 10th and arriving in Tokyo on August 11th. I will miss the first day of school but luckily the kids aren’t back until the 18th so I will only be missing orientation stuff.

I’m much more relaxed now that all of the important stuff is out of the way. Now all I have left to do is clean my apartment and spend time with the special people in my life and enjoy the last bit of time I have.

I predict a lot of patio beers.

Wilser's Room

Wilser’s Room

“I was in the EXACT position in 1998. To stay in Japan (and formally study Ikebana and Art History) or return to America for graduate school. I will tell you: I was in a hurry to “get on” with my studies and felt that “25” was some sort of cut-off for going to grad school. I WAS AN IDIOT. It is one of the few regrets I have in my entire life. I should have stayed in Japan: I wasn’t ready to leave; I LOVED it there, and it cast a shadow over my graduate studies. It wasn’t until I moved to Boston and starting shifting my focus to higher education that I stopped regretting returning to the states. Living in Japan is not for everyone, but YOU LOVE JAPAN. You can always return and continue your studies here, but don’t cut short this adventure: you will regret it. The program you seek will be here: you can always apply to it (and you don’t need me to get in!!! You are brilliant.) That is my best advice. No graduate school, no matter how beloved, will touch the adventure, beauty, grace, elegance, history, charm, and sheer quirkiness that is Japan! Finish this phase, and you will know when it is time to leave–if it is ever time to leave. I left Asia in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2006 that I found something I loved even more in the fields and coast of New England. I’m not sorry I went to UVA or lived in DC, but my heart ached for Kyoto….every…….single…..day.”

 

“…you will know when it is time to leave…”  I haven’t quite found clarity yet but this comment I stumbled upon did catch my attention. Thinking back on when I decided to leave Japan it did feel like my time was up, that I had learned all I needed to learn and that it was time to move on. When I left, I didn’t regret it and even now in the confused, unhappy state that I am in I still don’t regret leaving. I have felt nostalgia for Japan since leaving but regret is something I have never felt.

 

momiji

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