Easy Chair


“The discontented man finds no easy chair.” ~Benjamin Franklin

“A house that does not have one warm, comfy chair in it is soulless.” ~May Sarton

“One who sits between two chairs may easily fall down.” ~Proverb quotes

Easy chair.  If you're 3.  Or apparently Japanese.

Easy chair. If you’re 3. Or apparently Japanese.

We should be about 10 days away from finally receiving our household goods from the States (knock on wood; see Castaway).  But that doesn’t do us any good right now.  Although I started out this move quite firm in the belief that things are just things, and stuff is just stuff and is wholly replaceable, that isn’t exactly true.

Not entirely.

The first – and only things I’ve written about missing so far has been our Love Jug.  And the second, and quite possibly only other thing worth mentioning is, quite honestly, our Easy Chair.  Well, it’s actually a chair and a half.

Our beloved Chair 1.5 in the center background

Our beloved Chair 1.5 in the center background

phenomenon-movieThere’s a scene and symbolism in the movie Phenomenon (1996) that concerns the importance of chairs to life.  In it, George appears to be magically and mysteriously transformed, suddenly endowed with strange powers.  The transformation, however, was short-lived and due to a brain tumor, which George ultimately passes from.  As George is approaching his terminal end, there’s a discussion in the local bar about it all:

Banes: [speaking to Doc about George’s transformation] “He never really changed at all.  Isn’t that right Doc?  I mean he never really got any smarter.  [after a long pause without a response] Doc?”

Doc:  “Banes… how’s your lady-love?”

Banes:  “We… um… we broke up.”

Doc:  “Really?  That’s too bad, yeah.  Now George has a love at his side and she is sticking with him.  You know why?  Because he bought her chairs.  That’s pretty smart to me.  You ever buy Lisa’s chairs?”

Banes:  [discounting the whole notion because he can’t comprehend the symbolism] “Doc’s real drunk tonight.”

Doc:  “Every woman has her chair, something she needs to put herself into, Banes.  You ever figure out what Lisa’s chairs were and buy ’em?

[Everyone pauses in silence]

Doc:  “Nope.  But, you’re right about one thing, George never changed.”

Our Chair - everyone should have one

Our Chair – everyone should have one

No, it's not a stripper chair....

No, it’s not a stripper chair….

Jody and I cemented our relationship in this chair; in it we poured and put ourselves, together.  It is one of our first co-purchases, a major item that already hinted at the longevity and closeness of what was to turn quickly into a marriage.  It is the centerpiece of not just our living room, but of our time together.  It fits us, and more importantly, it fits us together.

Cat Refuge.

Cat Refuge.

It nurtures us as a couple, and reminds each of us to nurture the other.  I cannot tell you how many nights I’ve spent laying across Jody’s lap watching a favorite show.

Alex sleeping with me on Otto

Alex sleeping with me on Otto

I cannot count the number of times Alex our cat (Cleo’s brother, who went missing quite a while ago back in the states) would hold Jody down in this chair and force her to nap.

The cats, while financially supported and raised by me, really belong to her....

The cats, while financially supported and raised by me, really belong to her…. Alex likes Otto.

It has hosted Christmas gifts, been kind to our party guests, and served as a refuge for our animals.  It is, in physical form, symbolic of our relationship.

A fabulous Christmas host.  And Jody's not bad, either.

A fabulous Christmas host. And Jody’s not bad, either.

And Otto, well let’s just say Otto serves naughty purposes rather well (he says “Hal-lo” with a wink and a Dutch accent).

Naughty things have been known to happen.  It's Otto's fault.

Naughty things have been known to happen. It’s Otto’s fault.

This was imagined, right?!?!?!

The stories our Chair could tell….

Currently we are on a sterile, BLUE, American folk-art inspired, government purchased and supplied sofa that not just exfoliates our skin, but provides the physical equivalent of a chemical peel.  The cat will have NOTHING to do with it.  But in an ironic twist, it manages to highlight every single piece of cat hair within a 10 meter radius.  Let’s just say we are dang tired of just managing with our temporary seating provided by the lowest bidder….

Yuck.

Yuck.  And soulless.

It’s true that this place is no home.  Not yet.  It remains soulless, without our one…and a half…warm, comfy, chair, where neither of us has to attempt to sit between two sofa cushions to be one.  Ten days, and we will once again be content.

Do Sweat the Small Stuff


dont-sweat-the-small-stuff“From small beginnings come great things.” ~Proverb quotes

“When you drink the water, remember the spring.” ~Chinese Proverb

So, with the majority of our stuff still firmly rooted in the states (see Castaway), I’ve decided to, every once in a while, focus on the smallest things that I find myself missing the most.  In other words, I think we all should actually start sweating the small stuff.

enjoy-the-little-things1

Just make sure it’s the little things worth sweating. In other words, a year from now when you look back upon your life, what will matter most?  It won’t be our household goods SNAFU….

give-me-butterflies-butterflies-cover

Little-thingsA couple of years ago I bought a book for me and Jody as either a Valentine’s Day present or anniversary gift; don’t hold that lapse in memory – it’s a small detail!  The book is You Still Give Me Butterflies: Feel Like You’re Falling In Love…Again by Laura Corn.  From the book itself, “There’s nothing like brand–new love.  It takes your breath away.  It makes your heart race.  It feels like butterflies inside you, all taking flight at once.  BESTSELLING AUTHOR LAURA CORN is back with two dozen fun, flirty, romantic and sexy surprises for committed couples.  The Red pages are For Her Eyes Only, and the Gold pages are For His Eyes Only….”

A Cuteness-Based Japanese Approach to Saving

A Cuteness-Based Japanese Approach to Saving

Each Chapter focuses on inspirational ideas, complete with “secret” instructions, clues, or invitations to play printed on beautiful butterfly cutouts for him and her contained in sealed envelopes, which will tell how exactly to prepare a breathtaking romantic surprise for your sweetheart.  The idea is to exchange cards every month or so.  Not only is the card a love note, it heralds a delicious surprise is on the way!

Life with Jody 2013, the Love JugJody handed me a butterfly and lead me into the kitchen.  It was a simple, yet brilliant idea:  THE LOVE JUG.  The idea:  recognize, enhance, and generate acts of intimacy between us.  The execution:  a glass candy-jar, decorated with instructions and icons of love.

Our Love Jug!!

Our Love Jug!!

Life with Jody 2013, the Love Jug (vertical)So, every time we do something intimate for each other, we pay into the Love Jug.  And this is important:  intimacy does not equal sex; intimacy starts in the mind, and is inherent and best recognized in the smallest acts done for one another.  Anyone can buy a card on Valentine’s Day, and anyone can go out to dinner.  But what about a love note in her lunchbox, or cooking her breakfast, or writing her a steamy sexual fantasy, or hell, even doing domestic engineering chores so she doesn’t have to?!?  The amount deposited is rather unimportant; spare change at times, dollar bills at others, maybe a tax return or refund from an overpaid account.  Change hitting the glass vessel results a very distinctly audible announcement.  However, it is the sword-drawing echoing “sha—RING” created by taking off and putting back on the thin metal top as it slides against its glass coupling that is wholly unmistakable and so totally audible throughout our home.  Either sound alone is enough to bring a smile to your face and warmth into your heart.  It is the sound of intimacy.  And it happens often with our Love Jug.

Never-get-tired-of-doing-little

Life with Jody 2013, the Love Jug (dark)We committed to this idea for just over a year, maybe 15 months.  We decided the focus of the money would be for a yet-to-be planned overseas vacation as a graduation present for ourselves once we both finished our graduate degrees.  We settled on Scotland, and when the Love Jug was cashed in, we were amazed to find that we had almost $1,800!  And while it’s almost too tempting to focus on the numbers – how much is that a year ($1,440), month ($120), week ($30), and day ($4) – it is much more important to realize how amazing that such small but frequent acts of intimacy and love accumulate so quickly in our lives.  What a difference this small idea has had in our lives…all for the “cost” of less than a foo foo coffee at Starbucks a day.

Yeah, those will work.  But our way is a lot more fun!

Yeah, those will work. But our way is a lot more fun!

4f45f0bab8ef4542c722700f3c28b0c2And out of the over 6,000 pounds of “stuff” coming our way in seven weeks (hopefully), right now I miss our Love Jug the most.  Thank you Wife:  you still give me butterflies!

Castaway


3870_headingI know what I wrote way back when in August under my blog Leaving Home for Home.  And while I still be in those central tenants of the idea of “home” as opposed to stuff in the physical world, I need to re-characterize my thoughts just a bit.

You see, our “stuff” has been castaway by our moving company Deseret Forwarding International.  Please read below (the graphics are from the company’s website)….

shday-movers

“Mr. and Mrs. King,

I apologize for your shipment being so severely delayed, and unfortunately, I do not think there is going to be an explanation that is sufficient.

NOT

NOT

In meeting with my operations team today, and specifically our outbound coordinator Rachel Sigala, it appears that she mistakenly thought all 7 pieces moved on the original load plan that arrived to Okinawa on 9/24. We have gone back over our operations procedures in hopes that this type of mistake does not happen again.

The Fortune Rachel Sigala Should Receive

The Fortune Rachel Sigala Should Receive

I also spoke with our port agent to see how/why your shipment has sat at the port waiting to sail for so long. They stated that they had no other freight going to Okinawa, and as a result were not able to load your shipment into a sea container. They never did find enough consolidation in Jacksonville, FL, so they moved it to the port in Savannah, GA where they will have enough freight for the sailing scheduled to depart on 11/6 and arrive in country on 11/26. This is the soonest sailing that we are able to place your shipment on. We are not able to move HHG through the military AMC system (like code J shipments move.)

Except in Our Case

Except in Our Case

I understand that no reason is sufficient, and that your family has suffered a great inconvenience. I sincerely apologize for our lack of service in your case and for any feelings of neglect or abandonment. It is never the type of service we aim to provide to our customers.

Except for the One About Actually Shipping Our Stuff

Bar for the One About Actually Shipping Our Stuff

I have attached our form with information on filing an inconvenience claim, and if you will send it directly to me, I will get it processed asap.

If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Well, All of Them Less Us

Well, All of Them…Less Us

Sincerely,

Lizzy Escobar

Deseret Forwarding International

http://www.deseret-intl.com

Phone: 915-615-0802

Fax: 915-774-5177

lescobar@hopeadmin.com

So, given this change in our circumstances, certain “stuff” really can be sorely missed, and life can be at least, well, quite cleaner with certain items.

Pick Movers Who Will Move You

Pick Movers Who Will Move You

We had been holding out for our shipment.  When a single crate arrived, the alarms bells should’ve been going off – and that very day I should’ve been on the phone tracking our “stuff.”  But we waited, having faith in the system, the government, and the military.  We assumed the shipment was split for whatever reason.  We reasoned that the back-to-back storms on Okinawa delayed arrival of our goods or resulted in a ship’s re-routing.  But alas, every check and balance in the system failed us.

Wooden Sailing Ships Would've Been Faster

Wooden Sailing Ships Would’ve Been Faster

So we’ve been doing without a vacuum cleaner.  Two of the four drinking glasses we brought with us have broken.  We have only the most basic kitchen supplies of a frying pan and a sauce pan or two, along with one small Pyrex baking dish and a tiny cookie sheet.  No rice-cooker, no blender, no toaster (for which I would trade the microwave which we do have), no utensils, no coffee mugs, and very limited flatware.  No iron or ironing board.  We have very little cleaning materials.  Only a single set of linens and pillows.  No cool-weather or winter clothes.  No furniture, no Blue Ray, no computer desk, none of our papers or files.  No scanner or printer (sorely needed for work and applications).  I have none of my pro-gear, which includes the vast majority of my scuba diving equipment I need to tech and dive out here; this is GREATLY affecting my earning potential.

My Reaction Upon Reunification with My Asian Rice-Cooker

My Projected Reaction Upon Reunification with My Asian Rice-Cooker

But that stuff aside, it is still only a very few focused items that we find ourselves longing for.  Our coveted “chair-and-a-half” and its accompanying ottoman which fit us as a couple like a glove and where we are able to decompress from the day’s pressure close to one-another.  We would very much like to move the computer off our dining room table so that we can eat like normal well-adjusted adults.  Lamps would allow us to read in bed in the evenings.  A printer/scanner would update us to at least 1997.  And our outdoor furniture would permit us to take full advantage of the panoramic views from our fabulous balconies now that the weather has cooled off and the humidity has dropped….

Tom's Furniture is More than We Have on our Balconies at Present!!

Tom’s “furniture” here is more than we have on our balconies at present!!

An X-Files word of advice to those moving in or with the military:  trust no one.  The military (which for purposes here is the same as the government) literally didn’t care when our shipment was late, nor were they willing to help or were they even able to track our shipment.  We had to go through a moving Japanese moving agency here (who were extremely helpful), which contacted the shipping lines, who contacted our moving agency in the states….  Who ultimately simply dicked-away our household goods shipment, and then forget about our “stuff” sitting around a warehouse…or two it seems, nor did they inform us of anything adverse along the way.  CHECK ON YOUR SHIPMENT when you move.  No one is watching your back or protecting your interests; you are and remain your own best and sometimes ONLY advocate.  We are both so very through with the military and this type of treatment.  One would think with the hardships endured by the US Military that there would be more recourse or relief for situations like these.  That is sadly not the case.

David_Duchovny___Trust_no_one_by_PascalWagler

We started to buy essential supplies that will be billed to Lizzy and Deseret International.  So, in effect, we went shopping tonight with someone else’s checkbook…but we did and will continue to do so in moderation and well within reason.  Tomorrow I will be able to vacuum, clean the floors and toilets, and put away our new dishes and cookery.  I have a wetsuit for the cooler weather and waters, along with a shiny new steel 80 cubic foot scuba diving tank so that I won’t be paying $10 in rental fees for every class and each dive.  And that’s for starters…for now.

Send a Review of this Blog over to Deseret!

Send a Review of this Blog over to Deseret and perhaps It’ll be their Featured Monthly Review!  (probably not)

If you can empathize with our situation, and you’d like to help do something about it, drop Deseret Forwarding International and/or your local congressman/senator a note and let them know how terrible you found/find this/our situation.  While Lizzy did a fair job “answering the mail,” she will never know the inconvenience she and her company have caused in our lives – until it happens to her.  I understand bad things happen and mistakes are made, but it’s much too easy to brush them aside with a simple email and “so sorry;” in the end, we are nothing more than a bill of laden number to both this company and our own military and government that is already forgotten.  And I have do doubt that the expense of our travel claim is already well-accounted for statistical in the company’s costs.  In other words, this is nothing more than a cost in this case of their failing to do business.

This is about the extent of our in-home entertainment

This is about the extent of our in-home entertainment

And although we choose to find and leverage the humor in it all while still making the best we can of our qwuirky home and far east fling here in Okinawa, deep-down inside, we still feel like we were abandoned and castaway.
At least seven additional weeks to wait for our stuff….

dreamstime_s_8736416

It’s a good thing our “stuff” can’t share in such feelings.  No one – or thing – deserves to be abandoned or be made to feel like such a castaway.

Even Monkeys Fall From Trees: Moving to Japan


Even He Scratches His Head at Our Missing Items

Even He Scratches His Head at Our Missing Items

Head-Scratching & Expressly Missing

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” ~John Wooden

“Little things console us because little things afflict us.” ~Blaise Pascal

“百日の説法屁一つ” ~Japanese proverb, loosely, “breaking wind in front of the congregation ruins 100 days of sermon….”  Or, that the little things sometimes mean the most.

Or, “Saru mo ki kara ochiru (猿も木から落ちる),” literally, “even monkeys fall from trees….”

even_monkeys_fall_from_trees_postcard-rd1092d78fd70496baf49699b90a1bb16_vgbaq_8byvr_324

That last Japanese proverb is more commonly interpreted as anyone can make a mistake.  And mistake we did in setting aside items for our “express shipment” to Okinawa.  You see, when you move overseas in the military– technically called a “Permanent Change of Station (PCS)” – you are allowed two moves.  Three, if you are not entitled to your full weight allowance, which figures on both rank and whether or not one has dependents (read:  a family).

The Majority of Our Stuff Going into Storage

The Majority of Our Stuff Going into Storage

To Okinawa we are limited to ¼ of our nominal weight allowance, which is odd because the Army and Air Force generally come with their full moving entitlement.  The Navy (and Marine Corps) argue that the places here are too small to handle the American plethora of goods, and while there is some truth to such a statement, the truth is always somewhere in the middle.  And by middle I mean that it saves the service money at the expense of the member….

It takes more than the village...to move properly to Japan.

It takes more than the village…to move properly to Japan.

At the Lieutenant Commander rank with dependents (that’s me), our moving weight entitlement is something like 17,000 pounds.  Thus, moving to Okinawa we get about 4,300 pounds for this move…which includes all three individual moves:  1) an “Unaccompanied Baggage (UB)” express shipment to Okinawa of about 1,000 pounds maximum; 2) a HouseHold Goods (HHG) shipment of the remainder, or about 3,300 pounds; and 3) a Non-Temporary Storage (NTS) shipment of the rest of our “stuff” that goes into storage state-side for the three years we are assigned to Japan.

We actually used 700 pounds of UB, and almost 7,000 pounds of household goods!  Not sure how the Navy is going to feel about that, and we still, as of writing, have no idea how much our storage shipment weighed.

Our Express Shipment Crated

Our Express Shipment Crated

Our Express Shipment was picked up on the 8th of August in Pensacola, Florida, and had a “Required Delivery Date (RDD)” of 12 September.  That’s about 35 days for those of you who are counting, and believe me, I am a counter…when you are depending on a loaner-kitchen.  Prior to the arrival of this “stuff,” we are literally living out of six suitcases carried with us via commercial airliner.  This included one 65 pound bag dedicated to two full sets of dive gear, and a whole host of cat-equipment, including not one, but two pet carriers….  See “Feline Fiasco” and “Nine Lives and Hard Travels” for more on those particular necessities!  We did get the most basic kitchen utensils from the Marine Corps’ “loan locker” here…but for just 30 days.

So, one can quickly image that after five full weeks of living out of suit cases and kitchen something like you might find while camping, and trying with all your might to attempt to delay purchases for those items which you know are coming, for which you start counting not only days, but hours until that all-important unaccompanied baggage is due to show.

In our case, there was nothing heard from the military personal property office on our express, right up until the required due date.  I, of course, being jaded about the military and their intelligence at times, was already considering the worse:  the shipment, clearly, had washed overboard from some third-world-lowest-bidder freighter in one of the four tropical storms to affect Okinawa since our arrival.

Surely our crate washed overboard....

Surely our crate washed overboard….

Alas, Jody calls on our due date and, like pennies from heaven, our shipment did indeed arrive Kadena Air Base on the 12th.  Or so we were told.  Talk about a “just-in-time” means of delivery; it makes me wonder whether or not the shipping company shipped to arrive at the latest possible time, or, did they have the opportunity to get it here earlier?  Like I said, I’m jaded at times…and every time when it comes to the government.

Our Crated Goods in Japan

Our Crated Goods in Japan

Unfortunately, our shipment didn’t or couldn’t clear costumes and the military officials in time for delivery that day.  But it was scheduled for the next day, and thanks be the gods (or at least Hermes), our long-anticipated and much-needed 700 pounds of mystery possessions do indeed show up at our doorstep.  Or at least in our parking lot.

Secured Goods.  We Hope.

Secured Goods. We Hope.

After okaying the costumes seals were still intact on our crate, the movers open and start brining boxes up one after another.  The first thing I will say is that 700 pounds doesn’t go very far.

And the most important thing I’ll say is that no matter how much weight you receive, if you didn’t pack the right things at the shipping end, you end up revisiting all those purchases you’ve been denying yourself thinking certain things were, most certainly, on their way!  But aren’t.

That Sinking Feeling of Items Forgotten

That Sinking Feeling of Items Forgotten

So, for those of you either packing to come overseas, or for those of you just merely interested in where we fell short, here’s an expressly short list of things we really wish we had packed for Okinawa:

Christmas Can Be Early:  Check Your List Twice

Christmas Can Be Early: Check Your List Twice

  • A Vacuum Cleaner, especially since we bought a brand-new one for Japan; our new rugs are looking old before their time, and will have to be swept I guess….
  • Except we didn’t pack a Broom, either.  Or a Dustpan, or Swifter, or even Basic Cleaning Supplies.  We’ll wait, unhappily, for the vacuum, but we had to get these basics to help clean up this mess, literally and figuratively.
  • Pillows & Blanket.  Well, we ended up buying pillows and a lame blanket two weeks ago to used on our military-provided full-size bed (yes, I said full-size), so this one isn’t so bad.
While there may be cushion in the government's budget, there is none in their beds.

While there may be cushion in the government’s budget, there is none in their beds.

  • Except that I set aside the Pillow-Top under-covering for our bed since I was afraid the dang thing would take up too much room.  It was the size of a small Japanese car, mind you.  Make sure you have the linens you really want; sleep is a very important commodity when you are dealing with ten time zones of change.
  • Coffee Mugs.  I did a great job setting aside about ¼ of about the ½ of the kitchen we are bringing (did you follow that math?).  This 1/8th of our state-side kitchen is quite well-appointed; in fact, as the familial domestic engineer and kept man, I cooked a kick-ass Sage & Basil Chicken Fettuccine dinner just last night with our newly arrived cookery.  Included are enough pots, pans, utensils, flatware, and dish service for four.  There is Tupperware for storage and for Jody’s lunches, along with our microwave.  And we even have our K-Cup machine…but with no mugs in which to brew all the good get-me-up juices.  I consider this a good investigation of our tempered drinking glasses.
Okay, you got us:  we are tea drinkers....

Okay, you got us: we are tea drinkers….

  • Toaster.  We have a microwave – another boxy but larger cooking accoutrement, and it’ll heat bread like nobody’s business, but it won’t brown bread to an ultimate crispy, golden deliciousness.  The microwave’s littler boxy cousin takes up no room and weighs next to nothing; do yourself a favor and keep the kissing cousins together!
Bring Your Toaster

Bring Your Toaster

  • Iron & Ironing Board.  Can you begin to even imagine how wrinkled our clothes are having spent the 36 day journey in a lay-down wardrobe…that’s been shifted to and fro?  Do you really think that those clothes stay neatly packed and their hangers??  The government really should throw in a few extra bucks so that we can at least have standup wardrobes for international moves.  They don’t, ‘cause such standup boxes take up too much room…which equates to money.  The Navy should be paying for some amount of dry-cleaning and pressing, at least.
Built-in Shelving from our Okinawan Home in 1999

Built-in Shelving from our Okinawan Home in 1999

  • Shelves.  They are not just for books in Japan.  It’s odd to me that while traditional Okinawan homes often have a wide variety of built-in storage, modern construction here lacks almost any type of storage outside of the most basic (and small) closet.  We have, over the years, accumulated a number of those stackable, customizable heavy metal shelving units that are so popular in Japan.  I had a number from my last time here, and Jody purchased some while stationed in Cuba.  In any case, although we have a whole host of linens, towels (beach & bath), and wash-cloths, we have nowhere to put them!
Sexiest Cartoon:  I am the Spouse...and Domestic Engineer...and Kept Man!

Sexiest Cartoon: I am the Spouse…and Domestic Engineer…and Kept Man!

small_things_quote_webWe are often told to “…not sweat the small stuff,” and that the little things don’t matter.  And while this type of philosophy may result in chicken soup for your soul, it’s awfully hard to cook that soup without a kitchen.  Accordingly, sometimes the littlest things do matter, and they do very much.  If you stop and give this discussion a dose of contemplation, and then think about what you would really want if you only had a thousand pounds of your “stuff” to live with, your list would be quite drastically different than if asked what things you would want to live for.  The latter includes all those big-dollar items of plenty that make our lives so (and maybe too) busy and full in America…so crammed that self-storage business in the United States is BIG business.

But it is the former where we are able to make living a life not just feasible, maybe not quite comfortable, but so much more agreeable.  Delicious freshly-cooked food, newly-brewed hot teas and coffees, a hygienic home and clean clothes, and, at the end of the day, sound slumber.  In all these ways, it is indeed the little things that allow for the big things in our lives to materialize.

Where's the Book on "Packing for Japan"!

Where’s the Book on “Packing for Japan”!

PS – Check out this link for a rather eccentric yet comprehensive list of things to pack for Japan.  It’s part of this blog about surviving a move to Japan!

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