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Nihon no Cook bids a fond farewell to...

nihon_no_cook's picture

Ok, maybe not so fond - I'm itching to get settled someplace again, even if it will be a house with only three pieces of furniture, four sets of plates, and all of my good baking supplies! Anyway, today's my last day at work, and consequently the last day I'll have free internet access for a while (might check into that internet cafe downtown next week while we're packing, but at the speed this site has been loading, I'll be able to read about three messages in the 45 minutes that one cup of coffee buys!). So take care, all, and I'll check back in a week or so and let you know whether I could hear the cat screaming all the way from the hold of the plane : )

Btw, since I know that y'all are going to post about a billion messages while I'm gone, if anyone wants to direct anything to my attention, stick my name in the post somewhere - I'm more likely to search for my name, read those messages, then clear the slate and start with all my messages read, than I am to sift through 400 messages on the computer in the library. Thanks, and talk to you soon!

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #57232, reply #1 of 23)

Oh, one more thing. For those of you who are interested, here's a copy of the message I sent out to friends and family, to let them know what our last few weeks have been like. Hope you enjoy!

This week's topic: Sayonara!

Well, it's been a long, hard road, but we've finally made it - our last day at the lab! Thank you, dear readers, for giving me a place to vent and explain our life abroad. It's so nice to share our thoughts with our friends, without having to tell the same anecdotes over and over again. I hope that you have learned a little, and laughed a little, and will miss the messages a little now that they're done. Better hold on to printouts of these little gems . . . you never know, maybe someday I'll become famous and they'll be worth something as records, rather than as kindling! Anyway, as a public service to you, I leave you with a step-by-step list of instructions for closing down your life in Japan, in case you ever need to do so.

** Allow two moving companies to bid on the move, as required by company policy. Explain to moving company representatives what will be sent by air, what will be sent by boat, and why your cat has its own bedroom in your apartment.

** Cram in day trips to all the places you meant to go see, but never got around to visiting. Shop for potential Christmas gifts and last-minute home decorations; add several more little paper weeble-wobble dolls to your now-extensive collection.

** Prepare cat for trip. Attempt to put cat into the carrying case he used on the trip to Japan; realize that he can't fit all four legs and his tail in at once. Visit hardware store to purchase crate large enough for a medium-sized dog, because "we want him to be comfortable." Sigh with relief when huge crate actually fits in the back seat of your car. Take cat to vet for pre-move checkup and updated shots. Watch as cat goes ballistic at the sight of other animals in the exam room; almost receive rabies shot instead of the cat because he squirms so much. Wish you had a tape recorder to capture the sounds coming out of the cat's throat, some of which could be marketed to the folks who make sound effects for horror movies. Vow that when you have to take the cat back to the vet again right before you leave the country, for another round of shots and the final certificate, you will either drug him into a stupor or wrap him up tightly in a towel.

** Purchase airline tickets, remembering to reserve a space in the cargo hold for the cat, and to get the animal-approved flight from Cincinnati to Cleveland (which involves a 3-hour layover in Cincy, rather than the standard 1-hour layover). Make hotel reservations at cat-friendly hotel. Reserve mini-van rental car to tote luggage and cat home from the airport.

** Begin disposing of Japanese appliances. Sell washer, dryer, and refrigerator at bargain-basement prices. Arrange to borrow company minivan to transport large appliances to their final destinations. Purchase large amounts of aspirin to alleviate hernia you anticipate will occur after you lug the refrigerator downstairs. Give away hair dryer, telephone, and light fixtures to strangers who make eye contact with you on the street.

** Begin sorting out what will actually be sent by air. Bring home boxes of work-related papers, and empty boxes to use for sorting. Watch in amusement as cat goes partially psycho when furniture is moved from one room to another . . . try to record the highest spontaneous vertical leap he performs when he hears a loud noise.

** Begin disposing of excess food. Offer American canned goods to fellow expats at reasonable prices. Devise delicious meals to use up foods that have already been opened ("Hmmm, a box of frosted flakes, a can of tuna, a bar of white chocolate, and two boxes of baking powder. Looks like we're ordering another pizza!").

** Ask secretaries to find a Japanese hotel which allows pets, for your last few nights once the apartment has been vacated. Determine that the closest one is two hours away from work, and three hours away from the airport. Decide to stay at a hotel in Nagoya and either smuggle in the cat, or leave him with a friend for a day or two.

** Deal with the movers for the air shipment. Explain, in a horrible mixture of English and Japanese and without the benefit of a map, how the movers should get to your apartment ("We're near the Meito Ward post office, and across the street from an elementary school. Does that help?"). Explain to the movers that the piteous noises coming from behind the closed door are not from a human sacrifice, just from a spoiled kitty. Try not to feel awkward as you sit on the couch watching a rerun of professional wrestling - it's the only English-language show on - while the movers grunt and strain in the next room. When movers ask if they may take a 10-minute break, consider the question carefully just to worry them, then say "yes." When movers ask if they may use the bathroom, consider the question carefully just to make them squirm, then say "yes."

** Deal with the aftermath of the air shipment packing. Let the cat out of his room, then watch as he actually does a double-take when you let him into the room the movers have emptied out. Notice how he jumps two feet straight into the air anytime you move or make a noise, for about 2 hours after the movers leave. Decide to get all the psychic cat damage done at once, and bring the dreaded suitcases out into view.

** Decide that to make things easier on the cat, you will leave the country one day earlier, thus eliminating the need to board him at your friends' house. Rebook airplane tickets, hotel, car rental. Notify everyone in the expat division of the changed date. Reschedule apartment inspection for the morning of the day you leave Japan. Schedule necessary maintenance on newly-purchased home (being certain to schedule the chimney cleaning BEFORE the carpet cleaning, and the cable tv installation AFTER the delivery of the television in the air shipment).

** Deal with Japan's farewell present to you, in the form of one last Unpleasant Seismic Event (we don't like to say the E-word). Think to yourself - and I'm suggesting based on experience here - "God, what are they doing downstairs? Ok, this one does feel like a truck hit the building - several times - and it's still going. I don't want to be trapped in the post-earthquake apocalyptic rubble wearing nothing but spandex tights and a sports bra - should I put my shoes on now and get crushed to death, or put them on later and risk having to run through broken glass barefoot to escape? Huh, the china cabinet sure is rattling - good thing we packed up all the photos and breakables earlier today. Maybe I'd better go stand by the door with the earthquake kit and see if this is going to stop soon. JASON!!!!!" Wait for 30-second temblor to finish, wait for a few seconds. Find husband, half-clothed and trying to pry the cat out of the box spring of the bed. Remind husband that in the case of a real emergency, it's better to have a dead cat than a crushed husband. When he disagrees, remind yourself that his life insurance policy is large enough to provide for a comfortable life for you. Remind yourself to check on whether he's covered in an earthquake, and if the "Accidental Death or Dismemberment" policy would apply in that situation.

** Say goodbye to coworkers. There should be plenty of opportunities for this, since you'll have a farewell staff meeting, farewell luncheon, night out with the secretaries, and official Soubetsukai on the evening of your last day of work. Begin thinking up excuses why you are unable to sing karaoke that night. Mentally review the useful Japanese phrase, "I cannot drink much tonight; I am on a diet." Lay in a supply of Tums, aspirin, and cool cloths for the next morning.

** Supervise packing of sea shipment. Stand around awkwardly while the movers do all the work, gradually taking away all the comfortable places to sit and interesting things to do. Remember to buy earplugs for yourself and all moving company employees, so that the noise from the cat - who will be locked into an empty room by himself - does not drive anyone insane. After movers leave for the day, watch as cat becomes completely psycho as he views the boxes and rearranged furniture one day, and the completely empty apartment the next day. Partially open doors between the connecting bedrooms, so that cat can run circular laps around the apartment. Feel really guilty when you leave him alone in the apartment and check into a hotel.

** Last day in Japan: 6am - wake up, check out of hotel. Travel to apartment; clean like maniacs. 9:30 - apartment inspection. When apartment owner and management company try to charge you for the tiny holes in the wall where you hung pictures, point out that they were going to have to re-wallpaper the whole apartment anyway, since there are so many 4-foot-long cracks in the walls. Remember to stand directly over the spot in the carpet where the cat tried to chew his way under a door (so that inspectors don't notice the frayed area). As inspectors make unreasonable demands for compensation, whisper hilariously menacing catch phrases you learned from the professional wrestling show under your breath ("He wants $500 because we didn't sanitize the oven? Yeah, right, I'd like to take that oven, shine it up real nice, turn it sideways, and stick it straight up his roody-poo candy a** "). 10:30 am - apartment inspection complete; turn apartment keys over to apartment owner. Turn company car keys over to secretary from work. Throw yourself on the mercy of your neighbors, whom you will visit until it's time to go to the airport around 4:30 pm. Check watch. Realize that you will smell like sweat and bleach all the way back to the US - that's another 20 to 24 hours. Check watch. Hope that the Business Class amenity pack contains refreshing moist towelettes, which you can use to give yourself a sponge bath in the airplane bathroom. Check watch. Cram yourself, 400 pounds of luggage, and the cat, into two taxis and head for the airport.

So long, farewell, sayonara, and good night!

kai_'s picture

(post #57232, reply #2 of 23)

Great great narrative! Start marketing that now! Hugs to you all, and no offense, but especially to the {{{{{{{{cat}}}}}}}}}.

Cooking_Monster's picture

(post #57232, reply #3 of 23)

Nihon, that was great. I'm saving this for when it's my turn to move back (from Germany, with dog - minor variation on the theme).

Bon voyage, gute Reise, and whatever you say in Japanese :-)

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #57232, reply #4 of 23)

* and uneventful journey. With any luck, we'll be here when you get back :)

Re: Taking cats on such trips. One word:
b Tranquilizers.
Worked wonders for my 2 on the plane for our move to Colorado from New York.

My best to you and yours for "happy settling in."

Wolverine's picture

(post #57232, reply #5 of 23)

Nihon -

Safe journey - look forward to 'seeing' you back!

CLS's picture

(post #57232, reply #6 of 23)

(ROFLMAO) Ah, the joys of moving home from a foreign country! I went through the same things coming home from England - where, in theory, they at least speak English - just not American English - there is a difference! (grinning) The Irish, however, (who were my movers) do not when they don't feel like it. Joyful Experience! Take care, good journey, can't wait to meet you back here in Cleveland!

aussiechef's picture

(post #57232, reply #7 of 23)

Ah, moves. Aren't they fun? Don't fret about the cat (and dog, CM) - they go sort of groggy and sleepy in the cargo holds, so I'm told. All the best.

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #57232, reply #8 of 23)

Chiff - we tried the tranqs before we moved to
Japan, and found out that, like a good portion of
the animal population, our cat reacts backwards .
. . he was more hyper and difficult to handle
after taking them than before. I think the
solution is that we should take them, rather than
the cat!

Moving update - we're camped out in a friend's
apartment, only 4.5 hours to go until the cab
comes. And already I have like 200 new messages
to read . . . sigh. Y'all a

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #57232, reply #9 of 23)

> they go sort of groggy and sleepy in the cargo

Yeah, I think it has something to do with the cold
temps and thin air (just kidding, of course

Wolverine's picture

(post #57232, reply #10 of 23)

Nihon - my thought precisely! Oh, BTW - found that package with pans, Mom had not taken it in, it got buried under Christmas decorations. So, she took it to the PO for me yesterday, you should have in 3 days or so - postage was CHEAP, so don't worry about that! Hope you like the pans - welcome home!

Carole's picture

(post #57232, reply #11 of 23)

Nihon, just arrived at school. Yes, our little students can get on the web! Hope you have a safe journey, and we'll see you in Cleveland.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #57232, reply #12 of 23)

When I flew to CO from NY I couldn't even consider handing over my 2 cats to the airline to "stow" as they saw fit. Their idea of "fit" and mine differ vastly.

I bought two Sherpa Pet Carriers which are approved for under-seat stowing on planes. They cost me $70 each (for two shelter pets, I might add) but it was nice to have the kitties in the cabin with us. Luckily, our kitties behaved the way we wanted them to when they got the tranqs in them, so they basically slept the whole flight. I remember having to tell the guy in front of me to move his briefcase (he put his case under his seat instead of the one in front of him) because I had a cat carrier that had to go under his seat. He was not thrilled but I paid my $50 for the cat to ride in the cabin, so tough beans.

Wolverine's picture

(post #57232, reply #13 of 23)

Tough beans is exactly right. I hate people who try to hog space. All carry on goes overhead or under the seat in front of you. People are soooo rude!

Grasshopper_'s picture

(post #57232, reply #14 of 23)

HEY NIHON!! I welcome you to Cleveland! We are looking forward to seeing the real you. As soon as you are able, let us know how to contact you (e-mail me). Are there any needs we can meet? Do you already know people here? (I can't remember if you used to live here but I think you said you did...) I read your farewell speech; it was so well-written I'm glad you're going to be close.

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #57232, reply #15 of 23)

Yeah, we had one of the soft-sided carriers on the trip over to Japan, which was fine when he was only 7 months old, and weighed a lot less than he does now. Unfortunately, he's really LONG . . . and the size requirements for business class are even smaller than those for regular class (all those personal tv screens and massagers and reading lights take up valuable luggage room, you know :-) ).

When we told the US vet about all the stress that the cat has been through in the past few weeks/months, he was really surprised that the cat has been behaving so well. Since we're subjecting him to even more stress - in the form of a two-week trip to our families houses for the holidays - the vet suggested that we take some medicine with us, just in case he freaks out on us. Don't want the little guy peeing all over my in-laws' furniture! So now our cat has a prescription for - guess what - Valium! I asked the vet if that was for the cat (to keep him calm and accident-free) or for us (so we just don't really care where he goes), and the vet thought that was pretty funny. Shame those pills are such low dosages . . .

Wolverine's picture

(post #57232, reply #16 of 23)

Hi Nihon -

hope you settle in soon and get back online more often.

BTW - did you get those pans??

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #57232, reply #17 of 23)

Nihon, I'm curious...does the US have "quarantine" laws for pets like they do in other countries? Lots of ex-pats in my old financial-world jobs and they told me stories of how pets would have to stay a month in quarantine.

kai_'s picture

(post #57232, reply #18 of 23)

Ever tried Rescue Remedy? (Good for calming pets and people). Should be avail at most health food or homeopathic stores. More info @

RR contains essences of 5 flowers. From the site: " the most famous of the remedies, but in fact is not a remedy at all, but rather a mix of five different remedies (Cherry Plum, Clematis, Impatiens, Rock Rose and Star of Bethlehem) which together help deal with any emergency or stressful event. Taking a driving test, exam nerves, speaking in public, after an accident or an argument - there are countless uses for Rescue Remedy.

In an emergency Rescue Remedy can be taken neat from the bottle, four drops at a time, and as frequently as required. Otherwise put four drops in a glass of water and take frequent sips until the emotions have calmed."

Cooking_Monster's picture

(post #57232, reply #19 of 23)

I think it depends on what kind of animal it is where you're trying to import the animal from. For example, there's no quarantine required for dogs and cats from most (all?) Western European countries.

Wolverine's picture

(post #57232, reply #20 of 23)

Really? Last I heard, you had to quarantine your dogs and cats for 6 mos just to go to Hawaii. I'll have to check into this! Maybe we'll move Aloha way!!

Cooking_Monster's picture

(post #57232, reply #21 of 23)

Oops, I think you're right. Hawaii is the exception. Should have limited that statement to the continental United States.

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #57232, reply #22 of 23)

Well, folks, this time it's true - I'm back for good. I have been woefully lacking in regular computer access since our return to the States, but now that our home computer has finally arrived, I should be back in the swing of things (if my husband lets me on it . . . he got something called "Baldur's Gate" for Christmas, and is threatening to hole himself up in our office over the weekend, doing nothing but "creating his character." Funny how he wants to do that on the weekend I intend to use to clear out the huge pile of stuff in our basement . . .

In related news, you'll be happy (or at least ambivalent about) to hear that
b the rest of our furniture has arrived!
No more watching tv from a cheap beach chair, no more having to wash the forks in between each meal, no more having to come up with fresh and exciting outfits out of the 10 shirts I brought in the air shipment . . . my stuff is here! The movers unpacked everything, but unpacking does not mean putting things away, so yesterday afternoon they left the house with piles of stuff everywhere. It took until 10pm to clear off the worst of the breakable stuff, just so the cat didn't cause tons of damage while we were at work today. The worst of the organizing is done, we just have the worst left to do - CD's, books, and the pile of miscellaneous stuff that was all labelled "basement." Not sure how that happened, but we have a pile down there about the size of my minivan. Oh, well - it will give my husband and I (yeah, right - I know how that works) something to do this weekend.

Anyhoo, thanks for all you supportive messages during the move - good to know that the CT "family" was thinking of me.

Wolverine's picture

(post #57232, reply #23 of 23)

Again - Welcome home, Nihon! have fun cleaning your basement! ;-)