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What’s it take to prepare a move? Homes for kittens and plants, giving away some small pieces, a small dresser, a rug, finding storage for three pieces of furniture we want to keep, clothes we won’t wear/have room for in two suitcases, pictures, books, music, tapestries, kitchen stuff. It’s surprisingly easy. And having left for six months of last year, it hardly seems daunting. I think the more you get used to going, the easier it is to let go.

The most difficult? Family. Who will munch on my niece’s cheeks? I’ll look forward to a couple weeks of play time before Japan. And as always, I’m playing as much as possible now. As for keeping in touch, Skype is a godsend. I am buying a web cam, hooking up my parents’ and probably cb’s, and will look forward to ‘seeing’ friends and family. Email. Blogs. Of course, visits are preferable. Too pricey? You have a free place to stay. Sales are everywhere. Keep up with Travelzoo, Kayak. Tickets are usually cheapest during the weekday, more so in the mornings than after work hours. Asia is cheapest in October and November. I’ll meet you anywhere. Save up, have a yard sale. Purge! The secret to life. The Story of Stuff. (What’s in your closet?)

Save up, pack up, let go, come play.


I’ve always wanted to teach English. A struggle between Peru, Japan, and India. I want to dedicate my time to something more meaningful. And let my selfish itchy feet get more play time.

I thought of applying for the JET Programme a while ago. In this global economic downturn, there really is no time like the present. I thought the deadline had passed for 2009, but as John serendipitously found otherwise and as my life is dictated by procrastination anyway, we absolutely knew we had to make it work and couldn’t afford not to. As for John teaching, two applications provide better chances than one and what would he possibly do if he didn’t have something to occupy all his days? The kids of Japan surely have enough energy for him.

Japan is one of my favorite countries. Filled with art, detail, natural wonders, delicious food. It has its own problems for sure but what better place to share them. I can only hope for our success as this point considering we’ve already given up our apartment (anyone need a cute 400 sq ft 1br 5th floor walk up in Chelsea’s Heights?), bought Rosetta Stone, and told everyone.

As for placement requests, we did not just employ Google Images. Maybe John did. Nagano has always been on the top of my list for a place to shack up. I’ve never been able to resist monkeys in hot springs and am dying to snowboard. Aomori is where my friend, adviser, and recommendation-writer Eddie lived out his four or five years in Japan. It’s a place he highly recommends and promises still holds tightly to tradition. It’s possible I googled Yamagata and thought it offered a photographic experience. It does so happen they’re all freezing cold places and there’s no real heat in Japan. Something I will have learn to deal with if we get placed there. Convenient I have someone to keep me warm. And I like hats.

Now I just have to get through the interview.

November 2008, two weeks before Thanksgiving.  Sue Fan and I had been discussing the JET Program (Japan Exchange & Teaching) for a few months.  It is as described, an English teaching program run through the Japanese Government.  It’s one of those programs that you may not have heard about, but once you start throwing it out there into the friend and family cosmos, everyone knows someone who has done it (if they themselves didn’t do it).  Maybe it just happens that we run in a certain crowd or entertain a vagabond energy.  Who knows?  The overwhelming consensus is, despite inherent expat challenges, it’s incredibly rewarding and an experience that we would not regret. With that in mind we put it on our 2010 wish list.  Then the economy happened.  I found myself working almost every day in September and October.  I imagined November and December would be more of the same as they had been the previous year.  I can remember being in Jack Studios in the 401 W. 26th building.  Working with Ted Hartshorn (International Fashion Photographer extraordinaire!) and a regular client, we watched the DOW Jones Industrial Average go from 13,000 points to, I dunno, 8,000 points in the one week we were working that job.  This was the second week in October.   I was glued to the online stock reports.  Ted and I would announce to each other any time a dramatic change happened (this was occuring hourly).  While we had a full month of work ahead, we knew what this meant.  As promised, work all but evaporated for November.  I could usually plan out my work schedule three months in advance.  All of a sudden I had 5 days of work in November and nothing on the horizon after that.  The JET program was soon becoming a 2009 priority.  What better way to force your hand.  Make decisions fast and hard!  Here we were, thinking it was too late for applying, and I went on the JET website just to check.  Wow, we have two weeks before the deadline for 2009.  Could it be done?  Should we go for it?  Can we determine on this very day that Japan is a possibility 8 months from now?  Packing up NYC, moving to a new country?  While this seemed natural for us to consider this in 2010 with over a year to plan, all of a sudden we were hedging (ironic word for the crash-inducing, plan-changing economic downturning-ness ) our future in two weeks time.  I guess that’s how we roll!?!  The next day I was at the Japanese Embassy picking up application materials.

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When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful. -Barbara Bloom