Tag Archives: vacation

Jesus on the Temple Trail


When we awoke in Kyoto, Steve, our fearless leader (a.k.a. the only person who took the time to figure out what there was to do in the city) took us on a trail of temples and shrines. First stop was the Tainai-meguri, the womb of a goddess. No, really. At first I thought it was just a bad English translation. But after giving two coins to a Japanese man, he pointed to a stairwell that descended into complete darkness.

“What is this, what’s going on?” I called out hoping someone would respond in English. Sebastien was ahead of me and told me to just hold onto the railway as I walked.

“Are we in the womb?” I said.


“At least there’s no blood in here,” I said. All things considered it wasn’t as grotesque as I thought it would be. And I’ve seen some disgusting stuff including my own birth. It was an accident. I was playing hookey from school one day and rummaged through my parents’ VHS tapes for something to watch. One of the tapes had my name on it so I thought it’d be fun to check out. It was not. My dad must’ve been positioned right behind the doctor and he made full use of the zoom feature on the camera.

We finally reached a glowing rock and Sebastien told me to make a wish. Technically to make the wish come true I had to spin in either direction. I didn’t want to so I just made the wish and walked out. My wish came true anyway because seconds later we were back outside. “I could get used to these gods,” I said. “They actually listen.”

From there we skipped through the cherry blossoms from shrine to shrine making wishes. I gave my suffering to a piece of paper that I threw into a bowl of water and I gave my knee pain to an ox (although I accidentally rubbed his balls instead of his knees like I was supposed to).

We stopped at Jishu Shrine, the home of the god of love and matchmaking and watched as tourists attempted to secure success in love by walking from one stone to another with their eyes closed.

It was a full morning. But by 11am, my knee was hurting and all I really wanted was an ice cream. But there was no god or goddess for that.

We walked down the steps along Chawan-zaka or Teapot Lane, looking in the various souvenir and tea shops along the way on the hunt for a late morning snack. I saw tourists with ice cream, which momentarily rekindled my faith. But I got distracted and photobombed some Chinese tourists dressed as geishas.


I figured if the people didn’t like it, they could make a wish to the photoshop god.


National Lampoon’s Japanese Vacation

Step 1: Book flight to Japan.

That was the easy part. Next we had to figure out what to do and where to go. I used to like planning trip itineraries, but Japan is just so foreign to me. All of my ideas were pretty vague: eat sushi, sunbathe with snow monkeys, hike. It was obvious that I was going to be of limited help on planning this one.

Then one day Sebastien emailed  me a spreadsheet with a list of cities to visit in Japan alongside columns with our names. He wanted me to rate the list of places from 1-10. He had already done so in a column conveniently titled, Seb. He said that once I input the numbers, excel was programmed to take those p values or whatever and spit out a score in a third column titled, Score.

Yes, admittedly that was  a method for planning this trip, but it seemed just as daunting as any other. I didn’t know how to gauge my level of interest in visiting the Peace Osaka museum, which documented the horrors of World War II, versus dining in the robot restaurant in Tokyo. I wanted to do all of those things and I didn’t want to rank these places like they were contestants on the Little Miss Florida Sunshine pageant circuit.

I was on g chat with my friend Jessica the day I received the email and started complaining to her about it. “I don’t want to give them numbers,” I typed out my whine. “Why can’t I just say I want to go here. (period)”

She suggested I mess with Sebastien by saying “let’s just play it by ear and see how we feel when we’re there!”

He didn’t write back.

When he asked me about it again that evening I finally caved and gave each location an arbitrary number. I still didn’t see the point of it, until now.

We are three weeks away from the trip and have only now started looking at hotels. Big mistake. It seems that every human being on the planet is trying to book a hotel in Kyoto right now to be there for the cherry blossoms festival. We’re supposed to be meeting friends there so yesterday we had a three person, two continent team desperately hunting for shelter in the city. The two hotels I suggested had reviews that included the words “sleazy” and “love motel.” My ideas were vetoed.

So I think from here on out I’m just going to do what I’m told and enjoy the trip. And maybe learn how to say dirty words in Japanese.


The Gifts Just Keep on Coming

birthday-boySebastien celebrated his 36th birthday last Monday. We were in Chicago visiting friends and family for the weekend so I was completely thrown off guard. (You’d think Facebook would know to nudge spouses a few days ahead of time or something.) While I was contemplating what to get him as a gift, I was reminded of what he gave me for my last birthday: nothing.

This year my birthday fell on a Saturday. I went about my normal weekend routine which includes complaining about how I don’t want to exercise, exercising, complaining about being hungry, eating, complaining about being bored and bugging Sebastien until he finds some way to entertain me. As I went about my day I kept expecting Sebastien to pull out a birthday present. If nothing else it would have certainly placated me for a few minutes. But that never happened. In the evening we met friends for dinner at a restaurant. No present appeared here either.

The following evening I was g-chatting with a friend of mine about how strange it was that I did not receive a present. I was fine with not getting anything, but the expectation was already there because I’d received a gift every other year. I at least wanted to understand where he was coming from. So I turned to face Sebastien on the couch and said, “So am I to assume that you’re not getting me anything for my birthday?”

He looked up from his computer. “What? I took you out to dinner the other night.”

“Oh was that my birthday present?”

“No.” he said. He closed his laptop indicating that what he was about to say was so important that not even the computer could hear. “I have never subscribed to the idea of giving people gifts on specific dates,” he said.

I remembered Sebastien saying this to me when we first started dating. I agreed that I hated the obligation, too. Our shared disdain for social norms was probably what brought us together. But the following Christmas and birthday I received gifts, as did he. I explained this inconsistency to him.

“I don’t remember getting you any gifts for your birthday before.”

I laughed. “Are you kidding me? Every year we exchange gifts.”

“Well I gave you two gifts around Christmas time,” he said.

“Well how was I to know that one of those was a birthday gift?” I said. He had no response. I squinted my eyes trying to comprehend the last 5 minutes of my life. “Who are you?” I said. The question was never answered and the matter was dropped. It was too comical to be of any real significance. Until his birthday.

Monday morning we sat down in the hotel restaurant for breakfast. I remembered the $25 gift card that the concierge gave me the day before while I was checking in. He said it could be used in any hotel facility. I pulled it out of my pocket and slid it across the table at Sebastien. Our eyes met and I smiled. “Happy birthday sweetheart,” I said. “Here’s  a $25 gift card to help you cover the breakfast bill.”

I’m a Better Person on Gchat

For the longest time I avoided online chat rooms. After all, it was the place pedophiles went to lure unsuspecting girls into their web of lies and where Nigerian princes tricked people into believing they inherited millions of dollars. Sebastien’s a big fan though. But it wasn’t for me. I preferred person-to-person communications and thought that was the only way to truly develop a relationship with someone.

But then I got an office job and learned about the magical world of Gchat.

One day I was sitting at my desk wondering how to occupy my time while I waited to hear back from my boss. I had been checking my email every 10 minutes and googling random thoughts, but it wasn’t enough to keep me entertained. Then, all of a sudden, a small box appeared in the lower right corner of my screen.

‘You around?’ it read.

I could barely hold myself together. I jumped in my chair and looked around. I wanted to let everyone know that I had a friend and this friend wanted to communicate with me in real-time on Gmail. It was amazing.

Then I realized that I was in an office and not on a schoolyard playground. I pulled myself together and responded to the greeting like a normal person.

We had this fun back and forth about nothing and everything for a few hours and I felt really close to this friend.

I had questions, though. Like what does it mean when someone’s status reads busy. Is it OK to Gchat them? A friend informed me that, that happens all the time, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It seems really passive aggressive. Love me, talk to me, oh no I’m too important and too busy for you. But sometimes I even get conversation starters from people whose status is marked “busy.”

That’s my only problem.

Other than that, I love Gchat and wish I could conduct all of my business through those little white boxes in the lower right hand corner of my screen. Some days I go to work early just to sit in front of my computer and wait for someone to start a conversation with me. I believe it has made me a better person and people like me more.

On Gchat I am smarter and funnier and I am also more compassionate. For example, when I started chatting with friends I would impulsively want to keep talking about myself. But then I started proofreading what I was saying and didn’t think others would be too interested. So I would erase the self-centered comment and think about the other person instead. Ask how their day is or what they are up to, etc, etc.

Gchat has also helped me get closer to Sebastien. He’s so much easier to communicate with through email or instant chat and I feel like I can really open up and be myself around him in cyberspace.

Sometimes, I start a conversation with him while he is sitting right next to me on the couch because it’s the only time I know he is really listening to me and will take me seriously. Case in point:

 me:  Do you think I could make it to the mailbox and back in my underwear without anyone seeing me?
 Sebastien:  yes

Let’s Take the Deathstar, Honey

People have been asking if Sebastien and I are planning on going on a honeymoon. But the thought of it makes my stomach turn. When I hear the word ‘honeymoon’ I think of beaches and I can’t think of a worse place to be: the sticky sand, the polluted salt water, the heat. It sounds awful. Sebastien agrees.

We prefer cold, bland places with a lot of concrete and depressed citizens. We would go to North Korea if we could. Instead we just visit countries with high suicide rates.

And what does it mean to have a honeymoon anyway? We normally go on a vacation every year, anyway. But because it is a honeymoon does that mean that we will really enjoy spending time together unlike those other vacations where we dread sharing a bed and spending every waking hour with one another?

If it’s a honeymoon does that mean Sebastien is going to ogle me for five days straight, whispering sweet nothings into my ear? I think I’d have a better time at the beach.

I don’t even like the term honeymoon and told a person that we would only call it that if free things were involved: massages, robes, an upgrade to a larger suite. If not, we will just call it another vacation. Or, the deathstar.

It’s Over…

The wedding, I mean. And the worst part about it being over is that I can longer use planning my wedding as an excuse to get out of my regular responsibilities.

At any rate, here are the highlights:

-The wait staff was alerted about my extreme hunger prior to my arrival and satiated my appetite with mini chicken pot pies, shrimp skewers and steak ceviches until I encouraged them to feed the other guests.

-Sebastien and I entered the reception to the Imperial March-a fitting tune for a couple so determined to rule the universe.

-My Dad did his famous Charlie Brown dance.

-Despite my ban, guests danced to the electric slide. The song was never played because of said ban, but one clever guest realized another dance song had the same beat as the electric slide and rallied guests to join in. Now I have to extend the ban to include all songs with a similar beat.

-For some reason the DJ played Hava Nagila and for some reason it worked as part of this nondenominational wedding reception.

-And we finished the night off with Enter Sandman by Metallica. Some were dubious that it could be done, but, we danced. Even Sebastien’s 73-year-old godmother danced.

The Word of the Day is ‘No’

This morning I was looking over the questionnaires I submitted to the photographer and the venue manager and I noticed a common theme.

Will you need photos of the ceremony: no

Will you be doing a bouquet toss: no

Do you need pictures for the cake cutting: no

There’s no word I like more.

Then when I arrived at the hotel an hour ago, I noticed my name and Sebastien’s name flashing on a screen behind the reception. I thought it was someone’s idea of a sick joke. Then I found out it was the idea of the hotel manager who thought it would be better than apologizing for her incompetence. I tried to reserve a block of rooms with the hotel a couple of months ago and she never responded to any of my phone calls. (It was the most stressful part about planing my wedding.)

I thought I was going to have a seizure if I saw my name flash across the screen one more time. “Can you take that down,” I said to the man behind the counter.

“You don’t want that up?” he asked.


Feel free to take bets on how many times I will say that word tonight.

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