[The American Years]

Monday, October 24, 2005

I miss home already.

Espresso: It's like CoffeeZilla.

Imagine 13 hours on a plane, sitting near a 5 year-old and a 7 year-old. Worse than that, they're YOUR 5 year-old and YOUR 7 year-old.

Remember all the dirty looks you've given when kids come into your airplane cabin? Those will be all coming back at you from every seat in every row.

Little did you know that this is not just an airplane. It's a fancy day spa, and not a place for children. Every adult on the plane was born as an adult, and has nothing but scorn for the smaller pupal stages they're looking (down) at now. No tolerance for the little ones, even (especially) from the vacationing preschool teachers. Busses? Trains? The Ferry? Kids are OK. Airplanes? Not so.

Then when you arrive, you're in a million miles from home, and everything's different... Every sign that can't be read by the family (which simply means every single sign). All the strange food. Add exhaustion to disorientation to confusion... possibly on top of indigestion. Even the McDonalds tastes different. Is nothing sacred?

In the words of Tom Waits: "How can the same moon, over this Chinatown fair, look down on Indiana and find you there?"

I know the codependence craze has come and gone. So what do they call it now, when you feel overly responsible for other people's happiness? Do they call it parenting? Family life? Intercompany transfer?

I know I'm going to hear the sad whiny little voice saying "I want to go back to Kentucky." And of course, the kids might whine too.

My response? "You want some cheese with that whine? I'd buy you some from the grocery store but I have no idea what anything is in that dairy case. And I'm only guessing that it is the dairy case."

So I have some bundled anxiety about being responsible for their individual and collective happiness. What if it means we miss Yosemite this year? What if we miss Kathleen's brother Dan's wedding? What if it's all my fault? Clearly, no matter what happens, it's all my fault.

That's already been established, if only by myself.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

School vs leaving..

Jessie loves soccer.

Down to business:

My employer is a big enough company that it can have policies which blatantly thwart what the people doing the work are trying to do. Case in point: Now they tell me that the official program of "Intercompany Transfer" can only start in June. But for project reasons, they want me there in March.

The main decision for us is whether we take the kids out of school in March and all go together or I go by myself for a spell.

My options are:

  1. Go in March by myself on 'business trip' status, live in a hotel for the 3 months, then the family joins me in June, after school is over.
  2. Everyone goes in March. We ALL live in a hotel until June, when I could officially become an employee of the Japanese company, get into a house, etc.

So do we leave the kids in school here in KY? Or keep the family together?

Unclear points include:

  • Under option 1: If I'm over there by myself, how often would I be able to come back to visit in KY. I'd like to return to KY for 1 week out of 4, but my request has met with silence. It's still a lame set up, to be gone for 3 weeks in a row out of 4 for 3 months straight, but it could be done.
  • Kathleen's brother Daniel has rumored wedding plans for this summer. Clearly we'd like to attend. June? July? (Note: Expect headlines about heck freezing over around that time.)
  • I'd sure like to be back to KY for the derby. Having been to 10 straight dating back to 1996, I wouldn't want to miss one.

So really, the idea is to make the fuzzy 'business trip' thing work for me from March to June. Set myself (or the whole family) up in a way that suits us best. Get to the wedding, get to the derby, etc. If I go in March, leaving wife and kids behind for 3 months, the official transfer policy wouldn't allow me frequent trips back. However, I can try to twist arms to allow me to return periodically, since it's just business trip and my group is paying, not the Japanese parent company.

And maybe I can spend some time learning how to drive on the left side of the road before the kids get there. I'd prefer not to risk all of our lives during my learning period.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Should I Stay or...

Eye candy: Veronica's Ballet Class (That's me standing in front of the class)

Boring stuff:
As of now, our acceptance of the ITC (Inter-compnay transfer) is tentative. Everyone says I'm going, including myself, but I haven't heard what it will mean in terms of salary, living expenses, housing, etc.

I have a list of questions for the poor HR person who will review the terms and cinditions with me. Cost of living? Housing? Cars? Schools? Returns home?

And then there's the dog. We've got 4 or 5 people who've said 'yeah, we'll take her', but we're still unsure if they all mean it. It's such a big burden that it's hard to tell if the people are just being kind, or if they really intend to take her. Poor little pooch.

One thing we thought of is that we might be able to go to Australia while we're there. Kathleen has a friend from her life in the tourism industry who has relocated there. It would be nice to visit him, and also a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the country.

Guam. I also want to go to Guam. Just because I like the name. And it's close to Japan, somehwhat... I think.