Saturday, January 29, 2011

Slowly but Surely

We FINALLY got a sponsor! After enough pestering, we were finally given a sponsor, and she seems to be pretty helpful so far. She actually PCSed to Japan without a sponsor, so we are hoping that will be beneficial to us, because she will try extra hard to help us out :)

Medical Clearance = DONE! Both of our medical and dental stuff has been approved by Japan.

Area Clearance...Not back yet from Japan. We were told it would be done last Monday. When it wasn't done on Monday they said it should be back on Friday. Friday they said it will be done no later than this Wednesday. Okay, if I hear "tomorrow" one more time, I will scream. We need this to make travel arrangements, set up temporary lodging, kennel reservations for the dog, etc. So let's hope it really IS done on Wednesday!

Passport: Okay, I have a tourist passport, and at first the travel office said that was enough. They decided to change their minds and now say that I need a no-fee passport (after having my information for 4 weeks). So Turf had to send me all of the paperwork and I applied for that on Friday. The travel office says they will still book my flight without it, so thats good. Hopefully they don't change their mind about that too ;)

TMO: Our household goods shipment has been packed up, and our unaccompanied baggage and storeage shipments are set for the next couple of weeks. Poor Turf is in an empty house!

Boomer: FAVN test came back good- almost triple the minimum level of rabies antibodies he was required to have! Now we are waiting on travel arrangments so that I can schedule an appointment for his health certificate, send in the Advanced Notification, and make an appointment with USDA for certification.

Housing: Our sponsor told Turf we would be in the pet friendly towers on Camp Courtney rather than living on Kinser. I don't know that she can do this, since the housing office assigns housing, but maybe his unit has made an arrangement? The Kinser housing office keeps telling us that they are still at 95% occupancy, but I read some info from another girl who got there Friday who said housing is at 75% and that there is NO pet friendly housing available on Kinser right now. We both rate for a 3 bedroom, so the only thing I can think that would make a difference is that maybe we have different pay grades (housing is based on the member's pay grade). So, we still have no idea what's going on. I am praying his sponsor can come through with getting us the pet friendly towers!

I'm getting so anxious to get to Japan! I'm ready to move, and I am sick of living out of my suitcase and staying in Roseburg! It still doesn't seem real, I don't think it will until I board my flight out of Seattle. I was driving around town yesterday thinking how strange it will be to not see the American things that I am used to and wondering how bad the culture shock will be. I am trying to take advantage of being here for now, and not get so caught up in wanting to leave :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Japan in T-?????

Well, how about those football playoffs?! I'm really not super into the teams that have made it this year. DO NOT like the Steelers, and unfortunately, that is who will probably win the whole enchilada this year. The Bears bore me, and I am very indifferent about the Jets. So I guess I am rooting for the Packers? Sure, why not. I have the "warmest" feelings for them.

Japan update: we have scheduled the movers to come and pack our stuff (which is done in 3...count em'....3 shipments: Express, Standard, and Storeage). Tonight we will go through all of our belongings via Skype and decide what is important enough to move to Japan, what is important enough to move to Japan quickly, and what we won't miss. This should be awesome! We have yet to receive a sponsor which you are ENTITLED to have, and I have a terrible feeling we will be doing this whole thing without one. I am especially upset that we have emailed and called people several times who have not contacted us back at all. Very unnprofessional. We are waiting on pretty much all of our paperwork to be processed, have no idea when we are leaving for sure yet (though we should find out tomorrow...hopefully) and thus are clueless as to where we will stay for temporary lodging, whether or not we will bring the dog with us, or where he will stay if we do. I guess its kinda like a deadline at work, eventually all the pieces will fall into place and hopefully before the deadline! I will feel less stressed when it all happens.

One question I have been asked a lot is "what will you do in Japan?". Well, for starters, while this is a perfectly legitimate question and I understand where people are coming from with it, I think it is a bit unanswerable. We aren't moving there for me, we are moving there for him. I don't know where we will be living, whether or not my dog can be there, or even how to get around the island until we purchase a car and get our licenses. I definitely have not figured out what I will do for work/life. I would like to look into teaching or substitute teaching but the application packet for these are GIANT and I can't turn them in until I get there. I have also applied for several positions on base that I have been interested in, both in childcare and not. Realistically, for the first month or two or maybe even three, I will be adjusting to life, unpacking, setting up utilitites, studying for and getting a drivers license, learning my way around base and the island, and hopefully meeting people so I don't go insane. I also plan on starting an online master's program, but would like to get settled before I start. So, in short, I'm not sure yet, but we will see what happens.

Another thing I keep hearing people say is "Ew, Japan?!" or something along those lines. Hmmm..this is offensive on a few counts, the biggest being that again, I have no control over this and it certainly does not help for people to automatically start telling me how much it will suck. I really think Japan (and really, many Asian countries) get a bad wrap. First of all, most of the people who think it will suck have never been there and don't know much about it except for that its crawling with Asian people and they eat sushi. Really, Japan is home to some amazing geography and natural life. They have a culture that is unique and very different from anything we experience here in the US, and from everything I have heard, are a very welcoming society of people. There are amazing beaches, mountains, jungles, and other landscapes, and an vast array of things to do/see/experience. So yes, it may be different, but I don't think it will suck and I think people really need to open their minds more to places that are unfamiliar.

Stepping off my soapbox...

Friday, January 14, 2011

The FAVN test from Hell

Boomer and I made the long trek to McChord on Sunday night for his FAVN test Monday. Stayed in a creepy hotel with old pipes that decided to start banging in the middle of the night, and Monday was the day from hell! It all started with a huge delay in getting on base because the insurance card was not in the glove box. And the Air Force have so much money invested in large planes and other such expensive equipment that apparently even if you are military you have to show your military ID, drivers license, vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, blood type, proof of US citizenship, and mother's maiden name to get on base. Well, not really the last three, but still. I have never had such a hard time getting on base. Most of the other bases I've been to I haven't even needed a day pass, I just show my military ID and away I go. The visitor's office also wanted to know every stop I planned to make on base and the approximate length of time I would be there- not kidding.
This was the first time I have tried to take LARGE Boomer to the vet alone. Back when he was small Boomer, it didn't make a difference, but now that he is 60 lbs, its a bit more difficult. So here I am carrying my purse on one shoulder, a file of paperwork in that hand, and a giant hyperactive dog tugging on his leash in the other. The vet tech asks me to weigh him on the scale that does not lift up off the ground....sure, because this dog looks like he's ready to sit still and be weighed! As I'm struggling like a crazy woman in front of the entire waiting room to get him on the scale, he slips out of his collar and goes charging towards a Boxer (because he obviously looks like he wants to play), who turns out to be overprotective of other dogs or people getting "too close" to his owner (as the lady put it while screaming "not a good idea!" and throwing her legs in the air to keep Boomer away. On the verge of tears, I finally wrangle my dog back into his collar. He, of course, doesn't realize anything is wrong.
Getting into the exam room was also not the most relaxing thing, as Boomer pulled out of his collar AGAIN (he is now afraid of the vet after being neutered) and proceeded to bounce and jump on the vet and vet tech. I have trained him so well.
I did find out that to send in the FAVN test requires a payment in check or money order, which I definitely did not have, so I had to go get a money order from the BX and wait the hour it takes the clinic to take lunch before I could go back. Fun.
The ride home was smooth, and on a different note, the Ducks lost! I told myself I would root for them, I really did, but every time something good happened for Auburn, I found myself cheering. Sorry.

We are getting closer and closer to our move, and I'm feeling more and more apprehensive about housing. Turf spoke with a woman in the housing office who said that they are at 95% occupancy, so we will have the choice to move off base. Great- except Boomer is not even close to meeting the 180 day quarantine and I really don't want to leave him in a kennel that long. Which means a long commercial flight for him in 6 months :( Living on base is sounding like a bad option as well because Kinser, the base we will be on, is made up of mostly tower apartments that don't accept animals. Unless by some miracle we get placed on another base in a multiplex or duplex, we are SOL. I am very depressed about it :(

Hopefully this process starts taking off a bit more. I am ready to be there, to start settling down, and to finally have some sort of resolution to this housing/dog mess :(

Monday, January 3, 2011

No more Christmas :(

Well, Christmas break is over too soon, and the next month should be super busy. We had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and a really fun New Year! It has been awesome being on vacation for 3 weeks. Cancun, and back to Oregon, what an amazing December. Turfy also had a great birthday, which we celebrated in a suite at the Blazers game :) And now its back to reality...
 Turf left for Pensacola today and I will be staying here in Oregon with Boomer to finish his vaccination process. Moving to Japan is such a process, there is definitely NOT enough time. But, that's life. Poor Turf will be trying to get through everything on his own: housing applications, selling both vehicles, area clearance, moving (which we hear is done in 3 moves- express shipment, standard, and storeage), passport stuff, travel arrangements...and the list goes on. Trying to take one thing at a time does not really work when everything has to be done NOW! :)
Boomer's second rabies vaccination went well, and next Monday we will be making the long trip back to the base to get his FAVN test done.
On another note, Boomer is scheduled for an appointment at 7am tomorrow to have his man treasures removed, poor puppy :(