Tag Archive | adventure!

That, Too, Did Pass

“Tire is shot,” he told me. “Worn almost to the belt.”

Thankfully it wasn’t my car, and it wasn’t a mechanic telling me that. My car, which I’ve had nearly 9 years now, is running smoothly. I suppose an oil change will be needed soon, though.

At this time, I can’t afford new tires for my car, nor can I afford new brakes and rotors, all of which seem to need to be replaced about every year and a half or so.

I have nothing in savings. I had money in savings, but it’s gone now.

I planned to get my passport this month. But when all is said and done, I’m going to have $60 left in the bank, and I still need to buy groceries. I don’t have money for fun things right now, not unless I want to eat instant noodles, or worse, starve.

I remember back in 2017, when I was buying candy from a local religious fundraiser outside of a grocery store where I bought food on food stamps. One of the ladies, noticing that I was paying with spare change from a coin bank, said she was going to mention this scene in the weekend’s sermon. It was something about me having kept the change until it was nearly all I had left, or not knowing when you might need it, or something.

I hit rock bottom. I was sleeping on a friend’s couch. I had food stamps. I was having issues finding work, to make money, to pay my bills, so I wouldn’t lose the phone I needed to get a job or all the possessions I had in storage.

Finally, I got a job that lasted longer than a month. And before she threw me out, I got off my friend’s couch and out of her life… I mean house, I got out of her house.

I moved in with J and paid rent. Half of one biweekly paycheck went to J, and half of the other paycheck went to the storage unit rent. I had my phone bill to pay, and car insurance as well.

I managed to scrape up $500 to replace my brakes and rotors in early 2018, only to find out that I needed to replace my tires as well. When I tried to take out the credit card at the shop, I was denied based on my credit report. I had to hold off on the tires until I had more money put aside.

Once my car issues were resolved, and my income taxes resulted in a refund, I splurged and got a newer phone.

Little by little, I managed to put more money into savings, taking out as needed. At one point, I had $1000 back in savings! But after moving two counties away and then moving back, some of my savings went into the cost of moving.

I’ve been living on J’s couch for two months now, paying the same amount for rent as before. Since I haven’t been able to have the cat here at this time, he’s been at a friend’s house, with a two-month limit for his stay.

I had to find a place that would be within my budget, or I had to hope things would change here. Well, I had to go outside of what I wanted to budget, but I found an apartment that met my needs!

And then… They asked for a security deposit. There went my savings, what was left of it anyway.

And I need a bed. It’s a long story that makes me bitter.

When I looked at all my bills, and did the math, I realized I could afford the bed, plus my bills, plus the first month’s rent, on the paycheck I just received.

And that’s why I have $60 to my name, and still need to buy groceries.

But holy mother of who-knows-what… I couldn’t get an apartment last year, and definitely not the year before, because I didn’t have the means to do so. Now I’m going to have my own place, and the cat.

And when I panicked about how much more I’m paying in rent, and wondered if I could afford it, I remembered that the difference in rent between staying at J’s and living in my new apartment is equal to the storage rent in New Jersey. Since I don’t have that storage unit anymore, I can easily afford the higher rent and all the perks of living alone… with the cat.

I’ve come a long way. To think back on it all and realize I’m in a better situation now, it feels amazing!

I mean, I’m back to being broke, which sucks, but it’s temporary.

And maybe I can still apply for my passport this month, with any luck. It puts me one step closer to Japan, otherwise it gives me an excuse to drive to Canada for lunch on a whim, if I have my passport.

I made it this far, so let’s keep going!


Mission: Adventure!

My time in this house with Libra is nearing its end.

I knew this was coming, before I agreed to moving in with him. However, I didn’t know when. He didn’t even know when, because there was no set date. As much as I don’t want to be vague, since it sounds like we’ve just reached a point where we can’t stand each other, I unfortunately have to be vague for the sake of privacy and personal information. Yeah, it sucks, but I don’t feel as if I’m at liberty to discuss such things.

Ah, but tragedy befalls other friends as well, as my best friend suffered a tragic loss. There’s a lot going on with that, so I should probably hold my figurative tongue. So much going on in life, not at liberty to discuss any of it.

Well, one of these two situations provided me an excellent opportunity!

I was asked if I would personally deliver some legal papers to an address in Buffalo. I agreed, solely because i had the time and I was helping out a friend in need. So preparations were made, Libra gave my car an oil change, I was given gas money by the friend I was helping, and I set off on my whirlwind adventure.

It’s been years since I’ve been to Buffalo. I’ve driven through the area more recently than I had last visited, as we (Mom and I, for example) would have to pass through the area on the way to visit my brother when he still lived in Pennsylvania. The last time I had visited was when I was spending time with my first ex, which was about ten years ago.

I didn’t want to just go, drop off the papers, and then turn back around.

Libra was going to go with me, but then he changed his mind for reasons I understood. Had he accompanied me, I might have tried looking for the two bars that my ex had visited, as I felt like Libra might have enjoyed the bar that had a devil theme to it. Then again, I felt like Libra might not have cared what we did, except to tell me that he didn’t want to be with me while I rekindled memories.

I ended up going alone, which is not a problematic situation for me. So I chose the music, brought some snacks, and headed out on my three-hour-long journey.

When I was almost to my destination, I sent a message to the friend I was helping. I was then informed that the recipient wouldn’t be home for about two more hours. Well, I did plan to occupy more of my time while I was out, did I not? So I pulled into a parking lot for some business that was closed, either for the day or forever, and I searched Google for something that would cater to my interests.

Asian markets.

In hindsight, I don’t know why I searched for Asian markets. It’s not as if I couldn’t make a day trip to Syracuse for Asian food, or just popped in to Wegmans after work for their limited selection of goods. Furthermore, it’s not as if I actually needed anything, as I still had two bottles of Calpico in the fridge, I had ramen, panko bread crumbs, okonomiyaki flour,… I did not need anything more. Why I didn’t search for something entertaining, like a science museum or an arcade, is beyond me.

Lucky Dragon was closed for the day, which was only a disappointment in that I couldn’t say I visited a store with Dragon in the name. My first stop was then Hana Mart, a shop with about a third of the floor space of Han’s. I’m not kidding, the floor space was about the size of someone’s living room. It was tiny! But what the store lacked in floor space, it made up for in selection, as I found a few things I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. The girl behind the register was so nice and friendly, and we talked about how baked goods always taste better while they’re warm, after she passed along the suggestion that the brownie-cookies I bought would taste better after being in the microwave for a moment.

I consulted my phone again, this time finding another store that was occupying a repurposed Walmart. The store is called Asia Food Mart, and the entrance is flanked by a pair of lion statues, just like the other Asian market that I know of in Syracuse. Like that Syracuse store, there is more of an emphasis on Chinese food and culture, although other Southeast Asian countries are represented as well. But unlike that store in Syracuse, this one had a nook with furniture in it, and one corner of the store displayed porcelain dishes with small spotlights focused on the items, and glass display cases arranged in a rectangle with jewelry pieces and jade knick-knacks on display for purchase. There was also more Indian food and seasoning as well. I bought a lot of drinks, from canned coffee to juice with bits of coconut in it. I also bought some jelly snacks, which are closer in consistency to gelatin than to something you might spread on toast. I told myself I was going to avoid anything that needed refrigeration, which probably saved me some money though I might have missed out on having ice cream mochi as a treat in the car. At least I know the other Asian store in the Syracuse area has ice cream mochi, so I’m not at a loss. But what I didn’t know, or at least what I didn’t realize at the time, was that the Asia Food Mart in Buffalo is a sister store to the Asia Food Mart in Syracuse, the place I keep using for comparisons. No wonder they have so much in common!

Half way through the Asia Food Mart, and when my phone wanted to deliver a message, I got a message from my friend saying that my recipient had arrived at home. My friend was anxious for me, and everyone was fearing that the scene would be more eventful than it was. I didn’t mind taking my time to finish up in the store, as it allowed my recipient to get comfortable for a bit, though I’m aware that it only drew things out for my friend. But I navigated back to the given address, confirmed I had the correct recipient, then dropped off the papers and fled the scene. There was no confrontation, probably because my recipient was blindsided and confused. Hey, I’m just the delivery girl, I did what I was asked to do.

I parked in another parking lot, then made the necessary phone calls to say it was done and how little I had to deal with. Then I recalled seeing a listing for a ramen restaurant, which I searched for as it was nearing dinnertime and I was not going to do drive-thru if I could help it. The first five listings, when searching for ramen near me, were all for Sato Ramen, located near the University of Buffalo campus. My first thought was that this is obviously “the” place to go for ramen, so I went there. The food was amazing, of course! I’m pretty sure the portion of ramen I had was an American-sized portion, and with my okonomiyaki fries on the side, it was too much for me to eat in one sitting. I’ve heard in Japan, you can’t just get your leftovers to go, but since we’re in America (and again, that was a generous portion, I’m not even kidding), the restaurant had to-go containers. With my leftovers packed up, I returned to the car.

At this point, it’s after 6 pm on a Sunday night. The mall was closed, in fact a few things would’ve been closing up for the night if they weren’t already.  I already told myself I wasn’t going to cross into Canada, which is why I left my birth certificate at home (birth certificates along with photo ID can apparently be used in lieu of passports or the enhanced drivers license to cross the border into Canada). That didn’t mean I couldn’t go to Niagara Falls, it just meant I couldn’t go to the Canadian side of the Falls. So, I plotted a course for the Hard Rock Cafe, Niagara Falls USA.

That was the second time I had been to the Hard Rock Cafe on the American side of the Falls, the first time being when I took another friend of mine to the area to pick up her daughter. That was before I met my first ex. I bought a t-shirt and a necklace at that time, along with the Shakira pin which is one of my favorite pins yet – it’s a pink winged guitar! This time, I bought two shirts, a necklace, and three different pins. I couldn’t resist the one shirt, as it had a guitar with wings on it, and it wasn’t until I was wearing it at work the next day that it reminded me of Kyosuke Himuro and some of his merchandise. I wanted to get dessert, but I had already transferred money out of my savings account to pay for shirts I didn’t need after buying Asian groceries I didn’t need.

After I left the Hard Rock Cafe, I walked around a building that housed an international food court and a gift shop. I walked in because the Chinese eatery advertised bubble tea, but then I didn’t buy anything, not even the bubble tea. When I was looking through the gift shop, I thought about different people and what I might buy for them. Libra might’ve received a pocket knife with his name on it, and I might’ve purchased a shot glass for one of the guys at work who’s a close friend. The only thing stopping me was knowing how much I had already spent on the trip, though I also considered the gift-giving gesture would be appreciated but the gift would be unwanted.

I was quickly running out of daylight, so I decided not to stay at the Falls for too much longer. Besides, the Falls are spectacular at night… from the Canadian side, not the American side. Since I had to work the next day, and I needed to get home without passing out and crashing the car, I figured it was best if I ended my adventure, at least for this time around.

I hated having to leave for home. Home, of course, being the place where I rest my head at night. I could’ve rested my head in a hotel room, but I wouldn’t have been ready for work, and I can’t just do my job remotely. So that got me thinking, I should get a remote job, I should just go to different places, especially places I’ve never been before.

So that is my plan, at least the most generalized version of it. I will get a remote job, I’ll quit being a relay operator, and I’m going to see more of the United States. Because if I leave for Japan, there are things I’ll have never seen in my own country and might never see, and I’ll have to fly over all of it anyway. So then I thought about taking a train across the country, to at least see the landscapes, then hop a flight to Japan from the west coast. Finally I thought about just taking a road trip across the country, instead of taking a train, before I conceded that Japan isn’t in my budget yet. So how will I afford this excursion? I’ll stay in one place for a few weeks, then go somewhere else.

For now, though, I will prepare, because this is going to be a long journey, and I don’t quite feel prepared for it yet. But when I am ready and I head out, I hope it’s going to be worthwhile!

Road Trip Part Three (Amore And More? Part Four)

Our story so far involves J dating again, and in response I planned a trip to meet a guy I’ve known a while but only online. As part of the trip, I figured I would stop in Edgewater, NJ so I could go to Mitsuwa Marketplace once again.

After my stop to the bookstore and the shop that sells almost everything else you would want from Japan, I headed into the supermarket. My goal was to only buy things I wanted or might need, things that I couldn’t easily get in Syracuse at one of the local Asian grocery stores, and since I was far from home I couldn’t get anything that required some kind of refrigeration.

I got some makings for okonomiyaki, such as the powdery nori (basically seaweed sprinkles) and fried flour bits (think of it as tiny batter drippings that are fried). The special okonomiyaki flour was about the same price as what I pay around here, so there was no point in buying more.

There are hard candies flavored like some of Suntory’s beverages such as Dekavita C and CC Lemon, which I first bought from Mitsuwa though I never tried looking for some of the other beverage flavors. I couldn’t buy any more CC Lemon while I was there, but I did get another bottle of Dekavita C, and I found the cherry drink and the honey and lemon drink that are also featured flavors of the hard candies. The cherry drink was good, but of course I enjoy the hard candy as well.

I found Hello Kitty Pasta! Unlike the Rilakuma spaghetti I’ve purchased previously (which I didn’t find this time), the Hello Kitty pasta is shaped like Hello Kitty and flowers. It was $4, and it’s not even a pound of pasta, so I’m not sure if I want to eat it or keep it around for looks.

About $75 later, once it was all back home and in the pantry and elsewhere, I was asking myself what I bought. And yet, it’s been two weeks and I still haven’t consumed all of it.

Before I got back to the car, I got myself something for lunch. Previously when I’ve visited Mitsuwa, I was in the mindset that I only lived about 40 minutes away so there was easily a next time and it could be sooner than I could imagine. With that mindset, it didn’t matter what I bought to eat for lunch, because I’d be back again to try something else. This time, since it had been over a year since the last time I was at Mitsowa (which is hard to believe that time really passed that quickly), I figured that I had to get something worth the visit. I paced from one eatery to the next, trying to figure what I wanted. I settled on ramen, but I went for the combo that included natto. Oh yes, I was going for natto.

From what I’ve gathered, natto is pretty much the Vegemite of Japan. It’s an acquired taste that is seldom enjoyed by foreigners. Let me put it this way: imagine you’re eating beans, like kidney beans, but they’re in a sauce that requires fermentation… oh, and the sauce looks like the thin, stringy slime they use in movies depicting alien lifeforms. Natto is supposed to have a strong scent, from what I’ve heard, but my natto served on rice and topped with green onions was rather mild in taste and aroma. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it, and ended up not finishing my ramen because I just couldn’t eat anything else.

But then I got dessert on my way out the door, most of which traveled back to Syracuse with me. I ate the coffee jelly when I got to the storage unit, which was dumb of me because it was topped with ice cream. I knew it was topped with ice cream. For whatever reason, my brain thought it would be fine to wait that long before eating it. The ice cream was soup, of course, but it didn’t make a mess and was quite tasty as anticipated.

At the storage unit, it was lightly raining. As I packed the car, it seemed like a lot of things I had in storage were affected by the moisture in the air, as boxes seemed slightly damp and such. Well, my goal is to empty out the storage unit by the end of this year, maybe, so aside from a  few things I desperately wanted to get out to make sure they survived, I just loaded up the car with whatever was nearby. Within an hour, I was back on the road, and this time I was heading for home.

The whole trip was exhausting, but exciting. And I did find love, as I had hoped.

It wasn’t for my date, which I’m sorry to say and yet I don’t regret it. Being around him feels like being around my exes, which is only a bad thing because I wouldn’t be giving him the chance that Mr Smith probably deserves. And yet, maybe it’s just my inner workings being hyper vigilant and trying to avoid a repeat of the past, a past where I wasn’t happy, where the relationship I had really wasn’t what I wanted.

If anything, the love I found was for myself. I focused on what I wanted and what I needed to do. I did what made me happy. And I told people about it, because I wanted them to know that I found something that made me happy and they might enjoy it as well. I did things so that I wouldn’t walk away with regrets, or at least that I could say I tried. I met Mr Smith, and I had been wanting to meet him for a while, but now I know I like him as a friend and I don’t want to lose that. I tried natto. Heck, I spoke three words of Japanese to a vendor, which always made me nervous because I never wanted to assume that any Asian person was Japanese or could speak Japanese (and yes, it was a positive experience, or so it seemed).

Maybe it’s for the best if J’s house is just my home base for now. I can’t imagine it’s going to help my love life, as potential suitors might think J and I already have some kind of relationship and they might decide to not invest much time with me. But maybe I’m not supposed to be in love with anyone here, not even J. Maybe J exists to keep me from feeling lonely, to get me back on my feet and figure out where my life should go from here.

And maybe there’s an adventure in my future, a trip to Japan and not just a Japanese restaurant or supermarket. Why do I feel like I’m being called there?

And why have I really been brought back here to Syracuse? Because I could do without living with an unrequited love while he dates someone else. I never would have remembered I had a thing for him if I hadn’t moved back here. But I do have a good environment now, where I can think critically about anyone in my life. I know that J isn’t perfect, Mr Smith isn’t perfect, even J’s date isn’t all that wonderful.

Since I do have love for J, I do want him to be happy, and if it’s with his date and not me, it might be for the best. After all, getting tied down with J would only keep me in Syracuse. If I’m meant to be in Japan, then I need to be ready and willing for the opportunity when it comes my way.

So that was February, or at least the major parts of it. My birthday comes at the end of this month, and hopefully something exciting will happen between now and then. If not, I’ll find something to get excited about. Mark my words.