We're not on vacation this time.
Yesterday was a big day. A day that eased a lot of stress. A day in which the biggest boxes were checked. A day in which we became tourists no longer. 2 things happened: The kids are signed up for school, and we have a place to live.
The school thing wasn't hard. I wore long sleeves for the tats, but I don't know if it would've mattered. The teachers and board members all seemed very nice and open. I'm positive the Head Teacher is gay. He's also Canadian. The principal is Turkish. Anyway, they, and we, were satisfied with the discussion we had. And the kids apparently did fine on their assessments. D did so well, in fact, that they are putting him in second grade! His reading was advanced, and the teacher didn't want to put him in a class with kids who are just learning and some of whom have English as their second language. Now both of my kids are the babies in their classes. So, they start on Monday, in their new uniforms that we had to order in centimeters tall (we had to measure them because we had no idea). Today we are going to buy them 'indoor shoes,' as outside shoes are not permmitted in the school. (It was really odd to walk around in our 'fancy' clothes and the blue plastic slippers they provided.)
The place to live. Wow, that was a bit nerve-racking. We seriously could not have done it without Macky. We drove around an area we liked, near the Ooguchi train station, and walked into one of the billion real-estate offices. Unfortunately, the only places available near the train stations (OOguchi and Tsurumi, which are one other side of the area where the kids' school is) were 1-bedroom, small places. The lovely real-estate girls took us to a couple places, two in a really weird twisty tall apt complex, and one in a smaller, shorter complex. We decided on the latter, because it felt like a house more than an apartment, is in a safe, enclosed area for the kiddies, and BONUS, is a 3 minute walk from the school. No tatami room and not a ton of sunlight, but it felt much friendlier and the kids love it. One master bedroom downstairs (with a walk-in closet! I've always wanted one!) and 2 upstairs (one for the kids, one for hobbies and guests!). Wood floors. I'll take pics when we move in.
So, the whole transaction was conducted in Japanese. Once we decided we liked the place and applied for it, we had the anxious wait as the owner decided whether or not she liked us enough to rent to us. AND the paperwork would've been a nightmare w/o Macky. They want your boss or respected family-member to vouch for you, to guarantee their money will get paid if we decide to skip out. And they want LOTS of money upfront. I think it amounted to 5 or 6 months rent. It includes a company guarantee, a security deposit, 'thank you' money for the owner and the agency (read: bribe), and I don't know what else. It's a really good thing we took out a loan to come here, because the money we're shelling out upfront to enroll the kids in school and get a place to live is mind-boggling.
Business-stuff is mostly taken care of, and we can relax a little. With that in mind, here's some pictures of people from the BUZZBUZZ BBQ thrown in our honor (I think) last Sunday. I took all these pics with my cool new phone that has a million awesome features I can't use because the manual is in Japanese. These are the people I'll be seeing alot of:
Zukyan. Tiny. Rides a scooter.
Jay. He's Canadian and it's appropriate that his name is the same as a nickname for a certain kind of cigarette.
Mercy. He helped us fix our phone email addresses.
Emilie. Quebec. Speaks several languages. Older than her years.
Macky Ramone. Bad picture of a wonderful man.
Rick. Very nice. Pretty good English.
Taeko. Good friend of Macky's.
Tamara. Alaskan. She's been living here for 8 years. She has appointed herself my Japanese tutor. Very cool.
Toru. Father of Kyotoro. He and his family live near us.
Yuko. She gave us lovely fans and PBR to welcome us.
Lovely bunch of people. Very welcoming. The food was AWESOME. All sorts of things I've never had off the grill before, like chicken skin and octopus. Yum.
I don't know when my next update will be. We are moving into our place on Thursday, but I don't know how long until we get internet there. We're going to be sleeping on borrowed futons and sleepings bags until our stuff shows up and we've done some shopping. Shopping'll be fun. I know where there's a 2-story 100 yen store for all thise little household goods.