Back in Japan!

Today we traveled. First to my home country and then to his home country.

We got up in the middle of the night to take a bus to Manchester Airport, where a plane to the Netherlands was waiting for us.

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Wedding photo booth madness

One of the drawbacks of living abroad is missing big family events back in my home country. Today my cousin Marjolein got married to her Danny. I was sad to have to miss it and I’m anxious to see their wedding photos. I heard the ceremony was beautiful.
At the wedding party they had a photo booth for guests and I’ve really been enjoying seeing those photos pop up on facebook. My favorites are the ones with my crazy little brothers and their pretty ladies. The group of shots on the right has my cousin’s new husband joining in on the fun as well.

My First Bi-Weekly Owl Giveaway

If you have been following me on instagram or facebook, you know I’ve been enjoying working on a lot of owls these days. They are my absolute favorite to make, and I really love making them in batches of different color variations.

Then a fun idea occurred to me! What if I host a themed bi-weekly owl giveaway for my blog readers, instagram followers and facebook fans?!

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The horror that is parallel parking

I can drive. I like driving. I can’t wait for the day I get to own my first car. Yes, I’m 32 and I’ve never owned a car. But I’ve driven all over the world in rental cars and borrowed cars since 1998, and I loved it.
I can’t parallel park. I don’t like parallel parking. I successfully did it to pass my behind-the-wheels driving exam in Belgium, and then managed to never do it again. Who needs parallel parking? I don’t.
But if I ever want an American driver’s license, I’m going to have to be able to do it again. Because they won’t allow me to simply swap my Dutch license in for an American one.
What? Why not? I got my Dutch one by simply handing in my Belgian one… But in America they’re going to make me take the written exam and behind-the-wheels driving exam before they’ll give me a California driver’s license. Damn.
I don’t really need one right now, since my Dutch one is valid till the end of 2016, and I’ve had no problem renting a car with it in America. But what if I ever need an American license? This may be my last time in Europe before that happens. And they have those nice traffic squares in Belgium where you can practice those pesky car maneuvers in peace.
So last week Guido and I drove to Belgium and found the traffic square I used to practice on as a teenager. Guido took on the role of teacher and assistant and together , after a few slight panic attacks and general freak-outs, we got me parallel parked!
As you can see in the picture, the traffic square doesn’t provide real cars to park in between. After a while I had gotten pretty good at parking in between those high steel fence barriers, but doing it on a real street with other cars waiting impatiently behind me still made me extremely nervous. I tried on a few occasions that day in Belgium, but the giggling onlookers or the high volume of traffic just send me into a cold sweat and made me give up.
Today we tried again, in the Netherlands. Guido knew some quiet neighborhoods where I could practice. It was already dark so I have no picture to prove it, but I did it! Again, and again, and again, and a few more times.
People were nervously peeping out of their windows, wondering what the heck was going on. In the Netherlands, you’re not allowed to practice driving on your own, without an official driving school car and instructor, like you can in Belgium and America. I wondered if anyone was going to call the cops, which would have been funny, since I actually have a Dutch license so it was totally okay for me to practice parallel parking, over and over again. Weird, but legal.
No cops came and I took my parallel parking teacher out for some Döner Kebab. He deserved it, after being brave enough to let me practice in his car and being so patient with this parallel-parking-phobic. I just hope I remember how to parallel park when that American exam comes around. I may just freak out all over again.

Root canal

I’m afraid of the dentist, it’s not a secret. The dentist usually pokes around my mouth with sharp instruments and drills something eerily near my tongue… Just thinking about it is enough to make me cry which is why I avoid going to the dentist. And when I have to go to the dentist, I cry. A lot.
Saturday my teeth started hurting and at lunch the toothache was accompanied by a strong headache. So I took some painkillers and soon the pain magically disappeared. Later that night sadly the pain came back, but Sunday morning everything felt fine and I was happy the problem wasn’t really a problem. Denial was wonderful, until the pain came back even fiercer than the day before. I didn’t want to waste my Dutch painkillers on a day off, but soon I couldn’t stand the pain anymore so I succumbed. Life was good again, until the pain came back in the evening and no amount of painkillers seemed to help anymore.
Even though my mother, my grandmother and boyfriend all urged me to go to the dentist, I told myself the problem would be gone in the morning, somehow… Besides I knew I had a full day of training at the head office on Monday, and then a full work week right after that, so who has time to go to a dentist? Not me. But after a night of crying (from excruciating pain and dentist anxiety) and hardly any sleep, even I was convinced that going to the dentist would be good idea.
We biked around Tsukamoto and dentist number 4 had a spot open for me to get some emergency treatment. As soon as I saw a dentist chair and a bunch of pointy tools I started to panic again. The dentist, his two assistants and Yasu had a hard time convincing me to lay down in the chair and open my mouth.
They were so patient, with my sitting back up again demanding Yasu to translate what the dentist just told him or what I was telling him, with my crying, with my teaching the dentist a hand signal so I could make him stop whatever he was doing, with my iPod earphones which the dentist ended up putting into my ears himself (!), and with my constant requests for anesthetics being afraid of more pain.
Turned out I had one of the most painful dental problems: a dead nerve and an emergency root canal was needed, but they wisely didn’t tell me about the root canal until it was over, they just told me they were going to use a drill and it wasn’t going to hurt because of the already-dead nerve. This dentist used a blue plastic flap to protect my tongue and mouth from drills and flying tooth debris. Which actually made things a lot better, because my biggest worry is always that the dentist will drill into my tongue.
The dentist relieved the pressure in or on my teeth, drilled around in my tooth filled it with some temporary red stuff, and told me to come back for a repeat root canal next week. And then three more times to replace the tooth with a crown, which fortunately is ten times cheaper than getting a crown at home. So that’s the silver lining, I guess.
After the treatment the pain reached its peak, it was so unbearable I almost passed out on the train to the head office. Still I was happy because I had gotten help, from a dentist no less, how brave am I?! And after the prescribed painkillers started working a long while later I knew I would survive this dental tragedy.
In my head all dentists are drill-carrying-sadists, but I actually like this dentist, he’s funny, patient and very kind. I have to return four more times and I don’t feel too scared about that prospect. Still, I’m pretty sure I’ll cry again, but Yasu is sure I’ll keep it dry, next week.

Being home is nice

Just a quick post to let you guys know, I’m really enjoying my relaxing stay at home:

It’s been a great week and now I’m off to Frankfurt, to see my last Bon Jovi concert this year. I’m really excited and hoping they will play ‘Always’ tomorrow night (we’re sleeping in the car tonight). But even if they don’t, I’m sure it’ll be awesome!

Bon Jovi hits Europe

Today the European leg of Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway Tour starts in Gelsenkirchen, Germany! If I was in Europe now, I know I would’ve gone there, as Minke and I have seen Bon Jovi perform there before… And Minke is actually going there today!

It’s so strange to see Bon Jovi without Minke in Japan and it’s so strange that Minke is going to a concert in Europe without me, because we are each other’s Bon Jovi concert buddies. I really missed her during the Japan tour, a concert just isn’t the same with her jumping up and down next to me. But hey, we’re going to one concert together in less than 2 weeks in Frankfurt!
Update (May 23): The band played Always live in Gelsenkirchen!! This is the song that instantly turned me into a Bon Jovi fan in 1995, and I’ve been wanting to hear it live for more than 13 years now… And it’s not like I haven’t been to enough concerts to increase the chance of hearing it live! Well, Minke I’m really, really jealous… But at least the song is on their playlist this tour and I can only hope they do that song one more time in Frankfurt! Can’t wait to hear your stories about last night!