My Favorite Little Corner of the World

Goodbyes are never easy. It’s an old cliché, but we all know it’s true. My Okinawa goodbyes were not particularly graceful or memorable. They were actually rather abrupt, but in some ways, I like that better. As my friend Sally said, it’s like ripping off a BandAid. Or diving head first into cold water. You’ve just gotta do it. And in the end, most of my goodbyes were not that serious, because I know I will see many of these people again. But there was one goodbye that was harder for me. Because I know I will never see my Uken family again.

IMG_0099_20160207124157It’s hard to explain what Uken Beach means to me. On the surface, it may seem obvious: I like cats. Cats are my spirit animal. And believe it or not, I haven’t always been as obsessed as I am today. Sure, I’ve always loved them, but it wasn’t until my mother got rid of my cat while I was in college (without my knowledge) that I truly realized their significance in my life. As my mom struggled with mental illness and my home life disintegrated, Sammy was my consistent source of comfort. When I didn’t have her anymore, I felt her absence on a very deep level, and from then on would obsess over when I could finally get another feline companion of my own. Continue reading

Okinawa: Eating Our Way Through the Last Stretch

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Cafe Pipineo is about 10 minutes from my apartment and serves the most luscious cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had my whole life.

Welp! We are just about 6 weeks from our presumed rotation date, and the Marines still haven’t given us orders for the next assignment. Never mind that pretty much everyone else in our lives knows where they are going. Chuck and I are masters of the “hurry up and wait” philosophy, at this point. That said, I continue to assume that we will depart Okinawa this spring. With our time here drawing to a close, I am hoping we can squeeze a few more adventures into our remaining weeks – however big or small.

One thing I will surely miss are the darling cafés that dot the island.  They typically offer just 2-4 menu items at any given time, which sounds limiting but actually ensures a more memorable culinary experience. Of course, the ingredients are always fresh and local, and the décor is consistently unique and charming.

I won’t mind having more options (especially vegetarian and/or gluten free) when I return to the States, but I don’t know what I’ll do without a hearty guarantee of savory Japanese curry, garnished with local vegetables known to bless Okinawans with the longest lifespans on the planet.…  Continue reading

Tapping Into Tarot

img_7063_20170129195501Growing up, anything that remotely resembled fortune-telling, consulting with spiritual mediums, or manipulating one’s fate basically meant dooming yourself to demon possession and/or Hell itself. I believe we called it “opening the door to the occult.” Biblical examples of swift and sudden punishment or death were referenced to show how uniquely dangerous this sort of activity was. Movies like The Excorcist further demonstrated the unfortunate consequences of dabbling in the occult, however innocent the individual or her intent. So naturally – even though my early Christian beliefs have moderated over the years – I viewed even the most mundane activities of this nature with suspicion and a bit of fear. Continue reading

The Earth Laughs in Flowers

I first visited the Cosmos Fields in Okinawa 2 years ago, and I had a great time frolicking in the sea of pink as Chuck humored me with a couple of cute photos. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having more photo-shoot oriented fun when I took my friend Sally to see them for the first time.

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Journey to Middle Earth: North Island

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As Chuck and I approached our third Christmas away from the U.S., we realized – with a smattering of guilt – that we had not gone home for a single one of them. Of course, we had made it home on other occasions, and family is always welcome to join our international excursions, but this time we made it a point to invite Chuck’s parents and siblings to join us for a road trip in New Zealand. Continue reading