Free Advice: On Disappointment


As I have eluded to in past posts, (see "Chaos"),  I'm no Oprah. But will that tiny fact stop me from offering free advice? Hell no. So here goes the first of my "Free Advice" columns. A little lengthy, but I had alot to say on the subject of "Disappointment"...

We've all been there. And we'll be there again. Some of us have been disappointed in life more than others. So what's up with that? Here's my take on disappointment...

It sucks. It's painful. It gnaws into the pit of your stomach. And if you are smart, it forces you into re-evaluating a friendship, a job, a lifestyle and quite possibly, yourself. 

Is a 'friend' or partner sucking you dry? 
Have you felt disappointed by the actions or words of someone you consider a close friend? Are you being bombarded with constant neediness, negativity or anger? Or is it subtler than that? Maybe a nasty comment or put-down on occasion? Does the offender deny that they have done anything wrong? Been there. Bottom line on this is that friends are nice to one another. Anything less is not conducive of friendship. 

As difficult as it may be, it may just be time for a change. I'm not talking about a friend who is going through a bad time in life. That's different. I'm talking about someone who has made you part of their nightmare and/or neurosis. The current term used for this type of person is "Energy Vampire" It fits nicely.

In the free world, we can choose to keep these bloodsuckers in our lives or not. Gotta love  freedom. And even though we will miss the good times, when you are released from their grasp, you will see the your world differently and you feel better about yourself. Believe me.

Got Dumped? 
Been there. Actually, several times so I kind of consider myself to be an expert in this area. As an adult 'dumpee', I found that following the most emotional of break-ups, a couple of rum & diet cokes really helped with the initial pain. No joke. 

Then came time for introspection. What did I learn? Was I not attractive enough? Too fat? Not smart enough? Too deep? Not deep enough? Not wild and crazy enough? Too wild and crazy? The answer? None of the above applied. I found the answer to this question after I met the man that I would marry at the not-so-tender age of forty.

It turns out that my 'dumpers' were just not right for me. Simple as that. I would have not been happy marrying any one of them - even the ones I thought could be "the one". So, thank-you to all those who dumped me. It was disappointing at the time but I am way OK with your decision today. 

Anyway, I guess my advice about getting dumped is... Move on. 
Painful? Yes. 
Your fault? Probably not.

Life-story: I was 38 when I planned on (and started saving for) moving away to the island of Grenada. My goal was to live the the island lifestyle with my dogs, (Harlan & Betsy) by the time I turned 40. Bracing myself for the potential problem of getting a job and finding a place to stay with two dogs on Grenada I decided to just live one day at a time and carry on with my island plan while living my life in Dallas. I was done with the fairy-tale of settling down with my prince behind a white picket fence and felt confident that everything would work out just fine. And it did. I never did live on Grenada - my prince showed up when I least expected him.


Disappointed about not getting that job or promotion? 
Been there. What I can tell you about that is...Thank God for unanswered prayers. There is a reason for this sort of disappointment and normally it has to do with either your qualifications or the job expectations of your boss. Do you really want to work for someone that doesn't want you? I think not. You would be miserable.

What I have learned about this sort of disappointment is that it's up to you to ride it out with as much grace as you can muster - it might not be a whole hell of a lot - but in the long run, you will be prouder of yourself if you just suck it up and be polite about it all. Congratulate the jerk candidate who got the job and thank the idiots decision makers for their time. Getting all pissy will not give you the job/promotion you wanted and will most definitely impact your opportunities in the future.  

It's what you make it. 

There you have it. In all it's smugness. 

At the risk of sounding all 70's Beatles lyrics, my goal for many years has been to create a life of peace, harmony and love. It's not always been easy but it has always been my goal. 

Early on in my adulthood, I found out (through a series of disappointments) that I had the ability to make choices that seriously impacted my life. As a single, childless person I could choose to ...
  • not allow myself to be surrounded by nasty people. 
  • remove myself from people/situations where I would feel uncomfortable.
  • look for good people and cultivate friendships with them.
  • forgive those who have hurt me.
  • create a peaceful home environment.
  • get a dog.  
  • forgive myself for the past.
  • plan for the future. 
  • live each day in the present.
Whoa. I was sort of  'in-control'.

I learned that when I chose to separate myself from negative influences, my life took a positive turn. When I decided to drink only moderately, I didn't do or say stupid shit. When I got a dog, I had someone who needed me. When I forgave myself, I could get on with my life.

There you have it - my first real advice column. Let me know if you would like more.



 Yesterday, it was 87F in Dallas, Texas. 
That's about 31C for my international readers.

Just sayin'

Not Your Mama's Cookie Exchange...


Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies by moi. What they lack in flavor, they make up for in looks.

For the past seven years, Jeni and Lori have hosted an Annual Cookie Exchange.

What draws us to this annual event is...
  • The Company: It's always great getting together with fun, intelligent and interesting women...
Adrian & Jeni
Christie & Lori

Maryanne, Chrissy & Cheyenne
  • The Martinis: The signature drinks this year were ...The Pomegranate Martini & The Tropical Breeze
  • The Food: Lori's Famous Pigs-in-a-Blanket, Jeni's Chicken Nuggets, Someone's Sinful Cheese dip - just to name a few.
  • The Ornaments: Every year we are asked to bring an ornament and we participate in a "Dirty Santa". It's called that because these fun, intelligent and interesting women are also 'cut-throat' when it comes to getting the ornament of their choice. 
    Dirty Santa Instructions
    1. Everyone who brings an ornament is asked to choose a number by picking one out of a bowl.
    2. The person who has chosen #1 is the first to choose an ornament. They may keep it or choose a different one.
    3. The sorry bitch person who has chosen #2 may take #1's ornament away from her. This forces #1 to choose another ornament.
    4. The participant who has chosen #3 may choose to rip off take #1 or #2's ornament from them, thus causing the empty handed number holder to choose another ornament.
    5. The same ornament can only be transferred 3 times and then it is no longer available for stealing..

So, when I overheard a couple of  'ornament-hunters' strategizing their plan to snap up the ornament of their choice it came as no surprise to me...
Cut-throat ornament-hunters. You know who you are.

The Cookie Exchange:
Everyone brought six dozen of the same type of cookie and separated them into three packages of two dozen cookies each. All cookie-exchangers chose a number which designated their turn to choose a cookie package.Everyone went home with 6 dozen assorted cookies.

Jeni's chocolate treats

Chocolate-covered pretzels

Japan: Japanese Bars


Wine Casks at Meiji Shrine
OK, so I lied. But this is really my last 'Japan' post.

As you might imagine, many Japanese bars are a little different than what we might be accustomed to. When I saw this sign, I was drawn like a moth to a flame...

The sign reminded me of my dear friend who I refer to on occasion as "Bar". His name references the night that we met about twenty years ago. As a totally good excuse for a party, combined with an easy way out of decorating my Christmas tree, I invited a few people over for drinks and free labor. "Bar" was dating someone who eventually became one of my closest friends and his future wife. Somehow, the party moved on to a seedy little bar in downtown Dallas that had apparently lost it's neon "The". It was now simply known as "Bar". That night, we forged the basis for a great friendship. Thanks, "Bar".

Anywho... back to Japan...

Mr. Something and I looked high and low for a bar in Tokyo. We couldn't find one.

Let me warn you that this is like the dullest report on Japanese bars ever as we ended up visiting only one.

We stumbled upon The Hibaya Bar. Their slogan? "We stand on our shared hopes, dreams and a desire for happiness." What's not to like about a place with a slogan like this?

As we walk inside, the doorman points to our shoes and then to a locker. Check. Take off shoes, place in locker. We are escorted to our table. I must say that it was a little strange walking into a bar sock-footed.

The Hibaya was a lot like any other bar we had ever visited in the west except for its shoeless patrons. A little more upscale than "Bar", however.

Japan: The Movie


OK. I'm sure that by now you're thinking..."Enough already with Japan". So as the last installment of our travel epic on Japan...I asked Mr. Something to put together a short video-montage...

Japan: Travel Tips


Bear with me ..."Japan: The Series", is almost over but if I still have your attention, a few travel-tips...

1. Carry Japanese Cash. Bank ATM's do not work with western banking systems. US currency and  Credit Cards are not widely accepted. We learned the hard way.
The good news is... ATM's in Post Offices or 7-11's accept debit cards from the west

2.  Know these Japanese Key Phrases
"Sumimasen" means "Excuse Me"
"Arigato" means "Thank you" 
"Shimasu" means "Please"

3. When you arrive at the Narita Airport in Tokyo make two stops before getting on the train to Tokyo.

The Japanese Visitors Center (JNTI). Here you'll get maps and travel tips before you arrive in Tokyo. If we had made a stop here, it would have been so worth it and might have prevented us from schlepping all over east Jesus to get to where we wanted to go..

The Japan Rail Office - If you have purchased the Japan Rail Pass it will have to be activated here. It has to be purchased outside of Japan. It's a little pricey but saves you a lot of money in the long run especially if you plan on traveling outside of Tokyo during your stay.
A very important point regarding The Japan Rail Pass...They are a great value and are accepted on all Japan Rail Trains except the Nozomi Train. Do not use it for any train identified as "Nozomi". It is not valid for travel on Nozomi Trains (these are super-fast, slick-looking bullet trains). Did I mention not using your Japan Rail Pass on Nozomi Trains?  The Japan Rail people are not happy when you travel on these trains with a Japan Rail Pass and want you to hand over the equivalent of $600 US cash per person immediately when traveling on the Nozomi Train (I thought Mr. Something was going to pass out at that request ... Just sayin').

Nozomi Train - "No"

Shinkansen Train - "Yes"
4. If you should choose to attend a traditional Kabuki Theatre...
...don't do it soon after your arrival to Tokyo. You'll be exhausted and you really need to pay attention as the story line tends to be somewhat complex. We attended on Day 2 of our trip and should have waited until about Day 5. 

I really can't remember a whole lot about the play (despite the fact that we had English-translation earbuds). Just as we were about to drift off ... a couple of audience members would suddenly shout out something in Japanese. Could it have been "WAKE-UP"? We will never know for sure.

Japan: Shrines & Temples


The Shrines and Temples of  Japan are revered and well preserved. Kyoto (about 2.5 hrs away from Tokyo by train) is the shrine and temple mecca of Japan as unfortunately World War II bombing destroyed much of Tokyo's architecture and art. So if you're in Japan, try to make it to Kyoto.

One question we did have was.... What's up with this?

We saw what we knew as the offensive Nazi Swastika included in various works of art and outside many religious buildings. Knowing that the symbol had to have pre-dated Nazi Germany, I left it to my 'go-to-guy', "Mr. Something". It just so happens that the symbol meant Life and Good Luck for 3000 years before the Third Reich adopted it as their brand.

Back to Kyoto... The autumn leaves were at the height of their color change and we were happy to be in the middle of it all. Most of Kyoto's Temples and Shrines are located along Tetsugaku-No-Michi aka "The Path of Philosphy" the walk is about 2 miles. At first, I was intent on remembering the names of all the beautiful places we visited but then it wasn't long before I canned that idea and decided just to enjoy them. Very Zen.

These are just a taste of the places we visited...
Rokuon-ji Temple/The Golden Pavilion
The Ginka-Ju Temple/Silver Pavilion

Nanzen-ji (I think)
Chion-In Shrine
Higashimayu? No idea.
No clue
I know it's Shinto
The smoke is incense used prior to entering the temple for cleansing mind and spirit
Marketplace at the entrance to Senso-Ji

Japan: The Food


Restaurant-Hunting in Tokyo
 We found a quote in one of our travel books... "The Japanese eat with their eyes, not with their stomachs" - or something like that. In Japan it's all about food presentation.
The windows of many Japanese restaurants are filled with their menu items displayed in plastic. I had heard that creating fake food is quite an art-form in Japan and that the top plastic food artists are sought after.

In the mood for fish? Checking out the plastic food display is one option. We had no idea if what we had decided on was beef, chicken, pork, duck, seal, octopus or eel,  but if it looked good, we were sold.

Other restaurants presented menus with color photos.
And then there were the vending machines...
Restaurant vending machines are all the rage in Japan. First, select your menu item from the vending machine. Then, put your yen in the machine and out pops a ticket. Take a seat in the restaurant and give your ticket to the server who passes your ticket to the cooks. Before you know it, your hot food is in front of you, you eat and you're out of there. Lingering during a meal is just not the Japanese way.

The vending machine market is huge in Tokyo. Not only can you get your basic drinks and snacks but you can also find everyday household items such as vacuum cleaner bags, batteries, subway passes and greeting cards in the plethora of vending machines located around Tokyo.

Sushi bars were popular but many were 'stand-up' sushi bars. By the time it came to eat, this 'lingerer' needed to sit. We eventually did find a 'sit-down' sushi restaurant and although my Texan husband was averse to the thought of eating "raw fish"... I loved it.

Early on in our Japan trip we became keenly aware that as 'Westerners', we stood out like sore thumbs and were watched closely by the servers and cooks in restaurants. I'm thinking they were checking out our facial expressions as we were served the food they had prepared.

This particular dish required a 'poker face'.
...and he will not eat Sushi

Japan: Mass Transit


As far as we know, there are three separate underground train systems in Tokyo (there could be more). The Metro line, The Toei line and The JR line.
We got lost. A lot.

Fortunately the train line signs were color-coded, numbered and most were in both Japanese and English.

A word of caution from one traveler to another... if you ever find yourself in Tokyo and having to navigate the subway system, you can choose the 'hard way' (the trial and error method) or take the 'easy way'. Choosing your station 'number' and not trying to remember its name is 'easy'. Remembering the number of where you exited the station is another key point consideration in taking the 'easy way'.

The difference between exiting the Asakusa Station ( G19) vs. Akasaka Station (C06) and leaving the station at exit A5 vs. exit B4 could make a serious impact on marital harmony.

We learned the hard way.

I doubt seriously there was ever an argument against mass transit in Japan. The population of Japan is 127.5 million people and it is approximately the size of California. Now, imagine squeezing in 1/2 of the entire population of the USA into California. I don't think they'd fit, especially if they insisted on bringing their SUV's and/or Ford F150  pick-up trucks along.

The Japanese train system is incredibly precise, efficient and civilized.

Once you get to the train platform, everyone stands in line on areas that are clearly defined on the floor that tell you where the doors of the train will open. Sure enough, that's exactly where the train doors open! Then as passengers get out of the train, all embarking passengers stand aside. Nice.

A few of my own personal observation while riding the trains...
  • Cellphones were used to read books or newspapers while commuting. Very little texting going on and I only saw one guy actually talking on his cell phone. There are frequent announcements asking that cell phones are silenced while on the train.
  • Generally, Japanese women and men dress very well. The current trends for young women are false eyelashes, short-shorts or mini-skirts with boots. Most men are in fashionable dark suits and ties with  hip hairstyles. 

  • The trains and stations are very clean and well-lit.
  • Soothing music is played as the subway doors open and close. 
  • We didn't see any hired "pushers".In fact, there didn't seem to be a need for them.
There is something intrinsically wrong with this picture.

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