Studying is for the birds.

The last three months have been complete and utter chaos. Sometimes absolutely blissful and joy-filled chaos and other times, well, not so much. I finished my last law school class (EVER) in mid-April and immediately transitioned into finals study mode. Fast forward through several weeks of a caffeine-induced haze and I also took my last law school final (EVER). Talk about a wild ride. I immediately jetted off to Destin, FL to spend a long weekend with one of my oldest and dearest friends and get some sunshine, salt air therapy. We had a blast. Two days after I got back, my family arrived in Little Rock for graduation, where I got one of the best surprises of my life thanks to my sweet husband and brother. What is the surprise you ask? Well, my brother, his fiancee (who is my best friend), and their two kids drove 18 hours from Phoenix, AZ to attend my graduation. They stayed for two nights and then turned around and made the trip home. Their kids are 2 and 4 years old. They were insane to do that and it was one of the most meaningful things that anyone has ever done for me.

On May 12, I graduated from law school. That will forever be one of the happiest days of my life. Three days after that, the movers came to pack up our little yellow house on Orange Street. I don’t care to say much about that other than it was a cluster f*ck of a disaster and will forever be one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. The literal day they finished, the husband and I jetted off for an adventure on the East Coast. We spent three nights in Boston with great friends before taking the Amtrak down to New York City for three nights. After my first NYC trip, I can definitively say two things: the city is a little stinky and I absolutely love it (the city, not the stink). Our next stop was Baltimore and Annapolis to watch another pair of great friends tie the knot. It was a beautiful wedding and a very fun-filled weekend spent exploring two more new cities. After that, things got pretty sad.

From Baltimore, I went home to an empty house in Little Rock and Husband headed East to our new (and also empty) house in Tokyo. I spent exactly 6 days at “home” (aka, our friend’s house who has graciously let me and the Murphy dog move in for a bit) before it was time to leave again. This time, I jetted off to Banff National Park to watch my step-brother get married. Their venue was the beach of a crystal-blue lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains with an audience of 8. It was probably the most beautiful place that I have ever been. You should go. From there, I was off to Minneapolis for a three day weekend to watch a college friend get married in another one of the most beautiful venues that I have ever been to. After that, it was back to Little Rock and reality. I am still exhausted (can’t imagine why).

So far, Husband says Tokyo is amazing. We found out that we’re moving in to a three-bedroom home on Pease Drive that has just been remodeled. I’m excited to see for myself but FaceTime and photos definitely show some good potential. We’re also having a fence and a doggie door installed so things should be all ready for Murphy when we get there.

We’re making progress on our Little Rock house as well! After selling it the first time, the buyer backed out…5 weeks later. Its an incredibly frustrating story and I don’t care to go into it in any much detail either except to say don’t be like that guy. He is literally the worst. I even saw him at the gym last week and gave him the meanest look that I could manage because I’ll never stop thinking he sucks. After that catastrophe, we put the house back on the market and accepted another offer several weeks later. We officially closed last week Wednesday, June 28. So, hooray! We are no longer homeowners! (How often do you hear people excited about that?!) I also managed to sell our car last Friday, June 30…which was my last *major* pre-move task. Other than some random things here and there (and you know, taking the Bar Exam), I’m mostly ready to go.

This Sunday, July 9th, I am leaving Little Rock and heading north. Its bittersweet to think of leaving as this city has truly become my home over the last 3 years, but I know that its not good-bye forever…just a see ya later! I’ll spend a week or two in Wisconsin before making my last trek over to Minnesota to sit for the Bar Exam on July 25-26. Finally, on August 1, Murphy and I are Tokyo-bound.

This entire PCS (permanent change of station) has been pretty overwhelming and anxiety-inducing with all of the travel that I’ve had and the whole “studying-for-the-bar-exam-thing”. There have been good moments though…I am constantly reminded of the quality of my friendships and, ultimately, of the people in my life. Countless people have stepped up and stepped in to clean out cabinets, give me a ride, negotiate a car sale, move an appliance, listen to me bitch, etc. and its truly made all of the difference. I couldn’t have done it without any of you (you know who you are). So, thank you again.

It seems surreal that now, finally, the only thing that I have to do is stay focused on studying for the Bar Exam. So, thats what I intend to do. And *when* (not if!) I find out that I passed…its going to be because of all of the wonderful people in my life who refused to let me fail.

Kanpai for now friends!

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The Gnazzos Got Some News

Hello all-

I know its been a bit since my last update but, for awhile there, there just wasn’t much to update. No longer the case! A few things have happened on our end. First, and most exciting, we sold our house! Well, its under contract pending inspection, but that sounds like SOLD to me. 601 Orange Street will now be home to another Air Force pilot and his girlfriend. Its a little ironic because our buyers are literally me and Dan 3 years ago. I’m willing to bet half of our neighbors won’t even know the difference.

Also, we got our orders! This is kind of a big deal because, really, until you have official orders, any assignment or move is not set in stone. Its unlikely that something might change between when you find out about your new assignment and when you officially get orders, but it can, and it has. Now, according to the Husband, it would take “an act of God” to stop us from moving. Like it or not, this train (or airplane) is moving.

We also have our official “move” scheduled for May 16-17…3 lovely days after law school graduation. This is when movers come to the house and pack up everything that we’re planning to take with us and put it on a boat to arrive in Japan in 8-10 weeks. I can keep with me whatever I may need (clothes) for the 2 months that I’ll remain in the U.S., but furniture and all household goods will be off and on their way.

On a semi-related but unrelated note, I also submitted my application to sit for the Bar Exam in July. Most people don’t know that you actually have to fill out a pretty lengthy application just to take the Bar Exam after law school. As long as you’re honest, its not hard to “pass” but it is a pretty time consuming and detailed process. (My application ended up being 50+ pages after I collected all of the info that I needed). Hopefully soon someone will tell me I have been “accepted” to study full time for 10 weeks during the summer in preparation for a 2 day test that is guaranteed to take a part of my soul with it (lucky me)!

More exciting-ly, the Husband and I have started a must see list for our time in Tokyo. AKA, we’re planning to travel our faces off. Though we haven’t made a lot of plans yet, I do think we’re going to celebrate our 1 year anniversary in Bali. We weren’t able to honeymoon after we got married because of school and work, but Bali in September/October seems like the perfect way to make up for it. We’re also planning to take as many weekend/short trips as possible. With that, please send any recommendations / must see’s / must avoids / must do’s / etc. for our time in Asia.

This also seems like a good time to formally extend an invite for everyone and anyone to come visit! We’d recommend that you start planning early-ish (or at least figure out when you’d like to come) and talk it over with us as we think (hope!) we will have a good number of visitors during our 3 year Japanese residency. The Google says the best time to visit is between March and May and October and December. *Note, this will be especially important if anyone is thinking of coming during the Olympics in 2020 (which are in Tokyo, FYI). We will have at least 1 guest room, but possibly 2, as well as a blow up mattress.

And I think that that is enough for now.

Kanpai!

E.

Submit that Sh*t!

Mailing off my 50+ page Bar Exam Application. #pleasedontstalkme

This is Not an Interesting Post (Logistics of Moving).

You guys, moving is hard. Like…really hard. But moving to an entirely different country is its own breed of “really hard.” Full disclosure, this is not an interesting post. I realize that. But I also realize that there are people out there (yay, you people!) who are genuinely curious about the process and what all needs to be done for us to officially become Tokyoians (is that even a real word? Who knows?). So, this one’s for them.

Most of you know, I love Murphy more than 97% of all of the people that I’ve ever met. Because of my borderline obsession / unhealthy love for him, there was never even a moment that we considered leaving him behind. Such began the process of making Murphy a “Japan approved” canine.

Murphy’s journey began with a trip to the Military Vet at Little Rock Air Force Base. He got a full physical, a rabies vaccine, and a new international microchip (the one he already had didn’t have enough numbers to qualify). On a random brag note, my dog is undoubtedly the heavyweight champ of the Veterinary exam. He does not even flinch when they’re (gently) jabbing a big ol’ needle into his neck. Ok, back to the story: Murphy got a clean bill of health, we got a 42 page packet on “Importing Animals into Japan,” and were told to come back in more than 31 days. Fast forward to Vet appointment #2. Murphy got another physical, a second rabies vaccine and had a significant (fine, it was a vial, but I almost karate chopped the nice Vet Tech and told him that was enough) amount of blood drawn. Again, not even a flinch out of Murph Dog “The Champ” Gnazzo. The Vet then packaged Murphy’s blood up into a box which Husband delivered to UPS to be overnight shipped to San Antonio. Once it gets there, they’ll perform a FAVN test (which, I think, is for rabies) and, assuming that all goes ok, will officially clear him for travel. For the next 180 days, Murphy has to stay healthy and rabies-free, which shouldn’t be a problem.

Thankfully, Murphy’s to do-list got pretty short after that. He still needs an airline approved travel crate, which we plan to get early so that he (me) can adjust to it. Then, we gotta call up the Japanese airport we are flying into 40 days before we get there to, well, let them know that Murphy will be arriving. Then, within 10 days of leaving, he’ll have to go back to a Military Vet for a wellness check. If everything goes alright there, we’ll get a Certificate of Wellness that must accompany Murphy at all times while traveling. I believe there is a brief holding period and/or a Vet appointment that needs to happen upon our arrival in Japan but it should be pretty minor.

Now, on to me. Apparently, I require just as much paperwork as my dog. Before I can get my military passport (which makes me feel important, I’ll admit), I have to have a medical evaluation (9 pages), a dental evaluation (2 pages), and a mental health evaluation (3 pages) all completed by licensed professionals and submitted. I’ve actually got alla that paperwork done but recently found out I have to track down medical and vaccine records for pretty much my entire life…so that’s next. Once this is all turned in, I’ll head to base and get my little picture taken and get my fancy new (red) passport. This is important because it serves as my Visa to live in Japan. After I get that checked off the list, I have to reapply for a civilian passport since that is expiring and also has my maiden name on it.

“Sometime in June” I will find out when my flight to Tokyo is. All I know is that it will probably be in mid-August. Murphy and I will be hanging out in Wisconsin and Minneapolis for a bit before we leave so the first leg of our journey will be a commercial flight from Minne to Seattle (about 4 hours). We fly to Seattle because the Air Force base that we’re moving to (Yokota) has regular flights between there and Tokyo that I can fly on. So, once we make it to Seattle, I’ll be hauling Murphy, his airline crate, and all of my luggage from the commercial airport in Seattle to a different airport to catch our military flight. I am currently accepting wine donations to numb the pain that will surely ensue from that process. Once we get checked in there, I’ll get Murphy tucked in and we’ll fly from Seattle to Tokyo (10-11 hours). Then Husband will pick us and handle everything because I will likely be on the brink of death (dramatic, I know…but also likely true).

Since Husband has to move in May, he should have our house by the time Murphy and I get there. Key word being should. Our “household” (aka, our furniture, kitchen supplies, etc.) should all arrive in mid to late July. Again, key word being should. We’ve got to pack and ship (literally, it travels by ship) all of that off in mid-to-late May…which is going to be really, really fun right during finals and graduation. But, more on that party later.

Our house is also officially on the market. Shameless plug – If you know anyone looking for a 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom home in Downtown North Little Rock with rental income potential, I know this little gem of a place. I thought that it’d be easy to stick that for sale sign in the front yard, but it was actually pretty bittersweet. Orange Street Bed & Breakfast has been so, so good to us (and to a lot of our friends) and will always hold a special place in my heart (and liver).

Soon begins the packing, organizing, and selling-everything-we-own process, so mark your calendars for that enthralling update.

Kanpai!

E.

You’re Moving Where?!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to travel. The intrigue of different places, cultures and languages has pulled me to countries like Belgium, Mexico and South Africa. Going into undergrad at the University of Minnesota, I was determined to study abroad but, for a number of reasons, it wasn’t in the cards . Fast forward through 3 years of adult life and I found myself back in school. Despite my determination, living overseas didn’t quite work out that time either. Never could I imagine that just over a year after those failed plans, life would surprise me with some new ones.

Our Japanese story began on November 2, 2016, when my husband (of just 26 days, mind you) handed me a package and told me to open it. Because we got married out-of-state, it wasn’t unusual to get a package or two each day, so I just assumed it was a belated wedding present someone had sent. When I opened the box, it was wrapped like a wedding gift. I tore the paper off and tried to guess what it was. I didn’t stand a chance.

My “gift” ended up being an assortment of Japanese goodies. Everything from Hello Kitty soda to salted snow peas, to Wasabi mustard sauce (I hate mustard). Somehow, I knew what it meant immediately. I spent the next two minutes going back and forth between intensely staring at my husband and repeating “no, no, nooooooo, no.” Lucky for us, we had friends over and my entire reaction was recorded. Afterwards, we toasted plum wine to celebrate (which my husband was sure to have on hand).

Over the course of the next few weeks, I slowly began to process the news and tell family and friends. Their reactions were mixed, ranging from extreme sadness to excitement to jealousy. I absolutely realize that this is one of those “once in a lifetime things” and I fully intend to make the best of it, but that doesn’t mean its not scary and nerve-wracking and exciting and scary all at the same time.

But, for now, the punchline of this story is that my husband, a pilot in the Air Force, is being stationed at Yokota Air Force Base in Tokyo, Japan. He will be moving in May of 2017 and I will be waiting until August so that I can graduate from law school and take the bar exam in July. Our constant companion and fur-child, Murphy, will be making the journey with me. I have no idea what I’m going to do for a job, I am 6.5 inches taller than the average Japanese woman (this is a fact), and I do not speak a single word of Japanese. Life is weird sometimes…stay tuned for more.

Kanpai (cheers)!

– E.

(PS, I promise to make this prettier…eventually).