When Touring Goes Wrong

Posted on Oct 24, 2013 in Travel Traumas

When Touring Goes Wrong 0

Let me tell you about my trip to the Cupnoodles Museum today.  It did not go as planned.

My mom is visiting again.  This is her third trip to Japan, and in trying to come up with new things for us to do, I came across this: Foreign Visitors Pick the 20 Coolest Places in Japan.  This list reminded me of the Cupnoodles Museum in Yokohama, something I’ve been meaning to check out while living here.  An entire museum devoted to instant ramen?  Obviously a must-see.  Do you know that you can even create your own cup of noodles?  From an amazing 5000 flavor combinations?  Mind. Blown.

This was just the kind of fun, quirky Japanese thing to do while my mom is in town.

Today was a dreary day.  Overcast, and drizzling by the time we reached Yokohama.  That time, by the way, was around 11:30.  Elisabeth’s lunch time, and getting to be mine.  We made the short walk from the train station to the museum, and my mom handled the ticket purchasing.  We were assigned a time slot to visit the interactive noodle-making factory.  11:30-11:50.  In other words, right then.  No problem, we were all hungry, and what better way to warm up than with a hot cup of ramen?

We made our way up to the noodle-making floor, and were handed more tickets.  Then we were directed to vending machines.  Ostensibly, we were supposed to purchase the noodle cups from the vending machines.  This required more money, and as we had already purchased six tickets for who-knows-what, I asked for help from the nearest employee.  Asking for help meant handing him my fistful of tickets and giving him my best confused face.  He magically produced three square bowls (as opposed to the round cups found in the vending machine.)

My Cup Noodles Factory!

My Cup Noodles Factory!

Ohhh, had we unknowingly purchased some fancy cup of noodles?  Perhaps a special edition noodle cup?  Had we won a prize?  I didn’t know, but I did know that I wasn’t about to find out, so I just took the cups and moved on to the drawing station.  Yes – in Japan you get to decorate your own cup!  And write the date.  You must write the date on the cup, because the noodles are edible only one month from the date.  I found this odd, because didn’t everyone just eat their noodles right there?  By the way, where was everyone eating?  Was there a different room for that?

Elisabeth was bordering on meltdown territory, and despite the opportunity to stain her clothes with permanent marker (a favorite pastime of hers), she showed no interest in coloring her noodle box.  So my mom stayed behind with Elisabeth while I took our three special square bowls and entered  the very long line to make our noodle concoctions.  All of a sudden, a man appeared and directed me out of the very long line to a much shorter line.  Maybe our square bowls really were some sort of prize!

As I handed my bowls to the first person in the cup of noodles assembly line, I noticed she was dispensing rice.  NOT noodles.

STOP EVERYTHING.  I pointed to the next line over, “Noodles?” I asked.  The rice-dispenser lady looked baffled.

“Square bowl for RICE. Gohan!”  How we came to possess RICE bowls instead of NOODLE bowls, I have no idea.  I think it has to do with the multiple tickets we were coerced into buying.

“Uhhh, can we get noodles?”  I did not come to the CUPNOODLES museum for RICE.  Uh-uh, no way.  The museum staff, though clearly distressed over my unconscionable bowl mistake, was accommodating and provided me with new, round cups.  Crisis averted.

Another lady then directed me out of line and back to the drawing tables, where she instructed me to write the date on my new cups.  The date was non-negotiable.  “Only good for one month.'” She insisted.  (Having seen the ingredients, I’m pretty sure these things would survive the apocalypse, but nevertheless, I wrote the date as told.)

“Can’t we eat them here?” I asked her while writing.

She shook her head.  “No.  Not here.  No hot water!”

WHAT? WE DON’T EVEN GET TO EAT THE NOODLES?  OUTRAGEOUS!

Elisabeth snacking on a cheese stick, once we learned we wouldn't be eating anything else at the museum

Elisabeth snacking on a cheese stick, once we learned we wouldn’t be eating anything else at the museum

I trudged back to the back of the very long line, utterly demoralized by this revelation.  But by golly, we had gone through so much already that I was walking out of that museum with my cup of noodles, even if it was in a bag and not in my tummy.  My mom and Elisabeth joined me in the assembly line when it was our turn to select our noodle creation.  We hastily selected our flavor combinations from ingredients that most certainly do not come from nature.  (This is instant ramen, so I don’t know what I was expecting.)

The coveted round bowls

The coveted round cups

The noodles factory

The noodle factory

Anyway, Elisabeth was seriously cranky now, and I was seriously hungry.  We rushed through the bagging process (this involved an air pump and string), and our cups of noodles were finally finished, ready to be eaten anytime within the next month in the convenience of our own home.  Fantastic.

Our stomachs audibly growling now, we took our noodles and rushed to the mall across the street in search of a real restaurant.  Did we see any of the exhibitions or attractions?  Like the Instant Noodles History Cube?  Or the CUPNOODLES Park?  Or the recreation of the shed where instant ramen was first invented?  No!  We experienced none of instant ramen’s rich history because we were too damn hungry after making – but not eating –  our personal Cup of Noodles.

The final product

The final product. Elisabeth is also pissed she doesn’t get to eat her noodles.

This is my fault.  I’m sure had I researched properly, I would have known that after making the ramen bowl you don’t get to actually eat the ramen.  How silly of me to assume such a thing.

I will conclude with this: Should you visit Japan, absolutely visit the CUPNOODLES museum, if you have some extra time.*  As I mentioned before, it is a fun, quirky Japanese-y thing to do.  Just don’t go on an empty stomach.

*I stress extra time.  There is an abundance of things to do and see here, and I’m not sure this would make my top-20 list.  But to each his own!

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Everything I Said I’d Never Do

Posted on Oct 6, 2013 in My Kid Stole My Cool

Everything I Said I’d Never Do 3

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry I’ve neglected this blog these past couple of weeks. I have no excuse, except that I’m crazy tired.  Every day I wage war against a stubborn almost-two year old, and every day I lose.  It’s exhausting. Eating breakfast.  Getting dressed.  Getting into the car seat.  Eating Lunch.  Napping.  Playtime.  Cleaning up.  Eating dinner.  Getting out of the bath.  Brushing teeth.  Night-Night time.  All battles.  Sometimes I think Elisabeth is literally trying to kill me.  That one time that she took the napkin to wipe my face, just like she did hers?  Sure, it seemed cute at first.  But then I realized that she might actually be trying to smother me.  Or that time she “dropped” her sippy cup on my head as I was cleaning up the floor beneath her high chair?  I’m pretty sure she was trying to take me out. In an effort to maintain any iota of sanity, I’ve turned into that mom.  The mom I swore I’d never be.  The mom who turns on Sesame Street so I can cook dinner in peace.  (Although “peace” now means Elmo and the gang singing loudly in the next room.)  The mom who shoves an iPad in her daughter’s hands to keep her quiet on a train.  (To be fair – have you been on a Japanese train?  They are silent.  Fidgety, crying toddler on Japanese train = super awkward.  You’d totally use the iPad too.)  The mom who bribes her child with cheese sticks or gives her the pacifier THAT’S ONLY ALLOWED IN THE CRIB so I can finish the last 10 minutes of a run without a tantrum. I was going to have a strictly non-electronic household for baby, until at least two years old.  I was going to feed my child exclusively healthy snacks, on an appropriate meal schedule.  I was going to have her weaned from the pacifier by 18 months.  She was going to be the child that thrived on my routine and rules, and should the occasional tantrum occur, I would not give in.  I am the boss,...

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The Real Lives of Navy Wives: Excessive TV Watching

Posted on Sep 19, 2013 in It's the Navy Life

Okay, maybe this doesn’t apply to all wives of deployed servicemen, but it does to me. When Damon is gone, I watch a lot of TV.  More than I should admit.  But here’s the thing.  I have a small child who goes to bed at 7:30.  While I’d love to quell my loneliness by jetting over to my friends’ houses for nightly happy hours, I’m pretty sure leaving my toddler alone in the home is frowned upon.  So that leaves the TV to keep me company. I’d like to say I read and stuff – and I do that, too* – but at the end of a long day of taking care of my kid all by myself, I just want to zone out.  My brain no longer functions on “Reading Literature” levels, but more like “Real Housewives” levels. Netflix and Hulu have been THE WORST INVENTIONS for military spouses.  Besides the Cricut.  Damon was on detachment in Australia for the majority of March (rough life, I know).  During that month – thanks to Netflix – I watched the entire first season of Scandal.  In about four days.  (To be fair, that first season was only seven episodes.)  And then – thanks to Hulu – I caught up on the current second season.  In about another four days.  I was actually relieved when I caught up and had to wait each week for a new episode with the rest of the population, because as I discovered, watching a high-intensity show like that back-to-back does bad things to your psyche.  We’re talking jitters, anxiety, insomnia.  Damn Olivia Pope for being so addicting! After Scandal, a friend recommended I start Grey’s Anatomy after learning I had never seen it.  Why not, I thought?  I wasn’t getting anywhere on my Book Club’s selection of Emma (See!  I have good intentions!), so I started the series from the beginning. What a mistake.  Once Damon left for deployment last June, I got sucked in, and fast.  But my brain couldn’t handle all the drama. Oh my gosh, a show as emotionally fraught as Grey’s...

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How I Know I’m Old: Hiking Mount Fuji

Posted on Sep 3, 2013 in Adulthood Stole My Cool

How I Know I’m Old: Hiking Mount Fuji 0

Last month while I was in California, my dear friend Molly visited me from New York.  Molly and I have been friends since our freshman year of college, when we were young and could drink pitcher upon pitcher of margaritas with no ill effect. Well, we’re not young anymore.  She’s a grown up lawyer in Manhattan, and I’m a grown up with, like, a husband and kid.  Molly and I still haven’t fully accepted our adulthood status yet, but it’s getting harder and harder to deny.  This last visit, we devised a little game.  “Do you know how I know I’m getting old?  [Insert depressing evidence here]”. I thought I could translate this game into my blog.  So here you go, my first “How I’m Know I’m Old” post:  Mount Fuji. Ever since we learned we would be stationed in Japan, Damon has talked about hiking Mount Fuji.  I said I would hike it with him, not because I’m a hiking enthusiast, but because every few years I have to do things like this to prove to Damon that I still love him. Anyway.  Fuji-San is only open for hiking two months out of the year, and Damon and I had a slim window to take advantage of climbing season.  He returned home the end of August on a Thursday and we left for a vacation trip to Singapore the following Monday.  Once Damon was home and settled, we scrambled to prep for the climb.  (Scrambling includes realizing at 7PM the night before your 4AM wake-up that your hiking boots have gone missing.  Way to be prepared, Diana!) This experience was a lesson in expectation management.  I knew it would be challenging to a degree – I mean, you are climbing up a mountain – but I figured, “I’m fairly athletic, I can handle this.”  (Not to mention all the children and little old ladies that complete this hike.)  In my head, I thought it would be a long but scenic stroll up the mountain.  Gradual inclines that would plateau into picturesque viewing points.  Warm and sunny at the...

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The Real Lives of Navy Wives – Forgotten Anniversaries

Posted on Aug 21, 2013 in It's the Navy Life

The Real Lives of Navy Wives – Forgotten Anniversaries 2

Today is my anniversary.  And I forgot.  Whoops!  Isn’t Damon supposed to be the one to forget these things? I blame the Navy Life.  How am I supposed to remember my anniversary when my husband isn’t even here to celebrate with me? I’m not complaining – I’ll see my husband soon enough.  And certainly, most military spouses have spent far more than one anniversary (or birthday, or holiday…) separated from their husband or wife.  This just happened to be my first (though I’m sure not my last) anniversary by myself.  And I forgot. I’ve found that with a deployed spouse, most days feel about the same.  Especially overseas, and especially as a stay at home mom of a young (read: non-school attending) child.  Without something like school to demarcate the week from weekend, days tend to blend into one another, weekends cease to be unique, and special occasions become just another day on the calendar.  When you never know what day it is anyway, how are you supposed to remember something like an anniversary?  When I woke up this morning, did I think, “Oh, August 21st!  I got married three years ago today!” Heck, no!  I thought, “Why does Elisabeth insist on waking so early?”  Followed by, “Is today Wednesday or Thursday…?”  And then, “It’s still August, right?” It wasn’t till I saw a missed call from my husband that the date registered.  “Crap!  Now I have to go buy a card!”  Sheesh.  I am the worst wife ever. Except I’m not.  Because I can also contribute my forgetfulness to Homecoming.  I’ll write more about Homecomings another time, but I’ll mention briefly that Damon is returning home soon, and thus I am in a frenzy trying to make up for the week of housework I’ve neglected since returning from the states.  I want Damon to return from deployment to at least a halfway clean, only moderately cluttered house.  See, I’m a good wifey!  I forgot my anniversary out of thoughtfulness for my husband!  (Just go with it). On a semi-unrelated note, being apart from your significant other on a...

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The First (and Second) Haircut

Posted on Aug 14, 2013 in The Kids Are Actually Cute

The First (and Second) Haircut 3

Elisabeth does not like anyone messing with her hair.  Which is why it always looks terrible.  Every time I go near her with a hairbrush or bow, she screams and runs away.  And frankly, I don’t need to deal with that kind of attitude.  I’m sure I’ve got years and years ahead of me during which Elisabeth and I will disagree about her hairstyles, so why start now? That being said, her hair was starting to get straggly.  Like, greasy straggly.  Like I don’t bathe her.  But I DO bathe her!  I swear!  Lest people think I neglect my daughter’s personal hygiene, I decided the time had come to get her hair cut. I dreaded it.  My ears hurt thinking of the shrieks that would surely fill the salon as I forced Elisabeth into a salon chair.  The cries of, “Nonononono!” as the stylist tortured her with hair clippers.  But it was time… This was around six weeks ago, shortly after I arrived to California.  I had thought about taking Elisabeth to the children’s salon where, as a child, I had gotten my hair cut.  But I Yelped that salon and dang were those reviews bad.  I know you’re probably thinking, “She’s a toddler.  How badly can they screw up her hair?” To answer that, I ask that you direct your attention to the picture below: This is me as at toddler.  To be fair, I was older than Elisabeth is now, and had much more hair.  Also, this was before I ever went to the specialty kids’ salon out here in California.  But I show this to you as an example of When Bad Hair Happens to Good Toddlers.  My mother let someone hack my hair into a veritable bowl cut, and I spent the better part of toddlerhood wandering around looking like a boy dressed in his sister’s pink clothes.  (Except in this picture, when I just look like a boy.  What IS this outfit!?) Anyway, there was no way I was going to subject Elisabeth to a similarly embarrassing fate.  I found a salon that had...

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