Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oh embassy, you pain me just a little...

So I am finally starting to get nervous. I am officially starting the countdown to lift off. 10 days till Eve is no longer on tera firma in the United States. I say "till Eve is no longer on tera firma in the United States" because I don't actually land till April 1st, which would be 11 days.

The Japanese Embassy in D.C. is a lovely building if you have never seen it. The Ambassadors residence next door is even nicer. But dear god it can be tricky to try and get to. It's pretty easy if you walk; Metro to DuPont then go straight down Massachusetts Ave. and keep going until you get there. But by car... of lordy lou.

(I am copy pasting this from my other blog for I am too lazy to re-write the whole thing. And there is far more to be said in this post.)
The drive in wasn't too terrible in the beginning. We navigated into D.C. past the Kennedy Center easily enough, it all went screwy when we got onto RockCreek rd., the little drive next to the Zoo facility for those of you who know D.C.. We missed the exit we needed to take. Couldn't figure out how to turn around to get back to it. Turned around but couldn't get to the exit coming from the other side of the road. Couldn't figure out how to turn around AGAIN! Finally got the exit! Couldn't find a place to park, at which point I just hopped out of the car and took my stuff in. Last time I went to the embassy I went through the pretty offical doors. Apparently there is a dingy little side door for people who just come to get their Visa, no where near as nice.

The little Japanese lady behind the desk was nice, though she made me feel very unorganized, which before I though I WAS organized. I had to sort through the extra papers I had in my Visa info folder. She kinda was like "uh, I need all the papers at one time" as I was pulling out papers one after the other trying to find the right ones. Finally I got everything I needed, which she took and gave me a little receipt.

After that I left and walked off to find where mom parked. Found mom, got back in the car, and then came trying to get OUT of D.C. TOOK FOR FREAKIN EVER! We got lost trying to leave Massachusetts, which is the road the embassy is on. Ended up going past the Naval Observatory. Don't know how that happened. Ended up going through this kinda residential area. Went through the turn we were supposed to take like twice and took other random turns that led us in circles. FINALLY we get out of the horror that is downtown D.C... this was an hour later, fyi.

So that was that. Refer to my other blog Original Sin for the rest of the epic tale.

I had another kind of interesting adventure, involving the embassy. The original plan was to go to the embassy on Thursday. However, I had been expecting them to call on Wednesday. I thought the protocol was to call you when your visa is ready for pick up. So I had been eagerly awaiting a call for the past two days. I even had my dad forward all calls made to the home phone to my cell phone. No luck though, I never got the call. When 3 came around on Thursday, which I spent at the Hirshhorn, I decided I was far to tired from walking around to walk the couple dozen blocks it takes to get to the embassy. In retrospect I am very glad I made that decision because I was very tired and I probably would have gotten a third of the way there, said screw it, and taken a cab back to DuPont.

So I decided Friday was the day. Well Friday rolled around and I decided I would get there early. Just to be sure. I was originally hoping at ariving at 2pm, but left around noon, and got to DuPont around 12:45. I didn't know how long it was going to take me to get there on foot, so I decided to leave then.

I walked all the way around DuPont Circle trying to find the correct Mass Ave. It goes strait through the circle and thus there are two. I walked down one, and once I realized that the numbers were going down, and not up, I turned around, crossed the road, walked AROUND the circle, and started going up the OTHER half of Mass. Ave. This one was the right one.

After walking for whatseemed like forever, because really, it is a LONG WALK, I got to the embassy. I almost made a few wrong turns, but it is pretty easy to find, now that I know which Mass Ave. branch is which. There is one other Circle that you have to go around, but that one is much smaller and easier to navigate. Sadly for me I got to the embassy 15 minutes before it opened. I decide to walk up the block and then back down the other side and see how much time I waist.

For those of you who know the area you know about the mosk type place at the corner. I assume it was a mosk. It is a very pretty building with many flags in front and lovely aribic writing in blue. It must have had a service because many people were going and coming, and about half way down the block walking back I heard lovely singing coming from it. The singing echoed all the way down the block. I would love to see a muslem cerimony, they sound beautiful. I get back down the block, at the corner of Mass and California, look at the clock and see I still have 10 minutes to kill. Tired and thirsty and really hungry I decide to find some place to sit and recover while waiting. I walk up California and find a house that is for sale and sit on it's front step, looking a little more than a little like a creeper.

Finally 1:30 rolls around. I get up, cross the street and get to the embassy door, to find it locked. This was very disappointing. "Maybe my clock is fast?" I thought, tugging at the big handle on the door. I wait. I wait until 1:40 every now and then tugging on the handle of the door and peering around the corner to see if anyone walks into the main door of the embassy (the visa place is on a side door off to the left, pleasently out of the way). At some point this cute couple, who I assume were Japanese or Japanese-American, came by. They tugged on the door, I shruged and told them that I had been waiting for 10 minutes and it must have been a holiday or some such. The girl was like no way (perfect English) and walked around to the main door. She pressed the button and a resounding "Hai?" came out of the speaker. In perfect Japanese she asked if the Visa place was open today. The speaker replied that no it wasn't, that it was indeed a holiday. This seemed to surprise her as she gave a "So desu ne? Sumimasen Arigatogozaimasu." She had to tell me it was a holiday.

Everyone was disappointed all the way around. I am glad she asked, I probably wouldn't have had the courage to face the Japanese speaker phone. Disappointed and a little pissed at my self for not knowing it was a holiday I trudged all the way back. I took Florida Ave on the way back. I had looked up the closest Chipolte to DuPont and found that the quickest way to get to it was Florida. I actually ended up finding a REAL Mexican resturant and went there instead. The food was great and I got to sit and eat and drink. I think I may have snapped at one of the waiters once though., I was very discouraged about the whole embassy not being open.

Well fed (I got enchilladas), though upset, I trudged back to DuPont and hopped the first train home. I pretty much sat and pouted while watching Fight Club the rest of the night.

Later I found out from Megan (one of the girls going with me to Japan) that it was the vernal equinox (which I didn't know) and that the vernal equinox was a Japanese holiday (which I also didn't know) and that the embassy was closed (I should have known that because I went on their website before leaving to go there... I just didn't look closely I guess). Well now I know, and knowing is half the battle.

So I am mildly pissed that I didn't go earlier. Now I have to get my mom to drive me back on Friday, which is cutting it very close seeing as I need to be at the airport on Monday. It might give me a chance to go back to campus and see my friends one more time before I leave. I am kind of scared about leaving them behind. My social base will be totally toppled, and that is a scary thought. Anyways, that was my embassy adventure. Hopefully all goes according to plan and I get my Visa on Friday, if I don't I'm kinda screwed.

Another nifty thing (I think) that I am going to work on is a business card for myself. The Japanese have a big thing about giving business cards (called meishi there). You have to be really nice about giving them, it's almost formalized, and you need to treat meishi you recieve very respectfully.

Since I am hoping to network while in Japan I though it would be a great idea to have my own meishi. I am actually making two sets. They will be folding, cause I have lots of info (name, school, blog, phone numbers, facebook, address, ect.) One set is going to be formal, I'm thinking with a little water colored iris on it, very plain. The other is gonna be kinda silly, with my little flying snake creature on it, maybe a lightly colored text. But dad and I are supposed to work on these when I come back from D.C. I'm thinking like 30-40 of each set. Hopefully that will be enough. Just give them out when I am given one.

Anyways, that is all the news I have for now. I will let you know how packing goes for it will start very soon, or at least the planning process. I hope to include a list of all the things I bring. Also I will let you know how my meishi turn out and maybe include a picture of both of them. And I am sure I will have another interesting tale about my NEXT visa adventure.

Until then. Peace!
Eve Nealon

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