2016 in Review
I haven’t written much about the amazing year I’ve had here in Japan with extended visits from my sister, Julie, my ex-neighbor and “sistah,” Sharon, and my cousin Karin along with her friend Sabine because a lot happened and I was busy enjoying it! Additionally, my job here at the circus takes up a considerable amount of time between shows and practice, and when I’m not doing that, I’m funding my credit card purchases by editing resumes. In my free time, I’ve been diligently studying kanji via Wanikani, the world’s best kanji-learning app, and of course, I spend every other moment doting on Bill, who is doing great, by the way, with no further problems with his spine (thank you, glucosamine!).
Workwise, I hit one milestone this year by doing a full in the show with my feet together. Throwing a clean full to the catcher like I do to the net has been the bain of my existence. For whatever reason, the one I throw to the catcher is usually completely different from the one to the net, but one day, before I took off, Dale reminded me that I was physically capable of making them one in the same, and I guess that’s all I needed. Things went well for several weeks until the end of the city. (Ryan, shut your mouth. Let’s just leave this story in a happy place.)
I don’t travel outside of Japan much because of Bill, but we took one epic trip back to the States in November. Our first stop was my Aunt Kathy’s house for Thanksgiving dinner with my whole family including Mom and Dad, Julie, my niece and nephew, my cousins, and their significant others. What. A. Treat. Really, I never get to spend enough time with my whole family, and being able to share such a wonderful meal was great.
After a few days visiting with long-lost Jersey friends, Bill and I again took to the air, spiriting off to Colorado for one more week of meals–and more meals–with friends. The trip was not nearly long enough; I feel bad that I wasn’t able to spend personal time with everyone I wanted to, but at least I got to hike with Susan, hot tub with Dylan, meet Kelly’s cat, do gymnastics with Gary, visit The Farm with Sharon, have Ethiopian with Nancy, and watch Seinfeld with my parents. The list of memorable moments goes on, but I won’t bore you. What’s most important is I didn’t smoke nearly as much pot in Colorado as I set out to, but I tried my best. 😉
I finished the year in a typically unlikely fashion. Some of you may have noticed the pair of skis in my hand in Facebook photos and thought, “Skiing? She must be holding someone else’s.” Nope, I actually did ski. I had only skied one other time in the past 25ish years, but because I was renting, I thought I might be happier trying to ski than riding a shitty snowboard. Also, everyone else was skiing, so I figured it was best to go with the flow. Also, we couldn’t fit a snowboard in the car. Anyway, it was fun!
My teammate, Celine, was very excited to ski, so I arranged a trip to Nasu, where my Japanese “sistah,” Sammy, was also vacationing. Dulcito, Maria, Celine, me, and three dogs met up with Sammy and her husband at Mt. Jeans ski resort for a fun day of skiing. In true weird Japanese fashion, they advertised a dog park at the top of the gondola, but it turned out to be just a small, fenced-in area that was not worth the 800-yen per dog, so we just left the kids in the car while we took a few runs.
It was Maria and Dulcito’s first time on the slopes, and watching Maria scream as she slid, screaming and out-of-control, toward oblivious Japanese children with incredulous mothers was priceless. Lucky there was a fence at the bottom to keep her out of the parking lot! Watching her reminded me of going skiing with my grandpa, who watched helplessly as I lodged myself in a row of hedges at the bottom of the slope when I was a child.
We rang in the New Year with a highly competitive night of Uno followed by a trip to the local Kurioso Shrine, where we stood in line to toss a few coins into a slot, bow, and clap alongside a thousand locals. It was totally worth suffering the freezing cold, the 2.5-hour drive, and the horrific experience we had with the AirBNB hosts (a story for another day).
A Look Ahead to 2017
Today is a very special day. It’s the day Cameron Juniper Chute officially begins her career as a professional flying trapeze artist. At the age of six. I can’t think of a better way to start the year than to have the honor of standing on the pedestal to participate in this significant event.
I had applied for graduate school to get a Master of Fine Arts in writing when I was grasping at strings because I was feeling quite untethered, which can happen when you live in a parking lot with absolutely no plans for the future and a job that could end at any moment due to injury. My application was “unsuccessful,” but the process of applying, which required me to write fiction and poetry in addition to non-fiction, was totally worth the application fee. Not being accepted into the program was actually a blessing because by the time they made the decision, I was having second thoughts about spending that kind of money on a degree I planned to do nothing with, and I had already moved on in my heart and mind to future food-related entrepreneurial endeavors on which I’d rather focus my time and money.
While I am no longer pursuing “progress” in my flying aside from the perpetual pursuit of cleaner form in the tricks I already do, I’m excited to share in my teammates’ successes over the next year. Several of our members are on the cusp of big breakthroughs in their flying, and I hope I get to drop them a bar! Aside from work, I’m looking forward to my “son,” Darin, and my parents visiting, to optimizing my bread-making formula, to introducing Maria to the wide world of wine, and to further exploring Japanese mountains with my perpetual hiking partner, Bill, who will turn 11 years young in May.
Happy New Year!