Well, it’s officially New Years Eve here in Japan.  Woke up to snow on the ground today!  Snow!  On Iki!  Madness!  (It has, of course, melted.)

I’ve done my duty by adjusting my sleeping schedule so I can stay awake past midnight.  (This will not be fun when I have to go to work on Monday.)  Looking forward to this evening when I’ll go to a friend’s house and have New Years Dinner, then we’ll go to a shrine to ring in the new year.  Finally, at 6:30 in the morning, I’m off to the tallest part of Iki (they call it a mountain.  I call it a glorified hill) to greet the first sunrise of the New Year with a rousing bout of taiko!  Crossing my fingers that they don’t get frostbitten.

I don’t usually do resolutions, beyond the abstract “I will do my best to make good decisions” trap, but this year is a little different.  Beginning of a decade.  I’m going to start trying for the dream (foreign service), so I thought I’d make some concrete resolutions.

Rock on.

  1. The resolution: I will study Japanese and Chinese at least once a week each.  This probably means one on Tuesday and one on Thursday, if not more.  The goal: Be more elegant when I speak Japanese and remember enough Chinese to get by when I visit in the Summer.
  2. The resolution: Take at least one picture a day, every day, for a year.  The goal: to have something truly spectacular to remember my time in Japan.
  3. The resolution: I will finish another book.  The goal: …uh, finish another book.

So that’s that.  Do you have any resolutions this year?

Of course, there are lots of other things I plan on doing.  I want to try another charity: water drive around my birthday (this time expanding past Iki).  I’m planning trips home for my sister’s wedding, around Japan and into China with my friend Danielle, and Ava and I are seriously considering visiting Greece next winter.  Of course, this is only if she decides not to go home for Christmas.  (But I could go by myself…)

And, obviously, I will be continuing my life resolutions:

  1. Keeping an open mind and heart
  2. Making decisions that do not adversely affect others while still maintaining my happiness
  3. Being silly
  4. etc.

So Happy New Years!  In Japanese, we say およ年を (o-yo toshi wo) before the New Year and あけましておめでとうございます (akemashite omedetou gozaimasu) after the New Year.  Their greeting systems are very strict.

Peace and love, folks.  Peace and love.

And, oh yea:

Grasshopper bars (left) and Zimtsterne (center). The Zimtsterne took ages to make, but the second batch (top) turned out way better than the first (bottom).

Zimtsterne (left), sugar cookies as decorated by the wonderful Ava Flave (center), truffles (back), and russian tea cakes (upper right).

Gingersnaps (far left), Peppermint Bark cheesecake (left-center), chocolate malt bars (right), and strawberry pie (front).

Despite giving  most of the cookies away, I’m pretty sure I’ve gained about 10 pounds.