Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Can you believe it?

Okay, I don't normally post this many posts to the blog during the week---but several people have told me that I should share the news with all of you, so here it goes.

Much to my surprise, I have been nominated for a WATCH award for my performance as "Sally Brown" from Montgomery Playhouse's production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown." I'm one of 6 nominees in the category of "Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical."

For those of you who don't know, WATCH stands for Washington Area Theatre Community Honors. The award ceremony will be held in March (back home in Virginia), so unfortunately I won't be able to make it. But I have to say, I'm just so surprised and excited that I was nominated (that sounds so cliche).

Anyway, I guess that is reason enough to post!

I also wanted to let you all know about a great movie that Kev and I recently saw. It's called "Juno." It is both hilarious and heart-breaking at the same time. I'm not going to give the plot away, but it stars Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, and newcomer Ellen Page. Page plays the main character, a 16 year old teenager who finds herself pregnant.

The movie has great acting and really superb, quirky dialogue. So go out and see it if you haven't already. You'll be glad you did. :)

“Everybody keeps telling me how surprised they are with what I've done. But I'm telling you honestly that it doesn't surprise me. I knew I could do it.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, January 21, 2008

The New Do

Happy MLK day everyone! Just wanted to post a quick note about my new "do."

It's been about 3 months since I last had my hair cut. It was really starting to look a bit ragged, so I finally dragged myself to the base beauty salon and got it chopped off.

I now have a short bob. Check it out!

Guess I can clean up well. :)

Love, Chrissy

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My former self....

I just found out that my Discovery show "Cash Cab" has been entered into the Emmys this year.

Last September, I was in LA, hob-nobbing with the stars. Host Ben Bailey was nominated for "outstanding game show host," so I went. Unfortunately, he didn't win. The Emmy was given to Bob Barker...

This year, I won't be attending the Emmys at all. It's funny, sometimes there is a part of me that misses my former self...My former life in Maryland/DC. My life as a TV producer for the Discovery Channel...

I have to remind myself of the reasons why Kevin and I chose to move to Okinawa. The crazy-hectic 50 hour work weeks. The migraines I got every Friday--like clockwork.

Yes, we came to Okinawa for a change.

But change is not easy. I've had to adjust to a new role as a "spousal dependent," assimilate to the military lifestyle and decorum, re-learn my Japanese language skills & customs, and re-evaluate & prioritize my goals and aspirations.

Yes, change is not easy. But change is necessary. We are stronger because of it. I know now that I don't want to live in the shadow of my former self... No, I want to create a new & better me. :)

I think Winston Churchill said it best:

"To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Only In Japan....

The Japanese are smart. They seem to be leagues ahead in technology than the rest of the world.

I remember living in Japan as a child and seeing all the new gizmos and gadgets that came out every year. Now as an adult, I actually appreciate the genius of the Japanese. They seem to have a knack for making life simpler. Take these for example.

1) How often do you go to a restaurant and end up waiting forever for a waiter/waitress to come and take your order? Well, let me tell you folks--in Japan--you don't have to wait. In some restaurants, you place your order with a machine, pay for it, print out the tickets, and hand it off. That's it.

Here's an example of one such machine at a local ramen noodle shop.

There are pictures of the entrees, so if you can't read Japanese, you can at least recognize what you want. You can choose your quantity, customize your order, and add even a beer if you wanted. Additionally in other restaurants, instead of having a machine, each table is equipped with a buzzer. Once you have the read the menu and know what you what, all you have to do is push the buzzer and wait for a waiter/waitress to come take your order. It's a no-hassle way of ordering. Just fast and efficient service.

2) I'm sure you have all heard that Japan is the land of vending machines. Well, this is true. You can find vending machines literally on every street corner. You can buy almost anything in a vending machine. Soda, beer, cigarettes, canned soup, canned coffee, iced tea, hot cocoa, ramen, ice-cream, Anything you want. But it's not just what the vending machines offer that make Japanese vending machines smart, nooooooo, it's much more. Here's the best part. In Japan, when buying a beverage from a vending machine--you can either get it hot or cold! And from the same machine no less....Genius, I tell you. How come the U.S hasn't adopted this yet? Who knows....

Don't worry if you can't read Japanese, the beverage vending machines have a blue line for "cold" and a red line for "hot." So, all you need to do is put in your money, choose your beverage, and choose to make it hot or cold. Take a look at the vending machine below, you can see the blue and red lines under the cans.

One little sidenote. In Japan, American celebrities are big here. While you may not believe Tommy Lee Jones to be an appropriate "spokesperson" for coffee back home, in Japan, his famous "mug" graces canned coffee called "Boss."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Greg & Denise's Visit to Okinawa!

Okay so I'm still playing catchup. I've finally posted all my pics from our trip to Dubai/Abu Dhabi--so now I can move on to my brother and sister in law's visit. I want to thank Greg and Denise in advance for providing some great photos!

Right after Kev and I returned home to Okinawa, my BIL and SIL (Greg and Denise) came to visit us for a week.

Neither one of them had ever been here before, so Kev and I really wanted to show them all the sights and expose them to as much Okinawan culture as we could. Unfortunately the weather wasn't very cooperative. It rained A LOT. And it was cold. I know I shouldn't really complain, but when you're used to a subtropical climate-- rainy, windy, 50 degree weather is not at all pleasant.

With the weather being less than stellar, Kev and I did our best to entertain.

We managed to go to Nago Pineapple Park where Greg and Denise had their fill trying all the free samples. This place is great because you can see how the Okinawans use pineapples in almost everything: wine, chocolate, cookies, cakes, I mean EVERYTHING.

Here's a photo of Greg and Denise at the Pineapple Park.

Kevin and I at the park.

I even got a pic of a local Okinawan speciality. Habu Sake. Yes, that is a snake in there. The Habu is a poisonous snake that lives on the island. Drinking sake with habu is said to increase stamina and virility, especially in men. Drink up, boys!!!

After the Pineapple Park, we headed to Ocean Expo Park and the Churaumi Aquarium. (Kev and I went to the aquarium when we first arrived on the island. We liked it so much, we decided to get "annual passes" :)).

Now I've been to many aquariums--the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, the New England Aquarium in Boston, the Waikiki Aquarium in Hawaii, even the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I have to say the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is definitely my top favorite. Why you ask?

Because of the whale sharks. That's right. Whale sharks. This aquarium actually has a tank large enough to hold 3 whale sharks. And they are huge....

We lucked out on the day we went because the Expo Park was hosting several special events in honor of the New Year. We were able to get Denise and Greg to try their hand at "mochi" making.

We also saw some Eisa dancers and a lion dance.

(Greg took this one!)

Here's a photo of Greg and Denise posing with some girls dressed in traditional Okinawan kimonos. (These last two photos are compliments of Denise.)

Later in the week, Kevin went back to work. So I played tour guide for a day and took Greg and Denise to "Ryukyu Mura." This "village" attraction is designed to look like a traditional Okinawan village during the Ryukyu Kingdom. The village has several houses dating back to the era and even has live entertainment.

This is a photo I took of a "shisa" in front of one of the houses in "Ryukyu Mura."

This is a traditional water wheel.

This is all of us after we were entertained with a live "skit." Although I can speak Japanese, I had a hard time understanding them. Okinawa has its own language and it's completely indecipherable to me....

This is a photo of a traditional Okinawan-Ryukyu dance. I'm not sure what it's called.

We also read our fortunes (called "omikuji" in Japanese). Normally, if you receive a bad fortune you are supposed to tie them onto a tree (in this case, a house) so that your fortune doesn't come true. In this case, since all of us received good fortunes, we decided it would be best to tie them so that they WOULD come true.

Here's a photo of a water buffalo. During the Ryukyu kingdom, Okinawans used water buffalo to grind raw sugar cane plants into sugar. Brown sugar is still a very popular product here in Okinawa.

Here are some photos from our trip to Naha's Shurijo castle.

I think Greg and Denise really enjoyed their visit to Okinawa. They are now on their way to Tokyo and Kyoto (on the mainland) for a few days before they fly back to the States. I hope they are having a good time. :)


Friday, January 4, 2008

Part III of Dubai/Abu Dhabi

Here is the last and final chapter of our trip to Dubai/Abu Dhabi. I know there are 3 parts--but hey--we took a lot of pictures!!!

We had a great time in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but our trip was far from complete. With just a few days left before we needed to head home to Okinawa, my parents came up with an idea to take Kevin and I to a really "exotic" location--the country of Oman.

Kev and I had never been there before and didn't realize that it wasn't too far from the UAE.

We got up bright and early at 5am and drove about 4 hours when we reached the UAE and Omani border. We showed our passports, paid our fees for our visas, and then drove further until we reached the Musandam penisula. Our aim was to reach the fishing village of "Khasab."

"Khasab" is a sleepy fishing village with beautiful views. Tourists from Oman and the UAE flock here to enjoy the Arabian sea and the mountainous cliff-like fjords that end right at the water's edge.

Once we reached "Khasab," we decided to take a boat trip on a "dhow"--a traditional Arab sailing vessel with one or more sails. I don't usually do too well on boats, but decided the view would be worth it.

The "dhow" had an open deck with carpet and cushions for us to sit on.

That's Mom, Dad, and me on the deck of our "dhow." It was a bit chilly, so that's why we are all bundled up. :)

During our 3 hour boat trip, we passed small little fishing villages. Hard to imagine that some of these villages have no land access. The only way you can get to these villages is by boat.

We were even lucky to get a glimpse of some dolphins. There were so many of them. They surrounded us.

Despite the fact they were everywhere, it was not easy trying to get a photograph. The minute I would push the shutter, they were gone.

Here are some photos I did get. I admit I "zoomed" in on these so you can actually see what you are looking at. :)

Can you see them?

It was funny to see the other tour boats racing to catch up with the dolphins!!!

As our "dhow" headed back to shore, the sun began to set.

The view of the sun reflecting off the water was beautiful.

We spent the night at a small hotel in Khasab. Here's a photo of Mom and I in the parking lot of our hotel. You can see the mountains in the background.

The next morning, we headed back to the UAE. Kev and I had to pack to get ready to head back to Okinawa...

Oman was a perfect ending to our Dubai/Abu Dhabi trip.

Part II of Dubai/Abu Dhabi Trip

Happy New Year again! Welcome to the year of the mouse-- "nezumi." :)

This is part II, a continuation of our trip to Dubai/Abu Dhabi. Here it goes...

In Dubai, we saw the "Burj Dubai"--soon to be the world's tallest building. Dubai is a city of superlatives-- for the fastest, tallest, longest, highest, you name it.

I'm not sure when this building will be finished, but once it's complete, it really will be a sight to see.

My parents live in Abu Dhabi, which is about a 2 hour drive from Dubai. In contrast to Dubai's desert environment, Abu Dhabi is relatively "green." The city has made an effort to plant trees and shrubs to give the city a "green" look. Here's a view of Abu Dhabi's skyline.

For Christmas eve, my parents took my brother Julian, Kev and I on a "desert" safari tour. We all got into a 4x4 and took a ride over desert sand dunes.

Let me warn you: This is not a trip for those who get motion sickness. Trust me.

It was fun and exciting for the first 15 minutes, but after that I really wanted to get out of the jeep. Unfortunately for me, our driver kept driving over sand dunes like a madman...

Despite feeling ill, I have to say, the highlight of the safari was definitely the camels. I even got to ride one!

They are so cute!!!

Even my Mom got in on the action.

After the camel ride, it was time to enjoy the sunset.

The sunset from our camp was absolutely beautiful....

I think this says it all....

Once it was dark, we enjoyed a Middle Eastern meal under the stars. The food was delicious! We had hummos, grilled lamb, chicken and beef, saffron rice, roasted vegetables, and baklava.

Here's a photo of all of us at dinner. My brother Julian took the photo, so he's not in it. :(

Here we are dressed in traditional Middle Eastern garb.

That's me, my brother Julian on the left, and Kevin on the right.

Later, we all sat around a fire and smoked from a "hookah" pipe. What an experience! It took me a bit to get the hang of it. You have to suck on the pipe really hard to get the water at the bottom of the hookah to bubble.

Ha! Looks like I'm having a good time. By George, I think she's got it. :)

Sitting by the fire in the middle of the desert was awesome. Some of the other people in our tour group were from Slovakia so they ended the night by singing Christmas carols in Russian.

I never imagined, I would be sitting under the stars in the Arabian desert on Christmas eve. It made me think about the Three Kings and how they used the North Star to find the manger where baby Jesus was born.

It was truly a beautiful night, complete with a full moon.

Part I of Dubai/Abu Dhabi Trip

Happy New Year!!!! Hard to believe, but it's been 3 months since Kev and I moved here to Okinawa. We have both fallen in love with the island. We are always finding new things & sights to discover each day. The island is absolutely beautiful and we are so thankful we will be here for the next few years to explore all that Okinawa has to offer.

Anyway, since it's been awhile since I've posted to the blog--here's an update from our trip to Dubai/Abu Dhabi. Kevin and I flew to Dubai to visit my parents for the Christmas holiday. We had a blast on our 10 day trip.

We left Naha on December 20th and flew Asiana Airlines into Seoul, Korea for a layover. We had about 8 hours to kill and thought we could take a day trip into the city. Unfortunately, we failed to pack any "warm" clothing so when we landed in Seoul, we were not prepared to hear that the temperature was a freezing 34 degrees! All I had on was a light cotton sweater and Kev only had a sweatshirt. We didn't want to have to spend hours hanging out inside the airport but since we didn't have the proper clothing and knew we would freeze out in the cold, we had no choice but to stay indoors. Note to self: Korea is cold in the winter. If you plan to go outside, pack accordingly.

Thankfully, our layover in Seoul wasn't a complete bust. We were able to pass the time wandering around the airport. We eventually found a great little restaurant where we had some Korean hotpot soup. I had some spicy oxtail soup and Kev had seafood soup. The key ingredient of course was kimchee. :0

After the long day in the airport, we finally boarded our flight to Dubai on Emirates Airlines. Although we sat in Economy, we each had our very own personal touch-screen entertainment console with over a thousand movie titles, TV channels, and games (Imagine trying to get that in Economy on United or American Airlines!!) If you fly to the Middle East, definitely fly Emirates. They are a good airline with outstanding customer service.

Dubai is an interesting place. No where in the world can you see so much construction and building going on in one place. Day and night, construction goes on. It seems endless--they are literally building the Dubai skyline around the clock.

My father took my brother Julian, Kev and I into the city for a day to see the sights. We, of course, wanted to visit the infamous "Burj Al Arab" (It is afterall the only 7 star hotel in the world.) We didn't think we would get in, but my father used his charms to convince security to allow us in.

Here is a photo of my father, brother Julian and I at the entrance. If you look at the top of the Burj, you can see the helicopter landing pad.

This is a photo of the fountain inside the main lobby. There are multiple lobbies in this hotel.

And here is a view of the ceiling in the main lobby.

While in Dubai, we also visited the Jumeirah Palm Island(s). These are the man-made islands that are being developed off the shore of Dubai. Security here was tight so we were doubtful we would be allowed in, but we managed. We drove down the main "trunk" portion of the Palm and onto one of the "fronds".

Here's a view of the main "trunk". A luxury hotel is being built here, this is the building you see in the background.

This is just one of the many "mansions" being built on the "fronds." Each house is going for about $4 million dollars. Geez...what a bargain.

We also went to the Mall of the Emirates. Once inside, you can see why tourists like to visit this mall. It really is a shopper's paradise.

Can you tell I love to shop???!!! :)

The Mall of the Emirates is also home to "Ski Dubai"-the world's largest indoor ski slope. Hard to believe you can ski in the desert city of Dubai!

If you don't have ski pants or a jacket, don't worry. Everything is available for rent here.... :)
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