2014: My year in review

Ha! A whole year of not posting anything. There's a good reason: it was a busy year. In my 2013 review I mentioned how challenging 2014 would be, and it was. It doesn't get easier.

One of the big highlights/challenges this year was us deciding to move back to Japan. We chose Sapporo for many reasons: Hokkaido is known for great food, it's not blisteringly hot in the summer, there's snow in winter (makes it feel at least a little bit like Christmas/New Year's), and it's as far as possible from more "dangerous/risky" areas in the country. There's some potential work here for me and Yukiko (she started working/studying Japanese painting more seriously). Also, someone recommended us to come to Japan with the intention of helping us planning a family. That quickly ended up being a dud: in the end the promised help didn't really come, mostly because of very poor communication and misconceptions on the helper's side. The reasons still make no sense to us and many people we shared our experience with. I feel stranded, angered, and cheated by the whole experience and the people who unilaterally decided that we're not worthy of being parents. In the end plan B, C, etc took priority. Although some progress has been made through these other approaches (more than we thought), in the end it all failed for this year.

The above probably weighed in during the summer where business was slow. The unusually pronounced slowness was not only felt by me, but my many others in my and other fields. Something felt off. The already low motivation was probably exacerbated by our multiple personal failures as well. Luckily the end of the year has brought more work, and hopefully we're back on track. But it was a scary slump. And to say a numerologist told be this year was going to be spectacular. Heh.

One the bright side, everyone close to me is healthy and alive. That's more important than I give it credit. Other observations:

  • Sapporo is a great city. Just the right size. Not crowded, air (outside) is clean. Food is great. Realizing that living quality is better than Tokyo.
  • Way too many people smoke here. This has dramatically limited our outings, especially mine.
  • Beer gardens in Sapporo > Beer gardens in Tokyo.
  • People can say whatever they want about how homes in Hokkaido are insulated, it's bull. There's a vent blowing ice cold air in each room (which I blocked for the winter), and heating costs a fortune. Heat loss in the apartment is about twice as slow as Tokyo though, which means the room gets cold after 10 minutes instead of 5. Yay.
  • Finding an appartment in Japan still has its challenges, especially when you're a foreigner. I had to get my retired father-in-law to sign the lease despite me having a salary.
  • I think I've been writing about how worried I was concerning the direction Japan is taking for the last 2 years. Add another year, and add more worry. I miss home.

In general, this was not really a good year. The many failures outweigh the few successes. I'm glad to see it go. Hopefully 2015 can be the year I can say "finally!" on a lot of topics.