January 19, 2006
Fearless Husband took the test, and thought he did relatively well. He has a better shot next January though, as he'll have his surface warfare badge/certification by that point (and maybe air warfare as well), and will have had a year in a leadership role on the ship, which will give him a big advantage. Though chances are that he won't get it this year (it's more than the written test--there are lots and lots of factors involved) there is still a chance, so keep your fingers crossed. He felt pretty good about the whole thing, and I'm proud of him.
Both of us still felt under the weather, and the actual weather outside was cooperating in trying to get us to stay indoors--cold, rainy and dreary. So I pulled another lateral move out of my bag of tricks, and told the housing department we wanted to know if we could get high-speed Internet (preferably fiber optic) at the House on the Hill. That won us another 24 hours, as they had to call the realtor, who would then call the landlord, and they'd play Password back to us. So instead of noon on the 19th, we had until noon on the 20th to decide about that house...and I went back to the racks of house flyers to see if there was anything new (they put out new listings every day at noon, and the elbows fly!) Nothing struck my eye--almost everything was either too small, too far away, or was a faceless and boring apartment high-rise.
Oh...I may not have explained about the cost of the rentals and how the military works when it comes to providing housing assistance for off-base living. So far, money has not been a factor in our search. In some places, the military will provide a specific sum, and if the service member and family find cheaper housing, they get to pocket the difference. In this case, we are given a rent ceiling, and if we go above it, we have to make up the difference. However, the military pays the rent directly to the landlord, so if we get a cheaper place, we don't get the difference in our hands. Our rent cap is dependent on FH's rank (E6) and the number of family members. We're allowed 159,000 yen per month, or approximately $1,400 a month...which is a LOT as far as I am concerned! We're in Japan and housing is more expensive, but we're in a relatively rural area, not Tokyo! Everything we've looked at so far has been under 130,000 yen a month. There really hasn't been anything over that, except for one big house 25 minutes from the base...and it was too boring and modern for me! The military will give us a set amount for utilities every month, and if I can keep my heat and electric bills low enough, we DO get to pocket the difference there, so I will be very careful about being wasteful!
I practiced reversing, then walked off base to the insurance agency and bought the extra insurance that the base insists on for each driver. This insurance can be transfered to another vehicle if we sell our beater and get a new car. It was about $300 for the year for both of us. The car itself is insured for liability--it's called the JCI (Japanese Compulsory Insurance) and that's renewed every two years, along with the important and expensive inspection. Ours is due next September. So now we just have to get our parking registration for on-base transfered to our names, pay our Sasebo City parking certification to prove we have a legal space in the community, and get the official bill of sale registered. Oh, and I have to get my license! I was frustrated that even though I was buying the car, I had to have either FH's signature or a Power of Attorney in order to get the insurance...and had to pay with his credit card, not mine. It's very frustrating for me, but I guess I do understand it. The Japanese government knows they can "lay hands on" a service member, but a spouse could leave the country with outstanding parking tickets or whatever. Luckily, the very gregarious insurance agent said in accented but very good Americanized English, "Oh, no sweat. I'll drive you back to the Navy Lodge to get your husband's signature and his credit card, and bring you back here." So she shut her three dogs behind the counter, locked the door, and took me to the Lodge and back! She was able to drive from the park to the base, as she had a government sticker, and the insurance company, even though it's Japanese, is located in Nimitz Park, which is officially US soil.