Yesterday Leiya and I decided that we needed to pack our stuff to see how much would fit in the suitcases and how much we'd need to be sending home by mail. Let me tell you folks, I won't be sending any more packages back to Japan and I advise the rest of you to think twice too if you live in the States!
Leiya and I made up a box each. I don't know what she had in her box but I think it was clothes and the blanket she'd made and her quilt. As for me, most of my box was made up of craft articles. Lots and lots of fabric that I got at fantastic prices and some new craft rulers, scissors, things to use with the English kids etc. Actually I was surprised at the weight of all of it together, but it wasn't outrageous.
We lugged our packages to the post office and I said I wanted to send my package to Japan. The post office man knows a little Japanese so the conversation went like this:
Post office man: "Konnichi wa!" (Hi!)
Me: "Konnichi wa!" (Same) "I want to send this package to Japan."
Post office man: "Oohhh. Takai." (Oh, very expensive.) "Hikouki" (Airplane)
Me, laughing: "Dame. Hikouki dame." (No way by air!)
Post office man: "No. We don't ship by surface any more. It's all airplane now."
Me: "WHAT!!!!! I've got to send this airmail!!! You're crazy! Find me some other way!"
Post office man: "That's the only way to do it now unless you want to go down to the docks and find some ship that will take it to Japan for you."
That exchange left me perspiring and my my head started aching when he quoted me a price of $75 to ship the box. To make a long story short, I paid the $75. The nice post office man tried to help me figure out a cheaper way, but dividing the contents into two boxes was going to cost the same and putting them in regulation boxes as $30 a piece (size of a tissue box) was still going to run it up because I'd need at least three.
A couple of years ago my luggage at the airport was overweight and I ended up paying an $80 fine so I've been careful not to have a repeat of that scene since then. I hate wondering at the Check-in counter whether I'm going to be charged extra for my baggage. A couple of days before leaving the States, (like about now) I start to get a little crazy. I pack and repack and drag suitcases on to the scales and move things around trying to stuff the heavier things into the carry-on. I regret all my shopping sprees and bewail about why oh why I bought so much stuff! It was so cheap in the stores but when I have to pay shipping or fines it all runs up to the same as Japanese prices! (Well, not absolutely true, but in fits of hair-pulling that's how I feel.) I have dreams of toodling off to the airplane pulling my cute compact carry-on bag behind me like a little square poodle. It's not going to happen in my lifetime!
Day after tomorrow you're going to find me wrestling with my two suitcases, two carry-on bags (one masquerading as my purse) my camera, a shopping bag or two, my shoulders hunched, my face red, dropping pens and passports and trying to remember to say goodbye to my family who is there thinking "Get on the plane lady! Why does she do this every year?"