Year in Review -2011-

I’ve always wanted to do one of these posts, so now is the perfect time to do it! Here we have… 2011 in review!

The Rabbit is a lucky sign.  Rabbits are private individuals and a bit introverted.  People born in the Year of the Rabbit are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of a group of good friends.  They are good teachers, counselors and communicators, but also need their own space.

2011 was the Year of the Rabbit, my year. It was Year of the Golden Rabbit, which is funny because I always wear a gold rabbit necklace around my neck.

Here is what happened:


I went to Chicago to visit my parents and met my siblings there too (in from college and Minnesota). I got to see the restaurant for the first time and how my parents were doing. After a great Christmas, we had a nice New Year’s too.


Texans, through and through! (Taken at the restaurant)


Can you believe we are related?
SA + JB + KK


Yep. We are all strange.


JET INTERVIEW! That was a trip, literally and figuratively. Work had been really stressful that week with tons of things to do and important customer demands. Million-dollar contracts and stuff. Plus, the looming interview weighed heavily on me. I started experiencing chest pains and tightness a couple days before the interview. I took a day off work, drove to Houston the night before, and stayed at an old family friend’s house. It worked out perfectly because their house was close to downtown and I didn’t have to rush on the morning of the interview. Anything that lessened the stress/anxiety was a good thing. The chest pains didn’t go away until I was driving back home to Austin, hours after the interview. I had been afraid of having an legitimate anxiety attack or something.

But hey, the interview was a ton easier than the interview in Portland in 2009. And I made it on the short list this year. February was a very important month for me. I prayed to God and told him that if he wanted me to go to Japan, he should show me. And he did.




I did one of the most insane things I have ever done in my life. My brother’s college tennis team was on their way to play SMU in Dallas. He was so close, but yet so far… I decided not to drive to see him because I was exhausted. It was spring break and we had just driven home from Port Aransasa. I stayed up till 2 am agonizing over the decision and feeling guilty about not not going to see him. I went to bed.

Got up at 3:30am, grabbed food and a bag, then drove the 4-ish hours to Dallas. I arrived a bit after 7am, went to the Lifetime Fitness by the university, went for a run and showered, then went to watch him around 8:30am. It was so awesome seeing him. I love my brother and I am proud of him! Even if he is a stupid boy-head sometimes. 

So I watched him play for a couple hours, then grabbed lunch at a raw food restaurant across town. I began to drive back to Austin… And got into town just as rush hour was beginning. I was falling asleep at the wheel and am grateful to have made it home safely. The things I do for my brother! Here are some cool pictures of him in action:




Life got complicated. I was offered a more permanent position with a pay raise and benefits at the University of Texas. While I was still waiting to hear from the JET program. I was the most conflicted I have ever been in my life.


Oh, just a normal day at work…

And then I heard back from the JET Program. I was accepted. So then I had to juggle TWO insane job offers. To go to Japan or stay in Austin? One bible verse stuck out in my head; Mark 11:24: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

I had prayed in February during the JET interview and I guess this was my answer. On April 21st I Fedex-ed my reply to the JET Program, saying Yes.


I bought a new computer! It was so expensive and flashy and SONY, but it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Still is.


I also stayed at Sam’s dad’s apartment for a couple weeks while they were on vacation. It is literally across the street from Whole Foods (yes, THE Austin Whole Foods headquarters) and the trails around Town Lake. This made it extremely easy to get food and run with Zandra on Fridays after work.



I went to California! I wanted to see my aunt and grandmother before I left for Japan, so that was an amazingly awesome trip. Filled with ikebana, vegan food, movies, family time, cooking with my aunt, driving around LA/Thousand Oaks/Malibu, seeing the LA flower market…



I prepared for Japan. I said goodbye to the most awesome co-workers in the world. The University of Texas is the best place to work in the world! I still miss them. We had my going-away lunch at this all-vegetarian Indian buffet close to the office. Saying goodbye was really difficult…


My team!


Good bye office with my name on it!


As if I hadn’t had enough goodbyes… This was the hardest. I had to leave my home in Austin with Liz and Alex. Sam had moved back home for the summer and Noelle was back in Marble Falls as well. But I was leaving.

It was hard to believe that I had lived on Winchester Rd for a year…. They were my family. Still are. And I miss them so much.

My mom and I drove my car and belongings in my little Honda Civic back to Chicago, where I would pack for Japan.


I got my first suit from Ann Taylor!


And arrived in Tokyo for orientation…


Festivals! I arrived in Hirosaki and the festival season began in full swing. From now on I will equate August with festivals.




I turned 24! And I took the new shinkansen to Tokyo, one of the biggest birthday presents to myself! I spent the weekend with my host family and friends in Tokyo. It is a shame I got sick right as I was leaving, but I still had an awesome weekend regardless.






I ran a marathon! Well, okay, it was only a 10k, but still… I ran something! My friends and I did it and I was so happy for all of us. I was sick for the two weeks prior to the race, but I still did okay!




I attended the wedding of a Japanese friend with Kimberly. It was a ton of fun, especially being the only foreigners there. It was fun getting all dolled up, I must admit! (But only every once in a while, because it is tiring!)


And my friend Lisa from college came to stay with me! I was so happy to have her over and it was nice to see an old friend. Her visit was short, but sweet.


I also was lucky enough to get a care package from my Austin family. <3




Man, December was action-packed. There was my end-of-year party for work, tea ceremony and Christmas, notably.


I learned how to play mahjong! I kicked their butts.

DSC_0054Thumbs-up for the whole party!
(Pay no attention to the drunk man on the floor)


Me makin’ tea with sensei’s help!

She’s about to try my tea…

And you know how Christmas was. :)


My Hirosaki family

I Skyped my family in Chicago and was able to watch them open presents on Christmas morning… So… I was there in spirit.


(Christmas via Skype)


I am headed over soon to my co-worker’s house to celebrate New Year’s with them, Japanese-style! Goodbye, 2011! You were… Well, you were many things. Exciting. Adventurous. Scary. Sad. Tough. Fun. New. 

Looking forward to 2012!


3 Comments to “Year in Review -2011-”

  1. Oh my god the photo of Justin and his derp face. Classic tennis faces. What a year in review. :3

  2. Stacy, this is by far your best post! You are an amazing daughter and human being who has so much to contribute to this world of ours. I am so proud to call you my own! I love you more than you will ever know, until you have your own!
    love, mmy

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