Archive for ‘holidays’

November 17, 2013

The Most Colorful Birthday of All

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Earlier this fall my friend Noelle mentioned to us that she wanted to get a bunch of her friends together and do a 5k for her birthday. I of course said YES! As many of you know, I’ve done two 10ks in Japan. Those were hard. A 5k would be a snap and a lot of fun to do with a group.

The best part about this 5k was that it was themed! I’ve always wanted to do a themed fitness event. This one was called "Color Me Rad". Color Me Rad is a race where you have color thrown at or sprayed at you while you run. The entire point of the race is to begin wearing white and end a rainbow-y mess.

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February 10, 2013

Year-in-Review: 2012

I’m a little late with this post this year, many apologies!

On the whole, 2012 was not an easy year. I learned a lot and experienced a lot. There were highs and there were lows; and I am ever-so-grateful for the people who were there to share in the highs and catch me in the lows. I couldn’t have done it without you.

I am proud of what I have achieved last year and am very much looking forward to what 2013 has in store.

And now without further ado, I bring you… 2012:

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February 6, 2013

January Gone

– Where did January go? I’m actually not too sad to see it go, because I am still waiting on graduate school admission results. Those will come at the end of February or beginning of March, so I hope February is a short month. I mean, February is already short because of the number of days, but I hope it feels short as well.

– It was hard to get back in the "swing of things" after coming back from Italy. I do seem to have a hard time with transitions. It was cold, there was snow everywhere, my house was messy, and I had a weird lingering jet lag that caused me to not get sleepy until after midnight and then struggle to wake up in the morning. I usually *always* wake up before my alarm.

– I was back to normal after a couple weeks and started back up with yoga with my mom on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6am. It’s been really good for me emotionally and physically. She has been teaching me via Skype and it has been wonderful. I finally feel like I am making some progress and getting pretty good at a few things. I hope I can make this a regular thing for me. I just have to remember to go to bed early the night before.

– I went skiing in Owani with my co-workers again this year for our annual “ski school” that my office puts on for district teachers.

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It is for teachers to learn how to ski, the techniques of skiing, and how to teach skiing to kids (I think). It wasn’t as fun as last year because I was miserably cold and skied alone for a bunch of the time.

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The “Holizon”

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January 31, 2013

Conclusion: Firenze to Rome to Milan to Tokyo to Hirosaki

Our trip destinations sound kind of like a Pitbull song, don’t they? (American pop culture reference!) We were just hopping everywhere to all these famous places… A whirlwind of international adventure. I felt like a real jet-setter.

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

We had a leisurely breakfast at our hostel in Firenze before we checked out. We had lucked out and found a super cheap train from Firenze to Rome at 19.45 euros apiece. It took 3 hours instead of 1.5, but was 25 euros cheaper. We decided to save the money and take the cheap train, which turned out to be an awesome idea.

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Excited to go back to Rome! And save money!

The slow train went through some amazing scenic places. I saw a glimpse of the beauty of Tuscany—rolling hills, lakes, wine grape fields, farms, a few castles on hills… It was so fun to watch how the scenery changed from northern to southern Italy. We were also very lucky to have gotten on the train at the first station, because as the train went on, there were no seats left. People were standing by the time we got to Rome Termini.

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January 11, 2013

Italy Day 2, 3: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Italy Day 2

Monday, December 24th: Christmas Eve in the Vatican City and St. Peter’s Square

We didn’t want to see the Vatican museums with a tour, so we decided to be rebels and brave the line. We were out of the hostel early and made it to the infamous line (which wraps around the Vatican museum walls and can be hours long in the summer) around 8:15am. It wasn’t that long at all!

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We really lucked out, and were in the museum, tickets bought, by 9:10am. Score!

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What we saw inside was nothing short of breathtaking. My pictures don’t do it justice.

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January 9, 2013

Italy Day 0, 1: Aomori to Italy

Day 0

We (Kimberly, Tori, and I) left Hirosaki via Willer Express nightbus at 10pm on Friday, December 21st. We were all on the same bus because all of our flights were leaving from Tokyo the next day. Tori was headed home to Vancouver/Portland to see family and Kimberly and I were going to Italy. We were headed off in completely different directions, but we had to Narita Airport first.

I had been running around all day and battling nerves, so I was exhausted by the time we boarded the bus. Kyle drove us all to the bus stop, so it was nice that we didn’t have to haul our luggage in the snow. Kimberly and I, having bought our tickets on the same day, ended up in one row of two seats. Tori was right behind us. The trip actually went better than I expected; I actually slept (but in 2-hour intervals because the bus had no bathrooms and regularly stopped at service areas). It was sleep nonetheless. I finally found a comfy position on the bus and it worked pretty well! Thank God for that.

We arrived in front of Tokyo station around 8am and made our way there. They redesigned the station building recently and it is just gorgeous inside and out. We took a picture in front of it.

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Look how pretty we look after 10 hours on the nightbus! ;)

After that we took the Yamanote line to Ueno, bought Keisei express tickets to Narita, and were on our merry way. Keisei is a private, non-JR railway company and their limited express costs 1,000 yen from Ueno. It takes a little over an hour, whereas the JR Narita Express costs about 2,900 yen from Tokyo and takes 53 minutes. I think I’d rather take the cheaper option, thanks. The Keisei station is quite separated from the JR station in Ueno, so you have to walk a while. Note to self: Always change trains from Keisei to JR at Nippori Station. In Nippori, the Keisei and JR lines are in the same building.

When we got to the airport, we checked in and got boarding passes. Then we walked around the Narita shopping area for while. Tori and Kimberly got Starbucks for breakfast and I munched on food that I had brought. I didn’t want to buy any souvenirs or anything at the airport mall because then it would be just another thing for me to carry. Kimberly and I went through security after that because the line was really long. It went by reasonably fast, though. Didn’t even have to take off my shoes, ha. Immigration was even easier. The guy hardly looked at my passport and form before waving me on. It’s like he was almost saying, “Get outta this country already!”

I was really exhausted at this point and just wanted to chill out at the gate, so that’s exactly what I did. Charged my iDevices too. Tori and Kimberly went to walk around the duty-free area and get food while I manned the fort and guarded the bags.

The time until we were called to board the plane neared and I asked Tori to snap a pic of Kimberly and I as we waited in line. It marked the beginning of the second leg of our journey.

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Goodbye, Tori! See you in 2013!

We got to our seats, savored our last precious minutes of unlimited data on our iPhones (most with Facebook) and waited to take off. Kimberly told me that takeoff is her favorite part. She was super excited! I had kind of wasted all my nervous energy at that point, but I was excited too. I remembered how my dad would give me a piece of Wrigley’s gum at takeoffs and/or landings to help with cabin air pressure in my young ears. That was when we would fly together a lot as a family.

The weather outside was the “pouring cats and dogs” kind of rain, but our plane left without any delays. VROOOOM!

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October 17, 2012

Random Observations as of Late #6

Aaaaaaaaaaaand it’s time for another catch-up post. I haven’t posted a “daily life”/random observations blog in a while, so here we go! Warning: This is long.

※ I was wondering…Why is everything I do so interesting? To everyone? For example, every time I come to this one school, the office lady asks me, “Did you bike here again today?” She asks me this and she is amazed when I answer “Yes”. The weather is nice and it only takes 30 minutes. Why is that so interesting? Also, people are amazed when I mention that I like exercise. And that I like to go to the gym after work. You’d think I qualified for the Olympics from the reactions I get. This stuff is normal, but since I am a foreigner in Japan… I guess everything I do is just interesting?

※ At one of my schools, there is a transfer student from another country. His father has already been here for a while, working, so he just recently came to join him. The rest of their family is still in their home country. I think it is interesting, because this kid speaks little Japanese and little English. Man, that must be hard. Plus, his name when put into Japanese katakana means “Ant.” I talked to the teachers about him recently and they said that the kid is being teased a bit and has few friends. The situation kind of makes me sad.

※ For the month of October, Kyle and Tori’s tradition is to watch one Halloween movie per night. So far I have joined them for Nightmare Before Christmas, Slither, Idle Hands, The Witches, and The Ring. The Ring (American version) is one of the scariest movies I have seen. I had horrible nightmares the night after I watched it the first time. I even slept-walked in Sam’s house and woke up on the floor in her bedroom’s entryway with a huge bruise on my foot. Still have no idea what happened there. Since then I’ve gotten a little desensitized by it and was okay to go to bed by myself. After we watched it last week, I went home and got in bed. I reached up to turn my overhead light off, but then froze. My lamp that hangs above my bed is a circle-shaped light, resembling a ring. The line from the movie played in my head: “Before you die, you see the ring.” So I bravely turned off the light, knowing what I would see. The room was completely dark aside from the ring of light, which faded into the dark seconds later. Pretty scary.

※ I’ve been cooking a little more lately. I’ve made a new curry recipe and this one is rocking my taste buds right now: click here for the recipe! And also, I rediscovered some of my Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free baking flour that Tori and Kyle gave me for Christmas last year. I still had some left! So I decided that I was going to try and make carrot cake. I even bought nutmeg and everything. I used this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie and while the results were not as visually “pretty” as a normal carrot cake… The taste was incredible. I hadn’t tasted carrot cake in probably over a year, so it was pure heaven for this carrot cake lover. Plus, it takes 5 minutes and you can make it in the microwave. I don’t have an oven here in Japan, but… This carrot cake can be made anywhere in the world with a microwave! I need to order more gluten-free flour. :)

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Another thing I made was… CHILI. Oh my gosh. I have not had chili in… two years? I can’t remember the last time I ate real chili. I am so looking forward to eating this with a nice ripe avocado on top. I used this recipe from Oh She Glows.

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August 13, 2012

Come Back To Texas

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Here is my post about my trip to Austin, Texas. I was there from July 11th to July 26th. It was an awesome trip, like a dream.

This post isn’t well-written or anything… It’s mostly just an account of what I did in Austin, plus pictures. Lots of day-to-day things that make me happy.

And beware, this is VERY long.

I began this blog entry by writing in a notebook on the flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Tokyo Narita:

On the plane again. I think this is the first time that I havent been excited to go to Japan. I feel nervous. Sad. Worried. Anxious. Having Sam there in the mornings and evenings really helped. But now I go back to my life and job in Japan. One more year. I can do it. One more year to have more great experiences in Japan.

Being home in Texas was like being the old me again. I got mysummer skinback (my sun-tanned skin). I just feltFree. It kind of fortified my desire to live in Austin again. I need to work hard to get into the University of Texas. I need to give it my all. Good luck, me. 頑張って。

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December 25, 2011

(My Second) Christmas in Japan!

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Me with my baby stocking that Tori got/made for me!

My first Christmas away from home was in 2007 when I was studying abroad in Tokyo at Waseda University. Here is a snippet from my journal entry dated December 24th, 2007:

Here in Japan it’s Christmas Eve. December 24th. This day used to fill me with such joy and happiness, but now I don’t feel anything. It just feels like any ordinary day. I realize now that Christmas as a holiday is nothing without the people to celebrate it with.

But this 2011 blog Christmas post is not sad.. it is happy! Because this year in Japan, I had people to celebrate it with! Awesome, lovely, amazing friends. And that made all the difference in the world.

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November 6, 2011

All Halloween-ed Out

I never though I would be tired of Halloween! But after prolonging the holiday over 9 days… that’ll just about do it.

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Kyle’s “Jack”-o-lantern invites you to read about my Halloween in Japan…

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