Updates To Come

The past four months have been chock full of doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, a malicious (thankfully, now ‘former’) coworker hacking into my blog and changing no less than 5 posts, and even more recently a two week sojourn to Aomori to settle my affairs and move out for good.

This means there will be many updates to come.

First, there will be the matter of continuing with my rehabilitation, which was put on hold for two weeks. Once I can get through that, I’ll have time for everything else.

Second will be rewriting the posts that were altered. And, because this blog exists to document my experiences abroad and now at home, an accompanying story for how this happened and a previously un-published post about what it is like to grow up between cultures in America is like will also follow.

Third, a whole new series on travel within California, points of interest, and other fun things to do on a budget in the Golden State will soon follow.




The Final Goodbye 

Got medical leave to temporarily return to Japan for two weeks to finish settling my affairs and say one last personal goodbye to everyone.

I arrived home last night. Tired and sore but happy to have seen so many wonderful and important people to me in Aomori.

On a map, it’s this strangely misshapen prefecture. It doesn’t look like much to people who place undo emphasis on the convenience of modern city life. But to those who have had the sublime privilege and pleasure of residing in its evergreen forests, Aomori is a magical place of warm inaka life and ancient wilderness. It is and always will be a second home to me. I’ve had so many wonderful and beautiful first time experiences there. So many fun and extraordinary people made the experience UNFORGETTABLE.

And that’s a feeling and an experience that no one will ever be able to take away from me.

Thank you, Aomori for all the good times. And see you soon!

The Story of How I Met One of My Best Friends

It’s not every day that you stumble upon proof of the exact moment in which you meet someone who will forever change your life.

And as I was cleaning out two years’ of accumulation from apartment and vehicle, I stumbled upon an old parking ticket that had somehow managed to wedge itself into the car’s plastic interior. 

Excitement beyond anything, is the only proper way to describe this chance find. And I’ve found some pretty great geocache finds with friends, but this topped everything. 

It topped everything because I spent two hours locked in a parking lot with the lovely young lady who would be one of my two best friends in Aomori. I’d never met her before that night and I had invited anyone and everyone I could find in the prefecture who had been described as a writer to me.

She needed a drive from the station. I had a car. My navigation refused to take me to the side ofHachinohe  Eki with that allowed private car pick ups, so I parked and thought that I had stashed the ticket in my coat pocket or something.

Ten minutes later I have E’s bags in the boot, my engine is revving, and…

The ticket isn’t in my coat pocket. Fine, it’s probably in my wallet. Okay, then, maybe not the wallet?

Thus sparked an intense search for the parking ticket that would magically let us out of the lot so that we could go back to the writing party at my place. 

I think we talked about a little bit of everything that night. New York Jews, bagels, curse of the meiwaku, what it’s like to live with multiple characters in your head, Oakland, California beaches, infernal Japanese kanji…

She is one of the brightest, shiniest people to come into my life, vibrant and adventurous, with a force of will that can only be surpassed by her dearest Rem. Maybe. It’s a really close call there.

Two hours later, the security guard we had called for was finally here. We paid our share and  GTFO’d faster than you could say “word count”.

And that’s where the mystery of the missing ticket would’ve ended if not for moving out and things.

That ticket is going straight into my scrapbook, all proper like with its own frills and stickers, because it’s a physical manifestation of fine of my favoritest memories of my time in Aomori. 

Which would include onigokko matches with my kids everyday after lunch and the road trip of doom around Japan.

I’m not sure what the future holds for us, but it’s safe to assume that it’s going to include many more international adventures and road trips to come.


The Craziest Thing

Angry Oni and Silly Oni

Waiting at Haneda International for the flight that’s going to take me home, when this lovely young woman just settles down across from me and…

“Oh. My. God. JENNY?!”

“Is it really you, VIVIAN?!”

We may have given security a bit of a heart attack with all the cuddling and screaming. But when you haven’t seen a friend in over two years and suddenly they’re on the same flight as you, in the same row, and right in front of you… It was the craziest, best thing to happen to me at an airport.

I’m so grateful to all of my friends. No matter where we are in the world, we always somehow manage to cross paths again and again.


Meridian Musings in B-flat minor, 1st edition

Another month gone by would have completed the eleventh anniversary since the last time either my sister or I stepped on Mexican soil. With my departure to Japan looming close, dad thought it was about time (long over due, in fact) that we took a family visit to la madre patria. His endeavors, although not in vain, only came into partial fruition… yours truly would not be receiving her passport with a lovely new work visa attached until July 25 (yep, right on the eve of Departure Day). Or as John Lennon once put it: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Or some derivative thereof, because really can any of us honestly trust what’s said on the internet? Ever? Only when convenient. As in this moment: yes. Moving right along.

So, anyway, it’s a jam packed adventurous fortnight with mums and two adorable puppies in tow. Where we’ll go, nobody knows! So far I have trips to the arboretum planned and some down time to watch BBC’s Endeavour series 2… and a dental appointment on Wednesday. Family picnic going on today. So that’s three days down and only eleven more for which to plan 😀 All in all it’s been an interesting last month in the good old U.S. of A.: getting all sorts of dental work done on my calcium deficient teeth (not fun) before it’s too late and getting to hang out with family/friends has been loads of fun although jam-packed.

Here’s the “TOP 10 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS” everyone seems to want to know with great urgency:

  1. Are you studying abroad again… I thought you graduated?
  2. Oh, you’ve graduated! But how did you get hired if you didn’t major in English?
  3. Do you speak Japanese? Like a native?
  4. Can you translate (insert-random-phrase-or-cuss-word-here) into Japanese?
  5. Are you nervous?
  6. Are you afraid of living alone?
  7. Are you running away?
  8. What are you going to do with the rest of your life?
  9. Do you like Japan or kids or teaching?
  10. Are you going to get married with a Japanese boy and never come back?

A: 1. I graduated in May; 2. JET Program will accept anyone who has a Bachelor’s degree and a competitive resume; 3. Yes. No; 4. On principle I refuse to translate cuss words although I do not mind teaching you useful phrases; 5. A little bit! I’d be lying if I said no since it’s my first time alone; 6. Not afraid but apprehensive since I’m on the first floor; 7. Yes, always, forever; 8. Live it – whatever comes my way – undecided; 9. Yes, yes, maybe; 10. Refer to answer for question 8.

This program to be followed with an article, sometime next week, on how to prepare for an overseas adventure, or basically a glorified checklist for things to get done before leaving your home country. Smashing!

Thus concludes the Meridian Musings in B-flat minor, 1st edition (aka: procrastinate on packing/research/blog article/life). In the meantime, please enjoy some complimentary Chopin. With 90% more B-flat minor!

A Rut in the Road


I know I was supposed to have published at least two interview articles on education by now but I hit another rut in the road after the JET Program orientation on June 21 :/ Usually, I’m a go-getter, always-do-your-best-to-get-things-done kind of a girl. But some days, if the best you can do to keep your head above water is treading in the water for a bit longer than normal, then keep doggie paddling till you reach the pebbly shore is what I say! \O/

So, I’m doggie paddling for the time being 😀

This move is really taking the energy out of me. And it’s not just the packing, waiting, and visa paperwork (which was finally submitted on Saturday) – the things you would normally think of as being the main reason for stress. It’s mostly psychological. Saying good-bye to everyone feels so much harder this time around than it was back in 2011. I guess it doesn’t get easier. You just get better at it. More efficient, if that’s even the correct word to use, but never, ever easier. Making time to give everyone quality interactions also takes a big chunk of most weeks but it’s not a burden if I can see them smile and listen to all the things they want to tell me, that are important to them. What drains my energy isn’t the time it takes to see everyone off, in fact I wish I had more time with each person, but all the emotions involved with each interaction. I’m sitting there feeling torn for being so happy and yet so sad at the same time. Happy because I get this much more time with them, also because I’m embarking on an amazing journey to an amazing new place in Japan… but sad because it’s one day less and one person less checked off of my list of good-byes. And then there are the people you know you’re saying good-bye to for… forever. And those are the hardest. They won’t be there the next time I come back to the States. But I try to keep as upbeat and lighthearted as I can, which sometimes isn’t enough for some people, but what can you do? Change your whole inner being to please a few? I’ve tried doing that my whole life and it just doesn’t work but that’s a whole different story that everyone’s lived through before anyway so it needs no telling 😉

Even my dogs have started realizing something’s up and happening soon: they split their sleep cycles (half the night in my bed and the other half with my parents) to keep me company, when I come home after a long day out they’re extra excited and wriggling with even more enthusiasm than normal, and in general they look out for me more as if I’m their puppy.

I’ve made the decision to stay for two years in Aomori should my contracting organization decide to allow me to renew for a second term. The maximum, I’m not too sure yet… but I’m thinking three to four years would not be too bad. Five is the absolute program maximum. My predecessor was the first person to complete the full contract and I look forward to seeing how much time I can spend in Gonohemachi before figuring out the next phase of my life. It’s all toddler steps here. Because so many things have happened in the past six months alone (almost as if a lifetime has gone by and I’m not about to rush) such that I’m not going to presume what should happen next until I’ve thought it all out clearly.

To be a writer is to be like a god, creating worlds and scenarios out of careful observation, rumination, and twists of imagination. And to be alive is to be the writer of your own story. Never underestimate the power of choice, even the smallest one can reverberate decades into the future. So I’ll be making my choices creatively and imaginatively through much careful observation. In any case, this blog will definitely see many adventures. so many more than the last one that I’m excited either way.