Una Sera di Tokyo and The Aomori Blues

Okay, so I’ve kept my audience of one hanging in the air (hello, mum) in regards to arrival in Japan. Yes, I am finally here. In my new apartment, the only place with decent free WiFi. Common misconception about Japan: there is no free WiFi anywhere. Why else are internet cafes so huge, eh?

But, yeah! Two years to the day since last I left my beloved Waseda days behind and I still felt genuinely at home despite some minor culture readjustments. Had a great dinner at Tari-ya (a legit Bangladesh curry restaurant located next to Waseda University) on the 28th to mark that two years to the day anniversary. Tari-ya was also my breakfast/last meal before leaving Japan two years ago so it seemed that on a literal and metaphorical note it was the best meal choice to make. After three days of orientation, teaching seminars, training, and meeting some pretty cool people, we got put on planes (or trains depending on our destination) and flown to the ‘Blue Forest’ of Japan. The kanji for Aomori denote ‘blue’ and ‘forest’ but the actual meaning of the word from the indigenous Ainu is thought to mean something more like a ‘protruding hill’. The sounds for the word happened to fit closer to the Japanese ‘AO’ and ‘MORI’ better, hence the adoption of the kanji for ‘blue forest’.

As a whole, the prefecture is known for ranking as one of the poorest, least populated, and on average its citizens also have the least amount of post secondary education. But, it is one damn beautiful prefecture. Rice fields for miles, picturesque farms, and forests that look like they came straight out of a Miyazaki film: between the concrete jungle and convenience of Tokyo or the wild daishizen (great nature) of Tohoku, so far I’m enjoying Tohoku. However, there is one drawback: if you don’t have a car, you’re not going anywhere. I wouldn’t go so far as calling it the Kansas of Japan but it’s getting there.

One very important thing to remember about Japan is that there are two kinds of cars: Yellow Plate and White Plate, or otherwise known as Kei-Car and Regular. The Yellow Plate (Kei-Car) is known for it’s unrivaled fuel efficiency and cheap tax rate, however it comes with significant disadvantages as well. Less powerful than a regular White Plate car and more expensive in upfront costs, Kei-Car will still get you around town. The Kei comes from the Japanese pronunciation of the letter K from the word ‘karui’ which means ‘light weight’.

Mass transport system between districts in Aomori is few, far between, and quite expensive. Gonohemachi actually has no trains and only a few bus lines ergo I need a car. The nearest mall is 30 minutes away. The nearest big city is an hour’s drive. To meet other JETs in the area, my only other option would be to spend a fortune on bus tickets as they run a bit higher in price than Tokyo. My predecessors each bought their own cars (second hand, of course) but they guarantee that I would be delusional to think I could enjoy the Aomori experience without one. They’ve all been so helpful giving me the necessities to move in comfortably. So many JETs are leaving this year so they’re dumping their alcohol, left over foods and goods on my JETs. In turn, after making some choice selections, my colleagues are dumping the majority of it on me, which explains why my house looks like a grocer’s and a UNIQLO all rolled into one. So far, I love my colleague Mina, a Cali-esque native of Michigan who has been teaching for the past two years and I’ll be sad to see her go once her contract for the third year is up in summer 2015.

The person from whom I inherited this gem of an apartment, Michael, was the longest JET that Gonohemachi has known, coming in at a 5 year residency and teaching stint at the local elementary and junior high schools. The adventures so far in Aomori have been limited to the city’s bank (where I now have my new swanky account), meeting the mayor (and drinking apple juice with him), visiting Misawa Air Base, having dinner with the man who can make things happen in the city, frequenting a nice bar owned by Yacchan and his Philippine wife, and in general just getting towed around by car so I can acquaint myself with the surroundings.

Currently, I’m scheduled to teach the first English lesson at the community center for adults. It’s extra work that earns me extra vacation days (which I will gladly take over money – my salary is pretty good to begin with and I need time to travel more so than money). Wow. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Normally I’m used to having all the time in the world and not enough cash. But anyway I digress. The work at the elementary and junior high school is what I am paid but I’m more than happy to get to know people, especially the adults (most of whom I assume will be the parents of the kids), and have conversations with them.

And that’s a wrap for now. In the next post I’ll talk more about Japanese summer traditions and cultural events like matsuri (festivals), for which this region is famous. Mexicans understand what I mean when I say: each region has it’s festival and the party doesn’t end!

Over and out 😀

How to Pack for Long-Term Travel Part II

 

all-packed

therecapIn the last post we discussed the theory behind packing and some common sense steps (Research, Inventory, Weeding) for cutting back on how much you’ll take. Now we’ll get to the nit and grit on different methods of packing, how much you’ll actually need to take abroad (no more and no less, trust me), and I’ll try to get into as much detail as I possibly can in regards to Japanese culture.

So let’s get to it! Let’s talk packing essential number 1: Le Suitcase! 🙂

suitcasesA suitcase is a suitcase is a suitcase, right? Well, depends on the kind of travel you’re going to take up… and for long-term travel, especially when living for extended periods of time (years) in a foreign country. A suitcase should only be purchased if it stands up to the L.E.D.D.  test:

Is the suitcase (while empty):
LIGHT?
EASY to transport/store?
DURABLE?
And, do the DIMENSIONS fit the flight allowance?

After doing some preliminary research, I found that most airlines offer 62 inches (L + W + H) with 50 lb dimension and weight limit for all checked baggage on international flights. Domestic flights may vary but we won’t worry about those just yet.  And so this is where you really want to take advantage of lightweight luggage: when you’ve only got 50 pounds, you have to make them stretch the extra mile. Remember, even though we’ve already done our clothes research and inventory, weeding in a large part correlates to the baggage allowance and also on personal choice. What goes for the ultra-minimalist will not be enough for the pack rat traveler. It’s all about striking a balance in packing, which we’ll go over in the next section. So this brings us to types of luggage and knowing how to invest in a nice set that will last you out for as long as your passport is valid (generally about 10 years worth). Brand name luggage sets can run in the hundreds so knowing where to look will bring down the price to an average of $150 versus department store price of $300 upwards. Generally, there are two types on the market these days: polyester/nylon (soft) and polycarbonate/plastic (hard) shelled suitcases, although I’ve heard of leather and canvas material being used as well.

polyester_bothPros: Cheaper, weigh less when frames are made of aluminum or fiberglass. Those with thicker weave patterns make for more durable soft shells. Expandable.

Cons: Not as durable so do not store fragile items or electronics in these cases. Wheels do not rotate (compare model to the left and the polycarbonate down below). Check for quality of stitching before purchasing. Only one packing compartment = less space. Needs to be cleaned more often because fabric case will trap odors and particles more than a hard shell case.

polycarbonate Pros: Polycarbonate is more durable and weighs as much or less than soft shell suitcases, have rotating wheels, and two packing compartments: main on the right, secondary to the left.

Cons: Scratches and water stains will show more readily. When cleaning a polycarbonate, drying the case right away is essential to maintaining its aesthetics. Check that if comes with a zipper for expanding space between the main and secondary packing compartments.

In summation: essentially it comes down to what you prefer in a case and for me, having used both extensively, the polycarbonates win hands down every time. I was able to find an amazing set of two in a beautiful dark navy blue at Costco. They’ve been taken to Japan and Mexico, roughly handled, shoved, and rolled. Still, they look and function as well as if I had bought them yesterday (even though they have their share of minor scratches).

theminimalist

  • 1 set formal business attire (as in the works) – MEN: the suit, neckties, dress socks, business shoes. WOMEN: skirt or pants suit with business jacket, pantyhose, dress shoes.
  • 3-4 sets of business casual for work (or if you’re really confident about your mix and match skills, just 3 will suffice) – button up blouses/slacks or skirts.
  • 3 sets of casual, daily wear (upgrade to 4-5 sets if you know you won’t be able to find your size readily abroad)
  • 1 sweater for autumn
  • A week’s worth of undergarments (underwear/bras/socks)
  • 1 pair of pajamas
  • 1 extra pair of shoes (preferably comfortable running shoes; walking can be brutal if you are not used to mass transport and being without a car longer than a day)
  • Travel size toiletries (trust me, you don’t need anymore)
  • TAKE TWO STICKS OF YOUR FAVORITE ANTIPERSPIRANTS. That should last you the year and one really humid summer.
  • Electronics as necessary (laptop, camera, tablet/Kindle)

Ship winter clothes in a box if you can’t find anything in your size abroad. Otherwise purchase on site as the locals will always have the best winter clothes for their type of winter weather. The ULTRA-minimalist will cut this list down to half 😉 Pajamas? Who needs pajamas? Clothes? Pshaw, I’ll just wash this every day. Satirical dramatization, of course 😉 The people responsible for posting this article have been sacked (just kidding). If you follow these guidelines you will only use one polycarbonate suitcase.

howtopackasuitcaseTime and again, the world seems to be divided, perpetually, into two field camps: Them v.s. Us, Allies v.s. Axis, Lannisters v.s. Starks, Team Edward v.s. Team Jacob, coffee lovers v.s. tea lovers… and so the story goes. Packing has it’s own version and the two main camps stand as charged:

Rollers v.s. Folders

Now before you get your knickers into a figurative twist (corny pun intended… literally), keep in mind that both methods should be used. Not all fabric types can withstand the strains of tight rolling, but that being said, you should be rolling more than folding. The reason being that: rolling saves you more space than folding.

TIPS: Make sure that while rolling, you do so as tightly as possible to minimize bulk. For business suits/formal wear: FOLD, DO NOT ROLL. For jeans, you want to start from the legs up after folding lengthwise down. Blouses and clothes made of more fragile material should just be folded. Make sure to line suitcase with your rolled clothing as best as possible to maximize packing space. Heavier items should be packed closer to the wheels for balance. Just use general common sense physics when in doubt 😉

::SHIRTS::

rolling_1 rolling_2 rolling_3

::BLOUSES::

Basically the same fold one finds in department stores. To protect fragile clothing, separate each layer with plastic. Not necessary but can be done to minimize wrinkles.

blouse_a blouse_b

::JEANS::

jeans_a jeans_b jeans_c

Et voila! Packing a suitcase and maximizing on space has never been easier. It just takes some practice and lots of creativity to fit everything into one piece.

As for Japanese office culture: they are much more formal than their American counterparts. No casual days at work and everyone has a place on the status ladder that depends on a variety of factors such as their age, where they graduated from, and how long they have worked for that one company. Your office mates will more often than not be like second family and in some cases you will find yourself going out for drinks with them to maintain good rapport and colleague solidarity than you will be spending time at home… there were nights when my first host family’s dad would stumble in at one in the morning. As a foreigner finding your niche is important and might be difficult. I’ll find out more about this once I begin working in Japan but from my experiences as a student at my host university, it was so hard to fit in as ‘one of them’ instead of as the somewhat cool foreigner friend (a.k.a “other”).

How to Pack for Long-Term Travel Part I

suitcase_packing

introductionIt takes many types of people to make the world go round but to some extent or other we are all travelers by nature: curious, adaptable, resourceful, and of course survivors. Our species has spread and evolved across every continent and settled in as varied a geographic setting as any that can be found on planet Earth.

But these days we travel more so for business or pleasure than for outright survival, still travelers we remain: from the casual weekend family visit and the cross country road trip to the international months-long backpacking affair and the long-term immigration settling. Unlike our medieval ancestors who were more likely to be born, raised, and die in the village/town/city of their birth, current generations are uprooting more frequently than ever before in history. Mainly for economic reasons (ironically, I cannot find a job in the country that prides itself on perpetuating the ideal of the American Dream even with a degree), which make experimentation with international unions quite popular because they facilitate this kind of uprooting for the citizens of participating such as in the case of the European Union. As such you are most likely reading this article because you are contemplating making such a move yourself and don’t know where to start. Welcome!

This article will be focusing on travel packing for upwards of a year or more but is easily applicable to the semester study abroad student stint. It’s broken down into three easy steps that will cover the initial essentials of packing and how to choose what you will be taking abroad with you.

resesarchPut those research skills to good use, my lovelies. Find out everything you can about your destination: geography, geology, and the highest/lowest/average recorded temperature are all great places to start. Become a fluent converter of Celsius (also known as Centigrade in some countries) and Fahrenheit. You may even want to look up humidity levels because dry heat and humid heat are two different situations entirely. Trust me. As a native Californian I thought I could handle heat, after all the running joke in this state is that California has only two seasons: summer… and not summer. That is until I found myself in Tokyo’s muggy, typhoon mess and between swimming in my own sticky sweat vs weather that was twenty to thirty degrees hotter but drier, I choose the latter any day. So… prepare yourself! Even when you think you’ve got something, turns out the differences might surprise you, too.

For those going to countries with significantly colder weather: although you may feel like investing in TWO suitcases just to accommodate all of your winter regalia, first stop and investigate what options, if any, your new home country will have for you. Sometimes it’s cheaper to purchase it on location than it would be to pay charges for extra check-in baggage. In the event that your new home country will not be able to carry your size (Japan, if you’re a taller/larger/wider American female such as myself – woefully a comfortable medium in USA sizing is an extra large over there) just buy the jackets/boots here and have them shipped in a box. This will save you packing headaches down the road and can be a nice care package from and to yourself 😉

inventorySo what’s in the closet? Once you’ve established what kind of climate you will be up against, the next step is to take stock of what you already own, what will work, what won’t, and what you’ll need. This is the part where people start tearing out their hair. When you’ve settled down somewhere for a comfortable amount of time and have a space of your own that you think of as permanent, you tend to settle down and accumulate stuff. And fast. This goes for furniture and living utensils as well as clothes. Rarely, if ever, do people take a mass inventory of their life’s accumulation for the sole purpose of tossing it out. Be honest, when was the last time you went about doing this?

However, this is also an amazing opportunity to donate all of your unwanted items: thrift shops, women’s shelters, religious organizations, and the Salvation Army will always welcome your used and well-loved items. If tight on cash yourself, you could always opt for the other route, which  is to sell your items as “vintage” on Etsy or eBay, but try donating what you can first to those in greater need than your own.

Start a list, draw it out, sticky notes… whatever helps you get organized.

weedingResearch. Check. Inventory. Check. Now comes the fun (or not so fun, depending on how indecisive you are)! Time to choose what to keep and what to give away/sell 😀 Below you will find an infographic from this neat website which is geared towards simplifying your closet weeding and it gives you a point of reference for what you can keep and what should get thrown out. Generally speaking, I love the flow chart style and it works if you promise not to make special allowances for a single item of clothing. Okay, well, maybe you can give yourself up to three passes but only those three >.>

Once you can mentally take a picture of everything you’ve got and everything you will most likely need to take, this will make it easier to purchase the appropriate type and amount suitcases for your trip. My rule of thumb is pack for a week and a half. Do your laundry more often and accumulate clothes over there as needed. It is astounding how little you need to actually survive. Most suitcases can’t carry much more without going over the weight limit so check with your airline and weigh as necessary.

closetweeding

 

And those are the first three steps to packing for long-term travel 😀 Next we’ll cover choosing suitcases and the lost art of packing them!

Till the next post!

My New Life…

gonohemachi

…is starting this July ❤ I will be living further north than I have ever lived before and teaching English in a small coastal town called Gonohemachi in Aomori Prefecture on Honshu Island (the main island of Japan). It’s everything I hoped for and wanted: to be so far removed from my previous haunts in Tokyo, a new place to explore, and lots of snow for winter 🙂 And the best part? It’s a stone’s throw from a national park!!! I’m going to be having a blast geologizing my way though rocks, rocks, and more rocks!

And like the geek that I am, my research on this general area will be presented below for anyone who cares to know more about social, historical, and geographical information on the Touhoku region and Aomori Prefecture.

towadako

As previously stated, Aomori Prefecture is located in the northernmost geographical region known as Touhoku in Honshu Island. Due to it’s unique geology (mainly the north-south Ou Mountains, a chain that separate eastern and western halves of the prefecture), the area is known for its natural beauty and it’s climate where temperatures range anywhere from extremes of -7.8 degrees Celsius in the winter to 34.0 degrees Celsius in the summer – or to convert into Fahrenheit that would be anywhere from 17.96 to 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit (APTINET). The median recorded temperature seems to average 10.1 degrees Celsius or 50.18 degrees Fahrenheit (APTINET). It’s ideal for growing apples, yams, and garlic all of which happen to be the region’s main agricultural output (Umai Aomori). Lake Towada itself is a caldera, the crater remains of an active volcano. Pyroclastic flows in the area have shown that the blasts from this caldera have gone as far north as Aomori City at the very tip of the island and its last explosion occured approximately 13,000 years ago (Japan: The Official Guide). Compared to Yellowstone National Park (the whole thing is one gigantic caldera and still active as evidenced by its geysers and natural springs), Towada-ko’s eruption would be dangerous but unimpressive in its magnitude. Although maybe I shouldn’t just yet be saying that because anything lethal enough to kill should be considered impressive.

jomonpottery1jomonpottery2

There seem to be a number of Jomon villages reconstructed from archaeological remains that are open to the public for sightseeing. I’m particularly fond of this time period (lasting roughly from 4,500 BCE to 250 BCE) because it is the earliest Japanese civilizations that can be traced through time and for me the rawer the civilization the more interesting. History and mythology blend. Bone records reveal the facial features of the people to get an idea of what they looked like (quite different from what you would think to be Japanese features) and from their trash and pottery remains we have information on their diet and the aesthetics of the time (Jomon Japan). The meaning of Jomon itself comes from the kanji or Chinese characters for “cord” and “making”, referencing the beautiful rope-like decorations on their flame rimmed pots (Hane, Pg. 10-11).

Although it is decidedly less populous than my previous home in Tokyo (honestly can it get more packed than that gem of a city?), I’m excited to have new hiking trails to discover and to learn the Aomori dialect, which is about as rustic and as country as one can get 😀 Less people, less shoving into trains, and less distractions means more communing with nature, more fresh air, and more adventure. What more could a girl possibly want? ❤ I can’t believe just how lucky I am to be placed in the nation’s main regional producer of apples! Apples! My favorite fruit in the whole wide world. The national park is the gem of the package though. Seriously. I am crying tears of joy. The Jomon villages, too, make for awesome sprinkles on the cupcake. Looks like lady Luck just did me a solid and decided to start going my way for once! 😉

 

Jomon village

Jomon village \O/

 

WORKS CITED

APTINET Aomori Prefectural Government. Aomori Sightseeing Guide, 2010. Web. 15 June 2014.

Hane, Mikiso. “The Early Years: Japanese Pre-History”. Premodern Japan: A Historical Survey. Colorado: Westview Press, 1991. Print.

Japan-Guide. Tohoku Travel Guide, 1996. Web. 15 June 2014.

Japan National Tourism Organization. Japan: The Official Guide. Web. 15 June 2014.

Jomon Japan. Jomon Archaelogoical Sites. Web. 15 June 2014.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Prehistory: Jomon Culture, 2000. Web. 15 June 2014.

Umai Aomori. Main Agricultural Products of AOMORI, 2005. 16 June 2014.

 

Note: For those of you who viewed this post on 16 June 2014, you may have been experiencing some technical difficulties… aka, me updating the heck out of this post because I had not realized that I’d accidentally set it to publish automatically on this day at midnight. Sorry about that! Really, I am. Here I was clicking update thinking, “This won’t publish until the 18th anyway, let me go in for one more revision!” Alas, will I never learn? Possibly not, I’m a pen and paper kind of gal and technology hisses at me with a vengeance 😉 But the article is completed and ready for viewing. Further revisions (of which there will be none planned, but should the need arise in the event of a major gaffe) will be listed down here along with dates and times. Thanks!

Adapting to a Foreign Country

Oh my. You’re in for quite a ride… and the best part: there is nothing you can do to prepare before hand. When a person makes the commitment to live and work/study in a foreign country for the long-term things can get a little crazy.

Here is the break down of the four stages of adapting to a foreign country:

Honeymoon Stage

Culture Shock Stage

recoverystage

Recovery Stage

Adaptation Stage

These four well-known stages also closely resemble the “7 Stages of Grief and Loss”. Why? I have no idea but the part that is hardest to get through is the culture shock/recovery stage transition which I would associate as rough equivalents with stages 1 and 3-6 of the “7 Stages of Grief and Loss”.

Unlike the previous post, which I tried to keep light-hearted and humorous, I will go into a little more detail here on the positive and negative effects of adapting WELL or BADLY to a foreign country. I will use Japan as an example because that’s the topsy-turvy world I had to adapt to within a year for my study abroad experience in Tokyo for the 2011 to 2012 school year.

What I noticed happened to a lot of us as soon as we hit the end of the “Honeymoon Stage” is that we would begin to sink into a form of “WHY JAPAN, WHY?!” attitude anytime something absolutely shocked us – age of consent for sex (13 years old for females compared to 18 for males nationwide with each region having the right to choose any age between 13-20), extremely broad police powers, gender roles, weird pornography laws on what Japanese considered ‘acceptable’ and what not, etc. However, no matter how many times you ask yourself this… fact of the matter remains that there is nothing you can do to change it. Culture is culture and the sooner you accept certain norms as just that, norms, the sooner you can break away from the infinite loop of shock.

Because Japan is primarily (98%) Japanese and even Tokyo has relatively few foreigners compared to other countries’ capitals, any and all foreigners in Japan will be stared at wherever they go. It’s highly uncomfortable and annoying to the extreme. There would be days where I’m sure more than a few of us wanted to shout, “Why are you looking at me as if I’ve sprouted a second head?!” Another example on adapting well to a culture is that we would solve this problem by giving them a BIG SMILE. Traditionally, although looking anyone straight in the eyes is considered rude in Japan so if you find yourself in a situation where constant staring is making you uncomfortable just give them a steady gaze AND add a nice smile. It gets the point across without being ‘direct’ about what you want them to stop doing and it’s positive reinforcement that foreigners are not scary.

Here are some other things you can do (that I tried out) in order to help facilitate the whole ordeal of staying abroad long term:

1. Keep up a routine. Mine went straight out the window as I tried to adapt to a whole new style of living with my first host family and I quickly discovered just how dangerous that can be to your mental and physical health. I went six months without having any set goals to accomplish (like I had back home) and these were often times very simple little things for me such as playing with the dogs, starting/finishing an art/writing project, researching something within my major, reading, etc.

Whether you’re in the dorms, your own apartment, or in a host family, first set up some ground rules for yourself: the most important of which will be to not put yourself second or third. Your well-being is your first priority and if that means spending an entire day raiding the arts and craft shops in the Tokyu Hands building in Shinjuku then so be it. Just make sure you’re responsible about it and know when to put other situations above your immediate (not overall though) needs.

2. Eat your favorite foods. Okay so you’re on a tight budget and you’ve been rationing out the lunch money pretty carefully but one day you will pass by the super market window and it’s going to be there in all its glory: a dinky little 12 oz bin of extra chunky peanut butter. So long as you don’t go out of budget every single day it isn’t bad to treat yourself once a semester to something you really, really enjoyed back home but can’t have now because of the expense. I remember my first peanut butter and banana sandwich that I allowed myself to finally have back in December… I cried tears of joy… even though I used to hate bananas like they were the plague because I had to eat them all the time as a teenager (prone to leg cramps + member of swim team = fail)

3. Watch TV from your home country. No seriously. You’re already watching television shows from your host country. You’re also listening to their music, getting pummeled day past day with their entertainment media, advertisements, etc. and in the process you are losing touch with what’s going on in the other side of the world. One episode a night just before I went to bed is the route I took on the nights I wasn’t busy piecing together some essay or research project. Which is a big step for me if you know me at all (I do not watch TV or movies all that often).

I remember having skype sessions with my family and they would be talking about “so-and-so” movie just came out, “this-and-that” television show, “Senator Blah-Blah-Blah-Blarg-Blarg got re-elected” and I felt like a tiny little island in a wasteland of AKB48 and Prime Minsterialships gone wrong, unable to relate to anything my own family was talking about at all and vice-versa on their end as well.

4. And finally make lots of friends within your host and home culture. They’re the ones who will be able to best explain the new culture and will facilitate your transition while those from your home culture will keep your sanity grounded when it all becomes too much culture shock. They’ll also be going through similar experiences and often times sharing those with another person can make the experience that much more positive rather than negative because there will be lots of comedy involved.

Hello, world…

You’ve stumbled across Page One Adventures, a little blog about travel and the ramblings of a JET Program assistant language teacher who will be living in Aomori Prefecture starting this July! It will be my second time abroad (the archived study abroad adventures from my days in Tokyo can be read here) but the first time living, working, and exploring the northernmost point of Honshu Island all on my lonesome.

This marks a new beginning for me, a fresh start… in short: it’s a whole new adventure in a foreign country at the best possible moment that it could come into my life and I couldn’t be any more excited 😀 Although some days it feels a bit daunting considering the magnitude of such a big change, I’m more exhilarated by the prospect that I finally have an opportunity to start creating my life into anything and everything I’ve ever dreamed or wanted out of it.

So how about a bit of introduction? I am that quintessential ‘first-in-a-family-of-immigrants-to-hold-a-college-degree’ person, struggling to balance social expectations and personal desires all while trying to establish a life somewhere in this world. I am a dreamer, an adventurer, a writer, an explorer. I am intensely curious. I am multitudes. I am human. In the midst of personal and family turmoil, I’m taking it as a once in a life time chance to turn the lemons I’ve been handed into award winning lemon squares with meringue frosting and organic, hand-churned vanilla chai ice cream on the side because why not? ❤ Life’s too short to count calories anyway 😉

once a year

Goals for this year are simple but far reaching: I want to learn something new, I want to go places I have never been before, I want to create new and exciting poetry (although I really should finish that set of short stories I began a couple of months ago), and above all at the end of the year I want to be able to say that I’ve come that much closer to finding out who I really am. My secret desire is to leave behind a lasting, indelible mark of my existence here on Earth and the manifestation of all my hopes, joys, fears, successes, and failures in the form of at least one published novel. Perhaps I may not be the most scintillating conversationalist or an eloquent writer, but I’ve got nothing left to lose and no bridges left to burn. And I’ve got a 1,000 items on my bucket list and only so much living left.

Welcome. It’s been a pleasure to make your acquaintance.