Birthdays Abroad

BirthdaysAbroad

Today is Craig’s birthday and I couldn’t be happier his mother is here to celebrate with us. As much as the type of celebration we desire may change as we age, I can’t imagine someone not wanting to let this day pass by without some degree of recognition or fanfare, and being apart from friends and loved ones can be difficult.

This is the third birthday we’ve celebrated here in Japan (one for me and two for Craig) and we’ve done what we could to make each one special, whether we had company in town, celebrated with new friends or just spent the day with each other. I’ve been lucky to celebrate my birthday in many different cities and the key to making the day memorable has always been the attitude I approach it with. On some of those birthdays I was on top of the world while others arrived at a time I felt I had little to celebrate, but choosing to see them all as a fresh start and the beginning of another little adventure made each one more significant in its own way.

We’re doing our best to make new traditions here for birthdays, like purchasing our favorite cheesecake each time and letting the birthday boy or girl pick a place on their must-see list for the day’s activity. As always, we begin and end the day with text messages and FaceTime sessions (like the one Craig shared on the ferris wheel tonight with our sweet niece, Laynee) that somehow make the thousands of miles between us and our loved ones feel like only a few feet.

I’ve never doubted love is something that can be felt no matter the distance and with a little effort, we can end our birthdays feeling the day was no less filled with that love than it would have been back in the states.

Happy birthday, Craig. You are the reason I smile each day, the reason I feel brave each day and the reason I know no life would ever do but this one I have with you. Here’s to 28.

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Greetings from Okinawa!

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OK, so it’s a little bit beautiful here, right?! We were worried by reports of non-stop thunderstorms, but like most tropical islands we’ve been to, that usually means a little rain each day and plenty of sun. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx us.

Today is Craig’s birthday so we’re getting ready to go out and explore for a bit. Check back later today for a post about what it’s been like celebrating birthdays away from friends and family and how we’ve created new traditions for these special days here in Japan. And, of course, more sights from Okinawa!

See ya!

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Weekly Web Tacks

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This afternoon we’re off to Okinawa to pay a visit to the island Craig’s grandfather called home decades ago as a member of the U.S. military. I’m so glad he and his mother get to share this special experience together — one I’m sure they never thought they would have.

I’ll be posting from Okinawa, but for now, here are my web tacks for the week:

  1. Adding these three recipes to my repertoire. [well+GOOD]
  2. See the suburbs of Paris like never before. [The New Yorker]
  3. Learn the latest Japanese slang, and the best band name ever. [The Japan Times]
  4. A favorite college past time gets a makeover. [Aol.]
  5. How social media turned a bikini into a sensation. [BloombergBusiness]
  6. The 40-hour work week is a fantasy in Japan. [Yahoo! Finance]
  7. Japanese anime makes its mark on this list of the best TV series. [Japan Today]
  8. Up your snack status with these elegant junk food pairings. [Marie Claire]

[That delicious plate of food you see above is from La Cocina Gabriela Mexicana in Roppongi.]

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6 Happy Sights

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We’ve had amazing time with Craig’s mom here so far. She’s been a trooper, trying a variety of foods she’d never had before and embracing chopsticks, walking on the left side of the sidewalk and dashing to the Metro.

The three of us are hopping on a plane to Okinawa tomorrow, and I cannot wait to share some sights from my first visit to the island. For now, enjoy this selection from the past week, starting with the above pic from the 34th Annual Asakusa Samba Carnival, which drew 5,000 performers in spite of the rain.

We had to make a stop at one of our favorite watering holes, BrewDog.

We had to make a stop at one of our favorite watering holes, BrewDog.

Partner let me upgrade you! New fridge! Hooray!

Partner, let me upgrade you! New fridge! Hooray!

We enjoyed some amazing Peking duck at Chinese Cafe Eight.

We enjoyed some amazing Peking duck at Chinese Cafe Eight.

Check out this amazing boombox from the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

Check out this throwback boombox Craig spotted at the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

These acai bowls and kale smoothies helped my mother-in-law and I get our energy back at bootcamp.

These acai bowls and kale smoothies from Island Veggie helped my mother-in-law and I get our energy back after our bootcamp class.

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10 Essential Japanese Words + Phrases

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When visiting any new country, it’s best to learn some basic phrases in the local language. Not only will this help you get around more easily, but it also will serve as a polite gesture to the people you meet there. Never underestimate how far a smile and a little extra effort can go to help you have a better experience.

I still find the Japanese language incredibly difficult, but I’ve learned what I can to at least be polite and navigate my new home.

Here are my 10 words and phrases worth knowing if you come to Japan, both to use and know how to respond to:

  1. Arigatou gozaimasu = Thank you
  2. Onegaishimasu = Please
  3. Sumimasen = Excuse me
  4. Gomenasai = I’m sorry
  5. Dozo = Go ahead/have a seat/after you (your waiter or host/hostess will use this)
  6. Mizu kudasai = Water, please
  7. Eigo o hanasemasu ka? = Do you speak English?
  8. Konnichiwa = Good afternoon.
  9. Wakarimasen = I don’t understand.
  10. Toire = Toilet

BONUS: Biru = Beer (trust me, you’ll appreciate this)

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Weekly Web Tacks

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My mother-in-law is here! Craig’s mom was a trooper who had more than 24 hours of travel time to get to Tokyo and we couldn’t be happier to have her staying with us. She also brought with her a suitcase full of goodies including our favorite U.S. candy and some new bedding. Woohoo!

And here you have my web finds for the week. Check back to see our adventures around town!

  1. Are you guilty of these spending pitfalls? [Refinery29]
  2. The new art book I need to own. [The Cut]
  3. The adult version of one of my favorite school supplies. [BloombergBusiness]
  4. Would you visit this demented version of Disneyland? I don’t think it would go over too well in Japan. [The New York Times]
  5. You have to try making my sister’s amazing salsa verde. If only we could get tomatillos in Japan. [The Fresh Formula]
  6. The harsh reality of being a single mother in Japan. [Nippon.com]
  7. The Twitter account Craig and I can’t get enough of.
  8. Sharing the skincare secrets I’ve learned in Japan on The Style Line!
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6 Happy Sights: Drink and Click

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Yesterday I went to my second Drink and Click photowalk around town! Due to schedule craziness, I haven’t been able to go for a while, but I was glad to enjoy a cooler Tokyo evening snapping some pictures and chatting with the group as we explored Nihonbashi. Hopefully I can make more of these walks in the future to practice my shooting and — hopefully — make some new friends!

Here are my happy sights from the Drink and Click walk — I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

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The Ripple Effect

JournoLove

So, my husband and I just spent our Saturday night binge-watching HBO’s The Newsroom (I know, journo friends, we’re a bit behind here in Asia). It got me thinking of a question I was asked about a month ago: “When did you know you wanted to be a writer?”

To be honest, I don’t remember one moment. There were many clues that helped me finally put together what I wanted to do for a living. They all just happened to fall into place before I was even old enough to drive.

In first grade, I was tasked with writing a book. My teacher would bind them herself, so I set off to create a modern masterpiece. Holding that book about a Jell-O Jiggler that came to life felt like being handed the ultimate prize. It’s still buried in a box somewhere in my parents’ basement.

In fifth grade, a teacher introduced my class to the pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly, who willingly committed herself to a mental institution to expose the treatment of patients. I wondered at 11 years old if I would ever have the balls to do something like that. It inspired me to become the sort of student who preferred news magazine shows over Friday-night movies and who attended broadcasting camp. It made me the college student who took unpaid internships and who applied three times for her college newspaper. I bawled embarrassingly on my last day because being in a newsroom was the only place where I felt like my skin was on right.

The title of this post refers to a quote I once read that stated “Journalism is show business for shy people.” I couldn’t agree more with that, even when being a journalist nowadays requires building a “presence” or a “brand.” Those of us who’ve fallen in love with the written typed word love nothing more than sending those facts and thoughts out into the collective void and watching the ripple effect.

Today, we can better measure the ripple through page views, clicks and retweets, but the thrill is the same. I’ll never forget sitting in the back of a classroom in college and watching multiple students read something I’d written in the university student newspaper. The best part, to me, was that none of them even knew I was there.

I’m blessed to be able to write every day and hope these feelings never go away. I don’t think I could do anything else, or if I did, that I’d love it as much. As long as I get to keep making ripples, big or small, I know I’m in the right place.

[Thanks to my dear friend, Laura, who took this photo of Craig and I almost five years ago, shortly after we first began dating. Check out that pixie cut!]

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Weekly Web Tacks

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Have you ever gotten really sucked into a goal? I’m experiencing that right now, a fitness goal actually. I know today is a day to rest my muscles but I’m hooked on it — I guess there could be worse things to be hooked on? The best part is my new regimen is it’s giving me the energy to get everything else I need to work on finished, which can’t be a bad thing. More exciting projects to come!

Here are my web tacks for the week — happy reading!

  1. Craig always jokes I’ll be the eccentric one in the neighborhood when we grow old. Here’s some inspiration for our golden years. [The Cut]
  2. I agree with all these travel recommendations. [MY DOMAINE]
  3. Career milestones to hit before age 30? I’ve got just over a year to get some of these done. [Refinery29]
  4. Now this is a serious TV fan. [CBC News]
  5. As if I needed another reason to keep London at the top of my travel wish list. [Harper’s Bazaar]
  6. In case you haven’t seen this viral wedding photo yet. P.S. my amazing wedding photographer took it. [BuzzFeed]
  7. Now this is a way to have it all. [The Hairpin]
  8. If I want to live forever, I should probably stay in Japan. [The Japan Times]
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6 Happy Sights

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In just one week, Craig’s mother will be arriving in Tokyo to stay with us for more than a week. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome her here, so this week is all about planning. Whenever we have guests, I always like to make sure the house is clean and fully stocked with food and drinks and that we have a tour of our favorite spots ready to go. It’s not easy to come all the way to Japan from the states, so we want to make sure whoever stays with us has the best visit possible.

My happy sights for the week begin with this kind gesture we spotted in Daikanyama from a stranger who knows all too well the stress of a finding yourself with a dead cell phone while out and about. I hope you’re having a great week!

Devoured this blueberry waffle a la mode from Delirium Café GINZA.

Devoured this blueberry waffle a la mode from Delirium Café GINZA.

Picked up this guy in Saipan. It's supposed to bring us good luck in our marriage.

Picked up this guy in Saipan. It’s supposed to bring us good luck in our marriage.

The most adorable way to make tea.

The most adorable way to make tea.

So, this place exists in Roppongi. I don't think I'll be visiting.

So, this place exists in Roppongi. I don’t think I’ll be visiting.

Is a healthy candy replacement still healthy if I can't stop eating them?

Is a healthy candy replacement still healthy if I can’t stop eating them?

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