Wednesday, November 28, 2007

People, people, people

I know this is a given since this is Tokyo and all, but...

For the past few days I just can't stop noticing how many people there are in this city!!

It especially strikes me on the train. My train is very crowded during rush hour (what train isn't, right?), but more than that what surprises me is the shinkansen! The shinkansen run on the track next to my train, and no matter what time of the day (morning, noon, night!) or what day of the week (weekdays, weekends!) the shinkansen are PACKED. Packed as in not an empty seat on the whole train. And the shinkansen run several times an hour...during busy times on the weekend, even once every 5-6 minutes!! Where is everyone going all the time??? And why don't they take me? :-)

I also notice the number of people in this city when I get off the subway to go to work. If I don't ride in the (jam-packed) car nearest the exit at my office's station, I have to wait in line to get up the stairs and out of the station. But...that's a story for another day.

People, people, people!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

He passed!

Today R got the results for the third of a series of three tests he took to become a benrishi (patent attorney) in Japan. He passed!!!!!!

(Of course, this means that he essentially studied four years for the privilege to pay $200 a month to be allowed to use the certification....smirk.)

He has studied for nearly four years for these exams, and only 10% of people who take each exam pass. The fact that he passed all three this year makes him one of only 500 people who are awarded the certification each year.

I'm so proud of him!!

Now if I only knew what I want to be when I grow up...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Vera Drake

I just watched one of the best films I have seen in years: Vera Drake.

This has already been out a while, so I'm sure many of you have seen it, but if you haven't, GO RENT IT!!! This is superbly acted, and it is one of the best portraits of a family I have seen in a long time. Imelda Staunton as Vera is truly incredible, and the way her husband (played by Phil Davis) supports her throughout the film had me teary-eyed to the end...really a touching performance and story all-around.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Not sure if anyone is reading this anymore, but I am still here. Sorry for the hiatus.

A lot has happened in the last two months...

1) R and I went to New York for a week on free business class plane tickets. Awwwww jyeah. Not sure I'll ever be able to fly economy again (though I'll have to). NYC of course never fails to deliver, and we had an awesome time.

2) R was transferred to the Kanto area!! We had been waiting for years (literally) for this. He was given one month's notice of his transfer, and it just so happened that three weeks of that month he was scheduled to participate in a three-week training in Tokyo. So it was, arranging for movers, etc. But we wound up moving into the first place we were introduced at the first realtor we went to. of one week ago, we live together! :-)

3) R passed the second exam of the qualification exam he is taking. YAY!!! But that means he has the third (and final) exam to take on the 15th. He's pretty stressed.

4) We had major organizational changes at work and I now have a new boss. Whether this is a positive or negative thing remains to be seen, but I am trying to be optimistic.

So....lots of changes here. 2007 has been a wild and crazy year so far!!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Random stuff (again)

1. I ripped big hunks of skin off of two of my toes on a sharp part of my sliding glass door handle on Friday. Ouch! This of course happened when I was late for work. Needless to say, I wound up being quite late for work.

2. R and I both got sick to our stomachs on Saturday and had to miss two parties. Sorry, Tari!

3. On my way home tonight a random guy passed me and said (in English), "Hello, Sexy." BIZARRE! I was so surprised that it didn't even freak me out.

4. R and I are going to NYC on Thursday! YAY!! But so much to do before then...*sigh*

Hope everyone is well!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Random stuff

Just some random stuff...

1. I went to a wedding on Saturday. It was a lot of fun and a very intimate affair (only 30 people including the bridge and groom!) so I was very honored to be invited. I must say, though, it was easily the most disorganized wedding I have ever been to. The ceremony took place in a restaurant with a dinner and party to follow, and the brdige and groom didn't even decide where in the restaurant they wanted to do the ceremony until the priest asked them (and everyone was already seated and watching). I was also way overdressed...I didn't realize there would be people there in crocs and shorts. Ooops. The bridge and groom really seemed to enjoy themselves, though, which is the important thing.

2. I've been trying to clean up my apartment recently (which is a very long process) and I have been selling stuff online. It's kind of a pain because you have to deal with some unreasonable buyers, but I think I'm kind of hooked! Wish I could do this every day.

3. I cannot wait for the three-day weekend coming up!

4. I went to lunch at a friend's place and noticed that she was wiping all the dishes with newspaper before she washed them. I asked why and she said that was to remove the oil so she doesn't need to use as much soap and water when she washes them. Wow...I'm not sure I can go that far, but I am trying to be a little more environmentally-conscious these days. I try to put a small tote bag in my purse so I don't need to get plastic bags at the grocery store. I try to turn off lights and try not to use more water than I need to. I try to open the window and bear the heat instead of just turning on the air conditioner. I recycle every piece of paper that I get rid of. But I'm having trouble thinking of other things... What do you do to be environmentally-conscious?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I was tagged!

I have been away from my computer and regular blog reading for so long that I didn't even notice I had been tagged by both Montchan and Tari! Sorry, ladies. I need to get back on the bandwagon.

Here are the rules, copied from Tari:
1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

So, here goes...
1) I hate mushrooms. I can handle almost any kind of mushroom commonly found in Japan (shiitake, enoki, eringi, etc.), but the brown mushrooms used in the US a lot I just cannot get down. There's something about the texture that makes me gag. After years of hating them, I have also developed the uncanny ability to sniff them out no matter how finely they are chopped or how well they are disguised.

2) Housecleaning is not my strong point, but I love, love, love doing laundry. Love it!! I love folding and putting away freshly clean clothes. This has become especially true since I bought a clothes dryer, a machine which changed my life. Clothes dryers are not as common in Japan as they are in the US, and trying to hang dry my clothes in my tiny apartment on yet another rainy Tokyo day four years ago made me snap. I went to a used appliance store and bought one for 10,000 yen, and I have been a happy camper ever since. Not so good for the environment, but it did wonders for my sanity.

3) I am not great about keeping in touch, though I doubt that most of you reading this find that to be any surprise. :-) I really want to be better about this.

4) I have the same middle name as my mother. I imagine if I have a daughter someday I will give her the same middle name, too.

5) I have a rather large birthmark on my left calf that I share with my mother, and her mother had it, too. All three of us have it in the same exact spot and it is the same shape and size. None of my mother's male siblings have this. Very bizarre.

5) My father is an identical twin. I have never found that to be that interesting simply because I grew up with it, but everyone else seems to find it interesting so I'll add it in. :-)

6) I gained about 18 pounds during the two years I spent at my last job (which I left in March). I don't consider myself to necessarily be fat, but I became very concerned about my health. I joined a gym in April (unfortunately my new job has been so busy that I'm lucky if I get there once a week) and I am trying to slowly change my eating habits little by little so I make healthy choices but still enjoy all the delights that food has to offer. Oh, and the "eat breakfast every day" experiment I was trying has stuck...I still eat it every day!

7) I go to bed much too late for my own good. This has become a vicious circle. I feel cheated of free time because I have to work late, and I wind up staying up too late and sickly justify it by saying that I am "unwinding." But then I am sleep deprived and cranky, and it becomes difficult to deal with stress at work in the most efficient way possible. As a result, I wind up staying at work later. Gotta nip this in the bud.

8) I used to babysit for a family with the last name "deButts."

I don't think I have eight people reading this blog, so it will be difficult for me to tag eight people... But, here's the best I can do (and please play along only if you choose to):

Ali - I miss you, Ali!
Mayuko - Tell us about what's going on Bangkok!
Gina - Thanks for always checking in on my blog!
Kuri - Not long before the baby comes!
...and, whoever else wants to respond!

Off to bed. Good night!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I'm still here.

For my two readers....yes, I am alive. (Barely)

Many apologies for being out of touch for so long. My new job has been insane (for many reasons), and most days when I get home I don't even turn on my computer. Provided I can get through the next few weeks at home, I think things will get better. (Wishful thinking, perhaps?)

In other news, my washing machine broke and I had to buy a new one (exciting, I know).

The most exciting part of the past few weeks, though, has been the rush of friends coming back to visit Tokyo - Kirsten, Vicky, Stacy. It's been GREAT to see them!

I will try to be better about updating. Please bear with me! Hope everyone is well!

P.S. Ali, I hope you got my messages. More on the way, though it will probably take me a while. *smirk*

P.P.S. Seoul was AWESOME! I loved it. I need to organize my photos and get some up here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bring on the kimchi

I'm heading to Seoul today for a short getaway during my last week of freedom.

See you all soon!

Monday, March 12, 2007


Well, I did something last week that I perhaps should have done a while ago. I quit my job! Because of various circumstances which I will spare you all the details of, I was very nervous about giving notice - much more nervous than the last time I changed jobs.

Friday was my last day at work, and my next employment adventure starts in April, so I suddenly have three weeks of vacation!! I'm trying to figure out what to do with myself.

I strangely did not feel the immense sensation of relief I expected when I gave notice. Everything happened so fast that it felt very surreal...

Oh, and I also got a new refrigerator! One of my (ex-)coworkers moved to New York last week, and gave me his refrigerator. Now I can graduate from the tiny dorm room-sized fridge I have been using for the last four years. I catch myself opening the new fridge just to look in and smile at all the space! :-)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

February's over already?!

Hard to believe it's already March 1st....where did February go?!

I've been sick for the past week and a half. I made a trip to the miracle-worker doctor I always see, and he put me on meds that had me feeling better instantly.

But then yesterday happened. I woke up feeling sluggish and achey. I was hot all day (which I later realized was a fever) and around lunch my throat was croaking in pain. I bundled up and went to bed early last night, but feel even more achey today, and now my ear is clogged. (So why do I go the office when I feel this way? I'll save that for another post.)

I think we have another cold on board, folks. Or maybe even the flu. UGH. Might have to make another trip to my miracle-worker.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Spring in February

Spring in February
Originally uploaded by deena_in_tokyo.
This is a photo I took outside my office during lunch. What a gorgeous day! I should be outside reading a book in the park with a latte in one hand, not inside at a desk!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Today would have been my grandmother's 90th birthday. Happy Birthday, Grandma!

I was very close with my grandmother and grandfather, and they played a huge part in who I am today. I regret that I didn't call them more after I went away to college...I didn't have the money, but I should have found a way to call. My grandfather passed away my first year of college, and my grandmother shortly after I came to Japan.

There many ways I remember her, though. I miss my grandmother's curiosity, her eye for detail, and her appreciation of things handmade. Every time I crochet, knit, or embroider something I immediately wish I could show to her to see what she thinks. I have one lipstick I haven't worn for years but cannot stand to get rid of because the smell of it reminds of the scent of my grandmother's makeup.

Sometimes I wonder what she would think of my life, living so far away for so long. But then I remember how she always supported me and I smile.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My morning coffee

Lately my morning cup of coffee just hasn't been doing it for me. It doesn't rev me up like it used to, and instead I am left needing more. Caffeine is truly a drug.

But I have found a new way to get that same high feeling I used to be able to get from my morning cup of java.
Recently I can't get enough of Aretha Franklin!
I bought one of those "The Nice Price" cheap-o compiliations of her music on sale at Tower Records back in college, and I have recently rediscovered it. It's amazing how a few minutes of "Spirit in the Dark" on the train can help one forget even the worst back-to-work blues, and even just the first few bars of "Without Love" take away the tension in my shoulders after a stressful day at work. The other day in Starbucks "Rock Steady" (warning: link has sound!) came on while I was waiting for my latte and it was all I could do not to break out in dance.
Wonder what will happen on the day I forget my iPod on the way out the door...might not be able to get any work done!
P.S. Check out the awesome crowd on that "Rock Steady" clip. Man, I miss Soul Train!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I'm not sure why it bothered me so much, but I was very saddened to hear of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's passing today. I had been checking for updates on him fairly regularly, and I really thought he would make it.

Of course, some people say it's "just a horse" and there are bigger things to worry about. Yes, there is a war going on. Yes, there are thousands of people who die around the world due to starvation, violence, and illness without making a blip in the headlines. Yes, horse racing has some very brutal aspects to it that deserve more attention. And yes, there are hundreds of horses who die on the track each year without getting this much attention.

But sometimes we all want a miracle. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Rest in peace, Barbaro.

Culinary adventures in Tokyo

This past week has been full of culinary adventures!

The weekend started off with brunch at Au Temps Jadis with the lovely Montchan in from Sweden and the ever-amazing Tari!
We munched on yummy crepes and lots of free goodies thanks to Tari being a regular.

It was a great morning! Thanks, ladies, and hope you are having a great time in Tokyo, Montchan!

After brunch I met R and we had cake with Sebastian, a friend from Sapporo.

The cake was excellent, and the weather was fabulous, too! I got lost on the way to the restaurant despite having been there multiple times before, but all's well that ends well, right? :-)

Then tonight I went to a sayonara party for Karah. We just met in December (though we probably attended some of the same conferences in our previous jobs), and I wish I had met her earlier! The party was at Genghis Khan, an awesome Mongolian restaurant in Otsuka. The entire restaurant is made like a huge yurt!

Quite amazing interior!

The restaurant has Mongolian traditional clothing for all diners to wear, and the staff will even pick out a color for you.

Thanks to the awesome staff, a few rounds of a Mongolian drinking song, and lots of free vodka, everyone was having a good time.
Looking forward to my next dining adventure!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Some photos from Christmas

Better late than never, right?

Our adorable little Christmas tree!

A drive-through window at Starbucks, and a gorgeous blue sky!

Bijou looking handsome modeling his Christmas present - a quilted vest for chilly winter walks!


I've been delinquent about posting. Part of this is because I've been busy, and part of it is because I have felt like I have very little to blog about that is positive. I have been feeling a lot of stress recently due to circumstances which I cannot write about here for the time being, and I am trying to deal with it in healthy ways (i.e. ways that do not involve alcohol, overeating, Beverly Hills 90210 marathons on the couch, or other self-destructive behavior).

On the other hand, I had a great weekend which I will hopefully blog about later. Hope everyone's Monday is going well!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Progress report

At the risk of making this blog even more boring for my readers...

We are now in our fourth week of the New Year, and I must say I am doing better on my "projects" and goals than I thought I would. I thought I would share a progress report:

  • I have eaten breakfast every day in some form for the past two weeks: sometimes a banana, sometimes some yogurt, and on days when I've overslept a banana while running to the station (eating while walking/out in public is of course a big no-no in Japan so I try to be discreet in order not to shock my elderly neighbors). I must say that I have noticed a change in my energy level and I will definitely try to continue this. (I hesitate to write this because I don't want to jinx it, but I have also noticed that my pants are looser!! Yay!)
  • I have taken the first step toward joining a gym. A new one is opening in my neighborhood in April, and I have made a "reservation" to "sign up." The price scares me, but I try to tell myself it's an investment in my health and my future.
  • Although this is probably one of the least "cool" things a woman in her 20s can buy, I bought a crock pot and I am loving it! I can make a big batch of food on the weekends with minimal effort, and the leftovers help me avoid the temptation to eat trash for dinner on weekdays after I come home for work late and exhausted. I have tried to avoid recipes that require a lot of pre-packaged seasonings and broths that are high in salt, so I feel that this is a much more healthful option than what I used to eat.
  • Although I have yet to see concrete results, I have taken proactive steps toward accomplishing the mission that Ali, Mayuko, and Tari know about.
  • I have been making an effort to purge my apartment of unnecessary stuff by giving it away, donating it, or selling it. This is going to be a bigger and more long-term project than I thought.

And my new project for this week is.....(drumroll, please):

To wash my face every night!

Yes, I know this is a very basic thing that everyone should do, but I haven't been very good about this for the past couple of years. Whenever I feel tired or lazy it's been too easy to just brush my teeth and then call it a night, but my skin has suffered. The extra five minutes a night to wash my face before bed definitely count as an investment in my future as well!

Wish me luck!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Technical difficulties

I changed my template! I like it a lot, but there's still a lot of tweaking I need to do.

Pardon the mess!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My project for this week

After puzzling over why I continue to gain weight despite my best efforts to eat as many fresh foods as possible and eat smaller portions, I have decided to try an experiment. I am going to try to eat breakfast every day! I'm thinking that this will give my metabolism a swift kick in the pants in the morning, and maybe my body will feel less of the need to hold on to every meal.

Now, this might sound silly to those of you who do eat breakfast every day, but considering that I haven't been in the habit of doing so since junior year of high school or so, this could be harder than it seems. My main problem is time. Every minute of my morning counts since I don't get up until I absolutely have to. So...I'm going to start small. A banana, for example, or a few bites of yogurt. In a pinch, I've decided that a glass of milk and a few crackers would even be ok.

I'll let you know how it goes! I don't have scales, so my measure of progress is how my pants fit me. If my pants get any tighter, I won't have any clothes to wear to work!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bring it on

Well, 2007 is upon us, folks! I had mixed feelings about this year...on one hand, it's unbelievably refreshing to have a metaphorical clean slate given that last year was quite challenging in more ways than one. On the other hand, however, it's a bit frustrating that it's already 2007 because there are some aspects of my life (mostly professional) that are not panning out as I imagined.

BUT!! A New Year is all about being positive and looking ahead, so I have vowed to turn over a new leaf. Bring it on, 2007, I say!! Seeing what is to come is exciting, and I can't wait.

I usually don't make New Year's resolutions, but I have decided to make some this year. They're not resolutions as much as guidelines (don't want to put too much pressure on myself - ha):

1. Keep track of my money with Microsoft Money or a kakeibo or something with the goal of paying off the remainder of my student loans
2. Join a gym by April and go three times a week (I decided to give myself the deadline of April so that I can work out how I'm going to pay for it through guideline 1 above)
3. Be more diligent about keeping in touch with friends (I love you all but I am horrible about email...I will try to be better!)
4. Be kind (especially to those who I often take for granted)
5. Be thankful for each and every day, experience, and feeling.

Guideline 4 was already tested twice this morning! The first time was when I got in the elevator in my apartment building. There was an older woman (who may or may not be my landlord...I'm not really sure) standing inside, and I said good morning (in Japanese). She then said, "A Happy New Year!" in English, and it surprised me. I should have replied with a "Happy New Year!" but instead I just smiled and nervously laughed. I am such a dork sometimes.

The second time was when I got to the train station. A fellow foreigner who lives in my neighborhood and has talked to me before came up to me on the platform and started talking. "Where are you from?" "How come I've never seen you before?" ( have...) "Do you speak Japanese?" "What kind of work do you do?" I smiled and, remembering Guideline 4 and my failure to follow it in the elevator just moments before, did my best to answer his questions without giving away any personal information that could later be used against me. But then the questions changed. "Are you married?" "How old are you?" My cryptic answers weren't getting the message through to him that I felt uncomfortable, so I said goodbye and went on my way. Guideline 4 applies only when kindness is due.

What are your New Year's resolutions/guidelines?

Happy New Year, everyone!

P.S. Ali, don't worry - I made one more resolution that I haven't written on here just because I don't know who's reading this. It's the one that you just put into action! Congrats!!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!! 2007 is here. How did you celebrate?

R and I celebrated with a bottle of champagne:

That may be part of the reason why I have a touch of a headache this morning...tee hee.

May 2007 be a year filled with peace, love, and happiness for everyone! Happy New Year!!

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