sex appeal.

they say if you don’t use it, you lose it. tonight, i realized i lost it, and i never had it.

i’m back in portland for a month and on day two, have already stepped back into my normal portland groove. one of the reasons i love being back in major cities is that they have opportunities for old people to dance. (yes, in dance years, i am old.)

i checked out what was on the schedule at vega dance lab for tuesday, signed up for a month of unlimited classes, and headed to the studio post-work. tonight’s classes included burly q, jazz, and hip hop cabaret. all of these classes should actually just be named bruised knees, strained neck, and broken lower back.

i have not regularly taken jazz or hip hop classes for years. probably something like five years to be exact. there has been the occasional class here or there when i am in portland or find a random class at some fitness place wherever i am living at the time, but since i moved from michigan, i have not performed. and since i moved from portland, i have not regularly practiced.

i have never been the best dancer, but in my early 20s, i was in pretty in tune with my body and evolving nicely into my movement exploration. i performed as part of a hiphop group in college (exhibit a) and a modern dance collective post-college (exhibit b). i felt good. i felt great. i felt fulfilled most importantly.

exhibit a:

exhibit b:

i went to the studio tonight to relocate that feeling. i’ve missed dance. especially with all the chaos of the world, i miss the physical and emotional release of movement.

but tonight, as i swung my hips from side to side and attempted to convert choreography quickly into my body’s muscle memory, i did not feel good. i definitely did not feel great.

i felt old, out of practice, and incredibly unconfident.

i know, i know… what did i expect? five years is a long time. but as dancers, i think we forget that it is a practice. that learning choreography quickly is a skill. that moving your body dynamically and rhythmically is a skill. that performing art is a skill.

i do know that i still have all those skills. that with time, my body and mind can remember. however, tonight also proved to me that there is one skill i have never had and at this age, i’m pretty sure i should just probably just give up on…

sex appeal.

the three classes i took tonight were all about highlighting my nonexistent sexiness skills. a burlesque jazz class, followed by a sexy jazz class, followed by a cabaret hip hop class. two of which were taught by a 6’4 black man & drag queen who has more sex appeal in his pinky toe than i do in my whole body (exhibit c).

exhibit c:

i let down my hair to try to get into character. whipping hair all over the place is the universal first step towards sexiness.

i swirled my hips and popped my booty the best i could, but it is hard to look hot while trying to figure out which arm swoops around your head before it wraps around your waist. oh and wait, was that on the beat or on the one? can you do that ridiculously fast, too many moves crammed into one count section again? and again? and again?

sure, with repetition, you eventually master the moves. but even with the choreography in my body, i have never been able to master the attitude. i have always felt way more comfortable with more masculine hip hop or beautiful movement that tells a story. this whole diva thing has never quite sunk into my body.

i remember growing up with dancers who just had it. their movement was so sultry and so confident. a simple turn of the head or flick of the hand felt naughty. but me, i felt stupid.

and tonight, i felt stupid.

now, don’t get me wrong. by no means am i saying that i do not think i am sexy. please do not leave comments telling me how smoking i am (unless, i mean, you just really feel the need… :P). what i am saying is that i envy all the confident men and women out there who have mastered smoldering eyes and sassy struts. you amaze me.

and i’ll keep going to hip hop cabaret in hopes that one day my hair whip will be as good as yours. in the meantime, i guess i’ll keep practicing my pirouettes…

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helpless.

i am not one who typically feels helpless. in high school, when i wasn’t getting an A in calculus, i sought out tutoring during my free period. in college, when i couldn’t figure out astronomy or economics, i did the same. (clearly, math and science are not my strong suits.)

regardless of the situation, i have never been afraid to ask for help. help being picked up from the airport. help fixing the fact that my bank account overdrafted and there are no banks near me to immediately deposit cash. help making my ceviche not taste like shit. help getting out of the house when binge watching netflix has held me hostage for days.

and i have always tried to help others when i knew how. help underprivileged youth finish homework assignments on time and graduate high school. help clean up trash from beautiful beaches and climbing areas. help friends talk through hard times and big decisions. help family run emergency daycare pickups when flights are missed.

but i have never felt as helpless as i do right now.

i am empowered to assist. i am passionate about injustice. i am motivated to create change. and yet, the next steps seem so faraway. i click on facebook post after facebook post promising ways to take action, but they all seem so arbitrary.

the dark cloud that has been floating over us since november continues to hover. continues to make me want to stay in my hawaiian bubble or retreat to my australian getaway. it is this underlying sickness of feeling utterly helpless in the face of such daily tragedy. here, and everywhere.

a few days ago, we were detoured due to a traffic accident. i couldn’t help but stalk google for updates on the incident. that feeling of horror would not leave my gut, so i kept trying to calm it with details. every unfortunate detail. five car crash, four dead, two injured. a 50-something-year-old man driving a pickup truck crossing the center line and crashing head-on into a camry uber.

we were minutes down the road.

i did not know any of the people in this crash, but yesterday as i picked my “nephew” up from daycare, i could not shake the fear. the danger of driving. the unknowingness of daily life. the deepening pit that would eventually eat me alive if anyone’s life was lost on my watch.

i did not know any of the people who were murdered in las vegas, but as i thought about the hollywood action scene unfolding onto reality, the pit deepened. the helplessness sunk in harder. harder. harder. harder. what fear will this cause?

i stared at all their faces today. faces that could have easily been mine. (you know i love me some country music.) i read article after article and watched clip after clip and am still left asking how? how does humanity get here? how do we get the fuck out of here? how can i help? how can we help?

i am asking you because i need help. because i need to help.

diving in.

two years ago, i departed from the space we daily occupy. after a couple hours of important education, i bit down on the mouthpiece and rolled backwards off the boat. sinking deeper and deeper into the ocean blue.

last week, i departed from the space we daily occupy. after a couple minutes of important education, i stepped into a harness, boarded an airplane, and climbed thousands of feet into the clouds, above the clouds. hovering around the sky, i did what we were born to do. flying faster and faster towards the trees that keep us grounded.

   

there are people whose feet never leave the dirt. i am not one of those people.

i am very aware that my feet were made for the soft grass. the kind of grass that deserves bare skin and a moment of recognition. but i was born to this earth. all of it. i was born with gills, and i was born with wings.

i have not written much since we moved to hawaii in february 2016, but there has been so much to say. when the momentary annoyances of outdated city life settle into silence, the natural wonders of the islands speak louder than i could have imagined.

when the vicious waves slam me into the dead coral reef, i cringe. but as i come up for air just in time to catch a stingray quickly coasting over the crystal clear ocean surface, i remember why so many people are called to the sea.

there are ocean people. i am not one of them. but in the past year and a half, i have taught myself that just maybe, i am capable of finding a deeper connection to the vast blue planet beyond the shoreline. that just maybe, the same grandeur that naturally draws me to the tall pine trees lining mountain slopes might exist amongst the turtles and tuna.

and last week, as i carelessly launched my body out over that same ocean blue from 12,000 feet above, i learned why people love to fly. every element of this existence zoomed out to the big picture. shorelines sketching the outlines of islands. communities collectively organizing sections of earth. browns separating themselves from blues separating themselves from greens.

i was not afraid.

“but she says: ‘no, don’t you see we have wings? it’s the funniest thing, it’s just that no one knows.’” (“josephine” by teitur)

earth, wind, fire, water, air. our elemental composition trends towards a return to source.

why are humans transfixed on finding ways to fly? to breathe underwater? to climb the highest peak? to create fire?

it started with a spark.

just as our hearts know when another is beating in sync with our own, our bodies intrinsically know we belong to every element of this earth.

i scuba dive. i skydive. i continue to dive into whatever this life is willing to offer.

i pledge allegiance.

i said the pledge of allegiance today for the first time in a long time. i actually cannot remember the last time i recited the pledge. as the maui county council chair asked everyone to stand and recite it, my heartbeat quickened in fear that i might have forgotten the words, and i’d have to brand myself a shitty american for the rest of my life. but as i put my right hand across my chest, the many years of daily repetition paid off and muscle memory moved my mouth to form all the correct sounds.

i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

i cannot remember the last time i voiced these words. i cannot remember any time where i have actually thought about the words i was voicing.

but today, i heard my voice.

i sat in the maui county council chambers surrounded by women and men there to honor maui resident teresa shook (the women responsible for igniting the women’s march), and i heard my words loud and clear.

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just as it would often hit me unexpectedly while dissecting one of the many great poems in my intro to poetry course in college, the words transformed from merely words into actual meaning. especially there in that moment, standing with my palm pressed over my heart in a room full of local government officials and everyday people truly wanting the kind of nation our forefathers pledged.

we are all united. we cannot be divided. we will fight for liberty and justice for all. i pledge my allegiance to this. i have pledged my allegiance to this subconsciously since kindergarten.

but today, i actually took the pledge. and i will take it here again:

i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

img_1102and then i sat back down in my chair and listened to maui county’s councilmen, local residents, and even a german tourist, give their testimonies celebrating teresa shook, celebrating the fact that one facebook post from a retired attorney from a tiny island in the middle of the pacific, could spark a movement. i watched as women and men wiped tears from their eyes, inspired by the powerful stance our nation took when its appointed leader challenged our unity. we are indivisible.

i am the product of a hardworking father with a creative and charismatic personality and a hyper-driven mother who is an extraordinary example of independence and intelligence. the values they consciously (or unconsciouly) instilled in me encouraged understanding, acceptance, growth, and love. through their actions, i saw that fear could be conquered, that perseverance leads to results, and that perfection is a daily practice.

and today, as i made my pledge of allegiance to our flag and the nation it represents, i celebrated those lessons…

our nation can conquer fear.
our perseverance leads to results.
our perfection is a daily practice.

birthday light.

dear world,

winter solstice. thirtieth birthday. christmas. new moon. new year.

there are drawbacks to being born so close to christmas, but one of the big benefits is celebrating during such a transformational time of year. the dark begins to turn to light. the spirit of giving is in full swing. the lunar cycle resets. and the resolutions for the new year emerge.

it’s 5:30am, and the sound of rain drizzling down upon our tin patio roof lures me from the warmth of my bed into the cold, damp, mosquito-infested air. wrapped in a blanket, i sit here watching the sky turn to flames. a small little spark, and the darkness evaporates.

suddenly it is the day i was born.

the rest of the country is already awake. my phone is dancing to its own beat of vibrations and lighting up the morning. an endless outpouring of love all before breakfast. i sit in the aftermath of sunrise and count my blessings.

each and every family member, friend, acquaintance, and even stranger. thank you.

thank you for taking a moment of your day and giving it to me. i will relish every ounce of it. for this is a time of change.

in the coming weeks, we will vow to eat healthier or travel some place new or stop swearing so much. our list of resolutions will empower us to march into the new year with courage and hope.

i am courageous. i am hopeful. but i am weary of the darkness. i have always been weary of the darkness. i am a northern child born just as the earth begins her journey towards spring. i am a child meant to light up the dark.

so what do i want for my birthday?

i want you to be a light.

paz y besos,
sara

she creates.

what happens when an artist loses her artistry? when the pen falls from her hand, when the rhythm fades from her step, when the shutter stops beneath her finger. she is left surrounded by those that are still creating and yet she creates no more. every ounce of inspiration sits in waiting amidst the musings of someone else.

her words are not her words. her moves are not her moves. her images are not her images. there is a desire to find them again, yet something encases the urge. trapping each idea below the surface. with no awen there to pull them through the glass, she stares at the reflection until they disappear untouched.

she fights the cravings by occupying time with distractions, but like any addiction, the need returns. as she watches others craft and indulge, she cannot help but envy the outcomes. chaos captured into something beyond rational comprehension. how can she transcend the disconnect? when does she become them?

day by day, the energy subdivides and focus falls into multitasking passions. we want it all, so we try to take it all. but, her container cannot hold it all. she overflows spilling out necessary pieces of her intuition. you cannot put toothpaste back into the tube, but she will try. she will continuously try. every lost edge reformed to fit back into her current puzzle.

she falls in and out of love with the notion of creativity, trying to comprehend how this seemingly insignificant portion of her being occupies so many hours of her thought. mental exhaustion battling the misunderstood efforts to define her influence.

she deafens herself with their songs, their words, their rhythms, their rhymes, until she can no longer hear her yearnings. misguiding each intention to disillusion. the tired moth dissolves to dust in the flame.

then something shifts.

a hidden glint of what could be appears from the ashes, and she can’t help but hold onto it for dear life. a simple reminder that creation is eternal. that an empty space can always be filled with something more. that action stimulates art.

and then, she creates.

three decades of home.

february march april may june july august september october november

we moved to honolulu ten months ago.

in ten months, i have not written a single word about hawaii on this blog. i have not spent a moment of time reflecting on this next chapter. why?

you know why…

who sits and stares at their laptop writing when it is 85ºF and sunny outside? when the surf is overhead and breaking perfectly? when the tide is low enough to climb the oceanside rock arch? when there are fish to be caught and beach bonfires to be had?

yeah, no one.

so here i am. ten months later. finally finding the time.

where did i find the time?

i am alone on an airplane. surprise surprise!

i wonder if all travelers write their blogs on airplanes. if they sit and reminisce about their last adventure while on their way to planning the next.

or maybe they are more disciplined and make the time each night to update their followers like i did when i was traveling around india for a month. it is better that way. the details are fresh. you are not summarizing several weeks or months into 1000 words. you are just decompressing. unloading the day to the page just as you would to your spouse over dinner.

so instead of trying to sum up ten months in one blog post, i’ll digress…

i turn 30 near the winter solstice. the longest night of the year.

every day i fluctuate between wanting to sleep through it on the beach by myself and wanting to plan an epic string of activities including everyone i’ve ever met.

some days i want to be in chicago with my family and lifelong fiends. i want to see a new release picked by my brother with my family at cantera. i want my sister to take me out to sing karaoke with a live band. i want to play dance video games against my cousin. i want aisha to magically appear. i want brian to serenade me. i want to eat fresh baked cookies at the grays with kritsin and jackie. i want to sip wine with katy and nadine. i want cooper and pat and the whole gang to give me a run for my money on some empty dive bar dance floor. and i want kayla and kristina and katina to make sure i don’t fall asleep before the clock strikes midnight on december 22.

but some days i want to be in michigan. i want to pretend i was back in college and stroll down main street all bundled up. i want to end up at the blind pig with becca to shake myself straight out of my 20s. i want jonathan to sit with my in the arb for hours. i want to bask on the santoro’s pier. i want lainie and kelly and lea to cook me an amazing feast followed by another feast from sue. i want to start the next morning with a cheese danish from wealthy bakery. i want to go sledding and skinny-dipping in lake michigan. yes, skinny-dipping in december. marlee will be there dancing in the snowy sand.

other days i want to be in portland. i want to wake up to a private yoga class with nathan. i want to spend all day at loyly sweating in the sauna and getting a facial from heather. i want paloma to lend me something cool to wear and get our dance on at mississippi studios. i want anna to order for me at andina and make me remember why i love ceviche. i want lisa to be my rope gun at smith. i want zac and lauren and ethan to unite with me for some witty banter and endless laughter. i want to find ian and give him a hug. i want to hang out in the noto office just for fun. and i want miles to share his coffee with me and introduce me to my next favorite album. autumn, you’re invited too.

most days though, i want to use all the frequent flyer miles i can muster to fly everyone straight to me. i want to turn yokohama into my own private beach. i want the people that have made the first thirty years of my life so amazing to spend december 22 surrounding me with their absurdities. i want to hug them and love them and never let them go. and i want to go home with  ryan and fall asleep in his arms. night after night after night.

hawaii is home for thirty. but my thirty is made up of three decades of homes. three decades of relationships that have challenged me and molded me into the woman i am now and the woman i will be in the future. cities and faces that stay with me wherever i go.

thank you saint charles and ann arbor and grand rapids and portland. thank you for being my home.

hawaii, it’s your turn to shape the next decade (or at least the beginning of it), and you’ve got a lot to live up to…

#goodluck

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taiwandering.

without googling it, can you picture where taiwan is on a map?

besides the fact that your favorite shirt was unfortunately made there, do you know anything else about taiwan?

before our detour to visit ryan’s sister-in-law’s twin sister (carly) in taiwan back in january 2016, my answer to both of those questions would have been no. taiwan was a country somewhere in asia that i would probably never visit and didn’t really have a desire to learn anything about.

and then we flew in from japan (thanks for the free upgrade to first class delta.) and quickly realized that taiwandering is actually a pretty enjoyable pastime.

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from the temples to the mountains to the beaches to the hot springs, there is plenty packed into this often forgotten asian island.

taiwan has an interesting history, a sort of back and forth struggle between china and japan, and the influence of these cultures is apparent. after coming from china and japan, taiwan felt like a happy medium. the chaos and the calm.

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our tour guide, carly, has been teaching in taiwan for the past three years and knew all the perfect places to take us adventuring tourists.

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a ride on the “fastest moving passenger elevator” to the top of the taipei 101 tower to take in the full scope of taipei. to take “the journey that’ll change your life.”

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building upon building squeezed together and butted up against the layered mountains. this has become a tradition of ours. pay the ridiculous fee to go to the tallest tower and stand in awe of the view from above. get our bearings. discover new things. feel small.

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taiwan has a lot of things to make you feel small. the mountains, the markets, the bottomless hot pots… we got lost in it all. literally…

a bus ride from the city up into the hills to find the hidden bayan wild springs. carefully watching the little blue dot on my google maps app as we tried to follow carly’s instructions to the hot springs.

we preemptively hopped off of the bus (at my direction) and found ourselves at the bus stop before the one we actually wanted. it was raining. it was cold. ryan was not happy with me. but we walked down the highway with our rain jacket hood strings pulled tight and eventually found the dirt trail that led to our magical forested escape.

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once you slip into that sweet sulfur stream, every care in the world disappears. the cool raindrops become a blessing, and the foggy skies meld with the steamy waters. i could have stayed there forever, covered in mud (said to be good for your skin) and loving every minute of it.

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the head-sized breaded chicken at shilin market stole my heart (or clogged it) as well. rows upon rows of vendors showcasing their hilarious t-shirts and kitschy trinkets. fresh fruit waiting to make your fingers sticky and hundreds of people moving together through the maze.

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and ending up at the all you can eat hot pot restaurant. (if everyone wasn’t going there, they should have been.)

imagine a buffet of meats and seafood and vegetables just waiting to be thrown into the boiling pot of broth at your table. endlessly. i’m glad carly warned me to wear a my fat pants otherwise i definitely would have left with my top button undone. yum.

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speaking of yum, my memories of taiwan all seem to come back to food. besides the hot pot and oversized friend chicken, there were michelin star soup dumplings and thai burritos and of course, the insane scallion pancakes that were right below carly’s apartment.

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there were pork buns and taro buns and questionable meat buns that ryan still ate. and to wash it all down, there was bubble tea. lots and lots of bubble tea.

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so in the end, i left my custard heart in taiwan and gained a hot pot belly. perfect for my new life of living in bikinis and sarongs on oahu…

thanks for taking us taiwandering carly.

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japan in january.

it is always on airplanes that i find the space to write. write for me. not for a client’s blog, not for a paid article, but for my mind, my soul, my sanity. something about this metal tube soaring through the sky – and probably my limited access to internet – focuses the words in my head.

i haven’t been on a long flight for awhile. perhaps the last one was from japan to hawaii. (that’s a lie, we flew back to australia for a wedding in march, but i’m going to stick with the lie because it works as a perfect segue.)

that flight signified a new chapter, but the old chapter was never written. this blog holds no words about that time i crossed off “visit japan” from my 35 before 35 list. until now… 🙂

the old chapter

part one: niseko

they (whoever they is) say that niseko has some of the best powder you will ever ride. and they were right. i’m guessing “they” is made up of all the snowboarders and skiers who have showed up to the stunning mountains of hokkaido not knowing what to expect and left with their minds blown. i am now one of this they.

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niseko slopes are not quite as steep as some of the BAMFs would like, but the continuous fresh powder and ungroomed glades make up for its gradual declines. and for me, it was perfect.

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cutting in and out of the trees until it got too narrow for comfort, then easily popping back out on the powdery edge of the groomed runs. not to mention, catching an edge becomes immensely more fun when you face plant into a mound of snowy goodness instead of ice. that is until you have to try and stand back up…

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for just over a week, we let ourselves sink into ski bum status. wake up, put on thermals, look outside, high five (because you can’t see past the huge white flakes), eat breakfast, gear up, grab board, walk to slope, ride ride ride, drink drink drink, go to bed. repeat.

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life is pretty simple in a ski town. life is pretty perfect in a ski town.

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when our lift passes ran out, we headed south to see what else japan had to offer. stoke was high, and i had no idea it was about to get even higher.

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part two: tokyo

i have traveled a lot of places, but japan was only marginally on my radar until recently. my older brother had lived there for quite some time and RAVED about it. at the time, i was like, yeah cool whatever. japan seemed faraway. on the wrong side of the globe. i was a north and south america type of girl. maybe a dash of europe. then i visited india. then i started dating an australian. all the sudden japan didn’t seem that faraway at all. and it sort of looked pretty cool.

sumimasen nikon. i am sorry i ever doubted your awesomeness.

we arrived late at night in tokyo. the airport was quiet and everything seemed to be shutting down. thanks to an old college friend who is currently living in tokyo, we were well-equipped with step-by-step instructions.

  1. find baggage counter and have snowboard bag shipped to apartment. check.
  2. take the ____ train and get off at the ______ stop. check.
  3. get on the _____ line and get off at the ______ stop. check.
  4. walk 15 minutes to apartment.
  5. key is in mailbox.
  6. make yourself at home.

wow. even half asleep, we were able to navigate the brilliant tokyo train system. talk about well-constructed public transportation. there is no need to rent a car in tokyo. the rail will take you basically everywhere you want to go. for cheap.

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as we walked to my friend’s apartment, the city was asleep. it was also short. after my visit to hong kong, i had the impression that tokyo might be similar. i was oh-so-wrong. the buildings are low and sprawl outward forever. there are areas of densely packed skyscrapers, but for the most part this city sits low, which makes it feel way less daunting that other big cities.

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it is also clean. and quiet. and for those of you who know anything about japanese culture, you are nodding your heads. in japan, you do not eat or drink while you walk down the street. you do not talk loudly on the train. you do not blow your nose in public. you are polite. you are very polite. you are probably too polite.

with limited time, we made sure to tackle the important things:

  • yoyogi koen in harajuku on a sunday – if you like people watching, this park is magical. from students practicing their latest hiphop moves to gray-haired street performers setting up their pantomime shows to japanese popstars-in-training belting out their cheesy vocals, yoyogi has got it all. as ryan put it, “these people are parking the shit out of this place.” the dog park adds at least 30 minutes of entertainment as well.
  • maid cafe in akihabara – you’ve gotta do it. yes, you’ll probably pay too much for your magic-infused drink and regret it later, but you still have to experience the weirdness of this popular dining experience.

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  • shibuya at night – switch your iphone to the time-lapse setting and squeeze your way into the lineup of cameras hovering around the second story starbucks window. the famous shibuya intersection is truly something to observe. thousands of humans dancing their way through each other amidst the bright city colors before the traffic light turns green.

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  • sensoji temple and sky tree in asakusa – sure it’s touristy, but once you get past all the kitschy shops, the temple is stunning. and seeing the city from the sky is definitely an interesting perspective. tokyo goes on forever.

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  • tsukiji market – if you want good sushi, go to the market in the morning, the earlier the better, most of the restaurants close by the afternoon. also, if you’re looking for a sweet japanese knife, this is a good place to find one.
  • golden gai – we didn’t actually go here, but we did find our way to another strip of tiny bars. these little establishments are so unique. with seats for only about 5-6 people, the bars offer a cozy way to end your day.
  • kobe beef – we found it, we ate it, we loved it. (and all the other delicious food!)

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  • see snow – you probably won’t be able to do this as it is a pretty rare occurence, but we did. what a magnificent sight to see this pristine city covered in a blanket of soft white snow.

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  • karaoke – even ryan did it. everyone has to do it. rent a room and let your favorites rip.
  • sumo tournament – saving the best for last. if you are in japan and happen to time it when one of the sumo tournaments are on, go. i had no clue how into this sport i would be. there is so much history, so many intricate regulations, so much beauty and performance. after attending the ninth day of the tourny, i wanted to buy tickets for the rest of it. luckily, we happened to catch the winning match on tv at the airport. what a huge win! japan on top again… take that mongolia. yoisho!

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i’m sure i’m forgetting some things above, but our time in tokyo left me wanting my brother to move back to japan so that i could have an excuse to return. i guess i don’t actually need an excuse…

part three: kyoto

my brother spent a lot of time in kyoto and had given me these instructions: in kyoto go to kinkakuji, ginkakuji, heian shrine, downtown, and the gardens.

we boarded that bullet train and headed south.

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after a few days, our feet were sore and cold (the snow followed us to kyoto as well), but we walked around to every temple and shrine and garden that we could find.

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kyoto’s old japanese charm is palpable. you can meander the streets for hours just taking in all the cute storefronts and ornate temples and shrines. every corner has a hidden space to uncover. if you’re into history, this is your city.

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in order to tap into the japanese culture a bit more, and fully embrace our absolute obsession with japanese food, we took a cooking class in kyoto. we crafted a bento box complete with tempura shrimp, sushi rolls, teriyaki chicken, spinach salad, and miso soup. i was pretty impressed with the results. and yes, i still have the recipes if you happen to want to sample my newfound skills. yum.

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with only a few days in kyoto, we spent all day every day getting lost and finding our way. finding our way to unknown temples off the tourist track and taking the time to let ourselves get lost in their majesty.

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japan was magical. a perfect introduction to our new home… hawaii.

p.s. as i finished this blog, i realized i lied some more. after japan, we went to taiwan before we officially moved to hawaii. stay tuned…

paris in the rearview.

life happens. before the hands can transcribe thought to script, the moment is gone. you keep on living. the details fade, and you can’t remember why you wrote that note about the ________.

but maybe it’s not the details that are important tomorrow.

today, six months later, i look at my notes: 

paris day three:

work, buy a french wardrobe due to climbing clothes selection

head to the louvre – seeing masterpieces i studied in college, things i wrote papers about, huge endless rooms of the world’s best art, surrounded by soldiers, never felt unsafe but rather safer amongst it all

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mona lisa thoughts, masterpiece thoughts, all the thoughts

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ice cream at the famous place on the island, patron saints of paris watching over

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meditation with aunt and friends followed by dinner, another night falling asleep as my auntie drove me home.

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by the bastille

paris day four:

breakfast – family does a mooc about versailles but it’s in french, so i do work

opera bastille – l’elisir d’amore by gaetano donizetti – lead female was amazing, a fun comic light hearted performance, fun to get dressed up, black and white – the colors of france

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paris day five:

church

Versailles food market for some lunch fixings, baguettes, cheese, crepes, french yelling

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family bonding – funny how us schneider women are all the same, the “outlaws” instead of inlaws

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sunday – slow and simple

roasted chestnuts (french word for that = marrons chauds), i thought it was just a song

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paris day six:

city tour…

train in by myself

notre dame – eavesdrop on a tour guide

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shakespeare and co.

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le procope

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wander around latin quarter – get lost, curving streets meandering and turing into dead ends, endless cafes and creperies

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tuileries garden stroll

champ elysees christmas market

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petit palace / gran palace

arc de triomphe

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crepe – egypt man

centre pompidou – pollack, matisse, different vibe, outdoor escalators reminded me of hong kong, best view from the top, tired legs, tired soul

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eiffel tower always in the distance, standing tall watching over its city

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day seven:

wake up in the french countryside to a crazy sunrise

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versailles – palace and gardens, meandering with audio tour, wondering what it would be like to have a bedroom like those…

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thai food for lunch with annie and jim

movie night – hunger games mockingly part 2

day eight:

rest?

day nine: 

museo d’Orsay – prostitutes exhibit, one elite parisian prostitute with last name schneider, maybe a past life… women in photography exhibit, giant inner working of clock, my monets

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tour with ethan’s mom – local view, born and raised, best pastries, stories from long ago

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thanksgiving dinner with family complete with my favorite, a delicious homemade pumpkin pie

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day ten:

fly home via iceland and maryland to st. louis to meet family for thanksgiving weekend

today, six months later, i remember:

i remember the graffiti. after coming from hong kong, the artistic expression flying by me through the train window was comforting. back in a space known for its creativity. the culture and language that gave us avant garde. without stalking the historical cafes where artist after artist stewed over music and poetry, i felt it in the air. in the architecture. in the opera. in the fashion. in the people. there is a certain hype that surrounds paris, and i will remember being entirely swept up in it.

i remember the aloneness. i haven’t walked around alone in a big city in quite some time. aimlessly wandering the streets with no specific destination in mind. seeing where a left might take me instead of a right. missing a subway station on purpose so i can backtrack by foot through the chaos. walking around paris reminded me of when i lived in buenos aires. they say it is the paris of south america, and if i had to go by the way both cities made me feel, i’d have to agree. the magic is palpable. to passerbys, my joy probably was too.

i remember the meals. my aunt and cousins sat down together for dinner almost every night. the bell would ring and supper would be served. the busyness of the day would come to a pause as we all gathered around the table to fuel our bodies with food and minds with conversation. perhaps they don’t do this all the time. maybe it was because i was in town. but, either way, it was a cherished gift. a chance to get to know the relatives who have lived so far away all this time. a chance to learn and debate and laugh and eat fresh baguettes and drink french wine.

i’ll always remember what i remember. the specifics aren’t really that important anymore.