Saturday, December 15, 2007

Preparing for Christmas

So I was in London over my birthday weekend and I was "helping" my parents get ready for a big Christmas party they were putting on. The house is not fully decorated yet but here are some pictures as we start to get it ready. The tree is amazing! it is kind of a cross between a Dr. Seuss tree and the tree in the Nutcracker at the moment it grows crazy big and the nutcracker comes to life. The ceilings are bout 12 feet I think. We had to cut the tree down a bit to fit the star, and the star still touches the ceiling.
Just a quick note about the second picture. Well my dear sister Ashely gave my parents a framed photo of her and Geoff to try to balance out the Meredith pictures. Well what did my mum do? She went to the computer and printed off another picture of Meredith and put it in a frame. Meredith 3, Ashely 1. hehe lets keep up the good work Mer. Sorry Alec, you didn't make the cut at all.
Anyway, my childhood home was made for Christmas and I can't wait to get back there and to continue "helping" and relaxing in everything a Tokyo Christmas is NOT!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

24 (me this time, not Bauer!)

Well today is my birthday.
Last night I was thinking about my birthday and what it means for me to turn 24, I was thinking of how I have survived and thrived for 24 years and now I get to were the that number like a badge. Badges, like when I was in Brownies and every accomplishment and/or completed task was marked by a badge on my sash. Well that little thought lead to other thoughts as so often happens. I started to think of all the badges I have accumulated in this past year. In my version there are badges for failures and disappointments as well as achievements as both equally build and inform who I am as a person.
My biggest and most glitzy badge is the one that says "Completed a full year in Japan". This is a very important badge since there are many other badges that had to be acquired before this one was able to be given. There are badges from before my 23rd birthday to make it possible but I will list only those acquired since turning 23, they read something like:
"Moved to 2nd Apt in Japan, 1st in Tokyo"
"Started new job in Tokyo"
"Survived 1st Christmas Away from Home"
"New Years In Tokyo"
"Totally Rocked Tokyo's Transit System"
"Kyoto 1"
"Koya San"
"Bonded with Sister"
"Kyoto 2"
"Survived Homesickness 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, . . . . . 16."
"Survived the Last Train Home Rush 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, . . . .19
"Bought Bike"
"Bought bed and bookcase"
"Health Insurance"
"Pension Plan"
"Tokyo Disneyland"
"Read Pride and Prejudiced 1,2"
"Tokyo Disney Sea"
"Sushi Addict"
"Found Second Hand English Bookstore"
"Survival Japanese Course"
"Watched all Seasons of House, Scrubs, 24, Gray's Anatomy, Life on Mars, Friends, Fresh Prince, Weeds, Nip Tuck, Heroes"
"Acquired Re-Entry Permit"
"Visit to Japanese Hospital"
"Fell in Love with Tokyo 1"
"Danced all Night 1, 2, 3, 4, 5"
"Needed to get out of this city before I lose it"
"Fell in Love with Tokyo 2"
"Books Read No Longer Fit in Bookcase"
"Too many good byes"
"Internal dialog champ"
"Me, Myself, and I Bonding"
"Author of Lonely in Tokyo for Dummies"
"Started 2nd Job in Tokyo"
"Met Cute Saudi Boy"
"Fell in Love with Tokyo 3"
"3rd Apt in Japan, 2nd in Tokyo"
"Karaoke Addict"
"Made a New Friend"
"Fireworks Magic"
"Made Another New Friend"
"Went On A Vacation With A Boy"
"Made Another New Friend 2, 3, 4, 5,........15"
"Too Many Good Byes 2"
"Handed in Alien Registration Card to Airport Immigration"
"Home with tears"
"Bought Round the World Ticket"
"Moved in with Sister and Family"

There are badges that are still in the works like "Transition back to Toronto" and "Life After Tokyo"

These are my badges, the badges that marked my 24th year. I am sure there are more badges that could go on the list, this past year was no exactly what one would call uneventful or boring....even if I streamed more TV that I thought humanly possible. There was a lot of learning, disappointments, hardships, tears, bubbling excitement, dancing, know, life in Tokyo, my life. A life lived in exclamation marks.

Now onto my 25th year.... oh what fun- LA, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Nepal, Tibet, Paris, a family reunion, a train trip across Canada (more sister bonding)....and that's just the first 6 months!!! Who knows man! who knows?! Life can be pretty absurd, all the more reason to use exclamation marks!!

Despite whatever personal struggle I might find myself in I am pretty much a very happy camper. I am living a blessed life and I am embracing it.

That's it for me, for now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To Tokyo With Love

My sister Jen sent me this site. This women has done a photographic love letter to Tokyo. You will need to download the pdf fly to view it. I loved it. I wish I had taken more photos of just Tokyo. I am sure if that when I sift through all my photos I will be able to create something similar but I really do like a lot of the shots this women has put together. One of my favorites is of stone tables and stools in what must be a park that are roped off so no one can sit down. I find this so fabulously ironic as there is little to no public seating in Tokyo and to imagine actually finding some and not being allowed to use it is just too funny. The picture really cracks me up and I doubt the photographer knows how truly funny and ironic her picture is.
I must say I miss it. I miss all of it. Tokyo became my home, my enemy, my love, and my lifeline. I really feel that a big part of me "grew up" while I was there. I went to Japan a different person than who I left it as. Most days now Tokyo doesn't cross my mind, but when it does, I have a hard time with the idea that I am not there, that life goes on there but I am not apart of it, that I will not be riding the Yamanote tomorrow or the next day. I miss it and I don't. I would love to be back but I have no reason to be there. When I look at photos of the city I wish I could step into them, like the chalk drawings in Mary Poppins, and be apart of that vibrant crazy city once more. However, I have closed that chapter in my life but Tokyo has left its mark on me, it is an invisible tattoo that I will wear forever.

Here is the link:


Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Grandmother

I have been going over different things that I have wanted to say about my grandmother Lois Death. My grandmother died last week, her funeral was last Monday. I am glad that I was in the country so I could be there. I have toyed with writing a letter to her through this blog, I have thought about writing up a little bio of her life, but in all this debating and wondering (and my current flu) have delayed me from posting anything. I want to honour my grandmother, my father's mother. I did not know her well before the dementia, the majority of my interactions with her were as a caretaker after my grandparents moved to London. I saw her and was there for her at times when she was at her most vulnerable. Even though we could not have conversations, and she didn't know who I was, I will hold our time together very close to my heart. I am privileged and honoured to be her granddaughter.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Here is my basic trip itenerary:
Bye bye Canadian winter!!!
Jan 18th - fly from Toronto to LA. I will chill in LA with my fabulous sister September. I hope I can help her out with her Raw Food Chief thing she has going on. I will see a little Hollywood to I guess, and soak some sun into my Canadian winter skin before I hit up the Aussie summer sun. Maybe I will take a turn as a surfer girl.
Jan 23rd - fly from LA to Sydney (arrive 25th). I will make my way to Brisbane to meet my friend Katie on Feb 2nd. Katie and I will stay with another friend from highschool who is at teachers college in Brisbane, we are planning trips up the coast and maybe do some WWOOFing.
Feb 20th - fly form Brisbane to Denpasar Bali. Katie and I plan on spending a couple of weeks in Bali, Lombok and other islands in that area of Indonesia. Doing what? I'll let you know when I get there. Whatever it is, it will be fabulous!
Mar 5th - fly from Denpasar to Singapore. We will travel overland from Singapore, up through Malaysia and Thailand to Bangkok. Besides meeting my friend Viki who is living and working in the south of Thailand, we are planning to have no plans and just go with the flow. If we have enough time and money after arriving in Bangkok we may get visas for Cambodia and head to Angkor Wat. I have already been but would consider myself more than lucky to see it again, and Katie and Viki long to go, so we hope we can include it. Katie leaves me at the end of March for home. I will take it easy at my friend Graeme's place in Bangkok and see some old friends, the Thai family that housed me, and see some of the things I regretted not seeing when I was there last. Going to Thailand and Bangkok feels like going to my other home, I am so comfortable there, I know my way around, the people are amazing. I can't wait to return to a country that helped me grow up a little and overcome huge challenges.
Apr 13th - fly Bangkok to Delhi. I haven't figured out what exactly I will be doing in India but I will probably join up with a tour for a bit, maybe meet up with other travelers, head to a yoga retreat in the mountains, WWOOF, volunteer, who knows! I will also be heading up into Nepal and Tibet. I have dreamed going to India since I was a little girl, but even before that I dreamed of going to Tibet, and I always knew that would mean starting off in Nepal. This trip is a king of pilgrimage for me, and Tibet is my end goal. I am doing this on my own at this point but I am more than happy to have travel companions should anyone be interested or know anyone else who would be interested. I plan to head to Nepal and then to Tibet in the middle of May.
Jun 11 - fly Delhi to Mumbai to Paris. PARIS!! I am so excited to see Paris. I think it will be super cool to fly into Paris at the tail end of my big trip. I have seen a fair bit of Europe but I have never been to France or Paris. I will be there for living life to the full extent that my depleted budget will allow (and credit card) for 13 days and I know it will be a marvelous time. I hope that I may be joined by a fair haired cousin. Again, anyone is welcome to join me. oh and I don't intend to spend the entire 13days in Paris although I am sure I easily could.
Jun 25th- fly Paris to New York to Toronto. My ticket, as it stands, has me connecting through to Toronto, but that can be changed. I may stay in New York for a few days...we will see.

I am bursting with excitement. I can't wait to begin my grand journey.
I feel so nomadic, in my heart, not just because I am going traveling. I am reading a great book called Tales of a Female Nomad. It is about a women in her late 40s who becomes a nomad and discovers this is who she really is. I don't plan to just travel aimlessly around the world for the rest of my life, but working and living around the world and with different cultures excites me so much I can't wait to get started. It really does feel like my life's calling....doing what?...well I have an idea but I haven't really gotten that phone call yet and I don't expect to until I test out my idea.

That is it for me!

Two pieces of news

I have just booked my flights for my big trip. I am so excited!!
I no longer feel the need to be here in Toronto, it is a great city but I need to get back to traveling and back to Asia. When I look at my friends' pictures who are living and working in different parts of Asia I feel an intense longing. After everything I went through in Japan I thought I would really love and need theses months at home but two months feels like more than enough. It is also hard as I start to make new friends at my job, not hard to leave, but hard to invest anything in new friendships as I will be off again in two months and I can't tell them as I haven't yet told my boss. I have never been one for secrets or holding my tongue but these days I feel like I keep so much of myself to myself. But that is I will say on that.

Another big piece of news is NOVA!!! NOVA= BANKRUPT!!! WOW!! The company has been getting in trouble for a while but this is HUGE! My good friend Jill is in Japan with NOVA right now. I am waiting to hear from here as to what is happening, if her school will be closed, what her plans are. It is very possible that NOVA employees don't know much and will only know about their school closing when they come into work and find it locked up and no job for them. There will be thousands of NOVA teachers looking for work in Japan and flooding the market. There will also be thousands of students looking for schools. NOVA as the largest school (a publicly traded company) offered the most inexpensive lessons, the competition will be open to the hundreds of smaller schools that struggle to make it big. NOVA also employs hundreds of Japanese staff. It is unclear how many schools will be closed but several hundred at least (there are 900 in total). For Japan this is like Tim Hortons going bankrupt, there is a NOVA at every major train stop, some times more than one...and Japan is all about the trains.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


So today was my first day working at Fresh. Fresh is a vegetarian vegan restaurant which I love! It is going to be busy but it should be fun and I will get to eat lots of their yummy food. I am planning on getting a second job so I can make some more money.
Anyway, thats it for me now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Posting issues

I have gotten a few comments that I haven't posted in a while.
If you can not see my "One Month Home" post dated Oct 12, please let me know...that is if you can see this one.

Friday, October 12, 2007

One Month Home

Well it has been almost a month since I posted anything. I have been busy, and not busy, over the last few weeks. It has been a challenge adjusting to life back here, reverse culture shock I guess. There are many things I have to adjust to, and they all will just take some time. One thing that is taking some adjustment is my place here in Toronto. Every other time I have gone on a big trip it has been while I was in school, I would come back and everyone would be more or less as I left them. This time I left just after graduating from university, and I have come back to find that I don't have a place just to slip into. I am no longer a student and the community that university offered is no longer there. My friends that graduated with me have moved onto other things, either more school or jobs, many are not in the city any longer. I have made contact with almost everyone, but we are all so spread out doing different things so it is not the same. I really don't know what I expected, it is not like I didn't know about the different things my friends were doing, and that not everyone was in the city, I didn't exactly expect nothing to have changed. I am currently adjusting and reconnecting. I would love things to be the way they were when I left but they can't be....more of that growing up stuff I guess. I was never a supporter of that stuff by the way.
I met with my sister Ashely's good friend Becca the other day. Becca is working at War Child Canada. She did her masters degree in England and has since returned here to Canada. Becca was able, of course, to relate to my situation. She has things a little more compounded- Becca is from Ottawa, and went to school at McMaster, then went to London England, then after graduation returned to Ottawa and now works in Toronto. Most of her university friends left Hamilton after graduation and she also found herself lost in the post university social world with friends spread everywhere and no job. It took Becca about a year before she felt adjusted and rooted again within a community of people. I tell you all this about Becca because her telling of her experience helped me to feel better about my own situation. I know I JUST got back to the city, and I need to be patient, things will sort themselves out. But I am not the most patient person on the planet and after a year of not feeling like I belong (until the last few months), I just wanted to come home to that- belonging, fitting, home.
I should add that living with Jen, David and the kids is great. Theo and Piper could not make me feel more wanted, loved or needed. I had a nice time in London with my parents. Thanksgiving at the cottage was monumentally fabulous! We had 25 people both big and small (6 kinds under 7). We had the largest turkey I have ever seen in my life or ever want to see. 25lbs of free-range goodness, how it ever supported itself on those legs to live the free-range life, I will never know. I wish I had pictures, it was all so much fun. Those of us staying at the cottage did yard work and never had to look far for ways to entertain ourselves. So many jokes, so much laughter. My family is really good in those two areas. My student from Japan who was here for a week to visit and got to experience some cottage life (not thanksgiving) just loved how lively we all were, how much laughter we share, how much we tease each other...anything for a laugh. To me this is just my family, but seeing it through Miho's eyes I realized that this is not the typical family experience and it is special. I know, I know....starting to get sappy. I will cut it off there, but you can imagine where I could go with that and the tears I could shed while typing.

Oh, I also got to see pictures of Ashely and Geoff's trip to Newfoundland! The photographs while still in digital mode on the computer, were breathtaking. There were a few that showed how cold Newfoundland can be in the summer but most where taken on bright sunny days, even if they included closeups of icebergs!! They challenged themselves physically and mentally, I know the adventure was not always pretty, but their photos tell the fairy tale version of their odyssey to Gross Morne National Park - a national park that comes with a warning label! And no Meredith, I had NOT seen those pictures yet, I have been in JAPAN!!! (yes darling, I know you so well I can read your mind.)

So that has been my month so far. I know I haven't spoken much about Miho's trip, but we did so much in 10 days that this entry would go on forever! Okay, to sum up: Brought Miho to London to parents house, beautiful,sunny. Went to Stratford to see a musical. Went to the cottage for the weekend, Chris, Misa and kids surprised us- fabulous. Went on Wanda steam ship for cruise of lakes, went canoing...Miho fell of the dock while taking the boat out of the water- she was very scared but I told her that she was okay...nothing broken, still alive=all good. Then we went to Ottawa to tour our capital, visit Ashely, check out some museums, churches, galleries, were surprised by my Aunt and Uncle who were in the city for a conference...more family for Miho to meet. Then it was back to Toronto for me and to Niagara Falls for Miho (she did an organized day trip and had great fun). We had a fabulous dinner in To, I showed her Trinity College and UofT, then we said our goodbyes and off she flew. I am now accepting the title of master tour guide- personalized tours of Tokyo and southern Ontario.

I hope that makes up for not writing for a month.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Back in Canada

Well I am back. From door to door it has taken 30hrs and I have not slept more than 20mins.
I was delayed for 2.5 hours in Atlanta and then there was construction on the 401 driving home....all in all I am now in London and it is 4am.

I am emotional and tired.
Lets see how things are after some proper sleep and the realization that I am back in Canada sinks in a little more. Right now, I miss Tokyo, well actually I miss Talal.

Going to sleep and wake up in a fabulous mood!
That's the plan.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Leaving Tokyo

Hello all,
Well today is my last full day in Tokyo. Talal and I will head to Kamakura and then Shibuya tonight for dinner. Tomorrow we go to the airport and I fly....
Packing up my place was horrible. I was totally overwhelmed, but Talal came to the rescue and keep me moving when I didn't think I could take it anymore. How on earth do I have so much stuff?!! It was hellish and involved a lot of tears but now it is done so my last day will be stress free. It is raining here and threatens to rain all day but Talal and I are still going to go through with our plans.

This is the last post from me in Japan.
I will keep my blog up and work as in January I head back out traveling for six months. So stay tuned for those adventures and the planing off which will be documented on the blog.

Thanks to those who supported me while I was here during the ups and downs of life in Japan.

Next post will be from the other side of the world.

I will miss Tokyo. The people and the city.


Monday, September 10, 2007

oh Tokyo Disneyland....

and the ears...clearly he looks TOKYO DISNEYLAND!!! My first trip to Disneyland since the age of about 5 or 6... a trip I hardly remember. This one was more memorable. Talal and I went a little later in the day to try to avoid the heat and crowds....heat avoided, such luck. Talal being the best boyfriend ever, bought a pair of Micky ears to go with my Mini ears. We were so cute we were down right sickening, however we were STILL beaten out in that category by several Japanese couples. They just can't be beaten! Anyway you see a before and after shot of Talalsoooo much better with the ears! We waited too long to meet Micky, but hey I will probably never meet Micky again....and Talal had the ears, so it was a must! We did a few rides. I loved the spiny cups as you see. We waited in a 1.5hr line for the Whinnie the Pooh ride which was great but not worth the wait. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride was fun. The light show in the evening was cool but we didn't stay for the whole thing as the crowds were rather crushing. The rides as Tokyo Disney Sea beat out Tokyo Disneyland but it was still cool to chill in the magical kingdom. And no Disney can be like Disney in Japan!!!

Pictures of My Classes

These children, most of the time, were the best part of each day. I couldn't have asked for a better job here in Tokyo. My classes had children aged 1-5, and one class of 6-8yr olds but sadly I forgot my camera that day. I have addresses for some of the schools and I intend to send them postcards from Canada and my travels. In these pictures many of the students are trying to show off their spiffy Canadian tattoos. cute!