dear you…brought to you by two point five days in az


IMG_2226Dear Chub-Chubs,
I realize I’m the one that decided to move to Tokyo, but I’d like to request that you stop growing up until I get back. I mean, I realize that you probably want to keep walking and that talking would make your life a lot easier, but seriously, if you could just hit the pause button for the next 18-24 months I’d really appreciate it. And I know you don’t know me quite as well as your siblings, but I promise, we are going to be the best of friends and you will come to realize just how fun I am. I swear.
Auntie Chlo-Chlo

Dear Boo,IMG_2245
Please continue to be the sweet girl you are today. It’s so fun to see you with your little cousins and the kindness and love that I know they can feel from you. I’m so lucky to be your aunt!
Aunt Chloe

IMG_2236Dear Sister,
Thank you for all that you do for me. I don’t know what I would do without you. Even from 6,000 miles and who-knows-how-many time zones away, you take good care of me. Thank you for running me around everywhere I needed to go and letting me ship things to your house and use your address as my “home” for all my USA needs. Thank you for staying up late with me (or letting me stay up late with you?) and for keeping your house stocked with all of my favorites and just being awesome. I know it sucks that we don’t have Mom around, but you do a pretty great job filling in.
Miss you lots and love you more,
Elizabeth (I’d rather go with that nickname than publicly disclose the other names you call me…on that note, thanks for always reminding me that I’m still your little sister.)
P.S. Tell your husband thank you, too. I know he sacrifices a lot when I’m in town and I really appreciate that, too.

IMG_2229Dear Mims and Pepperoni,
Thank you for still loving me as much as you do even though I moved to Tokyo. I love that you still want me to cuddle with you at night and that you still want to take baths in “Chlo-Chlo’s bath”. I love that you are so excited for me to get there that you start counting down the days weeks in advance. But more than anything, I just love you. There’s nothing quite as therapeutic as your laughter. I hope you both know just how much I love you even from so far away. I can’t wait to see you the next time I’m home (maybe in July…). Please don’t grow up too much while I’m gone. I hope you’re being good for your soccer coach these days. I’m sad I was there too early to see your games. I promise I won’t miss too many more seasons as long as you promise you’ll keep playing.
Auntie Chlo-Chloe

Dear Brittlit,
Thanks for ditching your friends to come to dinner with the fam. I know at your age that’s not always an easy decision, but it meant a lot to me.
Aunt Chloe

So, I maybe stole this from my sister-in-law's FB, but I needed a pic of the missionary.

So, I maybe stole this from my sister-in-law’s FB, but I needed a pic of the missionary and his sister.

Dear Elder Andersen,
We all missed you. It was weird not having you around. And it was a little hard to see how much all the kids were missing you (and your mom and dad, too), but we are all so proud of you and know you are exactly where you should be. I hope Texas is treating you well.
Your Favorite Aunt (and the one that writes you every week)


Dear Sister-through-Marriage,
Thank you for being from AZ and wanting to return there. And thank you for being such a good mom to my darling nephew and nieces. And for always being there when I need you. And for taking me to get my very first pedicure. And for introducing me to “good” makeup.
Love you,
Your Favorite Sister-in-Law (I won’t tell if you won’t tell)

Dear Arizona,
Thank you for feeling like home. Thank you for all of the wonderful memories and friendships that you still hold. Thank you for the multiplicity of drive-thru Sonics, cheap pedicures, my favorite chain restaurants, and warm weather in February. Someday I will be back for good, but in the meantime, please keep treating me as well as you do. And please keep taking care of my family. I can’t wait to see you this summer.
A girl who must apologize for how ugly she thought you were the first time she visited her older brother and his new wife all those years ago

Dear Big Brother,
Thank you for deciding to follow your girlfriend to AZ all those years ago. So many good things have happened in my life as a result of that decision, not the least of which was getting an awesome new sister, but lots of other things, too. And thanks for always being willing to pick me up and drop me off at the airport (even though it means you have to stay up late and/or get up early to do so). Our drives from and to the airport are some of my favorite memories and conversations.
Your favorite sister (Just like I said to Justin…it’s okay, everyone knows it’s true.)

Dear MTC Companion,
Who’d have guessed all those years ago that you’d end up living two miles from my sister and brother? Thank you for being so accommodating whenever I’m in town and making time to see me. What a blessing it was to have met you. I’m so glad you ended up on your mission a little later than you had planned. My life wouldn’t be the same without you in it.
The non-crazy one from our companionship of three
P.S. Next time we’re together we need to take a picture…it’s been way too long!

playing tour guide in tokyo

Just a few quick highlights of the part of the trip when my cousin was in Tokyo because I am trying desperately to get caught up.

Christmas, as I mentioned, was a Karaoke Christmas. Before that, we also joined my friends for a lovely dinner at an American military place (I cannot remember the name of it for the life of me). It was amazing. And included Diet Coke.
And then, the day after Christmas, we went and saw Les Miserables. Or in Japanese (spelled American style), Ray Meezahrahburu. I’m not going to give you my review of the movie other than to say I enjoyed it thoroughly for what it was, a cinematic interpretation of an operetta written for the stage. What I do want to share is our funny experience trying to get to the movie.
We had been at my friend’s house which is exactly in the wrong place to get to the movie theater in a hurry. Too close to take the train, but a far enough walk that we weren’t going to make it. So, we hopped in a cab. Cabs, as you may or may not know, are not really my thing in Japan. I’m getting better, but it’s still hard.
So, I told the cab driver (really, I should say taxi driver because there’s nothing “cab driver” like about these drivers) we wanted to go to Roppongi Hills Cinema. Well, really I said “Roppongi Hiruzu Cinema”. The taxi drive repeated Roppongi Hiruzu, but didn’t understand the “cinema”. I knew it was the same word in Japanese, but I doubted myself when he couldn’t understand me. And repeated myself multiple times thinking that the next time he’d magically understand what I was saying even though I was saying it exactly the same way as the previous time.
And then I paused and thought, “How would this be written in Japanese?” and it clicked. So I then said “Roppongi Hiruzu Sheenayma” and the driver, in excitement, says, “Oh, sheenayma!” and all was well in the universe. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Japan. It’s not the easiest place to live for a white girl who doesn’t speak the language, but it sure is a fun adventure.

On Thursday we went to Meiji Shrine. I’ve posted a lot about this place before, so I didn’t take a lot of photos, but it was nice to visit. We barely made it in time, but it was enough for Tanya to see it. And then we headed down to Shibuya (crazy intersection place). Along the way, we passed this shoe store and Tanya suggest we go inside. Big mistake.

While it was Tanya’s idea to go in, I’m the one that was trying on shoes. I couldn’t help myself. I figured I wouldn’t be able to fit in shoes in Japan as the Japanese are just smaller than Americans in general. But, lo and behold, my feet that happen to be just a little on the small side given my height can fit into the largest Japanese shoe size (at least that can easily be found in a store. And so I walked away with these beauties.

Not only are my own trips/vacations expensive for me, but when others are on vacation with me, they’re expensive for me, too. But totally worth it!

Later that night we were wandering around Roppongi and walked by this pet store, which had a number of little monkeys for sale. Let’s just say I was tempted…if it hadn’t have been for the price tag.

And the requisite trip to Tokyo Tower. We got there at the perfect time. The end of daylight, so Tanya was able to see the city during the day, during sunset, and all lit up. To top it off, it was an amazingly clear day so we were also able to see Mt. Fuji.

And then, after getting home, we decided to make a little visit to Don Quijote, this amazing super store just around the corner from me. This is it’s own experience for so many reasons (not the least of which is the food they cell). In fact, I think it could be considered a crash course in Tokyo culture. I’ve been there many times (they have everything–think Japanese Kmart) and I’m pretty used to the weirdness that is Tokyo, but this one caught even me off guard. And I could not stop laughing. I mean, it was just amazing.

The following day (I think) we headed out to Shinjuku to meet my friends for dinner at my new favorite restaurant in all of Tokyo, this little gyoza place that is amazing and so cheap. All they do is gyoza (aka pot-stickers or dumplings). Tanya wasn’t super happy about the smoking in the restaurant that was happening. Coming from California where you can’t smoke anywhere (and where, apparently, there are PSAs encouraging you to tell smokers that they are giving you cancer) it was a bit of an adjustment for her. I don’t like it, but clearly I’ve gotten used to it.

After dinner we wandered around Shinjuku and did some shopping. We found ourselves in what we thought was a regular department store, but come to find out it was the regular department store’s “special styles” store. To say it was interesting would be a total understatement. Unfortunately, I got busted for taking this photo, so I didn’t get any other ones. But, I think this one is pretty awesome.

The departments in this store? You can check them out here. Worth the visit.

And then, as we continued walking, we saw these. I’ve seen pictures of them before, but it was my first time seeing them life. Tokyo is a weird place. Basically, you can rent these and sit in the chair (see the chair?) and then…I don’t know what. And I haven’t researched it further because I’m not sure I want to know what.

On Friday, we headed out to Yokohama (a little farther actually) to visit our grandparents’ home when they lived here in the ’70s. It was pretty awesome to see it. It was clearly abandoned, so we did a little exploring. Apparently, it has changed quite a bit, according to my aunt, but it was still cool to see their house.

And because we were already out that way, we took the opportunity to visit Chinatown in Yokohama. One of the biggest in the world and definitely the cleanest.

There were a number of very cool temples there. And tons of food, but neither of us was hungry and we had dinner plans.

On Saturday, we headed out to Asakusa to go to the Edo museum. Which turned out to be closed. New Year’s is a serious thing around these parts and things close down for the entire week. But it wasn’t a total loss. We got to see the temple (which I had yet to visit) and experience Tokyo at it’s holiday finest (i.e. crowds of people everywhere.

We also wandered through part of Ueno Park–another first for me–and saw this woman feeding the birds. We might have both started singing tuppence a bag.

And Saturday night we went to a fancy dinner for Tanya’s 25th birthday and it was so good and so fun (minus the taxi experience getting there…I’ve never had a Tokyo taxi driver flat out refuse me service, but that’s what happened. But I was stubborn and won and so we got the angriest ride I’ve ever had in my life. If there had been any other option.

Sunday was T’s last day in Tokyo (and it was only part of a day). We went to the Sony Center (which was pretty cool) and then wandered around Matsuya for a bit. I had no idea there was a food hall in the basement. Kind of a painful discovery.

We got Tanya a piece of cake, since she hadn’t had actual cake on her birthday, and she shoved it in her face before we had to Tokyo Station to get her on the Narita Express to the airport.

The End
Coming up…a job offer, apartment hunting, and a mochitsuki.

back in the us of a (part 2 – utah)

With my trip back to the States, I felt like I needed to make a quick trip up to Utah to see my grandma, so I decided to spend 23 hours in the state. I’m so glad I did. I got in Monday night. Sarah picked me up and we headed to her new house. I was so excited to see it, but more excited to catch up with my bestie. It had been way too long. We stayed up way too late talking, so getting up the next morning was slightly painful, but with so little time, there wasn’t any to waste.

Nev and I headed to breakfast at Magleby’s Fresh (because that’s what we do) and then I headed to my old stomping grounds to have a chat with the head of the OB/HR track in my MBA program. I don’t think I’d actually been back to the Tanner Building since I graduated and it was kind of strange. Two and a half years later, I’m living half-way around the world doing exactly what I was hoping to do while sitting in my International HR class. It was great to catch up!

I then met Sarah for lunch at Noodles. Yes, I said Noodles. Then what is the picture J Dawgs about? Well, when you only have 23 hours in a state that has so many of your favorite restaurants, sometimes you have to get your Hobbit on and have second lunch. We split a dawg. Totally worth it.

And then we went shopping. Well, I went shopping and Sarah helped me pick things out. She is a great shopping coach (that’s what I’m calling her) and I found some fantastic stuff. Blog post of the new outfits is coming.

When we finished, our food had settled just enough that we were able to make a quick stop at The Cocoa Bean where they have my most favorite cupcakes ever. Yes. Ever. I like them better than Sprinkles or Magnolia or Crumbs or Baked by Melissa. Which makes me kind of sad only because the name of their place and their logo both make me want to vomit. Seriously. And who has a dot-net website anymore. I digress. Best. Cupcakes. Ever. (In my opinion…)

And that was it for my time in P-town. It was time to head up to SLC to have dinner at Pei-Wei with my grandma and my cousins. I got to enjoy the drive up chatting about Japan with my grandma and here all of these stories I had never heard before about her time in Yokohama. She also gave me my birthday present: an book on ikebana. Specifically one of her old books on ikebana. Along with some cash to take an ikebana class and a promise to leave me her ikebana containers when she dies. (Do you hear that cousins? They are mine. 🙂

And then we met up with my darling cousins and I got to meet the newest addition to the Goesch clan, my cousin’s equally darling new husband. They started dating after I left Utah and we’d just never connected.

And then it was back to the airport and back to Arizona for a few days with a lot less going on before I had to head back to Japan.

back in the u.s. of a. (part 1 – birthday weekend)

This post is waaaay overdue (and mostly my own journal entry), but better late than never. On the second of November, I headed back to the United States for a long visit. As part of my current assignment I get one home-leave trip. And as November 1st marked my halfway point in my current assignment and my friend Susan was getting married on the 3rd and my birthday was on the 4th, it just seemed like the perfect time to visit. So, I got on a plane and went back in time (well, according to clocks and dates) which was pretty awesome. I arrive in Arizona two hours before I’d left Tokyo.

And my first stop after landing in Arizona (while still at the airport)? Paradise Bakery. Mostly for a Diet Coke, but since I was already there…I got a cookie, too. The Japanese do a lot of things really well in the food department, but cookies is not one of them. It turns out that this was a very good decision as I ended up having to wait a while in the rental car line.

While I was waiting in line, and watching a number of things transpire, I came to the conclusion that Americans (I’m generalizing here) are rude, demanding, and incredibly impatient. And I was kind of embarrassed for all of us. The good news was there were no Japanese around to witness it. So, I just sat there pleasantly waiting because clearly the two women waiting for help were having very bad days. Or at least I want to assume that wasn’t their regular behavior.

When I finally got up to the counter, I was as nice as I could be, feeling extremely sorry for the agent who had just been berated. And apparently he appreciated my patience and overall pleasant demeanor (yeah, me) because I was rewarded with an awesome upgrade at no additional charge. Thank you Hertz. I was already excited to drive, but this just made it that much more enjoyable.

And then I headed to my sister’s.

One of the hard things about this trip home versus other trips when I’ve been coming from New York is that I want to see people and play, but I also have to get things done. I’m used to coming into town and just being able to have fun and play with my nieces and nephews and chill. Not the same when you are coming from the other side of the world. I wanted to see as many friends as possible. (Something about being on the other side of the world makes you feel more motivated to see people because I’m not sure when I’ll be back again.) I had my friend’s wedding to go to. I had my birthday to celebrate. And then I had a gazillion errands to run and things to get done.

Friday started with getting my hair chopped and face injected with Botox. (Yes, you read that right. And I am not ashamed to admit it. And for those of you who think I look too young for Botox…that’s the point. I’ve been doing it off and on for a while and it’s working beautifully.)

Just after the cut and injections. Happy birthday to me!

Friday night the family headed to Kona Grill for dinner and we had so much fun! Seriously, I love my family. And my dad was even there as he’d been in town for a board meeting before I got there, so he just stayed. It was great!

And then, after we got home from dinner, came the obligatory muddy buddies. My sister keeps a pantry like my mom, so there are always muddy buddy ingredii (yeah, that’s not a word, but it’s what we say) on hand. These are probably my most favorite treat ever.

Saturday morning started with my niece’s soccer game. One of my favorite things about being an aunt is when I get to be around for my nieces and nephews “stuff”, be it soccer games or choir performances. I just love getting to see them develop and grow and accomplish. And Saturday morning was no different. And my niece was so excited to have me there. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see my other niece and nephew play in their games as I had a wedding to attended.

After heading home and changing, I headed to the LDS temple in Mesa to see my darling friend marry the love of her life. I was so happy to have been able to be there for it. It was this great reminder that waiting for the right person is totally worth it. And, seeing as how I was about to turn “old” the next day and being single makes that a little more depressing every year, getting that reminder was just what I needed.

And then I rushed home for my birthday party with friends. Unfortunately, this is the only photo I got from the party. But it’s an important one. My sweet and thoughtful friend, Jenn, brought me four of my favorite cookies all the way from New York. If you’re ever in New York, you must try Levain.

So, I’m not really one to throw myself a birthday party, but it was such a great reason to get so many of my friends together from various parts of my life. Arizona has my friends from my past life there, my very best friend from my mission, and now a number of really good friends from grad school. It was so fun to see people I hadn’t seen for a while (some, not since I graduated from my MBA program almost two and half years ago).

And then Sunday, my actual birthday, was my big family party including almost everyone in my immediate family (it was a little far for my younger brother and his family to come), my aunt and a number of my cousins, and part of my sister-in-law’s family…who are basically family. It was so fun! My brother-in-law kindly spent his afternoon making my favorite wings in the smoker, my sister made my favorite cake (yellow box and chocolate Betty Crocker frosting…I know, high class) and fruit dip, and I made my famous guacamole (at least famous with my family…I rarely make it for anyone else) and we just had a great time eating and laughing and catching up. It was the best gift my sister (and dad, who funded it) could have given me!

And my sweet aunt and cousins gave me this gift card which was just the right amount to support my DC habit while in the States.

And thus ends my birthday weekend. Up next? My whirlwind trip to Utah.

back on the island

After 19 days (with a 4 day stop at home in between) I am finally home in NYC. It’s always this weird, bittersweet thing. I love New York, but I also love my family and the new babies and I’m already feeling withdrawals. But, back to reality. I’m actually super excited to go to work tomorrow (weird, I know) and get back to soccer and The Bachelor watching with my girlfriends, and lots of other stuff. But I will miss my family, and a car, and Sonic Diet Coke, and having munchkins wake me up asking for “wowwy-powwy pancakes”. It’s too bad I can’t have it all all the time, but I guess that’s life. Until I figure it out, I’ll just appreciate that I have so many places I can call “home”.