one night in bangkok (well, one night and one day)


Rough life, I know, but you can’t fly within 24 hours of diving, so I was forced to lie on the beach for the morning. And while lying on the beach all by itself would have been enough, it got even better as I watched this guy take photos of his girlfriend. There were even wardrobe changes. It was amazing. And so entertaining.

IMG_3701 And then it was time to head to Bangkok…and on the way I bought what I thought was a bag of Pretzel M&Ms. But no…it was Crispy M&Ms! Such a happy surprise. It was like the universe was smiling down on me.


Bangkok from the air. Pretty amazing.


A nice welcome during my cab ride into the city.

Maria flew in the from the U.S. the same night I flew in from Phuket, just a bit later. It was so fun to have her join me for the rest of the trip!

And now, here’s what I have to say about Bangkok. If you are a twenty-something looking for spring break all year long with no ID checks and all the booze you could possibly want, Bangkok is a good start. But, there are other awesome things about it, too. That said, 24-hours plus a little was enough time in the summer heat. I got to enjoy the markets, hang out in the pool, float on the river, checkout the a museum, a Buddha, and some palaces, witness a lot of stupid behavior and debauchery, and have a Thai massage (or what I have now come to refer to as the Thai Tranny Torture Treatment).

In any case, it was lots of fun and left us with some awesome/crazy/funny memories, which is about as much as one could ask for.


Happily sunkissed and so excited to be getting in yet another pool Someday, I will have my very own pool. For now, I’ll just be grateful for the fact that my skin isn’t getting nearly as damaged as it would be if I currently had access to one all the time.


Everything about this is wrong. And stupid. And I guarantee you this kid will live to regret his drunken decision.



The view from the pool on the roof of our hotel.








Maybe the weirdest history museum I’ve ever been to. But this hanging mobile thing was cool.


The Reclining Buddha.





We left Bangkok the following evening on a night train bound for Chiang Mai. As you can see the train station was basically the Thai version of Grand Central. Or something like that. And the train ride was…interesting. I’ll just go ahead and tell you that the train ride back, for which tickets had already been purchased, ended up being viewed as a sunk cost. More to come.


the last brownie

Last week I posted this photo on FB (and Instagram…I’m totally addicted to Instagram)…


…and it was really fun to see all of the comments people left. Obviously, I like this picture. But the comments I liked the best weren’t about what I looked like on the outside, but about how people could tell I’m happy. I feel like you can’t fake that. And I wasn’t. I really am so happy with my life right now.

And since arriving in New York and seeing people I haven’t seen in a while, their reaction has been the same. I’ve received lovely compliments about how happy I look. Could there be anything better than that?

That’s not to say that there aren’t things I think I need to change (there are always things I think I need to change), or that it is all sunshine and butterflies (I just had a mini-breakdown about something totally ridiculous on Saturday night). But the reality is somehow, someway, over the past few years, I feel like I’ve figured a few things out.

The first, and most important, is that life is going to happen and I can choose to be a victim or not. And I am not a victim. Yes, crap things have happened to me in my life. Yes, my life is not exactly how I would want it to be if I had control over everything. But. But! I can choose how I react to what happens.

The second is that I can choose to do everything I can to make my life as good as it can possibly be in terms of the things that I can control. I may not have the exact things that I dreamed I would have when I was 16, but I have done the best I can with what I’ve been given and that’s something I can feel really good about.

The third thing is that friends and family are really what matters. I know that I’ve decide to spend the next who knows how long in Tokyo…on the other side of the world from most of my friends and all of my family, but I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t have their support and know that they were there when I need them (and vice versa). And it has been so nice during this trip to be able to see so many friends and most of my immediate family (as of tomorrow night).


Fourth, I really believe that God wants me to be happy. And sometimes part of that happiness means going through hard things so that I can learn and grow. But if I choose to learn and grow from those hard things, I will be a better person for it. And I will have the confidence that comes from going through hard things and the ability to empathize with those in similar circumstances.

And finally (and maybe most importantly) on those days when all else fails, I can always think of someone who deserves that last brownie more than I do. And sometimes that’s what it takes.

seeing the emperor

Up until a week ago, I worked in a beautiful right by the Imperial Palace and I had a lovely view of the palace grounds. I have wandered over that direction more than a few times during a lunch break, but you can only access so much of the area for 363 days out of the year. However, on two days each year, the palace grounds open and it is possible to visit the interior AND actually get a glimpse of the Emperor himself, along with the rest of the Imperial Family: the 2nd of January (New Year) and the 23rd of December (the Emperor’s birthday).

line to see the emperor

Yes, those are all people to the left of the mote.

Not sure whether I would be here for either in future years and having been in Hong Kong on the Emperor’s birthday, I decided I would visit the grounds on the 2nd of January this year. I actually went into work that day (normally a holiday) and was astounded by the number people lined up to go into the grounds.

IMG_2083 IMG_2084 IMG_2086


Appearances happen four times throughout the morning (from 9-2) and, like any good, Japanese event, people wait patiently in line and then move right along when the time comes. My friends, CoyLou and Ian,  met me by my office and we headed over around 11 am. And in true Japanese form, we were ushered right along, no time to waste.





It really was to amazing to see all of these people gathered to see the Emperor (who was behind a wall of bullet proof glass). It was fun to be a part of this and to see all of the flags waving (which they handed out as we went in) and to be waving a flag myself.


And then, it was over. A little anti-climatic perhaps, but still worth going.

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.

week three in review

Somehow, I made it through week three with my dignity intact. And I made some friends! I wanted to blog more, but as it were, I am here because of work and work has been very busy. I have also found that by the time I get home at night, I am EXHAUSTED. I actually started wondering this week if maybe I was sick, but then it occurred to me that living and working in a foreign country is, in and of itself, exhausting. So, yesterday when I didn’t leave my apartment until 3:00, I cut myself a little slack (plus I did work out).

So, here are the events from last week worth noting:

1. I moved into a new apartment and it is DREAMY! I was in a nice apartment before, but as previously stated, my lovely international assignment consultant and my lovely mobility colleague got me into a bigger apartment. I’m on the 11th floor and have a pretty awesome view. Oh, and don’t worry, it’s like 100 sq feet bigger than my apartment was in NY. Like I said, DREAMY!

The moving part was not so dreamy, but it could have been worse…and well worth it for the dreaminess.

I have a couch and a table. And between the couch and my bed,  there’s a partition I can pull across if I have people over.

A dreary day, but what a difference seven floors can make. 

My view at 7 am. Oh, sunlight! How I’ve missed you! Both while living in the cute cave (no hating–it was a great apartment) and since moving here in the rainy season.

Okay, there is on negative. I found out I live right next to this cemetery. Small price…

2. I went up to the top of Tokyo Tower to see the city and watch some fireworks. For those of you who don’t know this, I was a geography major undergrad. I love geography; physical, spatial, social, any kind really. But part of that love causes problems for me. If I don’t have a good handle on my surroundings, I feel completely and totally discombobulated. So, going to the top of TT was not just for tourist purposes or fireworks observation. It was to help me wrap my head around this city. I think it helped and hurt. This place is HUGE!

Fireworks are a big thing here in Japan. It seems there’s a fireworks display somewhere every weekend during the summer. And these were pretty impressive. Because I was already at the top of the tower, I decided to just hang out there and wait rather than attempt to go watch them down by the bay. It was crazy how long some people waited there. And then, when they started, there was a fight that broke out. Not fists or anything, but the old woman was yelling about something and a guy in the front of the crowd (we were all trying to watch out of the east facing window) was yelling back at her. It was a lot of emotion in a very small place.

That finally passed and we all enjoyed the fireworks. One of the advantages of being a relatively tall woman in the US is that I am really tall here, so I was able to easily see over everyone and get some good photos, too.

Rainbow Bridge

Amazing…the blue line in the background? A bridge on the other side of Tokyo Bay.

A shot of Tokyo Tower at night. Beautiful!
And I discovered a Baskin-Robbins at the bottom with super yummy mango-passionfruit sherbet and Pop-Rock ice cream. 

 3. I made some friends at church and at work!!! The first couple of weeks I was here, being friendless was fine. Work really is busy during the week and it’s been nice to remember a life that doesn’t involve some sort of socializing every single night. I am getting sleep and exercising (which is a dang good thing considering all the amazing food I’ve been consuming), but then last Friday, I realized friends on the weekend would be nice.

So, this past week at work, I invited a couple of coworkers to lunch on different days and got to know them. They are both darling. What I’ve been told (and am experiencing) about the Japanese is that they are somewhat shy when it comes to inviting foreigners to do things, but once invited, they are all about inclusion. I have now been invited to one of their homes for New Years (which is a big family holiday here). And she also invited me to hangout with her and her fiance on the weekends as they live near me and are kind of mellow on the weekends. I will probably have to make sure she knows I really want to do it, but that’s totally fine. I’m just excited to have some people with whom to do stuff! The other great thing about having Japanese friends is that they can introduce me to all kinds of fun things and help me with my attempts at Japanese.

With one coworker, we went to a Chinese place where there was a Chinese Tea Master. I had no idea such a thing existed, but it was kind of amazing. And the tea was so good.

With my other coworker, I had Tonkatsu. This absolutely divine fried pork (panko is the way to go for breading).

Additionally, at church last Sunday, I stepped WAY outside of my comfort zone and basically went up to this girl and told her she had a cute baby (yes, I’ve hit the age where that’s my pickup line for making new friends at church–judge away–but seriously, her baby is darling and she seemed like she’d be a fun friend). As it turns out, my instincts were correct and my new friend, Holly, organized a little girls’ night out for me and a few other ladies at church. The location? TGI Friday’s right near my apartment. It was my first American meal since I arrived three weeks ago. It was so much fun.

My kind of ladies…lots of appetizers including table-side guacamole!

One of the other really fun things about these new girlfriends from church is that one reminds me totally of my sis-in-law, Shelley and it makes me feel like I have a little piece of home. After dinner, she took us on a little tour of the city (she had to drop off snowboards to her teenage sons at their friends’ apartment because they were going to this indoor snowboarding place the next day…Japan does not mess around). Anyway, as part of this tour, we went through this crazy ward called Shibuya. It is home of the busiest intersection in the world. It was quite a fun little spin around town.

4. I decided I needed to just have a “normal” Saturday as opposed to an “I’m a foreigner living in Tokyo” Saturday. I slept in (which is no small miracle), talked to my cousin on the phone while working out on the treadmill, and headed to a spa for a pedicure. I happened upon this little store along the way. (I stopped inside and got a couple of pieces for a LARGE fortune.)

One of the things that is so interesting about Tokyo (like New York) is how hidden many of the businesses are. But in Tokyo, it’s even more that way because there are so many narrow, little, winding streets (alleys, really) throughout the city. I found this place online (I’ve learned to search for products and that usually serves me well). The place was super cute and clean, and had America gossip rags. 🙂 It was not the same as my happy place in NYC (no massaging chairs or gel baths), but the girls did a great job and it was super relaxing.

After that, I just walked for a long time, working my way slowly down to Shibuya so I could take some pics of the intersection (okay, I had to do some touristing). It was so quiet and lovely and amazing when I happened upon a crazy street in the heart of Harajuku. That’s the crazy part of Tokyo. You can be walking along on a totally quiet, almost suburban street, turn the corner, and you are in the heart of craziness. No transition. No warning. Just BOOM! In your face.

One of my favorite things about Tokyo (from a practicality standpoint) is the abundance of vending machines. Even down a small side alley, you will find vending machines. It’s so great.

This is the size of most side streets in Tokyo. There are some big, main roads, but the side streets are all mostly itty-bitty.

I just took this to illustrate how tight parking is some places. Serious skill (and cajones) to park this thing here.
Some sort of ginormous fish(?) carcass. Outside a restaurant. Not exactly what would make me want to go inside.

Once I made it to Shibuya, I went up in the second floor of a Starbucks and watched the foot traffic. It was not a super busy night, and even so, it was kind of incredible. I did not take the video below (although I did take one), but it shows the intersection and how crazy it is…and that happens every 3-5 minutes depending on the light cycle.

I did take some pictures, though, so you can see what I saw.

5. As part of my “normal” Saturday, I decided to go to a movie. This was a big deal because movies here are NOT cheap….like “$28 for a ticket to see Avengers in 3D (no other option)” not cheap. But I hadn’t seen it yet and I just wanted to go not think for a while…and see what it was like to see a movie in Japan. Turns out, it’s expensive, but it’s pretty awesome; reserved seats, regular AND caramel popcorn, these awesome little trays that sit in the cup holders. The only downside…people apparently think it’s perfectly acceptable to remove your shoes once seated in the theater. And at the end of a day in the summer, I can assure you that was not pleasant. But I got over it.

And that is my week in a very big nutshell. Pretty much, Tokyo is still awesome and I’m still loving it!