Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Girls Be Poetic and Dirty


“Are you a feminist?” His questioned appeared at the bottom of our chat box.
“Of course.” I replied, without hesitation. “To say that I am not a feminist would mean that I don't care about living as a woman. As a woman, you have to be proud of who you are.”

Being a feminist means living everyday life as an independent thinking woman. It is having a voice that I am not afraid to use. It is my ability to express my thoughts. It is thinking differently, not being scared to say what I think, even if I'm the only one in the room who thinks differently. Feminism isn't about argument, it’s about explanation. It’s keeping my mind open, and nurturing it so that it continues to grow and bloom. It's feeling empowered to follow my dreams and chase my passions, where ever they may take me in life. 

Feminism is power over my body to use it as I want. It is the respect I have for my body. Feminism is the power to share my body as I want, with those who respect it and who treat it right. Feminism is finding comfort and confidence in my body. It is finding beauty in myself, even in the imperfections. It is the comfort I have in being clothed or being naked. It is the free choice I have to exercise my sexuality. To claim authority over my body and never let it be used in a way I don't agree with. 

Feminism is being able to articulate myself. It is knowing when I'm right, and standing up for my beliefs, and knowing when I'm wrong, and accepting the opinions of others. It is speech as much as it is listening. It is not argument, it is explanation. It's not about confrontation, but cohesion. It's about being creative and constructive and always looking for ways to positively affect my environment.

Feminism is community. It is support. It is strength. It is acceptance. Feminism means working with those around you to improve the status-quo. It is friendship and it is family. It is leadership. Feminism is not being afraid to guide others, and not being opposed to allowing others to guide and help you. 

Feminism is education. It is the desire to be educated as well as to educate. The passion to keep learning, to keep feeding the mind. Feminism is encouragement. The unsatisfied craving for more in life. The desire to continue growing and changing.

Feminism is art. It is the beautiful color in your life. It is the unique and creative way you see the world. It is the ability to see something familiar in a different way. Feminism is creating. It is building. It is doing things yourself. It is combining what's around you to make new structures, new relationships, and add new energy to the world you live in. 

But as much as it is a movement of birth and growth, it is also one of destruction. As a feminist, you are responsible for destroying the thoughts and practices in place that oppress others, that make life difficult for other women, and for other people. Being a feminist means caring for the natural world as much as you do the human world. It means applying change to any situation where there is mistreatment, corruption, exploitation or patterns of abuse and violence. 

Feminism is identifying what makes you happy, and incorporating that into yourself. It is living as an optimist and seeing the world for the magical place that it is, while still being informed and aware of the ugliness that exists. It is knowing when to be a day dreamer and a free spirit, and knowing when to take an issue seriously. Knowing when to stand up for the causes you love and when to get involved. Feminism is recognizing the needs of others in your community, and finding ways to help them. 

Feminism is love. For yourself. For other women. For everyone you share this life with. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Typhoon in Tokyo

Once I began the ride home, I could only focus on the drops of water hitting my skin. With each pedal forward, more water collected on my face and ran along my jawbone and streamed from my neck  into my shirt. They felt like sparks as they hit my cheeks and lips, sending tingling messages to my brain. 

I pushed my wet hair off my forehead and rubbed one side of my face dry with the back of my hand.

It was useless.
From above, more water fell. 

Collected on my eyelashes were raindrops which formed a border around my vision of the world.
Each drop of water collected the lights from the city night, and shot them back out as little rays which blurred my vision.

I pedaled forward and through the streets of the sleepless city.

Reality appeared as if it were slipping into a dream.

Sometimes this life doesn't feel real.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Running Sticks Along Chain-link Fences

Sleeping on forbidden rooftops and walking barefoot through city streets, I'll think of him with the ending of my Tokyo summer. 

Monday, September 8, 2014


Black Sabbath and white paper lines,
Word after word I am emptying my mind.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

True Love

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
There is society, where none intrudes, 
By the deep sea, and music in its roar: 

I love not man the less, 
but Nature more, 

From these our interviews, in which I steal 

From all I may be, or have been before, 
To mingle with the Universe, 
and feel What I can ne'er express, 
yet cannot all conceal.

Summer in this Town

I cut the sun flower with my keys and took it home with me.

Next to him I found myself under the sheets.

Familiar feelings melted against his heat. 

And when his eyes caught mine, I knew home would never be in this city.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

the Sun the Moon the Stars

The most threatening thing in life is the length.

It will always be too short.


How did it come to be this way?
The inspiration I feel,
Followed by a total blankness.
It is the day and night, the sunshine and its shadow.
There is no divide.
No space for the other to exist.
An inability to act on the speed of my mind. 
A storm in my soul that I can not calm.

Shake this dream from my head.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Falling Through a Field

Falling through a field 
A sunflower grave
I will lay here forever and ever

Sunlight makes us feel
And people go away
And I will lay here forever.

Monday, August 18, 2014


It was my first semester in community college, and I was a bit older than eighteen years of age. At the time of this story, I was halfway through a book on Japan that addressed social issues and community. I knocked on my professor’s door, and she welcomed me in. We spent the next hour discussing the book, my goals and ambitions post-university, and the time she spent in Japan. She told me about teaching programs, and recommended that I look into moving abroad after graduating. 

The seed was planted.

Fast forward eight years. It’s a Saturday afternoon and the air is humid and sticky. I am only able to escape the heart when I step into the elevator and the doors close. It races upwards, no time to stop at any floor in between start and finish. When it reaches the top, I step into a room surround by only glass walls. I am in the government building, a Tokyo darling, that reminds me of why they're called skyscrapers. I walk to the closest window and stare out at the massive expanse before me. 

Civilization as far as the eye can see. Man made all of this. There is no way to explain how far it goes. It goes up and it goes out. There is no end. I have never witnessed anything like this before. My throat tightens and I am overcome with the urge to cry.

Stretching out below me isn't just the modern wonder that is Tokyo. It’s a dream come true.  It's living proof that if you want something badly enough, its obtainable. These aren't just buildings and houses and parks and roads, this was  a fantasy that is now my life. My dream from years ago is in full bloom.

I am at once reminded of how small I am, but at the same time, I am struck with the power that the city offers me the opportunity to do anything, to be anyone. This is Tokyo, and it is endless. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

This is How You Make It Your Own

Day 13 of life in The City.

In a little less than two weeks, I’ve learned that this is a place where you have to make a space for yourself. There are too many people here, too many high-rises, signs in a foreign language, cafes, bikes shops, buses, convenies, cars, trains, izakayas and umbrellas- simply an excess of everything- for me to know it all, and for any of it to know me. If I don’t want to remain as just a number of one in 33 million, I need to find a space for myself. 

The first place you start is in the head. You find your purpose for being here. You find your security, the patterns of thinking that bring you comfort. You find the confidence and willingness it takes to live in one of the world’s largest cites. The determination and relentlessness. The energy and patience and love for it all, that it will take to exist here.

And then you create a space in your environment. Open your eyes, and take it all in. Get to know your neighborhood. Explore. Frequent the same cafes and coffee shops, getting to know the people in your community. Explore new places, but be a familiar face at your favorite. Check out live music at local venues, and know the music being made in your city. If you can, meet the musicians. Talk to them after the shows. Show your support for local artists, whatever medium they create in. 

And don't just live in your environment, MOVE. Leave your house just to take a walk, take pictures, ride your bike, go running, spend the day in a park.

Each day I am biking to work, eleven miles round trip. And with each new day, I take a different route, cutting down new streets, riding past unseen store fronts. At night I’m running my neighborhood. Weaving and winding through narrow one way streets, down ally ways, around corners, past city style gardens, walls covered in vines, more glowing vending machines than I can count, and little liquor and snack stores owned by old Japanese women and men, backs hunched, wobbly walkers, but always with the hugest smiles of greeting. Original residents of this neighborhood. Here from a time before foreigners were moving in. 

The first thing I learned was that this city is too big to ever need to take the same path twice. Every time I get on my bike, go for a run, I can move in a new direction. This is how I’m getting to know my city. My neighborhood. My space. 

As important as it is to know your environment, know the people in it. Make friends in the area you live in. Let them share their home with you. Let them show you the special secrets only locals know. Let them open this world to you. Tokyo is too big to understand without the help from others. Meet them on your own, through work, through mutual friends, out dancing, at a gallery, at a concert, in the park, on the train, or just through absolutely random encounters. It doesn't matter. Let new people into your life. Be willing to work through language barriers, because when there is a connection, you will find that communication can come in many forms.

And most of all, to have a space in this city, you have to understand why you're here. It’s simple to say I’m here for work, but is the purpose the work that I’m doing, or what the work is doing for me? 

Yes, I am here to teach, but more importantly I’m here to learn. I’m here to learn from working with a staff of young creative teachers who are all talented in individual ways. Some with music, cooking, photography, design, yoga, art, crafts, videography, and writing. All with years of experience working in education and in creative fields. I’m here to learn to work with an international staff, with people from six different countries. To learn to think in different ways, to approach problems from different angles, to communicate in new ways. And I’m here to learn from children. To learn to be more patient, to teach through language barriers, to learn to build their confidence, encourage their creativity, and support their imaginations and goals. To learn to be more loving, more selfless.

The space I’m creating is one that allows me to grow. I am learning to live on my own, to be strong in my independence. To feel comfortable in my own company. I am learning to support myself, entertain myself, and know how to manage my time in a hectic life. It’s a space in which I can adventure, be challenged, be creative, build friendships in and to connect with others, foreign and similar. 

But most of all, the space I'm creating around me is one I can just be happy in. As long as I am happy, Tokyo can never seem too big, too chaotic, or too overwhelming. It will simply feel like home.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 1: Watch Her Go

This morning I walked through narrow city streets lined with bars, record stores, vintage clothing shops, live houses and cafés. Potted plants lines the crowded streets and vines grew up the sides of most buildings. Laundry flapped from clothing wires hanging on balconies above, and as I walked I saw all the personal items of faces I would never meet.

This is my neighborhood.

It wasn't even 8 am, and already the heat of the city in summer had crept in. I noticed most people around me dabbing at their faces with pocket handkerchiefs. Japanese salary men committed to their business suits, even during the most humid days.

I arrived at a station and bought my ticket so I could begin my commute to work. A commute. Something completely foreign to me until this morning. In the previous chapter, I had biked along a river, smiling at the Nagano Alps as I began each day with a breathtaking view. Now I shuffled into line to purchase a ticket, wiggled through the automatic checker, and followed the arrows directing me up the stairs to where I could board my train. Each pathway is divided in half, and the arrows tell you where you can walk. There are too many people to leave this up to free will. Only madness would result if people were given the decision of which side to walk on.

I waited on the platform in line with the rest of the people from my neighborhood. Everyone's head facing down, eyes glued to their cell phones or iPods or tablets. There was no communication. No exchanging of morning greetings. This is Tokyo, a place where there are too many people to give your time to each person that touches your life. 

The first train I could have boarded arrived, but I decided to pass because it would have meant shoving others in even more, only to be pressed against the door the entire ride.

I took the second train that arrived, and journeyed through neighborhoods and stations that had once only existed in books, magazines and movies. Names like Shinjuku, Yoyogi, Harajuku and Shibuya.

The train was packed to a snug, and I could feel strangers bodies against mine. I had one arm up above my head, gripping the hand bar for support so I wouldn't sway and lose my balance with the movement of the train. It jolted back and forth and I worried about bumping those too close. I gripped harder. The man next to me was reading a book. Neither hand was being used to support himself. 

It was obvious I was new to this. 

I was in acid washed shorts, Indian tribal print tights and a shirt that covered my tattoos. Converse on my feet. To my left and right were white shirts, button up collered dress shirts, black slacks, business suits, skirt suits, high heels, men's leather black dress shoes. School girls in plaid and starched white shirts were sprinkled in between the generation of those who came before them. Those who keep the machine that is Tokyo running.

I am not part of this Tokyo.
I never will be.

I transferred trains at the busiest station in the world, and then exited at the busiest crossing in the world.

It is impossible to describe how many people there are. It's like a wave of humans. They just keep coming in. Flooding the streets. Washing away any and all personal space. The energy is amazing. Dizzying. I've never experienced anything like this. I am swept away and swallowed whole as my big eyes take in this corner of humanity and this world it has built. Everything rushes out and up. Racing into the streets, towering into the skies.

Even in a city with 33 million Japanese, and thousands of foreigners, I can not help but notice how different I am. There is no one dressed like me in the train, and as people push and hurry past me in the station halls, I don't see anyone who shares my features.

I am a 26 year old blue eyed American with a California soul, honey colored hair and sun kissed freckled skin, living in Tokyo. 

I couldn't blend in even if I wanted to. 

How did I end up here?

This is day one of the story that changes the rest of my life.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Our mind often takes us back to times and people, in places we don't want to think about.

Flipping through the catalogue of memories, we are bound to land on a few we stashed away. Pushed so far down that you thought it'd be ages until they came back to you.

I can't stop thinking about Disneyland.

The last time I went was in 2009.

It was the night I fell in love.


Not with Disneyland, but with him.

It was after midnight and we were both naked sitting in an empty hotel bathtub.

With no water between us, we passed the joint back and forth, the only light a faded dim green from the room beyond.

Smoke filled my hazy world.

My brain spun out of control.

I haven't felt that way since. Or ever before. For anyone.

And my mind won't let it go.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


With a little over three weeks to go until I close my life in Matsumoto, it's starting to sink in.

To hit me.

Tears streamed down my face today as I biked against traffic to work.

I thought I would feel relieved telling my work and the families of the children that I would be leaving.

I thought I would feel that a weight had been lifted once I finally made the decision.

And it has. 

But a new weight is settling.

The anxiety of transition.
The speed of which it happens at.
The rush if the unknown that you're plunging into.

Sometimes we really lose what mattered most in the process of moving forward.

There's nothing I can do but wait.
Keep my eyes, my mind, and most of all my heart open to everything new that is coming my way.

Looping in my head-

Everything will be just fine.
When the dust clears I will find
Everything I've been looking for.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tomorrow morning will mark the beginning of the countdown.

Only thirty more sunrises until I move.

Until I say goodbye to what has been one of the most incredible places I've been privileged to call home.

Sweet Matsumoto, I love you so.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Living abroad is a really weird experience.

You spend time in a country and culture that isn't yours, and you're expected to adapt to it.

You make friends with people who are only temporarily living there as well, or locals who think the same thing about their friendship with you.

It’s all very temporary, yet there is still a need to make that place your home.

When living abroad, you don't want to feel like a foreigner. You want to belong and feel comfortable.

But eventually, well, for most of us at least, there comes a time when you need to leave.

When it's time to move on.

But how do you really know when it's time?

How do you know when you need to close one door, so others can open?

When and how do you decide to leave a place that you truly love?

My mind is spinning and I don't know how to slow it down.

Friday, June 13, 2014


A big part of living abroad is, well, the food. With every place I travel to and live in, I get to experience new foods, and learn how to cook with different ingredients. And of course, it's always nice to still be able to eat the comfort foods that remind you of home. Here's a look at the last two weeks of eating in Japan!

Pancakes with honey and crushed peanuts.

Some type of seaweed appetizer

Tako-Yaki: Doughballs filled with pieces of octopus.

Yaki-Niku: gilled meat

Papaya Salad

Vietnamese soup with beef and lemon grass

Homemade shrimp and fish burrito. Cooked with the assistance of a Jamaican friend and a Japanese friend.

Homemade ramen with chili and seaweed.

Daikon: a giant radish root vegetable

Curry flavored Cheeto-like snacks

Cookies and creme Pocky!

Fried rice with salmon, seaweed, and daikon.

Fish and veggies

Italian date dinner with a friend.

Kimchi with mushrooms and broccoli

Giant mushrooms!

Making homemade spring rolls and gyoza.

Typical breakfast of homemade miso soup


There is a government warning in Japan that informs people that the mushrooms are almost all over the normal level of radiation exposure, and I really want to care... but they just taste soo good here.

Salad: Fish, mushroom, avacado, sesame dressing

Korean BBQ

And of course.... sushi

Homemade breakfast of bagel with miso paste, cucumber and eggplant

An appetizer type of dish that is made of dressing and tiny little shrimps.

Homemade sauté of eggplant, avocado, mushrooms and almonds

Homemade tomato and basil chicken salad with sesame