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Memory & Motivation Board

Almost as soon as I moved into my new apartment back in March, I imagined having a big board above my desk with all my photos and post cards and trinkets from my life and travels. I finally had the opportunity to put together what I am calling my Memory & Motivation Board. Since it is a collection of so many fond travel memories, good friends, special moments, and also contains motivational phrases, I thought that was a more suitable name than what most call a vision board. Read More

True convenience

While on the phone today, I was speaking with my friend about utility bills and the process for payment. I was reminded that in Japan, you could take all of your utility bills to the local convenience store and pay them at the store.

In fact, on more than one occasion, I went on a vacation and came back to no house phone or no electricity. I simply took my bill over the the Family Mart near my house, paid the bill, and by the time I walked back to the house, my electricity would be on again.  That’s true convenience!

I don’t know why we can’t do something similar here in the U.S. I realize we can pay bills online, but if you are late, normally your services are not turned back on again immediately after payment.  Just a little something I loved from my Japanese life.  Woo hoo for paying bills at the “konbini!”

Words of Wisdom

As I continue to settle into a life in the US, I have taken the time here and there to go through my boxes.  I’ve got just a “few” in my parents’ storage shed.  My dad would looove for me to take all of them, but I don’t really have the space yet for my high school and college photo albums, those four boxes of books and another handful of what I know are house decor items and treasures from my life of travel.

I do, however, have a couple of boxes which are labeled “office stuffs” by the Vietnamese crew packing my things in Hanoi. I opened one of them last night in search of by zip-lock bag full of markers, highlighters and a wide variety of pens and pencils.  In that box happened to be my old calendars.  Yes, I still keep a physical, paper, written calendar. Probably always will. Do you save your calendars?  I do because I tend to write a lot of notes in margins, write down birthdays and events, sometimes I’ve even use my calendars as daily diaries and have gone through spurts where I write what the day entailed every day.  What I love about saving them is that I can be instantly transported to that moment, that time and capture every memory of that day.  I love it.

So in one of my calendars, I found this daily mantra that I made up when I lived in Japan.  I re-wrote it at the front of my 2008 calendar, in anticipation of my travel adventures that spring.  Here’s the mantra:

Today will be a great day. I will listen, speak and act from the goodness of my heart. I will accept others as they are and treat everyone with kindness and compassion.

I think that’s a pretty good daily goal, and so I’m re-writing this on my current calendar, and on my dandy red notebook so that I may express this sentiment everyday.  I’m curious what other words of wisdom and delightful memories my calendars will lend me!

What are your daily mantras, affirmations or goals?


Fortunately for me, the Star World channel replays the shows of the week on Saturday and Sunday.  I just caught the first episode of GLEE, which will now be shown every Wednesday night after American Idol.  My friends Mette and Sarah both watch this show on Wednesday night when it first aired and said that they thought it had potential but that it wasn’t what they expected.  It sure has been played up a lot this month, so I thought it must have fallen short of the hype.  But for me – OMG – I loved loved LOVED the first episode and cant WAIT to see the rest of the season!

What some of you may or may not know about me is that I was a theater kid when I was young. I’ve posted a couple photos below from my performances.  I loved taking the drama or voice classes and remember all too well the auditions for the plays.  I never got a lead role, but Mr. Russell, the theater company director was always so kind to call me and congratulate me on my role as the townsperson or bunny rabbit or whatever other general role I was chosen for.  I practiced so very hard for auditions, but when the moment of truth came, I was so nervous, I failed to sing the song how I practiced, and would undoubtedly fall out of my singing voice.

Fast forward to high school. I was an all-American girl.  I played sports but was also a cheerleader.  I was part of the popular group of kids.  I went to school dances and proms with the greatest enthusiasm.  And I also watched every performance of Ensemble.

Mixed Ensemble was a group of 32 students, half girls and half boys.  The concerts would being on a classical note and grow progressively toward pop tunes and big song and dance numbers.  At our school, this vocal group drew not only musicians, singers  and dancers, but football players and basketball stars,  cheerleaders and tennis champions.  It wasn’t dorky to be in Ensemble, it was beyond cool.

I never found the courage to audition for Ensemble in the first three years at school.  The group was so talented.  I never thought I would be good enough.  But my senior year approached, and I realized it was my last chance. I nervously made my way to the audition to sing for Joretta Wright, our teacher and director.

The audition was tough…you couldn’t bring a song to sing, she just asked you to sing well know tunes, patriotic songs and even some children’s music.  I sang America the Beautiful and Mary Had a Little Lamb.  I sang confidently and sincerely, hoping to secure a spot in the group.  The next day, I went to the Ensemble room to look at the paper on the door.  And my name was on it.  I made it.

Ensemble was by far one of the highlights of high school.  I loved the music and the choreography.  I met one of my best friends in my life, Holly, and one of the greatest loves of my life, Hap.  I loved being on stage and performing and when we went to Boston and New York on tour, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Ensemble was cool.

GLEE may be off to a slow start for my friends here, but as I watched it today, I was overcome with emotions and memories of a very fond time in my life.  I can’t wait to follow the storyline and see what other memories come to light.  For today, I’m content to go through my day humming some of the songs we sang back then.  I still remember them all.


Pointed Toes! – That’s me my senior year at Valhalla High School with my then-boyfriend and Ensemble partner, Hap.



He’s a prince! – This was the play “Cinderella” and that was the prince, Pat Merrill.  I was in 8th grade and he was a senior in high school. And I had the hugest crush on him! Leave it to me to fall in love with the prince!



The Trouble with Angles – Forget the costume I’m wearing! How about that gold color palette in our house! Yikes!


A Note on Michael Jackson

It was the summer after seventh grade and Randy Close and I were a couple.  In preparation for a road trip to Magic Mountain with Danielle, Tiffany, Ginger, David and younger brothers Kevin and Chris, Randy and I listened to the Thriller cassette tape over and over again until we knew every word to every song.

As we all piled in the Close’s van, we begged to play the Thriller tape. Without hesitation, Randy and I could sing, “Ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa” as our friends looked on in amazement that we actually knew the words.

Our group of friends always loved to go dancing, and we tried very hard to copy those moves, the fluid movement of the legs, the kicks and that unforgettable moonwalk.  Who can forget the Grammy performance where Michael Jackson moon walked across the stage inspiring hours and hours of practice among any of us who had an ounce of desire to capture that coolness?

I remember very clearly the day that upperclassman Camille got to go to the Michael Jackson concert.  Everyone knew that she was going.  And the next day she returned from the concert without a voice, it was that ridiculously fun.  We wanted to hear every detail of the concert.  Super jealous.

High school airband competitions were popular during my high school years and I remember the junior class members doing the entire Thriller dance sequence on our theater stage.

His songs were a part of every teenage year of mine and my friends’.  His music shaped our childhood in so many ways.  Even when he came out with Bad, and returned to the pop-music scene physically altered, he still remained the “it” guy for us.

I don’t know what happened to Michael, what made him become the sheer freak of nature that he was, the Wacko Jacko that made headlines.  I don’t think any of us want to imagine what it was like to live his life under such scrutiny.  Who wouldn’t turn a bit fruity?

I’m choosing to remember him in his Thriller days.  That is the Michael Jackson I want to mourn. That is the Michael Jackson I’ve mourned for years, already.

On the Bright Side,


Another day at the office.


Emeraude’s 5th Annual Wine & Dine Cruise Classic was a big hit this past weekend!  I remember being in Hanoi last year at this time, staying with Kurt and Anna and hearing about this wine cruise where there is a black tie dinner, a winemaker, and such.  So having sat in meetings for the past six months to help plan the event, I was more than excited!

One thing I was excited for too was the chance to wear my formal gown.  I bought two from this great designer, Chula, and took both with me.  I choose the one which was more suited for a cruise.  Although i may wear the other one next year.  In any case, I’m armed with a formal gown in the event I get asked out to a formal event!

The whole weekend was a smashing success.  We started with breakfast at the Press Club, rode luxury buses out to Halong Bay and then began the cruise.  The afternoon was spent at the beach and the weekend’s big moment was dinner by candle light in Drum Cave.  You can check out some photos HERE.  The dramatic setting of the cave made for a spectacular evening.  It would take a strange person not to enjoy that kind of event.  So unique and beautiful!

I don’t know yet how we will top this next year – we have our work cut out for us!  The great news is, we’ve already got half the cabins reserved!

On the Bright Side,


A few other photos from the event:




Berlin Birthday – 39

A unique b’day party! Can you tell the boys from the girls?


Before leaving for Berlin, I realized that from now on, as long as I am in this job, it will be most likely that I will be celebrating my birthday in Berlin.  After my introductory weekend with Paul, I realize, there are worse places in the world to be stuck on your birthday.  Berlin is fantastic!

My new colleagues were so kind and wanted to help celebrate.  Pantanida, who is based in Berlin has a boyfriend whose birthday is the same day.  So on the 13th, my actual birthday, I went out with Edwin and Dominik and Dominik’s parents (Germans) for dinner.  I enjoyed a traditional Berlin dish – Currywerst, which is essentially 2 huge sausages smothered in a German style curry and french fries.  I followed Edwin on to a very cool bar and then to another before calling it a night at 3am.  A fun night, indeed.

The next evening, Pantanida had made a reservation for us at a Thai cabaret show.  I mentioned in another post that she is from Thailand but lives in Berlin.  So she is dialed into the Thai community in Berlin.  Good friend to have, for sure.

As you can see from the photo here.  The show is quite unique in that all of the ladies in the show were formally men.  This makes for nothing but an entertaining evening.

We had a great time at the show.  I enjoyed all of the celebrations.  And I am looking forward to many more birthdays in Berlin.  Even the one where I turn 40!

On the Bright Side,



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