Hello 2018: the Boyfriend

I’ve spent hours scouring WordPress and figuring how I want to head into this year of writing and blogging.  I’ve been inspired by many things in the past, it was always just about finding the motivation and the energy to get them out there.  But as I approach my 30th birthday I want to really get up, dust myself off and get things together.  So, in keeping with that, here’s part 3 of Hello 2018.

the Boyfriend

I don’t want to share a picture because I don’t want to plaster his face all over the internet, but he really is the bees knees to me.  He came to me at a time when I really needed someone who accepted me for me.  The last relationship I had been in was tumultuous and had lots of severe highs and lows.  Maybe one day I’ll get into it and the difficulties with dating cross-culturally, but I’ll save that for another day when I can focus more on the negatives.  I want to keep this as positive as possible.

We’ve had a very interesting year, from hot springs to delicious food to watching lots of Dragon Ball Super.  He has made me feel more beautiful and more loved than any other person in my life, and truly accepts me for who I am, both outside and inside.  He’s Japanese and when we started dating he spoke maybe three words in English.  Our relationship relied heavily on my Japanese skills, which at the time weren’t up to par.  However, we struggled through together, he’s been studying English as well, and we’ve found a good way to communicate without being misunderstood.

As we head into 2018 together, I’m excited to see what the year is going to bring us.  We’ve built a strong, solid relationship; together we can be ourselves and express who we are without worrying about how the other might react.  He’s seen all of who I am, and still accepts it.  And for that I couldn’t be more thankful.  Thanks babe!


Understanding Depression and Suicide

I hold this topic very close to my own heart, having struggled with depression for many years.  Recently there has been a lot of controversy and things in the media and I wanted to address them, mostly to help myself wrap my mind around what happened.

First, I wanted to address the sudden suicide that rocked the Korean entertainment industry, the death of SHINee lead singer, Kim Jong-hyun.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have been a fan of SHINee since 2013.  I remember watching their video for Lucifer, entranced with the music and words and the handsome guys as they flashed across the screen.

I was obsessed and fell down the rabbit hole, watching video after video, eventually finding their time on Hello Baby.  If I wasn’t head over heels for them before, I was after watching the show.

It had always been one of my dreams to see them in concert, so when I woke up one morning to a good friends message that Jong-hyun had passed away I was in shock.  I immediately turned to Google and found reports about what had happened.

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An excellent read: “How to Survive the January Blues — Suzie Speaks”

I found this in my Reader today, and felt like it was an important topic to address as we run head first into 2018.  How do we survive the January Blues?  What do we, as individuals, do to battle against the post-holiday mood drop?

As for myself, I always fall head first into my work.  The beginning of the year until May is the busiest time of the year at my work, and this year is going to be no different.  It’s honestly best for me to be as busy as possible, it gives me less time to think about the emptiness the holidays leave.  I also like to battle the blues by visiting shrines and temples.  They’re often referred to as power spots here in Japan, and I couldn’t agree more.  I have a favorite shrine I like to visit here in Kumamoto when I need to cleanse my heart and mind, and soon I’ll write about it.

Let me know what you do to defeat those January Blues!

After a few weeks of excitement, joy, celebrations and consuming my entire body weight in chocolatey goodness, its back to work for many of us. The decorations have been taken down and my house looks quite dull and bare, I feel sick and lethargic after eating so much and I’ve already managed to overwhelm myself […]

via How to Survive the January Blues — Suzie Speaks

Hello 2018: Family

Heading into Day 2 of 2018, I want to take this time to focus on another aspect of 2017 that helped me through the year:


I would not be half the person I am now without the help and influence of my family.  We may have our ups and downs, a lot of drama (as I’m sure many other families can relate to) and not understand each other all the time, but we always support one another at the end of the day.

I had the pleasure of spending the first day of 2017 with my Mom, shopping and getting things together for my return to Japan.  Then I got to spend the evening with my Grandpa as well before I headed to the airport the next morning.  Leaving is always a bittersweet moment, because I enjoy the time with my family but I’m always ready to get back to work and settle back into life in Japan.


I treated my Mom to some Painting with a Twist while I was home.  It was a great time, I definitely recommend it to everyone!

Throughout the year, anytime I have a question or something I need advice on, I know I can call my Mom and chat with her about it.  My favorite thing about her is that she never tells me what to do, she listens to me ramble on about what I’m thinking about and then supports the decisions I make, whether she thinks they’re good or bad.  We’re similar, so we usually agree on almost everything, but it’s just nice to have someone in my corner who supports me unconditionally.

Besides my Mom, the rest of my family supports my decision to live abroad, though they may not necessarily agree or understand why I want to continue living here.  But nobody agrees on everything, so all I ask for is the love and support of my family.  My aunts and uncle, my grandpa, my brother, sister and her kids… extended family, cousins, second cousins.  I love you all and I’m so happy that you continue to love and support me on my adventures.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings for my family.  I wish everyone good health and luck in the coming year.  Let’s take 2018 and make it bow to us!

Hello 2018: Friends

I decided to start the New Year off with a week-long look into 2017 and the things that have motivated me to make this an even better 2018.  I want to take this time to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, because believe me I had plenty of both this past year.  But I’m planning on starting this year with my head held high and a skip in my step as I tackle on all of the new challenges that are going to come my way.

So, without any more fluff or flare, let’s start with Day 1.



My best friend and sister, who I spent the end of the year with!

When I look back at 2017, the first and most important thing to me that sticks out are the friends I’ve had the pleasure of meeting or deepening our relationship with.

I took a brief look back through all of the pictures I’ve taken throughout the year, in an attempt to find a good one to attach to this post, and was reminded of all of the amazing things I’ve done with friends this year.

I had many wonderful opportunities, including but not limited to:

  • A two and a half day trip to South Korea
  • The chance to visit many different shrines and castles all over Kyushu
  • A wonderful hanami party
  • A traditional Japanese tea ceremony
  • Plenty of parties
  • My first Japanese wedding ceremony
  • Among dozens more…

I have been really blessed with a very amazing and beautiful group of friends that is ever expanding.  I could be long and cliche and discuss all of the reasons why I love them in great detail, but I’ll save that for another day.

I just wanted a quick and pleasant reminder of one of the many good things that happened to me in 2017.  And to remember and work toward maintaining these relationships throughout 2018 and the future.

The day my world started shaking

I’ve started and stopped writing this since the beginning of June.  The earthquakes happened on April 14th and 16th… When I think back to those days I still get emotionally caught up in what happened.  I’m almost to the three month mark since the big quake happened and I’m still sleeping on the floor with the light near my door on every night.

I’m hoping talking about it, detailing everything that happened and leaving nothing out will bring me some sort of catharsis.

So, here goes nothing… The day my world started shaking…

It started off the same way every other evening did.  As soon as 9:16 rolls around I head out of work and make my way home.  I work in downtown Kumamoto, so I take the B-Line tram home to Shinmachi.  I headed over to the tram stop, just enough time to get into line when the B-Line tram pulled in.  I hopped up, scanning my monthly pass and taking a seat.  Since the B-Line goes towards North Kumamoto station not many people use it at night.

We headed off for the next stop, Kumamoto Castle and City Hall.  I smiled at the guy sitting across the tram from me as we sat at the Kumamoto Castle stop for what seemed like a long time.  Finally, the conductor said ‘Thank you for waiting, we’re going now’ and this loud rumble echoed through the tram and it began to shake.  At the time, I thought that the tram was broken, but then the shaking got more violent and we were rocking back and forth.  It felt like at one point we were going to tip over.  In the middle of the confusion, with ladies screaming and my heart pounding, my phone started yelling at me.


(Earthquake! Earthquake!)

Little did I know at the time that those words would be my constant companion for the next two days.  As my phone started shouting I rolled my eyes and said to myself, ‘I know.’

As the quake subsided, I sat on the tram with other people, confused, but not too stressed out.  In terms of earthquakes I had experienced before (two baby ones in Fukuoka and one in Osaka) this was clearly larger, but I didn’t realize at the time just how large it was.  We looked around at each other, nervous smiles on our faces, listening to the conductor.  At first, it seemed as if the tram would move soon, so I stayed seated, waiting to head home.  After about five minutes he said the tram wouldn’t be going anywhere and told us all we’d have to get off.  I exchanged another smile with the guy across from me, who reassured me everything was alright as I got off the tram before heading off into the night.

While I was on the tram I started to receive a flurry of messages.  As more and more people messaged me to check in (about 40!) I gradually came to realize that this was a lot worse than what I had first thought.  The earthquake happened at 9:26, by 9:27 my trainer had already messaged me, asking if I was ok.  As countless more messages came in, I felt the worry begin to set in.  I started to move through the city, and saw a ton more people than usual.  Everyone was walking around confused and looking at the damage, trying to figure out a way to get home.  Transportation had stopped, 100+ people were stranded outside the bus center, and hundreds more were on trains and trams and couldn’t go anywhere.

I tried to get in touch with my co-workers, but neither of them have mobile data.  So, I started to walk home, getting more nervous as I walked down the street.

When I saw this picture was when it really hit me that this was a very powerful and damaging earthquake:

The sidewalk trying to pull apart.

The sidewalk was trying to pull apart as the fault lines moved.  There were spots like this all over the city.

I finally got ahold of one of my co-workers and we decided to meet up for a drink because we had experienced our first major earthquake.  She had been at the convenience store, checking out when the quake hit.  She didn’t know what to do, so she held onto the counter, locking eyes with the screaming Lawson employee across from her.  Others in the store darted for the doorway as wine bottles crashed, splintering their sweet nectar all over the floor.  “Not the 赤ワイン” became one of the phrases we used in the coming days, lamenting about all of the spilled wine we saw everywhere.

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