Monthly Archives: April 2011

Shifting into Maverick Mode

I’m back in Silicon Valley today. It feels so…Californian here. Succulent plants stretching brazenly in the sun, bright orange poppies, palm trees, scrubby desert trees, wide roads, high stress levels. People seem large and brash. In immigration, we had to … Continue reading

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Just between You and Me

My friend Kelly says I should get a Japanese boyfriend so I can really feel a part of society here, not always be on the outside. Kelly was originally from China, and we speak in English (sprinkled with Japanese and … Continue reading

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Segregated

I’ve hesitated to post this one, because I’m unsure how I feel about it. I wrote this three weeks ago. ~~~ Lunch is a quick affair in a big cafeteria a maze of hallways away. (It’s also company subsidized and … Continue reading

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Gomi (Garbage): Paralyzed by the Options

“This is one of the most difficult parts of living in Japan,” mutters a Japanese executive newly returned from expat life in the States. He scrunches a foil chocolate wrapper between thumb and forefinger, and his hand hovers over the … Continue reading

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Sure, Step Outside the Lines, Just Not Too Far

Daydreaming on my walk to work the other day, I walked on the wrong side of the street towards my office’s security gate. Crisp white lines, combined with orange cones and poles, demarcate the correct paths for pedestrians. Employees round … Continue reading

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16-Legged Eating Machine

Near the train station is one of those stand-up noodle-and-beer bars with the noren curtains (暖簾) hanging halfway down. Every night after work, I see a row of legs exposed beneath the curtains, always in blue, gray, or black slacks, … Continue reading

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New Words Are Moving In, But Not Fast Enough

I hear a funny word: chuu-ta-han-pa. It sounds familiar. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it and have even looked it up before. It doesn’t sound like Japanese, not even like the normal two-syllable Chinese-borrowed words. Suddenly I hear it everywhere—on … Continue reading

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