hatsukoi (first love)

Hello, world! Allow me to explain the presence of this here little corner of the interwebs.

I’ve been reading blogs since about 2007 when blogging was beginning to gain traction and it was more a medium for expression and fostering community than monetary gain; not that there is anything wrong with compensation for creating good content, but it felt like a world of genuine interaction, rather than our current “follow for follow” blind culture of acquisition and desire for fame. I like to think there was a more idyllic time for the internet, when trolls hadn’t yet found their footing (but I’m probably a deluded optimist), and people didn’t feel the need to post nasty responses to whiny viral posts (you know what I’m talking about especially if you live in the Bay Area).

I remember when it was 1997 and I was six years old and I would spend all my free time either cruising through the city in my brother’s car listening to Real McCoy (“Another Night”) or the Lion King (“I Just Can’t Wait to be King”) on my cassette player; Otherwise I’d be on the dial-up desktops at the University of Utah medical library where my 21 year old brother/legal guardian worked. Hours and hours of childhood were spent entertaining myself in front of a computer, which led to spamming my brothers’ inboxes with silly e-cards (I had free reign over a Hotmail account—SusieQ7 forever), playing Yahoo! games, and amusingly, hanging out in chat rooms cultivating pen pal relationships with total strangers who didn’t know I was still taking spelling tests on monosyllabic words every Friday. My relationship with the internet began young.

Then I moved to Tokyo in September 2015. This is the first time I have lived alone in a foreign country where I did not previously know anyone. I didn’t speak any Japanese and my attempts to learn before boarding my transpacific flight were hindered by a summer of freedom, part time employment, and savoring the company of friends I knew I would wait many months to see again. The result has been a combination of wonderment, humility, and struggle, but ultimately what I was seeking; a deepened knowledge of self.

I have wanted to start a blog for a while now; I’m pretty sure it’s been a failed new year’s resolution since 2013. Reasons I have stalled this project include 1) fear of revealing too much personal information online 2) fear of the time commitment, and the many-horned monster, 3) fear of failure.

Well, it’s a new year, and I’m taking this long-incubated dream and showing it the light. So many people talk about their thoughts and lives online these days, I feel a bit more comfortable adding my voice to the chorus. And how can you fail if there is no benchmark for achievement? When the measure of success is your own fulfillment? Thinking of it this way allows me to feel less critical of myself.

I will use this page as my personal creative outlet because I haven’t had a proper ongoing motivation to write creatively since I was the editor of my high school newspaper’s comedy page, or more recently, my brief stint furiously writing reviews for Yelp (which various people teased me for—but say what you like, Yelp Elite status gave me completely gratis access to restaurant openings, community gatherings, and tickets to plays throughout the Bay Area, so it was definitely worth it to me. Thanks especially to my elite stalker Markus, who I refer to fondly for the support, but it’s always questionable when a stranger comments on every single thing you post online. If you’re curious, you can take a peek at my Yelp reviews here).

I want my friends and family to know about what life is like in Japan for me, if they wish to keep up with the little stories, and I promise to save the big and dramatic ones for face to face tellings. Recently I also realized how I’ve been here for almost an entire year and grown so accustomed to the everyday life in this city. The textures and little wonders I experience have become so ingrained I feel like I have scarcely captured my feelings and perceptions of it in real time. I know that I will miss Japan immensely when I leave, so this is also my attempt to have an emotional and visual record of what it was like to live here.

I’ll write about books I love, ideas and things I find interesting and beautiful, travel adventures, personal finance while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world and saving for extended travel, and most importantly to me, the connection with other humans I meet along the way. Thank you for reading.

xo your friend alice

Location: Mitakesan, Ome, Tokyo, Japan

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