Tag Archives: USA


10563031_885496288131512_7474970727825617561_nMy niece, the sweetest most hilarious two year old on the PLANET, gave me my first hug on US soil.

I made it to the USA! After two months of packing, canceling all the things, cleaning, throwing away trash and hauling luggage I’ve FINALLY made it back to the USA! First stop for me was Michigan, where I’m spending a week and a half with my family. Husband is off doing science-y things in the great white north, and we will reunite in Boston at the beginning of August.

I left Japan on July 24th and was ready to say goodbye. It hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’m NOT going back (I was at the grocery store yesterday and kept thinking OMG HOW AM I GOING TO EAT ALL THE FOOD I WANT TO EAT… oh wait… I don’t have a time limit).

My flight was actually really good. I flew Korean Air and it was SO nice. The seats had a lot of leg room and my flight from Tokyo to Incheon was EMPTY. I had four seats to myself. Too bad my flight from Incheon to Chicago was not so empty. But I still did well, didn’t get sick, and was able to eat. I watched a TON of movies (EVERYBODY NEEDS TO WATCH NEED FOR SPEED IT WAS AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING.)

Things in Michigan are good (it’s FREEZING here compared to Tokyo) and I’ve been doing okay jet-lag wise. I managed to stay awake for almost 30 hours (from Tokyo to Chicago and then Chicago to my hometown in Michigan), so when I finally crashed I slept for like 12 hours and woke up at a normal human time and have been doing okay since.

I drove this giant truck! This is my dad’s new Ford FT 150 and oh. em. gee. I drove it and it was the first thing I have driven since 2009! I honestly can’t believe that I drove something this big and LOVED IT. I have missed driving so much. Back in 2008 when I first moved back to the USA after my study abroad year I did NOT want to drive (I just didn’t want to be in the
USA), so I really struggled. But now that I WANT to be back I am taking to everything like a fish to water. And I drove this bad boy on the highway and down one of the most infamous streets in the city and yeah. I owned it. (Only made my mom cringe once when I ran a yellow light… sorry mom!)

And I came home to a pile of books. Anytime I’d win a book I’d send it to my parent’s house (can’t wait to have my own US address now!) so I had a bunch of won books and then a few that I’d bought with amazon discounts (Landline!!!) and then my love Melissa sent me  A SIGNED COPY OF SINNER!!!!!!

So yeah… that’s it for now. I’m hoping to get back into blogging once I’m settled in Boston, but we’ll see. It might take me a few more months. Have to get my apartment all set up, have to figure out how to navigate Boston, have to get my husband set for school, and hopefully I’ll be starting a new job too! So until then keep following me on twitter and goodreads. And keep loving Sammy for all the hard work she’s doing to keep this place going (LOVE SAMMY!!!!)

River’s moving to BOSTON — MIT & the USA

mitIn case you can’t read what the inscription on this building says, I will spell it out for you:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

You’ve heard of it right? Oh yes, because it’s super famous and hard to get into. And I am proud to say that my husband GOT IN. This fall he will be starting his PhD in Computer Science at MIT. And the two of us will be leaving Japan and moving to Boston to start the next phase of our life.

csailThe CSail building, where husband will be spending the next 5 years of his life researching about AI and robotics.

Let me take a moment to AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Sometimes I still can’t believe that it’s real. When I met husband five years ago he couldn’t even speak English. But he told me that he wanted to go to the USA to get a PhD. To me it just seemed like something in the future that might happen. But to him, it was the first goal of many. And when he not only became fluent in English, but also began to take the tests that are required for graduate school (TOEFL & GRE) what seemed like an impossible dream to me was starting to become WAY more real. And it scared me. But also awed me. Watching someone strive for, and then reach their goal, it’s amazing.

IMG_4763Boston, MA March 2014

I wont lie, going through all of this with him was difficult. There were a lot of tears, a lot of blood, and buckets of sweat. It really tested our relationship, and I’m so happy that in the end, after two years (yes, it took that long to finish his applications — he applied to SIX schools, not only MIT) when the acceptances started to roll in (he was accepted for more than just MIT too) I wasn’t surprised. He worked hard, and he deserved it. And I’m so proud of him. And sorry not sorry but I can’t help but brag! (I even bought an MIT sweatshirt).

So what does this mean? Well, right now we’re just going through the preliminaries that international students need to study abroad (visa, vaccines, etc). We have housing (an on campus apartment) and now we just need to figure out when we’re going to move (sometime in July or August) and I need to find a job! (Anyone have any job leads in the Boston/Cambridge area? Book related????) I’m planning on getting some lame part time thing until I can find something better, but I’d REALLY love to work in a bookstore again. And then when we’re finally settled in…I’m going to focus on myself and kick my novel back into gear.

BOSTON PEEPS. Let’s be friends! I’m planning on going to ALL the book events EVER now that I’ll be back on US ground. And I’d love to have cohorts!

River’s March Wrap-up

Best book in March


Loooooooooved Salvage! And as one of the books I was most looking forward to in 2014 I am SO happy that I did! Ah, check this one out guys, it’s amazing!

Despite traveling at the beginning of the month, and feeling like I was NEVER EVER going to finish ANYTHING I managed to read TWELVE BOOKS! I read ten ARCs and two of my own books. I’m sadly in the middle of two books right now so I wont have a nice round ‘finished’ amount of March, but I should at least get them finished tomorrow and technically it will still be March somewhere… hahaha.


Guys. guys. GUYS. I cannot believe it CANNOT believe it that Taking Back Sunday came out with a new CD and IT IS GOOD. I was so scared that it would suck. It’s been forever for them and I am a HUGE fan and went to their shows ~back in the day~ and I listen to them when I’m depressed because I just feel so damn powerful for some reason when I do. TBS has gotten me through two of THE MOST difficult times in my life and I wouldn’t be who I am right now without this band. So when this song came out and I LIKED IT I was so excited. Then ‘Stood a Chance’ came out and while I like the song the video made me cringe so I got a bit worried and then the CD dropped and I listened to it like twice and wasn’t wowed or anything so. But then I put it on repeat while I was tromping through Tokyo on a rainy day a few weeks ago and THAT. WAS. IT. I was hooked and have been hooked and cannot stop listening to this CD. There’s such a sense of nostalgia that I feel like I’m 20 years old again and then it feels fresh enough that I can enjoy finding new things to love and just. wow. Words. I don’t have them.



Before I go into this I want to start by saying that I don’t think I’m fat. In fact, I know I’m not. I’m the perfect weight for my height and body type. I’ve been overly thin, even underweight, my entire life. I am NOT saying that I am fat. Thus stated… I AM out of shape. Painfully so. The past year I was super busy with personal things. STRESSFUL things. I didn’t eat well, I didn’t exercise, didn’t sleep well and overall just wasn’t very healthy. Also, when I’m stressed, I don’t eat. SO now that I’m A LOT less stressed I’m eating normally. Maybe even more than normal. And I have gained some weight. I’m also still incredibly out of shape. So I’m trying to do something about that. I’m trying to make healthier, smarter (and cheaper) choices.

So I’ve started eating less crap and I’m working on improving my diet. I USED to just eat a piece of toast in the morning. Now I’m eating a bowl of oatmeal (with vanilla sugar) for breakfast. I used to go to the grocery store and buy a prepared lunch (Japanese obento) which not only costs over $5, but it’s also not that healthy. So I’ve started buying fruit and lunch meat and soups and I’m eating like an after school special but whatever. Ham and tomato sandwich. Mixed fruit. Tomato soup. Tasty, healthy and much cheaper. Plus this way I can eat BEFORE going to the grocery store, stressing myself out less and BUYING less.

For dinner since I usually eat at work I have to buy something from the grocery store (or convenience store). I know I could make my own food, but that is just too much effort (did I mention that I’m lazy?) But I’m trying to go for healthier items. No more chips, no more cookies, no more snacks. I’m eating prepared noodle meals, salads, and fruit-jelly cups. I’m spending so much less and WASTING so much less too. I always end up buying more than I can eat and since most of it expires at the end of the day (or will go bad in my work cubby if I choose to save it for later) so I just toss it. wtf self.

So that’s been something I’ve been working on since the beginning of the month, and I must say, I’m feeling a lot better. I’m still super out of shape, but my energy levels are much better, I’m sleeping a bit better, and I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it.



Nothing too exciting this month. I started Starcrossed and it’s kinda lame so far. I’m almost scared that I’m getting too old for CW shows. GASP. I’m going to give it a shot though, I thought TVD was super lame at the start, but I came to love it. I also gave The 100 a shot and it was pretty good… I have NOT read the book and probably wont because it has like a million perspectives and that’s totally not my thing. I’m going to give that a few more episodes before deciding if it’s going to be something I keep up with. Other than that I’ve been loving The Originals and Arrow. Still not sure about TVD this season, which makes me sob.


New Blog Feature

Did you guys see my new feature? It’s called Before & AfterThe way it works is that at the beginning of every month I’m going to choose one book that I am DYING to read and one that I am SCARED to read. I’m going to write down why I can’t wait/ am afraid to read the books. This is the BEFORE. Then I’ll read them! And at the end of the month I’m going to update with the AFTER: how I felt about them, if they lived up to my expectations/disappointed me/blew my mind etc. I’ve already posted my BEFORE for March, so make sure to check out my AFTER post (following this one). And feel free to join me!

Secret news


Have a picture for now… real announcement to come…

Biking around Saint Paul


During out trip to Saint Paul my husband was busy for most of the time, but at night we were able to go out for dinner and explore the area. We went to a few parks and down along the Mississippi river (which was a 5 minute walk from our hotel).

While walking around we kept seeing these green bikes (pictured above) EVERYWHERE. There was a little machine next to the set of them (about 20 bikes) and you could rent the bike for the day. It cost like $6 to rent it and then an additional $1 for each 30 mins or so. Since we ride our bikes A LOT back home, he thought this would be really fun and rented us two bikes.

The way it worked was you used your credit or debit card in the machine and got a code that you used to unlock the bike. Then you could return the bike to ANY other station in the area and once it was locked it calculated your time and charged you accordingly. We decided to use them for an hour and rode around looking for a supermarket (we wanted to buy some beer, but everything near us was closed and the bars were expensive). We found a gas station (which my husband LOVED) and got some snacks before riding back over the river.

Originally I was hesitant to use them because I’m so used to MY bike, and I had a hard time getting use to THAT, but he was feeling adventurous and convinced me to do it. I was also worried about getting lost, but in the end I’m really glad that he convinced me. I had a lot of fun.



This sweater was not a surprise. My mother actually gave me a book with patterns in it and told me to choose a sweater. This happened the last time I was in the USA… back in August 2012.

Now I have received this gorgeous, hand-and-love made sweater on the day after I purchased tickets to go to the USA in May of this year. I am so excited that I danced with the mamegomas. On the bed. I think K was actually afraid.

This trip was made possible because K got yet another paper accepted for yet another international conference. That makes this number 3 in the past 8 months. He’s basically on fire. One of the conferences is here in Japan, so unfortunately that doesn’t involve travel, but the one in May is being held in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Which is just a short ONE HOUR flight from my hometown over in Michigan.

So one (incredibly cheap) multi-city flight (it’s seriously the most amazing flight, all direct, so I only have to be on a plane THREE times. I only have to land THREE times. The chances of me puking is only THREE times opposed to the four that I’m usually faced with when I have to transfer) and I get to hug my dog for 3 nights. I get to see my ENTIRE family and chase my niece around and eat grilled steak and honey baked ham and soy cheese. I get to visit some friends and K can finally see where I grew up. He can actually meet my father.

Sadly the Michigan portion of our trip is short, but that’s because we have to get over to Minnesota for his presentation. I am excited to spend a little time just the two of us, and we’re staying in the super cute Hotel 340 and while K’s doing his computer science thing I’m going shopping at the freaking Mall of America.

I am beyond excited, this post can’t even being to show how excited I am.



This is one of the first photos I took in Tokyo on the first day I was in Japan. Five years ago today.

Eleven years ago I watched the Twin Towers fall, live on Good Morning America in my first hour Senior Government class. The rest of the day was spent watching TV and listening to announcements on the loudspeaker. The only class that ‘went on’ was band because Mr. L wouldn’t let us NOT practice. I remember sitting in my ’87 Chevy pick up waiting in line for over an hour to buy gas priced at $1.99, fearing that we’d never have gas again after that night. I remember being scared for my friends in New York. Fast forward to 2007, five years ago, and I was standing in a silent airport with my family as I got on my first airplane to Japan. That’s what I remember about 9/11.

I wrote that on my facebook today. Eleven years ago I would have never imagined my life would have turned out like this.

Small town Michigan to Tokyo to Saitama to Tokyo to small town Ibaraki.