sayonara (for now)

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”
– Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003)

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tokyo somewhere (part ii)

un autre très petit journal des photographies autour de Tokyo…
another little diary of photos around Tokyo…
東京の写真パート2

take a peek at part I here

feat. Shinjuku Gyoen Botanical Garden, コフィノワ Coffee NOVA (my favorite coffee spot in Kuramae), Tokyo Metro, Shirube izakaya in Shimokitazawa, Daikanyama graffiti, Senso-ji Temple AsakusaIMG_6599_MG_6512IMG_9001.JPGIMG_1098IMG_3179_MG_5554IMG_7001
xo your friend alice

Location: Tokyo, Japan

a little life

“The axiom of equality states that always equals x: it assumes that if you have a conceptual thing named x, that it must always be equivalent to itself, that it has a uniqueness about it, that it is in possession of something so irreducible that we must assume it is absolutely, unchangeably equivalent to itself for all time, that its very elementalness can never be altered. But it is impossible to prove. Always, absolutes, nevers: these are the words, as much as numbers, that make up the world of mathematics…he had always appreciated how elusive it was, how the beauty of the equation itself would always be frustrated by the attempts to prove it. It was the kind of axiom that could drive you mad, that could consume you, that could easily become an entire life.”

– Hanya Yanagihara (2015)

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2017 year end musings

Thoughts and experiences that changed me in 2017…better a few weeks late than never 🙂

  • For the first time, I had the experience of living with a roommate who was abusive, petty, and tyrannical. I know that sounds really dramatic, but if you ask anyone else who was witness to the situation (i.e. my other flatmates), they’d agree. This person went so far as to throw a chair at me, return home drunk and yell at us late in the evening on different occasions, and even stomped around the apartment slamming against walls and screaming while my mother was visiting and asleep in the next room with only a thin sliding door separating us. She woke up and was very upset and confused as she does not speak English. This (former) roommate is an alcoholic, not to mention a misogynist. Living with people can be difficult and I will not pretend I was faultless, but this really took the threshold of acceptable roommate conflict to the next level. Every time he spoke I felt my fight instincts perk up as I had to prepare to defend myself verbally and physically. I am so happy to be out of that situation but as I always try to see a silver lining, I am also grateful that I had the experience of living with someone I fundamentally disliked. It was an essential character building experience and I became close with my other roommates as we allied against our common foe. In the future I will utilize my ‘F*** Off Fund’ much sooner to get out of toxic situations like that. Sure, the rent was cheap and the apartment and location were superb, but future me will know better.
  • I witnessed the birth of the dragon fan club. This is going to sound real cheesy but, having this family called CHOLA in my life (which I described back in this post and this one too), I never expected I’d find an equivalent chemistry in another friend group. I have always been better at relating to people on an individual level and as much as you can introduce your friends to each other, it’s not often that you will all have the same level of intimacy with each other. We all work together and were individually friends, and somehow organically over weekly viewings of Season 7 of Game of Thrones, we became a unit. Every time one of us needs a drink, a shoulder to cry on, or a meal to share, we’re there for each other and that has been a really beautiful and unexpected gift this year. So here’s a shout out to Nessie, Longerweenie, and Shushu ❤ ❤ ❤
  • The new countries I traveled to this year were South Korea, Vietnam (Saigon, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay), and the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo & Punta Cana). It’s kind of crazy to think about, but this was also my first full year abroad without any trips back to the States since I was a small child. I made trips around Japan to Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe, FukuokaOkinawa, Kagoshima, Yakushima, as well as return trips to Kyoto, Shimoda, Los Angeles, Miami, and Taipei. I love shaking up my external environment as it encourages me to both reflect deeply and step outside myself.
  • It’s amazing how many deep connections with people you can cultivate over time without fully appreciating it, and again this year’s reunions have been rewarding and refreshing. I am grateful to all the people whose friendship I have had the pleasure to re-encounter in Japan this year. (Shout outs to Deanne, Dimitri, Colleen, Oscar, Chris JY, Harmeet, Heather, Molly, Dan, Elise, Chris C., Sam, Sarkis, Will, Priya, Charat, my mama (parts I, II, III, IV) and to Caitlin who I met up with in Vietnam!)
  • I read 11 books this year, which I think is pretty weak. Now that I’ve finished taking the blasted LSAT and applying to law schools I will have more time freed up to read and I hope to blast through my usual diet of novels and add more non-fiction and science books to the mix. Sapiens by Yuval Harari for example has been recommended to me by several people. I think The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories was my favorite this year, which is funny because my favorite book last year was also gifted to me by my friend Fernando. Where will I turn for book recommendations when we’re not living in the same town @moveitlikef3rny? Guess we’ll just have to keep up a long-distance book club 🙂 Typically I read one book and concentrate all my energy on it, but in these past few months I’ve been reading 5 different books at once. My attention span has been flighty, but I much prefer losing myself in one imaginary world or way of thinking before moving on to the next. That way, each period of my life is demarcated by the magic of a particular set of written words. Check out more of this year’s reads on my Books page.
  • My blog continues to be a source of inspiration, blood-letting, and self love. There have been days where I’ve missed a close friend only to scroll through the pages preserved from our time spent together and have those vivid memories come rushing back with full view of the photographic evidence. True to form, talking to myself has proven to be one of the best ways to work through my issues. This year I have had visitors to this page from 56 different countries on 6 continents (for some reason Antarctica does not appear on the wordpress visitor statistics map). Hello to friends far and wide! Thank you for stopping by.
  • The most important lesson I have taken away from this year is the bittersweet embrace of impermanence. So many times in the past I have mourned the lost of certain relationships/friendships, routines, or wonderful daily sights. As I collect experiences that enrich my worldview, I encounter again and again this sadness over the loss inextricably tied to transition. But no moment can last and our true appreciation of the Eternal Present lies in knowing that it can never be lived again. This notion has brought me peace as well as pain. I read a book over the summer called The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy which interprets Stoicism as a school of thought and applies its principles to how to live a good life in modernity. It shares that to hug a loved one as if it could be the last time you will ever be able to do so can bring tranquility instead of anxiety. This reminder of appreciating every moment encourages me to not regret when things change, because I know that in the moment that it was, I loved it completely.

These were my goals for 2017:

  • run my first marathon
  • apply to law school
  • go on a mid distance bike & camping trip
  • get scuba certified
  • learn to pull espresso
  • string together some legit japanese sentences

So how did I do?

√ Crossed the finish line at the Tokyo Marathon.

√ Applied to law schools and am waiting to hear back.

X Sadly, I did not get the chance to go on a biking trip in Hokkaido and instead opted for a hiking trip on Yakushima instead. I hope to complete a multi-day cycling trip in 2018.

X Attempted to get my Open Water Diver Certification during my trip to Okinawa, but due to the restriction on flying within 18 hours of diving, I didn’t have enough days to accommodate the training. I hope to do this sometime in 2018.

X Pulled espresso like a boss at Fuglen Coffee in Shibuya. Yeah, that didn’t happen, but in 2018 I will knock this one out for sure.

√- And I can speak more Japanese than I did this time last year, but still, I’d give myself a C+ for needs improvement on this goal. Language acquisition is a process of life-long learning anyway.

what I want to do in 2018:

  • achieve B2 proficiency on the French DELF scale
    (In case you’re curious…The diplôme d’études en langue française, or DELF, has 4 levels: A1, A2, A1, and B2. The B2 is an advanced intermediate proficiency required for undergraduate and graduate education in France and it tests whether the student has a degree of independence that allows them to construct arguments to defend their opinion, explain their viewpoint and negotiate.  The candidate is expected to have a degree of fluency and spontaneity in regular interactions and is capable of correcting their own mistakes. I’d estimate that I’m at A2 level now but I am still awaiting the results of my official French language evaluation.)
  • travel solo in a foreign country (seems extremely likely to happen with my globetrotting days ahead, and while I have traveled solo in Japan, I also lived there so it doesn’t really count in my mind)
  • get scuba diver certification
  • multi-day biking trip
  • learn to pull espresso
  • travel to 27 countries by the time I turn 27
  • call my mother at least once a week!

take a peek at my year in review from 2016 here if you’re interested

Happy New Year my friends!

xo your friend alice

2017 best nine // @alicelenator on instagramalicelenatorLocation: Tokyo, Japan

CHOLA island (pt. I)

Ahh CHOLA.

It’s a somewhat dorky anagram of the first letter of each of our names which we made up one summer in college when we spent virtually every day together, and has stuck with us through years of friendship and life changes. (And before you say we’re racially insensitive I should disclose that it started out as HOLA, since we are welcoming of everyone we cross paths with, but it became CHOLA because we love Chris too.)

We met in Berkeley in 2011 and our travels have taken us to Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Las Vegas, New York, Japan (check out our adventures in Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo), Miami, and now the Dominican Republic! I love seeing this list of hosting locales for our adventures expand with each year of our friendship. A big lesson in my adult life, and especially my time in Japan, has been the acceptance of impermanence and how the passing of time and change lends unquestionable beauty to life. As much as people and circumstances evolve, I know this core unit of family will always support and love one another and it is one of my greatest blessings in this life. Te quiero mucho mi familia de CHOLITOS y CHOLITA ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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[L to R: Chris, Harmeet, Lindsay, Alice, Oscar]
Berkeley, California (July 2011 – Summer of CHOLA love)
IMG_9887.jpg[L to R: Lindsay, Harmeet, Chris, Oscar, Alice]
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (December 2017)

We visited the Dominican Republic for a week in December with 4 days in the capital city, Santo Domingo, and capped it off at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. The second part of the trip is much as I expected–the blissful relaxation offered by an all-inclusive resort in a tropical paradise felt like unfurling a sail with a gentle breeze running through your salted hair while watching a technicolor pastel sunset–even if it felt a bit too gluttonous by the end. Santo Domingo is where I was really surprised.

The Dominicans we encountered were incredibly friendly and expressive. Their dance moves are bar-none and we happily gobbled up the local specialties every day (shout out to the mofongo and pescado frito!). On our first night we ended up at a bar called Parada 77 in Zona Colonial where it happened to be ladies night and while we were waiting for our free drinks courtesy of double-X chromosomes, the DJ put on Ozuna’s El Farsantewhich is basically Latin Trap music. Every single person in that bar was out of their seats singing along and it became the anthem of our trip.

Si todavía me amas como antes 
Ya nada me parece interesante 
Yo sé que en el amor soy un farsante 
Yo sin ti no vuelvo a enamorarme bebé

While we were encouraged by several locals not to wander the streets after a certain hour as tourists, we never encountered any hostility. I was really pleased that we made the decision to visit Santo Domingo first because as lovely as the beaches were in Punta Cana, we were confined to the resort there, and the experience felt quite sanitized. I don’t think I would have gotten as much of an impression of Dominican culture if we had skipped the capital. Santo Domingo is a highly underrated, majestic city and I really hope to return to the Caribbean someday to feel the carefree rhythm of bodies busting real moves on the dance floor and have another taste of that tender sancocho.
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IMG_0095IMG_0117IMG_0107IMG_0067IMG_0073smudge on my lens and a smirk on my friend’s faceIMG_0070keep that el presidente flowin’ jefe IMG_0015IMG_0016IMG_0014


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IMG_0157.JPGIMG_0174our uber driver who serendipitously led us to the best pescado frito and johnny cakes we’ve ever had 😛IMG_0179IMG_0149IMG_0200IMG_0186IMG_0206Location: Zona Colonial, Los Tres Ojos, Meson d’Bari, Palacio Nacional, Catedral Primada de América, Playa de Boca Chica, Calle La Venezuela

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 

marunouchi から ginza

my walk to work and back home…

I am staying with a lovely friend in higashi-ginza right now and as my days as a resident of this country wind down, I’ve got to savor and memorialize these daily sights and routines.

shin-marunouchi building…where I spend most of my days in JapanIMG_8951IMG_8949IMG_8959IMG_8966IMG_8969views from our balcony…

Location: 銀座 Ginza, Chuo-ku & 丸の内 Marounouchi, Chiyoda-ku // Tokyo, Japan