(30 Days after I Said) Hello Again, the U.S.A.

After the tearful goodbye to Germany, 30 days have passed, and my genuine gratitude towards Germany still strongly remains. Surprisingly, life is really good so far here in the United States of America, a.k.a., the Land of Freedom. I wonder if we are merely fortunate or we became better at detecting the best in matters. Maybe, both.

The magic of this country is the power that can make one instantly believe that anything is possible. You can dream big and achieve big, and you wouldn’t mind working harder if it is to make impossible possible. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind, either. Yes, people DO compete here but that is the sign of the big dreamers and the hard workers. People here, including my own American husband, tell me, “Hey, this is America, you can do anything you want. What are you talking about?” And, such strong vibes make me capable of responding, “Watch me now. I will show you what I’ve got.”

I am really excited that my new full-time job in Washington DC will start in five days. I will meet new people and experience new things throughout the new chapter of my life. This is the place where I will be the better version of myself. Every encounter is your treasure. Once a door is open, it is much easier just to walk inside. You can worry later. There are so many doors open just for you. You will regret if you step back. Just walk in.

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The Shot of Espresso Macchiato in Italy Tells All About Happiness

I have written an article about how much the power of a cup of good coffee contributes to the feelings of happiness before. I also mentioned that my deepest love for coffee started ever since I had a shot of great espresso when I visited Paris for the first time when I was twenty. The exact feeling still stays the same till this day.

Living in Europe for about 8 years in total, finding a cup of good coffee through traveling various places in Europe completely became my greatest joy of everything. I had the amazing opportunities to travel to Rome, Florence and Paris last and this week on vacation and I entertained myself so much, going to different cafes and trying different coffee every single day in Italy and France.

At La Casa Del Caffe in Rome, I finally found the one. The very best coffee I ever had in my life.

As soon as I entered the cafe filled with tourists and locals, I ordered and paid for a shot of espresso macchiato and received the receipt at the cashier. As I handed the receipt to the barista, he promptly placed a tiny saucer and a spoon on the counter right in front of me and hurried his way back to the prestigious-looking coffee machine where the greatest creation was formed with pride.

Within a minute or two, the cute espresso cup filled with the coffee with the drops of milk on top was on the saucer. The taste was just so heavenly- the creaminess of the milk softly wrapped the rich flavor of the coffee. No sugar or anything else was necessary. Just amazing!!! It was the exact moment I truly thought I was the happiest person on earth. I really don’t think I was the only one who felt this way. 

The very next day, I returned to the cafe and tried the cappuccino this time, which was absolutely fascinating also.

Where did you have your best coffee in your life? Have a happy life with coffee, everyone!!!

My Two Grandfathers and the World War II

Today is August 12th, three more days until the 15th. The thought sometimes occurs to me that I would probably not exist in this world if the war did not end on that day in Japan.

Being married to an American, I always have mixed feelings to talk about the war. His side of the story and my side of the story seem to end up hurting each other. We reluctantly conclude that it was the rough time beyond our imaginations. We have watched Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers, but it does not mean that we have experienced the war. The truth is that we have no idea what they have been through. When I think that way, my mind automatically shifts to my two grandfathers in Japan who survived the war when they were teenagers.

My paternal grandfather was 14 years old at that time, volunteered to serve as a Kamikaze pilot, waiting for his order to be sent abroad anytime to accomplish his ultimate mission. My maternal grandfather was 18 and supposed to be drafted two weeks later. Both of them had unquestionable faith in our country and were more than prepared to dedicate and sacrifice their own lives for Japan. Then our emperor announced the end of the war, thus their lives were extended by decades.

I remember I was sitting in the passenger seat and randomly brought the topic up during the long drive from New York to Boston exactly 8 years ago just to kill the boredom and because it was the time the war ended years ago. Then, the driver, who happened to be an American writer and a professor, replied, “It’s your perfect topic of your book to write about,” as if he got some kind of epiphany, but I shamelessly argued, “I don’t want any of my works to be categorized as the minor genre of Asian literature.” Then he added that my background could be the variable strength in my writings that no ordinary Americans could have.

I am still skeptical of his comment although the idea stayed in my head ever since then. My ignorance and lack of the actual experience of the war and the fear to face the reactions of the patriotic Americans kept preventing myself from writing about them. However, I started to think recently that it might actually be interesting to write about them not to sell the Asian-ness in me as a writer but to honor the lives of my grandfathers.