Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bullet train...cough, cough!

J is here! Christmas was awesome with lots of cool, albeit grown-up (no toys!), gifts. Then it was back to work for three days, which we managed rather well although it would have been nice if the leave schedule wasn't so rigid. J slept in two of the three days. Then he came to Yokosuka, where we'd work out, eat lunch, do some work and leave for Yokohama.

We had a delicious meal in Motomachi the night before we left for Kyoto, where I am currently sitting in the Rhino hotel waiting to leave for a delightful day of temple gawking. Yesterday, we saw the Golden Pavillion (Kinkajugi). It was gorgeous! It is a three level shrine with each floor styled differently. The first floor is palace style. The top two are covered in thick gold leaf. The 2nd floor is samurai style and the 3rd is Zen temple style.

The restaurant last night was delicious. We had sashimi, yakatori (chicken on a stick), and yaki udon, a dish of thick white wheat noodles that are so good. It was cooked with a delicious sauce with lots of yummy grease (really!). It went perfectly with beer.

Ok, more later since we're leaving for breakfast now. Keep your fingers crossed. There were eggs in the picture so hopefully, J's day can get off to a good start!

[PS: The title? Here's a few tips if you come to Japan. 1. Buy a Railpass. Seriously. Just do it if you are going to take a trip anywhere outside of your immediate area. 2. When taking the Bullet train on a holiday weekend, buy your tickets for a reserved seat. Because otherwise, you MAY end up STANDING in the smoking car ruing the fact that, you have actually paid a pretty penny for the privilege. J and I headed straight for the ticket counter when we got off and we now have lovely non-smoking reserved seats.]

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I love how just a few beautiful lights and familiar songs can cause a pleasant warmth of happiness. My toasty beverage- hello non-fat latte!- also helps, but overall I'm just so happy it's Christmas.

I have my apartment slightly Christmas'd out. Some lights around the windows and a little, 8 inch Japanese conifer. It looks like a little tree. Two ornaments completely overwhelm it and it has an unfortunate similarity to a rosemary sprig when someone, ok me, forgets to water it.  I had slightly grander plans. I was going to get a foot and a half foot tall tree from Ikea, but ran out of motivation. When I thought about dragging a little tree around on the subway, it seemed tedious and very A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but less poignant.

I have two trips planned- one to Kyoto where we will see many a temple and a short visit to a Ryoken in the Hakone area. Hakone is supposed to be really beautiful with lots of different scenic treats, like a tram up the mountain, a boat across a lake, an extensive sculpture garden. And a Ryoken will be awesome- we'll have a traditional kaseki meal for dinner where multiple small courses are brought into the room's dining area. There's also an onsen (hot tubs fed by natural hot springs) on site. Maybe it will even have a water slide like the last one I went to! That is definitely a story for another time, friends.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wait, what does San Diego mean in Spanish?

I found out 2 days ago that I was selected for an Otolaryngology residency slot in San Diego- hooray! The results from the GME Selection Board were released at noon, EST on 12/12. I was really hoping that everything would work out. Taking my current assignment was something I really wanted, but was slightly risky since I ended up on 2 year orders. My job position, however, goes away once the Kitty Hawk decommissions in July so I'll be freed up to pursue the next step in medical training.

If I hadn't been selected, I would have been very sad because it would have meant that the detailer had a very!special!surprise! for me. But now, my tasty treat will be five (5) years in San Diego doing something I totally love. AND, I get to go to the location that has text pagers, robots in the basement, and dark blue scrubs that look quite nice (shallow, no?).

And I will get to see a lot of my USUHS friends when they come back after being hot shot flight docs! They will have cool jackets and nice tans offset by golden wings embellished by acorns.

BTW, even though I mentioned the release time above, I was actually in bed since it was 2 a.m. here. But I did find out at 0630 since I slept on the ship that night, not because of the results release but because I left my apartment keys on the ship. By the time I figured that out after getting a lovely haircut at Landmark tower and going out to the Kirin beer hall, it was 2300 and I was at my train stop. So, I switched platform sides and went into work a few hours early.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cookies in a Wok!

Every party that J and I had usually had a Mexican fiesta theme. It's just so easy to make Mexican food in bulk and it was so tasty. Fajitas were popular, although my favorite was when I made fish tacos on one of my birthdays. Dee-licious! I think it was Emeril's crème fraiche that took it to the next level. Bam! (Please note, I have only watched Emeril once. And not even a whole show. But I do recommend his fish taco recipe with accompanying sauces on

But you know what I took for granted? My oven. Yes, baker of cookies, roaster of meats, warmer of hors d'oeuvres, essential part of almost 80% of the recipes ever invented! "What," you ask, "is in your Japanese kitchen since your whiny babiness is hinting that you don't have an oven?"

"Well," says I, ignoring the slightly snooty tone of my imaginary inquisitor, "I'm glad you asked. I have a fish broiler."

A fish broiler is a shoebox-size broiler for fish that is just under my stove top range. I'm slightly afraid to use it not because I'm avoiding fish, but because it looks too tiny to clean. It also has a huge potential for a mess. I'm picturing charred fish skin and smoldering fish juice hardening on the bottom like a new level of fossilized rock.

Sue and I are hosting a Christmas party this Saturday at my apartment. It should be fun, but not having a car is testing my strategery skills at how to take things home in a way that will not cause my arms to break off from pain. This lesson was learned the hard way after I thought it would be awesome to transport a 12 piece pots-and-pans set from the Exchange to my house. Eleventy billion pounds later, I was having serious regrets. Although it is nice to have now.

So! Focus! What should I serve? So far, I have come up with meatballs and samosas. I'm also planning on cheese, crackers, fruit, hummus, pita, crudites. For dessert, Rice Krispie treats are doable but again, room in my little bag is precious and RKs are bulky. Snap! Krackle! Pop!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I can't read Kanji!

All the buttons on my blog page are in Kanji and Hiragana. Awesome! I'm trying to figure out which one I'll need to press to post this at all. Fingers crossed!

So, yay! I'm back in Japan! The Kitty Hawk came back a few days early after the Chinese government said, "X-nay on the isit-vay" over Thanksgiving. Yes, that's right. It was pig latin. The last few days people were almost climbing walls we wanted to get off the ship so badly.

The first night, we went out to celebrate Ken the Dentist's (aka Herbie the Elf) birthday. We went to Korean BBQ, which was delicious. This gave J another chance to make fun of me since he asks if I've done anything truly Japanese since I've been here. The reason being that I've been to Yokohama Octoberfest (5 times! Pictures and story to follow!), a Spanish restaurant, an Indian restaurant where I was told what I wanted (I didn't want the chicken platter. I wanted lamb rogan gosh dammit), an Indian Dewali festival, and Chinatown. But they were all really fun. And I have had a few bowls of Udon noodles (so tasty!).

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Now it's tomorrow!

I crossed the International Date Line for the first time today/yesterday. I am still a little hazy on how it works, but I can definitely that if you look out of your window you will not see a dashed line streaking across the sky demarcating the different dates.

But I did see the line on the overhead TVs where the entire trip is played out on a nicely cycled sequence of 5 screens that give the current altitude and temperature in metric and conventional in addition to the time left in the trip and the time at the place of origin and destination. I think my favorite screen is the comically large airplane with a “Family Circus” style line showing the projected travel path.

So, now I’m in Guam waiting for the Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) plane to take me to the Kitty Hawk. I’ll write when I’m actually on the carrier although it might be a few days. Although I’ve already been told that today is drill day and it just so happens to be a mass casualty. Welcome aboard indeed!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mile high!

I am in Denver visiting my friend M. K came out from NYC and the three of us have had so much fun. Friday night, I came in late because a 3 year old threw a tantrum like all get out because he didn't want to sit in anyone's lap. I don't really blame him; how comfortable is it at 3 to be treated like a lap baby? He simmered down right before they were about to throw him off the plane.

So, I was picked up at the airport. We dropped my stuff out at the house, drank some wine, then went out to a wine bar. There, we bought the 2nd cheapest bottle of champagne (read: most popular), which led to another bottle and a cheese plate with very cute, very teeny pyramids of cheese with wee little flags telling us the cheese's origin. Then we went home in quite good moods- everything was riotously funny to include someone's overly aggressive car door opening method (not mine! seriously!).

The next day, the neighbor's home improvement project started at 7 a.m. with metal carving for 2 hours. Sleep!over!now! We went hiking in the Flatirons and saw the Magic Arch. Then we went out to dinner to celebrate one of M's friend's birthday after we watched _Thank You For Smoking_, which was quite good. Afterwards, we went out to a crowded bar with an awesome rooftop deck.

Today, we went to the Rockies game, which was awesome b/c it meant I had the opportunity to be officially mile-high in Denver. I thought I already was, but apparently not since only the nosebleed seats made it above the esteemed altitude.

Tomorrow, it's back to San Diego for about 18 hours before I fly out to Guam. I'll leave for the ship on the 2nd via COD (Carrier onboard delivery) by a C-2 greyhound.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Boat school is over! Today was graduation with a certificate attesting that I earned 66 CME credits. Yay! This is something that I didn't care about at all until very recently, when I learned that CME is how you keep your state license. Prior to that, I thought it was something I would only have to worry about when I became board-certified. BTW, that will be in about a hundred billion years.

Tomorrow, I am going to the hospital to attend morning education lectures and to talk/interview with the program director for the SD residency. It's more for information so that I can make a more informed choice when applying for GME-2. Also, Bethesda will definitely undergo some big changes with the BRAC and combining of the hospitals. Although people say it will be the biggest and greatest, I definitely have some doubts as to how high a priority a little ol' 2012 ENT chiefie will be in the grand scheme of things. And although I'm used to being somewhat low on the totem pole (HELLO internship year!), I think it would stink to have procedure numbers affected while bigger battles are being fought.

Monday, July 23, 2007

San Diego Favorites

I'm not much of a "best ever!" person, but I definitely can be coaxed into making a favorites list. I have had a great time in San Diego, which will soon be over. So, from both this visit and previous ones...

Point Loma Seafood
My younger younger brother showed me this one. Unfortunately when we went, it was closed. But this place has the best seafood sandwiches and platters. They fry all the fish though, so it's not J's favorite place but yum! It is so good. The last two times I've been, I've gotten the Alaskan Haddock sandwich. So, so good.

Bogart Yogurt
J's stepsister brought us here. The first time I went, I got something chocolate/coffee-ish. But it was instant love when I looked at J's choice. A berry flavor mixed in with vanilla. I've gotten that combo a few times since and it is so good.

Extraordinary Desserts
I haven't been back this visit but the cakes are so elaborate and delicious. They look like works of art. One time, one of the bakers almost dropped one while transferring it to the display case. We both looked at each other thinking that she was extremely lucky. It could have ended badly. The slices, BTW, are impossible to finish and always decorated with a delicious complimentary (in flavor) sauce swirl.

Surfside Sushi
Half-price roll night, HALF-PRICE ROLL NIGHT!! Oh crunchy roll, I love you. Your questionable deliciousness as a plain roll (imitation crab, say what?) is wiped away in an avalanche of crunchy goodness in the form of fried tempura batter covered in special sauce. Oh, crunchy roll, I whisper sweet nothings to you.

The Mission
The Rosemary Mission egg platter and strawberry-banana pancakes are delicious. Another place I haven't been to this visit, but oh so tasty.

Torrey Pines
What, no more food? Torrey Pines is gorgeous. I've run the trails there a few times and the views are gorgeous and the windswept sand cliff are at once sturdy and precarious.

Coronado Beach
It's a hike to the water, but a beach not under imminent erosion threat and with beautiful sand holds a place in my heart. It's also where I devoured most of the Harry Potter book. I know how it all ends!

Cabrillo National Monument
J and I went here last time we were here. It has a seemingly infinite view with rock and sand cliffs. It is so gorgeous and untamed I loved being there. To top it off, we saw a school of dolphins right off the coast. Ridiculously postcard.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Sitting in my BOQ room, I realize that if I lived here for an extended period, I could comment extensively on weddings. Right behind the BOQ (ambience!) there's actually a beautiful water view and a lot of couples take advantage of it. Even on Wednesdays! The topic I have the strongest feelings about is the toast. Unfortunately the AC outside my window kicks in when I'm most interested in eavesdropping on whatever train wreck is being broadcast through the microphone. Tonight's winner was definitely the uncle toasting his "favorite niece." His theatrical vocal inflection begged for laughter at certain lines. Unfortunately, no one did. And this was a crowd that laughed uproariously at other toasts. I guess a fourth-hand recounting of the engagement story didn't tickle anyone's funny bone.

What am I doing in my BOQ room? Typing (← that’s about as funny as the uncle). After going out the past few weeks with visitors and hanging out with friends, this is the weekend that I am all alone! Which is totally manageable, but no cool Saturday night things popped up so I decided to organize my things. *Yawn* The main motivation for this is to make 110 pounds of essential things somehow magically consolidate into 50 pounds, give or take. But I can’t help the fact that I’m taking tons of uniforms with accompanying shoes. And important! documents! that could not simply be packed for the identity thieves to steal. Plus, I do have some normal people clothes, make-up, shoes, and other things that turn into lead once I zipper the bag shut.

I am in a state of disgusting over-packedness because I am soon headed to the Western Pacific to meet up with the ship I will be a GMO (general medical officer). There I will take all my mad inpatient skills of pain control, crazy potent antibiotics, fever work-ups, and the occasional surgery and toss them overboard in favor of a potpourri of outpatient clinic visits with lots of ortho and GYN complaints. Nice. I’ve definitely changed the focus of my nightly reading and it’ll be a challenge but I’m really excited.

After about 2 months afloat, I’ll be in Japan. I can’t wait. It is something so totally new that I want to preserve the feeling of complete and total disorientation. Hopefully, I’ll adapt and make a life of my own among the newness. At the same time, I definitely want to avoid glamorizing, idealizing, or exoticizing the unfamiliar. I want to minimize the observation by the artist Vik Muniz, “So much of what we see is based on what we already know.” I want to remove the distorting lens and filters of my previous experience. Which is completely and totally impossible. Oh, the tension! It warms my religion major’s soul. A little liberal arts trained thinking during my most operational experience yet? Sweet!