Tuesday, February 19, 2008


If my apartment had a sound system like every other building in Japan, it would have “Auld Lang Syne” on repeat since today is the day that my place completely empties out of visitors- temporarily! Since I had to go back to work today (boo!), everyone took off with his/her lovely JR railpass off to Kyoto and other far-off places like Nara and Hiroshima. Laddie and Karen will be back Friday, then Brady and Ed will return Saturday for a night out in Tokyo before everyone leaves on Sunday.

On Sunday, we went into Tokyo and had an awesome time in Asakusa (“Old Edo”) and Harajuku/Ometesando. Asakusa has a more historic feel to it with a very cool temple at the end of a long pedestrian shopping strip. My favorite shrine is the one protecting against the raccoon dog. It’s the one with the large statue surrounded by tiny figures wearing little red hats.

Harajuku was awesome! I had never been on the main shopping street that parallels Ometesando-dori. I loved it. It was a very energetic scene. Before we went to the shopping street, we saw the Goth kids on the bridge and the greasers dancing in the park. We got snickety-snacks there that were uniformly delicious with the exception of Brady’s yucky half-raw fishcake meatballs.

After Harajuku, we had the train ride from hell back since we were all tired. I was tired to the point of having us head the wrong way for 20 minutes, which led to a 40 minute delay. As a result, we got to the sushi go-round super late, about 10 minutes before the last order. So rather than have a nice, leisurely “Oh, that looks lovely, please grab that from the conveyer belt for me” type of dinner, we had a hurriedly ordered (but delicious!) dinner straight from the menu.

Monday, we went to the ship for a tour, which was awesome b/c a friend of mine on duty took us down to the engine rooms. Total bonus! Everyone got to climb down the scary ladders to DC central and 2 Main Machinery Room (MMR). We also toured the medical spaces, Foc’sle, and Flight Deck.

Afterwards, we went to Kamakura and saw the Kannon-Hase, the Great Buddha, and went shopping.

Tuesday, we went to Hakone and the Open Air Museum. Even cooler for me was that we continued up the mountain by cable car and then across huge steaming rock fields by a gondola-type ride. It was great! Then we went back to the sushi go-round where we had the real experience since we had about an hour before closing this time.

So, until Friday, I will be a boring worker bee in the most Catch-22 like workplace I’ve ever been in.

BTW, the “Auld Lang Syne” thing is not a joke. When things are closing, the song will play REPEATEDLY for 10 minutes. It gets old, really quickly.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Smooth as butter!

I've been mixing up a lot of cliches lately, so I didn't know if I should say "Smooth as silk" but regardless, picking up Laddie and Ed went very well. Like, they-walked-out-of-customs-and-I-was-standing-right-there well. So, hooray! I am capable of picking people up at the airport.

Laddie and Ed were actually seat mates, which was nice for them. Laddie had the window and Ed had the aisle since they were in a 2-5-2 seated plane. They had to get Ed's original guy to move, who was gracious enough to sit down next to a very bitter woman. Who apparently was quite a sourpuss even before she knew she wouldn't get to sit next to Laddie after all.

Today, Brady, Karen, and I moved slightly slowly out the door (by 10!) and went to the Sumo Stadium (Ryogoku) to look for my camera which I had misplaced after one too many Sapporo tall boys. While I have a rather poor feeling about my camera, it ended up that we showed up on the day a professional sumo wrestler was set to retire. So we saw a bunch of sumo wrestlers and a 1 hour, 45 minute hair-cutting ceremony that ended with the severing of the wrestler's top knot. It was awesome to have seen sumo wrestling. That's one of things I love about Japan- stumbling upon things I never knew were there, mostly because of the language barrier. While the barrier can be quite inconvenient at times, it definitely gives a sense of adventure to otherwise routine outings. We were going to go to the Tokyo-Edo museum and Asakusa. Probably won't get to the museum this trip, but we're going to Asakusa tomorrow.

Trip to Japan Qoute of the Day #2
"Tierney, is your toilet from the future? There are so many buttons!" -Ed

Friday, February 15, 2008

50% capacity

So, right now my apartment is way fuller with my lovely sister and lovely Karen dead asleep. As a tribute to my permanent title of "Hostess with the Mostest," Karen is sleeping in a sweatshirt as her blanket is in the dryer. Oh, and her head is lying on a towel (clean!) over her pillow since the pillowcase (also clean!) is still a touch damp. Oh, Japanese dryers, you are so slow!

So, here are a few tips for picking people up at the airport. Being on time? It is a good thing. Tied in with that is customs here takes about 20 minutes so pretending it will take an hour? Not a good idea. In addition, a good meeting spot is also key.

Another very important piece of travel knowledge goodness? KNOW WHAT AIRLINE YOUR FRIEND IS ON!!! I had assumed that Karen was on American since everyone else is taking that airline. This was an ASSumption for sure since she was on Continental, meaning we were wandering around in two separate terminals. Thank goodness for Al Gore inventing the internet though. A profanity-laced email decrying the situation of not having found each other almost two hours later was sent from me, to Karen, with love. Don't get me wrong. None of the language was directed at anyone- I was just way stressed that I had missed such a vital piece of info when collecting people's travel plans. But it all worked out because in addition to my lovely language selection (Dear self, lose the inner sailor), I provided my phone number, Karen called, and we all lived happily ever after.

"But where's Ed?" you ask. In New York, with Laddie-kins, waiting for a 11:30 flight that is currently expected to leave around 2:30. It turns out that on Valentine's Day, he was in New York and his passport was in Washington, DC on an unexpected rendezvous. So, he changed his flight and drove back to DC in a minivan. Brady, meanwhile, was almost thrown off the plane (her bags actually were). A very mean, Grinch-like ticket agent yelled at her (YELLED at her! My sister! I could punch him in the nose!) that she was to fly out tomorrow, never mind what her itinerary and boarding pass said. After making a huge scene, the big jerkface was ganged up against by a posse of saintly stewardesses who took Brady's side, the side of all that is true and good! Although Brady was pretty upset, guess who got an upgrade to Business Class. Pretty clutch for a trip to Tokyo although Brady's dubious whether or not it was really worth it.

Laddie, BTW, was always scheduled to leave on the 15th.

Japan Visit Day #1 Quote of the Day: The thing about Japanese food- and sometimes Chinese- is that it's really good but as soon as I'm done, I want the taste out of my mouth immediately. -Karen

Thursday, February 7, 2008

February Visit!

I am so excited! 1 week until Ed, Brady, Laddie and Karen come to visit. I came up with the following rough itinerary just to try and give a possible framework for their time here in Japan. The only thing I am slightly sad about is not having the whole time off, but it's ok! I'm going to take the entire time my Mom's here off, so I'll go to Kyoto then and even see the cherry blossoms- AWESOME! Hopefully, the weather will be nice.

15 Feb: Karen, Ed and Brady arrive, almost at the same time
Yokohama night- Motomachi or Kannai(fun bar areas)

16 Feb: Laddie arrives
Meet Laddie in Tokyo- check out Akihabra, Shibuya, and Ropponggi

17 Feb: Tokyo Day! Fish market, river cruise to Asakusa, Harajuku
in the afternoon, Meiji shrine, Ometasando-dori with
the automatic wine dispenser bar and the awesome
French styled food court (but WAY nicer) at the train

18 Feb: Kamakura during the day, Yokosuka at night for

19 Feb: Hakone circuit (open-air museum, beautiful
scenery, Mt. Fuji views)

20 Feb: Imogen back to work
Tokyo Day or head to Kyoto

21 Feb: Kyoto

22 Feb: Kyoto

23 Feb: Nara or Osaka, return to Yokohama

24 Feb: Airport by 1600. Hang out in Yokohama during the day and go on the Ferris Wheel.

*Ring, ring* God's calling you!

Last night I was on duty. At about 2100, a kid fell up a ladder. As it turned out, he fell down a (long) ladder while climbing up it. He was sent to the ER with a suspected hand fracture, which couldn't be confirmed on the ship due to lack of Xray qualified personnel in the duty section. It turned out to be a rather involved fracture of his right (dominant) hand. At our morning meeting today, the following conversation occurred:

Me: " So, I guess he's seeing Ortho today. It's too bad because he's supposed to start leave today. He's planning on going to the States tonight. Apparently, he was pretty upset when he was told he might not be able to go."

Someone: "Well, I heard that he was going to propose to his girlfriend while he was back."

[Everyone makes "oh that's too bad" faces and sad sounds. Except...]

Ship's PA: "That's what you call divine intervention!"