Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sunny San Diego!

Last Thursday, I left Tokyo and arrived in San Diego 5 hours before I left that same day!  Oh, things are wild and crazy when the international date line is involved!

Yes, it's time to see SMS again!  It had been a month since I'd seen him and in the interim, two snowstorms had hit the greater Yokosuka area.  This was much to SMS' chagrin since he would have liked to see it although knowing his allergy to cold, it probably wouldn't have been that cool.  It would have been fun to go sledding together- if he had been there, I would have gone out in the crazy wind and snow rather than staying comfortably inside.

But all that bad weather is left far, far behind now that I'm in the completely gorgeous, 60-70s degree temps and completely loving it!  My appreciation for San Diego is renewed.

Anyway, enough weather talk!  Small talk, chit-chat, boring!

So, SMS picked me up at the airport.  We waited for my billion-pound bag together and then hopped in the car.  I thought we were going to Newport Beach but he missed the first turn-off for the I-5 and then he missed the second.  He pulled into Little Italy and I thought, "MACAROONS!" because I thought he was taking me to the bakery where they are delicious and not stupidly priced.

Instead, he clicked a button and a garage door swung open.  He had planned something much, much better than macaroons (I know, how is that possible?!?).  We were having a mini-vacation in Little Italy!  Hooray!  My travels were done!

We stayed at the Pensionne Hotel.  It was very cute and in the heart of Little Italy.  I love that neighborhood.  We walked down to the harbor and then to dinner at Davanti Enoteca.  Dinner was outstanding!  We had their focaccia, which is more like a really cheesy double-crusted crispy flatbread.  It was awesome.  We also had a delicious mascarpone polenta with lamb shoulder ragu, yummy green salad, anchovies and a cheese plate.  I had two new-to-me cheeses at SMS' recommendation.  Both were terrific: La Tur and Robiola Bosina.

The next day, we had breakfast at Extraordinary Desserts.  We had coffee and granola.  It was good but I would like to go the Sunday breakfast spread at some point.  That sounds amazing.  Then, it was off to Newport Beach for a sunny, awesome beach weekend.

On the way, SMS stopped by Suny's camera store to get the last few details of his Toyo GII 4 x 5" camera rental for his San Diego film photo shoot.  We went to Santa Monica Seafood for a delicious (and somewhat pricey) lunch.  Finally, I got my hair cut for the first time since last Summer.

Then, it was time to kick back at the beach.  We had a great weekend, but more to come in another post!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lucky me!

I am a lucky woman.  SMS is so in love with me that he'll indulge my ridiculous tastes.  Last week, I got a care package *yay!* that contained delicious coffee from Cafe Calabria and two bags of Kale Krunch.

If you think the coffee is ridiculous, get off this blog! (No wait, don't!)  It's the kale chips that are crazy. The Krazy Kale Krunch is a delicious bag of kale chips (khips?).  It also retails for just under $6/bag.  SIX DOLLARS A BAG!  That is KRAZY!

When I eat the kale chips, I think they are delicious.  This lasts for the four chips that are actually intact.  Then I start eating the crumbs.  Midway through eating the crumbs, I start to feel that the crumbs look and smell like the fish food I used to feed my...you guessed it, fish.  I also start to suspect that maybe the price is due to the special crunch that only ground up $100 bills can provide.  But still, I love kale chips and SMS knows this and he spends ridiculous money at ridiculous grocery stores (I'm looking at you Whole Foods) to send me super sweet care packages.

But, I decided enough is enough!  This decision occurred when I started looking on Amazon and saw I could buy myself 12 bags for $65.  That is a nice dinner out!  KRAZY!

So, I Googled kale chips recipes and have already made two batches.  (BTW, does anyone remember when people were all up in arms about "Google" becoming a verb?  I think that was 2005/6-ish and baby, that verb is here to stay!).
First batch!

My first batch was a simple coating of olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper.  They were pretty delicious.  I cannot vouch for the authenticity of my olive oil's origins though, which make me sad ever since my olive oil innocence was ruined by this article.

Second batch!
The second batch aimed to emulate the cheezy coating on the commercial chips.  I used this recipe and while I was missing the red pepper and had far too little nutritional yeast, I think the coating came out pretty well.  I can't wait to stock up on some cooking goods in San Diego and follow the recipe exactly.  I think good things will come of it!

Finally, in case kale grosses you out or you think I'm some sad, washed-out hipster who thinks she lives in Brooklyn c.2011, here are some pretty pictures from my balcony.  I love the sunset colors and Tokyo Skytree in the far-off background.

Then, this morning, there was a small parade of four fishing boats trawling about 30 feet away from the sea wall.  Sagoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Google+ is Magical

Somehow, Google+ uploaded my picture and made a snow effect.  I'd be creeped out but I'm too mesmerized by the snow to care.  Well-played, Google, well-played.


I feel super lucky because my awesome brother and his equally awesome girlfriend came out to Japan this past week.  It was fairly last-minute (read: only a few weeks of planning) but they had the best itinerary and it was so wonderful to see them.

I met them in Yokohama the night they arrived and drove them back to Muhari-cho.  We hung out for a bit and then everyone turned in for the night.  The next day, I went to work and came home for lunch, thinking they'd still be there since we got in late the night before.  They were gone!  Sagoy!  I was very impressed by their initiative.  They went to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka.  It sounds like a great trip and they went to a few places in Kyoto that are now on my list- the bamboo forest and the 10,000 torii gates.

1. Anime snow-animal in Yoyogi 2. Harajuku 3. View of Mt Fuji from the Shin
They were gone from Wednesday to Saturday and came home Saturday night in the worst snowstorm the Kanto plain has seen in 47 years.  They were super lucky in catching the train all the way home, even though the caveat to their luckiness was the train went about 2 mph from Yokohama to Horinouchi.  They got home at 0230...blech!  The next day, they slept in a bit then we all headed into Tokyo.  We went to Yoyogi Park and Harajuku before heading on the Shinkasen to Nagano to go skiing for two days!!!

We were heading to Nozawa-onsen and getting there was pretty easy.  We took the Shinkansen Asama from Tokyo to Nagano.  Then we took a local JR Iiyama line train for about an hour to TogariNozawaOnsen.  Apparently, there is a Nozawa station that is 4 hours away from the ski resort.  That would be a bad sagoy!  At the train station, the first two groups got cabs while the rest of us suckers were in the cold with no cabs.  We arrived after the Y300 bus, so we were stuck waiting for a cab (~Y3000).  We knew that we were arriving after the last bus, but we didn't expect so few cabs!  The station attendant helpfully pointed out the cab numbers and I mustered up my best Japanese (terrible) and called them to ask for cabs.  I got the hang of it on the fourth call and two cabs showed up.  Yeah!  Now really, I have no idea if this was coincidence or not but I think my fourth phone call was pretty clear.  The first two were not as I wasn't very clear which station I was at and the third was to a disconnected number.

We stayed at Petit Hotel Nozawa-onsen Inn and it was perfect!  It was inexpensive, the rooms were warm and they served a delicious breakfast for only Y500.  They also had ski rentals for Y1500.  Awesome!

The rooms were Japanese-style with futons and comforters.  It was decently comfortable although the walls were thin and we were near the sinks and bathrooms.  I learned that people in the onsen had excellent oral hygiene and definitely brushed their teeth for 2+ minutes.
1. Onsen room 2. View from my window 3. Me, happy to be skiing!
Nozawa-onsen ski resort was AWESOME!  The snow was incredible- all-natural, dry powder and just amazing to ski on.  I was a little rusty and only went on a black twice (once by accident...yeep!), but the intermediate slopes were so pleasant apart from moderate iciness on the Skyline run on the second day. The views were pretty spectacular though!
From left CW: 1. I am so happy to be out skiing 2. Japanese ski outfits 3. View 4. Ed and Meg 5. Day's end

My favorite runs were at the top of the mountain to the left of the topmost quad lift.   The snow was consistently fantastic and there was some off-piste skiing that had great powder and not too many trees.
After the second day of skiing, we headed back home.  We stopped in Tokyo station and went to ramen alley.  Meg picked out the restaurant and it was delicious!  It's called Tokyo Edoama and specializes in miso broth ramen.  I ordered the #1 Tokyo special and it was tasty.  Meg got a crazy-spicy soup.  Her spice tolerance impressed Ed and I.  I would definitely recommend the restaurant although I think I will try another one next time I go just to make the rounds.
Ed takes several pictures at a time.  I did not know that.  Let me caption them (L-R): 1. Yay, I love ramen! (cute) 2. Time to Eat 3. Are you still taking pictures? 4. Wait, seriously? 5. No more pictures! For real!
The next day, I had clinic, boo.  Ed and Meg went into Tokyo and we met up in Yokohama for dinner. We wanted to go to the sushi-go-round in World Porters but it was closed.  We headed back to Yokohama station and we went to the same izakaya I went to the weekend to the Thrash Zone.  It was still delicious and we had great yakitori in addition to a few other small dishes.  Ed and Meg really liked it.
From top CW: Izakaya, Ed and Meg, Panorama of Yokohama from vantage point I think SMS would like!

Then, whah!  Our fun visit was over.  They had a last half-day in Tokyo while I went back to work.  I had the best day yet in Yokosuka, professionally-speaking.  I did a left parotidectomy that went really well without any post-opertive facial nerve paresis.  It was a GREAT day and one that makes me really happy that I'm a surgeon.  So that partially healed my sads caused by Ed and Meg leaving.

Next visitors: Mom and Dad in April!  Leave is approved and I cannot wait to travel around with them!!!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

This wasn't even the worst of it!
Nice. Humming Christmas songs in February.

But really, the weather is terrible!  It's been gusting and snowing all day.  Apparently, we've gotten 4-8 inches depending on one's location in the greater Yokosuka area.  I have not been outside because I am old, cranky and do not own a sled.  If I owned a sled, I may have headed out but the winds are going at 40 mph so probably not.

Also, this morning?  The temperature inside the house was 7 degrees Celsius.  I'll translate: 44 degrees Farenheit.  That's ridiculous.  I kept trying to see my breath fog up but I had no luck.  But I cranked my little kerosene heater up!

Ed and Meg are much braver than I and are out in Tokyo.  They went to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka over the last few days.  Very cool!  We were going to meet in Tokyo but I didn't want to get stuck up there so I stayed home and studied.  Nerd alert!  I think they'll make it back tonight but the trains are delayed and probably pretty crowded.

Today I studied, did a yoga video, ate lots of snacks and studied some more.  I also found the video below in someone's "Link List Friday."  It's really sweet and really sad.  I started crying and that takes a lot from a video.  Or maybe I am old, cranky AND a crybaby.  What a winning combination!

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Yay, my brother and his girlfriend are here!  I'm so excited to have visitors even though I was shocked when I came home for lunch and they were already gone!  Whah!  My house must stink!

JK, I knew they were leaving for Kyoto today but I'm very impressed they made it out the door before noon the day after a huge amount of travel.  We're going to hang out this weekend in Tokyo and we're going skiing next week.  Awesome!  I can't wait.

I picked them up in Yokohama last night and we went to a sushi go-round, which was one of the things they definitely wanted to do in Japan.  It's a Y100 sushi place but it's pretty good and we had a lot of delicious food and caught up.  Both of them are so funny and tell great stories so we have lots more to talk about when I see them again, especially since they'll have their Kyoto tales by that point.  They're also going to Osaka and Kanazawa.

He told me about the Ninjadera temple in Kanazawa that I really want to go to!  It has a lot of awesome defenses built into it and it sounds so cool.  I think SMS would really like it based on what Ed said.

Work is going well.  I operated two days in a row so I am really happy.  Clinic is a little boring today and I came home for a long lunch before two ear cleaning appointments.  Awesome.  Definitely the highlight of the week.

I have a Japanese lesson tomorrow and I'm going to study a lot of ENT so that I can basically take Monday and Tuesday off.  I'll bring my iPad so I can study from GoodReader but I don't think it'll be the most productive.  I want to hang out with my guests!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

January, You Are Over

Oh my gosh, time does go by faster as an adult than as a kid.  While this thought is neither profound nor original, it is still pretty amazing to actually experience.  Fortunately, there's an element of "the days are long but the years are short" so I do feel that I've gotten a lot done and experienced new things.

A few January highlights...
* SMS and I spent 3/4 of the month together.  While we both can't wait to be together for reals, we had so much fun together.  We went to Singapore, explored Japan, took Japanese lessons, played a new "sport" (Park Golf), ate good food and just had the best time together.  Hooray!

* I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  The writing was incredibly lush and the way she put the emotion of grief into words was amazingly gifted.  I even learned a few words...my favorite?  Elide.  But that's only because I can't remember any others off the top of my head.  I also really, really want to see the painting now.  But in terms of an overall reading experience, I was moved but mostly in an unpleasant way.  The story is really sad and there's just so much wasted human life because of an endless loop of misperceptions, undealt-with emotions and fear.  There are a lot of really vivid descriptions of what it's like to be on drugs, which makes total sense once I realized that the author went to Bennington College.  (Cheap shot alert!)  So, overall, I would recommend it but only if you have a strong resolve to not be affected and filled with malaise while reading.  Hmmm, maybe reading on a bright Summer day would be helpful?  Her writing is so amazing though that I think I'll read The Secret History at some point.

* Currently, I'm reading This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, one of my favorite authors.  It's good b/c it's a collection of essays so I don't get horribly sucked in and neglect sleep, studies and work.

* Hmmmm, no new bands really.  I would like to listen to more Band of Horses and I started listening to some new playlists on Songza to try and be cool.  I looked over the Coachella 2014 line-up and I am pretty out of it.

* I started watching Breaking Bad with SMS but then we went on hiatus b/c it was depressing.  Between that and The Goldfinch I wasn't doing too well for a couple of days, ha ha.  He's currently on a watching spree though.

* I got serious about studying for boards.  That's good because that sort of needed to happen.

*In other work-related news, I signed up for the San Francisco match, which is the application processing center used for neurotology applications.  There is, in fact, no neurotology program in San Francisco.  It's just the name of the match (which is used for lots of other residency and fellowship programs too).

* Future vacation with SMS?  Start budgeting for said vacation now since I also want to include the Shanghai, Terracota Warriors and Great Wall of China excursion.  Oh my tastes...so expensive.