Saturday, October 26, 2013

YouTube round-up!

I love my friend Rose. She completely dispels the myth that moms are uncool. She's the coolest and by hanging out with her, I am able to update the latest awesomeness from YouTube.

First up, she and her group of friends dressed up as foxes. As well they should but here's Ellen setting up the scene for America.



And here's the full video-


We also spent the night Twitter-talking with hashtags.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Moving Day!

What, it isn't normal to have a fourth moving day in 2 months!?  Well, today is the big one- all of our furniture arrives!
Good bye old man chair, I'll have some nicer things now to sit in while I spy on the neighborhood!

I've been so excited about today. The past weekend was super mellow. I was on call, which was a great excuse to sit around the house and play on the computer. It was a little overdose but fun to enjoy my newly connected Internet!  I did head over to Ikego for a nice dinner on Saturday with some people from the hospital. It was at Dave and Ashley's house and the guest list included Rod, Theresa, Jamie, Peter, Scott and Melissa. It was a great group and not too much work talk. Among us, we had OBGyn, ENT, GS and ophtho represented!

Monday, I went over to Aaron's house for dinner. It is a gorgeous home and in such a neat location. His house is in a quiet neighborhood but there's a more vibrant area around the train station. We had steak, asparagus, chard and bread. Yum!  It had been a minute since I had a steak!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Awesome Day!

Yesterday, was my first awesome day here in Japan relative to how I feel like I fit into this place.  Of course, I still stick out like a sore thumb and need to work on my Japanese but I had such an awesome experience today that it was a huge weight off my shoulders/sigh of relief like, "Oh, I can belong(ish)."

I went out to Blue St yesterday after checking on a quick issue at work and an awesome workout (don't worried, I showered and changed!).  I was on a mission to get a phone, likely an iPhone.  I was using a pay-as-you-go flip phone that charges pretty high rates and has awful texting.  I remember a few years ago how stupid I thought texting was and now?  Text away my friends.

Blue St is the main street outside the gate that borders Hon-cho, or "The Honch."  The Honch is the easiest bar area to access right off base so there are a lot of people out most nights and this is where Shore Patrol hangs out.  During the day, there are lots of little shops and people going in and out.  Due to the proximity of the base, most of the service oriented shops (cell phones, housing agencies, internet) have English speaking workers.

Anyways, I went into a cell phone shop and a woman asked, "Can I help you?"  It was Ayuko, my soon-to-be-BFF for the next hour.  I had seen signs for "0 Yen" iPhones and asked her about them.  Basically, it's a lot like American contracts in that the phone is subsidized through the course of a 2-year contract.  This is awesome b/c it meant I could sign up that day and not pay upfront like the Softbank counter in the NEX makes customers do.  So instead of paying $600-$700 upfront for an iPhone, I get it for "free."  If I leave before Oct 2015 (and I better), I simply pay the # of months left x 1/24 of the price.   So, I'll end up paying ~$100 rather than the NEX price.  Score!
My other new BFF!
So, I was pretty happy.  You might be wondering why it took me so long in the first place?  Well, I just couldn't handle one more thing during Sept/early Oct.  There was just so much on my plate I couldn't muster up the mental energy to do an optional errand.  Don't worry- I was still showering and functioning on a pretty good level so no breakdown mode.  I just needed a little time and space and Sept/early Oct just didn't offer it for me.

I pulled out a little document holder so that I could store my phone documents away when Ayuko exclaimed, "JComm?!?!"  The folder was from JComm, the internet company that covers my apartment.  It turns out that AU, the company I went with for the phone service, and JComm are merged.  She got very excited and said, "Let's save some money."  She reviewed my JComm contract.  She managed to upgrade my service, get the installation fee waived (5000 Y) AND get a 1400Y monthly discount on my cell phone bill!  Awesome!  It took awhile to get it all sorted out but I was really happy.  I left and excitedly called SMS on Facetime and told him every boring detail (believe it or not, it's the short version above!).

But you know why I'm happy?  It's not so much the money saved, although of course that's nice.  It's the fact that someone was so willing to help.  Being a foreigner unable to speak the language is just a set-up for getting ripped off and just generally feeling out of place.  The fact that Ayuko offered great customer service and helped me out was such a welcome relief.  I know, it's technically her job to sell things and she was probably happy to sell an iPhone that day but it was so awesome that she went above and beyond for me.

And now SMS and I can call each other all the time!  Awesome.  I do need to figure out a way to attach a cell phone charm.  Then I'll really fit in!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gai-Jin Godzilla Shoplifter

It was a Thursday night. Well, really, it was 7 o'clock but it felt really late since it's dark by 5:15. I have been in love with a certain orange little guy lately and I was determined to find more of his kind.
Oh, persimmons!  I love you!  So delicious! 

I decided to walk to the grocery store. The first one was closed but no biggie, I figured that one out on my own.  So, off to LIVIN I went. I entered and grabbed a yellow basket that was by the door. I headed to the produce sections and picked up six of my lil' loves.   Then, I was moseying around, picking out figs, grapes and...

" Oh my god, what are you doing?! Don't do that!  Please stop!  You don't even understand what I'm saying do you!  Augh, you are bringing disorder and chaos to our peaceful land. Please, wait here, don't move, please!"


This, is at least, an approximate translation of what was all of a sudden being yelled at me. Not yelling by volume, but definitely by tone. A little stocker/store worker had torn me from my fruitful reverie and all of a sudden it was clear that I was doing something very, very disturbing. 

So, I did what she said and just stood there as she ran off. At this point, I really had no idea what I had done, I just knew that I had done something wrong. 

She quickly returned with another basket, this one gray colored. We transferred my things, bowed and said a lot of Sumimasens.  We then parted ways.  

I still had no idea what exactly was wrong. I thought maybe it was another store's basket since all of a sudden, I realized everyone had the gray baskets.  

At the checkout, I paid for my purchases and at that moment, realized what I had done.  In Japan, the cashier rings you up and then you take your things to a little counter space just past the register to bag your things. Sometimes the cashier gives you bags, other times they're at the counter space (this is mainly a grocery store thing).   Anyways, as the clerk rang up my purchases, he transferred the items from the gray basket to a bright yellow basket!!!  I had been using a yellow, "already paid for" basket!!  Basically, I was the most ridiculous shoplifter ever. Don't mind me, I've already paid for these persimmons!  Just blending in with the crowd, yessiree!

Seriously, though, I almost gave that woman a heart attack. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mis-adventures in Japan

So, this was just inspired by the fact that I'm in my office waiting for an after-hours Japanese-American doctor social to start and I decided to practice my hiragana.  I opened up what I thought was graph paper but instead, it's one sheet and the main point of the purchase with the page protector the insert was in.  Le sigh.

Other things that have happened include Jenn and my's adventure in Yokohama.  First, we went to an "Ethiopian" place since Jenn was craving Ethiopian food.  Well, craving unsatisfied since the restaurant was, essentially, a Japanese curry place.  Then, we went to a restaurant for dessert.  We were seated and tried to order dessert.  The waiter said that he was very sorry but they were only taking dinner orders.  So we were escorted from the restaurant.  That was so weird it wasn't even embarrassing!

Finally, when I went to Narita, I took the Skyliner Express, which granted, was pretty swank.  It also required the purchase of two tickets, i.e. double the price.  Doh!

Edited to add: Last night had an AWESOME example. There was a providers' social at the O Club for the Naval Hospital and the local university. The XO was giving an introduction and, wanting to stress the importance of our joint efforts in caring for patients, said, "I am fairly certain that in every language, there is a saying, 'Strength in Unity.'" The translator stood there, completely unable to translate. There was an awkward silence and someone from the audience suggested, "Teamwork?" Still silent. Thus, the nascent sentiment of universalism was nipped in the bud.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Apartment!

Last Thursday, I officially moved into my new apartment.  Well, really, it's SMS and mine but I don't want to seem like I refer to myself with the royal "we!"  The apartment is gorgeous and satisfies all of the "Would be nice to haves..." that SMS gave me since he couldn't go apartment hunting with me.  It's 2 bedrooms, one bathroom (but with separate toilet room from the sink/shower room) with a covered parking spot, a nice view and close to base.  I lucked out!

The apartment is 2 miles south of base.  At first, I was averse to living South of base b/c I thought, "Why would I want to live farther from Tokyo?!"  Well, it's only two miles and the nearest train stop is a 7 minute walk and is an express stop on the Keikyu line.  It's right on the seawall and to the north and south, the seawall extends with a promenade that's great for running and biking.  It's good for exercise and commuting to work!

It's a 5 story building with a few other people from base, as evidenced by the car stickers and "Y" license plates.  We're on the second floor, facing the ocean.  There's a sort of infinity pool effect from the inside since it seems like the sea comes right to the base although there's actually a small utility road between the building and the seawall.

So, without further ado, here are some pictures!


In the above photo sequence, the top left shows the entrance way where one takes off his/her shoes.  The mid-top photo shows the vantage point if you were standing in the entrance way.  The sink/shower room is straight ahead and the main room to the right.  The toilet room is off to the left but not visible in the picture.  The top right photo is what you would see if you were standing in the main room doorway in the mid-top picture.  A bedroom is straight ahead and the kitchen slightly to the right.  The bottom left photo is from the corner of the main room showing the balcony and tatami room.  This shot shows some of the violent churning of the ocean from Typhoon Wipha that just came through.  The mid-bottom shows the tatami room and the bottom right is the kitchen (kind of self-explanatory).


Oh, the tub room!  This might be my favorite room.  The tub heats itself by recirculating the water and self-fills to the perfect depth.  Also, there's a small built-in bench opposite the window so you can sit in the tub and look out the water and meditate on the horizon.  Although there are fisherman below, no one can see into the second story level unless you smooshed yourself against the glass, which isn't my thing but I won't judge you, potential visitors.  (Well, maybe a little.  I don't want to get evicted!).  I'm not exactly sure why the water is light blue.  It's sort of disconcerting but doesn't smell like chemicals so I'm just going to go with it.


These are not the best photos but this just shows there are two bedrooms, one of which is a mess since I have no dresser yet.  I am a little concerned about the size of the bed we're bringing over but I think it should work.

So, there's a little tour for the three readers of my blog.  You're welcome!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tokyo Concert


After a great day at work with my first “real” surgery as a staff, I was on my way to Tokyo for The Killers concert. Now, if you want to feel like a big weird-o, buy tickets via a Japanese translator for a band named “The Killers.” I swear, it’s just rock, not death metal!

I headed out to Studio-Coast in Shin-Kiba using my trusty Hyperdia directions. I love that website. When I reached Shinagawa, I had a quick bite to eat at Soup Stock Tokyo. The dinner was amazing! I had two delicious soups: a lobster bisque and a tofu soup. Both were so tasty and served at the absolute perfect temperature. They were hot, but not too hot. I hate when soups are lukewarm because I don’t think they’re as flavorful and I worry about germs growing – yuck! But this dinner reminded me of how good food can be in Japan. I also had a tasty roll and a small mug of honey lemon tea that was also perfect. 

Then I got on the Yamamote line followed by the Tokyo metro. I sped-walked to the venue because as I learned the hard way with Arcade Fire in 2008, concerts in Japan start on time! 

The concert was amazing. I stood on the steps to the main floor so I was close and had a great view. The venue is about 2000 people and has a wide, shallow floor so there really isn’t a bad vantage point anywhere. The whole band has a great stage presence although Brandon Flowers is definitely the focus, apart from the instrument solos. The concert was similar to X-fest last December. They played “Mr. Brightside” with the lights up, which felt like I was watching a band inside a school auditorium. The rest of the concert was darkened with lighting for effect. “Human” was awesome, both in the piano intro and full-song version. “A Dustland Fairytale” was a new-to-me song and I really liked it. Battle Born has some great songs and I loved the live version of “The Way It Was” and “Runaways.” It was just an overall awesome show. 

During “Read My Mind,” a Japanese fan in a green dragon costume was invited on stage. He was great! He danced and sang the “Read My Mind” line a few times. He was also very hug-gy. Flowers got 3 hugs from him and several deep bows! I later found out that the guy was dressed as Gachapin, a character that shows up in the “Read My Mind” video. Ah, so desu. 

Here’s the set-list: Mr. Brightside* Spaceman* The Way It Was* Smile Like You Mean It* Human (piano/vocals)* Bling(Confessions of a King)* Shadowplay (Joy Division Cover)* Human* Somebody Told Me* For Reasons Unknown* From Here On Out* A Dustland Fairytale* Read My Mind* Runaways* All These Things That I’ve Done* Encore: Jenny Was a Friend of Mine* When You Were Young (The Internet tells me that on 10/9, they also played Under the Gun, Prize Fighter, This is Your Life, Battle Born, but minus Jenny. Neither show had Miss Atomic Bomb.)

Monday, October 7, 2013

San Diego, Part 2

On Friday, SMS and I headed out to Idylwild/Tahquitz for a day of climbing. It was so much fun. The weather was perfect and the area was gorgeous. I definitely see why it’s SMS’ favorite area. I really liked the climbs and rock quality. We started with a 5.9 single pitch, followed by a four pitch route. Both were awesome and we had so much fun.


 That night for dinner, we went to Aroma CafĂ© in town. I had their delicious bread, followed by spaghetti and meatballs. It was so good, plus I was really hungry! SMS had the sausage lasagna that was incredible. Overall, it was a really great day and I got introduced to a few more of SMS’s things. He’s always talked about Idylwild but the 2 hour drive kept us away until now! 

On Saturday, we went to Rip and Linda’s house and hung out by the pool. Then we went to Starlite and had a delicious dinner. We had mules, cheese board, arugula/ricotta flatbread, kale salad and polenta fritters. It was all so delicious. We finished up the meal with an ice cream sandwich- yum! 

Then, unfortunately, it was time to go. But really, the weekend was so perfect I wasn’t even that sad. The whole time felt like a bonus vacation since it was fairly impromptu and we had the best time. One month until Hawaii!

Friday, October 4, 2013

San Diego mini-trip

Mid-September, SMS and I decided we didn't want to wait until the end of October to see each other. So...I saw clinic Monday and Tuesday so I could head home to San Diego for the rest of the week!  It is SO nice to see SMS- he is very missable and although Skype is wonderful, it's great to be home!

We've also seen a few other people since being here. I think the highlight was going out to dinner last night (Thursday) with Linda and Rip. We arrived at the restaurant first and they were shocked when they saw me.  We wanted to surprise them and we definitely did!  It was pretty awesome and we had a great yakitori meal together. 

On Wednesday, I went out to dinner at Stone with several of my friends. No pictures, unfortunately, but I have lots of mental snapshots and memories from dinner. I feel very lucky that 7 of us could get together. There was the added bonus that SMS actually got out of class early and hung out with us. It sounds silly, but I love when our lives become more intertwined and when we hang out with great people together. 

Wednesday was actually the longest Wednesday ever since I left at 4 pm Wednesday and arrived in San Diego at noon on the same date. Since I left later in the afternoon, I actually got a fair bit done in Japan.  I finalized my car purchase and obtained base stickers. I also turned in my paperwork to arrange my "signing paperwork appointment" at the housing office. In the spirit of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," I have nothing to say about the Yokosuka housing office. 

It ends up that I/we will live off-base. I found a great apartment in Miharucho. It's a 2 bedroom apartment on the second story of a five story apartment building right on Tokyo Bay. We have a full ocean view!  We also have covered parking and are only 1.7 miles from base. It's an incredible find and I'm really happy!  Pictures will definitely follow!  I am signing the contract on Wednesday, getting gas turned on Thursday and I'm going to have appliances and my express shipment delivered on Friday. I'll have a home by the end of next week!

As for the rest of my San Diego trip, SMS and I are going climbing at Tahquitz today and going to Starlite for dinner tomorrow before I go. We're going to use the birthday gift card I got from Brady.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

San Diego mini-trip!

Mid-September, SMS and I decided we didn't want to wait until the end of October to see each other. So...I saw clinic Monday and Tuesday so I could head home to San Diego for the rest of the week!  It is SO nice to see SMS- he is very missable and although Skype is wonderful, it's great to be home!

We've also seen a few other people since being here. I think the highlight was going out to dinner last night (Thursday) with Linda and Rip. We arrived at the restaurant first and they were shocked when they saw me.  We wanted to surprise them and we definitely did!  It was pretty awesome and we had a great yakitori meal together. 

On Wednesday, I went out to dinner at Stone with several of my friends. No pictures, unfortunately, but I have lots of mental snapshots and memories from dinner. I feel very lucky that 7 of us could get together. There was the added bonus that SMS actually got out of class early and hung out with us. It sounds silly, but I love when our lives become more intertwined and when we hang out with great people together. 

Wednesday was actually the longest Wednesday ever since I left at 4 pm Wednesday and arrived in San Diego at noon on the same date. Since I left later in the afternoon, I actually got a fair bit done in Japan.  I finalized my car purchase and obtained base stickers. I also turned in my paperwork to arrange my "signing paperwork appointment" at the housing office. In the spirit of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," I have nothing to say about the Yokosuka housing office. 

It ends up that I will live off-base. I found a great apartment in Miharucho. It's a 2 bedroom apartment on the second story of a five story apartment building right on Tokyo Bay. We have a full ocean view!  We also have covered parking and are only 1.7 miles from base. It's an incredible find and I'm really happy!  Pictures will definitely follow!  I am signing the contract on Wednesday, getting gas turned on Thursday and I'm going to have appliances and my express shipment delivered on Friday. I'll have a home by the end of next week!