Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Moody sidebar

Why is my sidebar at the very bottom of my page? It wasn't like this yesterday (that I am aware of).

Oh, and does anyone have any suggestions for sites with nice blogger templates? I'm getting a little tired of this pink...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Surprise email

I was heading home from dinner with friends last night when I noticed that someone had emailed me on my cell phone.

"I wonder who it is," I thought as I opened my phone on the train.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my inbox to find an email from "Bono" with the subject "Message from Bono"!

The message read:
"Hi, this is Bono... Thanks for emailing... We had a great time in Tokyo. We love this city... If you want to join the campaign to make poverty history, please sign up at http://www.hottokenai.jp/. The more people that join, the more difference we can make in the fight against extreme stupid poverty... Japanese leadership on this issue could change the world. Thanks for reading."

No, Bono and I are not personal friends and no, I didn't email him per se. I got this thanks to the U2 concert I attended last week in Tokyo! I invited the lovely Ms. Tari, who wrote about the concert on her blog here. At one point in the concert, the lights in the arena were turned down and Bono asked everyone to get out their cell phones and open them. He said it looked like a Christmas tree, and it was very cool (made you realize that everyone in Japan has a cell phone!). He then said that at Christmas he wants everyone to remember those in the world who have less than us, and flashed an email address on the screen and asked everyone to email their names to it. Later on in the concert, some of the names emailed were put up on the screen (including Tari's, which was very cool!), and obviously these email addresses are also being used to spread the word about Bono's cause.

Anyway, I got a bit of a thrill out of getting an email from Bono in my inbox. :-)

The concert, by the way, was fabulous!! Unfortunately Bono and the gang are not that tall and the stage was not very high, so it was nearly impossible to see them for most of the concert. This is the best it got (and this is a very bad photo taken with my cell phone...I didn't think they would allow cameras, so I didn't take mine!):

But ever since the concert, I just can't get enough of U2...can't leave the house without my iPod!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Today is horrible. Awful. Terrible!!

I really need to make some changes!!

I wish I could write about what has made my day so terrible, but since the reasons are work-related and I can't know for sure who is reading this, I will spare you all the details. :-) But oh how I wish I could tell...I'm sure it would be a great stress reliever for me.

The day's not over yet, so let's hope it gets better from here on out.

In the meantime, I stumbled across a quote that seemed very appropriate for today:

"Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation." -Oscar Wilde

Monday, December 04, 2006

Yukimi Daifuku

R and I had a craving for ice cream this weekend, so we went to the convenience store to check out their selection. I think I have found a new obsession...chocolate Yukimi Daifuku!!

Yukimi Daifuku are tantalizing little mounds of ice cream wrapped in omochi (a thin layer of chewy rice cake). Both the omochi and the ice cream in Yukimi Daifuku melt and dribble all over you if you eat them in warm weather, so this product is associated with winter in Japan. The original flavor is vanilla ice cream wrapped in strawberry flavored omochi, but this new flavor incorporates chocolate flavored omochi as well as a fabulously gooey center of pure chocolate. Yum!!! It is very likely I'll be making more trips to the convenience store for these.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A major milestone.

After six years with R, I finally met his family yesterday. Those of you who know me have probably heard me talk about how R's mother has shown no interest in meeting me over the years despite multiple efforts by R. But that all changed yesterday. Too bad that it had to be at his grandfather's funeral, but I was touched that his mom said that I should come.

So instead of turkey and pumpkin pie, my Thanksgiving was spent at a funeral home dressed in head-to-toe black surrounded by mourners crying for man I have never met. The feeling of gratitude that I experienced, however, was appropriate for the day. Thankful to R's grandfather for bringing R's family together for a day. Thankful to R's relatives for molding and shaping him into the person he is today. And thankful to R's mother, brother, and sister for being so welcoming of me on what must have been a very sad day for them. It meant a lot to me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bad news.

R's grandfather passed away.
We're going to have to cancel the Beijing trip.

Of course the loss of a human being is much, much more important than this trip, and it's only natural that we cancel.

But this was the last trip we were going to be able to take for the foreseeable future...probably for the next year. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed.

Between my disappointment at the cancellation of the trip and my sadness for R's loss of his grandfather (I have never met R's grandfather, or any of his family, for that matter, but that is another post in and of itself), I am feeling quite down right now.

What an awful week.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The only thing getting me through this week.

It's been a rough week. Between being flat on my back two days sick, having a lot of work waiting for me at the office, and having to cancel on plans with friends because of my fever, this week is one that I will be glad to have over. But there is something that is getting me through this week:

In less than one week from today, I'll be in Beijing! YAY! R and I are going for a whirlwind four-day trip, which really means two days since the first and last days are spent getting there and back. But I am really looking forward to it...The Great Wall! Tienamen Square! The Forbidden City! YAY! It's going to be cold, but it's going to be a lot of fun. I just hope it's not raining.

I really MUST get rid of this cold before I step on that plane next week. Lots of sleep is on the agenda for this weekend!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


It just keeps getting worse. I haven't been this sick in a long time.

I am finally back at work, though, after having been out sick for two days. Tari, I'm sorry I had to cancel on the Sri Lankan food! I hope we can go soon.

I really would like to go home early (i.e. on time) tonight, but my boss has asked me to stay late to make phone calls to London. ARGH.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Friday night I was feeling great. Didn't have to work too late, had a fun dinner with R, and it was a beautiful evening. But about 11:30pm, I felt a sharp pain my right ear. I took some Vitamin C and prepared to get ready for bed, but it just kept getting worse.

Saturday morning I woke to a raw sore throat and more pain in my ear. I went to the doctor and got medicine, but I still don't feel like myself.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Things are looking up.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone!!

Though it's been many years since I wore a costume on this day, I always enjoy celebrating it. That used to mean, of course, trick-or-treating fun!! Once I got older it meant handing out candy and enjoying the costumes of the neighborhood kids, and then after I went to college Halloween was best celebrated by heading to Greenwich Village to see the Halloween Parade.

Though Halloween has started to catch on in Japan, it's still not nearly the day that it is in the US. But I do feel excited every time I walk by the (overpriced) mini-pumpkins at my local supermarket...Halloween is such a great day!

So how will everyone be celebrating today? I will be enjoying a feast of Peking Duck with the lovely Ms. Tari and some other friends...completely unrelated to Halloween, but just as exciting! :-)

By the way, here is a fun way to carve a pumpkin if you find yourself unable to do the real thing:
(Courtesy of Blue Lotus, one of my regular blog reads.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It's raining, it's pouring

What is it with the weather in Tokyo recently?? It feels so extreme...it's either brilliantly sunny days with highs near 80 degrees (in October!) or it's typhoon-like winds with rain and bitter cold...and nothing in between.

Global warming?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Vacation highlights

Yes, it took me two motnhs, but better late than never, right? I've posted some photos below from our trip to Oregon in August. Enjoy!

I'll soon be posting from photos from Hong Kong and Singapore as well. I've been meaning to do that for ages, but it seems that life has gotten away from me recently and time just flies by...

In other news, Ali has now left Tokyo. :-( While I'm excited for her, I'm selfishly sad that she is no longer here. You already missed, Ali!!

Have a great week, everyone!

Vacation in Oregon #9

Native Americans in Oregon considered Crater Lake a sacred place and would not admit its existence to outsiders. After visiting, I can see why...it's truly a gorgeous place.

Vacation in Oregon #8

Crater Lake, Oregon on a beautiful day.

Vacation in Oregon #7

At Crater Lake, Oregon. It looks like sky in the background, but it's actually the surface of the lake.

Vacation in Oregon #6

A beautiful place on the Rogue River. The weather was perfect, too.

Vacation in Oregon #5

Salmon dinner in Prospect, Oregon. It was very good!

Vacation in Oregon #4

Yours truly with Barr Creek Falls. Not quite in focus...

Vacation in Oregon #3

Near Prospect, Oregon

Vacation in Oregon #2

This is the path we took when we went to look at some waterfalls. It was so peaceful and quiet.

Vacation in Oregon #1

Hellgate Canyon on the Rogue River near Grants Pass. It was a truly beautiful day!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

For the chocoholics

Any chocoholics out there? I would certainly classify myself as one.

If you've read "Candyfreak" by Steve Almond, you know about the elusive dark chocolate Kit Kat, discontinued years ago and seemingly doomed to never make a comeback.

Well, imagine my delight when I found it!! I was in a 7-11 in Hong Kong last week buying water when I saw one on the rack next to the cash register. It was the last one left and it looked so lonely all alone in its box next to the regular Kit Kats. I was of course thrilled and bought it without hesitation.

However, after buying it I tried to find more information on the Internet about dark chocolate Kit Kats. Are they exclusive to Hong Kong? Are they a limited time version? I found many, many pages about dark chocolate Kit Kats, but what surprised me was that the packaging shown on all of the homepages I found is totally different from the packaging of the Kit Kat I bought.

So...my question now is, do I eat it? It looked authentic enough sitting on the candy rack in the 7-11, but now I'm not so sure. After all, it was the only one left, which suddenly seems fishy to my hyperactive paranoid mind. How much do I risk for a chance to try the rare dark chocolate Kit Kat?

I'll probably risk it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

To everyone looking for info on Kyubei

I'm not sure why, but recently I've gotten a flood of hits from people looking for information on Kyubei. Unfortunately, Kyubei does not appear to have a homepage, and I had a hard time finding comprehensive information on it in either English or Japanese. I would recommend finding a guidebook with information about it instead.

However, you can find a short review by typing "Kyubei" in the search box here.

If you have the time and the money while you're in Tokyo (especially if it's on someone else's dime), I recommend it! But don't worry if you can't make it there - there is lots of great sushi in Tokyo, most of which is not anywhere near as expensive as Kyubei.

Monday, September 18, 2006

From Hong Kong

After a very uncomfortable early-morning standing room-only train ride to Narita and an incredibly delayed flight, most of which was spent playing so much Super Mario Brothers on my personal video screen that my thumbs hurt, I arrived yesterday in Hong Kong sticky, tired, and with a horrible headache. I was also battling a cold, and the dry air on the plane had done nothing to help that. And to top it off, I had trouble with the computer (office computer) I brought and couldn't get any homepages to display correctly...

But what a difference 24 hours can make!! While the computer still isn't working correctly, my mood has improved considerably. Hong Kong is noisy, gritty, polluted, unsanitary, and full of life - I love it!! I've only seen a very small portion of the city, but it's so diverse, energetic, and vibrant!

If I only didn't have any meetings so I could take more time to explore...*sigh* I definitely haven't really seen many sights yet, but I have been doing my fair share of eating! Last night after we arrived my colleagues and I walked around the neighborhood surrounding the hotel in search of food. After walking through an extremely seedy area populated by women in short skirts and garters grabbing the arms of men walking by, we finally found a restaurant that looked fairly standard. The menu, though, was all in Chinese, which even my Japanese colleagues had trouble deciphering. But with the help of an extremely friendly waitress (whose English was limited to say the least) we wound up having a feast of vegetables, seafood, and Peking duck.

Today was mainly meetings, and for lunch my colleague said he would take us to one of his favorite restaurants in Hong Kong. Unfortunately the restaurant was no longer in business, so in the interest of time (we had only about 30 minutes until our next meeting) we went into the next restaurant we could find and ordered some noodles and vegetables. It was good, but we had to eat so quickly I didn't really have time to enjoy the food.

Then tonight I met up with a friend I used to work with who recently moved to Shenzhen, China (very close to Hong Kong). She said she wanted to take me to a famous restaurant that she saw in a magazine, and I gladly followed. As we approached the restaurant, I suddenly recognized my surroundings and thought, "This is close to where we had lunch..." We then turned a corner and my friend said, "Oh, there it is, over there!" pointing to the VERY SAME restaurant where I had eaten lunch!!! What a small world! Of all the restaurants in Hong Kong, it was the same one!

The second time around was soooooo much better! I had time to enjoy the food, which was all fabulous. We had roasted goose, sauteed vegetables, seafood soup, and black sesame soup and egg tarts for dessert. Of course, the conversation, laughter, and the feeling of excitement at meeting up with a familiar friend in a foreign place made for a great evening.

I'm afraid, however, all of my photos from Hong Kong will be of food. :-)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Any suggestions?

I'll be heading here next week:

And here, too!

Yes, I'm heading to Singapore and Hong Kong! I'm very excited because I've never been to either, but unfortunately it's a business trip (darn!). I have very little free time on the trip (the tortuous part of business trips - being in new places but not being able to see or do anything!), but I would love to hear any suggestions of things to do, places to go, foods to eat, etc.! The best travel tips are from people who have actually been there!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Revenge of the Ganglion

It's baaaaaaaaaaack!!

And this time the doctor says it's too small to drain successfully. My options are either surgery or waiting to see if it goes away on its own (which is "not impossible," my doctor says).

Although it's definitely smaller than last time, it's also much much more painful than last time. Ouch!!

For now I'll just milk it for all it's worth while I think about what to do and say that it's the reason I haven't cleaned my apartment in so long - ha.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years today

Five years ago today I was in a car with R driving through eastern Hokkaido. We had just taken a trip to Shiretoko, but had decided to cut the trip short by a day to avoid the typhoon that was approaching Hokkaido. We left Shiretoko in the early evening of the 11th, and we made a stop in Kitami at SATY, a large supermarket, to stretch our legs and buy some snacks. On the second floor of SATY I was browsing the stationery section when R said he was going to the restroom. When he came back, though, he surprised me with a present: an adorable small soft doll of a chick wearing a rooster costume. I was touched at the gift.

After our brief stop at SATY we got back in the car and continued on our way through rural eastern Hokkaido heading for Sapporo. By now the sun had set and the sky was pitch black, but the shrill ringing of my cell phone pierced the darkness. It was friend from college who was living in Kobe at the time. "Are you watching TV?" she frantically asked. I said no and asked if something had happened. Her answer stunned me.

R and I rushed back to Sapporo as fast as possible, listening to the radio the whole way and sending panicky emails to friends in New York from my cell phone hoping to find out if they were alright (they all were, thank goodness). As soon as we stepped through the door of my apartment at 3am, I turned on the TV and was immediately shocked by the enormity of what had happened. I felt numb and nauseous at once... I had just graduated from college in New York the year before, and it was hard to believe that such an awful thing had happened to a city I loved on such a beautiful September day.

The world had changed much since then, and when I look back it feels surreal all that has happened in only five years. At the same time, it feels surreal to think that five years have already passed since that dark night. The only thing that has stayed the same is that little doll that R bought for me at SATY. I keep it out as a reminder of those lilting minutes spent in a supermarket in Kitami that became the last moments we would experience before the world seemingly turned upside down.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

It's a boy :-(

Princess Kiko reportedly gave birth to a son this morning.

While I am of course happy that she and the baby are healthy, I am disappointed (but not surprised) that it's a boy. Not only was the timing of her pregnancy way too convenient to have been accidental (her pregnancy was announced at the height of the debate about whether to allow a female to take the throne), but it is just too, too coincidental that she had a boy. So now Japan can sweep the whole debate under the rug and take three steps back into the Dark Ages, from which it was just beginning to emerge, when it comes to gender equality.

My response to people who claim that it's "tradition" and "culture" to have a male take the throne? That's a load of crap. There have been female emperors in the past, and "culture" is an ever-evolving concept, not something set in stone.

For the sake of females everywhere, I hope this country's (primarily old and male) lawmakers get their heads out of their a**es and make a change, though I'm not holding my breath. What on earth is the harm in letting a female succeed to the powerless figurehead position of Emperor?? I'm sick of my taxes being wasted on the ridiculous debate about it. ARGH.

Monday, September 04, 2006

RIP Steve Irwin

I just read that "crocodile hunter" Steven Irwin is dead after a stingray barb to the heart while filming an underwater documentary.

While I wouldn't exactly consider myself a fan, I greatly admire him for taking something considered "uncool" or "boring" (i.e. nature shows and shows about animals) and making it hugely popular and successful. He always seemed to really enjoy what he was doing, too, which is an admirable quality in anyone.

It just so happens that his wife is from my hometown. I can't imagine how she must be feeling right now.

Guilty as charged

So I've gotten a complaint from a fellow blogger whose name starts with A that I haven't been keeping up with my blog enough. Guilty as charged! I must admit, though, it's good to know that there are people out there who check in for updates. :-)

Part of the reason that I haven't updated is that I have so much to tell! I have lots of pictures from the US to sort through and lots has been happening here in Tokyo, too.

So, until I have more time to write, here's a brief preview of events:

  • Deenster's ganglion comes back, and this with a vengance! It hurts even if she doesn't move her wrist! Anticipating going back to the doctor for another MRI and possible more drainage with needles makes her queasy!
  • Deenster finally gets the hang of crocheting! New hobbies are always fun!
  • September hits and Deenster realizes she really needs to get in gear and start studying for the test she is scheduled to take *again* in December! Deenster questions the necessity of taking the CFA exam, but realizes that since she's spent this much money on it so far she might as well bite the bullet and try again!
  • Deenster goes to Ibaraki for the weekend! The weather is perfect and she has a lot of fun on the beach, going for a drive, and sleeping 12 hours a night!

Stay tuned for more details...

Monday, August 28, 2006

We're back

Well, R and I have been back in Japan for a week now, and the week since we've gotten back has been a whirlwind week of jetlag, overtime, heat, humidity, and disbelief that August is already drawing to a close. We had an excellent time in the US (despite some airline setbacks), and I will update soon with photos.

In other news, R and I had to kill a lot of time on Saturday (due to smoke detector inspections in my building....my management company seems to be inspecting something or other at least once a month!) and we went to a nearby park and aquarium. We had a great time despite the trying-to-squeeze-something-fun-into-the-last-weekend-of-summer-vacation crowds, but I discovered two bug bites on my legs later that night that just keep getting bigger. And bigger. And bigger! They're huge! They're also quite itchy and painful. I have no idea what bit me, but if it was a mosquito, I'm not sure how I didn't notice it because it must have been as big as a car to inflict bites this big!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

On the road again

Heading to the US today for a vacation. Yay! Watch for pictures and updates when I get back.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tokyo won't be the same

Dessert makes everyone happy
The lovely Vicky has left Tokyo today after three years to head back to the UK. It is always incredibly difficult for me to say goodbye to a friend, but I am very excited for her about the many wonderful things that surely lie ahead on her path. You will be sorely missed, Vicky!! Your smiles and kind words were always so comforting, and I will miss our dinners and your laugh. I am so glad I met you here, and can't wait to see you in the UK/US/Japan again!! xoxo

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Won't you be my neighbor?

Sunday evening I came home and was parking my bicycle in the bicycle "parking room" (for lack of a better word) of my building when I was approached by the woman who lives next door to me.

"I lost my key and I have been locked out since last night. I left my sliding glass door unlocked on the balcony. The landlord has been out all day. Could you please let me climb over to my balcony from yours to let myself in?"

I hesitated. She was obviously desperate and I felt bad for her, but my apartment was a royal mess. Underwear, books, clothes, paper everywhere. And I mean everywhere.

"I'll go take a look," I said. "Let me see if it will be possible to get over the wall that separates our balconies."

I rushed into my apartment where R was (he had stayed home that day). "Do you think it's possible?" I asked him.

"Hmm...." he said as he looked at the tiny opening that separates our two balconies. "Maybe if a person is super skinny."

R started trying to tidy my apartment while I went and got my neighbor waiting outside the building. She introduced me to her male friend who had appeared.

"You're welcome to try to get over the wall onto your balcony, but I'm going to have to ask you to close your eyes when you walk through my apartment. It's a disaster area," I pleaded as I felt my face turning red.

Three minutes later R was balancing a kitchen chair on my balcony while my neighbor's friend used it as a first step to step onto the air conditioner and then over the wall.

"I made it!" he said as he precariously scampered over the wall, the feet of his beige socks black with dirty from my filthy balcony.

Ten minutes later my doorbell rang. "Thank you!" my neighbor said as she handed me a case of beer. "I really appreciate everything."

Too bad I don't drink beer that much. I appreciate the gesture, though.

Later on, as I moved the kitchen chair back into the kitchen, I noticed my neighbor's friend's foot had left a black foot print on the white seat of the chair when he had stood on it in his soiled socks. Most of it wiped off easily, leaving just a faint outside of a footprint.

Truly a night I won't forget.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ganglions and more

About six months ago I slipped in my apartment and I fell toward my bed. I stupidly put out my hand to break my fall (I shouldn't have done that...I was positioned to fall on my bed, which is soft, so it was completely unnecessary), and my left wrist immediately started to hurt. It didn't swell or turn purple, so I figured there was no fracture and I just left it alone.

But then I developed a bump on my wrist. Other family members have had these before, so I knew it was harmless, but it was annoying. I could no longer do things like push-ups (not that I do those that much anyway! ha!) because I couldn't support any weight on the wrist if I bent it. I knew that these bumps (which are actually ganglion cysts) sometimes spontaneously go away, so I decided to leave it alone. But increasing stress at work and an expanding waist line made me want to start exercising and doing yoga again (which would be impossible with the bump on my wrist), prompting me to finally get it checked out.

The doctor did an X-ray to rule out any bone problems, and then an MRI determined that yes, it was indeed a ganglion cyst. "I have one, too. See?" he said, bending his wrist to show me. "These can be drained, but I'm afraid of needles, so I decided to leave it alone," he laughed.

Though that unexpected confession from the doctor left me feeling a bit unsure about his ability to calmly handle a syringe, I decided to have mine drained. I told the doctor about the times I have fainted in the past after having blood drawn, and he laughed and said, "Well, I'll have you lie down, then. I should tell you, though, there is a chance that I won't be able to drain this successfully because it is so small." My heart skipped a few beats and then proceeded to speed up infinitely. I felt sweat form under my arms. I have always disliked needles, but after I fainted and fell out of my chair, hitting my head on the way down and then waking up in a puddle of cold sweat three years ago, the fear has grown stronger. "I want to give it a try, though," I said meekly, as my gut screamed out, "NO!!!"

The doctor stepped into the back of the office for a few minutes and returned with an alumninum tray carrying a syringe, a band-aid, and a small white towel. I felt the prick of the needle as it entered my wrist and then the uncomfortable pressure of him draining what he called the "jelly" from within the cyst. It was over in just a few moments, and as he put the band-aid on I smiled as I pictured myself in the yoga studio once again, on my way to a slimmer body and a more relaxed attitude.

"Thank you," I said as I walked out of the examination room and sat down next to R who was reading a book in the waiting room.

"How did it go?" asked R. "Is it gone?"

"It wasn't too bad," I said. "Hopefully it won't come back."

That's what the 18-wheeler truck hit me. Or at least that's what it sounded like. My ears were filled with an incredible roaring sound, and a wave of nausea came over me. I leaned into R. "I feel sick..."

The next thing I remember is opening my eyes and panicking because I had no idea where I was. I turned to the left and saw R, and immediately relaxed. I had fallen into him when I fainted, which saved me from any injury-inducing hard floors. "Are you ok?" he asked as he wiped the sweat off my forehead with his hand. "You were convulsing! Are you alright?"
Before I could answer, the 18-wheeler truck came back. Yet again nausea came over me, and this time I did not fight it. I went out again, and this time awoke to R calling for a nurse from our seat.

"Did she have blood taken?" the nurse asked R as she cleared the seat next to me so I could lie down.

"No...she had a cyst removed."

"Poor thing. I'll go get some water."

I slowly came back to life lying on the vinyl sofa. I felt as though I had just run a marathon...sweat glued my clothes to my skin, I had tears streaming down my face, and I felt so, so tired. I felt the gaze of the other waiting patients on me as I tried to pull myself together.
After a cup of water kindly offered by a nurse, I felt much better. I stood up to leave, but a nurse rushed over to stop me.

"Wait! We'll find a bed for you, and we want you to lie down for a while. Stay here."

The nurse soon came back and led me through a side corridor of the hospital. "I found an available bed," she said as she led me into the emergency room.

I climbed into the offered bed hesitantly. Of course the hospital didn't want me to leave yet for liability reasons (and probably genuine concern, too), but lying down in the glaringly bright emergency room didn't sound like that much fun, either. A nurse took my blood pressure: 102 over 56.

After about 20 minutes, a nurse on the other side of the curtain from my bed started to make phone calls. "Doctor, this is the emergency room. We have a 81 year old man coming in approximately seven minutes who fell down five flights of stairs. Please come right away."
It was definitely time for me to go.

I scrambled out of the bed and handed the blanket I had used to the nurse. "Thank you very much," I said gratefully. "I'm sorry for the trouble."

I paid my bill of 450 yen at the hospital front reception and then R and I walked outside into the oppressive humidity. As we walked to our bicycles parked nearby a few light raindrops fell.

"There's no way I'm letting you get on that bicycle," said R. "You might faint and I wouldn't be able to break your fall."

We unlocked our bicycles and then walked with them side-by-side toward the shopping arcade.

"And let's go to Mos Burger," R proposed. "I think you could use some protein."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Thank you for your comments and opinions about where to go! It was nice to hear what people thought, and it was great to see that there are actually people who check in with this blog once in a while! :-)

I'm still trying to work out if I will be able to swing a vacation or not, but Cambodia seems to be calling me right now... I wouldn't be able to stay as long as I would like, but I'm trying to think of these short little trips as preparation/research for my dream round-the-world trip I want to take in a few years! Easier said than done, of course...

In other news, life has been busy. Work has been out of control (the norm recently, it seems), and my weekends are a flurry of sayonara and birthday parties. It seems like everyone who decides to leave Japan leaves in July... Very sad to see so many people go! But I try to look on the bright side...more friends to visit on the aforementioned round-the-world trip! :-)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


So, if you had the choice of going to one of the following countries in September/October, which would you choose (considering climate, attractions, and the fact that you have probably a max of five days)?

1) Cambodia (mainly Angkor Wat)
2) Taiwan
3) Malaysia (Penang)
4) Vietnam
5) Phillipines (Cebu Island)

Please leave your vote in the comments section. Of course, this is all working under the assumption that your boss (who has taken exactly two days of vacation during the entire year and a half you've been here) lets you take time off...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


1. To leave work by 6pm.
2. To be seen at the office as an individual with a name, not just a female.
3. To have time to exercise.
4. To get home early enough to eat dinner before 9pm.
5. To have time to clean my apartment.

I really need to make some changes in my life.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I completely forgot to file my US taxes, which were due on June 15th for overseas residents. Oops.

After a little research on the IRS homepage, I found out that you can get up to a six-month extension if you're overseas. Whew.

The Bear Went Over The Mountain

I bought this book after reading about it on the Internet. Warning: although the title makes it sound like a deceptively simple children's book, it is not!! This is not one for the kiddies to read.

This was an exceptionally entertaining tale of a bear who finds a novel manuscript in a briefcase under a tree in the forest and takes it to New York and makes it big as an author. Written by William Kotzwinkle, who also happens to be the author of ET, this is a funny and endearing parody of the publishing world and what it means to succeed in the human world.

A quick read that makes you laugh and makes you think. Definitely worth checking out.

Monday, June 19, 2006

World Cup feeeeeeeever

I love the World Cup.

As many know, the World Cup is really not that big of a deal in the US. Nearly every time there's a conversation about soccer, a Japanese person asks me why soccer is not more popular in the US. I really have no idea. Any theories? I hear a lot of snide comments like, "Americans have no interest in sports they didn't invent," etc., but I like to think there are other explanations.

But I truly love the World Cup. I have very fond memories of the 2002 World Cup when it was held in Japan and Korea and R and I got tickets for the Japan team's three first-round games. I was in Sapporo and he was in Ibaraki, so it was crazy meeting up in Saitama, Yokohama, and Osaka for the games and then going back to work for a few days until the next one. But it was so much fun!!!! (Well, except for me slipping on a wet staircase in Osaka and getting a huge cut along my spine, that is - ha ha.)

Japan hasn't been doing that well this time around and absolutely has to win the game against Brazil coming up in order to advance. The US is holding its own, though it's hard to tell if they'll advance either. But I'm having fun nonetheless.

P.S. The photo above is of one of the amazing saves that Japan's goalkeeper Kawaguchi made during the game against Croatia. I'm personally a fan of Narazaki, another goalkeeper who is on the team but whom Zico doesn't use, but I have to admit Kawaguchi did an amazing job!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Thank you.

To the woman from Lexington, Kentucky tonight who asked me for directions in Tokyo Station while I was waiting for R to come out of the restroom: as we parted ways after our nice conversation, I heard you said to your husband when you thought I was out of earshot, "She was cute!" Thank you! Talking to you and your husband was one of the most pleasant exchanges I've had in a while.

I hope you found the store you were looking for, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. I really wish we had exchanged email addresses because you and your husband seemed like such nice people. You really made my evening. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Shanghai photos

This awful cold had me flat on my back at home yesterday, and it has taken me longer than I thought to upload some Shanghai photos. Please start at the bottom and scroll up if you're interested. Unfortunately my photos really don't do the city justice!

Comments are always appreciated. :-)

Shanghai photo 12 - Maglev coming into the station

The Maglev coming into one of its big, beautiful stations. Apparently the Maglev is not generating as much revenue as many had hoped, but I imagine it will stay in operation nonetheless as a symbol of China's progress and development.

Shanghai photo 11 - Starbucks are everywhere in Shanghai

Even smack dab in the middle of Old Town.

Shanghai photo 10 - Entrance of Yuyuan Garden

I was late for a meeting and didn't have time to go into the garden itself, but this is one of the more than 30 buildings in the garden.

Shanghai photo 9 - Traditional medicine store

I walked in and took a look around the inside of the store. Wow! Any kind of ginseng you could want, and lots of exotic things, too, like a whole preserved bird's next with eggs (that had a price tag of nearly a $1,000). Very cool.

Shanghai photo 8 - Central Henan Road at night

This is close to the hotel where I stayed. Even at night the place was incredibly crowded, and the department stores stayed open until 10pm! It was great.

Shanghai photo 7 - Shanghai Hooters waitresses in a group photo

I was walking to a meeting when I passed Hooters. The waitresses were outside taking a group photo for some reason. I took this photo on the sly, which is why it is such poor quality.

Shanghai photo 6 - Oriental Pearl Tower

The Oriental Pearl Tower in Pudong, Shanghai.

Shanghai photo 5 - Crowded Tuesday afternoon on the riverbank

The bank of the Huangpu River was very crowded with tourists even on a Tuesday afternoon.

Shanghai photo 4 - The Bund

Older buildings on the west side of the Huangpu River.

Shanghai photo 3 - One of my unsuccessful attempts to take a photo of myself

As you can tell, I'm not very good at self-portraits.

Shanghai photo 2 - Pudong from the other side of the Huangpu River

The famous skyline of Shanghai.

Shanghai photo 1 - Maglev from Pudong Airport

This is the inside of the Maglev train from Pudong Airport. The train goes up to 431 kilometers an hour! I couldn't get a clear photo of when it said 431. :-) (For American readers, that is about 267 miles an hour.)

The train is not actually a "train," but instead it floats on a "track" of magnetic field. This site has a good explanation of a Maglev.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Was fantastic!!! I just wish I had been able to stay longer, and I wish it had been for fun and not a business trip.

Will be uploading photos soon. Unfortunately I've caught a cold...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I'm off

I'm off to Shanghai today!! Too bad it's only for three days and chances are I won't get to see anything in the guidebook because the conference I'll be attending will take up most of my time. :-(

But nonetheless, I'm excited. My first time in China!

Hope everyone (yes, all three or four of my readers - hee hee) is well! See you later on in the week.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I had what was truly the perfect weekend. R and I put together a dresser that finally arrived from Ikea (thank you for your help, R!), we relaxed and watched a video over popcorn and chu-hi on Saturday night, we tooled around at Ito-yokado and had fun looking at the new keitais that are out, and we ate lots of good food like pizza and oyako-don. No stress about studying or work (though a deadline for a project is fast approaching and I'm a little worried about meeting it), but just relaxation and fun. Truly the perfect weekend.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I just can't get enough of this album.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong apparently did a lot of music together, but this is the only CD of the two of them I have. And it is fabulous!! I have been listening to it every day for the past month, and I'm still not tired of it (and I've owned this CD since 1998!).

Two geniuses performing the music of another genius. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Today I was supposed to be at work an hour early but I felt ill so I called and came in late.

I took my time coming in and was starting to feel better, so I was in a great mood when I walked through the office door.

Until, that is, I found out that due to a miscommunication in the office, I sent five million dollars to the wrong place. Fortunately it's not my fault...no one told me that the plan had changed, and neither one of the two people who signed off on the forms noticed.

But nonetheless....uh-oh. This is going to take a lot of phone calls to fix.

I think I need a latte.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sick, sick, sick

I think I have a problem. My boss called me in the conference room today to tell me he's going to hire another person to help me out so that I don't have to stay so late any more. While this should have me jumping up and down for joy (which it did, temporarily), he finished by saying that he would make sure that person is very good with balance sheets and accounting because that doesn't seem to be my forte.

Now I'm feeling quite territorial and not so happy about the situation.

Of course, maybe the benefit of being able to leave work before 9pm every night will cancel out these feelings. Who cares what your boss thinks when you can actually make evening plans again without having to worry about cancelling them all time time, right?!

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I survived the week! It's the weekend!!!!!

Worked 9am-9pm on Monday. 9am-10pm on Tuesday. 8am-11pm on Wednesday. 9am-midnight on Thursday. And 9am-11pm on Friday.

Oh how I wish I got overtime pay! My bank account would be so happy.

Too bad it's going to rain this weekend...

P.S. I had only one Starbuck's latte this week! I'm doing better than I thought I would.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Current fives

I was tagged for the first time - yay! I guess this means I am now "officially" a blogger! Thank you, Mande, for taking the initiative to make your own original tag. Here goes:

5 musicians that I currently listen to:
- U2 - I can't get enough of them recently!
- Our Love Is Here To Stay: Ella & Louis Sing Gershwin - one of the best albums ever made
- Jason Mraz
- Beyonce
- Eric Clapton - I love this man

5 movies/DVDs that I have watched recently:
- Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
- Finding Neverland
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
- Bend It Like Beckham
- Under the Tuscan Sun

5 TV shows that I tend to watch:
Recently, not that much :-( because work is sucking the life out of me, but if I were home at a decent hour more I would be watching:
- The West Wing (I'm watching this on DVD right now - fabulous show!)
- Sui10 (a show on Wednesday nights at 10:30 with funny people and laughable skits)
- Ai Nori (a show where strangers pile into a bright pink bus and go on a round-the-world trip with the goal of falling in love...ridiculous but addicitive)
- 99 Size (a show with Okamura Takashi - my favorite comedian in Japan)
- Matthew's Best Hit TV (unfortunately I don't get home from work early enough to watch this show anymore, but I highly recommend it - utterly laughable nonsense)

5 restaurants I have visited recently:
-Yakiniku restaurant in Shimbashi
- My regular yakitori restaurant in my neighborhood
- BLDY, a overly smoky "family restaurant" down the street where you can get the drink bar for 294 yen and stay all day
- The Indian curry restaurant by my office
- Shaved noodle ramen shop in Toranomon

5 foods that I currently enjoy snacking on:
Are there any food I don't enjoy snacking on?! Ha.
- Almonds
- Chocolate - any kind. Dark, milk, white, you name it.
- Applesauce - yum!
- String cheese (too bad it's so hard to find and so expensive here!)
- Mini chocolate croissants (yum!)

I am tagging:
...and four other people as soon as I can figure out who to tag!
Unfortunately most of my friends don't have blogs (and Ali is the only friend I've told about mine!).
I'll upate as soon as I think of the four others.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


In work. Haven't left the office before 9:00pm for the past two weeks. I really need a haircut, but no time to go.

Starbucks latte update: broke down and had one on Sunday, and it was oh-so-good!! Might need one to get through today, too. *yawn*

Friday, May 19, 2006

Starbucks latte withdrawal, DAY FIVE!



There were times of weakness, and times when I wasn't sure I would make it, but I somehow managed to pull through.

I think this calls for a treat on Monday - i.e. a Starbucks latte! :-) From now on I'll allow myself two a week at the most. Moderation in everything, right?

City on the sea

Sounds like I'm going to Shanghai next month!

It's only for three days, and it's for a conference so I doubt I'll have very much free time, but I am SO EXCITED!! Better get that visa paperwork done.

There are so many kinds of food that I want to try in Shanghai... I think I'll need to sneak out of the conference dinners and go explore on my own. It would be a waste not to!

Oh, and I'll have to compare Shanghai's Starbucks lattes to Tokyo's. Ha ha ha.

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Starbucks latte withdrawal, day four

Day four passed without incident, but just barely.

Unfortunately day four of my Starbucks latte withdrawal also happened to be the day that I was at the office until 11pm. Around 7:30pm I could have really used a latte. But I resisted the temptation to head downstairs and plop 340 yen in shiny coins on the counter. Must not give up yet!!!

One more day.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Starbucks latte withdrawal, day three

I survived!! I made my own latte, and then for the rest of the afternoon I downed multiple cups of lemon tea.

Thanks to a hellish day of work I was able to keep my mind off my craving for that frothy, sweet, satisfying Starbucks latte.

Only two more days to go.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Starbucks latte withdrawal, day two (and a change of rules)

Well, I've nearly survived day two without a Starbucks latte. YAY!! This morning I had to be at work an hour earlier than normal for our weekly telephone conference with New York, and I was soooooo tired I didn't think I would be able to survive today. But it looks like I have more willpower than I thought - yay!!!

However, I must announce a change in rules as of today. In yesterday's post I said that I would not set foot in a Starbucks for five days, but hereby that is changed to "I will not buy a Starbucks latte for five days." The reason for this change? I was starving this morning after our telephone conference ended, and because there isn't a convenience store within a distance from my office that it is "convenient" (despite being smack dab in the middle of Tokyo!) my only option for getting a snack was Starbucks. I was truly starving, so it was a matter of life or death.

Two days down, three to go. Tomorrow I think I'll bring my piggy bank (thank you, Mande, for the suggestion!) so I can see how much money I am saving. Might help me get through to Friday...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Starbucks latte withdrawal, day one

My goal this week is to not set foot in Starbucks for five days.

So far I've been successful today. I made my own latte and I've been downing tea like crazy, but I've resisted the temptation to go downstairs and plunk down 340 yen for the tall cup of Starbucks froth that I love so much.

Of course, it's only 4:30pm. The day is young.

Why am I doing this? Mainly just to test my own will power, as well as save a little money for the week. I calculated how much my daily Starbucks latte habit costs me a year, and it was shocking.

We'll see how long it lasts. Words of encouragement are always welcome.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Am I the only one who enjoys this show?

Does anyone else watch Chimpan News Channel at 12:35am on weeknights on Fuji TV? This show cracks me up! It's only ten minutes long, but I look forward to it every night recently. It's a parody of CNN down to the logo and the music, but with a talk-show twist. Oh, and a chimpanzee hosts it! The opening of the show is in English and has a narrator talking about how there are more pets than children in Japan today, so there is a greater need for shows about animals made by animals than shows geared for children. A very serious problem indeed, but a hilarious take on it.

Monday, May 08, 2006


One place near my apartment where I frequently study is a fast-food restaurant with a smoking section in the back that is completely separated from the rest of the seating area by floor-to-ceiling glass walls. (That's one of the reasons I choose to study there...no cigarette smoke to breathe in! Yay!) The restaurant also happens to be next to a hospital, and I see an alarming number of people in there who appear to be hospital patients. They shuffle in wearing their bathrobes and pajamas, order, and then walk back to the hospital. Of course, being hospitalized in Japan is very different than in the US. You are often kept longer than you would be in the US, so toward the end of your stay it would be perfectly normal to be walking about the neighborhood on your own.

Tonight, though, I saw something that really threw me for a loop. A young man walked in pushing his own IV, and he had a large scar on the back of his head. Guessing from the way his head was shaved, he probably had had head surgery. Two men in very yakuza-looking suits came in with him, and after they ordered they headed straight for the smoking section. I could see the top of the IV over the frosted bottom half of the smoking room glass wall amid a cloud of cigarette smoke. After about an hour, however, the three men came out in an entirely different formation: the young man who had been hooked up to the IV was talking on his cell phone, and one of the men in suits was now pushing the disconnected IV with the needles dangling.

I can't figure it out.

Lastly, though I don't why that man is being hospitalized, I'm sure smoking cannot be good for whatever ailment he has.

P.S. Fabulous "smoking manners" advertisment (which was actually used on Tokyo trains for a while) courtesy of JT. You can see a whole gallery (all five pages!) of these ads here on JT's bizarrely named "SMOKERS STYLE" page.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Feelin' groovy

Groovy is actually the name of the restaurant where we ate this cake. It was fabulous! A chocolate role with raspberry flavored whipped cream inside and two real raspberries on top. Yum!

Friday, May 05, 2006

A thousand wows

Once in a while you have the luxury of reading a book that you just can't put down, and then haunts you for days on end.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is precisely that kind of book. I bought it because I had enjoyed one of her other novels, and seeing as this is a Pulitzer Prize winner I was curious. Wow! All I can say is wow.

The plot is apparently a modern interpretation of King Lear, and I think she does a fabulous job with this. Many of the reviews on Amazon said that she carried it too far and the plot twists were "over the top," but I disagree. In fact, the fascinating thing about this novel is how a natural progression of events set into movement by one small catalyst can lead to such "over the top" developments and how all of our lives can change not only in an instant, but also in a very slow, methodical way that is so subtle it's hard to detect.

A fabulous read, with deliciously deep and complex characters.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Johnny Depp is brilliant

But then again, everyone knew that already, right?

I have been a Johnny Depp fan since Don Juan DeMarco came out, though I must confess it was less because of his acting talent and more because he was so hot in the film. Then I started to discover some of his other work, too, and my appreciation of him grew to include his incredible acting ability. Now, he has been in some films along the way that I think he would have been better off without, The Ninth Gate being one of them, but I have always admired his willingness to try roles similar to nothing he has ever done before, and then have the discipline and talent to really succeed at them.

That is exactly why I had high expectations for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Johnny didn't let me down. A brilliant film!! Bizarre, zany, and fun. Johnny Depp was at his best - a slightly dark, always weird, yet strangely endearing characterization (that at times bore such a resemblance to Michael Jackson that I had to laugh).

Once again Johnny Depp pulls it off, and wonderfully. The more films he makes, the more I feel justified in being a fan. Now I can say it's because he's so talented, not just because he's so darn good-looking. Hee hee.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

At the zoo

I went to visit R in Ibaraki a couple of weekends ago, and both days we were blessed with beautiful weather! It seemed a shame to stay inside during the day, so we decided to go to the local zoo.

Zoos in Japan are often too painful to be enjoyable so I tend to shy away from them. Animals in cages that are way too small with just a cold concrete floor and nothing to keep them occupied and other outdated facilities are very common. But I enjoy animals and zoos, so I gave in to my curiosity and we decided to go.

I was very pleasantly surprised! The enclosures were fairly large, the caretakers were friendly and knowledgeable about the animals, and despite it being a beautiful Saturday afternoon the place was nearly empty. And only 500 yen to get in! I think I'll go back.

The hippos were some of my favorites to watch. I love this photo of the hippos basking in the warmth of the sun. They looked so comfortable and relaxed!

It was also fun to watch them take a dip in their pond.

One of the zoo's residents was a rhinocerous named Maki who would come right up to you if you called her. Her caregiver said that she gave birth to a daughter at the zoo.

There was also a very vocal goose whose name was, for some reason, Kitayama-san. I'm sure there's an interesting story about that.

The zoo had quite a few peacocks, and I was so excited to see one open his feathers while we were there! It was really quite beautiful.

We were also treated to a great view of the Pacifc Ocean.

All in all, a very fun and relaxing day. It was so nice to be outside in the sun and be at a place where you don't have to fight crowds. Hooray for the zoo!

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