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.

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