Tag Archives: reflection

Tokyo 2010: Finale

Shinagawa, South

Today was the first day since Christmas where I did not have something to see, somewhere to go, or anything to do. The hum of the heater has replaced the drone of aircraft; the distant squeal of the Jersey City lightrail turning the corner has replaced the rushing sound of the JR Yamanote line.

Piled across the kitchen counter are the things we brought back – cute dolls, strange snacks, and a pile of CDs. Our suitcases remain nearby, still mostly full of our clothing and charging cords. They will be unpacked in due time. The fridge has been refilled, the laundry is slowly getting done, and I am mysteriously not jetlagged even in the slightest.

I will not return to work until Wednesday, and while I’m starting to respond to work emails again, for now, I sit contently.

Hachiko Crossing

I have spent over five days in a place that was foreign yet welcoming, busy yet quiet, energetic yet polite.

Takeshita Dori

I have walked through neighborhoods I never thought I would set foot in, wandered without purpose in pedestrian malls, and blended into crowded trains and stores.

Waiting for Gold On To Open

I have inhaled the cloud of smoke in pachinko parlors, downed sake and shochu, seen some really weird things on TV, and inadvertently walked into the adult section of more than one anime store in Akihabara.

And yet it still feels like there is more to do. Even with another week, another month, I wouldn’t have been able to see it all. So we will continue working on our Japanese, keep our eyes peeled for new things to see when we are there, and start plotting for the next trip.

I can’t wait.

(Very special thanks to all of you who left comments, suggestions, questions, and encouragement on my blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook over the last week. It felt like you were there with us.)

Farewell, Astoria

I’ve come to realize that I tend to be very terse when writing about life changes. While I’m happy to gush about job changes or anecdotes, things going on in my personal life feel almost less relevant.

But that, obviously, is ridiculous.

This is my last post from our apartment in Astoria; tomorrow around noon, I must drag the cable modem back to Time Warner and terminate my service. Friday afternoon brings movers, and movers will bring us to Jersey City. I should be back on line by Friday night, but this post officially closes the book on our five years in Queens.

Continue reading Farewell, Astoria

One Last 2007 Story

In lieu of my traditional end of year posts, I instead offer an anecdote I offered a friend when summarizing my year, one that was left out of the relevant post:

On September 9th, around 3 PM, I went on the Cyclone at Coney. It was the last day that Astroland was going to be in existence; I had already seen the Zipper get driven away. In an effort to get the ride finished sooner (always hate the lines!), I opted for the last car – which I would be sharing with someone else. Someone considerably larger than me.

Sure enough, I had forgotten everything I had ever been told (NEVER RIDE THE LAST CAR) in a wave of nostalgia.

The first 30 seconds were fantastic, even as my back was reeling and my chest was crunching into the bar as we free-fell over and over again. Then we hit a sharp turn and my seatmate slammed into me, nearly breaking my ribs. It wasn’t much fun anymore, it was just pain – so I braced myself to avoid a repeat, and held on for the remainder of the ride.

I got off, collected my bag – cursing myself for deciding to lug all of my lenses and a monopod with me that day. It hurt enough to nearly bring me to tears, but not nearly enough to have me call an ambulance. At the same time – that was going to be my closing memory on Coney Island? I was livid in my pain – walked onto the beach, shot a 270° panorama, and hobbled to the train home.

It would hurt to breathe for the next week, and the pain would continue for about three weeks – and I think it ended right around the time they announced that, surprise, Astroland will be open again next year!

2007 is all right there – the joy, the pain that makes you wince, the regret and the stupid dramatic twist at the end.

Rollercoaster of a year, indeed.

Five Minutes And Ten Dollars Fix Fourteen Years Of Hell

I’m going to warn you now – this story is personal and a little gross in parts. But it’s been a part of my life for long enough, I figured it was worth sharing.

While I’ve been alive, I’ve been pretty blessed – no broken bones. No major illnesses. No organs removed. No cavities, last time I checked. I have consistently had a clean bill of health; even my blood pressure is on the low side.

But I have had two very small, very strange problems. One is that a couple times a year, my hands would get very peel-y, and it’s kind of gross. We used to joke in high school that this was caused by typing too fast. I’m happy to say this has gone away in recent years – this story is not about that problem.

The other problem was that from the age of about 10, I was very susceptible to nosebleeds. I think I was getting them about once a month, if not more.

Not from like getting hit in the nose or anything, but just from random other stuff – sneezing. Blowing my nose. Standing. Walking. Anything.

As the legendary story goes, when I was 13, I had two nosebleeds that were particularly bad – so quick that they filled my sinus cavity and the blood then began to very slowly come out of my tear ducts, turning my vision red. That really freaked the crap out of the school nurse – but it was a freak occasion and hasn’t happened since.

In any case, when I was 19, and a sophomore in college, I had one start one day that didn’t stop. It was a real slow bleed, but all the tricks and tactics I had learned over the years for handling them just would not stop it, even when I hit what my body knew was a stopping point.

I went to my doctor, and he gave me two options: go to an ENT specialist the next day, or go to the ER now. I opted for the ER. You get tired of this shit after a while.

Got to the ER, the doctor explained they were going to cauterize my nose. Not nearly as thrilling as it sounds, it’s essentially a Q-tip being stuck up your nose and the substance on the end being rubbed on the affected area, toughening up the tissue. There’s a real quick burning sensation, but other than that it’s painless.

Now, that day I had the left nostril cauterized, which my memory recalls as being the majority problem nostril. From that point on, for about 3 years, I didn’t have another nosebleed. Not a one.

But then, I started to get them out of my right nostril, on rare occasion – on days with sharp weather changes. Then eventually they started on days with sharp humidity changes. Last week, I had *two* in the same week. One was while I was at lunch with Katie when it was really warm; the other was at work because I was going under my desk, then above, then below repeatedly and I guess the elevation change just screwed things up.

Realizing full well that I work in a hospital (or at least, a college connected to a hospital) and that I have medical insurance, I immediately found an ENT specialist and made an appointment for Wednesday this week. The hope was that they’d be able to cauterize the thing, although my impression was I had to be bleeding for it to happen.

On my way up to the doctor’s, I realized this was my first real doctor’s visit of any kind in about 5 years – more or less, since the last nosebleed. I get there, I fill out my paperwork, I wait patiently even though they told me the doctor I was seeing (Dr. Carew, who is primarily a head and neck surgeon, I found out) was in surgery and would be running late, and then got sat in an examination room and asked a few questions.

So eventually the doctor comes in, and the conversation goes like this

Minute 1: Explain what the problems are
Minute 2: He examines my nose and ears
Minute 3: He examines deep in my nose to make sure there’s no major problems
Minute 4: He cauterizes my right nostril
Minute 5: He gives me some general instructions about what’s going to happen and not to itch my nose too much for 24 hours

And that’s it – suddenly I am making my co-payment and out the door, heading back to my desk.

It’s really sad that a lifetime of irritation, strange looks, and ruined shirts can be fixed in 5 minutes for $10. Wish I had known that sooner, though.