*Ring, ring* God’s calling you!

Last night I was on duty. At about 2100, a kid fell up a ladder. As it turned out, he fell down a (long) ladder while climbing up it. He was sent to the ER with a suspected hand fracture, which couldn’t be confirmed on the ship due to lack of Xray qualified personnel in the duty section. It turned out to be a rather involved fracture of his right (dominant) hand. At our morning meeting today, the following conversation occurred:

Me: ” So, I guess he’s seeing Ortho today. It’s too bad because he’s supposed to start leave today. He’s planning on going to the States tonight. Apparently, he was pretty upset when he was told he might not be able to go.”

Someone: “Well, I heard that he was going to propose to his girlfriend while he was back.”

[Everyone makes “oh that’s too bad” faces and sad sounds. Except…]

Ship’s PA: “That’s what you call divine intervention!”

Drugged up

Sometimes, I think about all the lovely drugs I prescribe and how wonderful (I think) I make people feel. Ambien? Please. Narcs? Only if you need them, sweetie. Flexeril? Make those tension headaches go away *poof*

But now, I am blogging, passing time until a Girls’ Dinner and feeling completely drowsy on Benedryl. I was so ITCHY earlier today, which is really a terrible feeling. I tell myself, “Don’t scratch, you’re only starting a vicious cycl- AUGH I can’t take it anymore!!!!” (Proceed with scratching).

And what’s worse, it’s my hands that itch. It is very difficult to scratch hands. They are bony and really, are supposed to be the scratchers and not the scratchees.

I think I am allergic to the ship’s apples, as that’s really the only thing that’s been different in my life the past few days. Oh, yes, I don’t mind waiting while you recover from passing out due to the excitement that is My.Life.

Even when I don’t feel itchy, I do have a problem with itchy being contagious. Without fail, whenever I have a patient with a rash, I invariably feel the urge to give my arm a little scratch at some point during the patient interview.

Ok, off to dinner. Italian in Japan. Totally awesome. Here’s hoping I don’t fall asleep in my plate.

BTW, the “girls?” Actually, all accomplished women- a surgeon, a dentist and a CRNA. But still, “Women’s Night Out” seems a little Tom Cruise. “It’s Kate, not Katie. She’s a WO-man.”

I’m still here!

It’s been a busy January! I swear, work has a way of majorly crimping my style.

But before I launch into my much abbreviated Japan sightseeing, I need to recommend Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It makes me want to go on a huge Steven Sondheim kick. The only exposure I have previous to this is “Into the Woods.” The movie is awesome. I’m usually not much of a Tim Burton fan- his stuff usually makes me feel a little wan. But the cinematography is awesome, Johnny Depp is wonderful and Helena Bonham Carter holds her own. There were a couple of unexpected elements that I feel I totally should have seen. I probably would have if I weren’t so enthralled with the movie as it progressed.

So, I got special liberty last Wednesday and went skiing with MWR. It was up in Nagano Prefecture and called Shiga-Kogen. A friend sold me her seat after she had an unexpected TDY come up. It was AWESOME!! I definitely need to make skiing a higher priority. Zipping down the hill, taking a few (small) moguls- I loved it. A few friends of mine from the ship were there so I had skiing buddies all day, which was also quite nice.

AND, I am going to a sumo tournament on 10 Feb. I tried to get tickets to the one going on right now in Tokyo but no luck. Sold out! To console myself, I checked out Harajuku, which on a Sunday is the place to be. I saw Harajuku girls, greasers dancing to music, and some folk musicians.

I will definitely have more to write in a few weeks when 2 friends from college and my sister and brother come out to visit. That time will be crazy! I can’t wait!

Kamakura

I love being on leave! These past two weeks have definitely been an awesome breather from work and even more importantly, really allowed me the opportunity to see more of Japan. I remember how bummed I was in late Sept/early Oct when I was still living on the ship and facing another underway period. I never thought I’d get the chance to see what I wanted to see. And even though I knew that was a wee melodramatic even at that time, it’s definitely gratifying to have so many fun and interesting experiences outside of work.

On Friday, I went to Kamakura, the capital of Japan from 1180 to 1333 under shogun rule. It’s about halfway between Yokohama and Yokosuka on the JR Yokosuka line. I took the train to JR Kamakura station. Then, I switched to the Enoden line. The Enoden line was billed as a little put-put trolley in Frommer’s. I’d say it was a little faster than that, but it definitely seemed to pass through people’s back yards. I admired some of the landscaping- lots of moss, artfully placed rocks, even a pond or two. And then I realized I missed my stop.

After a little backtracking, which wasn’t much since I only had to go back one stop but the trick was to do it like I meant it all along because I’m smooth like that.

Eventually, I made it to the Hase-Dera temple. There, a gilded camphor carving of the 11-headed Kannon is enshrined. There’s an involved story on how the statue washed up upon the shores all the way from Nara. It had previously washed up somewhere else, but had given the place all sorts of trouble. When it washed up in Kamakura though, it was emitting light. That’s a sign!

The statue is amazing. It sits in a recessed alcove approximately 9 m high. The statue is slightly larger than the entrance, which gives the effect of something barely contained. It is really impressive. Monumentality doesn’t often affect me, but I was definitely a bit awestruck here.

The rest of the grounds were beautiful. There were two “subshrines” that were also really neat. The first was the shrine to Jizo-do, “Happy” Jizo. The shrine is surrounded by hundreds of miniature Jizo statues, neatly arranged in rows, some with little hats or knitted items. Statues are available for purchase and are bought in remembrance of aborted, miscarried, or stillborn children. It’s kind of sad, especially so because while I was there, there were three women who were definitely there for reasons other than being tourists and getting a great shot. It was kind of awkward because I felt like I was intruding just by being there. There’s really very little privacy at an outdoor shrine. I couldn’t tell if other people who wandered through felt the same way or if I was just being oversensitive.

The other neat shrine was actually in a cave and dedicated to Benzaiten, goddess of the sea. She’s the only female god among the seven lucky gods of Japan (it starts to become murky-to me- where certain gods fall and what certain lists are referring to in terms of Buddhism, Shinto, or both/other). The cave was a lot of fun to scramble through and the little alcoves inside were really neat.

Next, I went to Daibutsu, also known as the Big Buddha. While it used to be enclosed in a structure, it is now exposed to the elements after the wooden temple was washed away by a tidal wave a few hundred years ago. I also got to go inside the statue for Y20! That was very cool. I felt like I was getting a cheating shortcut to Boddishatva land- alas, no sudden enlightenment. It’s ok, I got a couple photos instead.

I took a bus back to Kamakura station and spent the next two hours popping into little shops along Komachi-dori street and trying to find Tsurugaoka temple. I kept missing it and ending up at the third (out of 5) most important Shinto temples (twice!). I’m not very good at figuring out where to turn right, unfortunately. The walk was nice, but by the time I got to the temple, I had some mixed feelings towards it. A service was going on so I got to hear some chants and drums. I think, though, I need to go back another time to explore the grounds because I just wasn’t feeling it by that point.

Overall, though, Kamakura was awesome. I will definitely be going back!

This is lavender, kicking you in the face!

Today, I have had two cups of the most delicious white tea, lavender flavored. This is very aggressive lavender. Picture a surprisingly delicate flower grabbing you by the shoulders, giving you a good shake, and shouting, “You will re-LAX!” It makes for quite a delectable, albeit slightly aggressive, cup.

This, btw, is probably the most productive thing I’ve done all day. It was a full-blown pajama day today, under the dubious guise of fending off a non-existent head cold. Hey, I was sneezed on four days ago. It makes total sense!

Yesterday, was much more chock-a-block with activities. I went on a Tokyo venture; specifically, to the Tsukijii Fish Market and Asakusa, an old Edo-type of place. [Frommer’s Fast Fact! Edo was renamed Tokyo by Emperor Meiji in 1868 after moving the capital from Kyoto to Edo/Tokyo.]

This fish market is listed as a “must-see” in the guidebook. Mmmm, I would have to disagree. It was cool and I loved the various ways of transport such as rickshaw carts and standing golf-carts steered with barrel, hatch-like steering wheels. But, it was definitely a very busy market where there was business to be done. And the business was not catering to tourists. I think part of the problem was I didn’t have anyone to wander around with, all slack-jawed and awestruck. This is definitely heightened by the fact that until 3 days ago, I had the best travel buddy ever! Although I like going to places by myself, I also like seeing things with other people, especially when I feel VERY conspicuous.

So, overall, a place to see but not high on my own TTD (Tokyo To Do) list. I would vote for Pike’s Market in Seattle as a place to visit, tourist-style.

The day improved with the Hama Rikyu garden and the Sumida River cruise. The garden is organized around Tokyo’s only tide-fed ponds, complete with sluice gates. The meadows and landscaping are pretty. I can’t wait to go back when all the flowers are in bloom! Another neat thing about the park is that it used to be used by the imperial family in the Edo era for leisure purposes, to include duck hunting. They hunted ducks with nets, after luring them close to duck blinds by dispersing grain. In November 1935, a little grave was built to appease the spirits of all the dead ducks. I thought it was cute, a little “Ooops, sorry about that. No hard feelings?”

The river cruise was great. It was 40 minutes long. We went under 13 bridges, all with a unique design. I looked up a few times to admire the undersides in tribute to one of Jon’s friends who’s a civil engineer and says that’s his favorite part of the bridge. I tend to admire rudimentary aesthetics, but I was trying to think a little differently. I also took a little catnap. The sunlight through the glass roof required it!

Asakusa had a really nice, understated vibe to it, “Yup, historical sight. Check.” Even Nakamise-dori, full of souvenir stands, was actually a lot of fun rather than completely tacky and out of place. The sights to see include the Kaminarimon gate, the Sensoji temple complex (dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy), and the little Chingodo shrine (dedicated to the guardian against fires). The Chingodo shrine had its statue covered in little crocheted red New Year’s hats, which I think is hilarious. I think I will start to dress up my religious statues. Once I get some.

After looking around Senjoji temple, which was entirely destroyed in the WWII bombings with the exception of the Asakusa-jinya shrine near the back of the complex, I walked to the Kappabashi Dori. Here, there are a lot of shops focussing on the needs of professional kitchens- the equipment, furniture, appliances. Best of all, there are little shops focusing on the all-important plastic food. Which is not cheap! It’s handmade to look especially delicious. Many restaurants in Japan have little plastic food display cases on the sidewalks outside their restaurants. I didn’t realize they probably shell out about $1000 (equiv) for a medium sized display case! (Oh, the things that impress me.)

Ok, back to my lazy day, now evening. Tomorrow, I’m going to head to Kamakura to see the big sitting Buddha.