Chicago in the Spring, Esq.

In mid-May, my family got to celebrate this guy! Yes! He got hired as a character actor as a new grad at parties so we decided to support his career decision! Or…he graduated from law school! Hooray! What did I do during the pandemic? I’m not sure but this guy decided to apply to law school, did incredibly well, and is now setting up for a career in criminal defense!

Simba, I will make you love me and photograph every second!

My brother is also a new Dad and his son is adorable. He also has a great personality meaning he sleeps 22 hours a day and when he’s awake, he’s just so inquisitive and cute! So, even though my brother’s graduation folder was actually empty rather than containing a certificate, seeing my cute nephew was another great reason to see Chicago! [And yes, the folder was empty but that’s because the school was holding onto everyone’s for some administrative reason. Still scrambling? Library overdues? Who knows.]

Half of a lettuce field and some ground turkey

SMS and I landed on Saturday and took a rideshare to meet my family downtown. Where do you eat in a city known for food? The Cheesecake Factory! Haha, I am such a snob. Actually, it was a great place to meet because it was so easy to get a large table for our group. That wouldn’t have happened at The Purple Pig!

That evening, we hung out at my brother and sister-in-law’s apartment. SMS and I brought over chips, dip, and margaritas from Flaco’s Tacos, which are my favorite. They were delicious and followed by a late Uber Eats order of Papa John’s. Clearly, we’re a bunch of real health nuts.

It’s been a minute since the six of us have been together!

The next day was Mother’s Day. It was a big day for the group! My Mom had all her (adult) kids around, my SIL had her first mother day, and two of my siblings had really gracious spouses who had stayed back with their kids to let the quick weekend trip happen but resulted in an unconventional Mother’s Day. We went out to brunch, which was really nice. Another big table, good food, a nice waiter, and another great time!

Beanie Weenie, aka Cloud Gate

After brunch, we went to Millennium Park to sightsee and bide our time before we needed to go to the graduation. Then it was time to go to the graduation venue. We were so excited to cheer on the graduate!

Ed and I had been talking about being on the Jumbotron at low-attendance baseball games. He had been passed over at the game he attended, probably because he was being a grade A heckler. So, I tried to capture him on the Jumbotron at graduation but it cut away from him every.single.time. I tried to capture the image. Yes, I was really paying attention to what mattered at graduation. Don’t worry, we all cheered when his name was called. I didn’t miss that!

My parents left shortly after graduation. SMS and I stayed for another night. The next day, we met up for breakfast with Ed. We went to the Museum of Surgery, but Ed got called into the office and had to ditch us. We walked him back to his car and went back to the museum. Good thing we did because I ran into my medical school second year lab mate! So amazingly random! Neither of us had any idea the other was in Chicago. She was coming from Spain so to meet up was really pretty fantastic. I texted a mutual surgeon friend about the amazing coincidence and his response was, “You’re at the Museum of Surgery on vacation? What a nerd!” So, you know. Different takes on the same situation.

We don’t look a day older than MS-2 lab in 2003!

After the museum, it was time to head to the airport. We took the subway since the traffic was pretty bad out to the airport due to construction. Our flight went smoothly and then we were back for another workweek. Although the trip was brief, it was so special to see everyone again and to celebrate such an important life event!

2021 Wrap-Up: June

Anniversary flowers!

June was a busy month! SMS was in town for the first weekend and our anniversary. We went on walks, went to South Beach Bar & Grill in Ocean Beach, and went to the Hail and Farewell.

The cast in their dressing room.

The Hail and Farewell was held at Liberty Station, which was a pretty good venue. There was some airplane noise and mild AV issues, but nothing terrible and it was really nice to get together as a larger group. I made a video where “Steven the Intern” was tasked with taking care of a baby egg, similar to a high school home ec class assignment. Other residents’ egg fates are shown in the video and it was pretty funny. I understood the assignment!

Then I was off for a family vacation around the US. In 10 days, I went to West Palm Beach, Washington DC, and Chicago. In WPB, I visited my grandfather and his wife. It was a quick trip, but it was really nice to see them. I went to the gym a few times and forget running to the gym- driving a golf cart is a lot more fun! I also ended up doing the Heimlich maneuver on an older gentleman who choked on a large piece of steak. I ended up doing a pretty deep finger sweep and hooked it out! Hooray! It turned out that the man had several serious medical issues, one of which required him to have his food served in very tiny pieces. In the excitement of going out to eat, no one had thought to check that his food was safe for him to eat. The crazy thing is, after all that excitement, they all stayed and finished their meal! I think I would have left after something that dramatic. But to each their own. Or should I say, when in Florida?

After WPB, I headed up to DC for a few days to see Mom and Dad. I stayed in their beautiful apartment downtown. One of our best adventures out was going to get drinks at the Southeast waterfront on a beautiful day. We sat at a second-floor, outdoor bar and enjoyed a few Happy Hour Tecates. It was really a relaxed, fun place to be.

We also saw a Nationals game! I love the Presidents’ Race and George did not disappoint. I actually can’t remember who won, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Teddy.

Brady and I went out for a museum day, which was a lot of fun. She was really busy since they just moved from Japan. They were not only busy settling in, but they were hosting a lot of visitors. She was also about to start her intern orientation so it was definitely a pretty crazy time for her. But I’m so glad we got to hang out. I also saw my brother and his family, but really, my time was too short! Although I got to see my nephews and niece, I was left wanting more! Fortunately, I saw them a lot more during the Thanksgiving holiday later in the year.

General Motors EV1 Electric Car- starting the modern era in electric cars!

The last stop on my trip was Chicago. Ed and Meg were the most awesome hosts in their new apartment. That they own!! Super impressive, says this perma-renter!

The best coffee maker instructions. Illustrations provided for the real caffeine-deprived dummies (meeeeeeeee!)
Tasty, tasty frozen margaritas. Right down the street!
So much fun at the Cubs game!

I went on a run that ended up being longer than I wanted, but I really wanted to run out onto the fishing pier/jetty to see the dramatic cityscapes!

I had been to Chicago a few times before but had never been on a river architecture tour. Ed took me on one that is supposed to be the best (Chicago Architecture Foundation, I think) and it certainly seemed so! We had a great guide and learned a lot.

Finally, we met up with Meg for lunch. She gave me her own architecture tour with the cool triangle-shaped hotel with a great (closed!) rooftop bar and the Walgreens in a former bank that makes good use of the old vault!

We didn’t miss you.

And just like that, my grand tour of America was complete. SMS and I spent the last weekend of June in San Diego. We had a nice hike in Torrey Pines, admired native plants, went to Blue Ribbon Pizzeria in Encinitas, and saw a music bus with a stage on the double-decker.

Summer tomato plant. Spoiler alert: Aphids 1, Plant 0

Boston graduation!


I arrived in Boston and after quickly seeing Ed and Meg, I went to sleep.  Ok, ok, first I ate the cannoli they brought for me as a consolation prize for missing dinner.

The next day, I woke up early and headed out for Brady’s commissioning ceremony.  It was such an honor to commission her and I was/am so happy and proud of her!  After the ceremony, we went out to a diner for brunch which was perfect since there was a table for 6 available without a wait.  Yay!  I had lobster egg benedict which was pretty good.
The graduate!

After breakfast, I took an Uber with Mom to the ceremony.  Normally I’m all about walking but I was in heels and my feet, especially the right, has hurt a lot since running for the train after the Beyonce concert in new boots.  We got to the ceremony and it was so great to be there for Brady’s graduation with the hooding and the diploma presentation.  The ceremony was very long since there were two schools graduating (medical and Sackler) but it’s ok, it was worth it to be there!

Continue reading “Boston graduation!”

Chicago COSM

Millennium Park, Chicago

On Thursday, I left Mountain View for the COSM 2016 meeting in Chicago.  I had a research poster selected for display so I got to go to the meeting.  I had never been to COSM before.  It’s smaller than the Academy meeting in the Fall and a little more social.  Overall, I think I like the Academy better because of the lecture courses offered but COSM was a well-run meeting in a great city.

I arrived Thursday afternoon and my brother picked me up, which was super nice of him since the rush hour traffic was so bad.  He said it was worse than normal but either way, he is a very nice person to pick me up from the airport at that time!
Downtown Chicago- the bottom right photo is from the Hancock Ladies’ Room!

We headed downtown and looked into taking an architecture boat tour but there were no twilight tours that night.  We headed over to the John Hancock building and went up to the Lounge for dinner and drinks.  The sunset was incredible and I went into the women’s bathroom with its famed view.  In the women’s room, there are floor to near-ceiling windows overlooking the downtown.  It’s a great view.  In contrast, the men’s room (by report) has no windows.

My brother by the non-sailing boat 🙁 and his amazing apartment!

We waited for a window seat and just when I was starting to feel a little sad about our chances for a short wait, we were brought to our seats.  Yay!  I had a prime rib au jus sandwich and it hit the spot.  I was so hungry!  Meg joined us after her class and we went to Eataly, a super-cool Italian market with multiple small restaurants in an open-floor arrangement.  It was awesome and I’m so glad Meg persuaded us to go!  After that, we went to Hop Flower near their house, which is a very cool bar specializing in Belgian brews.  Meg and Ed definitely know the best spots!

Eataly- I wish there was one near me!

The next day, they were off to the airport and I headed downtown to the meeting.  I got an early check-in (yay!), dropped off my stuff and went for the afternoon lectures and panel discussions.  I saw a lot of former residency mates, future colleagues and former staff.  It was really great to catch up with everyone and get some good career advice.

The Purple Pig- amazing!

Friday morning featured the meeting and then I went to the Chicago Institute of Art after an incredible lunch at the Purple Pig.  This trip was filled with amazing food but I think this was the best.  I went with Colleen and Dan (new acquantaince) and the three of us shared several small plates and feasted.

Some favorites from the collection

The Art Institute was great and I saw old favorites (Seurat) and new-to-me finds such as the Winslow Homer non-ocean paintings and Chagall’s America windows.  I had seen the minatures on my last visit and even though they’re amazing, there was no time in this quick museum run through.

Chagall’s Windows

Then I headed off to the airport.  I was off to Boston to see my favorite sister graduate from medical school!


I feel super lucky because my awesome brother and his equally awesome girlfriend came out to Japan this past week.  It was fairly last-minute (read: only a few weeks of planning) but they had the best itinerary and it was so wonderful to see them.

I met them in Yokohama the night they arrived and drove them back to Muhari-cho.  We hung out for a bit and then everyone turned in for the night.  The next day, I went to work and came home for lunch, thinking they’d still be there since we got in late the night before.  They were gone!  Sagoy!  I was very impressed by their initiative.  They went to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka.  It sounds like a great trip and they went to a few places in Kyoto that are now on my list- the bamboo forest and the 10,000 torii gates.

1. Anime snow-animal in Yoyogi 2. Harajuku 3. View of Mt Fuji from the Shin

They were gone from Wednesday to Saturday and came home Saturday night in the worst snowstorm the Kanto plain has seen in 47 years.  They were super lucky in catching the train all the way home, even though the caveat to their luckiness was the train went about 2 mph from Yokohama to Horinouchi.  They got home at 0230…blech!  The next day, they slept in a bit then we all headed into Tokyo.  We went to Yoyogi Park and Harajuku before heading on the Shinkasen to Nagano to go skiing for two days!!!

We were heading to Nozawa-onsen and getting there was pretty easy.  We took the Shinkansen Asama from Tokyo to Nagano.  Then we took a local JR Iiyama line train for about an hour to TogariNozawaOnsen.  Apparently, there is a Nozawa station that is 4 hours away from the ski resort.  That would be a bad sagoy!  At the train station, the first two groups got cabs while the rest of us suckers were in the cold with no cabs.  We arrived after the Y300 bus, so we were stuck waiting for a cab (~Y3000).  We knew that we were arriving after the last bus, but we didn’t expect so few cabs!  The station attendant helpfully pointed out the cab numbers and I mustered up my best Japanese (terrible) and called them to ask for cabs.  I got the hang of it on the fourth call and two cabs showed up.  Yeah!  Now really, I have no idea if this was coincidence or not but I think my fourth phone call was pretty clear.  The first two were not as I wasn’t very clear which station I was at and the third was to a disconnected number.

We stayed at Petit Hotel Nozawa-onsen Inn and it was perfect!  It was inexpensive, the rooms were warm and they served a delicious breakfast for only Y500.  They also had ski rentals for Y1500.  Awesome!

The rooms were Japanese-style with futons and comforters.  It was decently comfortable although the walls were thin and we were near the sinks and bathrooms.  I learned that people in the onsen had excellent oral hygiene and definitely brushed their teeth for 2+ minutes.

1. Onsen room 2. View from my window 3. Me, happy to be skiing!
Nozawa-onsen ski resort was AWESOME!  The snow was incredible- all-natural, dry powder and just amazing to ski on.  I was a little rusty and only went on a black twice (once by accident…yeep!), but the intermediate slopes were so pleasant apart from moderate iciness on the Skyline run on the second day. The views were pretty spectacular though!
From left CW: 1. I am so happy to be out skiing 2. Japanese ski outfits 3. View 4. Ed and Meg 5. Day’s end

My favorite runs were at the top of the mountain to the left of the topmost quad lift.   The snow was consistently fantastic and there was some off-piste skiing that had great powder and not too many trees.

After the second day of skiing, we headed back home.  We stopped in Tokyo station and went to ramen alley.  Meg picked out the restaurant and it was delicious!  It’s called Tokyo Edoama and specializes in miso broth ramen.  I ordered the #1 Tokyo special and it was tasty.  Meg got a crazy-spicy soup.  Her spice tolerance impressed Ed and I.  I would definitely recommend the restaurant although I think I will try another one next time I go just to make the rounds.
Ed takes several pictures at a time.  I did not know that.  Let me caption them (L-R): 1. Yay, I love ramen! (cute) 2. Time to Eat 3. Are you still taking pictures? 4. Wait, seriously? 5. No more pictures! For real!
The next day, I had clinic, boo.  Ed and Meg went into Tokyo and we met up in Yokohama for dinner. We wanted to go to the sushi-go-round in World Porters but it was closed.  We headed back to Yokohama station and we went to the same izakaya I went to the weekend to the Thrash Zone.  It was still delicious and we had great yakitori in addition to a few other small dishes.  Ed and Meg really liked it.
From top CW: Izakaya, Ed and Meg, Panorama of Yokohama from vantage point I think SMS would like!

Then, whah!  Our fun visit was over.  They had a last half-day in Tokyo while I went back to work.  I had the best day yet in Yokosuka, professionally-speaking.  I did a left parotidectomy that went really well without any post-opertive facial nerve paresis.  It was a GREAT day and one that makes me really happy that I’m a surgeon.  So that partially healed my sads caused by Ed and Meg leaving.

Next visitors: Mom and Dad in April!  Leave is approved and I cannot wait to travel around with them!!!

Oh the weather outside is frightful…

This wasn’t even the worst of it!

Nice. Humming Christmas songs in February.

But really, the weather is terrible!  It’s been gusting and snowing all day.  Apparently, we’ve gotten 4-8 inches depending on one’s location in the greater Yokosuka area.  I have not been outside because I am old, cranky and do not own a sled.  If I owned a sled, I may have headed out but the winds are going at 40 mph so probably not.

Also, this morning?  The temperature inside the house was 7 degrees Celsius.  I’ll translate: 44 degrees Farenheit.  That’s ridiculous.  I kept trying to see my breath fog up but I had no luck.  But I cranked my little kerosene heater up!

Ed and Meg are much braver than I and are out in Tokyo.  They went to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka over the last few days.  Very cool!  We were going to meet in Tokyo but I didn’t want to get stuck up there so I stayed home and studied.  Nerd alert!  I think they’ll make it back tonight but the trains are delayed and probably pretty crowded.

Today I studied, did a yoga video, ate lots of snacks and studied some more.  I also found the video below in someone’s “Link List Friday.”  It’s really sweet and really sad.  I started crying and that takes a lot from a video.  Or maybe I am old, cranky AND a crybaby.  What a winning combination!

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.


Yay, my brother and his girlfriend are here!  I’m so excited to have visitors even though I was shocked when I came home for lunch and they were already gone!  Whah!  My house must stink!

JK, I knew they were leaving for Kyoto today but I’m very impressed they made it out the door before noon the day after a huge amount of travel.  We’re going to hang out this weekend in Tokyo and we’re going skiing next week.  Awesome!  I can’t wait.

I picked them up in Yokohama last night and we went to a sushi go-round, which was one of the things they definitely wanted to do in Japan.  It’s a Y100 sushi place but it’s pretty good and we had a lot of delicious food and caught up.  Both of them are so funny and tell great stories so we have lots more to talk about when I see them again, especially since they’ll have their Kyoto tales by that point.  They’re also going to Osaka and Kanazawa.

He told me about the Ninjadera temple in Kanazawa that I really want to go to!  It has a lot of awesome defenses built into it and it sounds so cool.  I think SMS would really like it based on what Ed said.

Work is going well.  I operated two days in a row so I am really happy.  Clinic is a little boring today and I came home for a long lunch before two ear cleaning appointments.  Awesome.  Definitely the highlight of the week.

I have a Japanese lesson tomorrow and I’m going to study a lot of ENT so that I can basically take Monday and Tuesday off.  I’ll bring my iPad so I can study from GoodReader but I don’t think it’ll be the most productive.  I want to hang out with my guests!