Reflections on 2017

Since 2011, I’ve used this list to help reflect back on the year.  I really enjoy looking back while preparing to move forward. So…
1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
European Delivery road trip vacation!  I started a book club!  Finished JPME-1 so now I’m a Navy War College Distance Learning graduate!  Qualified for the Boston Marathon again but didn’t make the cut-off time for applications!
2.  Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I have long-term projects that result in a few of the same answers below.  I’m doing well professionally but need to continue to strive for bigger projects rather than “just” succeed on the day-to-day work of clinic and OR.  I would also like to work on my Spanish, increase my musicality and establish a regular, non-race training exercise routine.

Continue reading “Reflections on 2017”

Reflections on 2016

Since 2011, I’ve used this list to help reflect back on the year.  I really enjoy looking back while preparing to move forward. So…
 
1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I went hut-to-hut hiking in the Alps with SMS!  It was awesome!  I would love to do longer, multi-day treks in the future.  But for our first time out, the 2 day-1 night adventure was great.  On the second night, we ended up in a hostel but I don’t quite count it as part of the hike since we ended the day on trains and buses to get there!
 
2.  Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Professionally, I am doing well in transitioning to a successful academic career.  I have a great project and applying for grant money.  Even if I don’t get the grant, I am well-situated to start the study and I’m looking forward to completing it this year.  That’s my big goal.
 
Personally, I wanted to broaden my writing endeavors.  This definitely took a back-burner to work. I’m completing a hybrid classroom-online three class sequence and that ended up taking a lot of time since May.  Currently, I’m taking two classes and that is a lot of reading and writing.  One class ends this January so I will re-evaluate my writing goals then.  
 
I still aspire to be a Renaissance woman and want to work on a variety of different skills.  It’s a little dilettantish but I enjoy trying lots of things!
 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Babies are starting to blur.  I have a lot of friends with babies who just turned one or are about to. They are all very cute!  I’ve just always been bad with birthdays!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No

5. What countries did you visit?
Switzerland 
US (Colorado, several road trips including a cross-country haul!)

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Publications! (repeat)

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Etched might be a little strong since I had to confirm in my planner (ha, ha) but memorable days included-
1/8/2016: Our friend Melinda’s wedding, which we photographed!
2/14/2016: Seeing the “Firefall” in Yosemite and climbing the 5-pitch “Nutcracker”
3/6/2016: Napa Marathon and qualifying for the Boston Marathon!
5/16/2016: Beyonce in concert!!!!
7/1-7/17/2016: Switzerland trip
 
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I feel like I’m doing a good job at having a great marriage between two people who are very dedicated to their careers!
 
9. What was your biggest failure?
Getting over work-related disappointments and realizing there is more than one way to achieve professional happiness.   (To be clear, this is a failure that I’m trying to turn into a positive, if not a success.)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope!
 
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets! (repeat)

12. Where did most of your money go?
Travel, rent, savings (repeat)
 
13. What did you get really excited about?
I really get excited about vacations.   This is basically a paraphrase of last year’s answer!

14. What song will always remind you of 2014?
The Hamilton soundtrack, “Sorry” by Justin Beiber (shameful!), “Cake by the Ocean” by DNCE, “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse/Mark Ronson, “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker, “Parachute” by Chris Stapleton

15. Compared to this time last year, are you: 
– happier or sadder? Happier
– thinner or fatter? A little fatter, which marathon training will hopefully remedy!
– richer or poorer? Richer (continuing to save)
 
16. What’s one thing you wish you had done more of?
Exercise more consistently.  As the marathon gets closer, I’m going to figure out a post-race workout plan that works for me.  I spent too much of this past year getting just enough exercise as not to get completely out of shape.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Phone-scrolling.  It has to stop.  
 
18. How did you spend Christmas?
We had a great day in San Diego!  I ran 14 miles, we got breakfast and then we hung out with SMS’ side of the family for the day.  We had an incredible turkey dinner and I feasted!  (Sounds classier than “pigged out.”)
 
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Orphan Black.  Amazing!  We also liked Mozart in the Jungle and Westworld.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Fiction: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
             Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Cleave
                   Thanks for the Feedback by Heen
                   Just Mercy by Stephenson
                   When Breath Becomes Air by Kalanithi
               
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Chris Stapleton, the Hamilton cast
 
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Hell or High Water

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
36. We had an amazing day of wine-tasting in Napa.  We stayed at a great Airbnb and had a great weekend trip with my parents!

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More La Croix water.  Ha, ha.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Scrubs and business professional with some running outfits mixed in!
 
26. What kept you sane?
SMS and my family!

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
That America has a serious problem in that there are many people who feel so disenfranchised and left out of the American Dream that they are willing to risk it all for change.

Reflection on 2015

Since 2011, I’ve used this list to help reflect back on the year.  I really enjoy looking back while preparing to move forward.  So…

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Lived in Silicon Valley!  SMS and I really enjoy the area!  Oh, that gives me a corollary- I have paid a higher rent than I ever thought possible/reasonable for an apartment that wasn’t tiled in gold.

2.  Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I wanted to have a better appreciation for time, “to use my time more as a gift, rather than something to waste or let go mindlessly.”  I did fairly well but started to slip towards the end of the year, especially in regards to mindless web surfing. I plan on recommitting this year because the days can feel long, but the years are short!

I have two big resolutions this year.  First, I would like to transition to a successful academic career and to do that, I need to follow through on my projects and start publishing.  Presentations alone aren’t enough!  My second is to broaden my personal writing- I’d like to start writing more and produce something tangible.  Ideally, I’d like to write a novel but there’s a long way to go between here and there.  But I just read that progress is the audacity to dream big and the discipline to start small!

I also have a few smaller goals that are not terribly creative, but I have them in my planner as gentle reminders.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Oh man.  The babies are coming!  My sister-in-law and my brother had their beautiful baby boy!  One of my really close college friends had a baby girl!  Both couples gave each child a beautiful name!  Several Facebook friends (whom I genuinely like and consider friends, we just mainly keep up through Facebook) had babies and many more are on the way in 2016!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No

5. What countries did you visit?

Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

Publications!

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

2/10/15: Sapporo Ice Festival
6/20/15: Leaving Japan for the second time
12/23/15: Great Christmas with my family, minus Joe and Nicole

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Doing my best to optimize my fellowship.

 

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not understanding the Navy game and being surprised at a fairly obvious outcome for my next job assignment.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I’ve been having some minor injuries during my marathon training.  The biggest one was recently when I strained my shin muscle and made it way worse by skiing on it.  I’m getting back into running today after 8 days off (yikes!).
11. What was the best thing you bought?

Plane tickets!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Travel, rent, savings

13. What did you get really excited about?

Travel!  Exploring places with SMS and taking advantage of the #explorearoundyou ethos, inspired by my friend Emily.

14. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Unfortunately for SMS, “Hello” by Adele made a late year, complete stuck-in-my-head appearance.  I also discovered The Turnpike Troubadours this year and I love them!

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Happier
– thinner or fatter? A little thinner, mostly stable
– richer or poorer? Richer (continuing to save)

16. What’s one thing you wish you had done more of?

Same as last year, meditate!  I’d like to work on giving myself some space between action and reaction.  Sometimes my opinions come out more forcefully than is helpful.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I’m getting better, but I’m really going to focus less on time-suck websites and spend my evenings productively- otology studying, language training, maybe a self-defense class?
18. How did you spend Christmas?

SMS and I had a relaxing day after coming back from Colorado the day before.  We exchange gifts, hung out and went to Star Wars that evening.  It was pretty awesome!

19. What was your favorite TV program?

I really didn’t watch TV this year.  I watched one episode of Sons of Anarchy, which seemed cool but as SMS said, “[Did I] really want to start a series that would give me nightmares?

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Click here

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Turnpike Troubadours, new Brandon Flowers

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I don’t watch a lot of movies either and this year seems a little Sci-Fi heavy: The Martian, Star Wars and Ex Machina.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

35. SMS made dinner for me and we had a low-key evening.    I couldn’t take off work because I had to make up the time for our later-in-the-month incredible vacation to Thailand and Cambodia.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Current job satisfaction.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Slightly uneven.  I’d like to work on refining my everyday style.

26. What kept you sane?

SMS!  He’s a great listener and really helped me through some tough (for me) times.  Sometimes he can be unflinchingly honest which can be hard in itself but it always makes me reflect and commit to personal improvement.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Prestigious institutions have their own internal issues and appearances can be deceiving.  This isn’t exactly a new realization but one that was reinforced this year.

 

Best Books of 2015: My picks

2015 was a pretty good year for books.  My total number came in at 33, which isn’t terrible but I thought I had read more.  I guess that’s the surgeon in me- always inflating my numbers!  I’ve included the full list below, which is roughly in sequential order of my reading.  I searched my Kindle list since I download most of my books from the e-library.  I prefer actual books but the portability, ubiquity and weight of my iPhone/Kindle app make the e-versions my everyday go-to.

Picking favorites is always hard for me. I’m much more of a fiction-reader, but I tried to expand my horizons a bit this year.  For 2016, there is a lot heavier emphasis on non-fiction thanks to a few recommendation lists I came across during some of my end-of-the-year research/reflection (post coming soon!).

This year, I have four fiction recommendations:

1. The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan
     This excellent book follows a former Australian POW captured by the Japanese and sent work on the Great Burma Railroad.  It switches among several different times as it looks backwards on Dr. Dorrigo Evans life.  The unexpected inter-relationships among the characters and the plot structure to a horrible climactic event in the work camp are masterfully executed, even if parts of the story itself are horror-inducing.
2. The Bone Clocks David Mitchell
  I love David Mitchell.  I have read almost all of his books and even though I’m not a super-fan enough to recognize all the cameos different characters play in his novels, his attention to detail and clear vision of his body of work as a magnum opus is very impressive.  I really liked the story even though it was a little more fantasy genre-like than I usually read.  
3. The Invisible Bridge Julie Orringer
  There was a lot of WWII reading this year.  I also tried reading The Nightingale after The Invisible Bridge but I thought the books were too similar, head injury to the main character and all.  The Invisible Bridge follows three Hungarian Jewish brothers in the years leading up to and including WWII.  It was a stark reminder, in fictional form, that history is made up of the seemingly mundane everyday events that can only be seen as a cohesive, comprehensible narrative in retrospect.   
4. Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
  This was a much-buzzed about book early in the year and an enjoyable, well-written read.  Nothing too profound but at the same time, not trashy chick-lit literature either.

I have three non-fiction recommendations:

1. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette Hampton Sides
  This book was amazing.  It’s a great story and the story-telling is superb.  What kept crossing my mind as I read it was, “How is this book even possible?” meaning, how did the first-person documentation in the form of crew logs survive when almost certainly, not everyone would live after this misadventure?  To find out how, read the book!  I won’t spoil it for you and this is a definite must-read!
2. On Immunity Eula Biss
  Some interesting insights into the thought processes of choosing to vaccinate children.  To me, it’s a no-brainer but there are interesting examinations of the domestication and false benign-ness of all things “natural” vs. the complexity of the modern world and science.  In addition, there is an interesting reflection on how the world of complementary medicine has very reassuring, straight-forward language (cleanse, natural, detoxify) while the language of modern medicine is more nuanced and less reassuring (complications, side effects).
3. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Susannah Cahalan
  Thank you sister for my Christmas gift.  This is an easy read and very interesting from both a medical mystery perspective (paging Dr. House) and the fact that our brains are so complex and, at times, terrifyingly fragile to seemingly little insults.

The books can be roughly grouped.  First, to counter-act the high-mindedness of the recs above, I definitely read some beach worthy, chick lit reads.  This is the year I discovered Liane Moriarty and I’m not ashamed!  The best is Big Little Lies.  There are some heavy themes addressed but overall, it’s a really nice read that passes along quickly.  I also read Kevin Kwan’s two books, which were a fascinating, fictional insider’s view to the world of Eastern Asia’s super-super-rich.  Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series was a fun fiction-within-fiction read and also worth reading, especially if you have a background in reading a lot of classics (hello high school reading lists!).

I also read a few comedians’ books, which I really liked despite not having any in my top recommendations.  BJ Novak’s short stories were great and very heavy on the irony.  Is it irony if it’s completely in your face?  I thought there should be an element of subtlety but sometimes, it hits across the face like a baseball bat.

I also read a few memoirs this year, which were all very well done.  I liked Dr. Marsh’s reflections on medical complications but I wish there was more reflection on how to transition from committing the complication to living with it.  In fairness, he did liken it to an open wound healing to a permanent scar but how does one actually live through and process that transition?  It’s something I’m grappling with in my own medical career and any guidance is always appreciated.

Ok, I’m going to wind down with the complete list because this post is getting ridiculously long.  In short, there are no real turkeys on the list below.  [ETA:  The previous statement is a lie!  I would not recommend Pretty Girls!]  I hope 2016 brings you some fun, worthwhile reading in the days ahead!

The complete list
Yes Please Amy Poehler
All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr
The Bone Clocks David Mitchell
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austin
Big Little Lies Liane Moriarty
The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty
Three Wishes Leane Moriarty
Redeployment Phil Klay
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories BJ Novak
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette Hampton Sides
Crazy Rich Asians Kevin Kwan
The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan
The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Book 1) Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
The Martian Andy Weir
The Invisible Bridge Julie Orringer
China Rich Girlfriend Kevin Kwan
The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel Jasper Fforde
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels Jasper Fforde
The Heart and the Fist: The education of a humanitarian Eric Greitens
Something Rotten Jasper Fforde
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot
Food: A Love Story Jim Gaffigan
The Knockoff Lucy Sykes
The Glass Castle: A Memoir Jeannette Walls
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania Eric Larson
Pretty Girls Karin Slaughter
Shotgun Lovesongs Nickolas Butler

Do No Harm Henry Marsh
Art of Fielding Chad Harbach
On Immunity Eula Biss
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Susannah Cahalan
The Rosie Effect Graeme Simsion

Yokohama Quest

Well, hello!  Won’t you join me for a cup of the BEST COFFEE IN THE WORLD!  Although Buddy the Elf in the eponymous Elf thought he had found the world’s best coffee, SMS and I are #1 fans of the Kona coffee from The Honolulu Coffee company.  We had some on our honeymoon (twice!) and SMS was determined to find a store here in Japan.  This quest led us to a beautiful, but coffee-free, beach in Zushi and on Sunday, to World Porters in Yokohama where we found it!  Hooray!  
The French Press were individual sized instead of for two, so we each got our own and had the most delicious cup!  The mall was super-crowded, especially in the food court.  We preceded the coffee with Bibimbap for lunch, which was delicious.  I love the food court at World Porter’s- the bibimbap place is awesome.  There is also a delicious bakery adjacent to the food court and my favorite sushi go-round on the other side from the bakery.

 After lunch, we walked around the mall and SMS got an awesome man bag.  They’re pretty de rigueur around here in addition to being really practical.  His looks awesome.  It’s very difficult to find one that a. does not look like a lady bag and b. does not look like a fanny pack casually draped over the shoulder.  BUT, he found one and it is awesome!

 Then, we made our way over to Osanbashi International Passenger Terminal for some photos.  The structure itself is amazing.  From far away, it looks like a grassy roof on top of a large building, but it is actually a really neat, geometric wooden deck with inset grassy areas that one can’t even walk on.  The deck is fair game and really quite astonishingly intricate and beautiful. There are some great views of the structure itself, the Yokohama skyline and a nearby bridge.

 SMS and I set up in a spot to get a really nice picture of the skyline.  The picture above is a little early compared to the gorgeous lightening SMS waited for but I just thought I’d show my little iPhone shot just to set the scene. It was fun to go out with SMS but taking pictures made us hungry so we walked over to Chinatown.

We walked through the streets and snacked our way through.  We had several steamed buns and one set of delicious dumplings.  It was really beautiful at night.  After awhile, we started to get cold so we quickly walked through Motomachi, jumped on the train and headed home.  Awesome day!

New Year’s Resolutions 2010

Ok, so these are published a little late and I’m already slightly overdue on #2 but the way I’ve approached New Year’s resolutions in the past is to treat them as guidelines and navigational beacons. Some require a little more strict adherence than others, but I’m pretty excited about my ideas for 2010!

New Year’s Resolutions

1. Read one non-fiction book for general edification purposes a month. Categories that do not count are medicine, memoir or how-to-fold-origami. (The last is listed because origami and I will never work out. Cranes spite me.) [Note: On further consideration, this will have to wait until after the inservice exam on 3/6/10. I need to crush that thing so all reading time is devoted to medicine.]

2. Blog once a week

3. Start p90X on 1/10 in order to finish on my birthday weekend. I want to look and feel amazing on my big 3-0!

4. Have an awesome 2 week vacation during my research block to Copenhagen and Zurich with a side trip to visit Mechen during an awesome port call *fingers crossed!*

5. Write a letter once a week (at least!) to Mechen while he’s on deployment.

6. Find an organization to volunteer with and perform community service.

7. Go to Church once a week, preferably on Sunday.

8. Work on my Spanish. Practice 15 minutes a day once inservice is over.

9. Continue to study hard in ENT by being more consistent with my reading. At least 15 minutes anatomy and 30 minutes reading Monday-Thursday with 2-3 hours Friday-Sunday. That is bare minimum requirements.