4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
14. What song will always remind you of 2014?
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 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 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.
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 also have a few smaller goals that are not terribly creative, but I have them in my planner as gentle reminders.
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!
Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia
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
Doing my best to optimize my fellowship.
Not understanding the Navy game and being surprised at a fairly obvious outcome for my next job assignment.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Travel, rent, savings
Travel! Exploring places with SMS and taking advantage of the #explorearoundyou ethos, inspired by my friend Emily.
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!
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.
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?
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Susannah Cahalan
The Rosie Effect Graeme Simsion
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!