This past weekend, I had the best time in Pittsburgh.  Leading up to the trip, people were slightly confused as to what the possible draw of Pittsburgh could be.  Well, only my best friends from college that’s what!  Ever since missing the 10 year reunion, I’ve been particularly sad (not actively sad, just missing people sad!) that I haven’t seen some of my friends in so long.  Marissa, Carrie and Laddie have all made it out to SD on work trips and I had seen Karen when I was in DC, but it had been forever since I’d seen Gisele.  5 years, in fact!  Also, the group of us hadn’t been together in that same amount of time and we finally decided that enough was enough and we had to make it a priority to see each other.  So, last September, a flurry of emails went out and this past weekend was the one that worked for everyone.  Well, except for Hillary since she went ahead and got herself knocked up but since that is such fantastic news in and of itself, we’ll just have to see her another time!

I took the plane out on Friday.  Laddie and I were on the same flight from Chicago but sat separately since I was studying and she had work to do, which looked suspiciously like taking a nap to me.  But whatever, I don’t work in advertising.  Then, Karen and Carrie were at the airport to pick us up.  First stop, liquor store.  Second stop, costume shop.  I know, ridiculous!  But we were loading up for Saturday’s bachelorette activities for Marissa.  Then we went to Karen’s house and hung out before heading back to the airport to pick up Gisele.  [Airport trips would be a theme of the weekend.  Fortunately, Karen drives a Prius].

Next, we went to the Double Wide Grill for dinner.  It was a converted gas station, which was very cute.  We drank some local beers and ate delicious food although I’m having a memory lapse right now as to what we ate exactly.  And no, it’s not related to the number of beers I had!  Marissa met us there and we hung out for a bit before heading back to Karen’s place and hanging out until 2.  While I had the advantage of being on West Coast time, that was still pretty late!

The next day, Laddie and I slept in until 11!  It was delightful.  Everyone was about to head out for a run so we quickly rallied and joined them for a run in the cemetery.  Then, we showered and ate brunch at Coca Cafe.  Oh, yum!  Karen and I split the fried eggplant Benedict and melted Brie and fig French Toast, both of which were dee-licious!  Then we went to the Mattress Factory, a contemporary arts museum.

When we got the museum, we realized we had walked into a 35th Museum Anniversary celebration!  Awesome!  I silk-screened a poster and then we all sat down and made crowns.  It was serious business!  There were cardboard strips that were stapled to size to serve as the crown base.  Then there were a ton of craft materials to glue/staple/tape to the crown.  We each made our own and then wore them around the museum.  It was really fun.  The museum was pretty incredible.  Two installations really stood out.  The first was James Turrell’s Pleiades (1983).  There was a ramp up to a small platform with two chairs.  It was complete and total darkness.  The room had acoustics that made all noise seem far away, even as the person I thought was far away was just a few feet from me.  Although we didn’t stay in there long enough to let our eyes adjust to see the painted amorphous sphere, it was a pretty cool experience to experience that degree of sensory deprivation (visual) and sensory distortion (audio).  The second was Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Dots Mirrored Room and Repetitive Vision (1996).  No deep thoughts here- it was just a really cool visual experience.  I’m sort of a sucker for the infinity images towards the vanishing point that mirrors provide.   
Repetitive Vision
Infinity dots
After our arts and crafts session!
Repetitive Visions of Laddie!

After the Mattress Factory, we headed back to Karen’s house for a Skype session with Hillary that included our impromptu bacholorette party!  We celebrated with champagne, presents and a nice chat with Hillary although I think all the champagne drinkers were getting easily distracted by the end.  Then, we went to a delicious Thai place named Pusadee’s Garden.  The food was pretty good and much needed.  I had a delicious, rich pumpkin curry.  Next, we headed across the street to The Allegheny Wine Mixer, a wine bar (now THAT was just what we needed!).  It was a pretty cool place with really nice people.  Our party was joined by Karen’s lovely boyfriend Adam.  It was really nice to meet him and he fit right in.  Well, he didn’t have a crown but he managed that potentially embarrassing situation with aplomb!

Hi Hil!  Where’s your crown?
Admiring Laddie’s necklace on me!
The next morning, Gisele and Marissa took off fairly early.  Carrie, Karen and I slowly got moving although I felt pretty good since I had alternated with water the night prior (an excellent strategy that I am now realizing at my old age!).  We went and had the prix fixe brunch at Tamari, down the street from Karen.  Then we went home and packed before heading to Church Brew Works for a beer/peek inside one of the coolest bars (it’s a converted church!).  Afterwards, Karen drove us to the airport and Carrie and I parted ways and I was off to San Diego!  While I love San Diego and my life here, there’s a special place in my heart for my college friends and it was so!nice! to see them.  I can’t wait to see them again at Marissa’s wedding! *fingers crossed!*

Karen and Carrie


Woe is me!  I went to my storage unit today to grab some Winter clothes and in the process, COMPLETELY smashed my finger between the rolling storage door and a table leg.  It hurt so badly that it didn’t actually hurt the first few minutes.  Fortunately, there were no crunching or cracks so no fracture!  Yay!  That would have really sucked.  I can also move it reasonably well so I think I’ll be ok operating, rock climbing and skiing.

Yes, skiing!  That’s why I was at my unit.  I’m off to Breckenridge for the holiday weekend with Jenny, Brooke and Lauren.  I cannot wait!  I have wanted to ski out West for the longest time and Jenny’s brother’s house is reportedly amazing.  I feel very lucky and fortunate, crippled finger aside!  I also went shopping at REI today and got two tops and a vest so I’m pretty set.  I will definitely have to up my Winter clothes count as I get ready for Japan.  The shopping over there isn’t the greatest due to the tininess of Japanese clothing sizes but it’s ok.  I’ll just go shopping with the obese Japanese women.  (Seriously, when I was there before, there were several people who were way fatter than me but their frames are so teeny tiny that we were the same size.  Just point me to the Japanese mu mu store!).

  There are many blog topics to catch up on- the Hawaii trip and Santa Barbara trip are most prominent.    I also have several exciting mini-trips, graduation plans, rock climbing adventures and weekend events to document.  Phew!  Since we spoke last, I am the proud owner of one (1) Coachella ticket.  Woo hoo!  I’m so excited.  Tawnne and I are going to go.  I have the day off Friday so we’re going to get up there, see all the bands and in general, have the best time!  We’re going to car camp and I can’t wait!  I really like the line-up this year.  Last year, I wasn’t hip enough but this year, there are several bands I’m looking forward to!  Bands I already like include Tegan and Sara, Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers, Vampire Weekend and Two Door Cinema Club.  There are also some people I really want to see like Stone Roses, Sigur Ros and Blur.

Catch Up

I’m going to write a separate Hawaii post but so far, 2013 has been pretty stellar.  NYE was a great success and the Hawaii trip was way too short!

My non-reading book club met on 1/9 at Extraordinary Desserts which has the most amazing cheese bar on Wednesday evenings.  There were two delicious Blues, two sheep milk cheeses, a coconut milk gouda and several others.  My piggalicious plate is shown above.  There may have been two, ha ha!  The women were great to talk to as usual and it was really a lot of fun!

That weekend, I went to a climber’s party.  I’ve been rock-climbing a fair bit and am progressing reasonably well.  I’m pretty competitive and don’t like being less skilled than others but that’s ridiculous since I just started up again after a 13 year hiatus.

The weekend after was Matt and Michelle’s housewarming party where we missed all the food trucks at 57 Degrees because we showed up too late.  I met a really nice MD/PhD student who just finished up her data collection and will be starting her MS3 year next Fall.  Prior to the housewarming party, I went out to dinner with our incoming intern, his girlfriend and SMS.

Edna had brunch at her place that Saturday and her awesome sister Janie was there.  I will really miss all the terrific people I’ve met since I’ve been here.


On Thursday, I received confirmation that I’ll be one of the ENT doctors in Yokosuka, Japan for two years starting in July.  While this is not what I wanted, I’m becoming more excited about it.  The main reason I wasn’t excited was personal life reasons but it looks like things may work out so now I’m getting excited about all the positives that exist.  I loved Japan the first time I was there.  The travel opportunities and the cultural experience will be amazing.  I want to climb Mt. Fuji.  I’d like to go to Fuji Rocks.  Professionally, the job is great.  I’m out on my own (finally) and I feel really competent.  In addition, the graduating chief from Bethesda will be there and I already know (and like!) her from our overlapping time at MD Anderson.  So, it’s definitely an exciting time!

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve was awesome!  After a year hiatus, my friends and I decided to go back to Hotel Solamar!  We had gone for two years and then took last year off which was a sort of “meh” time at Starlite (I thought- early seating, no real DJ/dance floor).  We reserved the last big cabana.  It was a great deal- an $1100 minimum including tax/tip.  We pre-planned what drinks/bottles we were going to order so there were no end-of-the-night surprises made even more difficult by not being sober.  Win!

Before the night even started though, SMS wanted to take some pictures during the after sunset blue hour from my rooftop.  It was a pretty awesome setup and idea.  Unfortunately, I was a little nervous being the center of the camera’s attention but SMS got some great shots.  It was an awesome way to document the end of 2012 and the early beginnings of something special.

SMS and I on the rooftop
Champagne!  It was an awesome NYE!!!

Also, the dress was quite a find from a few weeks prior.  The hair stylist I go to “currates” vintage clothing and this was on her rack.  It was the right size and $20.  Awesome!

Then, the dinner party started.  Friends brought assorted snacks and drinks.  I provided a “street taco” spread with oven-fried carnitas, chicken tinga, fresh chorizo and potato and a beef mixture.  They were all really good although the chicken tinga was my favorite.  The chips and tortillas were from El Indio and were excellent!  We missed the bus b/c I can’t tell time and I couldn’t find my wallet but ultimately, we made it to Hotel Solamar by 9ish.

Jenny, SMS and the awesome “street taco” spread!

Another new couple alert!
At the party!

Hotel Solamar was awesome.  I hung out and danced with my friends and in general, just had an awesome time celebrating the New Year.  While I’m sure I’ll have quiet NYE in the future that I’ll enjoy at home, hanging out with my San Diego friends is so much fun, especially on big nights/festive occasions!  And we didn’t overshoot the bill too badly.  We definitely didn’t drink a lot since we started early so a nearly full bottle of Belvedere went home with me in my bag.  Scandalous!

Hotel Solomar

Hotel Solomar