Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Japanese Market Mitsuwa

On the weekend I went to my first Japanese shopping center in America! I realize now I should have taken pictures of stuff besides the food I ate. >.< Silly me. When you're there it looks like any supermarket that has Japanese brands.

I was pleased to see not only lots of snacks and seasonings and pastries, but also Japanese brands of shampoo and makeup. Looks like I will be able to buy my old favorite brand of shampoo/conditioner after all! When I was living in Hiroshima, Lux was like the best thing ever and I thought for sure I couldn't get it over here.

I also saw my favorite Japanese eyeliner pens, so I'll be able to stock up on those when the ones I'm using run out. However, the people behind me in line were looking at those at the same time and asked "What's this??" When I said it was eyeliner they scoffed "Eighteen dollars for eyeliner? No thanks!" :( Well, it's only about ten dollars in Japan. And it's way better quality than a pencil.

While I didn't buy any makeup, I did buy some moisturizer masks because 90% of the "masks" over here come in a tube and are meant to treat acne. Ummmm not really what I need right now, thanks. More like, Moisturize Me!!!!!

The line for ramen was suuuuper long, so I pushed for eating okonomiyaki instead. I was with my friend Anthony, and we had already tried okonomiyaki at this Japanese izakaya in Mountain View, but Mitsuwa had a special thing this week where an actual okonomiyaki chef ran a food boot, so this was much more authentic. Unfortunately, it was Kansai style instead of Hiroshima style, but you can't have everything. Anyway it was AMAZING, way better than the weird pseudo-Japanese cooking at the izakaya, and Anthony said he liked Kansai style better. I told him to wait until he tried both in Japan before he made a final judgement because then one we had before was NOT authentic washoku.

The okonomiyaki of awesomeness!
 When we were getting the food (in true Japan style, we had to pay cash), I asked the server in Japanese if there was a place to sit down eating, and apparently he had heard that a lot because he answered me in Japanese right away. But Anthony was pretty impressed and called me out on wanting to show off my Japanese abilities.

All in all it was a successful trip, and I think I will be able to make yaki-soba with the ingredients I bought there. I will definitely go back in the future next time I run out of shampoo or want to buy some Japanese item.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Today I ended up seeing Tomorrowland with my family because it was bland enough for everyone to agree on. I liked it overall but for a movie called "Tomorrowland" they sure didn't seem to spend much time in Tomorrowland. Actually, the only time we got to see it was in the very beginning, and the rest of the time it was just a commercial, and then a distopian version without all the cool stuff. I wanted to see our protagonists have some kick ass adventures in this futuristic world and navigate some really weird technology while discovering secrets and saving the day. There was a lot of weird technology, but it mostly happened in the regular world as the protagonists were running from robots.

I liked the Athena character a lot. I thought she got some of the best lines and scenes. Seeing this history she has with her one-time protegee Frank was pretty deep. Also, she is the only character who actually changes the future in the story. Everyone sees projected versions of the future (a few seconds ahead) which they end up fulfilling. At one point she sees a projection and acts quickly enough to change it. That's cool.

For a pretty straightforward feel-good sci-fi adventure, the movie also made a good point. Naive idealism is bad, but so is uncaring cynicism. Sometimes it's easier to focus on a dismal future than to imagine a bright one, because if the world is going to end anyway, there's no point in trying to make things better. Trying to fix things is really hard, and you can't fix everything, but there's a lot good being done in the world by people who don't give up. I felt inspired to go out and make a positive difference too.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Post Surgery: Two Weeks = No Tape

Today I went to the doctor for my second follow up appointment and got the tape off! Sooooo happy that I can finally shower without trying to keep my face dry!

Dr. White was about a half hour late this afternoon because he was delayed in surgery. It was definitely worth the wait because I didn't want to go back home with the tape still on after driving 40 minutes to get there (and an hour to get back because of the traffic). So I hung around the waiting room reading People magazine and watching makeup tutorials on Youtube. At least it wasn't time wasted. Then after a while Dr. White came in, still wearing scrubs, and I looked up like "Hey, I know you!" And pretty soon after that I got to go back to the consulting room.

Again, recovery is going well. The stitches fell out by themselves since last week, so no more uncomfortable tugging at my nose. Apparently the tape is necessary for shaping the nose after the splint is removed, and that's why I had to wear it an extra week. Good to know.

There is still a bit of swelling at the tip, which is normal for this stage. My next appointment is in six weeks, so maybe it will go down a bit by then. But I don't think anyone will notice, so I feel confident about going out and about again. If people think my nose looks different at all, they'll probably put it down to hair or makeup instead of thinking that my nose has actually changed size.

Overall I'm happy to have my normal face back. Without the tape, the proportions look totally normal again. But I'm not gonna lie. I asked to have the bump taken out, and there's still a tiny bump in my nose! Grrrrr. Why couldn't he give me just a tiiiiiiny dip in my nose instead? It's straighter than it was, but I'm afraid the bump is going to come back now and I don't want to get surgery again!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Don't Understand Vs. Don't Agree

I think everyone has the experience where they feel like they just can't understand something no matter how hard they try. For example, a complex book, a life principle, or a theological concept. So for years you rack your brains thinking, "Why is this so hard???" and "What did I miss???"

Then years later you go back to the same idea, and one of two things happen. Either you think, "This is incredibly simple! Why didn't I get it before?"

Or you think, "This is a load of crap!"

Both are a normal part of life. I think I'm going to call this something like "The very thin line between 'don't understand' and 'don't agree' and how it can be exploited."

When you're very young or very impressionable, "I don't understand" is a lot safer than "I don't agree." Sure, a lot of times you don't understand at first and you need more information to make an informed opinion.

But lately I've come to realize there's a turning point...For example when your friends are all trying to get you to like Game of Thrones or Frozen and you finally go, "No! I know what you're going to say, I know all the arguments for why it's popular, but I still think those are stupid reasons." And moreover, you can explain why those are stupid reasons.

At this point you could keep beating yourself up for just "not getting it," but that's dishonest. In fact, you get those franchises pretty well and you've just come to different conclusions from your friends. You don't need someone to explain to you how a universe with dragons and zombies relies on gritty realism (i.e. sexism), or why victim blaming (she got engaged in one day, what do you expect???) is the height of feminism.

Now, this "fine line" can be exploited by someone who's used to speaking from a position of authority. For example a teacher or a pastor. I think we've all heard the, "Now, this passage says this, which may seem problematic--but properly interpreted in the original Greek, it actually means this totally different thing..." The audience is being reassured that, no, they don't actually disagree with the passage. They just don't understand it.

Usually when I hear a pastor (tends to be a pastor) using the "properly understood" line, I have enough background knowledge to go, "Yeah....That passage is notorious for being contradictory. Your explanation is one way of dodging that bullet but there's still holes." But if I didn't know anything about the topic I'd probably just think, "Oh, silly me.There I go again thinking words mean what they generally mean..."

So I guess the rule is not to be over quick to tell someone "Oh, you just don't understand what I'm saying, let me explain" before you even know how much they know, and if you do give an explanation try to make it as accurate as possible and don't hide information to make yourself sound more sure than you really are.

Actually, I think it's sometimes really open minded to say, "I don't think we're really disagreeing on the important things. I think we're just defining terms differently and talking past each other." In that case it's more self-aware to realize you didn't understand where the person is coming from and when you get more information you both see that you're more alike than different.

Like when you suddenly go, "Ohhhhh when you say 'desire' your first thought is 'unbridled lust.' I was just using it to mean 'wanting something.'"

There are times where it's helpful to say, "We don't disagree, we're just not understanding each other." But I don't think it's really fair to say, "You just don't understand." You might think it, but at least be sure of what information the other person is missing before you throw it out.

One week after surgery--No more splint!

On Monday I went to Palo Alto for my after surgery check in. I was supposed to get all the stitches off but I kind of wimped out when the doctor was doing the ones in my nose. It freakin hurt! So I stood it for several minutes with a lot of flinching and muttering "owwwww" until he suggested that we could leave the remaining stitches for next week, if they don't fall off by themselves in the meanwhile. Anyway, the ones that were the most visible and pinching me the most have been pulled out, so I barely notice the ones that are left.

Everything else is doing really fine. The doctor said the remaining swelling it totally normal for this stage and will go down slowly as I continue to heal. Now I'm wondering if the swelling on Thursday was actually a reaction to the meds or if my face just swells up at the slightest provocation. Mehn. It would be great not have another antibiotic I'm allergic to.

And as was promised I got to take the itchy, horrible splint OFF my face! Then it was immediately replaced by tape, which I have to wear for one more week, and which also can't get wet.

You can't win.

On the bright side, the tape is much more flattering than the splint, and I can actually touch my nose when it itches now. That alone is worth it. If you told me two weeks ago I had to wear a piece of tape over my nose, I would have said, "Oh no! I'll look so weird....." Now, after having a huge bandage taped to my nose, gauze taped to my face, and swollen shut eyes from bruising--a little piece of tape is no big deal.

And here is my almost-back-to-normal selfie!

My face looks like me again!

Even from this picture on Monday, there still seems to be some swelling. Especially the area between my eyes. It doesn't look quite right, like there's too much forehead or something. the shape reminds me or one of those dinosaurs or lizards with deeply indented eyes on the sides of their faces and a really wide forehead, probably for crashing into each other to fight over the females.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Slowly recovering...

It's Saturday, four days after I got surgery, and I'm slowly feeling better. There's still some swelling which doesn't seem to be going away, or going away that fast, but I think I'll be okay until my appointment on Monday and if anything's weird they can check it out.

Here's how I looked yesterday in the morning. The bruising is MUCH BETTER but the swelling makes my cheeks and jaw look all weird.

The thing about the bruising that surprised me most was that my eyelids got red. The way the doctor and nurses described it, I thought the bruising would be mostly underneath the eye and on my cheeks. But it's kind of all around my eye. Which makes it harder to conceal.

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Taking a selfie for posterity...No matter how awful it looks.

Last night after I took a shower the swelling seemed to have abated somewhat.

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This counts as an improvement.

 The swelling seems to come and go...it gets worse if I lie down for a while and better if I'm standing up. But my face is gradually returning to its normal form.

Another plus is that my eyes are opening again! Due to the bruising my eyes got really small and squinty. I could always see okay, but when the bruising started to go down I looked in the mirror and went, "Hey! My eyes got big again!" It's like I didn't think about how bad it was until it started to look better.

I think I look kind of like a movie villain with really close-set narrow red eyes. :P And a distorted face with a huge chin and jaw. And sometimes all of my face covered up because I'm wearing a mask and sunglasses. Now I feel a lot of sympathy for movie villains because they have to look weird all the time and not just after surgery.

So far my nose looks about the same. There's still swelling in the tip, but it probably won't really go down until the splint comes off. The doctor warned me that the tip of the nose gets HUGE and takes the longest to get back to normal. I was actually afraid that it would get really red, but thankfully it didn't. Actually, I don't even notice the tip so much because the splint and the bruising look so much weirder. Maybe when the splint comes off I'll be like, "OMG my nose swelled up!!!!" But even it that's the case I really want to get the splint off....

The first two days after surgery, I couldn't breath through my nose at all because it was so full of blood and scabs. When I fell asleep, I would wake up with a dry mouth and throat because I was breathing only through my mouth. It felt like my nose was full of rocks that were growing out of the inside of my nostrils. You want to just rip them out, but you know that until they get loose on their own you're just going to bleed a ton and form MORE scabs. And maybe get infected too.

Every day I can breathe a little more. (Some of the scabs did get ripped out but I'm really trying not to worry at it.) It's a big relief, along with my eyes opening up and my face getting back its normal contour.

There are stitches under my nose and under my chin, and the nose ones bother me the most because they stretch tight every time I smile or laugh and it hurts. I also imagine them getting buried in the skin...

I won't really know how my nose has changed until they take off the splint. Supposedly it's going to look a bit different but of course it's hard to tell at this stage. I've noticed a few things...Like if I feel the splint it seems like it wouldn't fit over my old nose. There's no room for the bump. Also when I was drinking a soda, it felt like I didn't have to account for my nose as much I used too. My nose still sticks out over my chin, but they seem to line up more than they used too. (Both of them are still really swollen, but hopefully they'll deflate together.)

A few nights ago I was watching Clueless and a few of the girls at the school have had nose surgery. I just wanted to point and laugh like, "Ha! Where is your bruising? Where's the dried blood? Why isn't your face a distorted mess with swollen shut eyes? You obviously didn't have any surgery on your face! You just a a tiny strip of tape stuck on your nose right before filming!" Clueless does not accurately portray the after effects of surgery. In case anyone was wondering.

Two more days! I can make it...Then I get to take this itchy, uncomfortable splint OFF my face and actually wash like a normal person.

Note: Tomorrow is Mothers' Day. My grandma is coming over for lunch and obviously we're going to take some pictures. I'm wondering whether to put on a mask or just bear the splint proudly. Either way, photos that should by all accounts end up in the albums for years to come are probably going to end up looking pretty weird. Instead of going "Awww how sweet! Three generations of women," relatives are going to be all, "Did someone slug Stephanie in the nose that weekend or what?"

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sugery: The day after

Well, I survived my first day of recovery post-surgery! I had a little nausea last night, possibly from the medications, but that's pretty much worn off now. Yesterday I still couldn't eat much besides ice cream (yay?) so I'm just trying to ease back into normal food slowly.

The best news is that after last night, NO BLEEDING! I no longer have to tape gauze on my nose and chin! At this point, my nose doesn't hurt at all really--just feels kind of stuffed up--and my chin only hurts a little bit. Can't really avoid moving it around. :P

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However, this being the second day, the bruises have gotten much darker, especially under my left eye. I was kind of expecting that, since after my wisdom tooth removal it took a day for my face to get really swollen. Hopefully this will be the worst day for bruising.

I've been wearing my face mask every time I go out of the house. This morning my mom got upset just trying to talk to me because the bruising was so bad. I can see fine out of my right eye, but my left eye is a bit swollen. Combined with the splint on my nose and the mask, that kind of limits my vision, especially when driving.

On Monday I'm getting the splint off. It won't come a day too soon!!!! It also can't get wet, so when I wash my face I have to wipe carefully around the sides with a wet towel. It's not very refreshing.

Last night I had to sleep at an incline, and it was kind of hard to fall asleep at first because I kept jerking awake thinking "Oh no! I'm gonna fall off the pillow!" But eventually I got used to it.

Surgery Day!

Wow. So I did it! And I look pretty much like I got punched in the face.... :P In the morning I got up bright and early and aside from feeling tired from not sleeping much, I look pretty good.

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Feeling pretty jazzed

My Daddy woke up too to drive me to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation surgery center and we got there in plenty of time and checked in no problem. Then the staff called me to come get ready and it felt like it took forever to triple check all my paperwork. Bleh.

They had to try the IV twice because the veins on my left arm kept moving. I was like "I don't like the idea of my veins moving around of their own volition! I want them to stay put in my arm!" And the nurses told me, no, that's usually a good thing that they move around. Eventually they stuck the catheter in my right hand. Usually I can't even look at a needle poking into my skin, but I was kind of curious what it would look like. It wasn't icky but it pulled at the skin a lot and kind of pinched. Yuck.

They also said my heart rate was high, and said, "Yeah...that happens." I'm having surgery for the first time--go figure! 

While I was waiting for the doctor the nurses asked if I wanted my dad to come sit with me, and I said sure why not. But Dad was like, "Nah, I got all my stuff set up. I'm good." And that just cracked me up. Because I was doing pretty okay and all. The staff was really nice, and I knew I was going to be fine. But when your own daughter asks you to sit with her a few minutes before she goes into surgery, you'd think the obvious answer would be yes?

Eventually I got all prepped and put on the gown and they wheeled me into the operating room. It looked pretty weird with all the big lights and beeping machines. I was still wide awake at this point, even though they had started pain meds. They gave me lots of blankets because It was pretty cool in the operating room. Including this blanket that inflated and was heated. They kept calling it the "poofy blanket."

Then they gave me more pain meds in the operating room that were supposed to make me sleepy, and I remember them asking me once when I first got situated on the table if I was sleepy yet, and I was like "Nah...still awake..." but I don't remember them asking me again so I guess I dropped off after that.

Don't remember too much about waking up. But I did take a selfie while still on the bed in the operating gown.

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But first, let me take a selfie!

I remember I used the restroom before we drove back because I had been really trying hard to remember to go just in case. They wheeled me out in a wheelchair. On the way back we stopped at Mcdonalds and I got a milkshake. Dad got flavored french fries, which I didn't know they had in American. In fact, I had to check my texts to Mom later to see if Dad had really bought french fries or if I had misremembered.

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It was very necessary to have my store of Japanese face masks.

I had the milkshake at the table while everyone else ate lunch, but I didn't the french fries. Guess I was really out of it. Then I sat on the backyard swing for a bit and then lay down and slept for a bit.

In the afternoon, I began to notice some bruising under my eyes. The doctor and nurses said that was totally normal.

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Later today I went for a walk. Even though the bruise is still darkening, I look pretty normal with a face mask on. I can't drive until tomorrow, and any cardio activity is a no-no, but it was nice to get outside for just a bit. Hopefully I'll sleep okay tonight, and we'll see how the face looks tomorrow.

I'm genki!

Pre Surgery selfie

I'm not sure if I'm actually going to publish this one or just save it. To make a long story short, in order to solve some problems that have been bugging me for a long time, I'm going to have surgery done on my face. The date is May 5, which from when I'm writing this is tomorrow, but depending on whether I actually upload this or not it may be in the past.

This is a picture I took in the mirror last night as a sort of record of my old profile. It looks kind of goofy because I just took it in my room wearing a not very flattering red pajama shirt. But whatever... The point is you can see my nose pretty well.

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This is actually my good side.

After surgery, I don't know how it's going to look. For a few days at least REALLY BRUISED AND SWOLLEN but when that all dies down in a few weeks the line of the nose and chin will be different.

(On that note, a certain person told me "I still want to hang out with you, broken nose or not!" To which I replied, "Yeah, dude, but you realize that if we're out together and I look like someone punched me in the face, you'll be the one getting side-eye.")

I'm looking forward to it (but not to the 7:30 start time, ugh), and I think my face will look really cute and still like me afterward, but I just kind of wanted to take this picture to remember how my face used to look. Even though I don't like the bump in my nose at all and the proportions have always looked wonky to me.

After surgery, I'll have to take a new photo of the difference. Depending on how bad it looks the "immediately-post-surgery" photos might not end up being posted online. But I'll probably take some just out of morbid curiosity just like I took selfies of my swollen up cheek post wisdom tooth removal.

Not looking forward to getting up at 5:30 tomorrow. But the medical staff all says I'll fall asleep under twilight sedation anyway, so it's not like I really have to be there for the surgery. I'm really hoping that as soon as they stick my arm I'll just wake up in the recovery room without feeling like any time has passed, and then just get down to the business of recovery.

Finally my stash of masks from Japan is going to come in handy! Not sure if I'll actually remember to use on after surgery on the day (my memories wisdom tooth removed, which is my only relevant experience, are pretty fuzzy) but I can definitely wear it when I'm going to the store or whatever in the ensuing days.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

My Last Day in Japan...The Picture I Didn't Take

Even thought I made a trip to Fujinomiya, a town near Mt. Fuji, during my last month in Japan, that week was so rainy I couldn't actually see anything. It was really disappointing and I really hope I can go back sometime on a sightseeing trip to Japan when the weather is better!

The day before I left, I sold my iPhone, which was also my camera. So all the pictures I took at the airport were on my friend's iPad. I was settled into the plane ride from Hiroshima to Narita, and looked out the window every once in a while in case I got a chance to see Mt. Fuji, which I hear you can sometimes see from an airplane.

There were some clouds down below, and I didn't even know if I was sitting on the correct side of the airplane to see anything. I looked intently for a while, then read a bit and listened to music. After about ten minutes I looked out the window again, and saw...Well, not this picture because I got it off of Google images, but something a lot like this.

There were clouds all around just like this picture, but in between the clouds was this suspiciously triangle-shaped mountain. I was very close to flagging down a flight attendant, but got too embarrassed. I spent the next five minutes glued to the window watching it slowly getting left behind until we went by a huge cloud and it got covered up. All the while thinking "OMG I didn't miss it!"

And that is the only time I saw Mt. Fuji during my stay in Japan.

Hello Random!

While I was in Japan I started a blog to chronicle my adventures living in a foreign country. Now that I'm back in the States I decided to start a new blog to chronicle...something.

My Facebook friends all come up with pseudo-intellectual/artsy blog titles. Because they are deep. Me,  I know I'm not deep so there's no point in pretending. That's why I worked the word random into my blog title.