Archive for the ‘appearance’ category

Christmas Cake

June 20, 2008

As far as most people are concerned, 26 isn’t one of the big birthdays. There are no milestones attached to becoming one year older than a quarter century – the best you get is maybe some nice cards and money from your parents and less hassle when you try to rent a car. However, there is a sort of significance to turning 26 in Japan – when a woman turns 26, she becomes what is known as a “christmas cake.”

Still tasty on the 26th?
Before I explain exactly what a Christmas cake is, I’ll have to explain a bit about how the Japanese observe “Western” holidays. It’s kinda trendy to celebrate Western holidays in Japan and some of the commercial biggies like Valentine’s Day, Christmas and more recently, Halloween, are pretty popular. The funny thing is, cultural significance sometimes gets lost on the way across the ocean and without the reason for the ritual, the ways in which the holidays are observed can seem a bit strange/wacky/hilarious to expats. One year when I was living in Hyogo prefecture, I saw Lovely Halloween Pocky at my local supermarket and was practically rolling on the floor because on the packaging for the pumpkin-flavored ones, a scary-looking jack-o-lantern was featured (okay) but on the strawberry ones, there was a strawberry with a jack-o-lantern face (um…) and on the melon ones, there was a cantaloupe with a jack-o-lantern face 😀 . They’ve since replaced melon with milk-flavored pocky and the package has a little ghost holding a pitcher of milk, so I guess they’re getting it.

Anyway, Christmas in Japan has absolutely nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with love and romance. Strangely enough, December 25th is one of the most popular days for visiting love hotels. There are even Christmas-themed love hotels – people can enjoy a little holiday spirit when they tryst all year long. For the most part, on Christmas, people generally snuggle up with their sweethearts and eat a delicious Christmas cake. The thing about a Christmas cake is that although it looks great, who wants one on the 26th?

Although antiquated, there still exists the view that a young lady should be married (or at least engaged) by 25 and that once she turns 26, no matter how lovely, successful or intelligent she may be, she’s starting to get stale (if she’s still unmarried and childless at 30, she’s a loser dog). 25 seems a bit young for matrimony to me, but I suppose I have begun to consider getting married and having a family a bit more seriously. I’m a person who likes to make plans and I always planned on being married by 30 and being a mom by 35 (before the maternal and paternal age effect risks spike). Of course now, considering my future medical career, I’ll have to squeeze wedding vows and childbirth in while completing my residency (although according to a pal here who shares the same birthday, the best time to get married and have children for med students is right before the beginning of clinical rotations. It also helps to marry a person whose work will allow him/her to take paternity/maternity leave). While I’m not quite ready to start perusing bridal magazines and picking out floral arrangements (well…the plan is to have white roses and ivy), I suppose I wouldn’t be opposed to an acceptable suit, were one presented by an acceptable young man.

Even though my cake has 26 candles, thanks to my lovely parents, most of the time, people assume that I’m around 19 or 20. If I continue to age so gracefully, when I actually am 30, I’ll still look 25, so I’ll be a loser dog in disguise!

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Going Natural

May 20, 2008

Warning – what follows is a quirky quarterlife issue that has absolutely nothing to do with medicine. If you are only here for the info and updates about med school, feel free to skip this one.

Those of you who have seen my updated Facebook profile (or read the previous entry) may be quite alarmed. What happened to your hair?! No, I didn’t cut it. What happened to the magic of the flatiron??? Well, the flatiron, magical though it may be, isn’t going to cut it in the heat and humidity of Dominica. So, what was once a lovely, long, luxurious mane has shrunk into a coily, curly coif that is a cross between Sister, Sister and Sideshow Bob. Ladies and lads, I have gone natural.

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First Week at Ross, Part 3

May 9, 2008

Today was the final day of orientation. After a few more words of wisdom from the directors of Student Affairs and an exercise in poetry, we walked from The Annex back to the main campus and went from department to department, collecting reading packets like trick-or-treaters on Halloween. The “marathon” has already started, so after this entry, I’m going to try to digest a chunk of the biochem reading assigned for the week ahead.

Throughout the week, we’d been given prompts during our orientation activities to write about seemingly random things: our favorite foods, childhood memories, sayings and in-jokes among our families. We were then asked to create a poem using what we’d written. I’ll admit it – part of the reason why I volunteered to recite mine for the student body was sheer vanity – I know I’m not the most brilliant scientist here but I wanted to show my peers that there is an area in which I am quite gifted. In any case, here’s the poem, full of in-jokes and references only people in my family would get:

The Breaks

Set off from grandma’s house up Dunkirk and down Linden,
dodging cars on Merrick
and chasing twilight to Lynbrook.
It’s warm and breezy and pedaling’s easy on a balmy night
in mid-July.
Sign says ‘Park Closes at Dusk’ but they leave it open for us –
We make rings around the lake, chasing flocks of geese away with
songs and raucous laughter
And after we’ve circled miles and miles on trusty bikes with tired tires,
there’s French fries and fried dough and if Auntie Sharon is home,
she’ll take us all to Bennigan’s – but we’ll have to listen to
K-Joy on the way. Oh well. You know what they say.
These are the breaks.


© C. Bass, 2008

Tomorrow, there’s a free island tour for first semesters, a final spot of fun before the start of classes. We’ll be hiking up to Trafalgar Falls and then we’ll head down to Scott’s Head Bay for a dip in the ocean. Even though my mom bought me the world’s unsexiest tankini, it’s sufficiently modest and it will have to do.

Things I Will Not Miss

April 22, 2008

Back in Queens, trying to squeeze a month’s worth of catching up with friends and family into my 8 remaining days. Though I managed to move on short notice with very little incident, I was surprised by how reluctant I was to leave Boston. From the beginning, I had only considered it a place I was passing through and with that in mind, deliberately tried not to form attachments. There were times that I hated living in Boston and couldn’t wait to leave.  But on my last night, I kept wishing for another week, a few more days, one more chocolate chip cookie from Paradise Cafe, one more ride on the Red Line at sunset, one more moonlit stroll along the river…

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April 7, 2008

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