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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Bucket List

Today is my last day in Japan. I'm sad, but I'm glad. I had a wonderful time. I also had some terrible times. I met some great people. I also met some undesirable people. Most importantly, I got some things out of this trip that I can look back fondly on in my old age and say, "these are some of the things I've done in my life that made it amazing." I'm talking bucket list type stuff, not humanitarian, good deeds stuff. No, there's no actual, physical list. Just a mental tally of things I know I want to see or experience at least once in my life.
When I was 20, I was lucky enough to work for a very eccentric, and incredibly intelligent pathologist. I remember she asked me how old I was when I started working for her. When I told her, she scoffed, "Haa! You are just a baby!" In my mind, I felt old and behind the curve. This was only my first lab position and I hadn't even started the biology series yet! I was waaayyy behind in the world of pre-med. I shrugged it off. After all, the lab manager already warned me that she is very blunt and a little quirky. About a month into my project, probably my third late evening in the lab that week, Junko asked me, "What are your hobbies?" My quick answer has always been, "Who has time for hobbies?" (and it was true, I was working three jobs and going to school full time.) She followed up with, "If time was not an issue, what do you like to do?" If you've met me in real life, you know I'm a talker. I can carry on a conversation with a deaf mute. But not this time. I couldn't come up with a single thing. I actually replied, "I don't know right now, but I know I have hobbies." She didn't look smug, she didn't look sad, but she also didn't look surprised. I couldn't get this question out of my head. I knew that I let my career take over my life before it even started. Some pre-meds wear this like a badge of honor, the same way workaholics brag about how late they stayed at work. Not me. I have a life. And at that point I was determined to start living it. That was the beginning of how I changed the way I prioritize my responsibilities. It's not about keeping up with other premeds or law students. It's about measuring my success in life by accomplishing the things I actually want to do.

So how many things are on this "bucket list"? I don't have an exact number, but there's a lot. I can proudly say I crossed one off on this trip (seeing the whale shark) and I'm we'll on my way to crossing a big one off (visiting all the Disneyland Resorts in the world).

Whale Shark
I've wanted to see a live whale shark since I first learned about them in second grade. There is only one aquarium in the US that has captive whale sharks, the Georgia Aquarium. I saw my first one at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

Tokyo Disneyland
My goal is to visit all the Disneyland Resorts in the world. I can cross two out of 5 off the list. No, I haven't been to Disney World in Florida. I'm saving that for last because, well, it's Florida, I'm putting it off as long as I can.
They love popcorn and waffles here! Tokyo Disney has delicious Teriyaki chicken legs, a huge assortment of popcorn (butter, salt, curry, soy sauce and butter, and honey- I didn't see kettle), and waffles (here with strawberry and custard sauce.)

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