Archive for November 2005

Medical Scare

November 30, 2005

A

bout a month ago, I felt a tingling in my left hand. Do you know that tingling sensation when your foot starts to get some feeling back after it has fallen asleep? That’s what my hand felt like even though it had not fallen asleep in the first place. I slapped it with my right hand a couple of times, but it wouldn’t go away. I shook it and tried to ignore it, and after about 10 minutes, it disappeared. An aberration, I thought. But it happened again a few more times the same day.

The next day, it reoccurred. And the next day and the next. It seemed to occur mostly after I had been sedentary for a period of time, like when I woke up in the morning, or getting up after watching a DVD. I had heard that heart problems were often associated with a sense of numbness in the extremities. Well, the numbness wasn’t in every extremity, only left hand, but it was enough to worry me. If this continues for a week, maybe I should see a doctor. But it disappeared as quickly as it appeared after 5 days.

Whew!

Maybe I’ve been working too hard. Maybe I should cut back some and say “no” to students sometimes, I reflected. When a student wanted to have a party at the sensei pad, I relented. I mean, I do enjoy students coming over, and it’s so hard to say “no” to them. When they ask me for letters of recommendations, I always oblige, but I do tell them to give me three weeks notice, which is my policy. This way I can pace myself and not be burdened with too much work at once. But occasionally, a student will demand a recommendation immediately, and disregard my standing policy because he decided to apply for something at the last minute, even deflecting accountability by claiming he would not go home for Thanksgiving just to wait for my recommendation. As if it were my fault? But I put up with it. So even when I try to pace my work, I can’t. Teaching is a calling, someone once told me, and he wasn’t kidding. You gotta love it to do it.

So, what stress? I just allowed the tingling left hand fade away into the recesses of my memory and returned to operation normal… well, normal for me, that is.

But this past weekend, I’d been feeling out of sorts and on Monday, I got a rude awakening. Around 7:30 AM, I jolted up from bed with a sharp pain in my chest. It felt like someone was stabbing a screwdriver into me from inside. I thought I perhaps slept in a strange position, so I stretched my hand over my head and tried to go back to sleep again. An hour later, I felt the same pain again. Just as intense. I felt kinda nervous but I tried to sleep again, but the pain did not subside completely. There was a slight pinching pain, with the periodic stabbing around the left side. I nervously tried to get back to sleep and got in a few restless winks until I got up at 10 AM. I got up and rubbed my chest–actually, it was more like probing it, trying to figure out what the heck was wrong. I did some work, got ready for school and left around 2 PM. The intense stabbing sensation had subsided, but the pinching sensation persisted. As you can imagine, I was rather beside myself.

At school, I held office hours and took care of business with a few students, prepared for class and lectured and discussed for 75 minutes the theme of transience in the Hojoki by Kamo no Chomei. Throughout, I felt the pinching pressure along with the slightly subdued stabbing sensation within my chest, but I tried to put it out of my mind. I’m not so sure how effective I am as an instructor under these conditions, but I guess you’d basically have to drag me out on a stretcher to keep me from my duties.

After class, I usually putt around the office grading or preparing for class the next day, and I stayed until about 8:45 PM before heading home. After dinner, I finally decided to tell Musubi-chan what was going on. She gave me that look I am so accustomed to now–at once frustrated and worried. Why don’t you tell me these things? Well, I’m more Japanese than I want to believe. My dad was like this. No matter what was happening with him, he would never tell anyone: ulcers, back pain, hernia. We always found out after the fact. Sometimes after he had been treated. Well, I wouldn’t go as far as him, but I do have a tendency to hold back information unless until I’m sure I know what’s going on… as if I were a doctor! Hahahahah!

She told me to go to bed early and relax, which I did after I did some writing on a Bruin Forum–it is, after all, rivalry week! And I didn’t get to sleep until, oh, 4 AM? M had long gone to sleep, and I was still dealing with that pressure against my chest and the occasional piercing pain. I went to sleep hoping that maybe a good nights sleep would get rid of the pain.

But I was wrong, of course. At 7 AM, I woke up with the same intense stabbing sensation from the previous day. I seemed to have figured out that the stabbing sensation was more severe when I slept on my left side, so I tried sleeping on my right. The stabbing sensation seemed slightly less intense, but nonetheless painful enough to wake me up periodically. I decided that the best position was face up, but even then there was still that nagging pinching sensation. Finally, M insisted I call the doctors, and I reluctantly agreed. I called the clinic I usually go to–Vienna Family Clinic–and told a triage nurse over the phone my symptoms. She told me to come to the clinic and they ran some tests on me including an Electrocardiogram–EKG. Well, I talked to the nurse practitioner–are there no more doctors?–about my symptoms, told her about the tingling fingers of the previous month, that I’m turning 50 pretty soon–Shit! That’s right!–and that my mother had a heart attack at 59 which is young for a female. She had a very serious look on her face as I talked to her, but then she looked at the EKG readings and said they looked normal. In fact, most of the symptoms I mentioned deviated from the typical symptoms of heart trouble. Pain is usually centered in the middle of the chest, not to the side. The pain is not a stabbing pain, but heavy pressure, as if someone was sitting on your chest. And the most intense pain occurred when I was at rest, and not while I was active.

Whew, thanks Doc. Glad to know I have a few more years left. But what is this pain, then.

The nurse practitioner looked at me and said, “It’s like this.” And proceeded to puff out her cheeks. Huh? “What you probably have is gastro-intestinal. Basically, you have gas trapped in the upper left fold of your large intestines. It bloats out, forcing the intestines to expand, and you get that stabbing sensation.” Oooooh, I have GAS! I didn’t know whether to be relieved or embarrassed. “You should be happy that it was nothing. Had it been a cardiac issue, that would have been worse.” You think?!?

M expressed the same attitude as I told her the news in the waiting room. Better to have gas than heart disease. Can’t argue with that… I think. But I forgot to tell her the treatment, which might have altered her opinion. I had to go to the drug store and get an over-the-counter remedy–for me? GasX. Apparently this will breakdown the gas in my intestines and allow it to move on down its normal path until it hits daylight… or something like that.

All’s well that ends well…

UPDATE: In case you were wondering, that’s Musubichan I’m talking to in the comic strip…

Medical Scare

November 30, 2005

A

bout a month ago, I felt a tingling in my left hand. Do you know that tingling sensation when your foot starts to get some feeling back after it has fallen asleep? That’s what my hand felt like even though it had not fallen asleep in the first place. I slapped it with my right hand a couple of times, but it wouldn’t go away. I shook it and tried to ignore it, and after about 10 minutes, it disappeared. An aberration, I thought. But it happened again a few more times the same day.

The next day, it reoccurred. And the next day and the next. It seemed to occur mostly after I had been sedentary for a period of time, like when I woke up in the morning, or getting up after watching a DVD. I had heard that heart problems were often associated with a sense of numbness in the extremities. Well, the numbness wasn’t in every extremity, only left hand, but it was enough to worry me. If this continues for a week, maybe I should see a doctor. But it disappeared as quickly as it appeared after 5 days.

Whew!

Maybe I’ve been working too hard. Maybe I should cut back some and say “no” to students sometimes, I reflected. When a student wanted to have a party at the sensei pad, I relented. I mean, I do enjoy students coming over, and it’s so hard to say “no” to them. When they ask me for letters of recommendations, I always oblige, but I do tell them to give me three weeks notice, which is my policy. This way I can pace myself and not be burdened with too much work at once. But occasionally, a student will demand a recommendation immediately, and disregard my standing policy because he decided to apply for something at the last minute, even deflecting accountability by claiming he would not go home for Thanksgiving just to wait for my recommendation. As if it were my fault? But I put up with it. So even when I try to pace my work, I can’t. Teaching is a calling, someone once told me, and he wasn’t kidding. You gotta love it to do it.

So, what stress? I just allowed the tingling left hand fade away into the recesses of my memory and returned to operation normal… well, normal for me, that is.

But this past weekend, I’d been feeling out of sorts and on Monday, I got a rude awakening. Around 7:30 AM, I jolted up from bed with a sharp pain in my chest. It felt like someone was stabbing a screwdriver into me from inside. I thought I perhaps slept in a strange position, so I stretched my hand over my head and tried to go back to sleep again. An hour later, I felt the same pain again. Just as intense. I felt kinda nervous but I tried to sleep again, but the pain did not subside completely. There was a slight pinching pain, with the periodic stabbing around the left side. I nervously tried to get back to sleep and got in a few restless winks until I got up at 10 AM. I got up and rubbed my chest–actually, it was more like probing it, trying to figure out what the heck was wrong. I did some work, got ready for school and left around 2 PM. The intense stabbing sensation had subsided, but the pinching sensation persisted. As you can imagine, I was rather beside myself.

At school, I held office hours and took care of business with a few students, prepared for class and lectured and discussed for 75 minutes the theme of transience in the Hojoki by Kamo no Chomei. Throughout, I felt the pinching pressure along with the slightly subdued stabbing sensation within my chest, but I tried to put it out of my mind. I’m not so sure how effective I am as an instructor under these conditions, but I guess you’d basically have to drag me out on a stretcher to keep me from my duties.

After class, I usually putt around the office grading or preparing for class the next day, and I stayed until about 8:45 PM before heading home. After dinner, I finally decided to tell Musubi-chan what was going on. She gave me that look I am so accustomed to now–at once frustrated and worried. Why don’t you tell me these things? Well, I’m more Japanese than I want to believe. My dad was like this. No matter what was happening with him, he would never tell anyone: ulcers, back pain, hernia. We always found out after the fact. Sometimes after he had been treated. Well, I wouldn’t go as far as him, but I do have a tendency to hold back information unless until I’m sure I know what’s going on… as if I were a doctor! Hahahahah!

She told me to go to bed early and relax, which I did after I did some writing on a Bruin Forum–it is, after all, rivalry week! And I didn’t get to sleep until, oh, 4 AM? M had long gone to sleep, and I was still dealing with that pressure against my chest and the occasional piercing pain. I went to sleep hoping that maybe a good nights sleep would get rid of the pain.

But I was wrong, of course. At 7 AM, I woke up with the same intense stabbing sensation from the previous day. I seemed to have figured out that the stabbing sensation was more severe when I slept on my left side, so I tried sleeping on my right. The stabbing sensation seemed slightly less intense, but nonetheless painful enough to wake me up periodically. I decided that the best position was face up, but even then there was still that nagging pinching sensation. Finally, M insisted I call the doctors, and I reluctantly agreed. I called the clinic I usually go to–Vienna Family Clinic–and told a triage nurse over the phone my symptoms. She told me to come to the clinic and they ran some tests on me including an Electrocardiogram–EKG. Well, I talked to the nurse practitioner–are there no more doctors?–about my symptoms, told her about the tingling fingers of the previous month, that I’m turning 50 pretty soon–Shit! That’s right!–and that my mother had a heart attack at 59 which is young for a female. She had a very serious look on her face as I talked to her, but then she looked at the EKG readings and said they looked normal. In fact, most of the symptoms I mentioned deviated from the typical symptoms of heart trouble. Pain is usually centered in the middle of the chest, not to the side. The pain is not a stabbing pain, but heavy pressure, as if someone was sitting on your chest. And the most intense pain occurred when I was at rest, and not while I was active.

Whew, thanks Doc. Glad to know I have a few more years left. But what is this pain, then.

The nurse practitioner looked at me and said, “It’s like this.” And proceeded to puff out her cheeks. Huh? “What you probably have is gastro-intestinal. Basically, you have gas trapped in the upper left fold of your large intestines. It bloats out, forcing the intestines to expand, and you get that stabbing sensation.” Oooooh, I have GAS! I didn’t know whether to be relieved or embarrassed. “You should be happy that it was nothing. Had it been a cardiac issue, that would have been worse.” You think?!?

M expressed the same attitude as I told her the news in the waiting room. Better to have gas than heart disease. Can’t argue with that… I think. But I forgot to tell her the treatment, which might have altered her opinion. I had to go to the drug store and get an over-the-counter remedy–for me? GasX. Apparently this will breakdown the gas in my intestines and allow it to move on down its normal path until it hits daylight… or something like that.

All’s well that ends well…

UPDATE: In case you were wondering, that’s Musubichan I’m talking to in the comic strip…

Good Morning, Bruin Nation

November 29, 2005

Another post from the Bruin Forum. Yes, Martha, it’s another sports entry.

M

orning fellow Bruins,
I’m sure there are a number of you who automatically come here to BG when you turn on your computer in the morning. So I thought I’d leave you guys a wake up message: Four more days!

As you drink your coffee, check out the story in the Daily News. Apparently, the pro scouts have been spying our very own Drew Olson as a legit prospect. http://dailynews.com/sports/ci_3260201

Did you know that there are statistics for “points responsible for”? Well, with 30 TD passes and 1 TD run, Drew Olson leads in THIS category as well with 186 points, 18.6 points per game. He is personally responsible for 3 thouchdowns a game. Is that freakin’ great or what?!?
http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/sports/college/ucla/article_861370.php

But I guess it doesn’t matter what kind of numbers you put up. If you wanna be recognized by the pundits, you gotta shmooze with celebrities like superstar Nick Lachey. Maybe Matty (Matt Leinart) is cuter than Jessica Simpson. There is, obviously, no accounting for taste.
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/arash_markazi/10/13/hot.read/

Anyway, before you head off to work, one question: Do you have your Bruin gear on? Are you wearing your true blue T-shirt or sweatshirt when you step out to pick up the papers? Going to work? Going to the office? Then are you wearing a light blue (may I suggest french blue) dress shirt and gold tie to the office? If you match it up with a pair of khaki pants, you’ll be in our home colors. Me? I’m wearing my UCLA baseball T, and I take off my UCLA script baseball cap only when I take a shower… and then, only when I wash my hair. (The wife is waiting for the mothership to return the real Gdub back to earth.)

Anyway, just checking.

Today is TUESDAY, and I just wanted make sure that we all go out and… REPRESENT!

Go Bruins, Beat $C!

Good Morning, Bruin Nation

November 29, 2005

Another post from the Bruin Forum. Yes, Martha, it’s another sports entry.

M

orning fellow Bruins,
I’m sure there are a number of you who automatically come here to BG when you turn on your computer in the morning. So I thought I’d leave you guys a wake up message: Four more days!

As you drink your coffee, check out the story in the Daily News. Apparently, the pro scouts have been spying our very own Drew Olson as a legit prospect. http://dailynews.com/sports/ci_3260201

Did you know that there are statistics for “points responsible for”? Well, with 30 TD passes and 1 TD run, Drew Olson leads in THIS category as well with 186 points, 18.6 points per game. He is personally responsible for 3 thouchdowns a game. Is that freakin’ great or what?!?
http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/sports/college/ucla/article_861370.php

But I guess it doesn’t matter what kind of numbers you put up. If you wanna be recognized by the pundits, you gotta shmooze with celebrities like superstar Nick Lachey. Maybe Matty (Matt Leinart) is cuter than Jessica Simpson. There is, obviously, no accounting for taste.
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/arash_markazi/10/13/hot.read/

Anyway, before you head off to work, one question: Do you have your Bruin gear on? Are you wearing your true blue T-shirt or sweatshirt when you step out to pick up the papers? Going to work? Going to the office? Then are you wearing a light blue (may I suggest french blue) dress shirt and gold tie to the office? If you match it up with a pair of khaki pants, you’ll be in our home colors. Me? I’m wearing my UCLA baseball T, and I take off my UCLA script baseball cap only when I take a shower… and then, only when I wash my hair. (The wife is waiting for the mothership to return the real Gdub back to earth.)

Anyway, just checking.

Today is TUESDAY, and I just wanted make sure that we all go out and… REPRESENT!

Go Bruins, Beat $C!

Rantings of a Bruin Lunatic:

November 28, 2005

Okay, this IS a football post: This was originally posted on a Bruin Football Forum. If you’re an SC student, you may want to skip this post

S

ome Bruin think we will lose. They are entitled to their opinions, as rationally analytical as they may want to be. But reading their comments got me thinking about how I feel about this game, this rivalry, our school, and how I want to be. And I’ve concluded that every year, during this one week, I become totally out of touch with reality…

In life, I like to think I’m a realist. As a college insructor, I cannot hype up my students too much. I try like heck to maintain an even keel so they get neither too high nor too low when it comes to a variety of things: grades, graduation, the job market. It can be a downer, especially in this economy, but I have to let them know what to expect, but at the same time be encouraging. In general, I am like this in my private life, even with my expectations for our Bruin football team.

But there is one time when I throw caution to the wind. There is one time when I want to believe with all my heart, regardless of the odds. That time is THIS WEEK. SC is ranked #1. Leinart is first team Pac-10 QB. DO was not a finalist for the O’Brien Award. Bush runs for more than 1000 yards. Crap! Lendale White ran for a whole bunch too. SC vs. Texas will be the game of the year. The Fiesta Bowl MIGHT choose Oregon. Blah, blah, blah.

BIG DEAL. Every freakin’ year, I wait for this game, in the hopes–no, in the belief that we will beat SC. EVERY YEAR I believe. Many will think I am living in a dream world. Some have called me a Pollyanna–Beta for one, I think. A SC fan called me idiotic. Well, you know what? I don’t care. Because I believe in the Bruins. I believe in the Blue and Gold and UCLA and all it stands for. I believe that UCLA is BETTER than SC in every way. EVERY WAY: Academics, research, environment, girls(!), closer to the beach, Westwood, Royce Hall, John Wooden. Which SC student want’s to party in South Central? NOoooooo. They all wanna go see a movie in Westwood, our backyard! So why not in football? Well, I believe we are better. EVERY YEAR I believe we are better. Since the mid 60s, I have been disappointed a number of times. I knew we were better, but we lost anyway. But the following year, I believed all over again. Because I feel that I must. I feel obligated to show my love for UCLA unconditionally. And my love for my school is expressed though my confidence in them. EVERY YEAR. Yes, maybe I’m a fanatic. Maybe I’m a few marbles lighter than your average Bruin.

But consider this: Bruin football version 2005 was supposed to be middle of the road. Pre-season, maybe 4th or 5th in the Pac-10. I wanted to believe–desperately–that we are better than this. I wanted to believe that we could eek out 7–dare I hope 8–wins. Then we beat Oklahoma. Woo hoo. What a game. Then DO and company mount comeback win after comeback win for 4 consecutive weeks. It was amazing, wasn’t it? If nothing else, did not those four games tell you that this is a special team? That against the odds, it was okay to believe in this team? Ok, ok, so the defense ain’t so special, mostly. But the team, THE TEAM was special. You had to feel it, didn’t you? Man, after the Stanford game, weren’t you delirious? I hadn’t felt so high since 1984 on that night at Mom’s when… um, nevermind.

So haven’t these Bruins, version 2005, given us something we as a group haven’t felt in quite a while? Given that, shouldn’t be be rooting for this team 100%? Shouldn’t we believe that they CAN and WILL beat $C? We didn’t believe they’d be 9-1 at Thanksgiving–unless you’re related to Nostradamus–but they did it. So who knows? Express your passion for the Bruins. Let’s give them our support and our confidence.

JUST BELIEVE!

We are the Mighty Bruins! Hear our mighty roar!

Go Bruins! (insert your own 8 clap here)

Rantings of a Bruin Lunatic:

November 28, 2005

Okay, this IS a football post: This was originally posted on a Bruin Football Forum. If you’re an SC student, you may want to skip this post

S

ome Bruin think we will lose. They are entitled to their opinions, as rationally analytical as they may want to be. But reading their comments got me thinking about how I feel about this game, this rivalry, our school, and how I want to be. And I’ve concluded that every year, during this one week, I become totally out of touch with reality…

In life, I like to think I’m a realist. As a college insructor, I cannot hype up my students too much. I try like heck to maintain an even keel so they get neither too high nor too low when it comes to a variety of things: grades, graduation, the job market. It can be a downer, especially in this economy, but I have to let them know what to expect, but at the same time be encouraging. In general, I am like this in my private life, even with my expectations for our Bruin football team.

But there is one time when I throw caution to the wind. There is one time when I want to believe with all my heart, regardless of the odds. That time is THIS WEEK. SC is ranked #1. Leinart is first team Pac-10 QB. DO was not a finalist for the O’Brien Award. Bush runs for more than 1000 yards. Crap! Lendale White ran for a whole bunch too. SC vs. Texas will be the game of the year. The Fiesta Bowl MIGHT choose Oregon. Blah, blah, blah.

BIG DEAL. Every freakin’ year, I wait for this game, in the hopes–no, in the belief that we will beat SC. EVERY YEAR I believe. Many will think I am living in a dream world. Some have called me a Pollyanna–Beta for one, I think. A SC fan called me idiotic. Well, you know what? I don’t care. Because I believe in the Bruins. I believe in the Blue and Gold and UCLA and all it stands for. I believe that UCLA is BETTER than SC in every way. EVERY WAY: Academics, research, environment, girls(!), closer to the beach, Westwood, Royce Hall, John Wooden. Which SC student want’s to party in South Central? NOoooooo. They all wanna go see a movie in Westwood, our backyard! So why not in football? Well, I believe we are better. EVERY YEAR I believe we are better. Since the mid 60s, I have been disappointed a number of times. I knew we were better, but we lost anyway. But the following year, I believed all over again. Because I feel that I must. I feel obligated to show my love for UCLA unconditionally. And my love for my school is expressed though my confidence in them. EVERY YEAR. Yes, maybe I’m a fanatic. Maybe I’m a few marbles lighter than your average Bruin.

But consider this: Bruin football version 2005 was supposed to be middle of the road. Pre-season, maybe 4th or 5th in the Pac-10. I wanted to believe–desperately–that we are better than this. I wanted to believe that we could eek out 7–dare I hope 8–wins. Then we beat Oklahoma. Woo hoo. What a game. Then DO and company mount comeback win after comeback win for 4 consecutive weeks. It was amazing, wasn’t it? If nothing else, did not those four games tell you that this is a special team? That against the odds, it was okay to believe in this team? Ok, ok, so the defense ain’t so special, mostly. But the team, THE TEAM was special. You had to feel it, didn’t you? Man, after the Stanford game, weren’t you delirious? I hadn’t felt so high since 1984 on that night at Mom’s when… um, nevermind.

So haven’t these Bruins, version 2005, given us something we as a group haven’t felt in quite a while? Given that, shouldn’t be be rooting for this team 100%? Shouldn’t we believe that they CAN and WILL beat $C? We didn’t believe they’d be 9-1 at Thanksgiving–unless you’re related to Nostradamus–but they did it. So who knows? Express your passion for the Bruins. Let’s give them our support and our confidence.

JUST BELIEVE!

We are the Mighty Bruins! Hear our mighty roar!

Go Bruins! (insert your own 8 clap here)

I Love My Alma Mater

November 27, 2005

A non-sports UCLA post

T

aku says he loves MY love for UCLA. Well, you gotta love your alma mater, right? I feel for students who are indifferent about their school. I LOVE my school. And Merrow Mistral, your youngest’s choice of college? Brilliant!

Anyway, everyone who reads Onigiriman knows I love UCLA football. While this occupies a significant part of my love affair with the University of California, Los Angeles, it is not the only part. For starters, I received a solid education at UCLA. As a self-proclaimed slacker during my youth, I had to go to a community college before I could even entertain thoughts of going to any four-year college. Yes, the O-man was pretty much a slacker during high school. Once I realized why God put women on this earth, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else–with the exception of music, maybe. But studies? Fergit about it! I worked part time to earn money for the sole purpose of meeting women and going on dates. Yes, I was a jerk. Yes, I was stupid. But I was young and impetuous and I enjoyed life to its fullest.

The drawback, obviously, was my academics. Thanks to all this fooling around, I didn’t study one iota and failed to make the grades to go to a four-year college. I wrote about this previously, I believe, so I won’t rehash. Suffice it to say that it took me a few years to realize that school was actually important and I had to start from scratch at a community college. I went to East Los Angeles College, and the work was not too hard. In fact, I was surprised at how much I could learn with relatively little effort. I became an A student, graduated with honors and found myself at eligible for UCLA.

But I quickly learned that the amount of studying I did to earn good grades at ELAC would not come close to satisfying any of my goals of excelling at UCLA. I was rarely in the top 10 percent of any of the courses I took, even though I studied day and night. During my ELAC years, I would work 30 to 40 hours a week and enjoyed a full social life even as I earned “A”s in physics or anatomy or English. But at UCLA, I cut my hours to less than 16 hours–two full days on Saturday and Sunday–so that I could focus on studying all day and all night. The little money I made barely covered my tuition–it was admittedly very inexpensive back then–and books. Indeed, my greatest cost was gas and parking. I have distinct memories of counting pennies in my pocket to see if I could afford a 35-cent cup of coffee at North Campus. I often felt miserably poor.

But I never questioned my school of choice, nor the sacrifices I needed to make in order to make the grade. I befriended the better students in class, learning that I would only improve by hanging out with the good students. Fortunately for me, hanging out with the good students in Japanese courses–I majored in Japanese–equaled hanging out with the cool students… well, as cool as Japanese majors could be, I guess. I mean, there were no jocks in our group, but we did have our share of cute young ladies. And my best bud was a manager on the basketball team, so we sometimes got in earlier than the other students to get good seats to watch a game in Pauley Pavillion–free for students, of course.

When we weren’t in class or shooting the breeze during lunch at North Campus, we were often next door studying in the University Research Library (URL). It housed the “Oriental Library” (I wonder if they’ve ever renamed it?), so we often studied there as well as find our research material. During midterms and finals, we’d be there until 11 PM, scurry to get coffee at North Campus before it closed, then returned to study. By 1 or 2, I’d be beat and drive home, often giving a friend or two a lift back to their apartments. We were often fried, bug-eyed from the studying and frazzled from the caffeine. But we helped each other and supported each other.

Of course, studying wasn’t the only thing we did. One October, we decided to indulge in our beer drinking ways and had a Moon Appreciation (tsukimi) Night at a friends apartment, where we all wore yukata or kimono and partied all night. We’d sing karaoke, dance to music, or some of us would go into the corner to play mah-jong until the wee hours. When I could afford to get off work, I’d go with my friends to football games on Saturdays and when we won, we’d go to J-town and eat and drink to celebrate until the bars closed. We once dragged one Japanese sensei to J-town, and she was very impressed with the camaraderie we manifested.

I attribute these friendships–many of which are still active–to UCLA. Not just because they were formed there, but because of the environment the school fostered to enable many of like minds to find each other and to develop relationships. Interestingly enough, I was among the very few who actually majored in Japanese. Most of my friends majored in fields as diverse as linguistics, communications, fine arts, economics, and English. Most took some Japanese, but not all. And we were ethnically a relatively varied group–Japanese, Chinese, Korean, White, Latino, a reflection of the campus itself. It was a fun and exciting time for me, and I treasure every moment I spent there.

I will never forget my alma mater.