Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sep
24
  • The Young and the Restless

    So I had my final acting class last night. Probably only about 3/4 of the class showed up. We spent the first half of the class doing the usual warmup exercises: the name game, samurai, improv, repeating.

    The line reading exercises could not have come soon enough. This time we actually had a legit script. I knew it was for realz, because I actually watched The Young & the Restless when I was in middle school. I feel like I taped that shit or something. The names were very familiar. Of course I got paired with the Russian lady in the class who happens to be a director. So she was all about tweaking the scene to make it different than the usual reading: She wanted us seated a certain way, she had a cigar prop… I just wanted to focus on getting the lines down.

    So our turn came and we went onto the stage. I was awkward but not really nervous or shaky which I think is a good indication that my anxieties are waning a bit. Anyway, my poor partner. Towards the end of the scene, I farted. I wasn’t expecting any of that. It was a low grade quiet one, but just as her detective character leaned in close to me, I knew the scent was there. Fuck man. Only me I tell ya!

    I’m glad the class is done. Honestly, I just wasn’t too impressed with it. The teacher seemed like an airhead. Week after week, she didn’t remember student names and I dunno, she just didn’t really provide thorough explanations for the exercises. And well, last week’s script was a disaster. Anyone who would pick a lame yogurt commercial set at a costco sampling table just has poor judgement.

    In other news, yesterday in the middle of the night, I awoke to one of the pups wailing uncontrollably. Not the usual whimpering but a full-on wail. I turned on the light and tried to wake Remy, but she kept crying and I couldn’t shake her awake. And her body was crazy heavy and limp. I didn’t know what the fuck was happening. Then she seemed to come to, but then her body just started convulsing like she was rocking back and forth trying to get off her back and her legs were running crazy. Bizarre repeated behavior. I thought maybe she was choking again, because her eyes went vacant again. I dumped her out of her dog bed, and John started doing a light Heimlich. Fuck. She finally came to after what seemed like 90-120 secs. Then she was wiped again, eyes tired. Ten minutes later her eyes started tracking us again (normal), and she got up for food and drink. I have never witnessed a human/animal during a seizure, but now I can totally see how people would have mistaken this shit for someone/something being possessed. Super disturbing and crazy. Poor Remy. Old age is really giving her a beating.

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Sep
23
  • Nose to the Grindstone

    Holy crap, I have had a jam packed week! First, I’ve been trying to make up for lost time in my Social Psych class. Sure, I started the class a little late to the game, but three weeks behind? I dunno what the hell happened. Consequently, I have been on a video lecture binge the last several days. And I still have like half the course to go! Oh well, despite my slacker-ass state, I cannot stop gushing about Coursera. Amazing quality, not to mention awesome access (and free!).

    Besides the online class, I also scored a one-week pass for free yoga at a local studio (September is National Yoga Month). Because I am insanely motivated/driven by discounts and deals, I ended up doing seven straight days of hot yoga. Yup, I used that pass every damn day it was valid. Of course the classes kicked my ass, but I just convinced myself I was moving one step closer to achieving Linda Hamilton’s T2 body. Haha, yeah right.

    What else. Acting class last week was lame again. More ridiculous, silly games and the one commercial exercise we did was of a couple sampling some high-fiber yogurt at Costco. The dialog was just super lame– the couple was unrealistically indecisive and the dialog was just plain stupid. I mean, I still went with the flow, but I would have enjoyed the activity a lot more if we had used an intelligent script. Oh well. Final class is tomorrow.

    Other than that, I’ve been blowing a shitload of hours on travel planning. Yup, a few weeks ago, we finally bit the bullet and decided to make this Italy trip happen. It’s been on the list for YEARS, and it almost got nixed again this fall… But John’s kinda in need of another vacation pronto. And since Italy has been on his wishlist forever, it’s go time!

    So I went to the library to grab all the guide books. I quickly realized that this was not really a trip to plan in two weeks. Oh no. Most travel books advise that lodging be secured 6-12 months in advance. Eek! Needless to say, a lot of hotels under $200/night were booked already. So then I went to AirBnb. Kinda sketch and/or gross selections. Then I tried Priceline. After two solid days of full-on research, I finally got lodging settled. Whew, what a pain. Why is Italy so fucking pricey??

    In other news, my home office makeover is coming along. Before, the smallest bedroom was just a junky, random space that stored my office desk, a pathetic-looking air mattress, laundry racks, and the vacuum. A few months ago, T helped me recover more storage space in the closet and that allowed me to de-clutter the room and hide more of the junk. Now, this room has really transformed it into a practical, organized office AND a legit guest room. (Yeah, no more monster, half-inflated air mattress!) I got a CB2 daybed in July; we put up some Ikea wall shelves in August; I cleaned out my hutch/drawers, removed the hutch, put up some art, got T to inject more design magic, and bam! Whadaya know, I am actually in my office every damn day now getting my shit done! You know what they say: the home is your sanctuary and every room has the potential to promote mental calm and  boost creativity and productivity. Believe in the process, baby!

    So last week, I started looking for wall art to fill the large, empty wall in my office. After spending an inordinate amount of time surfing online, I came across a site with really vibrant cowgirl-themed prints. Yup, I dropped some dough on wall art this week. The prints arrive next week, and I cannot wait. The room is gonna pop! Stay tuned.

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Sep
16
  • Getting What I Want

    Every year, Neil Young hosts this Bridge School benefit concert at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. John and I went with G&J last year, and this time we were planning to take his sis S and her beau. So as with nearly all my Ticketmaster purchases, I got everything ready (multiple browser windows open) before the sale commenced at 10a. For some fucking reason, this year I could not get the middle tier seats! It was either bid/auction for orchestra seats or buy lawn seats. So I went through the prompts a gazillion times, switching up the parameters selecting  “best available” then trying specific seat types. So odd, but nothing came up except lawn seats. So fine, whatever. I wasn’t shelling out $200 pp for a lineup I barely even know. I got four lawn seats, and that was that.

    Well later, I realized that Shoreline does this 4-pack deal on lawn seats, and the savings is about $60 per pack! So studying the user interface again, I saw that in the drop down menu, instead of selecting “best available” and being offered the lawn seats, I was supposed to select “4-pk”. There was no special promo code or whatever. I mean, shouldn’t the program automatically see that I am purchasing 4 lawn tickets and just bill me the package price? Blah, blah, I discover on further research that Ticketmaster has this 3-day return policy for certain venues… I figure I’ll put this in my back pocket just in case.

    So I call customer service. First, I read my order number like three times, and the guy still can’t pull it up in the system. Finally, he gets it via last name. So I explain the situation, and he gives me this canned reply: unfortunately, we can’t retroactively apply a discount code. Um, it wasn’t a code, and the system should have just told me I qualified for the package. Back and forth a few times where he repeats his line, and I rephrase but basically reiterate my talking points. No movement. So then I say, ok well if you can’t issue a credit, let’s just process a refund and then I’ll re-buy. Again, he says all sales are final. A blatant lie. So then I say that I read the online policy, and for Shoreline, there’s a 3-day refund. Then he says he can’t guarantee that I’ll get the same seats… Uh dude. Lawn seats = shitty seats = first come, first serve. That doesn’t apply in this case. Finally, he processes the return, the whole time telling me it’s a goodwill, one-time gesture. Blah, blah. Lie. I mean, here’s the deal. Ticketmaster policies should be consistently applied, and the people who work in customer service should fucking KNOW the policy. Wth, I dunno if he was lying intentionally or if he was ignorant. Either way, thankfully, I did my homework before the call… Who are these people? In the end, I got what I wanted but hell, something is fishy, right? The lesson? You gotta give push back, big time!

    A few days later, I was a dumbass, and I forgot to take off my FitBit before my horseback riding lesson. I had a rockin’ lesson, but shit, we did a lot of cantering. At some point during the ride, I remembered feeling a hard knob on my inner thigh where it touched the saddle. I was going fast, so I couldn’t look down, but I thought maybe the reins got stuck funny in my saddle. Well, after feeling all triumphant post lesson, I realized FitBit was gone! Shit!! And there was no way I was going to recover it from a monster, dirty, dusty arena.

    To be honest, the device had already started losing luster with me months ago, so I figured this was a good excuse to escape the FitBit burden. But then I got home, and well, you know me. I was all bummed about losing this $60 device and having to cancel my account. So I researched online. A bunch of people said they lost their device and when they asked to close their account, the company gave them a replacement. Huh, really? So I did just that: I emailed them that I lost it while riding, and what’s involved with closing the account.

    Well this morning, I got a reply that basically said, sorry you lost it. We’ll close your account once you confirm your email. Uh… what?? So here’s the thing. I always want to give the vendor an option to take the “right” path. I mean, sure I lost it. It was my fault, BUT at the same time, I wore the device the way it was instructed to be worn. And I know a bunch of people who have lost the device just in normal day-to-day activity. It’s not like I created some jimmied version of wearing it. I had it clipped to my bra, and while it was bumpy ride on the horse, was it THAT bumpy that a clip should fall completely off? Needless to say, I was a little disappointed by the inconsistent customer service. So I wrote back, explaining that I had heard in some instances that a replacement is offered. I attached a receipt and added that I have purchased five devices for our family (my dad, his dad, and also our niece). Whattdya know, she offered me a replacement in the next email.

    The thing is, why do these people have to be prodded? I mean, in both cases, the situation ultimately worked out fine, but I’m a bit annoyed with the arbitrary nature of this. Like had John written the email and they said no, he would have just left it. Ah well. I guess persistence pays off. :)

    Interestingly, John explained that from FitBit’s perspective, replacement is actually the smarter way to go. Because it’s such a small device, it’s bound to get lost, and are people really going to keep shelling out the dough to replace? No, so once the device is lost, they are lost forever as a customer. Ah, why didn’t I think of that angle?

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Sep
14
  • The Conversation

    When my parents were here for their visit, I was fully expecting to be nagged about a number of issues: 1) my child-free lifestyle 2) my unemployment 3) my lack of a “legit” degree, i.e. medicine, law, or business. On day 2, my father and my husband had a lengthy conversation out on the patio. In general, my father is just a curious and inquisitive person, so I really wasn’t all that surprised when I overheard him asking John about his work, his company, and how the business was growing…

    After the conversation, my father gathered all of us together and said that he just finished a nice conversation with John. And he was very happy to see that things are going well, and we have plans for the future. I mean, I was a bit surprised, because my parents know I’m a planning freak. And they know I’m a responsible person!!

    What I realized though, was that something about his conversation with John offered reassurance. Maybe it was a sexist perspective about the man taking care of the woman (perhaps also a deeply-ingrained Chinese and/or American cultural pressure), or maybe it’s simply a parental thing. Even my friends admit that their parents give them unsolicited advice and opinions, no matter how long its been since they grew up and flew the coop.

    I think of that car commercial: a dad sits in the passenger seat of the car telling his 8-year old daughter all the things to watch for when she drives… The camera pans away and goes back to the girl, but it turns out she’s a teenager, rolling her eyes, saying, “Dad, I know!” I think parents always view their children as kids (and not adults)!

    Needless to say, I’m thankful the conversation occurred early on in the trip: I am convinced it did enough to spare me further unsolicited parental advice/commentary– at least this time around.

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Sep
13
  • Hyper Mode

    The aliens boarded their spaceship on Tuesday afternoon. All and all, a good visit, but I was pretty wiped from being in the company of other people 24-7. On Tuesday night, I had class 2 of 4 for my acting class. This session went better than the last: maybe I eased up a bit on the games. Yeah, they are still totally silly, but who cares? I might as well just go with the flow; we have one older dude in the class who is so goddamn uptight. He’s a total buzzkill. Next week, we’re supposed to get into some line reading and commercials. Yeah, baby. I’m gonna Elizabeth Dole that shit. Don’t worry, I’m not Republican. I just use her name as a verb to mean uber intense preparation for a public speaking activity. Remember when Bob ran for president many moons ago? Well, ED spoke at the RNC. Her speech was pretty damn flawless. I remember my parents would not stop cooing about it. But the back story was that she prepped it to the t– down to every movement and every gesture. So now, whenever I have to do a presentation, I “Elizabeth Dole” that shit. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse: in the shower, cleaning the house, walking the dogs, doing the laundry… seriously, by the day of any major presentation, even John knows the first several sentences of my talk. I’m intense!! Haha. We’ll see what next week’s class brings.

    In other news, I’ve been stalking (er researching) people and companies on LinkedIn. Anything that’s remotely interesting, I write down the required skills and research who might know what. You know how research is: that shit can be never ending. So I have a gabillion lists– lists of companies to check out, people to contact, skills to learn, jobs to consider… And I’m really digging this online schooling, man. Coursera is awesome. I’m hoping to finish the social psych class on there soon. I also just discovered Udemy (a competitor), where I’m checking out their Spanish videos. Then my Lean In (book club/career coaching class) wraps on Monday.

    Today I’m hoping to slap on that second coat of paint for my Adirondack chair (I am sooo ridiculously slow with home tasks), go grocery shopping, and try a new recipe for dinner. Damn, it’s past noon already. I need to get going. Draggin’ ass.

    Oh, I almost forgot: John and I attended a business’ 10th anniversary party yesterday where the company rented out the Virgin America suite at AT&T Park. I’m not really in to sports, so I’ve actually never been to the stadium, but it was a cool experience. I mean, no game going on, but still a nice venue. We went on a tour and got to go down to the field and inside the visiting team dugout and locker room. I was surprised to see that the new Yahoo! logo was up on the billboard. We also went into the press box. The whole place just really gave off an Americana feel. So weird how a place can do that.

    K, off to attack my to dos!

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Sep
10
  • Alien Encounter

    So in July, I told my parents about my plans to leave work at the end of August (without having another job in place). Admittedly, this is a pretty risky move for most anyone, and maybe it’s even a bit out of character for a planning freak like me… On hearing the news, my parents immediately booked a flight out to California for early September (during my first few days of unemployment). Yup, no rest for the weary!

    So last week, a few days after my job wrapped, the aliens landed. I call my parents aliens because well, we have a rather drama-filled history. They are good, responsible, caring people, but due to a variety of factors– culture, language, age, generation, personality– we clash often, less so now, but still. Consequently, even as I enter my late 30s, I still feel some tinge of dread before my alien encounters.

    Surprisingly, this trip went pretty well– no major controversies. On the advice of my friend P, I tried to focus less on our differences and recurring conflicts and more on our commonalities. For example, I’ve come to realize that my father and I actually share somewhat similar personalities. We like to come across flexible and accommodating, but we easily get annoyed if there is zippo planning (and no efficiency). We don’t like to sit still: in fact, at 68 years old, my father is still the most intense/productive/efficient person I know. He really likes to pack shit in– be it travel, learning, pragmatic life skills and lessons. And both of us have a fear of complacency and stagnation. There is nothing worse than getting “soft” and losing the edge.

    So, my parents have visited us four or so times since we moved out to California in 2006. Already, we’ve hit SF, San Jose, Carmel, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Half Moon Bay, and then they’ve also done various other touristy places throughout the state with tour groups. This visit, I thought we’d try something different: drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur, Hearst Castle, and Cambria. I figured we’d spend a day to drive down, stay overnight in Cambria, then head back north and drop by the Gilroy Outlets on the drive home.

    The drive down on day 1 was ok. I think after years of traveling on Chinese bus tours, their travel style is kinda like the Chinese idiom, “Ride the horse and see the flowers.” Basically, they travel drive-by style: no real time in one place, just stop, get out of the car, take some pictures, and get back in the car headed for the next attraction. We stopped at Point Lobos, south of Carmel and walked around a short trail to the cove. Then we climbed back in the car to lunch, where we feasted on the deck (too much sun for them though) of the California Market Restaurant (part of the Hyatt). Delicious clam chowder, perfectly grilled salmon, and tasty swordfish sandwich! Best meal of the trip! After roasting in that full sun, we got back in the car and then stopped in for a few minutes at Pffeifer Big Sur and Julia Pffeiffer State Parks– all big-name parks but unfortunately, to see anything substantive, hiking was required… and that just wasn’t happening in the afternoon heat. So we did a quick nature walk around the parking lot and then got back on the road.

    For evening accommodations, I got sucked into a Travelzoo deal, and we stayed at this place– Cambria Pines Lodge– that was really disgusting. Seriously. My affinity for discounts pulls my standards way down, but this place was embarrassing. Musty, dark, dirty, dingy… To make matters worse, John and I watched the Shark Tank on TV and one of the pitches was for a bed bugs detection product. I could not stop itching the whole rest of the night. Ugh.

    I felt a little bad, actually, for my parents. Because of my frugality, they got shafted with totally subpar accommodations plus we had a shitty dinner at the hotel restaurant. John’s prime rib was like straight out of Restaurant Impossible. It looked like a slab of meat intended to be canned dog food. And still, the place was $200/night!!! Goddamnit. Oh well, I guess it was only one night. Every now and then, we all need a little jolt to keep it real, right?

    The next day, we hit Hearst Castle. We did the Upstairs Suites tour, walked quickly through the lush gardens, and then they were ready to take the bus back down the hill. Maybe their attitude is: once you’ve seen one huge mansion, you’ve seen them all (they saw the Goodyear one in Ohio a few months ago plus a ton of castles in Europe). I think for them, having traveled all over the world, nothing amazes anymore. What can you do?

    What else. My acting class started last week. 90 minutes long and totally kooky with about 25 people. Lots of silly games and exercises aimed at getting us “out of our minds.” Hmm, I dunno why I get myself into such uncomfortable situations. It’s my fear of complacency that pushes me outside my comfort zone, but then a lot of times, I don’t actually enjoy the experience. Oh well, only four classes in the series, and I guess this is one strategy to improve my patience/tolerance. Shrug. Fucking LivingSocial. Partly, I got sucked in by the dealio!

    In other news, I’m continuing with my Social Psych class on Coursera. Loving it. Learning tons: who knew that people make such astoundingly accurate judgments within SECONDS of meeting strangers?! Apparently, first impressions really are EVERYTHING!!

    Travel-wise: I’m uber stoked for Wilmington, NC at the end of the month. I’m going solo, so my bud and I will be livin’ it up SATC-style for seven days in this coastal college town. Well, she lives there already, but you get the drift. Plus, she’s dating some member of a bluegrass band, so I’ll get to witness the groupie lifestyle up close. Hehe.

    Also, I booked airline tickets to Italy (finally) for October. Yup, pulled the trigger on my first day of freedom. We’re only going for 8 short days, but that’s just how we roll. We’re flying in to Florence, and out of Venice. I can not wait. Thank goodness I have some time now to do hardcore travel research! Hook me up, Rick Steves!

    Can you tell my mind is in turbo mode again? It never ends, really. And hanging with dad only exacerbates my inadequacy complex. Seriously, I don’t know how one person can retain so much fucking practical, medical, financial, political, technical, global knowledge in one brain. In three days, he has already fixed my couch cushion (using a MacGyvered cushion needle made from a wire hanger), created a reliable (i.e. non-shitty) solution for my portable AC window unit, added shelving to my bedroom, plus talked stocks, real estate, tax incentives, Syria, CA high speed rail, Jerry Brown, state budgets, etc… I’m exhausted trying to keep up even at a half-ass 15% level. Fuck. I so need to step up my game. Shit’s REALLY getting real!

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Sep
3
  • First Day of Freedom

    In early August, I put in my notice at work. Yup, after six years, I just wasn’t feeling the love anymore and rather than allow myself to plummet into the depths of despair, I decided to nip that shit in the bud. I had deliberated for months, and in the end, this just had to be done. I was finished, and I had to call the end of the game. I gave ’em three weeks, and then I was out. I have nothing lined up next. What can I say, desperate times, desperate measures.

    For my time off (I’m anticipating a couple of months), I’m aiming to get back to basics. I’m returning to activities that I enjoy, activities that nourish the soul. That’s where this new blog comes in: you see, I’ve actually been blogging for a long while. I first started waay back in 2003 when the hubs and I moved overseas to Shanghai. Through the blog, we chronicled our incredible, awesome adventures abroad. When we returned Stateside in 2006 and moved to California for a new job opportunity, I continued to blog our re-assimilation to American life (and everything after). Now, ten years later, it’s time for a blog reinvention. The previous blog was written under a pseudonym. This time, I’m coming out with a new blog filed under my name. I’m excited to see where this all goes.

    So without my usual fanfare :), I will say that my first day of freedom is pretty damn packed. Yeah, I know, I should really pace myself considering this free time gig is lasting indefinitely, but sometimes I just can’t help it. There’s too much to do… even if I’m not committed to clocking in my hours somewhere official. That’s right: leave it to me to allot my hours. :)

    Anyway, I just finished setting up this new blog from scratch (Hover domain registration, Bluehost hosting, WordPress install), and I’m thrilled that after combing through 800+ freebie themes, I came across this cowgirl theme on the very last page!! Yeehaw!!

    Welcome to my inaugural post. I hope this blog will make you laugh, cry, scream, rant, rave, groan, overthink (like me), and feel a wealth of emotions! Why not? After all, this is where I’ll lay it all down. Come join me on my next adventure into the scary but alluring unknown.

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