Monthly Archives: May 2014

  • Trade Secrets

    So John and I have been talking lately about doing something different. We’ve been in the Bay Area now for nearly eight years… the longest we’ve ever been in any given area in our adult lives. I think Silicon Valley is wearing on us a bit: the hype, the pace, the constant hustle. So we’re brainstorming some other options… I mean, I’ve been spending a lot of these last several months thinking about how to live life, what to spend my time doing, etc. I feel like I am “on to something” again, with this path that combines communications, web, project management, relationship/partnership-building, problem-solving, and social good, but I’ll have to see how all of this materializes.

    I’m trying not to overthink everything as I typically do; instead, I’m trying to savor the moment and really take pleasure in the journey… that’s hard for me to do, but I’m trying. Today, we took a day trip up to Sonoma. It was really a spur-of-the-moment thing, so I didn’t get to plan to the extent that I normally would have, but we had a nice day. We walked around the square, had lunch at the Girl and the Fig, got some cheese and crackers later and sat outside. The traffic going north on our way home was insane, and it just reminded me again about all these people, subjecting themselves to some ridiculous commute. I mean, for us, we were blazing through in the carpool lane, but on the other side of the median, traffic was not moving at. all. Why do people live like this? Is it the story of sacrifice? of building character and strength through hardship? or is it really just about acceptance because that’s what society so often teaches us… this is what and how life is supposed to be: this is what everyone else does.

    In the drive up to Sonoma this morning, I was very quiet in the car. My mind was just going 100 mph thinking about more ways to hustle, more ways to chase leads, how I was going to work to live a different life for ourselves. I was kinda stressing internally, and I was drafting “hustle” letters in the car, starting to get carsick. I could feel a headache coming on. And then, I received a Yapta alert. Yapta is a website that tracks airfare changes. Whenever I buy airfare, I then input the details of my flight purchase, and Yapta tracks changes in the price. For some airlines, you are eligible for flight credits when the airfare dips below what you paid; other airlines charge a min $75 or $150 change fee (so the price has to dip more than that to make the change worthwhile). Long story short, we’re flying to Atlanta in September for my college roommate’s wedding. The fares dropped about 20% today, so I received the alert and then subsequently (meaning in the car), I went to the Southwest site to “modify” my flight (re-book the same itinerary) at the lower rates. Now I have over $200 in credits that I can apply to air travel somewhere else!! Pretty sweet, right? Sorry to ramble about all of this, but the point is, I was in an intense zone in the car, and then this Yapta alert really made my day. And I was super proud too, because Yapta actually doesn’t track Southwest flights, but I figured out a way to “game” the system. You see, Yapta does track AirTran and since Airtran and Southwest are now merged, I set up an “indicator” itinerary using codeshared or similar AirTran flights for the same travel dates as my Atlanta itinerary on Southwest. My assumption was: if AirTrain fares go down, so will Southwest fares because they are now under the same company. Needless to say, my hypothesis tested positive, and I scored my credits. Yippee!! And btw, Yapta has saved me several hundred dollars. I’ve already cashed in on fare drops at least four times!! I find it works best for JetBlue, Alaska Air, and AirTran/Southwest. For the other airlines, the change fees mean that the fare has to drop pretty damn substantially… Interestingly, there is now a similar site (Tingo) for hotel rates, but I have yet to use it. Tingo requires that you book through them directly in order for them to start tracking the reservation. Anyway, that’s secret #1 that I’m sharing oh so generously with you today. ;)

    Secret #2? So we were in Sonoma driving around, and suddenly John had to use the bathroom. We were trying to find a place to stop, buy a drink, and use the restroom, but we were in that part of town where all the shops were really small and kind of junky. Then I suggested we drop by our old fav: the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Love that place. So we parked, strolled on up into the lobby like we owned the damn place, used the restrooms, washed our hands with the fancy apricot soap, dried our hands with the cloth towels, slathered on the hand lotion, and then chilled out on the couches. I actually would have eagerly gotten a glass of wine, but no one was running the bar. Oh well. It was the perfect little pitstop: so roomy and posh and clean. I probably would have enjoyed spending some minutes cozying up in the Adirondack chairs on the manicured lawn, but off we went. John commented that my idea was a great scam, but wtf, am I really “scamming” them? I mean I have patroned the place three times before, plus I talk that shit up to all my peeps… whatever. I just don’t like being called a scammer. I’m just sharing a secret, if you will. That’s my story anyhow, and I’m sticking to it. Incidentally, this is a good reminder for me to book another pool day there using their good neighbor promo (kudos to G for turning me on to that secret!).

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  • Race Against Time

    I’ve been feeling super fatigued lately. Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I slept a shitload. My body just felt so damn tired. I know, when most people hear about me sleeping a ton, they suspect depression, which I suppose is possible but dayum, I hope it’s unlikely. I was feeling so physically tired, like my body just could not move, like my body couldn’t even climb out of bed. Maybe some of this makes sense, because I’ve had trouble sleeping again lately: I’ve been staying up really late working or reading or just thinking… John’s snoring is not getting any better, and on top of that, he’s been having some pretty serious back pain.

    Why are we broken? Are we so fragile that a few years shy of 40, we’re already riddled with such ailments? It just doesn’t seem right. Have we gotten soft, or were we were always this feeble? WTF is going on??

    At times, I feel so full of determination and resolve, you know? Like I’m going to figure this shit out, and I’m going to hustle like nobody’s business to find clarity, strive for success, and attain fulfillment. And then, I suffer a few setbacks, and I lose momentum. After a few days, the cycle starts again. Up and down, up and down. Jesus, and I consider myself to be a pretty reliable and steady person. But lately, I’ve been thinking again about this feeling of squandered privilege.  I’m trying so hard to get this right, to live my life with purpose and intention, to not have any regrets, but where am I headed and on what schedule??? I’m moving in a direction; yet, every damn day my patience and faith (in the process) is tested. What is the problem here? Not enough confidence? Poor self perception? No self awareness? Lack of resiliency? And as I write this, it becomes clear that self-doubt is the common theme with all of this. Surely, the problem is me, right? Not smart enough; not competent enough; not polished enough; not talented enough; not hungry enough… I know, are you sick of the broken record yet? I recognize the pattern; I am aware of the onslaught that so often follows the setbacks. And goddamnit, I really should know better. After all, I’ve read all those books on personal growth and development. Confidence and courage are so damn critical; yet, I find these qualities to be as fleeting as they are important. Is this some insane, torturous mind game I just keep playing with myself?

    Last week, I vowed to “sell the house” a la Carolyn in American Beauty. I stepped up my game. I reached out to new people, to old people, to more people, with better strategy and more gumption. Some replied (yay!); others didn’t. I know, it was a holiday weekend: maybe people are still getting caught up, but tomorrow will be a week later. It’s a numbers game, I remind myself.  I comb through my contacts spreadsheet; I research more; I study more; I keep plugging. But I still falter, why?

    Last week, I was reminded of death again. An acquaintance who had acquired a horse less than one year ago, lost him suddenly, after a freak accident forced her to put him down. It’s a tragedy that tells me to count my blessings and be grateful for each day. That UCSB incident? Again, life is so damn precious. I don’t really fear death, but I fear untapped potential. Every day, I feel a pressure to be true to myself, to live authentically, to “make things count.” I feel rushed, and I don’t know how to balance that with the mindfulness and meditation. That’s the irony in all this, right? I seek peace and yet, time is so finite and there is no time to lose. So what’s the strategy? Appreciation and enjoyment in the now; satisfaction in the ongoing journey; faith that the path will lead where it needs to go. Baby steps, patience, and perseverance. Sounds simple. Ugh, I really gotta Andy Dufrense that shit. (Holy crap, I just realized that YouTube has EVERYTHING!!) And btw, I don’t really watch that much tv: clearly, all the films I reference are from the late 1990s. Shrug. Nose back to the grindstone.

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  • Moving Fast

    Things have felt super accelerated lately. Somehow, something has lit a new fire under my ass, and I dunno: I’m just really hitting the pavement hard these days. Like even harder than normal. Earlier this week, I cleaned the house: vacuumed, floor mopped, dusted, wiped down the surfaces, did laundry… I’m pretty sure my inability to sit still is what saves me from spilling too far beyond that +/- 5 lb. zone. Yeah, the flabby arms are still an issue, but shit, that’s a story for another day.

    Anyway, two days ago, I read an article on Mashable about virtual companies, and whadya know? The piece turned me on to a new nonprofit tech consulting firm… one I didn’t know about previously (and my list is pretty long!). So immediately, I looked that company up on LinkedIn (my favorite online job tool EVER), and holy crap, they are hiring project managers, AND one of their staff lives in the Bay Area.!! So, I browsed around the company site, read up on some of her background and professional materials and introduced myself via email. Voila, we’re meeting for coffee next Tuesday. Yup, I’m taking this shit on fast. track.

    Sure, part of me likes to take all the credit: my intro message is pretty damn kickass and compelling. That said, I also kinda know better. People who work in the social good sector (doing mission-based work) are just a different breed I think. They are so genuinely nice and gracious. They’re out there to save the world, and when someone (even a stranger) reaches out, they more often than not, respond nicely. And thank goodness for me, right?? I also noticed that this lady’s master’s degree is in women and gender studies, so that’s even doubly cool– a fellow feminist! I’m really excited to meet her. Fingers crossed!! Incidentally, the omniscience of LinkedIn also revealed that she has a co-worker in Durham, NC. Yup, that’s my next step: I’ll be contacting THAT lady for a meetup when I’m at Duke next month. Two birds, one stone, baby!

    What else. This week I applied to a corporate citizenship gig up in San Mateo. I’ve got a call with someone who works in that department tomorrow morning. It’s a quasi-info interview plus I’m going to ask him about the gig. In preparation for the call, I watched a webinar he delivered in April about constituent relationship management platforms and got up to speed on his professional background. Gotta do my homework and all… Goodness, with all this “cold calling” and meetups with strangers, I might as well go into sales, don’t you think??

    I attribute some of this recent motivation to those tv ads about Tony Robbins. Have you seen? He’s coming to San Jose next month for his Unleash the Power Within weekend workshop. Truth be told, I never wanted to like this leadership guru. I mean, what the fuck? So much hype, and really? Unleash the Power Within??? Come on!! But, a friend of mine attended his workshops, and now I’ve watched several of his videos… The guy is pretty. damn. convincing. If I weren’t so fucking cheap, I’d probably even go to his workshop!! He just has this palpable, contagious charisma, and I can really see how people get sucked in. I remember, two years ago I attended a conference where I met people who had attended his workshop. They were noticeably different from the other attendees… there was just a kind of vitality inside. Sometimes people say those programs are cult-like, but to me, who really cares what it is, so long as the people feel alive and energized to be better and to live better. Wouldn’t all of us benefit more from people getting out of autopilot to live with greater passion and intention?

    I know, I need to start pacing myself with all these activities and events. I’m gonna skip out on Tony Robbins this time: instead, I’ve downloaded his free e-book. :) I can’t be stopped!!! Muhahaha.

    Do what you have to do
    to be the person you want to be
    who’s living the life you want to live

    Do you like that? I wrote it myself. Well, I guess I paraphrased from lots of sources, actually. Whatever. The bottom line? Tony Robbins reminds me to dream big and to keep pluggin’.

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  • Comparison Game

    I read this line recently: “American parents just want their kids to be happy. Chinese parents just want their kids to be successful.” How true is that. Along similar lines, check out this article, I thought that being miserable was just part of being Chinese American. Ah, how central the “eat bitter” concept is in all Chinese storytelling…

    Anyway, I was thinking about parenting this week, because well, my parents called me yesterday from Taiwan. I was handling some more real estate transactions for them, and so dad called to thank me. Then, Mom (shall I just start calling her my nemesis already?) got on the phone. She asked, “So, how much longer are you planning to try out this ‘different lifestyle’?” Yeah, as if I were living in a tree or sitting at home all day eating bon bons and watching soap operas. WTF??? To simplify, maybe I should just tell her I’m now a full-time student, because no matter how many times I explain, she just doesn’t. get. it. So annoying. Can the mother-daughter disconnect possibly grow any wider? Ugh. I can’t even believe that I am now nearly 38 years old, and this shit just keeps happening… I know. I need to pipe the hell down. She really does irk me though.

    So anyway, I was thinking the other day about the comparison game, and how deeply ingrained that behavior is in my life. Why is it ingrained? Did my parents shove the concept into my being, or is this just how society works? For example, I was walking Marty at the park yesterday, and the leash got under his legs again. He NEVER readjusts to let the leash back out. I know, a minor thing really, but with Remy (and Helix even), she always stopped and lifted her leg to untangle. I started feeling really frustrated with Martin. Like come on, fix the leash!! Sometimes I would just tug on the leash, but he would ignore my signal, and the leash would just dig into his armpits. Other times, I would stop abruptly and again, he would just continue bumbling along. I distinctly remember thinking, goddamnit Martin, why can’t you be like Remy? And so there it is. Favoritism at its worst. I’m comparing him to a fucking dead dog.

    The thing is, I think parents always try to be all PC about loving their kids: “No, I love them equally,” they insist. Really? I call bullshit. At least my parents never tried to throw out that malarky. And yet, I felt bad that I was comparing Martin with Remy. I explained my frustration to John, and in Martin’s defense, he said that’s just who Martin is: he’s easy-going, not particular, just happy-go-lucky. Then I felt like a real ass. I mean, I try to appreciate his good-natured, patient temperament, but he’s just so simple!! So yeah, the comparison habit crops up. A lot. Is it a form of grieving? Is it my perfectionism/lack of gratitude/hypercritical obsession rearing its ugly head?

    Should I feel guilty for feeling closer to Remy? I don’t know. But the universe is definitely fucking with me: In the last week, I’ve seen three shiba inus in my neighborhood . Never saw any prior to this.

    I miss Remy so much. My emotions are under better control these days, but sigh. She really was such a great dog. I have a birthday coming up, and I’d love to have a party with games and karaoke and all the usual festivities, but things feel really different this year. Yet another milestone that Remy never missed before.

    I’m noticing differences too with Martin now. He doesn’t seem to hear as well. He’s starting to shuffle a little funny when he gets up or lies down. I really need him to go the distance right now… maybe he will if I’m more supportive and less critical. Fuck, parenting is hard!!!

    Incidentally, I was just thinking of all the activities where I compare things: clothing, recipes, shoe sizes, emails, draft posts, photographs, the eye exam, parking spots, dining table locations, driving position on the highway, produce… am I the only one obsessed with this? One option is ALWAYS better than the other, right?? It’s a constant assessment and evaluation. No wonder I’m feeling exhausted!

    This morning I woke up vowing to re-energize. For some reason, I’ve been thinking lately of Annette Benning’s character  in that movie American Beauty. She plays a realtor who goes through a dryspell of not selling any houses. One day, she wakes up and is completely determined to make a sale that day. She spends all day scrubbing the property, re-arranging the furniture, getting the place all ready, showing prospects, etc. and then it’s the end of the day and she has no bids/sales. Fatigued and overwhelmed with disappointment, she collapses into a meltdown. The weird thing is, I sometimes derive some strength and resolve thinking about her determination at the beginning of that day… but then, yeah I have to hope for an alternate ending.

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  • Worn Out

    I have a feeling I’m going to be a bit moody this week. This morning, I received notice that I didn’t proceed to the next round for a county job, for which I interviewed last week. I am realizing that my intuition is surprisingly accurate: I didn’t have a great gut feeling about the panel interview: I didn’t sell myself as well as I had in the past. It’s all good. I’s already been feeling a little bit like government culture isn’t the best match for me… Still, my competitive streak wishes I would have advanced in the game… you know, kept all the options on the table with only me to take them off. Ah well, cut my losses I suppose.

    I was in SF this morning for another informational interview. I continue to meet really cool people, and goddamn, whoever invented this info interview concept is genius. I mean, really. It is so much more informative regarding culture and fit– which matters more to me than nearly all else. Today was my first time visiting a co-working space: my sense is actually that the environment is potentially distracting. I dunno.

    Interestingly, when I registered at the reception, the dude complimented my red F21 pleather jacket. Haha. He said it channeled Michael Jackson. Not a fan of the MJ, but I am a fan of compliments. Made me happy. That little jacket… best $45 ever spent in terms of attracting attention. The guys love it for some reason.

    So after my meeting, I schlepped all over the city: I ran some errands at the mall and then figured I would clock in some steps by skipping BART and hopping directly onto Caltrain. Road construction and several pedestrian detours later, I found that I had missed the train and goddamn, it was a windy day. I made a pitstop at Panera because by then, I was windblown, starving, tired (my bag had started digging into my shoulders), and sweaty as hell. I plunked all my shit down at a table, and my entire back was wet from sweat. Ugh, disgusting. And I suddenly felt so deflated. When am I going to find my place– not just job-wise but world-wise? I try to keep my spirits up, but lately, I’ve really wondered whether I am made for this world. I mean, don’t freak out: I’m not talking death or anything but geez, why is this process taking so long? And even though my life is relatively easy, why do so many things feel so hard? Like all this hustling. And then to maintain all the outward appearances too? Like looking professional and polished and shit. So much work!!

    I mean, I didn’t even wear my fancy shoes today. When I finally do bust those babies out, how the hell am I going to shuttle in and out of the city while also carrying my load of crap? Someone really needs to invent beautiful TRULY COMFORTABLE, WALKABLE shoes that look swanky. For real. I mean, is the answer that I’m supposed to lug around my sneakers or flip flops and change?? Wtf??

    Speaking of primping, I’m on another Pinterest kick, trying to get some new style inspiration and such. I recently came across contouring, and I am super fascinated. Admittedly, I have mild image issues, so this idea of “plastic surgery with makeup” is piquing my curiosity. Mostly, I’m drawn to the luminance: these women just have a glow… I think it’s pretty amazing, so I’m going to give it a try. Just got some bronzer today at Nordie Rack. Of course, John is skeptical. He thinks contouring may have great results for the camera, but maybe it’ll be too strong for real life. Well, beggars can’t be choosers: I would love to look fab in one realm or the other: real life OR on camera. Haha. The online tutorials make it look so ridiculously easy. I know. My self-projects are endless. Can’t help it. Sigh.

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  • Sales, Sales, Sales!

    I know I probably overuse the term “hustle” these day, but frankly, I can’t think of  a better verb. Really. I mean, I guess my coach says I’m “in action,” but I dunno, that doesn’t have enough punch and street cred to it, you know? Semantics. Anyway, I’ve been getting back into the bargain/deals transactions mode again… I know, as if I ever really went out of that mode. Whatever.

    For our 11th wedding anniversary last month, John got me an iPad mini. I hate when he spends so money on things that I don’t really need, but in his defense, he had his reasons and he was very thoughtful: he was thinking that the light, small device would be handy, especially since I’m riding the train into SF so frequently to attend all these professional development events and trainings. So fine. I actually opened the box and broke the seal. I proceeded to set it up, and then well, when I went to the T-mobile site to register for the data plan, holy shit, T-mobile was running a promo, selling the device with wifi + cellular for the price of the device with wifi only!! Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the difference is $130!! For reals.

    So then, I went to the Apple store: I mean, who knew prices would vary so much from store to store, right?? I thought Apple was all about the uniform pricing!! So I talked to the reps, their higher ups: back and forth, back and forth (practicing my negotiation skills). They couldn’t accommodate me AT ALL. Not even store credit for the difference. Ugh. I was so annoyed.

    Finally, one of the reps just said: If I were you, I’d just return the device to Apple and buy it again from T-mobile, because that’s a huge price difference. Ugh. Fine, so I did that; thankfully, the T-mobile store was the next block over. Except that they didn’t have the 32 GB version in stock: so they had to ship it out to me. Long story short, I got the same spec device… but a week later. Incidentally, T-mobile is running a promo for the remainder of 2014 where the tablet data plan is free. So John insists that I had to go through a gabillion steps with returning and then waiting…  but I still think it’s worth the price difference. Guess my time is a lot cheaper than his.

    In other news, I just sold our old iPad on Ebay. Amazon was offering about $200 via trade-in, but the same device sold on Ebay for between $300-400! So of course, I got back on the Ebay wagon. Our item sold for $345, so better than Amazon, but not stellar. And again, it definitely involved more steps. Now I’m thinking: I’ve already re-entered the Ebay world of selling, so maybe setting up future bids won’t take as long since I’m now re-familiarized with everything. Who knows. Next possible contenders: my old iPod nano and my old laptop.

    In related transactions news, I finally scored a pair of black wedges today, after searching for low-heel black shoes for weeks. I had scoured everywhere online and even ordered two pairs from Amazon. Goddamn, those shoes were butt ugly in real life. Today, I went into a DSW-type store after my training in the city, and voila, these patent black wedges are going to work beautifully. And unlike my leopard-print pumps, these babies should get pretty regular use, especially for all my city events.  I’m breaking them in this weekend, and then I’ll have an official verdict come Monday!

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  • Professional Dev Update

    OMFG. Thursday night already. Crazy talk. This week kicked off really well. I was in the city for an Intro to Salesforce training. I took the opportunity to contact one of the speakers for an info interview. He’s a rather higher upper too, and we’re going to meet for lunch  in June. Score!

    I also reached out to some women from the Women’s Leadership Summit last week, including an Assistant City Manager and Deputy County Manager. Yup, I’m hitting the big dogs now. The Assistant City Manager was so kind and friendly in her reply too. I’m aiming high these days, and it feels really nice to get some response from busy people!

    I caught up with my coach on Wednesday after a one-month hiatus. Last week, I had sent her a monster list of items I’d been working on… she says I’m in action even if I feel like April was a lost month. Yup, I guess that means I’m officially back on the wagon. I do feel like I’m hustling every damn day… even if there isn’t a job offer pot of gold there at the end of the rainbow yet. Maybe the rainbow is a lot bigger than I anticipated.

    I had my County interview this morning. It went ok, but I was definitely a little disappointed. I dunno whether it was all the guidelines I got beforehand or what, but I was just a little off: not as sharp, specific, and on point with my responses. I guess we’ll see. I’m trying not to let my perfectionist/OCD side get the better of me after the fact. Ugh.

    Oh, get this: while John and I were in Utah last Friday, I got a call from Duke. I made it off their wait list (just as I was ready to write the class off), and now I’m enrolled in their Nonprofit Management certificate program: it’s an 8-day intensive. Yippee!! I figure that at some point, I will work closely with nonprofits– whether that’s from the inside or consultant side, it doesn’t much matter: I’ll benefit a lot from understanding nonprofit operations better. I’m going to fly into Wilmington the weekend prior to visit my bud N, and then I’ll be studying full blast at my alma mater. I’m pretty excited. Already, I have spoken with several past students, and they all give rave reviews. I worry a bit about being away from home for that long, but I guess the boys will be ok.

    Tomorrow I’m headed to the city again for another Foundation Center training. I tried to tie in some fun activities afterwards, but no one’s around really. Hmm, maybe I’ll finally touch base with my friend F again? I haven’t been in touch with her since her hubby C passed last year. Maybe I’ll shop for those elusive black flats/low wedges. I was so annoyed this evening, because two different shoes arrived via Amazon, and they are both shipping back tomorrow. Why are uber comfy, low-heel shoes (that are NOT boots)so damn ugly?? Also, when the hell am I going to bust out my awesome leopard-print heels? Yup, I got my priorities straight.

    Nothing too excited planned for the upcoming weekend. Bubs and I are a bit pooped out, so maybe just some R&R.

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  • Vegas + Zion + Bryce

    We had a great time on our long weekend in the southwest: we flew in and out of Vegas and then spend a few days in Zion and Bryce. We rented a grampy car (Buick), but it did the job transporting us from Nevada to Utah via Arizona. The parks were beautiful, but otherwise, Utah is um… something else. We describe it as a place where “kids run amuck.” Seriously, everywhere and anywhere, LOTS of kids, all of them like under five. In downtown St. George, we were grabbing some pizza and two blond-hair, blue-eyed broods were outside. The kids were alongside the building, climbing on railings trying to peer into the restaurant. So bizarre. SUVs and minivans everywhere, and the parents look young too!! I know, we’re over it, and we’ll definitely go back to Utah to catch the other parks in the Mighty Five.

    In Vegas, I scored a cheapie hotel off the strip: Downtown Grand. It turned out to be a great find, actually. Super affordable, upstairs outdoor pool, clean, etc. And I am ahead of the game: a few days later, USAToday gave their thumbs up as well… Our first night, we got tickets for the Jabbawockeez. My mom-in-law called and when we told her, she made some comments about C.S. Lewis. Nah, not that Jabberwocky. Funny. It’s like that time I mentioned “Napoleon” to describe a tyrannical colleague to my 20-something coworker, and he kept thinking Napoleon Dynamite.

    As for the parks, definitely pretty interesting geology there. Too bad Bubs and I are super out of shape, especially at that elevation. Ah well, we did our best: clocked in a respectable number of steps, so that our outdoorsy, active friends wouldn’t judge us TOO harshly once we got home. Haha. Managing expectations and all.

    Trip was good but exhausting. We’re happy to be back home, reunited with Martin.

    Full photo set on Flickr. Short set below.

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  • Love Withholder

    This is going to sound awful, but every year, Mother’s Day really irks me. I go through all the damn cards at the store, and there’s so much touchy-feely bullshit: you’re my world; you’re my best friend; everything I learned, I learned from you. Ugh. To be honest, that stuff just doesn’t really apply. Sure, my mother tried hard. She did what she thought was best for us, and I dunno whether culture, generation, or personalities are to blame, but we clashed a lot– then and even now, I don’t feel like we have that much in common regarding experiences, wisdom, and judgement. And on top of that, who are these people who are best friends with their mothers?? I really just don’t get it. So fine, I should just chalk it up like, not applicable, you know? Whatever.

    Like I said, I appreciated the effort. So anyhow, I called my mother for the holiday, which she happened to be spending with my relatives in Taiwan. My cousins had just been over visiting me and John in April, and I guess they were commenting to my mother about how beautiful our house and garden was, blah, blah. So I would expect a normal person to just pass along that message. My mother? Instead, she says, “They kept saying how great everything looked… I don’t remember your house and garden being that great. Did you change something from what I saw?” Um, no. I mean, you saw our garden after it was professionally landscaped too. “Oh, well you know the young people in Taiwan, they don’t really own much and they don’t have yards, so maybe they were just impressed because you had green space.” Um, ok.

    Ok… I mean, sure, there’s a language barrier in that her English is not that great, but still: the comment is pretty rude, right? And she has a history of making comments in a similar manner– like she’s a love withholder or something. For example, she used to ask to see my wrists. I would hold them out, and she would say, “Your wrists and arms are so thick: when I was your age, I could touch my thumb to pinky around my wrists.” Um yeah mom, I can do that too, see?  “Oh well, your arms look a lot thicker and rougher than mine when I was your age.” Then, she’ll ask me how much I weigh. I’ll tell her, and she’s say: “When I was your age, I weighed 105.” Ok mom, are you trying to tell me I’m overweight??

    More recently, I was telling her about how I was finally learning to wear clothes with the proper fit, and she replied, “Yeah, when you first got together with John (20 y/o), you didn’t dress very well.” Um gee mom, do you think it was because you were always 1) either buying me size XL clothes (so I was “comfortable”) or 2) trying to hand me down your own clothes that no longer fit you (and you were a 50 y/o at the time)???

    I dunno whether she just lacks manners and polish, or if there’s some weird competitive tiger mom thing going on, but she just really gets under my skin when she talks like this… There are other things. I guess I’m just saying, I can’t really relate to people who click really well with their mothers. I never have, and I don’t really see us connecting well in the future. It’s one of those sad realities of life, I suppose. So yeah, thanks for chatting, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

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  • Getting Back in the Game

    Since we started this new month of May, I’ve been trying my darnedest to get my shit back together. For several weeks after Remy died, I had managed to appear outwardly fine and productive, but internally, I felt so sad and lost and unmotivated. But man, I had had enough of this downtrodden bullshit, and so I started telling my brain to get going again. Yes, I know, easier said than done– even if my mantra is “Mind over body.”

    I resumed webinars and networking and social activities. I met up with my new BFF L last week. I was attending a tech meetup in SF, so we arranged to catch up beforehand for a quick dinner and a uke/harmonica jam. Turns out, he plays piano AND harmonica (which I actually have!). That’s the coolest thing about L: he’s pretty much game for anything. Random singing in a busy lunch spot? Fine. Bust out the uke and harmonica and cop a squat in Yerba Buena Gardens? Fine. Well, as it turned out, that day was hotter than hell, and I clocked a shitload of steps from Caltrain to our meeting spot across from the Gardens. And then the Gardens were totally blocked off to the public for some private MOMA event. Seriously? Then, he ran late due to work. I was thirsty as hell and really out of breath from all the walking (obviously, I’m totally out of shape now too). So we ended up grabbing drinks and appetizers at a local bar. But our conversation was great. He’s just one of those folks: we are just on the same wavelength. I’m getting to know him better, and I’m feeling good– like I’ve found another kindred spirit, and I’m optimistic that he’s a potential mentor. I remember in Sheryl Sandberg’s book, she talked a lot about how you don’t ever “ask” someone to become your mentor: it just happens. So I kinda have a feeling, but I guess I won’t be asking. We’ll have to see. But he talked about personality types (I didn’t even bring that up!) and leadership and nonprofit boards and communications… I felt really glad to have met him, especially given all the bullshit drama I’ve been feeling lately with some of my other friends. I mean, don’t misconstrue here: things are purely platonic, but damn, what a great feeling to make a new, easy, instant friend! I’m going to be in SF again next week, so we’re going to attempt another jam session. Haha.

    In other news, my job hunt is going slowly but surely… The oral/written exam for the city at the end of April went fine. Pretty procedural. Thankfully, my round 2 interview was a lot more personable. I’m supposed to hear in a few weeks they say. And I’m also waiting to hear this week from an area county for a social media gig. Yeah, gov gigs but I’m still pushing the contract/unconventional job angle too…

    Last weekend, I attended an anniversary celebration in Napa for Heifer International. A former coworker’s wife is an area manager for the org, and she introduced me to the executive VP of marketing. I was so stressed about my intro/elevator pitch in meeting the lady, but our conversation went great (not perfect, but better than expected), and I followed up this week with an email and LinkedIn connection. Tomorrow, I’m attending a Women’s Leadership Summit (I know, I am obsessed!!). I’m setting some new intentions to get my name out, pass around my biz cards, and hustle for contract communications/web gigs. We’ll see. I haven’t even figured out what I’m going to wear yet. Maybe my new dress with tights. Gotta be a power playa and all. I’m also considering busting out my new leopard print pumps!

    Later this week, John and I are flying out to Vegas to hit a few national parks in Utah. Yeah, I’ve kinda been on a national parks kick lately. You know what they say: nature helps re-energize and rejuvenate, so that’s the plan. We’ve never been to Utah before. I got sucked in to their big marketing campaign on the Mighty 5 Parks. Love that website. We’re just hitting Zion and Bryce and then returning on Sunday. Weekend warriors. That’s the way we roll.

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