Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sep
28
  • Good Food Takes Time

    One of my favorite pizza joints in San Mateo has this sign next to the register. It’s worded in a rather impolite, unapologetic kinda tone, basically saying that good food takes time. If you want fast, go elsewhere for that shit.

    This weekend, J and I were in Atlanta for my college roommate’s wedding. In undergrad, we were really close. We roomed together for three years, and during the summers away from campus, we wrote each other regularly. She’s the one who showed me how to make my own stationery envelopes out of magazine pages. After college, things changed. She went to med school, then entered residency. She was in the AirForce too, so she moved around every two or thee years. Life was especially hectic and busy for her. Whenever we got a chance to catch up, there were tons of new names, new stories, new travels to keep straight. Her personality seemed to evolve over time too. In college, she was often very last minute and up to the wire. Now, she was an uber planner: shit was plotted meticulously. Perhaps being a physician demanded this.

    Throughout the years, she had numerous relationships. She fell in love easily, and this tempestuous and exciting lifestyle seemed quite glamorous to me. But by our early to mid-30s, I could sense that the routine was wearing on her. The dating, the mismatches, the creeps, the jerks, the nice guys who bored her… I felt her frustration, and I myself couldn’t understand the unfairness in all of this. I mean, how was this gem continually being overlooked? She was smart, assertive, self sufficient, funny, warm, fun… why was her love life such a series of misses? The experience exhausted her and sometimes she would take a break, but invariably, she would get back on the wagon and try again with renewed conviction. Maybe these are the moments when you understand that there is no real choice except to move forward. And voila! Two years ago, she met her match. And what a match S is. When you see the two of them together, the chemistry is palpable. They really complement each other well.

    When I received the wedding invitation a year or so ago and discovered it was a destination wedding in Atlanta, a part of me hesitated. I wondered whether it would really matter if J and I attended. After all, Y and I had mostly lost touch. With some friends, you lose touch and as soon as you meet again, things are just like old times. With Y, I saw her a few years ago, and while we were certainly comfortable, we never quite recaptured that same level of magic and intimacy that we shared in college. Thinking about why, maybe there were things in the past that were said, things that were done, maybe there were aspects of being roommates for three years that just kind of weakened the relationship. I don’t really know. People change and evolve. Friendships ebb and flow. Regardless, I eventually decided that this event was the culmination of a very long and arduous journey for her. She had finally found love, and I really wanted to celebrate this special day with her.

    The party was a huge bash. She’s Puerto Rican. He’s Egyptian. Enough said, right? Friday night, there was a mix and mingle-style dinner at a rooftop restaurant. Saturday night was the ceremony, reception, and dance party. The setting was a swanky hotel downtown, with a terrace nestled among skyscrapers. Awesome. Sunday was brunch. An entire weekend affair. We met her baby boy too, whom she had just birthed four months ago. Monster baby. I mean, I don’t know that much about child development, but last week, I’d just visited my friend, whose baby is 14 months, and Y’s kid is about that size. He looked so heavy hanging in her skinny arms and against her tiny body. But he was very cutely dressed in a tuxedo onesie, and he was impressively well-behaved. There were about 350 guests. We spent most of the evening with our fellow dorm mate, M. Good times.

    Now, I’m on the flight home. And I’m thinking about the journey of finding the right person/job/place/anything. I don’t necessarily think work is at the same level of importance as a partner, but it’s still up there. I met a lot of power players at the wedding: ER surgeons. Dentists. Lawyers. Corporates. The comparison game happens like clockwork. Even though I anticipate the reaction and the pitfall, the response is automatic, practically innate. I’m broken, ordinary, lost, unwanted, unskilled, utterly uncompelling. I know these thoughts do not serve me. I know they are self-destructive. But I am overwhelmed, feeling like I am the only person who has not figured out her life, who has not gotten her shit together. I try my best to pick myself up from feeling broken and insufficient. John always kisses me and tells me not to worry. He claims I’m a late bloomer. One day I will shine. I want to believe, but most days, I don’t. Or most days, I do only briefly… and then I don’t.

    I think about Y and her decade plus-long journey searching for love. At times, she was exasperated. She had her self-doubts, she questioned what was wrong with her. But in the end, she forged ahead and continued to push for what she wanted. Persistence, faith, and conviction. The pot of gold was there at the end of the rainbow.

    Maybe Windy City Pizza is right: good food takes time. If you can’t embrace the process and demonstrate some fucking patience, go eat that frozen Mama Celeste shit. I know, my mind works in bizarro ways. Pizza, marriage, job hunting. It’s all related!

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Sep
25
  • Slacker

    Speaking of my job hunt, the university brought me in for an onsite interview on Thursday. The format was a one-hour panel interview with four peeps on the communications team followed by a one-on-one meeting with the SVP of Marketing and Communications. For some reason, I was really stressed about the whole ordeal.

    And of course the night before, rather than being able to prepare in my usual OCD manner, I was at the vet with Marty who was confirmed to have a bladder infection and kidney infection. The visit was awful. He cried and yelped from the jabbing and poking. More on that later.

    In the end, I felt the panel discussion went pretty well. The one-on-one afterwards? Less so. Maybe I’d lost steam. I didn’t feel like I sold myself enough with examples of my big accomplishments. During part of the conversation, I talked about work-life balance (my insiders said that the university culture isn’t cut throat like Stanford and Berkeley… so don’t come across like a workaholic), and he started asking me specifics about what work-life balance means to me. I said having time OUTSIDE work to cultivate relationships, do activities, events, recreation… stay healthy. He said the position is demanding because the new administration has really ambitious goals. Sure…

    To be honest, it was really odd, because I felt like he was suggesting I was a slacker!! Was this because I said I had left the fuel cell startup due to the chaotic environment and grueling schedule, getting emails and calls from the CEO at all hours of the night? I probably should have just said, it wasn’t the right fit. Still. I have NEVER had anyone suggest laziness on my part EVER. And then he asked about my time commitment… I dunno, the line of questioning was just strange. I said that I understood the job to be full time, so obviously, I plan on working the hours and relegating my extracurricular activities to evenings, weekends, and days off. Then he asked something like, do you have certain constraints with your hours. It was almost as if he was poking around trying to get answers to questions he’s not legally allowed to ask?? But I wasn’t really sure. Was he wanting to ask about kids? elder care responsibilties? What??? I was confused, but hell, I wasn’t going to offer anything additional that I didn’t have to. I just said, “No, not that I’m aware of…”

    Needless to say, that was a really confusing experience, and I’m not sure how much weight he’ll carry on the recruitment. The team is meeting a few other candidates next week, and then hopefully I’ll know.

    After I got home, I was so offended that he seemed to question my work ethic. At the same time though, if I value work-life balance, what’s it to you? Want to downgrade me because I refuse to be EXPLOITED? Because I give a shit about my mental and physical health? Because I care about my work environment and maintaining activities that nourish my soul? Hmm, maybe we need to rethink the fit here. My work speaks for itself. Hmph!

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Sep
24
  • Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

    So remember how I’d rationalized my latest big push in my job search as a good way to practice getting back into the swing of things? Namely, I’d deliberately thrown myself into attending more meetings, and I justified it by saying, “Well surely, my next job will involve a ton of meetings so I might as well start getting back into that (miserable, stab-my-eyes-out) routine.” My fucking god. Is there even such a thing as a good meeting? Are meetings to me like great jobs are to my last info interviewee? Maybe we’re talking unicorns here?

    Last month, for ProMatch, I attended a meeting facilitation workshop. It was actually a very informative class that talked about the differences between giving a speech and facilitating a meeting. With a speech, a subject matter expert, or SME, typically shares information to an audience. With facilitation, the person leads discussion but the “nuggets” of info actually come from the audience. So the facilitator bounces around the room, asking people to get their thinking caps on and actively engage providing feedback. OMFG, did I just say “thinking caps”?? Jesus, did I go to elementary school in the 80’s or what?? Way to date myself.

    So anyway, the facilitation class was good, and afterwards, I was actually curious to try putting the new skills into action. Enter Monday. Yup, I was the facilitator for my co-leaders’ team meeting, involving eight people. I created the agenda and had one hour. Holy crap, facilitation was like herding cats, for real. Some people just don’t care about the schedule and how much time is allotted to each topic. They just like to talk– even if what they are saying is off topic or without substance. I would try to reel them back in, to get back on the agenda but they would just keep going. Fucking defiant. Afterwards, I was so frustrated with the whole experience. Part of the issue? I probably packed too much into the agenda in the first place. Maybe I was overly ambitious. I think some of the veteran co-leaders should have caught that in the beginning and given me advice. Yeah, so I was irked afterwards, but oddly enough, a part of me also wanted to sign up to facilitate again, because shit, I need to get it right!! Yup, see how I really am a glutton for punishment?

    On Tuesday, I met up with my friend B in East Bay. She has been out of the formal workforce for about six years, because she takes care of two little boys. Every time I see her, I get a real glimpse into the parenting lifestyle. Holy crap is it 24/7. Her boys are super sweet, but seriously, between keeping an eye on the toddler and then answering endless questions from her 5-year old, there are zero breaks. Zero. And her patience!! No matter how many questions, she holds a real conversation with the son. I mean, as someone who has been doing all these info interviews and meetings and shit?? Active listening and real conversational engagement takes a shit ton of energy! And now the older son is getting defiant too, so she asks nicely and patiently and then he just ignores her or goes completely against what she says. Yup, I would be flipping my top big time!! Thank goodness I’m not a parent.

    So she had her first interview in many years scheduled for this week. I went over and shared my ProMatch and NOVA info and talked about possible answers to typical questions. It’s always cool to hang with her, but I am noticeably fatigued afterwards…

    On Wednesday, I met up with my esthetician. I don’t see her much anymore, because for some strange reason, my skin has finally decided to cut me a break. Yeah, it only took like 40 years, right? Haha. Actually, I suspect it’s cleared up, because I stopped drinking milk. Remember the good ol’ cereal diet?? Well, I haven’t been on that kick in ages, so I just don’t consume milk anymore. Whaddya know? No more monster boils and cysts on my face. Now I’m all paranoid to even consume almond milk or soy milk… I’m vain like that. I will give up nearly everything and anything food- and drink-wise for good skin. So I caught up with G. She’s a cool chick, but she has a very love hate relationship with people. I know, don’t we all! It seems that people irk her nerves A LOT. I mean, I get it, because I am uber irritable too. And frankly, people are goddamn dumb fucks. That said, sometimes I think our personal sensitivities, no matter how justified, simply do not serve us. It’s kind of like when J or T get super angry about other drivers on the road… Half the time, those people are just oblivious (I’m one of those drivers who pisses people off but didn’t mean to…), so why turn the whole thing into “They did it ON PURPOSE just to anger me”?

    Hell yes, people are ANNOYING. And I definitely have my fights. Hello, Lowes!! But sometimes, you just can’t be mad at everyone. Pick and choose your battles; otherwise, you are really only draining and exhausting yourself.

    I’ll give you another example. On Tuesday night, T and I walked over to Snozen for dessert. It’s a little Chinese dessert shop near the train station. We were walking up the bike ramp, and a disheveled (homeless) guy on a bike was in the street intersection, riding towards the ramp. There was enough time that we would be out of the ramp by the time his bike finished crossing the intersection, but he apparently didn’t think so. From his spot in the intersection, he started cussing at us, saying to get out of the fucking way and how we were so stupid to not see how heavy his load was on the bike… I mean clearly, he had issues. And there was enough time that we weren’t obstructing him! But I just said sorry and kinda chuckled to myself that this dude was crazy and getting worked up over nothing. Well then, T started cussing back at him, and they had this short exchange as he biked the other direction down the ramp! And then she was totally pissed and angry afterwards. Admittedly, part of it for me is that I don’t engage with crazies for fear of escalation. You just never know. The other part is, who cares!! The interaction is 10 secs. He’s just not worth my energy. I have so many other places to dump my negativity (my brother, ahem!). Anyway, it was an interesting experience, and had I been with John, he probably would have talked back also, especially given his driving incident exchange with the Chinese mom at my ranch.

    On Wednesday afternoon, I went to an environmental NGO in Santa Clara. Some people at ProMatch volunteer there, and I’m considering joining them so I can build my Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Kit skills. So the gig is like 10 hrs/week commitment, and I figured I’d meet a few people and then be done. Well, I was there for about 2.5 hours, and I met 3 people including the ED and the Board Chair. And with each one, I went through the whole spiel: my background, my qualifications, why them, why me, etc. All for an UNPAID volunteer gig. I suppose the good news is that they liked me enough to invite me to join as a business dev manager (minimum 20 hrs/week) managing a team of 5 account managers. Or maybe they invite everyone, since it’s free labor. I dunno. Either way, kinda flattering. But I’m thinking I want to keep my volunteer hours low, so my plan is still to start with the Salesforce implementation and then see if I want to expand later. After all, I’m still hustling for paid jobs.

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Sep
20
  • Nerd at Heart

    This afternoon I met a fellow ProMatcher for an info interview. I know, it’s the weekend and some people might suggest that I take a frickin’ break. What can I say, I’m intense. The thing is, I’m considering volunteering for a sustainability nonprofit, where I can learn about Salesforce for Nonprofits implementation… This ProMatcher has been volunteering for the org the last several months, so I wanted to pick her brain about that experience. She herself is quite Type A and apparently, today was the only time she had free in like a week. Anyhow, the conversation was super helpful. She is a former project manager, so I felt like she gave very organized and thoughtful feedback, even down to specifying the pros and cons for me. It was nice to receive information in such digestible chunks, actually. I read something recently saying that listening is super exhausting. And that’s so true. Having all these interviews and info interviews where I really have to concentrate, listen, and then respond accordingly with smart, relevant questions… no wonder I feel so damn tired!!

    So back to this vol opp I’m considering: moving forward, I think if I can clearly define how many hours and what duration I’m willing to commit, this could be a very strategic opportunity where I learn the skills I’ve been wanting to learn and I can make connections with other key entities. You see, this org is a consortium of corporate, government, NGO partners, so I think there will be lots of potential contacts into philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. That’s the hope anyway. I plan to decide in the next day or two.

    In other news, oddly but thankfully, Martin is finally calming the fuck down. The last two days, we’ve had zero incidents with anxiety, so maybe his issue was just a passing thing? No idea. But the vet finally got back to me, and if the weird behavior comes back, we have a few options. Meanwhile, I’m convinced my strategy of spraying a sock with lavender essential oil and wrapping it under his collar was the solution. Haha!

    As for the flea dilemma, I am still keeping up with the daily vacuuming and brushing. I’m also trying the additional precaution of sprinkling salt all over the floors to dehydrate any remaining survivors. I’m hoping for complete and lasting eradication very soon. Goddamn, those pests have been a major pain!

    John and I went for a bike ride this afternoon. We just rode around Mountain View near the Google campus. Turns out there’s some “Beyond Wonderland” electronica festival going on at Shoreline Amphitheater this weekend. I’d heard about it the night before on the news, and at the time, I thought: wow, that could be really fun. Well thank goodness, that was the end of my musings because shit, in Mountain View we got a nice slice of the attendee demographic. Let’s just say, it’s a lot like Halloween. Yes, ladies (many of them girls) wearing super risque, raunchy outfits with bunny ears. I suppose the rabbit ears are part of the Alice in Wonderland theme? I don’t really know, but that small glimpse was a good reminder. Indeed, I am way too prudish for that kind of bullshit. Plus, the music went on from like noon through 11p! Surely, I would have overdosed on electronica just a few hours in. Sigh. Like I said, I’m just not made for this world. Shrug. I’m a nerd at heart.

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Sep
19
  • Sleepy

    I’ve been feeling super tired lately. The last time I was this damn tired, I had a gas leak in the house. Haha, yeah, I suppose I should get PGE out here again just to double check for that, huh.

    The more likely story though, is that I have been doing a lot. Stepping up at ProMatch has demanded a few extra hours per week. A friend of mine, who is a leadership trainer and coach, just launched a virtual “mastermind” class so I’m now reading John Maxwell’s book, Becoming a Person of Influence (and I’m a super slow reader) plus participating on weekly group calls. You know me, anytime I hear about some opportunity to learn about leadership and shit, I get sucked in. Never mind that I hate interactive, small group learning formats. The first class was Wednesday night, and there was the whole “go around and introduce yourself and tell why you are participating” exercise. I want to support my friend, but I have done similar setups before, and I dunno, it’s just not my thing. Can’t quite put a finger on it. I know I’m super candid and open about sharing personal junk in my blog, but there’s just something about the two-way exchange, talking about personal growth with strangers. Whatever. It’s only four sessions, so not a huge deal. But yeah, I’m up late tonight staying on top of the readings and such. I know, it’s the nerd inside me: I take my assignments seriously.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that at ProMatch, I also joined a “Success Team,” which is essentially a group of six people who meet every week to check in on their job searches. Frankly, I’m pretty motivated and driven solo: I don’t really feel a need to have accountability partners, but the experts say there are a host of benefits to these groups. I’m hoping I’ll gain additional feedback or insights on my job process techniques. Maybe they’ll be able to help me optimize, or they’ll introduce me to contacts. I dunno. In the very least, the people are self-selected, meaning people mutually choose who they want on their team. So I jive with my peeps pretty well, and all of them seem really motivated. We’ll see how this goes for me.

    This morning, I was so pissy. I swear to god, every year Bridge School irks my nerves. I logged in right at ten to get tickets, and John was telling me get the good seats. Well, the clock must have been like 10:00:05, and the supposed best seats were already all the way in the corner, just a few rows before lawn?!?!? Surely, there was some mistake, so I tried again, this time specifically selecting the highest priced tier. I should have known better and just opened a new tab, but I didn’t. And then I never got into the system again. Fucking A!! I’m such an idiot. I think something very similar happened two years ago too. I was so incredulous that five seconds after tickets went on sale, the best seats were so far near the back, that I was convinced something was wrong with the website. Then I lost my place in the queue and got screwed. Argh.

    Today, I thought I would try to win tickets from the radio station, but then I didn’t ever turn on the radio. Whatevs. I only feel badly because we were supposed to go with John’s sis and her beau. My bad. She ended up getting lawn tickets maybe through StubHub or something. Event tickets are so ridic expensive. I’m really annoyed by it. I mean, are people really dropping like $500 pp at these auction sites?? Too cray for me. I’d rather go on a trip. I know, I’m so damn judgey! Ha.

    After that whole fiasco, I had a phone interview 30 min later for an assistant director of social media gig at an area university. I had applied last week by emailing the hiring manager directly and attaching all my docs. That’s my new MO now. I try to bypass the job system black hole by just skipping straight to the decision maker. Of course, after I didn’t hear back from her in a few days, I did go ahead and also submit through the automated system. I dunno. I kinda likened it to government jobs. They’re very “by the book.” That said, I’m convinced reaching out to her directly still helped draw some additional attention to my materials.

    Anyway, the call went well. She’s a little concerned about the salary– again significantly lower than my past gigs, but I’m actually kinda stoked about working in higher education and academia. Though the salary sucks, the other benefits (including tuition for classes) seem pretty cool. Plus, the lady just sounded like a really cool boss. And the role is on a small and nimble communications team… I would get a lot of opportunity to do a lot of different things and to implement creative ideas. So we’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed for an onsite interview.

    What else. I had another info interview this afternoon. I’m up to like 45 info interviews now. The lady was very kind to meet with me, but she was pretty adamant about her job “just being a job”– and not her life. She said something about how some people have all these unrealistic notions about waking up everyday excited and motivated to go to work… I interrupted her right then and there and said, “I’m one of those people.” The thing is, my last job WAS that way for a long time. I really loved my job. And no joke, every Sunday night, I was excited about the weekend being over, because I could go back to work… Obviously, things changed and that’s why partly why I left but yeah, I want to wake up eager to get to work and happy to move the needle in some small way. I also want to be inspired by my colleagues and by the leadership. That’s what I want, and I’m not going to settle or apologize for aiming high. Anyway, it was an interesting conversation… and a good reminder that we’re all different with what we want to get out of life.

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Sep
16
  • Rough New Week

    This week is off to a rough start. On Monday, I finally got word from the environmental NGO with whom I had been interviewing since July. After four meetings, it turns out that leadership has decided to switch gears, so that position? It’s gone. Vanished. Well until 2016 or so. The CTO (Chief Tech Officer) suggested that a different role requiring different skills might arise in the meantime, so if I’m interested, let’s talk. That said, at this point, the new role is only conceptual, and the org will require quite a bit of patience from now until an actual job requisition materializes. I was pretty bummed with the news, even if the change didn’t necessarily reflect badly on my candidacy. Still. Sometimes, after facing so many rejections, it’s hard NOT to be uber dramatic and think to myself, “I will seriously never get another job again.” I know, I said I was being dramatic. Sigh.

    John keeps reminding me: I’m seeking very specific jobs with very specific organizations. He’s right, but heck, just let me be a drama queen for a sec, would ya? ;)

    Thankfully, the more positive side of my brain hasn’t totally died. On the plus side, after all these visits to the city for events and interviews and hustling, frankly, I was starting to re-think my target organizations. because shit, SF is frickin’ far!! So now, unless the org is walking distance to SF Caltrain, SF is a dealbreaker. I know, I just keep narrowing the field even more, but what can I say: commuting sucks and I value work-life balance. Haha. Apparently, beggars can still be choosers in my book!! So I am refocusing my energies now on the peninsula and South Bay. I mean, I’ve already expanded my net beyond philanthropy and corporate social responsibility (CSR) to include non-government orgs (NGOs), so surely, there are a shit ton of places within a 30-minute radius.

    In other news, I delivered my first workshop today for ProMatch. The tech services team was asked to deliver a training on designing and creating business cards, a critical tool for job hunting. The slidedeck was pretty much already created: I just did a few content tweaks and updates, and then I reformatted to get all the font/spacing consistent. I co-presented with a veteran ProMatcher– a genius guy with a gabillion tech certifications behind his name, not to mention decades of experience working in Asia… Very nice guy, but he likes to talk. A lot. You know how I am with my tight-ass, urgent nature. Gotta be all efficient and shit. I swear impatience is my biggest flaw. Anyhow, the 2-hour session went well. We had an audience of about 14 people, and the feedback was positive. Whew! Done. I will say, this really was the first time EVER that I did not get nervous at all. I suppose all this ongoing desensitization and playing outside of my comfort zone has really paid off. Thank god I wasn’t burdened with the inconvenience of public speaking anxiety today. Yay. Very liberating.

    Of course, just as I myself am conquering my anxieties, Martin is turning into an entirely different dog. Holy shit. Remember how mellow and laid back he used to be? After Reno, he did great for about a day, and then yesterday was a total disaster. Throughout the night, he abruptly got up and ran outside. He had his tail between his legs, and he was clearly freaked out about something. He was pacing around all unsettled, and then the panting and full-body trembling began. All last night, no one in the house got any sleep. This morning, I got up to prep for the presentation in the afternoon, and despite getting a few hours of rest from 9-11a, Martin again started freaking out before noon. Restless, anxious, shaking, panting. WTH??? I called the vet and left messages. Now it’s 10p, and still no call back yet. Meanwhile, I put on his ThunderShirt (same idea as swaddling a baby), tried to distract him with treats (first time he rejected food), and then even sprayed a sock with lavender and tucked it under his collar. By the time I had to leave for ProMatch, he was calming down a little, but still. This is so worrisome. John even came home from work early. Since then, Martin’s been better. If anything, I think he is physically exhausted from being so damn tense and high strung all night and day. John’s been reading about old age and senility in dogs. Symptoms include zoning out, trembling, disorientation, among other things. I really just don’t want to deal with this right now. I know Remy’s passing was many months ago, so I kind of had a break and I should be all bounced back by now. But I’m not. I feel so much dread just thinking about Martin growing old and having issues. Sigh. I know, I’m a goddamn control freak. I like want to “schedule” Martin’s aging process. I’m such a dumbass sometimes.

    In general, I have to admit, I’ve been feeling a kind of baseline anxiety the last few months. I’ve lost my appetite and dropped a few pounds– not that I’m complaining. But there’s just this chronic tension. Sometimes the self-doubt comes up again. For example, with my project management abilities. Isn’t that the super skill I’ve been marketing all this time? Multi-tasking, keeping all these concurrent projects moving. And yet, dad’s condo is still not rented, my rental property repair is still not done, I have no job, and Marty’s issues are unresolved…

    Tomorrow, I have a few classes. Maybe they will re-inspire me and get me back on track. I’m also exploring the consulting angle a bit… I’m meeting a fellow ProMatcher tomorrow who wanted to talk with me about his sales/marketing consulting biz. Also, remember the cowboy I’d met weeks ago who commented on my boots? He’s the GM of a local theater in San Jose. We’re meeting next week to talk about helping him market the venue and maybe work on the website… so we’ll see what happens. Gotta keep plugging away.

    I recently submitted a few more apps for jobs in the South Bay. I’m actually pretty excited about this latest batch, because they feel like a strong fit for my skills and interests. I made John review my latest round (he hasn’t been subjected to this for a long while), and he actually had zero suggestions. In fact, he said my materials were a lot more compelling than before. Hurray for progress! Let’s hope I get some new bites soon.

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Sep
14
  • Long Road Ahead

    A few years ago, I remember it was early March– March 8 to be exact– and I had wanted to go out to lunch with some of my female coworkers to celebrate International Women’s Day. Most of my closest friends know that I self-identify as a feminist, as I believe in social, political, and economic equality for all, but I remember that one of my colleagues replied to my invite with, “I don’t get feminism. I mean, I don’t really see that it’s relevant at all in this day and age.” I tried to remain calm, but man, that comment just irked the shit out of me. Really? You really think women have the same access, opportunity, and respect as men? Puhlease. Wake the hell up. Women still have a super long way to go: unequal pay for the same work. Little/no female (not to mention minority) representation in the higher echelons of corporate America. Women politicians like Hillary Clinton are still repeatedly having to field questions about what they are wearing (whereas male politicians can stick straight to business). Women continue to be bullied/harassed in the tech “brogrammer” culture. Viagra has always been covered by insurance but birth control? Super controversial and only recently recognized as basic, preventative healthcare thanks to Obamacare. Uh, lame, insulting, inadequate punishment for rape. Persistent “rape culture” and sexual violence epidemic on college campuses. The list goes on…

    Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this unrelenting and pervasive violence against women. And I’m not just talking about the egregious, nearly incredulous brutalities in far away places like war-torn areas of Africa where rape is systematically used as a tactic in war, or in India where women are raped/killed on public buses or raped/hung going to the bathroom in the middle of the night… No. Violence against women is happening everywhere, in every country, even in our own communities. For example, in nearby San Leandro, the police were recently busted for participating in a human trafficking, drug, and prostitution ring. Last summer, SF-based RadiumOne’s CEO was caught ON VIDEO beating his girlfriend more than 117 times for 30 minutes straight. He never apologized and in fact, he even tried to justify his rage, going on Twitter to explain that “she had unprotected sex with people for money.” Who the fuck does he think he is? He’s professionally successful, so he’s entitled to beat someone to a bloody pulp because she “provoked” him? For reasons unknown, she eventually refused to testify against him, and the damning video was thrown out on a legal technicality. I don’t want to judge why women stay with their abusers or why they back out of testifying or pressing charges, but shit, something is just so abhorrently wrong with the system when a guy is recorded on video beating the shit out of someone, and he gets ZERO jail time. Why are we not absolutely outraged by this?? He lost his job. Boo, hoo. He still retains tons of stock in the company, and more importantly, the guy is walking free, still unapologetic, still cocky as hell, and still carrying some form of professional/societal legitimacy. WTF?

    Then this whole Ray Rice deal. Wow, if he knocks her out in a public setting, I don’t even want to know what happens behind closed doors when all the filters are off. Ugh. I’ve read countless articles on the Ray-Janay situation. There’s so much blame on her for not leaving him. Shit, as if she deserves to be beaten because this is the path she has chosen. If only spousal violence were that cut and dry, that fucking black and white. Anyway, I thought this article was especially sobering. Violence against women builds in environments and cultures where women are disrespected and where there is a desensitization to violence. Don’t even get me started on the modern-day gladiator sport of football. Can we really be surprised that these gigantic men who are trained day in and day out to ram their bodies into one another cannot control how they wield their force off the field? Sure, I want to believe in gentle giants, in big teddy bears. But training and habits are powerful influencers. After all, how does the military get ordinary humans to do the dirty work that they do? Training, desensitization, and psychological manipulation. As for the random tech CEO or whatever? I dunno. Can we maybe point to violence against women in gaming or sexism in the brogrammer culture? I want to know what ever happened to this Russian telecom millionaire. Last I heard, he was on the run after beating the shit out of his girlfriend. Seriously, the pictures are straight out of an alien movie. Makes me so f-ing sick to my stomach.

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Sep
13
  • Progress + Party

    So John and I tested out the new grill by cooking up some steak and burgers. Very nice. John and I were impressed not only by the power of that appliance (the thing sure heats up fast), but there are also some nice touches under the hood. I like to see my Bubbey happy and excited about his new toys.

    And on the plus side for all of us, my case with Lowe’s is now closed. The last few days, there were still a couple of rounds of back and forth with the Rave and Rants site, because I had requested that Lowe’s consider comping us a grill cover. Not surprisingly, I received no response to my inquiry (originally made offline). I then posted to the site and was told I’d receive a call within 24 hours. A day later, no response, so I posted again. Yesterday, I got the cover. Sheesh!

    So yes, in the end, Lowe’s got ‘er done, but wow, that required a ton of calls and a lot of leg work. Little do they know, John’s nickname for me is Brenda the bulldog. When all was said and done, I did get $130 off the grill plus the free cover. As part of the original offer, there was free shipping, free assembly, and free haul away. Not bad, but even so, I’m pretty sure I will never buy from Lowe’s again. Yes, even the deal maven has her limits. Seriously. A part of me actually feels really sad for the company. When I worked for the fuel cell company, Lowe’s was one of our target customers. The executives were the nicest people, and with the company headquartered in North Carolina (where I went to undergrad), I kinda liked their story and vibe. Not anymore. I suppose now they are just like so many of those impersonal big box stores: scaled too quickly and just lost operational efficiency and competence. I mean, the Rant and Rave site really highlights major systemic problems. Oh well. I’ve washed my hands of that mess. Incidentally, people seem to LOVE Home Depot, so I guess I’ll have to try them for next time.

    In other news, I had two info interviews this week plus an onsite interview with a tech nonprofit in SF. The meeting with the marketing director went well, and afterwards, I was passed along to another person on the 5-member team. I’m hopeful, but trying to manage expectations. After all, I’ve had lots of “good” interviews with no offer at the end of the rainbow.

    ProMatch is keeping me super busy. I stepped up to a team co-leader role two weeks ago, and then I also agreed to deliver a workshop training on designing business cards. We had a dry run yesterday that well, took forever. It’s always challenging working with people of differing styles and personalities. Good practice for me, I suppose.

    I also registered for a class on leadership and influence run by a coaching friend of mine. It’s a Skype-style class where you read a book and then hop online to discuss once a week for four weeks. I’m curious to see how that pans out. So yeah, I am still meeting new people, applying for jobs, participating in ProMatch, and building new skills. At this point, I really am thinking about alternate routes though. Yeah, my mind is really restless these days.

    Oh well, this weekend we are having a small party to unveil the new grill. People are coming over in a few. We haven’t hosted a party in ages… partly because of my jobless shame issues, but I’m over it now. My new themes are focused on self acceptance and living the unconventional life. Haha. More thoughts on that later.

    Btw, earlier this week, I had been lamenting my frustration with the job hunt to R, my former boss. He’s also job hunting and having similarly disappointing experiences– feeling like the interviews went well but then, no offer. Anyway, I expressed some irritation with people seeking employees that fit tightly and neatly into their exact little job description box. Sometimes, I wonder if they even want to hire people who think for themselves. Admittedly, I was feeling rather bitter. R replied “Don’t feel bitter – there’s no reason to since nature gave you everything anyone could ever want and things will work out before too long.” So true. This is yet another example of just how R gets things. His advice is so wise. Everyday, I am a work in progress. I know that my impatience and anxiety does not serve me. I need to calm down and then think clearly and strategically.

    It’s kinda funny though. I told him how my most recent pie-in-the-sky dream is to be a writer/pro-blogger. He suggested that I go ahead and start a blog to see what happens. Haha, little does he know. I have been blogging since 2003. I might just have to let him in on my Giddy Go, Cowgirl secret. Sometimes, I wonder how people who know me will feel about being mentioned on my blog…. Muhahaha. Kinda makes things interesting.

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Sep
10
  • Project Management

    In addition to my very aggressive job hunt, I have been managing a number of other projects that quite frankly, are irking my nerves. First, I got my parents signed up with a tenant placement service. Things started off well the first few days, and then, there was an edit to the listing that took a few days to get done. Also, the property was supposed to be listed on a bunch of sites. When I checked, it didn’t come up on search… I think those things have been resolved now, but still. Takes poking and prodding, which is annoying this early in the game. Anyhow, the place is posted. Know anyone seeking a furnished 1 bedroom condo in Washington? Check out the listing. Btw, the price rocks considering that the location is superb.

    Second, I’ve been feuding for the last week with Lowe’s. It’s a very long story, but pretty much we’re dealing with a broken ordering/shipping/customer service system. I was so discouraged by the incompetence, that I turned to twitter to seek resolution. I just wanted to have someone answer the damn phone, but instead, they directed me to a Rant and Rave website. Are you f-ing serious? Fine. So I posted my story. The grill was ordered at the end of August to capstone our anniversary. I think there were at least five failed attempts to deliver the item, meaning the store and/or shipping company said it would arrive, I stayed home, and then no one showed up. No call, no nothing. Fuckers. The good news is that the grill finally arrived today. We’ll see whether it turns our food into magic!

    IhateLowes

    I HATE Lowe’s.

    Third, I’ve also been dealing with poor communication and insufficient information with my property management company back East. Up until now, I was actually really happy with their service, but in the last month, our house started having water leaks in the chimney and roof. The agent got ONE estimate to replace the roof. Then, he sent me a shitload of images of the roof and chimney. Uh, I have no idea what I am looking at. Back and forth several times, and I ask for a second quote as well as explanation for what these photos are showing me. I receive a few email replies that give updates on calls put in to contractors and the HOA, but no answer to my more urgent concern requesting interpretation/advice as part of their service. One month later, I finally get clarification that there is a fix that will last a few years and NOT require complete roof replacement. We are proceeding with that route. Meanwhile, I voiced my displeasure to the maintenance lead and the agent. No calls back regarding their inadequate service. Goddamn. I might have to start shopping around for another management company. Fucking pain in the ass.

    Fourth, Marty and his bizarre anxiety/trembling. The night we returned from Reno, he conked out pretty quickly, but Monday night, the trembling was back again. I put on the ThunderShirt which helped, but still didn’t make it go away. I re-did his bed, and laid down my old, pink bath robe that Remy used to sleep on in her later years. He seemed to settle down a bit. I called the vet tech, and she said it’s pretty hard to say with the older dogs. Could be pain, could be arthritis, could be anxiety. Well, that narrows things down. Sigh. Interestingly, last night, he had no trembling at all, so maybe it WAS anxiety? I dunno. I’ll monitor again tonight. Meanwhile, his flea meds are working wonders. He’s scratching a whole lot less these days. As for me, I still get occasional bites, but I have been vacuuming like a fiend again, so hopefully, that issue will go away very soon.

    Ok. Time to crank out some more apps. I had a phone screen last night for a product marketing manager role at a tech nonprofit in SF. Tomorrow, I will meet the hiring director for an interview. Also, I cold emailed the Executive Director of a tech nonprofit in Milpitas. We’re meeting for coffee on Friday. Yup, still hustling.

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Sep
8
  • Reno Balloon Race

    So thrilled my camera captured this in the darkness!

    So thrilled my camera captured this in the darkness!

    On Friday morning, I realized that the Reno Balloon Race was this weekend. Ever since our amazing trip to ABQ a few Octobers ago, I just have a thing for hot air balloons. Not to go up in one (I’m scared of heights), but just to watch them glow and ascend at dawn. It’s such a peaceful and beautiful experience. So at dinner on Friday night, John and I had a conversation about life and “making it count.” Every time we see our parents, the visit makes us re-evaluate our own lives. I’ve mentioned it before about how my father was obsessed with working, learning, optimizing, improving… A few years ago, I asked him about life regrets. He replied that he wished he had started investing in stocks and understanding the financial markets sooner rather than beginning at 40 years old. Really dad? Your regret is about not building more wealth? Yes, I judged his reply. But looking back, I don’t want to make it seem like my father is superficial. He grew up extremely poor as a child of farmers. First to go to college. First to go to med school. First to leave the island. On the contrary, I am someone who grew up with the privilege that my parents created for me, so I don’t want to dismiss how transformative and impactful money can be. After all, even as I pursue opportunities in philanthropy and nonprofit, I am seeing that influence and change ultimately boil down to money– having the resources to build capacity. And my father to this day, continues to use his resources to benefit his immediate family, his extended family, and causes important to him. I get that. The interesting thing though, is that even though my father’s response was monetary, I feel like there an unspoken answer that’s equally front-of-mind: his shitty relationships with his kids. He never verbalizes this, but I feel it myself: a sadness over the loss of something that just cannot be found again. Some people ask if it’s a lost childhood, because he missed so many activities and school events due to work… I sense that parenting is different now with parents attending ALL the games and recitals and whatever. For me, I never really expected him to be there. I suppose I was independent in that sense. But surely, those absences played a role in creating a rather detached and unengaged relationship. It just is what it is.

    I’m a strong believer in cultivating relationships and in self-nourishment through doing activities that you love. And yet, I keep applying to jobs… in areas that I believe in, yes, but also I’m trying so hard to fit my square peg into a round hole. I am gaining more traction on the job hunt, but still, there is no cigar!! And I feel tired. Tired to tweaking and re-tweaking myself and my materials to make my candidacy more appealing, more in line with what people are seeking. Goddamn, sometimes I feel like I’m participating in modern-day dating or something!!

    Over dinner last Friday, John put it to me straight. Money is not an issue for us. We are lucky that way. And without kids, we really do have flexibility, so what is the life we really want? This is our opportunity. How do we NOT squander it?

    I always say that in my dreams, I would be a writer. I say it like it’s some lofty, unattainable thing. Like when kids say they want to be Batman or something. I never give myself legitimacy as a real writer. Yet, the truth is, I AM a writer in reality. Right now.  I have been writing since childhood. Summer jobs, real jobs, jobs for my parents… I have always written. Even when I think about my current job hustle, I have actually been hustling since high school and college. I used to mail hundreds of letters and resumes out to companies just to convince them to give me a summer internship. In my adult life, I have used my writing to talk about cool engineering innovations, to craft advocacy messages, to tell entertaining stories, to engage others. I carry around in my head that one day I’ll work as a pro-blogger. But John pointed out: how will that happen if you never make your writing/blogging your central focus? If I really want to be a writer, why not just do that and commit to that?

    Turns out, this highlights another conflict I have with myself. I’m an idealist, but I’m also a pragmatist. I can’t possibly be a writer/pro-blogger; after all, that idea feels even more far-fetched than me securing a job in philanthropy and corporate social responsibility and I feel like I have the credentials and skills for the latter!! Who is a writer? I don’t even know any writers among my friends, and how would I earn a living? No one pays for content anymore. Look at all those journalism school grads unable to find work. It’s just too much of a stretch.

    At the same time, I hear what John is saying. Why am I chasing all these other things? For whom am I chasing? Money is not an issue for survival, and yet money to me means: 1) independence/freedom 2) accomplishment 3) legitimacy. This whole struggle I have had with shame from being unemployed… turns out, I actually give a shit about what other people think! I hate to admit this, and I probably only just realized it now. So many thoughts are going through my head. I still want to work in philanthropy. Getting my nonprofit management certificate really energized me about working in that sector. I still like to solve problems and get things done. But if no one will hire me, how do I create an avenue for myself? I think about how much I’ve been hustling… just to get a job to work for someone else. What if I hustle for myself, for my own business, or for my blog? I dunno. I’m overwhelmed, but I want to take heed. Somehow, I just really want to make this life count.

    Needless to say, the dinner conversation touched off a ton of reflection. I want to do better. The question is how. Incidentally, in a moment of distraction, I told John about the Reno Balloon Race. Immediately, he suggested that we go. Mind you, by that time, it was about 9p on Friday night, and Reno is like 4 hours away. No matter. He got the idea in his head, and we mobilized. Packed our things, Martin, and off we went. I booked a hotel in the car. We were feeling pretty proud of ourselves for being all spontaneous and decisive and shit. And then Martin started getting super anxious in the car: panting, trembling…. wtf? It got so bad that we stopped at a random gas station in the middle of the night outside Sacramento (with lots of cop cars pulling in and out). I dunno what was going on. I got out of the car to let Martin out. I had taken off my shoes, and I stepped right onto a pavement littered with dry bird shit. Argh. We walked him and sat with him until he calmed down. But shit, we almost took him to an emergency vet that night.

    He has definitely become more skittish since Remy died, but I never coddled Martin about it. And then, he seemed worse after the Napa earthquake. I just took him to the vet last Wednesday, and she gave him a total clean bill of health! I had mentioned the anxiety but I thought it was due to the earthquake, and I actually didn’t think of it as a new condition… Well, clearly now this is a new condition. So the rest of the drive was super touch and go. By the time we arrived at the hotel, it was past 2a. The receptionist suggested not even going to bed, because the balloon events were slated to start at 5a and she said we would need to leave the house at 3:30a because of traffic. Say what?? We didn’t listen to her. We went to bed and then when the alarm woke us at 3:30a, we decided to sleep in and catch the morning activities on Sunday instead. All three of us slept like rocks, and boy did it feel good. That stressful drive really tuckered us out.

    Aside from Martin, the weekend was a lovely getaway. I know, no decisions on my job/writing/blogging/consulting paths forward, but heck, we had a fun time watching balloons! Full Flickr album here. Video playlist here.

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