Monthly Archives: November 2014

  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

    It’s been awhile since J and I traveled to Asia together: I visited the fam two years ago, and J was last there four years ago. Since 2009, I’d actually made a concerted effort to go back every year, but my last trip in 2012 was so damn annoying that I decided to take a break. This time around, I was feeling my usual dread about my upcoming “vacation.” I guess old habits die hard. Then, on the day of our departure, J and I had a talk about living with more positivity. So, we decided to make this trip an experiment and to be mindful about our negativity.

    Eleven days later, I’m happy to report that having a better attitude changes many things. Overall, the trip went well. No arguments, no drama. Still exhausting as hell shuttling around from place to place, but the trip was pretty much as optimized as it could be. Taiwan has a great public transportation system, with the high-speed rail running almost the entire length of the island and metro systems in its two largest cities of Taipei and Kaohsiung. Transportation by car though, is a challenge. People drive super slow: the speed limit is only about 60 mph (compared to how J and I zip around way ABOVE the speed limit in Cali). And traffic is pretty bad, so even if distances aren’t far, shit takes forever. I won’t bore you with the play-by-plays, but we pretty much stayed at a different place every night, and each day, we spent at 3-5 hrs. in transit. The good news? My family is doing well. We had a good time hanging out with my parents, seeing their new house in Kaohsiung, visiting my relatives, and stuffing our faces along the way. I got my hair highlighted at a little shop in dad’s hometown. The hair appointments in Asia ALWAYS take double the quoted time. Haha. I was getting antsy sitting in that chair, burning up under the plastic sheet. The color and cut came out fine. Nothing superb, but good enough. Either way, it’s nice to wash my hair and not have the dye still come out like when I color at home. At the end of the week, my fav cousin drove us around to little food stalls and area landmarks. Three of my cousins also recently moved to new homes, so we did a lot of property visits, which I always enjoy. It’s like being on an HGTV show or something. Haha. :) Nah honestly, it was great to see the standards of living going up from generation to generation. One of my cousins has two little boys, both under 3 and her place is so crazy ass immaculate. By the looks of it, I couldn’t even tell that people lived there! No knick knacks whatsoever on the surfaces and lots of cabinets for storage! Even all the kids toys were stuffed away in the kitchen cabinets. I want to get more organized.

    My parents are doing ok. I am, however, noticing some things are starting to slip with my dad. He got our arrival date mixed up, so when we arrived in TPE airport, he thought we were due to arrive the next day. There were a few other things too, but I could also see that he’s just juggling too much right now. That shit happens to me also. When I’m managing too much, shit falls through the cracks (e.g. Verizon charges). And J and I were so exhausted shuttling all across the island… I can’t imagine how tiring it is for people in their late 60s and early 70s. My dad seriously needs to slow the fuck down.

    Other news: We didn’t really interact much with my brother. Just a few minutes of conversation here and there. He didn’t travel with us at all when we went south, and on our last day in Taipei, he did his own thing. Just as well. This was the first time EVER that my parents said absolutely NOTHING about me giving him advice or trying to reconnect with him. Thank goodness. I think they are finally starting to see: there’s no point in arguing over someone who just doesn’t want to change.

    A part of me does feel sad though about the deterioration of that relationship. Yet at the same time, I feel it’s something that just cannot be repaired. And for all parties involved, it’s just most civil to let things be. He tries to converse and engage, but the best I can do is maintain a civility and distance. There’s just too much pain and history. I don’t think he is malicious, but how does a selfish person become more giving and generous? It just doesn’t happen. My mother goes with him to some of the religious activities. I think she gets something out of it, so good for her. Her relationship with my dad is well, like most old married couples, I suppose. They are both just so damn naggy with one another. J joked that this trip really helped him understand some of my proclivities: the constant urgency and hustle from my father; the backseat driving style from my mother; the obsession with discounts (my dad is so thrilled to get half-off train/bus tickets for being a senior)… I try to learn what I can from watching my parents’ relationship. They love each other, but shit, they spend way too much time together. And, as I’ve observed before, I really hate how my mother is unable to do anything on her own… she’s so clearly codependent and over-reliant on my dad. Ah well, a different time, a different place, and different people. But when I see them, I definitely make mental notes and start immediate course corrections to nip that shit in the bud. To my credit, J says my nagging has definitely cut down A LOT. I give props to my therapist from two years ago for that. She really made me see how some of my standards were just arbitrary and yet super damaging to our relationship. Live and learn, baby!

    On that happy note, here are pics from Taiwan. Until the plugin ups their max number of pics, here’s a link to the full set on Flickr.

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  • No Complaints

    A couple of my friends recently became mothers.They’re a few months in now, and I have to say, despite all the horror stories I heard from other acquaintances about parenthood, my two buds Y and G haven’t complained yet. Rather, they are so thrilled and over-the-moon for their little bundles. Not that the others weren’t happy about becoming parents, but I just distinctly remember my coworkers and acquaintances bemoaning the sleep deprivation and round-the-clock care their little babies demanded. Maybe, as a child-free person, I only heard what I wanted to hear? I dunno, but based on those stories, I was pretty certain both buds were in for a very rude awakening.

    When my friend said she was planning a weekend escape to Vegas with the hubby and new baby, I was skeptical. All the logistics: packing, plane travel, dining out, breastfeeding… really?? Thankfully, a week later, I was pleasantly surprised that baby’s first trip was a huge success. Instead of schlepping all the baby equipment, they just rented swings and shit. They ate out, they hung out by the pool, and the baby was fine. No out-of-control incidents. Wow. The disparity between my expectation and her reality got me thinking: are some people just major complainers (myself possibly included)? Do they just drum up drama everywhere they go? Eek.

    I dunno, but curiously, both buds are physicians. Is there maybe something about the medical schooling, training, and the profession that focuses them away from the bullshit negativity and strictly towards solving problems and getting shit done? I see a similar trait in my father. Well, more so now than before I guess.

    Is the difference attributed to personality and attitude? A month ago, on my trip to Seattle, I was probably talking about my job hunt, and G said something to the effect of, “Yes, but you like a certain bit of stress.” She ended up rephrasing, but I caught her drift. In some bizarre way, it’s almost as if I am driven to some extent by stress. I think her rephrasing was more just that I always have a baseline level of urgency.

    That weekend, G was waking up every two hours to feed, her husband was already off of paternity leave and back to working full time… I was there right in the middle of a very busy and transitional time, and yet being in their home, I noticed very little visible frustration. Things still got done, the dog still got walked, and everything was calm. In my mind, I contrasted that to my home where John and I are frequently irritated with work, with people, with vendors, whatever. We sigh a lot and are visibly cranky and tired. Such a stark difference.

    I’m nearly always stressed about something. Lately, it’s been about Marty, my dad’s condo, my new job, J’s job/stress, whatever. I often think back to when I was growing up: my dad worked insane hours for his job, which was already an intense profession, and then he still had a gabillion other things going on, plus he was helping his family back home with their debts and money issues. He never lost his shit with his parents or his siblings. He never dreaded or complained about helping them. I’m ALWAYS complaining about the tasks I do for my parents. Shouldn’t I just be happy to help? I’m eager and willing to help my friends, so why am I so begrudging with my parents?

    The thing is, everyone has her issues and problems. That said, maybe life really is about how we handle these challenges. I need to divert my negative energy from worry and anger and frustration to more positive things like solving problems, making progress, and getting shit done. J warns that personality probably plays a big role in influencing this baseline urgency, so while I should definitely try to be more positive, I should also understand that I’ll never be as even-keeled as G. So true. Gotta manage those expectations, right?

    For this trip, both J and I are actively trying to be more positive and constructive. I know, we’re still on the flight over, so it’s very early, practically premature. Interestingly though, the universe has already rewarded us with a pretty painless commute from Caltrain to Bart to AirTrain to SFO. Also, after we arrived at the terminal, twice we got moved to the front of a new line– cutting down on our wait time with ticketing and security. And then, we didn’t even have to go through the x-ray scanner. Looks like positivity has it privileges! The universe is answering us. Haha.

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  • Cougar on Campus

    So for my fourth week at work, I ventured onto campus a couple of times. You see, my office is actually across the street from main campus, so sadly, we’re not in the heart of the action. Anyway, I went to the student food court last Thursday. I went around 1p thinking it would be easy to grab a meal. Boy was I wrong. That was like peak time, and the lines for all the lunch spots were super long. No matter. I waited patiently. I tried to look around and get a sense for the kids. Goddamn they are young. Not very chatty either, even among themselves. Most kids had their faces buried in their phones, so I didn’t score any insightful comments or interactions.

    After I got my food, I sat at a table outside in the courtyard. I had a very solitary lunch, but I sat at a table that was next to two female students. I overheard one complaining to the other about a mutual friend who was sick. She then went off on a tirade about how stupid the sick girl was for not heeding her advice to get the flu shot. Funny thing, I had just crafted a FB post about college kids being the worst age group for people not getting their flu shots. I kinda chuckled to myself: Yup, called it! I’m totally up with the current topics of conversation on campus. Haha.

    Meanwhile, my boss has advised that I spend more time on campus after I return from my trip. She says it’s a great way to get my ears close to the ground. Is that the idiom? I’m actually thinking about purchasing a razor scooter, so I can easily zip on and around campus from my office. I’ve mentioned this to a few colleagues. They don’t seem impressed. Maybe a skateboard or long board will be more legit?

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  • All In

    OMFG, I haven’t written in AGES!! My last post was written at the end of week 1 of my new job, and now I’m on week 4!! Holy shit, coming up on a month there already!

    Given my long silence, you’ve probably deduced that I am knee-deep in work. Which reminds me: my friend T, who served as a reference during the interview process, told my current boss, “V really spoiled us with her responsiveness and productivity.It was a rarity for her NOT to reply to our emails after hours or even while she was home sick. If she didn’t reply, we knew she was REALLY sick.” It’s kinda true. H1N1 is no fucking joke. I was out for a long while on that one. In general though, it’s not like I’m trying to be a superstar worker. Ok, kind of. But really, I just don’t like letting things sit. I like to be all caught up, you know? So yeah, for my peeps who have endured this multi-week silence on my blog, it pretty much means I’ve been in full-on job mode.

    Here’s the thing though. At my previous jobs, I never really felt uncertain. This job? The boss and my coworkers are great, but I feel an unrelenting pressure. It’s possible some of the pressure is attributed to my long sabbatical, during which my confidence took repeated hits. Plus, I was out of the office environment for a long time.I don’t really know. John thinks it’s because I have daily deadlines with the postings.

    Regardless, I felt overwhelmed being at an institution so much larger than my previous workplaces. And then, coming in without any history or affiliation with the university, there are so many moving parts (i.e., schools, centers, programs, and departments). But like I said, my boss is really good. In fact, she immediately came through signing me up for a ton of professional development opportunities, which we had discussed during my interview process. Interestingly, in between signing the offer and starting the job, I actually kicked myself for not getting any of the training budget details in writing. Thankfully, all of that is a moot issue. She even has me scheduled for a conference in Miami come April. Woot, woot!! My other coworkers are also really patient about my newbie status. So the pressure is mostly coming from me. You know, I’m impatient as hell. And I just keep shooting myself with that “second arrow,” worrying myself silly about ramping up and performing.

    What is the second arrow? It’s something John and I learned in our mental skills training class at Stanford. Let’s say there’s a problem. I focus on solving the problem. That’s the first arrow– dealing with the immediate issue at hand. The second arrow comes from my mind fucking with me. So in this case, not only am I dealing with a very steep learning curve, but my mind (up until this week) just kept questioning and doubting my abilities. Of course, my counter to this is to work my ass off. I’m one month in, and I rarely leave the office before 6:30p despite getting in around 8a.

    At night after I get home from the office, I hop on the computer again, scouring sites and news feeds searching for content and tinkering around with web metrics. The existing post schedule is pretty aggressive: on Facebook and Twitter, two posts a day; Instagram is one a day; then Pinterest and YouTube are secondary. I also manage two student interns, and that’s been a struggle. I’m realizing that student interns differ greatly from adult interns. I’m also trying to get a better feel for the vibe on campus… it’s dramatically different from my own college experience decades ago. So yeah, lots of thinking and learning. But also, a lot of extra baggage from the self-doubt and worry.

    Yeah. By now, J is really sick of hearing, “I won’t make it past probation. They won’t want me to stay.” I know, I sound so damn dramatic, and how many times have I read/heard/written about women and their goddamn imposter syndrome, right??? I really should know better. Ugh. J reassures me, by reminding me that in my many years of working, I have zero instances of failing to perform. Fine. Gotta focus on the positive thinking.

    Thankfully, I am finally feeling better at the start of week 4. The last two days, I queued up a bunch of posts. Of course, that padding is going to dissolve very quickly since I’m going to Asia for 10 days, and then the office is closed over Thanksgiving. But whatevs. I came up with like 25 new FB posts plus 18 Twitter posts so yay for me! The weird thing about social is that it never stops. It’s almost like retail: you have to push out content and stay open even on the weekends and holidays, because those are the times when people look at social. So yeah, I’m going to have to line up MORE content til December 1. I’m still learning about the audiences on the different channels. Last week, I posted a bunch of duds, meaning the posts didn’t score much traffic. The stats were pretty sad, but the numbers are shooting up this week. Hopefully, that means I’m settling in and finding my “voice.”

    So tonight I’m taking a mini-break, stopping the content scrounging a little early to update my blog. After all, I know that my hobbies and activities and friendships are what sustain me and keep me balanced. Bad things happen when those things fall to the wayside. Been there, seen that.

    What else. Last weekend, we booked our hotel for Tokyo finally. Yup, cutting it really close. I haven’t even looked at flights to Maryland for Christmas. Ugh. A bargain hunters nightmare.

    In other news, Marty is doing better. I mean, he still gets spooked and is strangely picky with his eating, but I’m awaiting results from his urine culture from Sunday to see if the bladder and kidney infections have subsided following two months of antibiotics. He has also started a very irritating habit of spitting out his pills, even when I tuck them into those flavored treats called Pill Pockets. I get so frustrated when he spits out the pills. The ultimate annoyance though is that he never spits them out when John gives him the meds. We do it the same way, using the same treats and approach right before feeding his meal, and what. the. fuck? It’s racial!! Marty is a goddamn racist. After everything I have done for him. Let’s just hope he doesn’t pull this shit with Susan. And certainly when I get back, I’m not putting up with it.

    Ok, I’m going to bed early tonight. I’ll try to resume a more regular posting schedule, for my own sanity if nothing else!

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