Monthly Archives: December 2014

  • Learning Lessons

    My visit with the parentals this time was pretty boring and uneventful. A week ago, they had gone out for Chinese buffet with some friends and since then, dad’s been battling GI issues. That’s the polite way of saying it. Don’t make me spell it out. Needless to say, he wasn’t feeling well physically. Couple that with his recent depression, and he just has no energy and no motivation. I ran errands for them and also managed to clean out my old bedroom closet, which happens to be chock full of my mom’s crap. You would not believe, but she had outfits in there from when I was a kid, and when she was in her 30s: elastic waists, crazy boxy, cropped cuts, shoulder pads… I mean, clearly the hoarding runs in the family, because as I cleaned out some of my dresser drawers, I also found my own share of junk, including old awards, my varsity letter for track, a freaking camera with 110 film still in there…

    I did make some progress but not nearly enough. The next morning, I located a nearby Goodwill donation bin and dropped off an entire trunk full of clothes and goods. Honestly, I didn’t even make a dent though, because their house is massive (even by East Coast standards)…

    By the time I reunited with J again at his parents’ house, I started feeling really stressed. I seriously do NOT know how my parents (and grandparents, who are even worse!!) are going to get rid of all their stuff. It’s like the constant dilemma for modern living. You buy things (sometimes really nice things) because stuff makes a home, and you enjoy the stuff. But then the accumulating just never stops and before you know it, you are buried in stuff that you really can’t take with you as you wind down in your life. When I get back to Cali, I will have to research a bunch of services: hoard cleaning services, junk haulers, etc.

    Yesterday, on our last evening in Maryland, I just started crying. Earlier in the day, dad came to me and apologized for not showing us a good time. He was sorry that we’d spent all this money and time to visit, and he wasn’t feeling well– mentally and physically. It’s ok, I mean, we aren’t like guests or tourists coming to town needing to be entertained. At the same time, I do feel so frustrated, weighed down by my own mental instability and then having that coupled with the obvious misery of so many around me. I just feel overwhelmed like I can’t sustain it all.

    I suggested dad talk to a therapist, and what do I get? Resistance. Sound familiar? He insists he knows what has to be done. Part of me wants to lose my shit and say, well I’m dealing with my own bullshit, and if you aren’t going to help yourself and do SOMEthing, what the hell can I do? But I keep quiet. I suggest that he recover from his current GI issue, and as soon as he feels better, tackle exercise and all the rest (better mood and lower blood pressure) will follow. Sigh, sigh. Of course all of this applies to myself, to J. I am so similar to my father, it is unreal.

    Later that day, I came across an article about how NOT to deal with depressed people. Don’t tell them to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. Ok, well I fucked that up also. I feel really tired of it all.

    I’m hoping that just going back home and reuniting with Marty will help me regain some energy and motivation. With depression, if you do only ONE thing a day, it has to be this: Don’t give up hope.

    On that slightly more positive note, I was happy to hear from my friend L the other day. He hadn’t heard from me in a while and checked in with well wishes for the holiday. I replied with apologies saying it had been an intense and challenging couple of months with the new job… but I was hoping to bring balance back into the equation. L is kinda my unknowing mentor; I feel like he always has such wisdom to share. He replied again saying something like, “I think you eat intense and challenging for dessert,” which kinda made me chuckle. I see some truth in his statement, but am I really that bad??? Ok, maybe don’t answer that. Then L said you can only find balance when you understand first what is out of balance, and stasis doesn’t necessarily equate to balance… sometimes I feel like he speaks in riddles, but my curiosity is always piqued. I hope we’ll get the chance to catch up again soon. I could use some non-preachy advice these days.

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  • Preaching Patience

    Hello from Frederick! J and I arrived at my parents’ house yesterday afternoon. We had flown in to the DC Metro Area two days prior on Christmas Eve, and usually I see my parents the day after I get in, but I made a conscious decision to hustle less this trip. Anyway, my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, and dad was getting over some stomach issues from the weekend prior.

    Since returning home, I’ve mostly been glued to the computer. The new wifi printer I bought them last year kept going offline, so that took a couple of hours to troubleshoot and get back online. Then, my father never updates anything on his computer or on any of his devices, so I did that. My father’s latest research topic for me is figuring out a place to live with no estate/inheritance tax and no income tax. Yes, he is the constant hustler. The short list isn’t looking very appealing: Florida, Texas, and Nevada. For me, I prefer they be closer to CA where there are at last 2 decent hubs with direct flights to Taipei (via SFO, LAX), but for dad, the allure of dirt-cheap Florida real estate might just be too great. Whatever.

    This morning, J headed back out to help his parents with some errands. Now, I’m stuck in Frederick. I thought about contacting a lady I’d met last smmer through the Duke nonprofit program, but I just saw on Facebook that she’s in Paris celebrating her first wedding anniversary. Sheesh!

    Meanwhile, my parents continue to provide fodder for the crazy reality show that is my life. My mother kept insisting that she wanted to try “Happy Time” at Bonefish Grill. She means Happy Hour, but I dunno what she’s thinking. My parents don’t drink (we just found wines dating as far back as 1990 in their wet bar), and they hate unhealthy fried foods, i.e. bar food. Still, I support taking them to try new things, so I told her Happy Hour is 4-6p. So what happens? They both skip lunch and end up caving on leftovers at 3:30p. Now they’ve gone to bed, and we’re supposed to go out for dinner at 7p. Are they still jetlagged? Maybe they’re just tired? I dunno. They did recently watch a new Chinese soap series– something like 40 episodes in 3 days, so maybe that’s the culprit???

    Oh, I didn’t even tell you what my grandparents said to me on Christmas Day. They live 15 minutes from John’s family, so J and I took them out for Chinese at lunch. In the car, grandpa looked back at me, and said, “You got whiter… and prettier. What the heck happened?” Um, thanks?? What, am I supposed to be fuddy duddy my whole fucking life or something?? Later, after lunch, we were hanging at their house, and grandma says, “You became prettier. So strange!!” Gotta love the family of backhanded complimenters. Of course, who can be surprised? Last year, grandpa also asked if I had gotten eyelid surgery. Huh??

    Back in Frederick, Mom has already tried to pass me 4 coats and garments that no longer fit her OR grandma. Size 10. I mean, I have no issue with people who are a size 10, but that is not MY size and has never been my size. My mother just presses all the buttons. And seriously, EVERY TIME I come home, I am barraged with this same shit. The SAME pieces of clothing even! She’ll dig up my old coats from middle/high school!! I have been trying to get rid of that old shit for decades, but my mom is a hoarder, and she will not even donate useable clothing… even if it’s out of fashion or ill-fitting. She drives me nuts. I told her, “No I don’t want any of the same clothes you keep trying to pawn off on me every time I come home. If it doesn’t fit you or grandma anymore, give it away!!” Her response? “Well we still need to keep it, because when your cousins come to visit, they can wear it.” Are you fucking kidding me? No one from the tropics of Taiwan is going to 1) visit Maryland in the winter 2) wear your 20-year-old frumpy-ass coat! Jesus Christ. I’m really getting sick of all the ancient items in this house. Seriously. This morning, they set out two jars of Starbucks mocha drinks. Expiration: 2013. Last night, we talked about drinking some wine. At least FIVE bottles of whites in the wet bar were 20+ years old. We tried to open one bottle just to see, and their cheapie-ass dollar store wine opener got stuck in the cork and then the handle broke off!! And that is the ONLY opener in the whole house!! Meanwhile, the overdue bottles are all still at the wet bar. I swear, we are being filmed for the Truman Show or something.

    Hmm, while they are sleeping now, I’m going to empty out my old bedroom closet of old clothes. Then tonight, I’m going to buy a wine opener so I can empty and recycle those old wine bottles. Taking care of business!

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  • Capacity

    In my last post, I detailed a plan for getting myself out of my current funk. I intend to follow the plan, but that doesn’t necessarily stop the overthinking. Haha. On the flight to the East Coast this morning, I was thinking about my own capacity. Why have I felt so on edge these last few months? Am I feeling burdened or troubled by more factors than usual, or has my tolerance and patience decreased without me knowing?

    The thing is, I don’t feel optimistic about the future. Increasingly, I find myself dreading all the inevitable things coming down the pipeline. Am I being morbid? Maybe. My grandparents are aging, my in-laws, my parents, Martin… I worry about how I will handle all of this. If I am already flipping out about the combination of work, Martin (with non-life threatening issues), my friend N, my funk, J’s funk, the goddamn NuWave oven going kaput (more on that later), holiday logistics, etc… how the hell am I going to deal with stuff when the REAL shit hits the fan? Will I discover new capacity, or will I completely lose my mind? OMFG. I really am morphing into my mother. And yes, that is a horrible, awful thing. Why? Because she allows fear to paralyze her. Fear stops her from finding solutions. Fear stops her from discovering, from learning, from living. Maybe statements like this aren’t cool to say out loud. I’m sure moms out there are taking offense. I acknowledge that parenting is a shit ton of work, and sure, let’s applaud these women for their effort. But as one of my friends once said, trying to be a good parent doesn’t necessarily equate to being a good parent. By the same token, trying to be a good daughter doesn’t equate to being a good daughter. I suppose the simplest way to say this is that my relationship with my mother is complicated.

    Speaking of co-dependence, on the drive to the airport this morning, my car started shaking at high-speed. In the last week, my Honda Civic hybrid definitely started driving jerkier than usual, but I didn’t think much of it. After all, I take it in pretty regularly for the oil changes, maintenance, etc. It’s kinda just always been a shitty ride. Two days ago though, the shaking grew more intense, and I made a mental note to tell J. Well, in the holiday hustle, I completely forgot.

    So this morning, before the crack of dawn, we loaded my car and headed for the airport. As soon as we got on the highway, the car started vibrating. J was like, “This is not right. Why didn’t you say anything? We should have taken my car.” Well, we had already left the house a ways, so let’s just get to the airport. The shaking intensified, but then subsided once we got to Burlingame. I made a comment that the shaking went away, and literally, seconds later, there was a really loud cycling noise and what sounded like parts flying off the car. Less than a mile from our airport parking garage, we pulled over with a blown out flat tire. So yup, there we were on the side of the highway at 6a on Christmas Eve. I’d never gotten a tire blowout before, so I was immediately thinking, shit, we’re going to miss the flight, because I dunno how to change a tire and I gotta call roadside for that shit. In my panic, I called T. J was like, “We’ll change it. They can’t do anything for us.” Sorry T, premature call! So J starts pulling all our luggage out of the trunk and moving it to the back seat. Like a total dumbass, I’m standing next to the car on the side with cars speeding by at 80 mph. I was such a useless piece. After a bit of fumbling around, I busted out the manual to figure out how to remove the damn hubcab and use the jack. Turns out, we didn’t even use the jack right until the very end, but whatever, we got the donut on. And holy shit, we made our flight with time to spare. Thank goodness for Bubbey!

    Afterwards though, I was a little freaked out, you know? Like what would have happened if I were alone? I could have lost control of the car and gotten into an accident. Or I would have been stranded roadside, waiting for AAA to come help. Fucking no survival skills!!! WTF?? I mean, it is what it is. I guess now I know how to change a tire. Still, I was all disturbed feeling like a lame girl. Ugh. Ok fine, get over it.

    Meanwhile, J is already insisting that this is a sign I need a new car. It’s true. From the beginning, this first hybrid by Honda has been a disappointment. Still, I was committed, plus I just didn’t want to go car shopping. You see, I had researched a car for my dad and a car for my grandfather… I was just over it. Clearly, procrastination is real. But now, it’s time to confront the issues that must be addressed. Maybe after we get back to town. Get ‘er done. The holiday adventure begins right?

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  • Fighting the Funk

    I’ve been in a total funk lately. Just two months ago, I was all bright-eyed and cheery about landing my new job. Then the job started, and I quickly grew overwhelmed by the pressure of having to constantly produce content and for a very broad audience. Being at a religious institution, surrounded by college students, I also felt really out of place for the environment and for the job. In turn, that led to a major crisis in confidence, and since then I’ve been battling to get back on even footing.

    The thing about change is that you grow to expect the unexpected. After the past year, I consider myself a seasoned pro– someone who even gravitates towards and actively seeks change. Well, apparently not. I really questioned whether this misfit would eventually work itself out.

    The good news is, after putting in a shit ton of extra hours and effort early on, I queued up content for my trip to Asia in November, got back, and then resumed pounding the pavement. By December, I was feeling better, like I was maybe getting the hang of things. But just as I was starting to acclimate at work, anxiety and depression started creeping in. Everyday, SOMEthing compounded my growing negativity. Last time, I wrote about the disheartening news about N. I’m annoyed now because more than a week later, I have yet to speak with her. Part of the problem is the East Coast-West Coast time zone difference. Also, last week I had a lot of work-related events after hours. Still, she just isn’t answering the phone. And that pisses me off. Yes, I know firsthand that people withdraw when they are in a funk. After all, who wants to burden others with his/her woes, right? On the other hand, I don’t like feeling blown off, and you know me with my “friendship cultivation.” Anyway, her situation causes emotional distress: the problem-solver part of me wants to find a solution; the friend part of me requires her interaction and participation to talk it through; the depressed part of me wants to just let it all go. Fuck the world. Jekyll and Hyde, anyone??

    These last few weeks, I’ve been feeling a sense of danger, like internally, a red flag is going up. There have been multiple moments where I have felt frustration and anger bubbling inside. I describe the bubbling as “rage,” but my friend T says rage is an outward, uncontrollable blindness. In these instances, I have never erupted, but I feel super unsettled inside, like I’m nearing an edge. Am I about to completely lose my shit and go mental? I dunno. Some days it really seems possible! So here’s the plan moving forward.

    First things first: I’m cutting back with work. In the last week, especially with the holidays and all, I’ve definitely noticed a lot of slacking off at the office. The holidays don’t really have that kind of an effect on me, because I dunno, I guess I’m usually not that holiday-spirited, but still, I made sure to attend all the “fun” staff holiday events. I need to chill the fuck out, after all. Also, I considered these good opportunities to bond with people I currently know/like, while also familiarizing myself with potential allies in other departments. Two birds, one stone, baby. Truth be told, I am still clocking in extra hours, but it’s definitely curtailed, so go me! The other good thing (a pleasant surprise) is, I’m now pretty good friends with two people in my department– sadly, one is leaving but the other one started two weeks after me, so we’re newbies together. Both are very funny and super knowledgeable about media, marketing, and pop culture. They say they are also game for karaoke, so I’m very thrilled to add to my karaoke posse.

    Second, I’m finally moving my ass more. I know exercise is one of life’s little secrets, and shit my bud M is so disciplined with it. I’m not yet back to doing the 7 Minute workout, but I am walking more on campus and taking the pups on extended walks. The plan is to reintroduce 7 Min very soon.

    Third, now that Martin’s tests have all come back normal, we’ve been troubleshooting his trembling, anxiety, and spooking. We had a weird suspicion last week that maybe he was hearing some kind of electronic device that was inaudible to us. So one night, we unplugged a bunch of things in the house: the wine fridge, the laser printer, the dropcams, a bunch of stuff. Whaddya fucking know? He slept through the night. We continued the test for two nights (same results) and then slowly brought the electronics back online one by one. For the most part, all of us are sleeping better through the night. I still get up around 2-3a to use the bathroom, and last night, Martin was pacing again, but hopefully, he was just anxious because he saw all of our luggage out. I’m always fascinated by how dogs piece together those patterns. Anyway, I still feel like I have a sleep deficit to overcome, but my goal is to be all even Steven by the new year. And with decent sleep, I will be ready to conquer the world. Muhahaha.

    Fourth, I’m bringing back the hobbies. Last week, I busted yuki out for the first time in over a year. I realized recently that there is a part of me that’s very “all or nothing” about skills and hobbies. I have to be making noticeable progress of some kind; otherwise, I don’t want to invest the time. This is an attitude I’d like to change. My friend J once remarked, “Why are you taking riding lessons? Who cares about the techniques? You love to ride. Just take the horse out and ride!” His comment kinda took me aback when he said it, but thinking back, he might really be on to something. I had been so obsessed with the technique– the beats, the rhythm and counts, the correct diagonal, the exact right nudge at the precise part of the horse… A mild case of perfectionism, maybe? I see his point, and I actually think it boils down to the absence of mindfulness. I rarely enjoy moments for their own sakes. Everything is some sort of means to an end. I would like to be more mindful.

    In that vein, I bought myself a new karaoke system last weekend. I’d been missing karaoke for a long time, and even though I love the KTV house in Cupertino, the place doesn’t allow any alcohol or outside food. I mean, I don’t need booze to have fun, but my friends do (ha!), plus what’s a party without food and drink? Whatever, I did a little bit of research and discovered that a new system is on the scene– made by the creators of Guitar Hero. I found the system in store locally and bought the system the very next day. Yes, I have already clocked in several hours of solo singing. Haha! Slowly but surely, my plan for recalibration WILL work.

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  • Irreversible

    We hear it a billion times. Nothing is more important than health. Well this afternoon, I got some really disappointing news about my buddy N. She’d been doing AMAZEBALLS, especially in the last year– having lost a shit ton of weight, exercising, going out, experiencing a life she’d never really lived… For the first time ever, she was happy, like really, truly happy. I visited her a year ago in fall and then again last summer in June. I was so relieved that things were finally looking up for her.

    Then I remember two months ago in October, when I emailed all my peeps announcing my new position, I never heard back from her. I kinda thought it was weird, and a part of me even thought selfishly, WTF? I finally have good news, and you don’t care?

    Well, today I spoke with her mother, who had called last week to see how we were faring with the Pineapple Express. Turns out, N threw out her back in October. She was on a total roll– swimming, playing tennis, working out, and somehow doctors suspect that the physical exercise caused her spinal cord to start coming out of the spine, and the rubbing against the bone (or something else) causes excruciating pain. Her mother didn’t know the exact term for the condition, but it’s really bad. So now N goes to work, but then pretty much she cannot move without suffering some kind of piercing pain. All evening activities are now shot: no gym, no going out, nothing. Doctors did a CAT scan last week, and they are waiting to hear more, but the solution likely involves back surgery, and the chance of success for the particular operation is only 50/50.

    N is a medical person, and her mother says she’s very worried about the options and the procedure. The exercising and healthy lifestyle have now ground to a complete halt, and she is overeating again. So just like that, the progress that took years in the making is receding and is exacerbated by shitty insurance and very expensive medical bills. Her mother doesn’t sound good either: she’s frustrated, discouraged, afraid, and stressed. I will be calling N to get the full scoop from her. I’m hoping the situation is not as dire as it sounds. But fuck! I think about how so many people live their lives spending time chasing things that in the end aren’t even important. Yet we insist on spending our time and energy in that way. Why? So many unhappy, miserable people, procrastinating with self-care and for what? I’ve been such a dumbfuck these last few months. Why is it so goddamn important and absolutely critical that I bust my ass and kick butt at work… to the point of letting all other things that help maintain my own mental health and sanity fall to the wayside? Why do I do that? Why did my father do that? Why do so many people work in jobs that are killing them?

    There’s no denying that money is important, because after all, medical shit is crazy expensive. But maybe if we were better to ourselves in the first place, we wouldn’t have to search desperately for ways to repair problems that have ballooned due to years of neglect. I don’t really know if these current back issues are attributed to N having been overweight for a very long time. Sometimes though, health feels a lot like time: lost time is gone forever. It cannot be made up. I think of those Hollywood celebs who abused their bodies for so long with alcohol, drugs, smoking, whatever. You can only get back so much with new habits and/or money. Some of the damage is just irreversible.

    Many years back, my aunt had gotten into a car accident, and the other driver was severely injured, requiring multiple surgeries, etc. My aunt made some comment about her bad luck– getting into this accident that was costing her so much money. And my grandfather said, “You can earn more money. That person will never be able to have full range of his arms again.” For some reason, this also makes me think of all the protests, looting, and rioting happening in response to Ferguson and Eric Garner. People complain about the store damage, the broken glass, the vandalism, etc. While I don’t agree with property damage as a tactic of protest, I do feel strongly that things can be replaced or repaired. But those lives– they really are gone forever.

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  • Worry Wart

    Since when did I become such a goddamn worry wart? Seriously. Ok fine, don’t answer that, because yes, I know I have always suffered from some bit of neuroses. I am my mother’s daughter after all…

    To come clean, these last few weeks have been an ongoing struggle. I suppose when I go into quiet mode, it’s usually fair indication that shit is going down. Ok, maybe that’s sounding a bit too dramatic. But I’ve definitely been feeling very troubled by the world. Now more than ever, I need to follow news as part of my job– you know, being all up on stuff, but shit. Some days the weight almost prevents me from getting out of bed. I know, red flag right? Ugh. I need to give EAP a call. First, it’s just news all over, riddled with violence, manipulation, annoying self-righteous people who inflict harm on others. Then I just can’t seem to get myself into a groove. Work-life balance has totally gone to shit. The other day, I was so thrilled to take my scooter for a spin onto campus. I was meeting someone in the arts and sciences building, and seriously, I arrived all huffing and puffing. For like less than a mile’s distance. Maybe 1 1/2 miles max. I’m not sleeping well, I’m not exercising, I’m not blogging, I’m not doing friend stuff… I’ve seriously fallen off the wagon. And then Martin is having issues again. WTF. Fussy eating again plus nighttime anxiety. PLUS, I am having trouble securing doggie care for the winter break. Fuck me. I have asked SIX people. He’s muddying his nose all the damn time. He hops on and off the bed and cannot seem to get comfortable. Sometimes I think to myself, “When am I going to catch a fucking break?” And then I feel absolutely ridiculous for thinking such a thing… in my secure life of privilege.

    Job-wise, I think my boss is happy with me so far, but I worry daily about performing, about accomplishing and achieving to the level I’m used to. Some part of me feels like my cultural illiteracy is a huge detriment to curating content that jives with college kids. I don’t watch much tv, and I’m not a fan of memes. WTF? The other part of me doesn’t even give a fuck about meshing with millennials. Dealing with seasoned, experienced adults seems so much more worthwhile. And I struggle with the larger theme about society’s evolution towards binge info consumption… people are processing and filtering info without even consciously registering much if it. The young brains work in different ways these days. Maybe I’m just feeling old and stubborn and resistant. On top of all this, one of the cool coworkers on my team announced Friday that she is leaving. I’m really happy for her, and maybe none of it is really that surprising. Still, I’m pretty damn bummed.

    Of course, all of that said, I am still trying. I’m putting in after hours to try and understand more. And my boss is really supportive.

    Well, no choice but to keep it together.

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  • Back in Action Post-Asia

    The last several weeks, I had every intention of resuming a regular schedule of blogging. For some reason though, my days have felt rather endless, and my mind is too muddled to come up with any content that is cohesive or articulate.

    We returned from Asia, and this first week back went ok. I’m back to scouring for content 24/7, and I’ve also started taking a closer look at metrics. My boss and I hosted a web-based social media conference where we invited social media counterparts from all over campus. The conference speakers were really good… they showcased a lot of innovative campaigns and such that other universities have implemented with great success. I learned a lot from the case studies, and I also enjoyed meeting some of my peers elsewhere on campus. That said, I’m feeling the pressure to come up with new ideas and creative ways of harnessing social media. Honestly, I dunno what tricks I’m going to pull out of my hat, but hopefully, ideas will come to me somehow.

    I recently purchased a Razor scooter– an adult-sized one. I figured that it would be a great way to get me on campus more often. Interestingly, the senior VP came by my office the other day, and he said, “You know, I have a lot of kids (he has SIX actually), so I’m usually up on all the trends. I have to say though, I haven’t seen Razor scooters in a really long time.” Ugh, is that your way of telling me I’m out of date, because hell, I will be the first one to tell you I am always ten years behind on fads. Haha! Whatever though. I took that scooter out for a spin, and the thing runs fast. It’s definitely not as stable as I had expected, plus the thing is a little heavier than I had hoped, but dang, it sure is fun to ride! I was zipping around at the park, and Marty had to run just to keep up with me. I think this is going to work out well.

    Speaking of getting on campus, The Blind Cafe was at the university yesterday. Basically, it’s an organization that puts on dinner in the dark activities with the goal of bridging the gap between the sighted and the blind. I was so curious about the concept, that I got tickets immediately. When I told John, he was not interested. Dinner in the dark with strangers? Nope, an introvert’s nightmare. So, I ended up going alone, but shit, while waiting for the event to start, I struck up a conversation with a really cool lady who is the spouse of a university staffer. Super fun lady, and as it turns out, we have a ton in common. She’s a deal hunter AND she and her hubby are also huge fans of the San Jose Improv. She also turned me on to an open mic spot with killer Cajun food. I hope we’ll meet up to catch a show together. What a random but pleasant encounter! Then, the dinner itself was such a mind-blowing experience. Blind wait staff led us, single file, hands on the shoulder of the person in front of you, into a pitch black room. We were lead to our seats at a table, and then we were off to feel and converse our way through the six tapas dishes and dessert.

    Holy shit. First, I don’t even sleep in that level of darkness. The only other place even close to being that pitch black was the Grand Canyon but even then, there was some light from the stars. What a crazy thing to imagine and experience this glimpse of what it’s like to be blind and living in darkness. The food was just gourmet tapas, but it was interesting eating with our hands and tasting without seeing. Later, there was a Q&A session where diners asked the blind waitstaff questions. There are programs to train blind people about independent living but shit, that sounds so incredibly hard! For example, how do blind people remember people they’ve met without having the visual data? Lots of questions that I had never pondered before. After Q&A, there was live music. Yes, one of the key organizers also plays in a band!! The Blind Cafe was a really great experience. Admittedly, after being in complete darkness for 2.5 hours, I was so thankful to get back into the light…

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  • Bright Lights, Big City

    J and I picked Tokyo to follow our Taiwan trip, because we wanted a place to decompress post family time. Turns out, Tokyo isn’t quite the right city for that, because navigation/travel is so much harder there due to the language barrier. Even the address system is really confusing: buildings aren’t numbered in sequence along the street nor are they numbered odd on one side and even on the other!! On top of that, my T-Mobile data package there sucked, and wifi wasn’t readily available either… We were there over ten years ago, and somehow we forgot about this difficulty. Haha. Regardless, we tried our best to stay positive ;). Next time though, we’ll have to pick a city that’s a little more plug and play.

    So, what did we do? Mostly, we walked around and browsed. We hit a bunch of stationery stores, stuffed our faces (even though we had already done a food safari in Taiwan), and sang karaoke. Then, the three days were over in a flash! When we returned home, my neighbor asked if we’d bought any pearls or silks or this or that… I guess I’ve been on a major shopping hiatus. I mean, I got a few small items, and Bubbey got notebooks and pens, and we bought whiskey and macaroons for his sister and her beau (for dogsitting). Other than that, we left Tokyo (and Taiwan) mostly empty handed. I think more than anything, I just don’t want to deal with clutter and having to make space for more stuff (especially after seeing my cousin’s spotless place!!).

    We had a great time though just spending QT together. Tokyo is so bustling and alive. I mean, NYC is probably the only other city I’ve been to that compares: so many people up and out really late– young, old, the combo of the two (including sugar daddies with their sugar babies). But it’s not all big city, bright lights glam. Cities also have that raw underbelly. I saw all the “salarymen” decked out in their nice suits, looking all slim and trim. On the flip side, Japan has a serious problem with people dying from overworking. Yes, there’s even a term for it: karoshi, which is basically death from exhaustion. And there are other disturbing issues with sexism, xenophobia, a population that’s over half seniors, not to mention an economy that has struggled for two plus decades… While there, I got all reflective and shit about the meaning of life and all the hustling. I know, see why positivity is so damn hard for me? I overthink shit, and my mind takes me down these depressing paths…

    That said, Tokyo was a good reminder for me to cherish my time with people I love and to not take my work so damn seriously all the time. I need to lighten up. Hence, I just purchased a Razor scooter online. Haha, I plan to ride it around on campus to be at one with the youngsters. Actually, I kinda have a thing for wheeled contraptions. I do think it’ll encourage me to go on campus more. We’ll see how it all pans out. Ha!

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