Monthly Archives: January 2015

  • Glorifying Busy

    Remember way back in July when I gushed about seeing Arianna Huffington at BlogHer? She did this whole spiel about how our culture loves to glorify busy. Well, I definitely felt the truth in her words, but shit, old habits die hard.

    Somehow, months later, I have found myself back on the treadmill. Today, I was in SF for Day 2 of the Social Good Tech Summit. Yeah, I paid for the tickets on my own and attended for myself. No surprise there. I’m a nerd at heart. At least, work let me count Friday as a professional development day!

    So today’s session was good, but it was also an honest reminder that I really am a step or two outside of my sweet spot. Social media for higher ed just isn’t in that inner circle where tech intersects with social impact. That realization makes me kinda sad. The other takeaway from today is that I’m starting to get soft again. Remember those times when I was networking like a fiend, going to event after event, introducing myself to strangers, posing questions to speakers, trading contact info with random people I met? I worked so damn hard, desensitizing myself to my social anxieties and now, those skills are soft again. Yesterday, I must have gone the entire day at the conference without conversing with anyone. Ok, so I introduced myself once, but then I really didn’t engage in conversation. So lame. Naturally, out of fear of regression, today I made a point of asserting myself. Super uncomfortable. I met a German guy who blogs about travel and wearables. I also chatted with a Czech lady about social enterprises. She was smart, not to mention tall, blonde, and gorgeous. Some days I really wonder what it must be like to be white, blonde, blue-eyed, and tall. The world must respond in such a different way… Or even if I were a dude… So many things would be different. But I digress. The people I met today were nice, but afterwards I felt so lacking. Like the lady was so hungry about creating and growing her startup. Talking to her made me think about being hungry vs. being busy. Which am I? I was so inspired yesterday by the presenters who were using tech to facilitate real, concrete change: registering a shit ton of voters; creating visualization apps to help doctors more accurately treat (and educate patients about) brain cancer; training family members of sick patients in India to have a better understanding of ailments and treatments… What am I doing day to day? How is my work contributing to change? The link is pretty weak. Yet, I continue convincing myself that in some way I am building new skills, learning new things… I  am feeling more comfortable and more settled into my role now. I feel happy too when my students are excited and eager to share their ideas and thoughts with me. I hope that I’m a good manager and that they enjoy working with me…

    Famous and successful working women always say that “having it all” is a sham: you can’t “have it all” at the same time. Their comments remind me that people do things for different reasons at different times. So what are my reasons for doing this right now? And for how long will those reasons hold? So many thoughts swirling in my head. Are you sick already of hearing them?

    Interestingly, I came across this article the other day about Type A personalities. What do you think? I know, I will spend my whole life trying to deny that I am Type A. If this reveals anything, J and I actually reviewed the list together item by item, and he claims that I meet at least 22 of the 25 criteria. See? I’m moderate.

    Btw, I recently discovered some fitness programs included as part of my on-demand cable subscription. You know me: always lured by two keywords– free (or included) and fast. This time, it happens to be Jillian Michael’s 20-Minute Shred. Yes, considerably longer than my 7-minute workout, but this gives me something interesting to watch while I sweat my brains out. I have done two days so far. Yeah, those ripped muscles are emerging already!

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  • Endless Hustle

    Midnight already. WTF? This week has been nonstop action once again. Yup, apparently, the excitement over here is off the hook. Life and times of the VG. I noticed today that I am starting to ignore my body’s triggers again. Need to pee? Wait, I’m in the middle of something. Hungry? I’m busy. OMG, how self-important can I be? Yeah, saving lives with social media. Whatev.

    Today I noticed a different sensation though: I sat so damn long (on my bouncy ball even!) that my butt went numb. And on top of that, the office is fricking freezing. I brought in my mini space heater, but that shit is too damn small. Suitable at my last job where I was living the cubicle life, but now that shit doesn’t crank enough heat. I really might have to bring back the old school hot water bottle. My bud K though might really shit her pants. Oh well, I can’t be stopped. Time to kick things into high gear!

    So I had a meeting yesterday with my boss. She was asking me a ton of blunt questions again. It’s funny because, as someone who values directness, I have an appreciation for the Inquisition. That said, being on the receiving end is a little weird. I mean, I answer truthfully (no surprise there), but at the same time, I try not to come across with just neutral and negative feedback, i.e. NO POSITIVE responses. She asked me what I like most, what I like least, if I’m having fun… I hope that all my communications workshops and social intelligence training enabled me to walk that thin line. Basically, I gave this vibe: I’m ok for now, i.e. I’m not lovin’ it but I’m also not actively looking to leave. Who knows how she read it.

    Ok, so this week wasn’t ALL work. After an 18-month hiatus, Sasha Fierce made an appearance. Holy shit. My toupee emerged from her box for a new office debut. I wore my hairpiece most of the week, and because I’m a dumbass who CANNOT lie to save my life, nearly everyone who commented about my bangs was told the truth. I know, some of them probably would have preferred a lie. But really, why should fake hair carry a stigma? I know, even with hair extensions, I cannot fib. What compels me to be so damn forthcoming? I dunno! I mean, I just think fake hair is funny. When I first stumbled on these amazing creations with P in the beauty supply shop, I just could not believe how easy they were to clip on nor how natural they looked! Jessica Simpson and her dude Ken Paves know how to do it up, man!

    The only thing is, the wig has always needed a trimming. Because I’m awful with cutting hair and I’m too lazy/cheap to take that shit with me to the salon, I just wore my bangs straight out of the box. With the original length, I had to clip those fuckers way far back on my crown so I could still see through them side swept. Def a little bit off. Enter my bud K. Homegirl has been cutting her own hair in between cuts for ages, so she’s freaking experienced. She even had legit shears– for cutting hair, rather than crafts and school supplies. Anyway, she took me downstairs to some super secret solo bathroom (instead of the multi-stall one on our floor) and snip, snip, snip, voila! My bangs are super badass now. I think next K will be tasked with braiding. I am dying to try the fishtail. In fact, I have purposefully kept my hair long so that I can put in braids. The time has finally come. Yup, it sure is fun hanging with someone who knows about hair, clothes, and makeup… let the experimenting begin! Muhahaha.

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  • Too Cool for School

    I work for a university now, so technically, every day is back to school. But my supervisor signed me up for an 8-week social media marketing course online, and while I’m nearly always game for learning (especially when it’s free), this class is a super time sink. Seriously. My daily karaoke hour is now replaced with time for class readings and homework– with real deadlines and grading and shit! Totally sucks.

    My coworker thinks I should just use work time for the class and assignments, but I don’t have time during the day. Then part of me wants to just blow through the assignments– you know, pick and choose but still learn. The thing is, I almost never treat school/academics that way… so I dunno. Here I am on a Saturday night doing homework and preparing some kind of presentation. I’m really a little irritated by it all. But in the end, I’m still gonna do it. I just won’t do it without complaining. As my mother has always described, “Vicky will always do what has to be done; just don’t expect her to smile about it.” Haha.

    This also got me thinking though: If I were a student in today’s learning environment, I might really hate the educational experience. I mean, I don’t mind getting all the assignments online and doing all the readings, but I HATE the forced participation, especially in the online setting. I’ve done a few of these virtual learning setups, and ugh, the whole mandatory round robin intro just really irks me. Then, each person has to answer the same questions… via the forum and grading is also based on how much you respond to your classmates’ comments. Yeah, part of me thinks, “What’s the big deal, anyway?” And I guess my aversion doesn’t really make sense, because I love to write, and I spend a lot of time online. Plus, I have a public blog. If anything, I overshare. Still. Something about forced interaction in an online forum just feels unnatural, awkward, and unnecessary. I know, I’m totally overanalyzing this. I suppose I’m really just procrastinating. Blargh.

    In other news, J’s company had their holiday party last week. There are a few people I really get along with– a spouse of his coworker, a coworker here and there, but pretty much I spent the evening following the hired magician around from table to table, obsessively eyeing his tricks. Dude was amazing– apparently a favorite of Woz and Charles Schwab even! That really made my night, and he even told me he could get me tickets to the Magic Castle in LA. Yup, that shit is on my bucket list.

    What else. Marty is doing really great. He still digs around his bed at night but much less, and I am starting to sleep a bit better. Our new kitchen range FINALLY arrives on Monday, and then my handyman will be onsite hopefully next week to crank out a few house items that have lingered for years.

    I have a new BFF at work. She’s a very cool chick: super sharp and witty, wise beyond her years. She’s not even 30 yet. We’re both newbies, so we got that bond going on. Any job is so much more tolerable when there are people you like at the office.

    Ok, kinda an abrupt ending to the post tonight. I’ve been piecing this post together over a few days, and it just has to end here. For now.

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  • The Power of New Shoes

    A week or two after we’d returned from our holiday in Maryland, I spoke with my parents on the phone. Dad was fully recovered from his GI issues, and he was feeling much better. I was happy to hear a lighter mood in his voice even. On that particular day, they had just returned from a shopping trip, where dad purchased a new pair of sneakers. My parents are going on a cruise in a few months, so dad was on the hunt for comfy sneakers. Apparently, they’d never been to a Dick’s Sporting Goods, so Dad spent the next 15 minutes telling me about his latest bargain!

    “Have you ever heard of the brand ‘Saucony?’ Those sneakers cost $109!!! And I saw Nikes for $160!! So expensive! But I found a pair of Sauconys on sale for $59. Mommy said the color didn’t look good, but I tried them on, and the shoes are so comfortable! I don’t care how they look as long as they’re comfortable. And for $59, I just couldn’t resist!”

    Do you see how I really am my father’s daughter? Meanwhile, when I tried to get details about the questionable colors, I realized we were talking neon green. There’s a term in Chinese for women who used to sell beetlenuts in brightly-lit roadside booths. A few years back, this was one of the raunchiest things about Taiwan… beetlenuts could probably be likened to chewing tobacco, but anyway, these clear glass booths were super obnoxious with scantily clad women (girls) inside selling the goods. So people call those women, “la mei,” which means hot (as in spicy) little sister. So mom was telling me that dad’s new sneaks are like in the style of “la ge” (spicy big brother). Was she telling me dad’s new shoes were pimp shoes? I dunno, but it sounded so ridiculous. I have yet to know the exact model he purchased, but a search on Google reveals something as “spicy” as this, or something as subdued as this. Either way, this is a fashion disaster, especially considering that my father only wears dress slacks– even while vacationing. He does not own khakis or jeans or chinos. That shit is way too casual for him. Always slacks. I mean, as a kid, he’d take us to the local tennis courts, and he would play with us while dressed in his suit and tie. Granted, he was “on call,” but this is the level of formality I grew up with, which also explains why my parents hate that I wear jeans. I mean, I’m glad he’ll be able to walk a ton in those cushy sneaks, but I really might have to stage a fashion intervention. If anything, he’s going to stick out like a major tourist!

    The good thing about all this craziness? Sometimes retail therapy does go a long way. I mean, all this renewed optimism and excitement– just from a pair of “spicy brother” shoes!

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  • Keeping Me on My Toes

    Monday evening, after I got home from work, I started sneezing up a storm. I suspected something was coming on, so I went to the hot tub to “burn it off.” Burn off what? I dunno exactly, the shivers, the sniffles, the germs… whatever. The hot tub usually works wonders for me, as you know my body loves super hot heat. Unfortunately though, the next morning my throat hurt really badly. I guess in this particular case, the hot tub didn’t work for warding off sickness, but hey, at least it was ONLY the throat and nothing else. Anyway, I was in bed most of the day, working online. You see, now that my coworker has left to start a new job and my second coworker has been out sick, I get to manage two additional interns. Yep, I’m up to FOUR now. Thankfully, the two additionals are pretty damn solid. Who the fuck knew? They are full of ideas, initiative, and motivation. Thank fucking god. Needless to say, I was busy online most of yesterday lining up work for them. Social media never rests.

    I wrote earlier this week about Martin’s condition of dementia and me finding a solution to give him (and me) comfort and security through the night. Yesterday, I was looking forward to a good night’s rest so I could return from my sick day and hit the ground running on Wednesday. Well, I definitely spoke too damn soon about solving the sundown syndrome problem. Last night was one of THE worst nights of rest. We brought his big Costco pillow back in the bedroom (not sure why), and Marty started digging frantically at it in the middle of the night (J had already knocked out like a rock). Then the pacing, from one side of the bed to the other. WTF? True to my word, I kept my cool, but shit. For some reason, he wasn’t interested in the under-bed den. Why goddamnit?? Ugh.

    Tonight, J is away on business, and I did some vacuuming and reorganizing. I also moved the Costco pillow out of the room again. Now, Martin just has one option on where to sleep. I got the heating pad turned on, the draped towel over the opening under the bed, and right at this moment, Marty is sleeping without incident. I really need to rest tonight, because tomorrow I’m going to be stuck in an all-day HR orientation class (aka Jesuit indoctrination) and then I’ll have to hustle home and head into the city for J’s company holiday party. See this is the thing about holidays. Why can’t everyone be this damn practical? I mean, so many vendors (restaurants, airlines, services) jack up prices for the holidays. It’s such a ripoff. Like his company just says, nope. We’ll do it after the holidays. Done. No debate. I kinda like that.

    But back to tonight: I’m winding down and intending to get to bed early. So what happens? I go on Pinterest and start seeing all this food. Shit, now I am starving, because I ate about five measly spoonfuls of fried rice left over from lunch and then I just now forced myself to do the 7-min workout. Yeah, only seven minutes but when you’re majorly fucking out of shape, that shit knocks the wind out of you. And you know, I got that metabolism churning, so now I’m hungry. Well, without the NuWave, I dunno how to do jackshit. Guess tonight I’m just going to bed hungry. Oh well, my system needs recalibrating anyway. One ignored hunger pang is not gonna kill me.

    In other news, I might be meeting up with my mentor L. Man, now that I work near San Jose, lunches or events in the city are EXTRA far. Coincidentally, he has a client meeting in San Jose so I might hitch a ride on his way back north and then make it for J’s company party. Lots of coordinating, but it’ll be nice to catch up. I haven’t seen L since Aug or September I think.

    Ok, I need to hit the sack. But now that I think of it, there is some cheese in the fridge. Haha, the hunger pang might be answered after all!

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  • Doggie Dementia

    I had another reality check recently. Last week, I was having a lot of trouble again with sleeping, because Marty was digging at his bed in the middle of the night and pacing a lot. I got him a new bed lifted off the ground and tried a number of different arrangements, but nothing worked. I was really kind of exhausted by it all.

    Finally, I dunno how this came to me, but I took the foam cushion out of his existing bed and put it in the cavernous space under our bed. Yeah, both Remy and Martin used to love sleeping under the bed and then they abruptly stopped a year or two ago. Not sure why. So I took the cushion, added a heated pad on top of the cushion, and then covered with an old blanket. OMFG, that worked!! Now, every night, Martin crawls under the bed. I also added some towels draped over the opening, so he has more privacy (actually, I was wanting to retain the heat) in his little den. He still wakes up in the middle of the night to go outside and pee, but for the most part, there is no more frantic digging… maybe because the space is too tight and too short. I hope too that the cozy quarters make him feel more secure and safe.

    The thing is, even as I have seemingly found something that works in the short term, I still need to confront the reality that Martin has doggie dementia. Sure, the vet had mentioned it on occasion when I complained about space cadet behavior, with him staring into the space and the bizarre trembling, especially at night. Well, this article spelled it out further. In humans, there is even something called “sunset syndrome” where the dementia exacerbates at night and the person gets disoriented and confused which in turns causes all the anxiety and trembling and confusion. In normal dogs, they have the cognition to deal with confusion or uncertainty, but with older dogs, that ability to self-soothe and cope diminishes. Poor Marty. In my sleep deprivation, I’d started to get so impatient with him. I should really know better: He has always been a dog who is very eager to please, and I’m sure that my frustration only made things worse. I am trying to be better. At least, now I’m more informed about what is going on.

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  • Friends with Kids

    We are meeting with a handyman tomorrow morning for a long list of home repairs that we have been procrastinating for years. Depending on what he’s comfortable doing, the work might expand to something big involving electrical rewiring and such. We’ll see. The guy actually works for my former employer, and he did some repair work for my uber meticulous friend M, so he’s automatically competent, qualified, and trustworthy in my book. Haha.

    Our friends J and J just popped out their first kid this week. H was a 9 pounder! Shit, man. We’re waiting to hear from the parents on when they are ready for visitors. Interestingly, I recently came across this article on HuffPo. The read was actually kinda eye-opening, not so much because what she said was new but rather, her statements carried a resounding familiarity. Her description about conserving energy and hunkering down in survival mode was almost word-for-word shit I’d heard from my friend J. After hearing his excuses for well over a year, I admit, I grew increasingly annoyed and dismissive of his reasons. Now that some time has passed, revisiting this topic doesn’t seem nearly as irritating. I still think losing touch (at varying degrees) with our friends with kids is inevitable, because that’s just how the cookie crumbles. As my friend once said, “We live radically different lives, yo.” I’m just not going to take it personally anymore.

    In other news, work is going ok. My latest BFF/coworker had her last day on Tuesday. It sucked to see her go. Such is life! Thankfully, I am feeling more settled and less stressed about work these days. I’m still trying to keep that new perspective about work-life balance and such. Oddly, my boss keeps asking me if I’m having fun. Haha. All I can say is I’m feeling better than I did initially. I’m not gonna lie: I wouldn’t call it “fun,” BUT I’m feeling ok. She’s probably just feeling a little paranoid because my coworker left. For now, I’m all in.

    That said, man people piss me off with their asinine comments on social. I did a post about the 7-11 store next to campus reopening, and some asshole complained that “as an alum,” he was disappointed to see such an endorsement, blah, blah, blah. Well asshole, I’m not a big fan of 7-11 either, but you know what? The kids fucking LOVE 7-11. I posted months ago about the store while it was under construction, and it got a shit ton of engagement, so newsflash: ou’re not the only person in my audience. I was so annoyed 1) because he pulled the power card (I’m an alum, so my opinion matters more than anyone else’s) 2) if you don’t particularly like a post, who the fuck takes the time to actually complain (??) and on Instagram, of all platforms? Some people are so lame. Whatevs.

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  • Fast Car

    Goddamn, another week is done. This one actually felt fuller than most, maybe because J and I are, you know, trying to “live our best life” and all that bullshit. Yup, still going strong after that swift kick in the ass from the parentals.

    We donated my old car to the food bank. I was thrilled to learn that the Camry we gave them 4 years ago is still running. The org is planning to replace the tires on my Honda and use it internally. I love when I find reuse opportunities for our old things. Reuse is so much better than recycling. Meanwhile, I am having a blast driving my new fast car! I mean, I probably just drive it normally, but because the engine is an upgrade from my 4-cylinder, I feel like I am darting all around town with renewed vigor. Haha.

    I started singing again with my new karaoke system. The Singtrix system is pretty cool in that I can play YouTube karaoke files and also regular music files (it can take out the voice part). Right now I am listening to Lana Del Rey nonstop, because I’m determined to master a song or two. Yeah, I know, whatever happened to the whole “enjoy the moment and don’t worry about technicalities” mindset? I dunno. I suppose in some way, this is how I have fun… building skills and such. So yeah, right now I’m in OCD mode with singing. Sometimes after I crawl into bed, I play the YouTube karaoke files on my iPad and just sing along… without my mic and SingTrix system. J is now calling me Doobie Del Rey. Haha. Historically, these intense periods of mine tend to be short-lived, so I might as well take advantage and hit the iron while it’s hot. I’m making decent progress too.

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  • Swift Kick in the Ass

    There’s nothing like a visit to the parentals and in-laws to give J and me that super swift kick in the ass. If we were draggin’ butt these last couple of months (or last year), all we really needed was to see firsthand the consequences of inaction, paralysis, denial, and mental/emotional defeat. With his parents, life could be so much easier for them: they and the kids have resources to provide services to help them be more comfortable: shopping services, food/meal services, cleaning services… but help is refused. With my parents, my father was sick and that in turn led to overthinking (sound familiar) and depression. He is that classic case of perfectionism where happiness depends on other people. I know, because I am often that person. I hold off on being happy until everyone and everything around me is just about right. He doesn’t state the culprits, but when pushed, he alludes and I know exactly one of the factors that makes him feel so unfulfilled. One of his life goals will just never be met.

    I don’t know what else can really be said or done about my parents not becoming grandparents. As I’ve mentioned time and time again, I’m not going to take on parenting for other people. I just will not. And I have apologized for this before, but I’m not going to apologize for it again. I know this sounds harsh, but quite honestly, this is simply something they have to get over. I know it’s not easy, but that’s the only solution.

    After we returned to California, there was an entire series of annoying events, but I tried really hard to keep my spirits up, because after spending a few days with poo poo dad, I realized this Debbie Downer bullshit just doesn’t do anything for anyone. The misery only spreads. First, the donut tire was a major pain. We had to take El Camino all the way down the peninsula; of course, not before trying to coordinate an exchange (our Marty for her iPhone left in the rental car) with my sis-in-law. It took a long time to meet up at the correct location. Then, we were starved and all the food spots closed, so we had to hit BK. Disgusting. When we got home, I noticed that Marty’s coat was total shit (after just six days?), and he was itching again like crazy. WTF??? Then, there were other discoveries: my Christmas tree was oddly ajar: on closer inspection, my handmade tree topper WoolBuddy was gone (later found destroyed), and a bunch of branches were all crushed and shit (fake tree). Turns out my sis-in-law’s dog J got into my tree. Of course, no word/report from the sitter the entire time we were gone except that the dogs went on walks. I had even checked in with her once or twice via text, and the replies were always super short: everything is fine. Meanwhile, spooky, skittish, itchy Marty is back. Jesus Christ. Yeah, I was pretty cranky on returning home.

    The next day, I tried to start over on the right foot. I did some online car research, tried to reorganize shit, do some laundry. Well, by late morning, after my shower and a load of laundry, both bathrooms and the washer/dryer area were totally flooded. Are you fucking kidding me? Thankfully, I found a good local plumbing company. They were swamped with calls, but fortunately, I was the last accepted call for the day. The dude cleared our sewer backup by snaking from the roof! Fine, whatever. He got us back up and running again, and then I had a shit ton of laundry to do, because we sacrificed a bunch of towels to soak up that mess.

    In the evening, we finally left the house to test drive some cars. For some reason, all along I’d been super indecisive about car shopping. I pretty much hated my Honda Civic Hybrid from the time I got it (although it DID get me into the carpool lane when I had that job in Fremont), and for the last year plus, J started pushing hard for me to get something else. It just has a really herky-jerky ride, and I’d taken it in for service and done all the maintenance. J blames its shit quality on being the first time Honda implemented the hybrid technology. Anyway, after the tire blew out on Christmas Eve, I realized that all the tires would need replacing. Plus, who knows how much longer the hybrid battery will last. Yup, time for a new car. So what was next? I was all over the damn place: VW, Hyundai, Mini, BMW, Lexus. There were just so many factors to weigh, and I couldn’t get my priorities straight. I had test driven the VW and Hyundai a few months back. The Jetta and CC were underwhelming and kinda noisy. The GTI was super fun but loud. The Hyundai Sonata was pretty basic– very economical and practical, but boring. This time, I like the Mini, but there was still too much engine noise, and the four-door was super tight in the back. I then test drove the BMW 328i. Pretty responsive and fun. I could really go there if it weren’t for the deluxe “image” issue that I always try to avoid. And the sales agent was super lame. The next day (December 31), I test drove the Lexus IS250, and it was freaking awesome: super quiet, smooth, and powerful, but the mpg wasn’t so great AND they didn’t have the color I wanted. The sales agent also really knew his shit. So I was down to two. Ultimately, I decided on the BMW. We then went back to the lame dealership after doing some online research and finding his “best deal” from the day before sufficient, but then he rescinded the offer saying holiday incentives expired December 29. WTF? So we headed to the Fremont dealership, and finally, after an entire day (there HAS to be an easier way to get a car!!) we got ‘er done at 10p on NYE: BMW 328i in imperial blue. We’re doing the lease option for the first time ever. Kinda counter to how we usually roll, but I did some research, and we’re giving it a go! Honestly, the car feels WAY too fancy for me, but dang, it’s a nice ride with some umph (haha!). And she sure is a beauty!

    So yesterday, I was already starting to get all paranoid about not wanting to ding/scratch her (who knows what BMW would consider wear/tear at the end of the lease), so I was like procrastinating with driving. J reminded me that a car is meant to be driven. It’s not a museum piece. It’s not a collector’s item. Drive the fucking car, and appreciate the engineering, the design, the ride. My Bubbey– he’s so wise. I have to say, all the bells and whistles are quite nice– with small touches like backlit door handles and sensors for handfree trunk access. Of course, I still have occasional unhelpful thoughts like I don’t deserve it; I’m not worth it; blah, blah, blah. I guess I’ll continue to have those thoughts, but I’m going to proceed anyway!

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