Monthly Archives: August 2015

  • Drawing the Line

    The last few times I spoke with my parents, our phone conversations ran way long. Like an hour plus. I had decided several weeks ago to stop worrying about my parents-grandparents’ situation, and after hearing that my grandparents agreed to sell their Maryland townhouse and move back to Taiwan, I was starting to feel more settled. Then two weeks ago, their house– which had finished an entire renovation– was supposed to hit the market. I searched for it on Zillow. Nothing. A few days later, I called my father to get the scoop, and holy shit, my grandparents had completely backtracked. And my mother, of all fucking people– was back in their corner supporting this fantastical idea that my grandparents would move back into their townhouse and live independently again. I fucking flipped out. I mean, my father has done EVERYTHING from clearing out their junk to going through the papers to coordinating with the realtor and contractors to fixing up the patio and the backyard… Homeboy is 70 y/o and not in great physical shape. I was livid, bc this is absolutely the WRONG decision. Apparently my grandparents came up with a gabillion excuses to NOT list the house (listing price was too low, construction costs were too high, etc.). Meanwhile, their neighbor friend (who drove grandpa to the hospital after his fall) is planting all kinds of seeds, pushing them to stay. So I talked with mom about this fantasy scenario. Look, Dad is moving back to Taiwan permanently in the next year or two. If the grandparents want to stay in Maryland, mom will have to stay with them BUT she is pretty weak and fragile herself, and she cannot drive. Not to mention that she is overall pretty damn helpless and unresourceful. Just telling it straight. So how will they buy groceries, drive to/from the doctor, pick up meds; who’s going to help them shower and go up and down the stairs… No thought whatsoever has gone into this. Why are they even fighting this? My grandparents speak the language in Taiwan. Labor is cheap. There is affordable housing, meds, and services. No brainer. I told my father that he has done everything, and if they are going to forge yet another path, they are on their own. Fuck it. Go do your pipe dream on your own!

    Except that my father has a very different value system and cultural identity than I do. My suggestion? Let them try to figure it all out on their own. They’ll quickly realize they don’t have the capacity, and then they will have no choice but to move to Taiwan. I know, sounds harsh, but you know what? Tough shit. YOUR way does not work. Needless to say, dad’s not keen on my tough love approach. Rather, he will honor their decision and do whatever is in his power to help them execute Plan B.

    Can you see now how much my family fucking enables bullshit behavior?? Yes, my brother totally comes to mind. Lame. My mother tries to explain that there are other fears at play: her parents are from China. I’s weird to live in Taiwan. Um yeah, except that they probably spent more years in Taiwan than in China. Yes, change is hard, but it’s not impossible. I admit, I have trouble feeling compassion and empathy here, bc if your choices didn’t impact other people, fine. Do as you please. But if you start drastically mucking up other people’s lives, there’s a problem. I feel like my father has done a lot for my maternal grandparents, but hello, his own father is still alive, and he wants to go back to spend what little time is left with his father in his home country. I’m pretty pissed that my mother and her parents are very much thwarting that process. It feels pretty damn selfish and inconsiderate, and clearly, I have a lot of anger about it.

    My father told me that he won’t handle things the way I suggest. He understands that I’m upset: he’s certainly frustrated and disappointed, but this is not my problem to handle. Still, I’m supremely annoyed with my mother, bc once again, this is another example of how useless and unhelpful she can be. She doesn’t solve problems: she only creates them. I get that she wants to honor the wishes of her parents. But look, the three of them can’t get shit done, so unless they figure out how to help themselves, don’t be making impossible, unreasonable demands on other people. Fucking A. Yes, I’m falling now into my family’s MO of playing the blame game. What can I say, accountability is real. At some point, the decisionmaking just has to be handed over. Just like parents made all the decisions for the children; the adult children have to make the decisions for the elderly. It just is what it is.

    I wonder if my parents witnessing my impatience and frustration makes them fearful of old age. I’m sure my reactions to the current situation give them a pretty raw glimpse of what’s in store when I am they and they are my grandparents. It ain’t gonna be pretty, bc I’m intending to grab the bull by the horns.  They raised me to be a thinker and doer. I am not afraid to make the tough calls.

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  • Not Seeing Eye to Eye

    It’s really hard to find people who have the same take as I do on relationships. For example, while P was visiting, she was telling me about some classmate in her circle of nursing friends who, on hearing about her breakup, started coming on really strong. He was texting her all the time and asking her about bday plans and asking her out to dinner. The impression was that he was pursuing her. I mean, given that this happens to P all the time, it’s a pretty safe assumption. So, her take is that she’s not interested; however rather than just telling him in a straight-up, direct way, she instead responds to his texts and invites in generic terms. Like if he asks her to dinner, she’ll say, “Yeah, let’s all go out.” Her argument is that bc she will have to see him at group activities and gatherings, there’s no need to tell him directly that she’s not interested. Rather, by replying obliquely and just not really allowing for any alone time together, he will get the hint and also save face.

    Obviously, as a proponent of radical honesty, this approach feels unnecessarily complicated and confusing to me. Personally, I feel there is a nice way to decline and reject. And even if the rejection weren’t super soft, hello, this is life. Toughen up. Also, yes, they are all adults now. If a lady says she’s not interested and you share the same set of friends, are you really going to make it awkward? Respect her decision and move on! It’s not that they are super close friends and her disinterest in a romantic thing would be particularly hurtful, right? Frankly, he can’t be all that invested. I dunno. I really don’t see what the big deal is, and further, his texts are getting to be a bit much! That said, I value efficiency and honesty, so her actions feel like a disservice to him. Ultimately though, not my call and probably, NO ONE agrees with me. Whatever.

    In other news, I’ve been coming up on some more bullshit at work. That lady T? OMFG. She is one of THE biggest slackers ever. She’ll make personal calls at work and leave her fucking door wide open. Look lady, everyone has to take care of some personal business during work hours, but you don’t need to be so goddamn blatant about it. I don’t need to hear you calling about piano lessons for your daughter or negotiating discounts on your cable bill. Not only that, after she’s done her loud, obnoxious calls, she pretty much goes office to office, plopping herself down in people’s rooms to complain about 1) how little work she has 2) how unmotivated she feels 3) how she wants to go home early. Jesus Christ. Unlike you, I actually have work to do, so um, scurry along and bitch to someone else. It’s kind of weird, bc during her interview process, I was not that impressed. Then, she started and was pretty chatty and nice. I thought maybe there was potential. The next thing I know, she’s wanting to organize parties and get togethers and spousal meetings and … coming on way strong. But even those things didn’t drive me over the edge. It was really the shitty work ethic and the constant barging in on my meetings and conversations. Now, add the constant need for validation and support from others. Last week? She had issue with what my intern wore to work. We don’t have a dress code, and it’s the middle of summer. My intern dresses the way I see college girls dress, i.e. butt shorts. I agree that I wouldn’t personally wear them, but you know what? I’m middle-aged and kinda a prude. So whatever. T goes to my manager to comment about the shorts; she then goes to the office manager and finally, she hits up a third person in the office. After all that gossip, she gchats me that “several people in the office have an issue with my intern’s attire.” Back and forth, she won’t say who has issue with it other than her. She is “offended.” She was planning to take this matter up with the Assistant VP (my boss’ boss), but she wanted to discuss with me first since it’s my intern. I give push back. There is no dress code. She is a college student coming in for a couple hours in the middle of the day. This is not a REAL job, and her role is NOT public facing. A few minutes later, my boss comes in to discuss with me. I give pushback again. My boss makes some confusing statements saying that she doesn’t care, but then she suggests that I consider this a “professional dev” opportunity to talk with my intern. I’m like, “It’s not an issue for me. If you are bothered by it, YOU are welcome to talk to her…” Back and forth and then she backs down. “She’s your intern. If you don’t have issue with it, then that’s fine with me. We have bigger fish to fry.” I relay the decision to T.  Later that day, it turns out T had gone back to the office manager and commented in a testy tone, “Well Vicky said it’s not an issue, so I guess that’s that.” Then, she proceeded to criticize the office manager for not having her back and for “complaining about things without taking action.” 

    Jesus fucking Christ. Who is this person? Is she a child, bc she sure as hell does not handle situations like a mature adult. In the end, after consulting with several people, I decided that I didn’t want blabbermouth talking shit about my intern every time she came in wearing something T found offensive. So I talked with my intern, who received the feedback without issue. Done. I mean, seriously though. Why are you trying to discredit a really good, hardworking intern? Fuck off. My intern probably works harder than you do!

    And of course, being the defiant person that I am, on Friday I made sure to wear a super body-hugging, short dress to work. Well, tight by my standards anyway. K pretty much found the entire outfit plus the strappy sandals work-inappropriate. But fuck man, I just wanted to see if T had the gall to say something to me. The combative side of me dared her to even try… Ah well, as the universe would have it, Friday was a peaceful day. She probably didn’t even notice bc holy shit, she was actually busy with work getting media coverage for an activity on campus. One of these days though: she’s gonna complain to my face, and I will fucking unleash the Kracken!

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  • Life Choices

    I’ve been thinking a TON lately about choices. Last week, I lamented to my friend G about how throughout my life, I’ve been so adamant and insistent about “choosing my own path” and about doing things my way (rather than the way my parents wanted): from not studying biology/premed to not becoming a doctor to changing careers to not having kids… I made all these decisions with confidence, declaring that “I know myself best.” Yet decades later, am I any happier than say, Mr. Joe Schmoe who followed a straightforward path, didn’t overthink or ask questions, took a job/career (maybe a mindnumbing one), and just stayed locked in? I guess I’ve been feeling sorry for myself: after all this constant hustle, making atypical choices regarding my career and beyond, in the end, I’m still dissatisfied with life. WTF?!?

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m not regretting the kid thing, but shit, if I’m going to be an eternal malcontent, why even bother putting so much thought into everything? In some way, I acknowledge that my parents are paying a price for my choices. I’m well aware that my decision to be child-free has contributed to their unhappiness. So on top of having that on my conscience, I can’t even say that I’m living a happy, fulfilled life. I dunno. Maybe I’m just feeling fatigued, and life is beating me down. The good news? I still have some perspective. I know I live a blessed life, and no matter what, I have a lot to be thankful for. 

    John and I are celebrating 19 years together. Not to sound all Nicholas Sparks or whatever, but hands down, he’s THE best decision of my life– worth every bit of the defiance and fam drama and even our own ups and downs. That said, fuck man, I made my best call when I was 20 years old???? I sure as hell hope there are plenty more “best decisions” coming outta me in my elderly years.

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  • No Respect

    A lot has happened since we returned from Canada. The good news is that Marty is doing pretty well. We cut back on the frequency of his fluids, bc he is eating consistently and overall looking good. I did start to see some signs that maybe he was getting a bladder infection again (this would be the third time): he was drinking a lot and going outside a lot. Thinking it would be important to nip that shit in the bud, I called the vet. Unfortunately, my usual vet was out, so I spoke with the vet tech for another vet. Holy crap. Talk about trying to shame me. I explained that Marty was 15. Last fall, he had a bladder infection. The doctor also suspected kidney disease, saying kidney failure triggers bladder infections or vice versa. Either way, Marty was on antibiotics for about a month and then it went away. In May, Marty got another bladder infection. Different antibiotics bc the first ones developed a resistance and another month plus of drugs. Meanwhile, each visit to the vet to determine a bladder infection involved charges for the office visit, ultrasound, urine culture, subq fluids, drugs = $650. So this third time around, I asked the vet tech if we could just put him on antibiotics without going in for all that other stuff. The tech essentially refused, stating that the symptoms I was seeing could be the kidney disease and so a full check up plus urinalysis plus additional blood workup was necessary. I explained that we had been through this twice before, he was already getting fluids, eating all his meals… he was otherwise looking good. I didn’t want to go in for all that work bc even if we learned more about the kidney values, I wasn’t planning to do more for Marty beyond what we are currently doing. In other words, I’m not going to put him on dialysis. She proceeded to tell me that even if it’s a UTI, it can be very painful. Look lady, I have had UTIs. He does NOT appear to be in pain. Back and forth, back and forth. “He could be deteriorating fast, and we need to see him.” I could not believe the pressure she was putting on me, insisting that he go in. Whatever, lady. Fuck you. To all her insistence, I just said, “Ok” but in an exaggerated tone where it was obvious I was only saying that to shut her the hell up. Goodbye, asshole.

    I then called back and left a voicemail with my regular vet. Two days later, when he was back on shift, we discussed, and he said he was totally fine with trying 2 weeks of antibiotics first to see if that helped. If yes, he would give two more weeks. If not, we might consider taking him in. Done. I was so irritated that the tech tried to bully me. Thankfully, by now I have had lots of experience standing up to bullies but fuck, it really made me feel badly for people who love their pets but don’t have $650 to drop. Keep that shit in perspective, lady!!

    So our first weekend back, my bud P drove up from Long Beach to hang. She recently broke up with her boyfriend whom she thought was “the one.” P and I see eye to eye on most things, but sometimes with dating/romantic relationships, we can differ quite a bit in our styles. She was pretty sad about the whole thing. That said, she’s also clear on what she wants, so at least there was some closure. We had a good time hanging out. She applied to one nursing job and got scheduled for an interview the following week. She started asking Bubbey all these questions about interviewing, and I was kind of offended. I mean, here I had spent over a year taking every goddamn job hunting class out there and reading up on how to interview or prep. But she asked Bubbey. I dunno if it’s bc he was in management and he actually conducted a lot of interviews for hiring… sometimes I’m sensitive about men being perceived as more credible, experienced, and authoritative. Whatever.

    In a related experience, John had emailed our realtor last week inquiring the status about our townhouse renovation back East. The realtor replied promptly with answers to every item. The next day, I emailed separately inquiring about appliance and energy rebates or tax credits, and the realtor replied like five days later with a dismissive, generic, “Yes, I would think you could qualify for them.” WTF? I wanted to call him out. Hello, do you realize that I’m actually the one who gave you our business? Ugh. I swear to god, just another day in the life of a woman. I let it slide this time, but do not push me.

    What else. The weekend P was here, it was hotter than hell. The good news is that it forced us to leave the house in search of air conditioning relief. That led us to the mall. Imagine the role reversal! I actually helped P pick out a casual dress plus some new jewelry! Maybe that means my style sense has held steady. :) We also hit up Pacifica, where we had dinner at a super tasty Peruvian restaurant by the water, followed by bowling. On Sunday, we picnicked at the super chill Hallcrest Vineyards near Bonny Doon, walked under the redwoods canopy at Henry Cowell Park, and then had dinner in Davenport. Temps were only 75 degrees vs. 95 in Mountain View!! It was nice to be reminded of these day-trip options by the water. I’ll have to add them onto our list for future out-of-town guests.

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  • Canada

    J and I were in Canada this past week. The last time we were this far north, we were in Vancouver for my bday in 2008. That was a great trip. We left there thinking: “If it weren’t for the cold, we could really live here!”

    It seems that every trip somehow gets rated against that question, and seeing as I have just passed my ninth year in the Bay Area, what can I say, I’m getting antsy again. So this time around, we flew into Calgary, spent a couple of nights in the city, and then drove west to the mountains of Banff for another five nights. This was my first real vacation since starting my gig ten months ago. Yes, I was in Taiwan last November, but come on, family time never counts as vacay. The interesting thing about Canada? It’s kinda confusing, bc people speak English and they mostly dress/look/act very similarly to people from the States, so my brain assumes we’re in the States… but then some things are just a tad bit off. Mentally, it’s a little disorienting. Unlike when you’re in Asia or Europe where the differences are blatant, in Canada the distinctions are harder to tease out. For example, we hit up a shopping center in Calgary, and while everything about the strip mall felt very familiar and recognizable, we only knew the names of two stores (Best Buy and Costco) out of ten. Yeah, the other shops were probably Canadian. I know, duh, but it still causes a double-take. Then, at the Costco where we loaded up on wine, cheese, and trail mix, the cashier asked if we wanted our “buggy” back. John was totally confused. Thankfully, when he doesn’t hear or understand someone, I actually do. And vice versa. “Yes, we’d like the shopping cart back.”

    Other observations? DYK the population of California is more than the population of all of Canada? WTF’ right? And if you think about it further: the population of Shanghai is almost the population of Canada and California combined! Mindblowing! The pace in Alberta is also considerably slower: that goes for airport processes, driving speeds, and restaurant service. It definitely takes some getting used to. Kinda like Hawaii’s “Island time” but thankfully, not THAT slow. People are super friendly, almost suspiciously friendly. Everywhere we went, we got free upgrades: rental car, hotel 1, hotel 2, restaurant seating, airplane seating, etc. And people are very conversational, and not in the usual auto-piloty kind of way we’re used to. There’s all this eye contact, and the people really keep the conversation going, which made us unabombers super uncomfortable.

    What else. Holy crap, who knew there was so much diversity up here: I mean, I guess since Banff is a pretty international destination, it’s not that surprising to hear lots of European and Asian languages, but in Calgary? Same thing, and I also noticed many interracial couples at the public parks and around town.

    Beyond those observations, the landscape in this part of Canada is pretty stunning. We saw lots of natural beauty with distinctive highlights from glaciers in the Columbia Icefield to grassy meadows to alpine lakes to fir forests in the Rockies. For some reason, all of this reminded me of our incredible trip two years ago in Wyoming. That was one of my top five trips, and of course, I was trying to pinpoint the reasons why it was so memorable. Banff had some similar features with the beautiful ski mountains and clear lakes, but in Wyoming, 1) I saw horses everyday 2) we did some really unique activities like my Intro to Rodeo class and mountain biking down the ski slopes 3) The Grand Teton Lodge was super deluxe/nice 4) we saw tons of wildlife: moose, elk, buffalo, bears, deer…

    We still got lucky on this trip: we did see one bear and two elk, but other than that, on our three days on the trails, nothing! In conclusion, both places are definitely worth visiting. Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone are slightly less accessible, with Jackson Hole being the closest airport (often requiring a connecting flight) whereas Calgary is a short, direct flight from SFO followed by a 90-min drive. I highly recommend both, in case you’re asking!

    Probably the most challenging part of this trip was us doing two moderate-to-strenuous hikes two days in a row and well, us realizing we’re not in as good of shape as we were two years ago. Plus, don’t discount the elevation. Haha. Those hikes really knocked the wind out of us, so for a couple of days, we lost a lot of steam and had to sleep a lot. Whatever though: that’s what vacation is for– resting. In terms of getting offline for a bit, I did pretty well. Partly, I had no choice, bc AT&T and T-Mobile had shit service in the mountains. Then another night, the wifi at the hotel knocked out due to a storm. I did squeeze in a tad bit of work and even sent off a couple of job apps. But seriously, I toned my online time WAY down. I give myself a gold star, for realz. I’m feeling decently rested now, but I’m eager to reunite with my Martin. Susan says he really hates the sub-q fluids. I have definitely noticed that he is getting more and more sensitive to the needles. I may have to try some new locations on his body due to the scar tissue. He has also become finicky again with his appetite, but otherwise, he is doing well considering the circumstances. Whew, Marty lasted another week! ;)

    Wow, how is it fucking mid August  now? Shit man, back to work Monday. Gotta figure out how I’m going to get back into the groove.

    Until the photo plugin ups its max number of pics, here’s a link to the Canada full set on Flickr.

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