Monthly Archives: October 2015

Oct
28
  • Ostrich

    So I’m in NYC this week for a digital marketing conference. My attitude at work has gotten dramatically worse in the last several weeks, exacerbated by the continued disorganization, shit communication, and crisis environment. Just like Arianna Huffington has spoken about our society’s glorification of busy, my workplace does something similar but instead, it’s glorifies urgency. Needless to say, my already low level of tolerance is wearing especially thin. Even my boss has mentioned a few times: come back from NY re-energized and optimistic.

    In the last several days, she’s also dropped Asian parent guilt trips like, “My ass is on the line; can you help me?” I don’t think her fear is rational, but at the same time, when someone you know acts like the sky is falling, it’s hard to stand by and not get involved. It’s frustrating as hell trying to manage my own emotional and mental stability when I’m exposed to this level of anxiety and neuroses every day. It triggers certain aspects of my childhood. Anyway, it’s a daily struggle trying to maintain my own sense of self within the chaos–warranted or not.

    So Monday night, I hit the eject button and flew out of my current enironment: hitched that red-eye into NYC. I made the mistake of eating some chocolate early on in the flight, so I didn’t conk out as usual. Tuesday morning, I did the public transit trek into the city: about 90 min on the train/subway. On the ride in, I was reminded by the weary looks on everybody’s faces about life– the drudgery of the day in and day out.

    I arrived at the hotel early, like before 10a. I figured, I would just drop off my shit at the front desk and then explore. Well, I was plesantly surprised, bc they gave me a room that early. HIE is an old standard for us: affordable and clean. Sometimes a step up, but usually basic. After unpacking and such, I headed out. I went south to the WTC, got lost a gabillion times, took in some interesting odors throughout. It’s nice to be in a bustling place.

    I had searched for pizza for lunch, but apparently, the Financial District was not the spot. Then, I had trouble getting my way OUT of Fidi, so I ended up eating lunch at a Thai place near the hotel. Phenomenal. And bc I was so damn hungry, I ordered a papaya salad AFTER my noodles. I asked for medium, and holy shit. Let’s just say, I was blowing my nose like crazy and my mouth, lips, everything burned so badly, I got a bumpy on my lip. This is how you do the Kylie Jenner lips. Holy. fuck. Note to self: medium is super spicy.

    After that, I headed back to my room to rest. At 5, I went out to Times Square to get same-day tickets for Fun Home, a drama on Broadway. So good. I mean, heavy shit about family dysfunction and what happens when you deny your true identify to be what other people expect you to be… it was sad, poignant, and yet had really great moments of humor. Broadway, man. That is some real caliber acting. Fuck, man. And the play: it was a capsule of life, with all its complexities– some of it perhaps artificially created and exacerbated by our own shit choices.

    On my walk home, I thought about how most people really do have good intentions. But there are demons, sicknesses. I think about people whose actions I judge. Celebrities and ordinary people. It’s easy for me to say, people should be accountable for their decisions. But did I grow up with a father who was a drug addict? Was I physically abused as a child? Did I witness domestic violence? I have led a very sheltered and sanitzied life that in many ways, gave me more choices or perhaps choices offering more freedom than others. I think about how my shitty job has made me cranky or angry or rebellious. In so many ways, I have been acting out bc I’m unhappy about my job and perhaps about where I am in my life. My circumstance is simply a shitty job. Let’s be real: there are worse jobs out there. I’ve HAD worse jobs. I guess the play yesterday somehow reminded me that in spite of my latest “woes,” I really am so damn lucky. Sure, I can want better, but I need to get my head out of my fucking ass. Not that I am completely dismissing my issues, but there are some real, serious,heavy problems out there in the world. I need to get some goddamn perspective, for fuck’s sake.

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Oct
25
  • Shutting Down

    Is it just me, or do other people fantasize about going “Office Space” at their workplace? I swear to god, that is my biggest life fantasy: just going into the office one day, flipping the desk over, and saying, “I’m out.” I’m telling you, this defiance inside me runs so damn deep! It’s always interesting, bc while I was always very law-abiding and rule-following as a kid in school or as an adult in the workplace, at home, I was consistently an unruly fucking mess. I was always talking back and cussing at my parents and grandparents. Dad would punish me by whipping me with a leather belt, and I still refused to shut the fuck up. I suppose few things have changed as an adult. At home, I call J out on his shit in ways that fall more on the radical honesty/blunt side rather than the high EQ side. I dunno: I guess I have issues with authority? Or I just don’t like being told what to do.

    Needless to say, this past week was super rough at work. Not only was my bud K out of the office attending a conference (er, frolicking in the plantations of New Orleans with her beau), but it just seemed like more of the same. Daily drama and crisis management for nothing that is truly of importance. The AVP was in for a few days, out the rest. No one knows her schedule. Meanwhile, the anxiety and neurosis of my boss just keeps building. I’m so over this bullshit. At work, I was starting to get that bubbling rage feeling again, where every little thing just ticks me off. Bubbey had to have multiple talks with me throughout the week about losing sight of my self-care and allowing myself to fall into this awful zone. I know better. I have been through this drill before, and yet, mentally I just keep running around in circles. I remember once when my friend M shared a story: she hated her job and every day, the anxiety and unhappiness just kept getting worse and worse. Finally, one day her father told her not to worry so much. He would help her if things got bad. And just like that, knowing she had an out gave her comfort.

    I know I have an out. Our house in Reston in under contract, and so far, it’s on track to close on November 5. But again, I’ve always struggled with my privilege. And to think that my parents will stress and judge and I dunno: it’s just a ton of baggage. That’s the confusing thing about me. I have a track record of doing what I want, of not aligning exactly with my parents, and yet their disappointment still gets to me. In some fucked up way, their approval matters. Ugh. Almost 40 and still dealing with this kind of bullshit. Frustrates the life out of me. I want to be courageous, and yet I never feel I’m quite ready.

    I was on the phone with my father today. The misery continues, and my mother is also struggling with the daily care of my grandparents in Taiwan. I don’t know why they don’t hire help. It’s as if they insist on the struggle even if they have the resources to ease the burden. Sound familiar? God, I CANNOT turn into my parents. If there is a single fucking life lesson that I learn, it has to be leaving behind the Chinese cultural obsession with hardship and struggle.  Last week after seeing me in my state, J talked to me about leaving. I felt some relief possibly similar to my friend when her father showed her an out. And then, I imagined going to Taiwan in November and again being subjected to all the usual crap: my unnaturalness for not bearing children, my unreasonable intolerance for authority both at home and at work, my defiance and direct role in making my parents unhappy, blah, blah, blah.

    Interestingly, I  had a conversation with my boss this past week. She’s an immigrant, and she made some comment like, if parents say something you disagree with, just ignore what they say. My father has said this multiple times: just listen and then do what you want. If ONLY if were that easy. Instead, why don’t you (the parent) just not voice your concern and stop judging the decisions of your adult child? I’ve never really considered myself to be prone to guilt, but I’m realizing that I am prone to accountability and responsibility and so indirectly, that makes me susceptible to guilt with my family.

    Well I suppose the good news is that, I came down from the ledge. Every now and then, flexing whatever minimal bit of tolerance/patience I have is probably a good exercise. Tomorrow, another week begins. J has advised that I not take my work so seriously. I know I hate it; I don’t want to continue in this vein of social media, so step back. Again, not easy bc I’m a fucking obsessive maniac. But I’ll try again tomorrow. And then in the evening, I’m hopping on the red-eye to NYC. Honestly, I’m not that stoked about the conference (bad attitude and all), but I am excited to be out of the office. I reached out to a childhood friend who I thought was living in NYC, but no reply. She’s always been super flaky. Too bad. Then again, J reminded me that you just never know what challenges other people are facing. Sometimes, there’s a lot of shame. Uh, tell me about it! Oh well, it’ll be great to reconnect with my college bud J up in Boston after the conference and through the weekend. Incidentally, my father warned me tonight not leave the hotel room after dark. He’s been watching Law and Order. Jesus Christ. I’m hoping to catch a theater show one of the evenings though. I haven’t been to the theater in so fucking long, and I think it’ll be good for me.

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Oct
21
  • Filial Piety

    Fuck man, I am on a short fuse again these days. Every week, I’m being asked to prepare status updates plus participate in department brainstorming sessions. It’s not that I’m opposed to trying new things; rather, I’m opposed to adopting new procedures that aren’t clearly explained. Seriously, we’ve had maybe 5 of these brainstorming dumps, and every single time, the same issues come up: once we come up with the ideas, where are they expected to go and who is responsible for crafting the info into stories. Every week people express confusion, and yet another week passes with no further explanation.

    As for my status updates, if it were just a list of things I accomplished or projects I’m working on, no big deal. But we’re specifically asked what items weren’t done, for whom, and why. What things do you need help with? What barriers are holding you back? Ok, if you’re going to ask me and I’m going to give you feedback, please be prepared to DO SOMETHING with the feedback; otherwise, don’t bother me with these additional tasks that offer zero follow through.

    Today, my team had a meeting. Even before all the recent office drama, the women on my team have very strong attitudes. Typically, I consider that a good thing, but ugh. Something about the way these ladies communicate: it really rubs me the wrong way. Meanwhile, the boss keeps acting like what minimal info she shares with us is super confidential. Puhlease. Stop telling me to keep everything secret. You aren’t sharing info of value anyway. Seriously, come back when you actually have substantive details rather than bullshit fluff.

    Some days, I really struggle with this place and the people. On the surface, strong women. Check. Supportive boss. Check. But fuck man, you scratch just a mil below and shit, I do not like what I see. Of course, this whole time Bubbey has been warning me about my track record– my history of abruptly losing respect or interest or motivation at a job after “leadership” disappoints me. Yes, what can I say, I thrive on the human connection: it inspires and motivates me. I understand that people are flawed and imperfect, but I suppose at the core, I need to feel like the people are good in their hearts and they have character and integrity. I think the people have major chips on their shoulders, and then on top of that, they have insecurities that make them super obsessed about getting credit and recognition for their “expertise.” It really is such a bunch of self-aggrandizing crap.

    Another one of my frustrations is that my boss regularly triggers an automatic, defiant response bc she behaves in a manner that reminds me a lot of my parents, with their paranoid “everyone is out to get you” mentality. The stance of being territorial and competitive and not collaborative is super negative and exhausting. Obviously, I’m not exactly a ray of sunshine myself. I know I have my own bad attitude, but shit, I’m selective where I apply it. Across campus,  I’m still open to working together, and honestly, even though I define myself very strongly by my work, I don’t feel super compelled to receive recognition or credit or hype bc frankly, there is no concrete reward. So person A thinking I’m a rockstar doesn’t really do much for me right now bc 1) I really don’t care about my current work, meaning it’s not something that gives me pride 2) Show me the money. Seriously. Talk is cheap. Do better.

    Interestingly, when the new AVP holds department meetings, she’s all about going around the room afterwards, asking people to share their feelings. While I was initially impressed with this approach, I quickly realized that it’s just lip service. Opening up and sharing your qualms only reveals a vulnerability. There is no action taken to mitigate your concerns. In fact, when my boss called a team meeting this morning, she did the same thing, soliciting our thoughts. I expressed again my frustration with being told to do this and that on some kind of urgent timeline and then receiving zero feedback. Granted, it’s not as if my boss has any more insight into what the fuck is going on, but basically, she told me, “Learn to be comfortable with uncertainty.” Are you joking me? What kind of leniency or patience would the organization ever afford its staff? Fuck. Off. I already do a lot with my self-desensitization programs. This is not a goddamn personal or professional development exercise for me. Either take your big shit or get off the pot, as my friend T likes to say. I mean, my boss asked us to give it six months so we could determine our paths on our own timeline. Well, my timeline is way more accelerated than six months. I have seen a lot in 2015, and I want to have better reasons for how/where I’m spending my time.

    Speaking of which, I recently booked my tickets for Taiwan in November. Few people understand this, but going to Taiwan is not a vacation by any stretch of the imagination. And now bc of the whole housing debacle with my maternal grandparents, my mom and her parents are in Taiwan while my father is back in Maryland. Dad insists he’s fine and independent and self-sufficient (sound familiar?) but fuck man, he doesn’t have a NuWave or pressure cooker! I was hemming and hawing about Taiwan, and then thinking about the age of my grandparents, I decided I had to go sooner than later. Of course I called my mother over the weekend, and we talked about my grandparents’ townhouse in MD that is still on hold bc grandpa and grandma can’t agree on next steps. My mother frustrates me to no end, bc she’s just not rational. She seriously knows NOTHING about real estate, and yet she spews all this nonsensical garbage as if she knows more than the realtor or myself– and I’ve actually been handling our townhouse rental (and now it’s pending sale). Ugh. I just get into a rage trying to communicate with someone who is so utterly clueless! I felt myself getting really pissy on the phone, and as soon as I got off the phone, I was kicking myself for scheduling 7 days overseas. Way too damn long to be in the presence of idiocy. I know it’s not nice or classy or whatever to talk shit about your mother. What can I say: radical honesty is a beotch and a half. Plus, I’m not going to feign a good relationship where there is none. Fuck that shit. This ain’t the Brady Bunch.

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Oct
18
  • Clearing the Clutter

    I’m finally trying to tackle all the clutter– both mental clutter and physical clutter. Thanks to the recent renewed vigor for my Bubbey bucks program, unused items are finally making their way off our tiny Houseboat. That said, the process has still been slow as fuck, bc well, the environmental engineering side of me just gets too damn involved. I know, it’s my own fucking fault that decluttering is ridiculously cumbersome and tedious.

    For example, a while back, our first pressure cooker (7 yrs old) busted with the plastic regulator cracking to bits. Rather than just chucking that thing into the dumpster, I tried desperately to find a replacement part so that I could salvage the appliance. In the end, after a couple hours of online research plus a failed purchase on Amazon, I realized that my only real option was to buy a new one. Fine, the new pressure cooker arrived and immediately, I put it to work cooking Marty’s food. Still though, I kept the old unit thinking maybe I just needed to spend some more time or talk to the right people (my engineering friends who order machine parts all the time) to make the old one functional again. Next thing I know, weeks fly by with the damn thing sitting in the garage. Eventually, I talked to my EE/manufacturing bud, and he said the same thing happened to his family. The only solution was to trash the old one and buy a new one. Ugh, fine. So then, I decided I would recycle the old one. It sat around the garage some more as I gathered my e-waste. By the time I organized a batch for Green Citizen, I learned that the shop now charges by the pound to recycle e-waste! WTF?!? $7 to recycle that ONE heavy-ass thing! Ugh. Yes, I could have just set it out with my household garbage, but then it wouldn’t get recycled. Fine, take the damn $7. Not a huge sum, but certainly, if I have a lot of electronics, it adds up. I’ve been brainstorming alternatives ever since.

    Thankfully, I discovered that my school has a pretty robust recycling program for e-waste and other off-beat items like plastic wrap, candy wrappers, makeup containers, and old shoes. Good to know. Of course, having this stream doesn’t reduce the collecting of junk, but since I go to work M-F, I guess I don’t have to let the stuff sit on the Housebat: I can just take what I have everyday! Don’t ask me what all is in my car’s trunk right now.

    This past weekend, we resumed our garage makeover. Last summer, J and I had cleaned out the garage somewhat and J demoed the paneling and shelving inside. This past weekend, we got an electrician/contractor to re-wire the place and next we’re planning to have someone insulate and drywall. At the start of all this, we had expected the process to take just a few weeks. Sadly, shit happened: J got tore his calf muscle, he traveled home with S, and then he started a new job in SF. And to come clean, bc of my issues, I was really of very little help. I helped go through the garage junk a bit (via recycling and freecycle), but I didn’t do squat with the demo or electrical permitting process. The good news is, the two electricians worked all day yesterday, and the garage is totally emptied out (who knew a single-car garage had so much damn space!). With the initial wiring done, this week we’re hoping to have the city inspector come and then afterwards, on to insulating and dry walling! J had started researching some storage cabinets, counters, and lighting options, but this weekend we decided to call in an organizer. Yup, we’re at the point now where it’s more important to get shit done than to do everything completely dirt cheap and DIY. And for once, I’m working my network to find recommended peeps. Although the services are more expensive than DIY, they’re still way cheaper than the regular market. Electrician, drywaller, and organizer. We’ll see how it all pans out. We just don’t have the energy or time anymore to drag through everything. I suspect this change in mindset comes with nearing 40. I need to simplify my life, for reals.

    What else. Last weekend, I worked a shit ton of hours for the university’s alumni reunion weekend. Ugh, the amount of cheerleading and chipper content that is required!! I kept reminding myself, “I am not my audience,” but still, this school spirit bullshit is insufferable. And of course, the added irony is that I was so glad to leave the event planning/organizing duties of my last job with its annual volunteer events and staff events and public celebrations. Fuck man. As life would have it, now every big event at the uni spans multiple days and is several times larger. Wtf did I do?? In the very least, this year’s reunion event is behind me now. Next up? The new AVP is sending me to NYC later this month for a 2-day conference on content marketing. My boss was so excited for me: she acted like I was getting sent on a vacation or something. Uh, last I checked, every time I’m off attending a conference (be it for work or for myself), I get inundated with email assignments and requests throughout the day. In other words, going to a conference doesn’t replace the tasks at the office; instead, attending just gets stacked on top of all usual day-to-day crap, so sorry, I’m not floating on air about it. Whatever though. The conference itself is rather short, and afterwards, I’m riding Megabus up to Boston to spend a few days with my college bud J. I am in need of a serious vacation. My bud K raised her eyebrows on learning that I was staying with J at his apartment (uh, do you seriously expect me to pay out of pocket for a Boston hotel?), but like I’ve explained: our friendship is purely platonic, and it’s all good. Frankly, this behavior is nothing new. He stayed in my hotel room when I was attending a conference in Miami. Been there, done that. Gotta trust, lady.

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Oct
6
  • Recalibrating

    So Bubbey and S returned last Tuesday from their visit with the parentals, and without skipping a beat, both were back to work on Thursday. Back to the grind. J started his new gig at a startup run by a former colleague of his. The commute to SF is LONG. He’s still trying got figure out the train schedule, but yeah no wifi and shoddy cell signal is a pain in the ass. The good news is that he’s been able to score a seat for the 45-55 min journey and also squeeze in those daily Fitbit steps walking to/from the station. He also happens to be on a crazy early shift, waking up around 6 to drink his coffee, walk/feed the dog, and then catch the 7:30 train. I’m enjoying having him back, not only for the companionship but also bc now I can return to sleeping in while he handles doggie duty and kitchen chores. Meanwhile, Marty has been doing amazeballs. Even the neighbors have commented about his rejuvenation and extra spunk. He bounced back to a level way better than we ever expected! Hurray for Marty Man!

    On Saturday K and her beau D came over with their little man JC (doggie). I’m not gonna lie: usually when we cook for others, we do our go-to dishes: BBQ, burgers, steak salad, pork chops, duck… But my bud K (bless her heart, as the Jezzies would say) doesn’t eat beef or pork or a variety of other foods. I know she’s always courteous (ahem, thanks to charm school) and flexible as a guest, but still, I didn’t want to make a misstep on dinner. In the end, I tried a NuWave pecan-crusted chicken tenders recipe. The verdict? Eh, so so. All right for a first time, but not our usual “out of the park” hit. She and D were totally gracious and I think among all of us, it was mostly consumed. But, you know Bubbey: he’s got the highest standards out of everybody. He made a face and shrugged. Not enough seasoning. Sigh. Note for next time.

    Beyond chowing down, we had a great time. K and I are like sisters, chatting up a storm, talking about our various beefs with the Jezzies as well as my parenting phobia (I now call J&J’s baby boy my “rejected godchild”). Hey man, I think my next website will have to be “Child Free or Die.” Get it? Like the New Hampshire license plate tagline: “Live Free or Die”? Afterwards, K insisted on doing the dishes. Homegirl is super sweet, but shit, she was running my water like a drought newb, AND she used my sink cleaning brush to scrub the dishes. Hahaha. I didn’t say anything at the time bc well, I think it would have grossed her out. I don’t really mind: after all, I have a different standard for cleanliness. Plus, I’m a very strong organism. It was nice to have stuff loaded into the dishwasher, I gotta say. Little JC was super cute!! Usually, I’m not a big fan of the mini dogs, but he’s very well-behaved and not barky at all. He and Marty tolerated each other, which means that Marty conked out the whole time they were over. You know how the oldies roll.

    On Sunday, we had plans to see J&J in San Leandro. But baby was sick for like the fifth week in a row and J was coming down with something too. I swear to god, how do parents do this?? No sleep, perpetual sickness, and then still the demands at work!! I ended up sleeping most of the day. The day prior had been a great day filled with friends and laughter, but somehow Sunday was quickly overtaken with the dread of heading back to my shit job on Monday. Oh well, if anything, my body soaked up that extra sleep. People say your sleep deficit can never fully be made up, but whatever. It felt good. I am starting back up listening to Meditation Oasis. Usually, I’m not even paying attention to the words anymore, but something about listening to Mary Maddux’s voice calms me. I’m hoping all of these things are indicative of some kind of re calibration. I need to get back to normalcy.

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Oct
5
  • Being Useful

    As an ESTJ, one of my top values is usefulness. That applies to things and to people. While J and S were back East visiting with the parentals, I tried to get myself back on track (with my life). I cleaned and went through my stockpile of old elecronics. Originally, the plan was to just trade in the items via some device buyback program, but then I reviewed the numbers and holy crap: selling on Ebay yielded significantly more money. So yes, I found myself jumping thorough all the pain-in-the-ass hoops, taking various pictures and figuring out shipping and cleaning shit up to be as pristine as possible. I like earning those Bubbey bucks, but fuck man, Ebay is not a very streamlined process. After selling three devices, I might need a break. Haha. I mean, I’m thrilled to find new homes for my old things, but dealing with shipping is a royal pain. When the hell did postage rates get so damn pricey??

    My friend J recently retired and bought herself a new laptop and printer. She’s an older lady, about the age of my father, and she spent hours with Geek Squad setting up the new printer. They got it working, and then weeks later, the printer started giving her an offline error. She was all ready to go through the Geek Squad fiasco all over again until I offered to help her. I have done a lot of IT/tech support in my day. Back when I worked for the feminist org, I was always canabalizing our old computers so we could stretch that shitty hardware just a little bit farther. Then with my dad… well, you know the drill there. So I went over to her house thinking I would just crank out the solution in a matter of minutes. Well, I got stumped, and two hours later, I was still trying to get that shit sorted. Finally, I got it working. Basically, I kept trying to connect the printer to her old wifi network. Once I realized she was actually using a new network, we got her back in business. She was so cute though: so thrilled to have the tech help. I always thought her son-in-law who lives in Los Altos was a tech guy. Why hadn’t he helped her with this? That made me sad: that she would have someone who could help her but she either didn’t want to bother him with a request, or he didn’t make time to help her. J is such a fun and sassy lady though. While I was over, she showed me her latest gardening and home projects. It’s so nice to find an older person with hobbies and a social life! She also admired my new purse, and guess what: She ended up ordering the same one in a different color. Haha!

    After my hangout with J, I headed north to spend the afternoon with M. I gave M my old Kindle, and she was thrilled. One of the cool things about M is that she is a hardcore researcher. She researches everything and anything under the sun: high end toaster ovens, car care, tax laws, everything. And we commiserate over stories about our unresourceful siblings. Goddamn, some people just really don’t give two fucks about understanding how things work. After we talked all that smack, we had lunch and hit the mall. Can’t go wrong with H&M! We had a great time! On the drive home, I had this realization about how I’d let my depression about the job really overtake so many other aspects of my life. Like I had stopped having people over for dinner, stopped biking/skating/walking, stopped hosting Craft Club… I enjoy doing things with others, and yet somehow I’d forgotten. Damn job: I let it change me and def not for the better. Fucking buzzkill of the century.

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