Monthly Archives: March 2016

Mar
31
  • For the Love of Research

    OMFG, I have been in killer research mode. I mean, I know I’m kinda perpetually in research mode bc I’m curious about so many freaking things but lately, the intensity has seriously been elevated. First things first: my vanity. Yeah, disappointed by the ortho visit, I looked into the cosmetic densistry/veneers/bonding route. Turns out the veneers dentist I found is on vacation until next week. So while I wait, I returned to the face research. I was going back and forth via email with one skin clinic doctor, but getting info (esp on basics, like cost of the consult and cost of typical treatment) was like pulling teeth. I know a lot of skin lasering shit is elective and not covered by insurance, but I still need to know how much shit costs before going down the path. Like, who says there is a consult fee and then doesn’t tell you what it is?

    Late last night, as Marty was having another restless bout (maybe bc he didn’t get an evening walk… also the Tranquility tincture wasn’t working), just for kicks I thought I’d revisit my old school forums over at acne.org– you know, read their comments about treatments for scarring. Back in the day when my face was a monstrous mess, I combed every square inch of that website. Returning and seeing all the pictures made me feel so sad, bc my god, acne can be so damn traumatizing. To my surprise, there was an entire thread on laser resurfacing… There are different kinds but most people said it made the scarring WORSE, and shit, story after story, people blew thousands and said the lasering like went way beyond just smoothing their surface but changed their face to the point of them not even recognizing their own face in the mirror. WTF??? Like Jennifer Grey shit? Oh fuck no. As I read through the posts, I learned that my scars are actually called ice pick scars, not nearly as bad as boxcar scars which is some really fucked up shit. Goddamn acne, man. It was one of the most damaging experiences of my life… I tear up just thinking about how debilitating it was and I’m so grateful things got better. Who knew that after trying every possible prescription cream and oral antibiotic plus Accutane (that shit did work although for a short time), the ultimate answer would be icing, benzoyl peroxide, and mandelic acid serum (and maybe California air?). But I digress… Last night, a bunch of people suggested subcision and micro needling over laser. What the hell are those? More research. So in both cases, the idea is to use a needle to poke around and under the skin where there is scarring. That “breaks up” the scar tissue and triggers the body to regenerate and create more collagen to repair the area, thereby replenishing it with new skin (and smoother surface).

    So this morning, I booked an appointment with M’s doctor for mid April, but I also started looking into this dermarolling/micro needling concept. Multiple before/after pics and YouTube videos later, I’m sold. I ordered a kit from Banish in Los Angeles, and I’ll give it a go. If anything, it’s not just for acne scarring but also for anti-aging and overall skin improvement, like people have also used it for stretch marks and skin tightening too. I’m not gonna lie: the bloody videos are kinda scary and some people say it fucking hurts (You’re essentially rolling a meat tenderizer over your face), but what can I say: I’m a vain beotch, and I want better skin. Stay tuned.

    In other news, as I’ve been booking lodging and shit for Europe, I was getting a little nervous about my dad’s MRI results, supposedly coming tomorrow. I looked into trip cancellation insurance and holy crap, our United Air Explorer card has trip insurance built-in, which means in the event of sickness or illness of you or your family member, the insurance covers up to $10k for prepaid travel bookings. I mean, if shit were bad, we would certainly do what we gotta do, but it’s nice just having that piece of mind. I swear, it’s a whole other job knowing about those damn credit card benefits.

    I remember a few years ago, I worked with this guy who had a very elaborate system, like if he got gas, he used Card A; if groceries, Card B; if travel, Card C; etc… It was serious, and while I was definitely impressed, I guess there is a point of OVER-optimizing, as Bubs likes to remind me (e.g my dad). So yeah, J and I aren’t super duper on the ball, but man, I do admire the hustle, and I get super excited whenever I uncover little secrets here and there… Speaking of which, have you heard of the Southwest Companion Pass? Holy crap, I just learned of this last week. Yup, I’ve already applied for two cards in an attempt to try and get it. What can I say, a woman’s gotta have goals. Shrug.

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Mar
30
  • Keeping the Household Humming

    Some days, I get the sense that Bubs thinks I’m just sitting around twiddling my thumbs and shopping all day online. Admittedly, I am a superstar “researcher” but shit, there’s more to keeping the household humming than just clicking around online. Admittedly, we’ve been on a bit of a spending spree these last several months… What’s that saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” For me, I just want Bubs to be happy. Sounds simple enough, but it’s no small feat for someone prone to depression and negative thinking (actually, both of us!). Bubs works really hard, so whenever he makes a comment or complaint or whatever, I try to be attentive. I’m not trying to be the subservient wife or anything, but he’s my companion and I want to do whatever I can to help create our “best life” together. Ugh, I know. Enough with those fucking Tony Robbins terms. Sorry, not sorry.

    Certainly, after I left my job, the first orders of business involved multiple home projects related to the garage and re-organization. But then, Bubbey was frustrated with our disorganized, limited closets, so we got TCS elfa installed. Bubbey said eating out wasn’t good for our diets, so I started cooking more at home, really hustling to have dinner ready when he stepped in the door. Then Bubbey hated our old sofa, so I researched and found a deep-seated sectional. Then, he lamented that we kept postponing our Europe trip and the years were flying by, so I booked that trip (award miles, baby!). Then, he wanted to install ductless heating/cooling to the house, so I’ve scheduled free estimates with two contractors. Then, he said looking at the dead grass (I killed our lawn bc of the drought, and Bubbey loves a green lawn!!) annoyed him, so I took on Operation Front Yard, laying out a plan, researching plants, and directing the gardeners. Yes, I know. I am oozing privilege here bc 1) I have the funds for all these projects and 2) I actually have gardeners instead of having to till the soil and plant the plants myself… Of course, in all these cases, I benefit too bc we have built a life together. And I get satisfaction from being useful and productive. Still, sometimes I get tired of trying to meet every need with minimal acknowledgement. And ultimately, I wonder. Will he ever be happy? Will WE ever be happy? Are we just a couple of malcontents who will never look up despite how much we have and how lucky we are? The theme of “not good enough” surfaces again, and I think of how throughout my life, I have nearly killed myself over this idea of not meeting the standards/expectations, whether they are set by my parents, my family, Bubbey, or myself.

    Last week, I started obsessing over my physical imperfections. Honestly, I think the nitpicking was part of a bigger problem of just feeling out of control, esp with the uncertainty of my father’s health. But I’ve always hated my smile. I never show teeth, and even after I got braces taken off in college and I had a straight smile, I hated showing teeth. Now, I noticed that my two front teeth are crooked again. I was so good about wearing that damn retainer for years after brace, but I stopped by the time I was 30. And it shows. I leaned in closer to the mirror and noticed so many pock marks on my nose. That damn nose. It’s been the bane of my existence since forever. After decades of cystic acne, it’s scarred and misshapen. I know these are superficial things, but they are starting to bug me more now than ever. Am I getting greedy? I always think back to my days of youth when I truly believed only two things were required for happiness: 1) a dog 2) no more acne. Remember how I told the universe I would stop complaining if those wishes were answered? Well, look at me now. SMH.

    Being the researcher that I am, I figured there’s no harm in gathering information. So I Yelped a few places, and yesterday I went to see an orthodontist. Turns out, J’s dental insurance doesn’t cover ortho at all. Again, it’s just my two front teeth! I’m good with everything else. Well, what could I expect: Orthos are perfectionists too. Long story short, the proposed treatment isn’t just working on those two teeth: no, it’s an entire 18-month long plan with both top and bottom realignments bc my entire line of teeth have to be pushed out to a wider semicircle to create more space for the two front teeth! Fucking A. 18 months of wearing Invisalign for 20-22 hrs/day. And the real kicker? Fucking $8,000!!! Oh, hell no. So I got home all disheartened. I mean, I’m no dentist but can’t they just shave down the front teeth and cap them with veneers? So now I’m going to see a cosmetic dentist next week to ask about some combo of shaving/bonding/veneers to see if we can arrive at a better solution.

    Meanwhile, I went to the derm last week for my nose and wtf, the dude hardly had anything to say. He suspects what happened was that the cystic acne deformed my oil glands and pores hence the bumpiness on my nose. Usually, I thought derms could talk laser treatments and resurfacing. Nope, homeboy just wanted me to see a cosmetic surgeon. He said maybe Fraxel could resolve this, but he didn’t even know. Well, shit. Now I blew my one free doctor visit per year on a useless visit. The place he recommended didn’t get good reviews, so now I’m going to check out a skin spa. Ugh, fucking no progress. Maybe if I tackle at least one of the two deformities, I’ll feel better. Then again, maybe I’ll just find a third imperfection to obsess over… Sigh. Some days I exhaust myself.

     

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Mar
29
  • Twists and Turns

    After a pretty darn good weekend, this week kicked off in the shits. We had just seen John’s sister S and her dog Jake the week before Easter for the Maryland NCAA game. And J and I had just remarked how amazing Jake looked– so much more energetic and sprightly than Martin. Then suddenly, over Easter weekend, he couldn’t get up and he stopped eating. By Monday, he was gone. Sure, he lived a charmed life: he couldn’t have gotten a better owner than S. She really stuck by him through thick and thin, and he was NOT an easy dog in his younger years. Still, there was just something so upsetting about death and death now for her. It’s been a challenging last 18 months. She lost Bodi (her first dog), then M– the love of her life, and now Jake. I don’t know the details of what happened, but it just goes to show you that life really can keep you on your toes. Just as I was thinking how invincible our dogs have been, coming back from so many illnesses and problems, there is that one last time when they just can’t pull through, and how do you ever prepare for that.

    worstday

    Our trip to Europe is in two weeks. I’m worried for Martin but what can be done? I also don’t believe in halting my life for fear of bad things happening, and so, I’ve found him a good sitter. I vetted her as much as I could. I’ve left my neighbor’s contact info with her, and we can only go from there.

    Meanwhile, I had thought that my grandparents’ townhouse went into settlement last Monday but turns out it was this Monday. On Monday night, my parents called me to tell me 1) dad is feeling better– the dizziness is slowly getting better and he hasn’t had any issues with it while driving 2) dad has an appointment with the neurologist on Friday to review the MRI. Then, Mom got on the phone and said she didn’t know anything about the bombing in Pakistan. Because the buyers are Middle Eastern or Arab (just going off their name– we don’t know if they are Muslim or Pakistani), she’s freaking out now that their check will be invalid or fraudulent or whatever. Jesus Christ, prejudiced much? I mean, you and dad could be fucking Commies since you’re Chinese. And first off, why did you ask for a physical check instead of just getting the money wired into your account? Get with the modern banking system! Second, it’s called escrow. Third, there are a ton of parties involved in the transaction. Are all the settlement attorneys and real estate agents in on it too? Again, this is the level of cray I am dealing with.

    Then, more technical issues. Dad’s wifi printer, which was JUST working two days ago, now is offline again. Back and forth. He kept his 15 y/o HP printer just in case, so he plugged in the USB to that unit. No longer printing. Finally, I’m like, just take the USB cable from the old printer and use it for the new printer. OMFG, that took forever. He couldn’t find the socket on the new printer. I’m like, it HAS to be there. Just check all the ports for a hole that is the same shape. How hard can this be? You have no idea. Fifteen minutes later, it’s connected and we are back in action. When I tell my friends, they never understand how cumbersome these troubleshooting calls are with my parents. That’s bc most people they know have a basic level of tech understanding, and words like home button, start button, icon, desktop, window, minimize, maximize, and browser actually MEAN something. My parents get confused every. damn. time. I know they aren’t retarded, but shit, old age sure is fucking making their brains slow.

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Mar
27
  • Flurry of Activity

    Last week, I was feeling so good about getting myself back on track. Faced with the deadline of my yoga Groupon, I actually hit the studio every damn day for a week (minus Easter). And on Friday night, J and I tried a new ktv place for the first time in years, joined by K + D. In the past, our ktv spot was a Japanese joint in Cupertino. This time, we opted for a Taiwanese-owned place with lots of food options (instead of just snacks and drinks like the old place). What a pleasant surprise! Sadly, the audio system didn’t work wonders on my voice the same way that ktv place in Tokyo did and the queuing system was a bit confusing, but overall, we had a blast! And holy crap: K is really good! I have a lot of friends who are fans of karaoke, but homegirl can do hardcore rap! I have NO IDEA how she knows all the words and is able to keep up with the pacing, but it’s pretty damn amazing to witness. I keep telling her she needs to enter some karaoke contests, for realz… I’m gonna be her agent! Bubs and I did have a realization Friday night that we need to update our song list. I mean, K + D are mid-80s babies but shit, who knew music from the 80s and 90s was so damn repetitive and lingering? Those chorus lines drag on and on!!!

    In other news, on Saturday, G + J came to town with baby O. Yup, the Houseboat was the site of TWO babies (and six adults), as J + J also came over with baby H. I have said it before: holy crap the babies are nonstop action, and J and I didn’t even have to do anything! But it’s just the constant movement and monitoring… J and I were so wiped that night. Still, we had a great time catching up with our buds. The two baby boys got along (we captured some nice photos), and it was nice to just chillax on the Houseboat: cook dinner and lounge on the patio outside. We couldn’t have asked for better weather this weekend.

    On Saturday, my gardeners were also over all day, getting going on Operation Front Yard. They tore everything up, added a shit ton of fresh soil/amendment, regraded/tilled, and started laying out my plan. To be honest, I’d been dragging ass on this front yard do-over for nearly 3 years… mostly bc J and I know nothing about plants and we really just had no fucking clue what we were doing. But my bud J kicked things off with that watercolor sketch and then I got some ideas from Pinterest and finally assembled a design board. With a few trips to the nursery, I started feeling better: it wasn’t really as hard as I had anticipated. I pretty much just needed full/part sun plants that were also drought tolerant, and surprisingly, the nursery is already arranged in a logical way where the plants are categorized similarly. So I’ve definitely deviated from the design board, but as my gardener has laid things out with spray paint and brought us sample flagstone and gravel to help envision everything, I’m finally feeling excited that this shit is going to happen. I’m kinda bummed that we missed the county landscape rebate program (the county ran out of funds), but at this point, I just can’t wait to see how everything comes together. Two more Saturdays and we should cross that finish line! Yippee!

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Mar
23
  • Come What May

    So I’m pretty much speaking to my dad daily at this point. On Monday, he got an appointment with the neurosurgeon who promptly ordered an MRI scheduled for Tuesday. My father is feeling less nauseous, but the dizziness is not subsiding. He tells me the MRI is pretty fine-grained, and it can usually detect Alzheimer’s, tumors, and/or blockages (something about the brain arteries not carrying enough oxygenated blood?). I dunno, I’m pretty sure it’s frustrating as hell trying to communicate with a biology/medical newb. Meanwhile, his family in Taiwan is freaking out and calling him every day.

    The good news is that he has finally started doing some exercises– just 10 minutes twice a day. Nothing on his new elliptical but I suppose so long as his balance feels unstable, that’s probably smart. I haven’t spoken to my mother since that day she asked me to come home if it turns out to be something serious. My guess is that she is paralyzed even further by fear and catastrophic thinking. That’s her m.o. anyway. I’ve pretty much taken over the coordination/communications of his property-related items. He keeps telling me he just can’t handle those things mentally right now, and then he apologizes for being a “burden” on me. At the same time, I think he is somewhat resigned to what will come. He says he wants to keep living but if something happens, that’s life. It’s so weird to think so much nowadays about mortality. The inevitability of it does nothing to lessen the emotions. I wonder if he has a different perspective due to his profession. Stanford’s Dr. Kalanithi comes to mind. I’m trying to stay calm until more information is available. As you can tell from my family, it’s hard to keep the worry in check.

    I was up early today for yoga again. Class 3. Still way more intense than I would like, but I’m feeling the soreness and taking that to mean progress on some small level. Turns out I have six more classes left by March 29. In the very least, I hope to finish this week out strong. It’s a little weird being back on an early schedule again. When I walked Marty this morning, I ran into all the kids walking to school. I also bumped into a neighbor (the one who complained to me months ago at the park about parenting): she asked me what I was up to… Turns out, her sister is also taking classes now to get her real estate sales license. I’ve been reaching out to a number of people I know (including my loan officer) to just get some more scoop/background. Honestly, I’m probably doing a little bit of analysis paralysis here, but I’ll get going soon enough.

    What else. Yesterday, I made two trips to the nursery for plants. Yeah, for weeks now, our front yard has just been a big muddy lot. I had our gardener completely cut off the water, so the lawn browned and then last month, he dug up the remnants so that only dirt was left. Trying to re-do the front lawn the cheap way, I asked my friend J, who is a hobbyist gardener. The lady came back with a freaking watercolor painting of her proposal. And with Pinterest and many conversations with my gardener, I did a mockup plan. I kinda wanted him to take my design board and go with it, but my gardener insisted that I buy the plants. Ugh, fine. Turns out, that was a good idea, bc stuff I thought I wanted didn’t look good in person, so there were several modifications. Now, the crew is coming Saturday to get started. Btw, who the fuck knew plants were so damn pricey. I mean sure, I’m always stuck in 1980s pricing, but shiit. I don’t even feel safe piling up all these plants behind my front gate. Some of them should be on lockdown or something. SMH.

    I guess it all works out though, bc I was pleased to sell my Petrie sofa today! Yup, I had posted almost two weeks ago on Craigslist and on a for sale app called OfferUp. No interest at $700 (which I admit was a high starting price). I then dropped $25 and got some interest. Today, a lady from Menlo Park stopped by and put down a deposit. I kinda wish I had held firm at $675 but I came down another $50. Both M and Bubbey were shocked that my sofa sold for that much, but hey man, there are plenty of frugal rich people out there!! After the sale, as I drafted a quick text confirming receipt of the deposit, she revealed that her hubby is a lawyer. Something about them moving and they just sold their couch, so maybe this one is a temporary one? See? I could have gotten $700 Bubbey bucks.

    Ok well it’s suddenly 4p, and I gotta scramble to get groceries and make dinner. Yup, living the June Cleaver lifestyle these days. Except for the etiquette/manners/charm school part, I’m pretty good with managing the home!

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Mar
21
  • Groupon Grind

    Even though I’m now getting better sleep, keeping my mind healthy remains a constant challenge. My parents called this past weekend: dad is still feeling really dizzy and nauseous. He plans to call the neurosurgeon today to make an appointment and maybe get a CAT scan. Scary. I did a light Google search last night about dizzyness, and most of the results come up pointing to ear issues. Honestly though, and this is kind of unlike me bc I’m not generally superstitious, but I’ve been a little reluctant to dig too deeply, afraid of what I might find. The thing is, the ENT last week cleared him of anything serious from that perspective, but my dad says the symptoms suggest problems with the cerebellum so… I dunno. I’m just feeling anxious about so many things.

    J and I are headed to Europe next month– for only ten days but I’ve got Marty, who is sleeping through the night now but his back legs are getting weaker and his appetite is fussy again. We gave him subcutaneous fluids yesterday for the first time since December. The new dog sitter was keen on watching him when I met her, but now she has yet to confirm the booking on Rover. Then I don’t know what’s going on with my dad and his health issues. Plus, I still got my three 90+ y/o grandparents in Taiwan (should I visit them sooner than later?). And then my in-laws are struggling and grumpy, stressing Bubbey out. Then it’s tax time and I never feel organized enough with my record keeping.

    Job-wise, I decided to pursue the real estate route, but I dunno, I’m feeling other insecurities like what if I’m not a good sales agent or it takes me forever to ramp up or… what will people think? Like we had dinner with some friends on Saturday night, and they’re both in tech/startup and Bubbey’s in tech. After we went around the table kinda catching up on what they’re doing work-wise, I felt so sheepish talking about going into real estate. I dunno. It’s just a constant battle with my confidence, I tell ya. And then, again, I’m almost 40. Why don’t I already have my shit figured out?

    I’ve been searching on Eventbrite lately for housing/remodel/green design events. As my friend K has suggested to me before, one avenue is to tie in my environmental engineering background/interests into real estate through like green building or sustainable construction. I dragged J to a home design trends event last Saturday morning at Palo Alto Library. It was kinda cool to see about the latest… who knew there are now porcelain tiles that look like hardwood floors?? Super durable. Some of the other trends def reminded me of what I’ve been seeing on Fixer Upper too. Tomorrow night, I’m going to an event at the Mountain View Library about using your laundry graywater for landscaping. I’m trying to test the waters to gauge my interest in these potential offshoots…

    Ultimately though, I know that exercise is critical to keeping my mind from going crazy. I realized last night that my yoga Groupon expires one week from today, and I still have like 8 classes left to use. Yep, I slacked off big time. So this morning, I was up early and I made it to the 9:30 hatha yoga class. Fuck, I can feel how out of shape I am. Fucking lame, but I’m aiming to attend class every day this week. Can’t let those $40 go to waste, right? The factors that trigger me… I’ve also got a Groupon remaining for the local JCC. Maybe I’ll activate that after Europe. My plan is to wade around in their heated pool during the day when (hopefully) no one else is around.

     

     

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Mar
20
  • Discovery Island

    I’ve been in big time product discovery mode lately. My mind’s been back in overdrive and to make matters worse, Marty’s doggie dementia recently hit new heights. Every night, he was panting excessively, scratching his bed like a maniac, and just being generally neurotic, unsettled, and jumpy. J and I were both at wit’s end. “He’s going down!! We can’t take this anymore!” we screamed. Then one night, I started researching doggie dementia again, and holy crap, I came across a forum where so many people are having the same issues! They lamented about how much joy their dogs brought to their lives and yet, they were really at the end of their tethers bc the old dogs were practically unrecognizable in behavior. There was this palpable tension of being frustrated and sleep deprived, teetering on the verge of pulling the plug but then also still wanting to honor the lifelong friendship with their pets. Ah, the heartbreak! Many things, I’d come across before: Rescue Remedy, Thundershirt, melatonin, Benadryl, and then… Apawthecary Tranquility Blend AND Hyland Calms Forte. Huh? I went to Amazon and read the reviews. Bam! Ordered. The homeopathic tincture arrived last Monday and holy Jesus Mary and Joseph: Marty has been sleeping through the night for the last seven days. As for me, I’ve been taking the Calms Forte tablets and what the what? Sleep for all!!! No waking up on the 2-3 hour OB/GYN or new parents’ cycle. Fucking miracle!!! We’re all saved. I haven’t slept this well in YEARS.

    Of course, my research did not stop there. Bc of the Muddy Waters incident, an acquaintance directed me to Norwex microfiber cleaning cloths, recommending that I use them for the new sectional… except that Norwex works with water and my sofa is water-free only (cleaning code S). Nonetheless, what’s this product she’s raving about? I investigated. Holy crap. $30 for a pair of microfiber cloths?? Can they really be that phenomenal? I was intrigued. Well, this necessitated drilling deeper, bc you know I’m a cheap bastard. Whatdya know? I came across the blog of a former Norwex rep (FYI Norwex is a direct sales/MLM-style company, like Mary Kay, Amway, JuicePlus, etc.). The rep said she absolutely loved their cloths, but they were too damn pricey. She found a cheaper alternative, called ecloths. So I ordered those just to see what all this fuss was about. The cloths arrived last week and holy cow. Every glass surface in my house is now spotless– even cleaner than with Windex + newspaper, which already was already freaking trail-blazing, in my opinion. And with just water!!! I was so excited, I couldn’t wait for Bubbey to get home that day to see the difference. Sadly, when he got home the sun had already gone down and he couldn’t really tell. But, the next morning, even Bubs was impressed. That shit is cray! You will have to see for yourself.

    Continuing on the cleaning vein, yeah, since my new sectional was all high maintenance with the whole water-free thing, I did have to use solvent. If any of you should have the misfortune of getting your upholstery soiled by a Muddy Waters, I’d recommend K2r solvent. I mean, Marty did a real number, but after multiple applications, I’m pretty happy that order got restored. Good enough, at least.

    In non-product-related news, our Phoenix trip was a blast. I had been there two years ago for a weekend with G and then before that with Bubs and our friend M for the Grand Canyon. This trip was more focused on Phoenix and Scottsdale. I gotta say: I’m not a fan of the politics there or the utter lack of Asians (Asians are less than 3% of the population!), but shit, I am a fan of cheap(er) real estate and shiit, 299 days of sunshine every year! Plus, the store/shop names are so much for creative. Like we ate at a pie shop called The Pie Hole, next door to a pizza joint called Humble Pie. Then, there was a breakfast spot called The Good Egg. And a used car lot called the Jalopy Jungle. And a mega gas station called Super Pumper. See? Creative, right? J and I found some decent grub too, well except the mediocre sushi (duh!). We hit up Bob Marley at the Tempe Improv (fantastic show!!), the Desert Botanical Garden where there’s a really beautiful integration of sculpture art + plants, and I didn’t even realize this until our last day, but Frank Lloyd Wright’s western campus for his architecture school is based in Scottsdale at Taliesin West. We did a tour, and now I’m planning to add FLW buildings to my bucket list. So cool! Turns out, he also designed a house in a Phoenix suburb for his son, and we’re gonna hit that up next time! Overall, another great quickie destination (with direct flights to SJC): truth be told, AZ might just make it onto our “places to live” list. That said, I should mention that the PHX Sky Harbor Airport is a disaster. New and beautiful but fuck, that place is run like an LAX: disorganized with lots of idle staffers doing zippo about long lines. It was an optimizer’s nightmare, and for sure, both of us nearly lost it witnessing the egregious inefficiency on our flight out. SMH. Total buzzkill to end the trip, but I guess you win some and lose some.

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Mar
15
  • On Speed Dial

    Since returning from our weekend Phoenix, I’ve been feeling super agitated and angry. As you know, in recent weeks, my parents have become more and more dependent on my help, and their lack of tech savvy and my mother’s overall inability to communicate makes helping them particularly trying. Now, the latest situation is that my father asked the post office to hold their mail for like two months. My dad filled out the form and designated his longtime office manager to pick up the mail before he got back– something about post office limits on holding mail and limits for when to pick up. Anyway, his office manager (whom I absolutely trust) insists that he didn’t instruct her to pick up the mail, so dad goes to the office and the rep says someone already came for the mail. WTF? My dad only entrusts two people. He asks both and neither one picked up the mail. Supposedly, the post office supervisor checked the designated name with id and then THREW OUT the form. No signature required, nothing. What kind of agency operates without a paper trail/record??? So now, my parents who are already a little nervous about account security, are freaking out bc well, bank statements, rent checks, investment statements. First, I’m like: why the hell are you still doing paper statements? Second, WTF, USPS? Is this an inside job? Sounds so sketchy. Thankfully, my dad’s friend is going to file a report to trigger an investigation. Seriously, who took their mail? Fucking pain in the ass.

    Meanwhile, on one of dad’s properties, there twice has been a dead deer carcass. Animal control said they aren’t responsible for stuff on private property, so guess who disposed of the carcass from like 3 weeks ago? Yup, dad with rubber gloves. The dude is 71 y/o. Then yesterday, my parents call, and my mother wants to speak to me. She starts rattling off about dad helping my cousin with a down payment and how there’s no money, blah, blah. Mom is a fucking freak. I mean, if she’s flipping out about money then 1) why has she been so slow/lame/obstructionist about convincing her parents to sell their townhouse? 2) Her long lost brother appeared in Taiwan last week. Did she or dad even bother to ask him for shit to help support his parents? Nope. Didn’t even ask. Fucking Chinese culture, I tell you. Ultimately, the point of mom’s conversation with me (20 minutes later) was to tell me my father has been feeling really dizzy and unstable and he threw up multiple times over the last few days. He had an appointment that very afternoon with an ENT, but if things turned out to be serious, could I go back to Maryland to help her care for him? Immediately, I grew so angry. Just her circuitous communication style and now her helplessness and neediness. And I absolutely blame her and my brother for all the stress Dad has been under. Again, their incompetence and utter lack of action caused this.

    Then my dad got on the phone and said his self-diagnosis is that it’s stress induced. I grew so angry that everything had come to this. I started blaming my mother, and my dad just said look, she doesn’t have the capacity. Her mind can’t handle all of this. The years of anxiety and worry over Johnny have crumbled her mind. Well, still. I was pissed. I told you guys to let go of the Johnny bullshit. Then he started crying, rambling about never asking me to repair my relationship with my brother but that Johnny is doing better and is becoming more mature. Blah, blah. The whole spiel again about how my “helping Johnny is you helping us.” Fucking A!!!  Even if Johnny were better and more mature (his FB feed these days is all about Feeling the Bern, so what, now he’s suddenly a socialist?!?)… Who the fuck cares? He’s utterly useless! I admit, on my last visit to Taiwan, he showed progress, but goddamnit, it’s too little too late. And it’s like basic math: if you start with 1 and DOUBLE that (Wowee, 100% growth), you’re still only at 2. So he’s better, so what? How does that serve any of us? A 2 is not gonna give us jackshit. It’s not that I am trying to pawn off my responsibilities, but seriously, why isn’t Johnny helping them with logistics, paperwork, travel shit over in Taiwan? Why am I being called to help from afar? That’s what I mean. Fucking take care of the low-hanging fruit!! Whatever.

    Referring to my cousin, my dad just said he only helps family when he can, if he has the ability. He mentioned the Chinese term yuan, which is most closely defined as a combination of fate, destiny, and affinity/connection. He said it was his yuan to support and care for my mother’s parents, just like it is his yuan to have a daughter like me. Oh God, and then we’re both crying. My father is a very stoical person, so it just breaks my heart when he cries. I told him to call me after the medical appointment.

    As soon as I got off the phone, I fucking went ballistic. I was so fucking furious. And of course, I’m home alone with Marty conked out (he was so tired after returning from the sitter’s). Entering into a fit of rage, which for me, is completely silent and internal but inside, I am going fucking bonkers. I know the blame game doesn’t help anything, but I absolutely blame my mother and her stubborn insistence on helping my brother at ALL COSTS for all of this: an entire history of stress, extra work, and now my father’s health problems. If she weren’t so fucking psyscho and senseless, multiple people wouldn’t have the added stress of trying to carry out her ridiculous wishes and demands– all of which she is unable to execute on her own. Somedays, I really hate her.

    And then I try to calm myself down. She’s mental. How can you fault someone for an illness? But, do I really believe it’s an illness? I don’t know. And even if it really were, why doesn’t she just keep her shit to herself? Why does she have to drive everyone else around her fucking crazy? Like the whole eldercare situation with her parents. Back and forth about their security and not trusting the caretakers and this and that. Fucking paranoia central and to accommodate her insanity, so much more work for other people. I mean, my aunts now are next door checking in on them daily and then mom’s getting stingy about dad giving money to his own family? It’s just absolute bullshit. The real answer should have been to put my grandparents in a senior community/campus and ask the brother for help paying for it. Done. Repeated bad decision making.

    The good news is that dad called late last night, and the ENT doctor thinks everything is just stress-related but nothing super dire like a stroke or rupture. Rest, muscle relaxers, steroids, etc. I thought yesterday though about how at some point, I will have to go there to help them. And I know mom would just fucking drive me mad, just like she did when I was back there for my grandfather’s fall/surgery. All lip and no helpful action whatsoever. Well, that’s not true: she cooked/cleaning for my grandparents for the last ten months. That counts for SOMEthing. Fine, but again, it is precisely her paranoia that prohibited us from using their resources to make things easier on everyone. That is entirely unacceptable to me.

    I know my emotions are harsh and my words unkind. She’s still my mother. Frankly, I wish I were a bigger and better person, but I just don’t know how to reconcile these opinions I have of her. I think I’m going to have to go to therapy soon.

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Mar
11
  • Kudos to Kdash

    Being the prude that I am, I wasn’t particularly thrilled this week when Kim Kardashian posted a nude selfie (with strategic blacked out areas). In fact, when I saw it appear in my pop culture social media feeds, I kinda rolled my eyes thinking “self-absorbed” and you know, generally “overexposed as usual.” Then the Bette Midler/KK twitter storm happened, and I gotta say: Kdash has a point. Why am I being so critical/judgey about a grown woman’s choice to do what she wants? Admittedly, in my younger years, I was all about being judgmental. Judgement was practically my middle name: why is she being so trashy; why is she celebrating sex rather than intelligence? Why is she objectifying herself? As I got older though, I started to come around. Perhaps I started to get a taste of my own judgey medicine, enduring the judgement of my parents, my relatives, and even my friends, regarding anything from my choices on profession, family, politics, philanthropy, attire and/or spending habits…

    It’s one thing to be judged when you’re young and foolish (and obnoxiously self-righteous– been there, done that!), but it’s an entirely different thing to be judged as an adult. Sure, my parents didn’t hide their displeasure even as I entered my mid 30s: the child-free thing, the non-career job hopping thing, the living abroad, the casual attire (jeans!?!)… I suppose some part of me just came to expect their constant criticism, although by now after all the recent shit I’ve had to handle for them, they are finally letting up. I can’t necessarily say the same is true for my friends. Sure, I def went through a phase of you know, “hit me with the truth.” I don’t shy away from radical honesty, so at times, I ASKED for brutal honesty. I actively solicited the feedback. But issues arise when we disagree on our choices, and people start telling me what I ought to be doing or how I should be behaving AFTER I’ve already expressed that I’ve decided for myself. That’s when shit starts to get messy and irritating. And so for Kdash, I see her point. What she posts to her feed is her choice. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to follow it. On a related note: if Bette Midler were indeed friends with Kdash, does that mean Bette has to agree with Kdash on everything? I don’t think so, but apparently, Kdash expects complete agreement (maybe she interprets that as loyalty) from her friends. I think that part is kinda immature.

    But let’s take a real example: politics and/or philanthropy. My top causes are the environment, women’s health, and medical/humanitarian services. Those are my core issues. I know the Bay Area is in the middle of a housing crisis. I know there is low supply, high demand, and sky high rent/purchase prices. Cost of living is through the roof. Clearly, this area is NOT affordable. But when I’m asked why I’m not attending town hall meetings or supporting rent control policy and legislation or whatever, it should be enough when I say that it’s not an issue that I want to spend my time/energy/resources on. My choice on what I prioritize shouldn’t be questioned, and I shouldn’t be harassed.

    The bottom line is this: my parents are immigrants, so there’s no notion that you HAVE to live in any given place. I have lived in five different states and in two different countries. I know there is abject poverty in the US, but shit, there is a very different prevalence and intensity of poverty that I have seen in other parts of the world. I have never felt that any given city/place is my “rightful” home. In other words, I’m not entitled to live anywhere just because I grew up there or bc my family lives there or whatever. In Shanghai, people go where the jobs are. Housing is also crazy expensive, so people live in zero space with multiple roommates, or they live far away in the suburbs or somewhere else entirely. Sure, the Bay Area is well beyond affordable even for educated, yuppie professionals. If yups get priced out of the area, they should move. Isn’t this a natural progression for cities? They get expensive and people move away (but there are always people who can still afford to live there). I have seen this play out over and over again: Taipei, Shanghai, Tokyo. Life doesn’t guarantee anyone a home anywhere. And then with all the recent news attacking tech workers bc they are earning higher income. Why are tech workers obligated to support any given cause? I mean, sure, in general, civic participation is a good thing, but should it be mandatory? Should it be an expectation? And if tech workers, as high wage earners, have a responsibility to the community, what of the average American who is living in ridiculous extravagance compared to people in developing countries. And what about parents? Do they have an even greater responsibility or obligation to be involved in the process? After all, they have kids who are the future. Why aren’t they at all these meetings? Most parents I know don’t even keep up with the news, and shouldn’t they bc they actually are invested in the future? Who is to say?

    You see, I’ve been on both sides of the judgement spectrum. How many times do people consider me selfish or insular for not having kids. It’s as if, I just want to live my own life and not care about other people or the community or the future. Partly true, but when Jennifer Aniston was harassed in yet another interview about being child-free, she countered, “just bc I don’t have kids doesn’t mean I don’t care/nurture people or friends or animals. There are many ways to demonstrate care…” Yeah people. Back the fuck up. Don’t act like you’re God’s greatest gift just bc you are raising a kid. I’ve always argued to my parents that kids aren’t a purely selfless act: at least for the Chinese people I know, kids are an investment in the parents’ own future– it’s their way of ensuring someone is around to take care of them when they’re old. Anyway, long story short, Kdash just really got me thinking about choices and judgement. I guess I’m saying it’s hard to have an opinion and yet refrain from being judgey. Still, I try my best to catch myself and to stay vigilant.

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Mar
10
  • New Buttons, New Outlook

    So I finally prevailed in my feud with Crate & Barrel. Despite their initial refusal to repair my popped sofa buttons, I continued to push back, and ultimately, customer service agreed to re-attach my seven buttons on the Petrie sofa. The day after I returned from Palm Springs, the furniture repair guy made a house call. Now, part of my case for requesting repair was that I don’t have kids and my dogs NEVER get on the furniture, so there’s no reason why these buttons should keep popping off. To not appear like a fucking liar, I spent FORever on Monday night and Tuesday morning trying to get Muddy Waters’ stains out of the chaise. But turns out, when the guy arrived, I also wanted to ask his recommendations for stain removal, meaning I had to bring it up. Matt was a big, heavyset guy (I actually thought my new sectional might break with him sitting in the middle of it!)– super nice and cool. First, he admitted that buttoned furniture are THE WORST. If there are buttons anywhere, they will come off. He said some customers have beautiful, super expensive tufted leather couches (think Restoration Hardware) and the buttons come off in no time with very minimal wear. See? He totally corroborated my claim that they just fall off for no reason without any abuse! Second, he himself has a 7-y/o German Shepherd who stays in a very defined area of the house except when there are fireworks. Then, the dog goes totally berserk. So he totally empathized with Marty behaving out of character, triggered by fear. We chatted it up the whole time he was here: it took him 90 minutes to reattach all the buttons. Now, that couch is ready for sale. Yippee! First, Craigslist and the neighborhood list. Then Ebay.

    petriea
    As for the chaise part of my new sectional, it’s mostly back to normal. It seriously took me hours and endless reapplications of this super potent, stinky drycleaning solvent. I’m sure I blasted all remaining brain cells, but in the end, I’m happy with my progress. Two nights ago in the middle of the night Marty was having his anxiety issues and he tried again to get on the (re-cleaned) couch, so for now, I am keeping a close eye and covering the furniture with all kinds of things, including big bubble bubble wrap. I know, NOT optimal in the long term, but I’m hoping we can get his issues under control in the next few days and return to normalcy after that.

    This morning, I was awoken again by a call from Dad. He and mom had just flown into SFO, but for the last travel leg back to Maryland (SFO-IAD), they were on separate flights (long story). In other words, Mom has to fly solo today (which she has never done EVER). Basically, she was freaking out about having to wait without my dad for her flight and what if… they change gates or she misses the announcement or blah, blah, blah. Again, paralysis by paranoia. So Dad wanted me to call her closer to her boarding time to guide her on the phone before getting on her flight. WTF, are you for real??? I mean, as someone who is all about self-sufficiency, I’m thinking Jesus Christ, enough with the goddamn hand holding! But as usual, they sound stressed, they already feel bad about waking me up and asking for help… so fine! I try calling her Taiwan mobile as a test, but it doesn’t go through. I think her phone only works in Taiwan. I guess the universe helped me out there. Mom, you’re just going to have to figure it out on your own.

    In related news, J and I went to a play last night called Tokyo Fish Story. Despite my many recent duds (esp with K), Goldstar pulled through last night. Incredibly well-acted and well done. First, I’m not gonna lie: it was kinda bizarre to see Asians in a play. That whole Oscars so white thing is real. Very minimal representation of Asians in theater. But I digress. Anyway, the story was vert poignant, and it really struck a chord with me, hitting on themes of Asian culture, showing how starkly those values contrast even across generations in the same culture. It reminded me of the internal conflict that for so long, I didn’t even recognize or attribute to growing up Chinese-American. But even thinking about how much my parents rely on me now, how much they expect from me, and how I feel obligated to help them even if “helping” feels more like “enabling”– the latter of which conflicts so strongly with my own personal values of self sufficiency and empowerment… The play addresses the concept of respect and how in Asian culture, respect often equates to conceding and acquiescing and never challenging your elders. As J and I walked back to our car, I realized that so much of my youth was spent rejecting and denying my Asian-ness. And now, as I’m on the brink of 40, I finally am realizing how I am a blend of so many things. All these years, I wasted energy trying to categorize myself into neatly defined boxes, be they personality types or some other kind of label (What kind of car would I be? What kind of love language am I? What is my dress style?). Ultimately, I am a complex amalgamation of many things. I’m American-born Chinese and I like that I speak Mandarin. I’m happy that I know how to play the zither, that I enjoy Chinese language films, that I know how to make dumplings and roast duck… Usually yes, I’m an ESTJ but sometimes I’m ISTJ or something beyond both of those types. Some days, I dress like a cowgirl. Other days, I feel more edgy/rocker. Still other days, I prefer heels and a classic sheath dress. For some reason, I was so concerned about consistency in presentation, as if that uniformity somehow equated/attested to my character or integrity. But the truth is, being blended and complex (and unpredictable) is largely what it means to be human. Bubbey once told me he loved how I continued to surprise him. I hope my recent self acceptance pulls up a chair and stays for a while.

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