Monthly Archives: July 2016

Jul
31
  • Work Update

    Wow, just like that and another summer month is over! Thankfully, July ended on a great note! Sparky’s mom came to get him last Wednesday, and she was so pleased that she wrote me a 5-star review (without me even asking). Woot, woot!! Bubs and I enjoyed a day with Martin solo, and then on Thursday, the German lady brought her long-haired whippet Carla for daycare. In contrast to Bubble Boy, Carla is a breeze. She can go outside unsupervised; she eats everything and anything (she’s a good Hoover to my messy Martin who leaves food all over the floor); no hand-feeding needed; and she gets along with all the dogs we encounter at the park. On top of that, her owner is a serious power playa (the first woman CEO of a German media company and current tech exec) who’s super nice and flexible to boot. Rover is working out great!

    Add to that, a little side hobby/exercise of mine where I research/wonder about the lives of my Rover dogs. So far, every owner has been on the high end, power player side (yes, I look them up on LinkedIn), so I always imagine that their dogs are just living it up in the lap of luxury at home, you know in their hoods of Palo Alto and Los Altos. What do their dogs tell Marty? Do they tell him he’s missing out on the good life?? Haha. I know, I’m a nosy stalker/freak.

    Anyway, the German booked me for two weeks of daycare in August after I return from BlogHer. August is shaping up to be a crazy month. J and I are both traveling a ton: we’re headed to LA next week for BlogHer (he’s just tagging along), where btw, Kdash is a keynote!! Hurrah. I’m curious to see how she comes off as a speaker… Then, Bubs is headed back East to handle matters for his parentals. I’m gonna hit up Palm Desert with my friend M (fingers crossed I don’t get heat stroke) for a quickie weekend getaway, and then for J and I’s big 20-year anniversary, we’re hitting up Aspen, CO! We love Denver/Boulder and have been several times but Aspen will be new! Yeah, kinda a lot of traveling but heck, why the fuck not? I gotta earn my Southwest Companion pass somehow some way, right?

    As for the real estate… With all the Rover work and travel planning, real estate was starting to fall to the wayside. At the same time, I realized that my test/school anxiety was cropping up big time, and I was like procrastinating about taking the exam for the second class. Then on Thursday, I called myself out on that bullshit: I mean, I was letting my fear and lack of confidence run me off the path! And if I’m really trying to give real estate a go, how can I possibly assess this career if I do NOT get the damn license? Time to fucking buck up. So on Friday, I woke up determined to take the test. Somehow other shit got in the way (we counter-offered on the Maryland townhouse… but it fell through), but after noon I got all my shit organized, and I sat down to go through the review questions, study guides, and practice tests. What was intended to be a 2-hr review ended up turning into a six-hour study session. And then I said to myself, “Ok, I’ll take the exam Saturday.” Oh, hell no! I was not going to let myself push this exam back another goddamn day. Can you see this internal struggle? Ugh. So I started the test at 8p, finished about 10:15p, and bam: passed. What a huge fucking sigh of relief. Two classes down, one more to go. After that, I’ll be eligible to apply for the license exam. Gotta get ‘er done.

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Jul
30
  • Spurring Action

    Years ago, I read about some study on crying, comparing how frequently women cry compared to men. I think the number back then was six times per month for women compared to only once a month for men. I remember that at the time, immediately on hearing the stats, I scoffed. Big. time. WTF, people. There is no way I cry that much in 30 days. And in typical fashion, Bubbey stepped right in to challenge my reaction: “You definitely cry six or more times per month. You cry just watching things on tv!” Say what? That shit doesn’t count!!! Ok fine, if watching something on tv counts, then fine. Yes, sometimes I get emotional when triggered.

    Fast forward to now, and well fuck, last week was a rough one. I must have doubled the monthly average. My trigger(s)? Four days of the fricking Democratic National Convention. Admittedly, since my days at FMF (when I was just a young pup in my 20s) I’ve def stepped back A LOT from politics. When I was at FMF, I was all in: I wrote for the organization’s daily news wire; I crafted letters that constituents emailed to their elected officials; I petitioned in front of the Capitol calling for greater access to emergency contraception and broader abortion rights… I was in it hard. But those days, every time I saw my parents, we argued (mostly about how damaging Republicans were for women and minorities). I was angry every. damn. day, and I was always fighting with someone about something (Johnny was also living with John and me at the time). I even had heated email exchanges with haters who wrote into the organization, complaining about my advocacy emails and other stances to which they disagreed. Back then, I cared so much that it exhausted me. After I left FMF and we moved to China in 2003, I realized just how much I needed that break and distance. Now that I’m forty though, I’ve realized that I’ve shifted to the opposite extreme, to the point of not even wanting to debate politics with friends.

    So last week, I watched most of the big DNC speeches… So many of them moved and inspired me. I’d been comfortable in my stepping away and in NOT engaging, but as I listened to Michelle Obama and Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren and so many others, a part of me couldn’t help but feel ashamed by my inaction and lack of participation. Our voices DO matter. And change happens powerfully when people who have less at stake join in supporting and advocating for people who have everything at stake. So how do I re-enter this treacherous zone without losing my shit? I honestly don’t know. But after I got over feeling disappointed in myself (yet again), I decided that I need to start volunteering again. Last time when I was unemployed for an extended period, I helped the local job center with training and computer lab support. When I lived in China, I used to volunteer with animal rescue orgs. When I lived back East, I taught English to adult immigrants. What happened to that person who cared AND acted?

    So I contacted the local day labor center to learn more about volunteer opps with teaching and tech assistance. Even though this isn’t a direct way of defeating Trump in the upcoming campaign, I’m going to view it as a beneficial first step towards reconnecting with things that matter to me.

    Meanwhile, some interesting articles I’ve read:
    Re: Hillary Clinton for President. Sexism is REAL.
    Reconciling the differing roles of spouse vs. daughter: Melania and Ivanka
    A reminder to be less judgey

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Jul
25
  • My Rover Record

    Man, my sleep continues to be all kinds of fucked up. I dunno what my deal is: I just can’t stop thinking about shit. Need to get back on that Calms Forte stuff for sure.

    I was up early this morning, bc I heard Bubble Boy moving about in the living room. Yeah, for someone who is deaf, I can always hear the doggies. Marty just has to shuffle in his bed, and I’m up. So I took Sparky out to pee. Yeah, Sparky is kinda a lot of work, bc if you just let him out back on his own, he gets all into the far corners of the yard and starts digging in the mulch. And that damn schnoodle (schauzer-poodle) fur is like felt– it picks up everything. SMH. After he peed, we came back inside. I went back to bed. Thirty minutes later, he came into the bedroom and jumped on the bed. Weird. He hardly ever comes into the bedroom. We shooed him off and then he proceeded into my bathroom and started barfing. WTF? Then he walked down the hallway and puked again. Huh? We never even deviated from his special diet!! He went outside again and then seemed mostly fine. I entered into the kitchen and holy fuck, there was urine by the kitchen door. Seriously? The day before his last day and all at once?

    I started getting worried, like maybe he’s sick? Thankfully, he was back prancing around on our walk to the park. I texted his mom to report the odd behavior. I was a little worried she’d pepper me with a ton of questions, but she just said sometimes he gets an upset tummy, pukes, and returns to normal. Ok then! The rest of the morning, he’s appeared fine. Whew! I can’t be marring my Rover record, you know? :)

    In other news, my Big Brother system is working out great with the parentals. I check in periodically to see if they are out and about. The renovations are done at the townhouse, so the house listed today. Goddamn, housing in Maryland is cheap! I’m a little concerned bc a lot of properties in that range and area seem to be bank owned or foreclosed, which kinda brings the values down. But we’ll see. We’re pretty happy with the reno work: not too expensive and more importantly, on time! Woohoo!

    I’ve been meaning to report back on the SmileDirect Club stuff. I was almost ready to do it. I still need to video the animated treatment plan, bc that shit is what nearly sold me. In the end though, I talked with my friend/esthetician G and she seriously thought I was mad. She kept asking to see my smile and my teeth… she was like, “you know, we all have our hangups, but to me, it’s completely unnecessary and like borderline ridiculous/crazy.” The thing is, I hate my smile. Not just bc my teeth are crooked, but bc my nose is too big and my lower lips expose the entire mouth full of teeth. If you study beautiful smiles (which I have), you’ll notice that only the upper teeth show and the smile doesn’t compete with other overpowering facial features. Anyway, long story short, I decided to pass for now on the aligners bc even if my teeth were straighter, I’d still be unhappy with my smile. Pretty much, I would need a face job to fix that shit.

    Of course, to compensate for the inaction with repairing my smile, I moved forward on my tatted brows. I had gotten microblading done years ago when I was in Shanghai and I loved it. My brows are super sparse (bc I’m practically hairless) so the added color and definition works wonders. For the last several months, I’d been hand drawing/enhancing that shit and honestly, I’m getting sick of the day-to-day inconsistencies with the arch and thickness and whatever. So I had done some research on local vendors months ago, and then I found a Groupon deal and, I moved on it! Last week I was all set to do it, but then as I talked to Bubbey and some friends, they all sounded really apprehensive. Like, are you sure you want to go to a Groupon lady? Even her regular price of $300 seems way cheaper than other places that typically charge $500 and up. Why is she so cheap, they asked with suspicion? So I booked the appointment and figured I would just talk to her first and assess on site.

    Well, on my way over to the appointment, I started getting all stressed in the car. What if the tattoo is fucked? What will I do for the next 1-2 years? Maybe I can cover it up with concealer, blah, blah. I was freaking myself out. Then, when I arrived at the salon, it was essentially a coworking salon space, so there were a ton of stylists and all the customers were old white women. Like grandmas!!! Oh shit!!! She emerged from her room 30 minutes late for the appointment (the previous appointment ran over), but when I saw her, she was this cute and pretty little Cambodian lady. Hey man, first impressions are legit. Her brows were kinda sharp/angled and they were filled brows not microbladed, but dang, she had a beautiful face and very pretty eyes! She was all frazzled about running behind schedule… In the end though, it all turned out fine. She said I had done an excellent job penciling my brows (!!!), so she was going to basically follow the same shape. She penciled in the area first. It looked fine. I was trying not to be too perfectionist and overly obsessive. I lied back, she spread on the numbing gel, and she got to work. It wasn’t really painful, but the pressure on the brows is intense and the scraping noise is a little unnerving. Scrape, scrape, scrape and then she does heavy wiping of the area with a damp napkin. Repeat. Not very gentle for the tender eye area but I think it’s necessary for her to distinguish where there is hair and not. Then she started explaining how there’s a lot of variability with people’s face muscles, like depending on your dominant eye and how you make expressions. I was thinking: man, beauty is already so subjective and then to throw in all these other factors: shit, this is a high stress job!!! Should she spend more time studying my face muscles? I started to worry again. Then voila, my right eye was done. She moved onto the left eye… the pressure felt stronger and the lower part of the brow felt super sensitive. And that damn scraping… fuck man, the things we do for vanity!! She said my left muscles are weaker so I was bleeding more. She applied more numbing cream.

    She paused and gave me the mirror. I brought it up to my face. OMG, that right arch is high!! Shit. Is that arch a little high, I asked? She said she followed my pencil. Uh…. Then I sat up. Thank fucking god. Much better. Since I was lying down, my face was pulled back a little. After I sat up, much better. I mean, the arch is still quite distinct, but mostly bc she cleaned up the under brow area big time. We continued. After about 40 minutes under, all done. And then my brows started stinging like a mother fucker. Burning. The new brows are def dramatic and dark (the color will fade 20-30% in the coming weeks as the brows scab over) but I’m pleased. For freehand work, that lady’s got skillz. I go back next month to touch up the color and do any minor tweaks. What a relief it all turned out!

    It’s now been a few days and the aftercare just involves dabbing dry after washing and then applying Vaseline. I am digging the permanent makeup thing. Not that my brows took that much time in my routine, but it’s cool to just have them consistently low maintenance. Of course, the next day, what did I do? J and I took the convertible up to San Rafael, and we hung out with his sister S and her buds, eating oysters along Tomales Bay. I fucking sunburned my forehead really bad. Fucking blazing red. Been icing and putting on lotion but that shit is still red. Hope the skin calms down real soon.

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Jul
22
  • Cody the Cuddlebunny

    I’m such an extrovert/introvert split personality. Sometimes I get into homebody mode, where I can stay on the Houseboat for days on end without leaving the premises. I can’t quite explain it, but I do this odd dance, bouncing from one extreme to the other: on one hand, there’s the comfort and complacency of being home. Like yeah, I’m just doing my thang: internet research, listening to my real estate podcasts, cooking my meals, blogging, Pinteresting, OnStarring, and chilling with the dogs. It’s kinda nice and peaceful and quiet. When I get out of unabomber mode though, I like to catch up with everybody– host parties and email/call/visit with all my friends.

    Last week was one of my more extroverted weeks. I met up with two of my former university interns (separately). Sometimes, if you can believe it, I actually like young people. Haha. No, it’s kinda cool getting the scoop on their summer internships and learning what they’re hoping and planning for the future. It was always really important to me to be a good boss. After all that shit I’d read about leadership and influence, plus having my own fair share of jobs with shitty bosses, I really wanted their internship with me to be organized, interesting, and positive. It’s been about six months since I left, so I was pleasantly surprised when they reached out and wanted to meet up. One intern is working a 9-5 summer job for the first time ever. She’s struggling (like so many) with the rigidity of that arrangement. That said, she’s gaining more clarity on what she wants to do in the future– hello, social media!! The other intern just graduated with a masters in computer science, so he’s been on an aggressive job hunt. We talked about networking events and job strategies… I’m planning to reach out to some of my tech contacts to see if they have any advice for a new grad seeking opps in UX/UI. Overall, I had a good visit with both students.

    In other happenings, my retired buddy T recently invited J and me to scope out his new digs in Sunnyvale. He’s going through a divorce so for the first time since forever, he is living solo (well, with his dog) and LOVING it. T is one of the chillest dudes I know. We worked together at the gov agency, and he was such a great yin to my yang: no matter what I was fretting about, he was consistently positive, level-headed, and just plain relaxed. In his retirement, he’s continued to stay super active: playing racquetball, biking, kayaking, going on poker cruises. He’s a real role model for J and me, who have always struggled with balance. Anyway, his apartment community is a great spot in Sunnyvale that’s totally his style– a little old school in that the structures are probably from the 70s/80s, but his one BR apartment was recently renovated and the property is tucked away under a big canopy of old redwoods. It’s a beautiful, quiet setting that’s also walking distance to the Caltrain (he hates to drive). It makes me so happy when my friends are living comfortably and doing well.

    Back on the Houseboat, things were getting a little crowded with Bubs being home again and with Sparky the Bubble Boy schnoodle joining the crew of Martin and Cody. Sparky is 14 y/o and well, he’s a good dog but clearly he’s quite coddled. I’m so fascinated by the broad spectrum of pet parents: they really run the gamut just like with human parents! When Cody arrived, his parents gave me like three lines of instructions. By contrast, when Sparky arrived, he came with pages and pages of detailed info, ranging from directions on hand feeding him to limiting his sun exposure to frequently refreshing his water bowl. In the owner’s defense, Sparky is older and more fragile, but still… When I supervised him in the backyard, it was a bit like witnessing a kid going to college for the first time: he really enjoyed the new surroundings, but he didn’t seem to know to stay out of the flower beds and to not dig and make a total mess. Which might explain why his parents was so adamant about him being restricted and limited so much outdoors… Kind of a vicious cycle, right?

    It makes me a little sad, bc my brother comes to mind. He was so over-coddled and over-protected that as an adult, he never really developed responsibilities and common sense for basic survival (like doing laundry, washing the dishes, taking out the trash). It’s too bad, bc you can see that Sparky has personality and some zest, but it’s all rather muted bc he isn’t allowed to be free.

    On the other hand, Cody is a total rambunctious bundle of energy and joy. Admittedly, there are differences in age and breed but with Cody, he also engages regularly with other dogs. He’s been in people’s yards. Like, he has the experience to know adult dog etiquette, you know? Man, in ten short days, I got so damn attached to Cody. Yup, I fell for him even harder than I did for Ramona. When his family came, I held it together just long enough for them to load up and get into the car. Then, it was meltdown central. Full on tears and wailing. I know, I am ridiculous. Thankfully, 1) I made Bubbey do a photo shoot to add to my Cody album and 2) I’d already experienced the heartbreak from Ramona, so the sadness didn’t linger forever like it did before. I do miss his spunk and playfulness though. A few days after he went home, I followed up (of course) with a text to see how he was settling back in. I was super stoked bc the owner says she’ll call on me again the next time they travel. Yay!

    Btw, did you know all the area animal shelters are doing their #cleartheshelters campaign this weekend where adoption fees are waived? Sometimes I daydream about getting a second pooch, but you know Bubs: he doesn’t want to be tied down. For now I suppose Rover is satisfying all my needs. And Marty is loving it also: his appetite has come back full force. J is placing bets that Martin will make it to 17!! We’ll see.

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Jul
18
  • Don’t Boss the Boss

    I’ve been back on the Houseboat now for a week, and well, the reassimilation has been challenging to say the least. Immediately, I had a Rover client scheduled for the day after getting in. Cody is a corgi, so with that breed comes some strong characteristics: he was very sad to be separated from his family (for two days, he slept by the door, hoping that they would come back), and he’s super sensitive to noise. I guess J and I kinda got used to being with deaf oldies who NEVER ever bark, so having someone alert us to every little sound was initially, quite disruptive. But there are also endearing qualities that make Cody quite loveable. He’s super attentive: he always keeps an eye on me, and he loves to play. He chases balls and even entertains himself chewing on that thing long after fetch is over. It’s Day 9 and I have to say, he’s even got Bubbey wrapped around his little midget paws. I came down with a cold on Saturday night (I ALWAYS get sick near/around my visits with family!!), and after that, Cody was pretty routinely making himself comfortable in the bed. Yes, the human bed where dogs have been prohibited for YEARS. Goddamn, he is super soft though. And those wet puppy kisses are irresistible. I mean, I still have a soft spot for my first Rover Ramona, but the big advantage of Cody is that he doesn’t have an ounce of odor. For reals. Even his breath is fresh. Seriously, you have to see to believe.

     

    After two days of being mostly bedridden and sweating my brains out, I am finally bouncing back from my sickness. Just in time for another Rover client who is coming tomorrow. The poodle mix Sparky is much older and I expect him to be more high maintenance, esp given the detailed instructions I received from his parent. Seven days. We’ll see how things go!

    As predicted, Marty is doing so great with these other dogs. What a testament to the power of social connections in promoting health! He likes having a buddy.

    What else. Oh, on Friday, I met with a power player German woman who is seeking M-F daycare for her senior whippet. She was very happy with our meet and greet (hee, hee), and I was ready to proceed, but as soon as she left, Bubbey started getting on my case about booking all my time and no longer being flexible for our summer travels.

    That’s the thing about Bubbey and me. We are always off in our timing. When I’m not working, he’s starting a new gig. When he’s not working, I’m starting a new job. For the first time ever, we are both not working. But he has all these grand ideas about hitting the open road and traveling… All while my plan these last few months has been to get my license and start practicing real estate in the fall. And as a chronic travel commitment-phobe, he’s super frustrating to pin down when making plans. When I ask for specific dates, he never gives them. So I just started booking plans for Rover, and he got all annoyed about my lack of consultation and how my work plans are eating into his “unplanned” plans. WTF, dude?

    Yes, we had just talked the other day about trying to rent an RV to try out the nomadic lifestyle. But before, he told me all the RVs were booked for the summer. And we can still RV for three days on the weekends. Frankly, until you can put concrete dates in place, I’m going to keep working and booking Rover! I dunno: maybe there was a miscommunication. I was thinking summer was out except for the weekend quickie trips. Argh, fine! I went back to the German and told her I’m not as available as I had initially stated. I mean, it’s ok: I agree it’s rather silly to be housebound for just a $30/day gig, but I’m just saying, don’t make me turn down work and then we end up doing nothing at all.

    Speaking of Bubbey, this last week being home together was somewhat frustrating. Since I’ve been back, he’s gotten on my case every damn day about studying for real estate. How much studying did you get done today? When are you going to take the class test? How many pages did you read? WTF, dude? I do not need to be herded. You know the deal. Yeah, I fell off the wagon while I was back in MD, but um, can you blame me? Did you see all the bullshit I had to deal with? And now I’m just getting back into the swing of things, and you’re harping on me about my study schedule? Not cool. Go put yourself on a schedule first, and then we can talk. SMH. Marriage. It’s a lot of work, man.

    In other news, the reno work on the townhouse back east is progressing swimmingly. The realtor just sent me pics today: new kitchen flooring, new lighting throughout, paint touch ups, new appliances, granite countertops, etc. The construction work is right on schedule, and we’re expecting to go live with listing this weekend. Woohoo. Goddamn, I love it when people know how to manage projects! I could see myself getting into construction project management…

     
    What else. Oh, my parents booked their trip to Taiwan for the fall, so that means I’ll be booking our trip there soon. My dad suggested that we visit for 10-14 days, but I think I’ll keep it short and sweet given my last great experience. Also, I’m super stoked that my childhood friend N is coming to visit in mid September. It’s been many years since she’s come to California, so it’ll be great to have her out again. She’s getting antsy in NC, so I think a big change is on the horizon for her.

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Jul
16
  • There is a God

    I met up with my former work crew (from the university) earlier this week. We were celebrating the next one to escape, a writer on the team who’s starting a new gig in San Jose. It was good to see everyone: I find it curious though how despite all the changes and turmoil, so many things still remain the same. Like that drama character T. She cracks me up. She got a swanky new car and then near the end of our lunch, she ran out of the restaurant all frantic, claiming that someone had broken into her car. Yes, her car that was parked right up along the sidewalk, where there’s tons of foot and car traffic in broad daylight. Of course, the car was fine. Just the shade from a tree made the window appear open/broken. And she received some joke/prank text from her hubby at the same time. Or something. She had also made a few mentions about my dog sitting services. She said she looked at my profile but saw that I only took old dogs (her dog is 1.5 y/o), plus she can’t afford me. Sure. Whatever. Yesterday, she texted saying she had a question about dog sitting. Um, how about just text the actual question??? Jesus people. It’s like voicemail 101. Don’t just say, call me back. Tell me what you’re calling about. Specifics!! I was out biking/having dinner with a friend, so when I replied three hours later, no reply. Wishy to the washy, for reals.

    The biggest news though out of my old workplace is that the tyrannical AVP (who applied for the permanent job even though she repeatedly said she had zero interest) DIDN’T get the gig. Holy. fucking. shit. There is a God!!! T told me she had reported the AVP for some uncool interactions. I like to think that T’s report, coupled with my scathing exit interview doc, played some minor role in making the decision makers think twice. Goddamn, that woman was a royal beotch. SMH. For someone who was always pushing training and learning and improvement, it’s amazing she never took social skills 101. Seriously. She was the oddest, most inept anti-soc ever. And I have encountered my fair share of them!!

    Then again, given all the other bullshit that’s happening in the world, her asshole behavior is quite minor. And yes, I’ve definitely asked myself why I haven’t lost my shit with the more serious daily injustices we are witnessing day in and day out… Honestly, I don’t even know how to respond. When I think of people who have lost their lives to senseless violence, it makes me so sick. But I feel speechless and paralyzed. What is there to say? How does change happen from here? These are truths that perhaps many have known since forever, and now to see them exposed, to see the systemic racism, it’s freaking scary. And Donald Trump. Ugh. As “unlikable” as people say Hillary Clinton is, how can anyone be as unlikable as that con-man ass monkey?!?!? It’s fine to be anti-establishment, but shit people. Open your eyes. Don’t let your purported patriotism bring a Hitler to power. It’s crazy how he is singlehandedly desensitizing people to inflammatory, hateful, fear-mongering rhetoric. Part of me that is glad my parents are moving back to Taiwan. This shit is getting bad really fast.

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Jul
12
  • Debrief and Decompression

    On Saturday, I finally jetted out of the East Coast madness aka my visit with the parentals. Holy crap, that was a long-ass week. I’m telling you: I can’t spend longer than 5 days with my parents. It’s just too damn hard tackling an endless list of things to do while also being nagged nonstop. Fuck man, just like some Rover doggie parents, they are quite particular and intense.

    On the morning of my departure, I still had a shit ton of space left in my suitcase, so I tried to fill it with fragile belongings taken out of storage in my parents’ basement: not super important or sentimental stuff, but I figured if I don’t recover any value for these items via Operation Downsize, I might as well risk personal inconvenience and possible damage to shuttle things home where we can use them. So I crammed in some nice wine glasses (gifts from our wedding), Murano glass tumblers, decorative glass fish, a vintage Apple PowerBook 150 (circa 1995) for my EBay store, a Chinese basket, etc… To my surprise, everything but two wine glasses survived! Sometimes, I impress myself. Haha.

    After I was all packed up, we headed over to the townhouse, where construction had started a few days earlier. The contractor put down the luxury vinyl flooring in the kitchen. It’s crazy all the new building and construction materials that have become available over time. Back in the day, the options were either hardwood, tile, or vinyl. Now, they have cork and bamboo and engineered woods, plus this deluxe vinyl that’s actually set with real grout between the tiles– it’s super durable but has the look and relief of real tile. The contractor also planned to install some new dome lights and start on the spackling/drywall repair. We’re on track for listing by the end of July! Meanwhile, for my parents’ house, Dad is now aiming to get it on the market in spring 2017 instead of August 2016. Based on the advice of two realtors, there is still a ton of work beforehand: lots of downsizing/clearing out the extraneous stuff plus kitchen updates and bathroom renovations. In reviewing all the comps in their price range, their house is in great condition but the interiors are definitely outdated, which translates to “poor showing” status.

    In the final days of my stay, I def clashed with my parents over their continued resistance and overall inefficiency with this process, but at the end of the day, this is their house and these decisions are theirs to make. I made decent progress but at this point, the best I can hope for is that they wear themselves out trying to do everything without professional help. Then,I’ll go in, cherry-pick the items to keep, throw those items into storage or ship it to CA, and bring in the estate sales people to clear the place out. The realtor says houses of this size typically sit on the market for 6-8 months. So at best, Operation Downsize and Operation Overseas will still take well over a year.

    After stopping by the townhouse, we headed straight for the airport. Despite my vow to stop arriving at the airport so damn early, I was with my parents after all, which means I still got to BWI two hours ahead of my flight. It was a full flight, and as I came down the jet bridge, I was horrified to see a huge pile of strollers, baby seats, and carriers. Sure enough, as soon as I boarded, I could see why. This flight was like 30% babies and toddlers. Thank goodness I replaced the batteries in my noise-cancelling headphones. Of course, as soon as everyone boarded, there was a mechanical issue, so we sat on the Tarmac for over an hour. Ugh. Air travel. So unglamorous.

    During the flight, I was pretty pooped, but I tried really hard to stay awake so I could get back onto my west coast time zone. To keep myself awake, I tried to move the brain with Sudoku. I suck at that shit. Then, I tried the crossword puzzle. To my amazement, I actually completed the whole thing– first time ever in my life!!

    I then reviewed my gigantic to do lists bc I’m an ESTJ and that’s the kind of shit that I do. Overall, I made inroads in several key areas. Yes, my list is categorized. Here’s a flavor of my tasks for the parentals.

    Tech support
    Replaced bedroom CRT with grandpa’s HDTV: added new digital box, paired remotes, adjusted picture
    Troubleshot internet/phone issues with Comcast. Negotiated $100/month discount on bill
    Replaced batteries in cordless phones; deleted unaccessed voicemail messages since 2013
    Set up Comcast email account to check voice mail remotely and manage robocalls
    Showed dad how to forward home phone calls to his iPhone
    Set up multifunction machine to scan documents and print wirelessly
    Set up home security camera monitoring
    Reformatted old laptops and sold them on eBay
    Troubleshot wonky garage door opener

    House Cleanout
    Took pictures of furnishings and free stuff for inventory, Craigslist, and Freecycle
    Freecycled: lawn mower + plow + sweeper, waiting room chairs, old stereo, a gabillion baskets, boxspring/mattress, office chair, printer, etc.
    Organized piles in garage for staging waste, e-waste, recycling, and donations
    Sold grandpa’s car

    Vendor Meetings
    Met with realtor for townhouse renovation and primary residence walk-through
    Called auction house/consignment shop
    Met with estate sales team
    Got quotes for dumpster rentals, storage pods, movers, and shipping to CA
    Met with AAA agent to get info on tours and trip packages

    Visits
    Dad’s friends
    Dad’s former office manager (and friend)… She has known me since I was a kid!!
    In laws
    Day trip to Gettysburg, PA

    Admin
    Email correspondences
    Documentation/record keeping
    Digitized important files
    Credit card application
    United change fees
    Driving Miss Daisy

    There’s still a lot to do, but I’m taking a break and returning my focus to real estate class.

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Jul
8
  • Coming Off the Rails

    Well, I’m sorry to report that Day 6 didn’t fare any better. After my blowup the day prior over my grandfather’s car, I was still super irritable. Originally, two people had expressed interest in test driving the car. On Thursday night, we had met the first guy at the local middle school. He was giving me crap about how the car wasn’t in mint condition, and for that reason, he wanted me to come down $1200. Look dude, I see your car. You are NOT meticulous. He gave me some bullshit argument saying that while the front bumper might appear only superficially scratched, inside there could be real damage, like with things about to fall off. I grabbed the bumper and tugged. It feels pretty dang secure. He said, yeah it seems to be loose. I went over to his car and tugged the same area: um, it feels exactly the same as yours. Long story short, that deal didn’t go through.

    So Friday morning, I wake up and head downstairs. I can’t find my suitcase, which I had sprawled out on the floor against the wall in the dining room. I have no place for my stuff in my bedroom bc mom has taken over the closet and drawers. I need somewhere to see my stuff. So I get annoyed with dad about that. He says I’m bringing all these people into the house and this open suitcase is a trip hazard. Argh, people can just walk around it! The house is already a mess; stop trying to tidy for the realtor and estate sale people! 

    Then dad tells me I’m stressing him out, bc of all these things I’m demanding of him. That’s when I REALLY lose it. WTF? You have been telling me since January that you wanted me to help you sell the fucking car. I booked my flight over a month ago and I told you to get the paperwork ready. You are not going to pin this shit onto me. I told you from the beginning to get power of attorney for all the shit you were going to handle with the grandparents. It’s not my problem you refuse to ask them for that and you can’t figure out how to shuttle paperwork efficiently back and forth from Taiwan (hello, FedEx?). At Christmas, I told you removing the tags would make the car undriveable. You insisted on doing it so you could save money and stop paying insurance. That is your fault, not mine. Then we argued about him wanting to drop off a document at the realtor’s office. I told him we could scan it. Nope, he insists on us driving it to the office. It’s on the way, he says with exasperation. Argh, just stab my eyes out, ok??

    That’s the thing: if you are delegating something for me to do, I get ownership. You don’t get to tell me how to work. I was so fed up and pissed off.

    In the evening, the second interested person got back to me about seeing the car. We met up at 7pm after he sat in rush hour LA-style traffic for three hours with screaming kids in the back. All during the drive up, he was calling me for the VIN number, then wanted pics of the tire treads, then wanted to know the maintenance work, plus Virginia’s requirements for the bill of sale since he was buying across state lines. Jesus dude, just get here and test drive it first! 

    Bc of the traffic, our meeting time kept getting pushed back. So mom keeps asking me every fifteen minutes where the dude is and she gives me attitude like, does he want to buy the car or not. I’m like I told you he is stuck in traffic. I’m handling it!!! Ugh!!!! Fucking nagging Chinese parents. So dad and I meet him at the entrance of my neighborhood, since dad just will not shut up about the driving without tags thing. After about 20 minutes in the humid heat, the deal is done. Dad and I walk back home and what do you know, mom has closed the garage door on us. Top security once again. Jesus, you’re not Britney Spears. It’s a quiet residential neighborhood. Lock the door to the house, but you can leave the broken garage door open for 30 minutes. I cannot work under these conditions!!!

    In other news, lunch with the in-laws went fine. Mom made some comment like maybe she could live in a facility like theirs when she’s old. Ok mom, you know that dad is planning to move back to Taiwan permanently, right? Have you two discussed all this? Why are you now talking about living in the US again??? WTF. I don’t even want to know anymore. Time to eject out of this madness for reals.

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Jul
7
  • I’m Tired, Boss! So Tired!

    Well, the volcano erupted this morning. Day 5. I’d say my tolerance was clearly lower than usual: I haven’t been sleeping well since arriving last Saturday (the research is endless– last night was vehicle titling, bill of sale, nontagged status, etc.) and then there was some kind of bug infestation in my bedroom yesterday. There were multiple small black flying bugs, about the size of sweat bees, that had somehow gotten into my room, perhaps drawn by the light of my burning midnight oil. As soon as my head hit the pillow and I turned out the lights, a bug or two would get into my hair. Fucking A. I kept having to wake up and kill one more bug until I got every. last. one. By then, we were talking 3:30 am.

    At 9:30, I heard a tapping outside my window. The riding mover pickup service was here, and like a lot of things around the house, the fucking doorbell doesn’t work anymore. And my parents also don’t use the front door at all, so everything is always locked up at max security. Even the key to unlock the deadbolt is tucked away in a drawer. So anytime someone is at the front door, it takes 45 seconds to dig up the key and unlock all the goddamn locks. By the time I made it to the front door, the guy had already gone back into his flatbed truck. Fortunately, I caught him in the driveway, and he loaded everything up. Done. So much more space now that the riding mower + sweeper + cutting blades + snow plow are taken!

    When I went back into the house, dad told me to forget about selling grandpa’s car. Yes the fucking car that I had already cleaned out, posted to CL, and spent all this time researching its sale bc dad couldn’t find the gift form signed by my grandfather. I was furious. Why do you want to keep it? Their explanation? Oh, it’ll be nice to have a backup in case if the primary car (which is also super low mileage) goes kaput. And it’ll be good for mom to drive around locally.

    Are you fucking kidding me? Mom can’t drive! She hasn’t driven in like 3-4 years: she’s going to cause an accident. Plus, you two are codependent and do everything together: you don’t need two cars. This is just going to be yet another thing (like the waiting room chairs and luggage trolley and fake flower) that’s going to sit around and collect dust. You’re better off paying someone $10/hr to drive your asses where you need to go. I was so goddamn mad. Yet again, you ask me to research all this shit and then you change your mind again. Then dad says he’ll figure it all out himself: he doesn’t need me to do it. Yeah, except that you DO need me to do it. You can’t even take/share pictures with your freaking phone! And there are just so many details, like does the private bill of sale need a notary? How will the buyer drive the car if the tags are removed? Part of the issue is that dad doesn’t want to drive the car the 1.5 miles from our house to the middle school for the test drive bc it doesn’t have tags. Jesus Christ. Not every goddamn thing has to be so by the fucking book. We’ll have all the for sale papers with us: as long as I’m not speeding or driving crazy, just politely explain to the cop (should we even get pulled over) that we are selling my grandfather’s car. He’s in a nursing home out of the country, so we turned in his tags. Now we are selling it. Anyway, back and forth and then dad says something to the effect that my temper is not professional: it’s a good thing I can just leave my job and not work, bc most people will have to put up with all kinds of annoyances and incompetence to support their families. WTF. It’s not my problem people CHOOSE to have kids and have to pay the consequences including staying at a crappy job to support a family. I didn’t make that same choice! Instead, I value freedom and flexibility more than having kids. And moreover, if we’re really talking about being professionals, then get the damn power of attorney papers signed so I can fucking do my job! Get out of my way and stop nagging me to death at every damn stage. Jesus Christ. It’s time to eject out of this insanity.

    So now the deal is this: I’m meeting with a prospective buyer tonight. If the deal goes through, fine. If not, dad will want to formally put the title in his name and he’ll have to get the tags and re-register the vehicle. Then, at whatever point, he’ll have all the paperwork to sell it to whomever. Fine. You go handle that DMV tedium.

    As for the freecycling and organizing, I stopped as of yesterday bc an estate sales lady came to the house. Unlike the auctioneer/consignment shop dude from Tuesday, this woman insists that everything can and will sell. Her fee is $3500 minimum or 30% of income from the estate sale. The final deliverable is a cleaned out house. My mind was totally blown when I met with her. I had to keep asking her to repeat: so let me get this straight: the process is that we take out and put into a storage pod/facility all our personal effects and only things we want to keep. Everything and anything that’s left over, will get re-arranged by your team and sold– like towels, old books, knick knacks, everything??? Yes!! When they (the estate sale vendors) leave, the house will be empty.

    So I’m like, fuck yeah, that’s a deal, bc then I don’t have to go through every single plastic bag or drawer or whatever! And the estate salers will just pick it all clean. I’m in! Of course, parents are not so sure. They want to sift through it all themselves. And dad says he’ll lose money on the fee. WTF in God’s name are you talking about??? Bubbey says maybe it’s just all too much right now. Give them time, let them try and weed through it themselves and then when they get tired, you can call in the pros. Fine, whatever.

    Meanwhile, dad hated how I set out stuff on the driveway for the Freecyclers. Someone was supposed to come back for the third batch of waiting room chairs, but this morning, I saw that dad brought them back into the garage. Which reminds me: seriously, my parents cannot have the garage door or any exterior door open/unlocked for two seconds. Like they think robbers are gonna come in while shit is exposed or unlocked! For example, the other day, I had to set a block to hold open the hinged screen door while I was moving all the furniture into the garage. I would set the doors all open., from the basement to the kitchen, to the garage. Without fail, every time I would enter the basement to grab something, by the time I came back up with the stuff, the doors were all shut and locked again. ARGH!!! And the garage doors? All closed again. I’m telling you, helping my parents is maddening beyond anything. For reals.

    I mean, on one hand, it really was great news that the estate sales vendor thought our stuff would all sell. Just the day before, the auctioneer felt we couldn’t even GIVE that stuff away. But man, as soon as my parents got confirmation that their things were of quality and sell-able, they started giving me crap about the stuff I’d already given away, i.e. those damn waiting room chairs!! I dunno man. I am looking and feeling rough these days. I’m tired, boss! So damn tired!

    Also yesterday: Bubbey put in his resignation at work. I knew this was coming: I would have liked to have been home but Bubbey quits on his own timeline. I agree, it’s been the wrong fit for him for many months and thankfully, we can both not work for a period. But still, yesterday just felt like so many things converging all at once. Honestly, I just need to get home to my Rover biz.

    Throughout this trip, dad keeps telling me to slow down and not stress. He says stress damages the cells. Yeah, I know. Um, maybe you guys could stop making things so complicated and then I could actually chill the fuck out!?! How about that?

    Clearly, things are coming to a head. We decided to do something “fun” today, so I drove us up north to Gettysburg, PA. We ate lunch at an old tavern built in 1776 and then we drove around. In usual fashion, they didn’t want to get out of the car, so we just followed the auto path (very limited sightseeing) through the Civil War sites and around Gettysburg College. On the way home, dad insisted that I drive past all his properties and check out all the new residential developments in their part of Frederick. I am so tired. Hopefully, the to do list is winding down. Tonight after the test drive, I’m hooking up the house webcams and getting dad to switch to the United Explorer credit card. Tomorrow, lunch with the inlaws and shipping out my Ebay sales. It’s time to go home, for reals.

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Jul
5
  • Naggers’ Central

    Well, I kept my cool for as long as I could. Day 4 over here, and the parentals are irking the shit out of me. By some strange miracle, I have not had my usual deafening blowup, but fuck, I have def raised my voice and had to walk away several times. As you know, I’m juggling CL, Ebay, and Freecycle and then contacting vendors for various things. This morning, I called a second estate liquidator as well as the dumpster people. I sent the liquidator, who runs a consignment shop, auction house, and eBay store, some pictures. He called back and said the Asian era is long gone, like ten years too late. And they can’t move any of that or any of the Queen Anne Chippendale shit. Everyone now wants Ikea, modern style stuff. We’re a disposal Walmart society, he explains. So out of everything, maybe the maroon leather chairs and some rugs. Won’t even touch anything else. Well shit, now I’m really screwed. Tomorrow, I’m meeting with an estate sales lady, who runs 2-3 day onsite sales. We’ll see what she says. Dad also thinks his friends will want his shit. Whatever.

    Meanwhile, I did manage to get rid of some items via Freecycle and this evening, someone is coming to measure the flatbed space needed for the 20+ y/o lawn mower. Yes, it has only been used a handful of times, so it’s in pretty good shape. That said though, it’s still more than 20 y/o with a dead battery and deflated front tires. Before our meeting today with the realtor at the townhouse, I started schlepping all my parents’ old medical office waiting room chairs (my dad had saved them when his office was remodeled back when I was a kid) from the basement to the garage, for a lady who wants them. Now these chairs are, again in decent shape, but the fabric on most is worn. And they are WAITING ROOM chairs. So I’m sweating up a storm doing it all alone bc 1) mom is weak 2) dad hurt his back on Saturday, bc he INSISTED on carrying my heavy-ass tote bag from the flight. I’m getting so irritated with his bullshit obstinance. I told you I had it and you insisted on taking the bag from me, and now look what happened! Totally out of commission. Anyway, dad starts telling me that he wants to save some chairs in case if his friend (his former nurse) wants it for her house. Ok, 1) this shit has been sitting in the garage gathering dust since I was in high school. Remember, I just turned fucking 40. 2) No person is going to want your waiting room chairs for their residence. WTF people? Get out of my way.

    While all of this is going on, mom is in her perpetual state of confusion. I’m having a conversation about the townhouse, and she thinks I’m talking about the main house. I’m talking about the leather desk chair, and she thinks I’m talking about the waiting room chair. Never ever on the same fucking page. I’m talking about the Comcast cable modem, and she thinks I’m talking about her goddamn Laserdisc system. Jesus Christ, are you listening??? Then, my parents are obsessed with artificial flowers. Some have been sitting in the garage gathering dust and dirt, like a pair of yellow rose pots that are visibly dirty, like even from far away. I wanted to Freecycle or trash them, and mom kept giving me pushback. Then, there was a rusty suitcase trolley and while I was organizing my piles in the garage, I turned around and she dug that POS out of the pile for her to “use.” I mean, hello. Your suitcases have built-in wheels. WTF are you talking about? The last straw was this afternoon. I had taken a picture of a fake tabletop topiary, with a cracked base. Someone on Freeycle wanted it. I set it outside and then she was giving me all this lip. This thing has been in the basement seeing zero daylight and now suddenly, mom insists that she wants to use it in Taiwan. She wants to put it in a fucking backpack and take it as her carry on. Are you out of your mind? Holy shit, they are insane.

    Then there’s all this ongoing extraneous commentary:
    1. I’m driving them around. Dad says I drive too fast. We’re not in a hurry, so I need to slow down. This is a school zone, and I’m going to get a ticket.
    2. Later, we need to get gas. The gas station is right there in the same goddamn parking lot, but no, Dad insists I go to the other one bc it’s 10 cents/gal cheaper. We get there and it’s like 5 cents cheaper, all of which amounts to $1 in savings.
    3. I punch in an address on Google Maps and he wants me to ignore Google and use his directions.
    4. The garbage service emptied his trash bins today, and I wanted to put the bin in the trunk and drive up the winding, hilly driveway, esp bc one of the bins has a busted wheel. No, he insists on walking it up the driveway bc the container is smelly and he doesn’t want to get his car dirty. Um, look at your house: it’s a hot mess. Thirty seconds in your trunk will be fine.

    The recurring theme here? Why must you insist on making every damn thing so fucking complicated and difficult??? Keep it up, and the volcano is going to blow real soon!!

     

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