Category Archives: Family

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
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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Jul
5
  • Parental Relations

    Ahead of my trip, I def had a ton of reservations. There was a lot to do, and I’d been feeling a little apprehensive, like maybe mom’s health was on the decline and dad was keeping it on the downlow… I just hadn’t really spoken to her on the phone in recent weeks, so I was starting to worry. Thankfully, she’s doing fine– being her same old self, so that’s a relief. Both of them appear ok. Dad hasn’t had his dizziness/imbalance issues. They did both stop exercising since returning from Taiwan, but I’m planning to get them walking again before I leave town…

    So far, we’ve been getting along fine. Funny thing: on our drive home from BWI, I told my parents about my Rover and eBay/Craigslist escapades. I actually expected my parents to not really be impressed at all since I was just earning a few Bubbey bucks here and there, but to my surprise, they actually loved the idea. And they thought both Rover and Ebay/CL were a good fit for me in terms of running ops and being prompt/responsive. I was pretty darn blown away. Maybe it was in the way I told my story: they laughed at my stealthy strategies for converting my Rover meet and greet visitors into clients! Haha.

    In other family news: the other night, I spoke with one of my aunts in Taiwan (my father’s oldest sister). Aunt G is the aunt who most closely follows the philosophy of filial piety, so she always drones on and on about how much she loves her father (my paternal grandfather) and how she wants to spend as much time as possible with him…. that’s all fine and dandy but then she also goes on to talk about how well respected my dad is in their town and how he’s so smart and wise and successful… I mean, all those things are true. Indeed, of all the people I’ve encountered in my long life of 40 years, he’s without doubt the smartest, most hardworking, most moral person ever. But the way my aunt couches every conversation about him, she starts expressing disbelief at how little time (Johnny and) I spend learning from dad. His wisdom extends so far beyond just medicine, she exclaims. We have access to this incredible resource and what have we done with it?!? It’s hard to explain, bc I’m sure her intention is only the highest praise for my dad, but sometimes it just really comes across like, “Look how amazing your father is, and what a shame you and your brother are no where near that level of greatness. How can you two be his progeny?” It’s a bit like, you’re not good enough to be his kids.

    The thing is, I am well aware of the stark contrast, and admittedly, I don’t work nearly as hard as my dad. BUT, at the same time, my brain capacity is what it is, you know? Like my dad remembers every fricking stock transaction… it doesn’t matter how long ago the transaction. He just remembers that and a shit ton of other details. Meanwhile, I can’t even remember how much I paid yesterday for a gallon of gas! So yeah, he remembers interest rates and stock values and rent payments and physics principles and math and ALL that stuff… Maybe working in medicine required him to memorize a lot of info and that trained up his brain? I don’t know, but even among doctors, his brain capacity still seems extraordinary. The point is, in Chinese culture, evolution and legacy are super important themes. The curve is supposed to keep going up over time, whether it’s family wealth or quality of life or success or whatever. So every time I have some version of this conversation with my Aunt G, I just visualize a graph that for all the generations before, steadily increased, and then at me, it dropped. It sucks to be the lame one. I mean, it could be worse: I could be my brother, but still.

    Ah well, it’s pointless to dwell on my inadequacies and failures. Ultimately, it’s more productive and helpful to just focus on how I can return this favor of a privileged life provided by my parents. There are things I can do that my father can’t, and I suppose we can fill the gaps together. So that’s that.

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Jul
4
  • Nonstop Research

    Hello from Maryland! Gosh, it feels like I’ve been away for quite a while but shit, only three days have passed!! First, I’m happy to report that my inaugural flight on Southwest’s OAK-BWI route was a breeze, which means there may be many more to come (I need the points if I’m still aiming for the Companion Pass!). I had deliberately taken the 6:20 am flight to arrive at a decent daytime hour for my parents, but shit, I got no sleep the night before: I had Bubs up really late talking about my trip and my relationship with my parents. Yeah, I was kinda bugging about it. But we had a good conversation and in the end, both OAK and BWI were easy to navigate. In the future, I need to stop getting to the damn airport so early. You see, I have TSA Pre, so getting from curb to gate is always under 20 minutes, but bc I’m a planning freak, I always convince myself to get to the airport 90 minutes early just in case… you know, new airport, holiday traffic, whatever. I know, overkill. I’m making adjustments next time for sure. Other observations from the flight? The OAK crowd is definitely different from the SJC crowd. A lot more sports gear and tats, let’s just say.

    Maryland has been wet!! We’re getting rain all week long! Everything is super green and lush. My dad’s basement dehumidifier now fills up and requires emptying every. damn. day! Totally the opposite of California. Work wise, I def hit the ground running on Day 1. First things first: tech support. Holy crap, I’ve never made so many damn calls to Comcast. All the issues finally got resolved tonight. Tomorrow I’m going to try and hook up my mom’s karaoke Laserdisc system to the HDTV… After tech support, I hustled to take pics of their nicer furniture and decor… I figure, if anything, it’s always good to have photos, regardless of whether or not we’ll ultimately end up using the estate sales person I’m meeting on Wednesday. Until then, I’ve gone ahead and created Google albums (I’d taken a break from Google and was using Flickr for the last several years, but I have to say, Google Photos offers a nice workflow, esp for my busy operations on Freecycle, Craigslist, and Ebay!). If you’re curious, here’s stuff that I expect to go up for sale (I might ship select pieces back to California though), and here are free items that I’m clearing out to make more room for staging/organizing stuff indoors.

    Do you remember when my cousins visited from Taiwan, and they could not stop raving to everyone in Taiwan about how nice my little Houseboat was? And my mom, was all like, “What? What did Vicky do? Her house isn’t that nice! What’s so nice about it? What am I missing?” At the time, I was all pissed like she was being a love withholder or something. But now that I am taking inventory of their stuff, I am realizing there is a huge difference in quality and durability. I mean, their style isn’t necessarily my style, but shit man, the difference in craftsmanship is significant. And credit where credit is due: they really did do a great job assembling pieces together in a cohesive way. So, kudos to them, and I stand corrected.

    On Day 2, I started digitizing some of dad’s important files. Dude is super organized and has impressive homemade spreadsheets tracking a gabillion metrics, but still, his files are stored all over the damn place. Going over where shit was and the status of each project took an entire evening, and he and I were up past 2 am discussing all these details. Bubbey is calling us the Mogul Mafia now. For reals. My dad is intense, I tell you.

    Today was the holiday. I slept in late bc after our 2 am jam session, I couldn’t sleep and I was up until 5 am. But once I got up and going, I decided we needed a large staging area for various piles: trash, recyclables/ewaste, donations, free cycle, and for sale. I posted some stuff on CL, but logistics-wise, instead of having strangers enter deep into the bowels of the house, I think it’s better to just put the items in a bay in the garage and have people come look there. All afternoon, we were uncovering bags within bags within bags in the garage. Holy fuck, I come from an entire line of pedigreed packrats!!! Saved plastic bags, unused restaurant napkins, plastic utensils, takeout containers, etc. Yes, now you see where I get those proclivities!! I started feeling overwhelmed and began sweating my brains out and sneezing up a storm, shuffling around in all the muck. Then, I moved my grandfather’s car out of the garage to take pictures and holy fuck, that thing was stuffed with garbage too, including like five canes and six umbrellas and a whole load of US and Taiwan flags (WTF??)! I started getting so pissed about all the hoarding, so I just threw everything out of the car and onto the driveway. And then it started to rain. Yeah, it was not a good scene. But in the end, I got ‘er done. Toyota Corolla for sale, bitches. Tonight, I reformated two of dad’s old laptops and posted those for sale on Ebay. I need to pad my Ebay stats. :) Actually, if I reapply for the Southwest business card, I need to beef up business for my business, know what I mean? Haha, always hustling.

    On tap for tomorrow: I’m meeting the realtor to talk about the townhouse reno and then he’s touring the family home to share his insights on that potential sale. I’ve also got to call a bunch of vendors regarding dumpster rental, moving services, ewaste pickup, and donation pickups. In the afternoon, a bunch of people are coming to pick up free items: the 20+ year old riding mower, two twin beds, an old stereo, etc. I need to start seeing faster progress; otherwise, I’ll have another “throw everything out of the car” meltdown.

     

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Jun
30
  • The Artist (Formerly Known as…)

    My sleep is all jacked up again. Every time I’m about to visit with family, my anxiety level goes up. And on top of my family woes, there are also a number of other factors that are weighing on me: Bubbey is unhappy at work again, his back is NOT getting better, I’m stressed thinking about all the oldies (my grandparents and Marty) and their increased health problems, and I am still trying to learn my real estate stuff as fast as possible… My brain just can’t seem to ramp up fast enough though. On top of that, I’m out of shape. So yeah, overall, I’m feeling overwhelmed.

    But given my experiences from last week, between visiting with S and her Camp Wonder girls and having Buddy pass away, I am trying really hard to maintain perspective and to just focus on the smaller steps.

    Yesterday, I didn’t study as much as I had wanted, but I did reach out to various contacts. Yeah, the Unabomber had a lot of people interaction yesterday. I called Virgin America again and got the remaining points redeposited. Then I called SmileDirect Club and peppered them with a gabillion questions. Wow, that customer service rep Randall is GOOD! What a relief to find someone knowledgeable, helpful, AND attentive. A goddamn unicorn these days! Yeah, I got my treatment plan last week along with an animation and Im pretty darn inpressed! They expect treatment to be only six months!! I’m so tempted but am still sitting on the decision. More on SmileDirect Club later. After that, I contacted a few computer repair/tech support vendors to inquire about home visits. Found a responsive shop, but they mostly do businesses only. Then upgraded my care.com account and researched personal assistants for my parents. I swear to god, the sharing and/or gig economy has not made it to Frederick. Slim pickings, I tell you. I should have known, considering that even Yelp doesn’t have enough critical mass there. I found ONE dude who had “computer help” in his profile. And most other general personal assistant profiles aren’t even active, with 5-7 day response times and log ins from 3 months ago. WTF? Regardless, I reached out to that one dude, and we’ll see when he gets back to me.

    Meanwhile, I’m still hustling through my eBay store, Craigslist, NextDoor, and OfferUp sites. Trying to sell my stuff and all. Somehow the physical decluttering makes me feel better. So I got a bite for my old mattress yesterday, and the dude showed up with his friend– some chick with green hair. We were talking and then, he asked if I was an artist or musician? Say what? Haha, I could not stop smiling. I mean, I was wearing my crazy floral jeans but shiit, his comment made my fucking day. And they bought the mattress to boot (didn’t even haggle)! As soon as I got back inside, I sent a giddy text to Bubs. The simplest things crack me up. That’s the thing about first impressions though. I’m always curious about the clues we use to make our split second judgements… It’s such an interesting part of human interactions.

    Anyway, in the evening, I had someone respond to my NextDoor posting for Bubbey’s old Mac tower. I had received a few bites last week, with people making outrageous lowball offers, but this dude came by, checked everything out, and bam, sold! Maybe I’m just not as trusting, but this guy was all surprised that I had set the tower up with an old monitor and keyboard and mouse, so he could drive around in the OS. I mean, were you just going to visually inspect, buy, test it out at home, and risk having to find me again if it didn’t work as described?? And it was $375, not just chump change! Oh well, regardless, it worked out great and he even had me keep the change. Yay! The guy himself is a CAD designer, and he was getting it for his friend who’s starting grad school in video/cinematography editing. So cool to be amongst the creatives! Haha. You know me: always wishing I were cooler than I am.

    What else. My third Schoola shipment arrived yesterday. I know, it seems like I have been doing a lot of clothes shopping, and I guess that’s true, but I’m telling you, these second-hand joints are so fucking cheap! My latest lot was all wins: two button down shirts, two blouses, and a blazer for $42!! And all the goods except the blazer are Banana Republic and in excellent condition! Not that you care, but hell, you know I like to crunch the numbers: in total, I have spent $105 with Schoola for 11 items that panned out for me and 2 that panned out for my friend M! Yeah, the free shipping takes 2-3 weeks but it’s worth the wait. And I guess I could always fork over a few extra bucks to upgrade shipping. :)

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Jun
28
  • Scammers are Everywhere!

    I swear to god the older I get, the more I uncover incompetence all around. For reals, how are these people holding jobs??? Sure, maybe I’m misdirecting the blame: after all, line staff are at the bottom of the totem pole. Maybe it’s the executives and company leadership who are the real culprits. Either way, where is the fucking accountability?

    There have been so many examples these last several months, from the scammers at Verizon who charged me for a data plan after I canceled my phone service, to the crooks at T-Mobile who charged me for a piece of equipment they claim I didn’t return (until I provided the tracking number) to Upromise dilly-dallying on my cashback rewards to this. Last month, I booked my trip home using reward points on John’s Virgin America account. Within 24 hrs, I called to cancel the itinerary (free to cancel/change within 24 hrs.). Since forever, the VA website has been buggy as hell. Seriously, how many times has the damn site gone down when there’s a fare sale? Anyway, when I cancelled the trip online, I got a generic error. So I called, was on hold for fucking ever, and then the agent assured me the itinerary was cancelled and said John’s reward points would redeposit in a few days. In the end, I booked a new reservation on Southwest, but today, when I checked his VA points balance, 26000 points were STILL missing. That’s about $600 worth of airfare.

    Meanwhile, when I log into his account and my account, clicking on the itinerary code in either case gives another site error. Fine, so I email customer service: once at the start of last week and another time at the end of last week. No reply. Today, I call customer service. The agent says the points will redeposit by end of day. This evening I log in, and only HALF of the points were redeposited. When I click on the “view receipt,” another goddamn error. Hel-lo people, wake the fuck up! I mean seriously, does every damn transaction require this much check in??? The reservation was roundtrip (under ONE itinerary code, which I provided), and it was cancelled. So this evening I fucking call again!! I was on hold forever and then they gave me the callback option. Basically, up until now, still no call back. After waiting 90 minutes for the callback, I call again and now the agent says the points department is closed. To date, I have wasted time online clicking to a gazillion error messages, emailed customer service twice, and called the Elevate Silver line multiple times, each time waiting on hold for 25+ minutes. Is this a game of attrition, bc I will fucking school your ass! I’m calling first thing tomorrow morning. Assholes.

    In other news, after a couple of weeks of inactivity, I finally got another Rover bite: an older lady with a 14 y/o Schnoodle. In typical fashion, I moved fast and we scheduled a meet/greet this evening. Booked for a week in July (after the corgi!). Yay, old doggies make me so happy!

    On the family front, I texted dad today to check his email, and he called saying the wifi at home wasn’t working again. He went to Comcast, they gave him a serial number, that number didn’t match anything, so they issued a new cable modem, but it still doesn’t work. Blah, blah, blah, same old story. He thinks he can just wait until I get home (Saturday) to handle it. Yeah, along with selling grandpa’s car, meeting with the agent to discuss the townhouse reno plus sale of the family home, meeting with an estate sale lady, cleaning out junk, dealing with iPhone issues, cable tv issues, and now this. Then he started verbally beating himself up about being such a Luddite and being so useless and having to always bother me… The negative self talk, while extremely familiar, is exhausting. I was like, look, the CEO doesn’t have to clean the toilets or order the office supplies. I don’t expect you to know or even do that low level shit. And you’re not bothering me: I can help you, but you have to be able to hire help. I will research what I can ahead of time so I can schedule meetings with vendors while I’m back, but I can’t troubleshoot your tech issues if you no longer have wifi! You have to get Comcast to come out and fix the issue instead of you trying to randomly connect cables on the phone with tech support! Ugh!

    Earlier this week, he had called to report that the grandparents are not doing well in Taiwan. Then my father, being the retired doc that he is, proceeded to explain in excruciating detail my paternal grandfather’s bowel movement issues. Apparently, gramps will go for days unable to pass stool. So I’m thinking, whatever, if he can’t shit, just keep going. NBD. Turns out, it IS a big deal bc all kinds of things get backed up. Needless to say, it is a fucking MANUAL process (literally!) breaking up the blockage. And it’s not even a sickness or anything: the colon muscles are just old as fuck, and they can’t push things down like they used to. To my own surprise, even my background in solid waste couldn’t prevent me from getting really fricking grossed out. Mind you, my dad was doing this procedure, and then he had to train the caretaker to do this… Who has the stomach for this? WHO???

    As for my mother’s parents, who are currently living in the same residence as my dad’s dad, they are also starting to require more care. Grandma is sleeping more and more and grandpa broke the chair and fell while in the shower. Dad says the next time he goes back, he’ll need to ask them to move into a senior care facility… of course, the nearest one that meets decent standards is in Taipei, 5 hours north (where my brother lives). So yet again, my 90+ y/o grandparents are gonna be on the move, led by my 72 y/o father. OMFG, who has the stamina for this?

    Oddly, these days I hear less and less about my mom. Today I asked Dad if I could have her (instead of him) help me with the online troubleshooting, and he said she is getting more and more forgetful. WTF? I mean, granted my maternal grandmother has Alzheimer’s but shit, is this all really happening now? I’m feeling pretty stressed out about everything there is to do, and I can hear the weariness in my father’s voice. I don’t know if he’s an ESTJ, but he’s definitely a doer and this is the doer’s curse for sure: you take on responsibilities bc you want to help and you want to get shit done. But after doing so much for so many years, other people just come to rely on you more and more for every. little. thing. Ultimately, you’re the last one standing, completely exhausted and yet there is no fucking way out. So many times, I think about how to offload his burdens. Surely, something can be delegated. Yet when I sit down with all of this, realistically, you still need someone to research and identify the right person to delegate shit to. For example, I still had to research a bunch of estate sale people or real estate agents or even like tech support people… I know Frederick is the second largest city in Maryland and all, but I can’t even find an onsite tech support service other than bullshit, crappy GeekSquad!! For real!

    And then on the Taiwan side, let’s give Johnny something to handle. What? He can’t even pay his bills on time. Can we possibly ask him to scout out senior care facilities in Taipei, his home city? Nope. I can’t trust that shit to him. So fine, book airline tickets for my parents? Nope, he messed that up before too. Tech help? Totally useless. I asked him once about using a printer/scanner to get documents to my parents. NO ACCESS TO A SCANNER. For fucking real, people. He teaches at a university but says they don’t use scanners. How do you people live under these conditions?

    Same problem with my mother. What can she do? I think about hiring my parents a personal assistant. A few months ago, I researched profiles on Care.com. But my family has trust issues. Do I try and hire my nephews? Fuck. See? Even delegation has its roadblocks. I’m trying to just take it one step at a time. You know, go out this next week, hire people wherever possible, but thinking ahead, I have a feeling I’m going to have to get to Taiwan sooner than later to help my dad shuttle the grandparents. And when I go back, I’m taking a goddamn multi-function machine. Yes, I could buy it there, but then I’d have to decipher the Chinese software and buttons.

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Jun
22
  • On the Move

    As I type, my parents are enroute to Maryland (from Taiwan). Yup, seems like I’ve been getting flight updates all damn day. I mean, it is a very long haul. Sure sucks to be them!

    So I’ve been crunching down on the studying this week. And thankfully, the material is finally starting to sink in. I mean, with enough repetition from note taking plus reading plus lectures plus chapter tests, I should hope so. That said, I’m not gonna lie: things started out pretty fricking dry (kinda how I imagined law school to be…). Sure, I was able to connect the content to my real-life experiences, but I wasn’t really feeling the jazz. Now, I’m actually digging the pragmatism of it all, like just having a clearer understanding of how things work: processes, contracts, loans. I know, you’re not convinced. That’s why you aren’t transitioning into real estate. :P

    So far, one of the biggest takeaways for me has been this: Dad was right about so many damn things! WTF?!? From obsessively reviewing tenant applications to prohibiting pets in rentals to fearing the difficulty and complexity of evictions… So many times when handling our own rental in Virginia as well as my father’s properties, I thought Dad was being needlessly hypervigilent. But shit, according to the real estate professor on my podcast, Dad had it right all along. Shit man, credit where credit is due. Maybe when I visit my parents next month, I’ll finally reveal that I’m studying real estate. It’s too bad the timing doesn’t allow me to save my parents some dough… Nonetheless, I’m sure being involved in a few more transactions while I’m still learning will help everyone.

    The weather has been bloody hot the last few days. Every night Bubbey comes home and tells me our bedroom AC unit is “the best money ever spent.” Haha. Of course, now that we have a permanent and reliable means of cooling the room, I’m itching to sell our older window/standup unit on Craigslist. We bought that mofo many years ago when my parents visited during a heat wave. And my dad is SUPER sensitive to heat. After a day or two of full-on dripping, J and I bought whatever unit they had at Costco. As soon as we set it up at home, my dad just sat in front of that thing for hours, exclaiming “It was REALLY hot!” Since then though, J and I have rarely used the thing. It takes up a shit ton of space on our already crammed houseboat and then it’s super fucking loud and inefficient. Like we can’t even have a conversation with it on. But like a legit seller, I wanted to double check everything before posting for sale. So I set it up in my office. Yup, still works but wow, what a huge difference from our mini split. Indeed, the Fujitsu is the best money ever spent!!

    Meanwhile, the new Casper mattress and slatted bed frame are continuing to deliver. Who expected that I could ever sleep through the night? A goddamn miracle.

    Tomorrow I’m headed out to Livermore. My friend S, whom I befriended at the Duke Nonprofit program a few years ago, is a camp counselor at Camp Wonder, a week-long adventure for kids with skin diseases. I’ve visited S and her girls (she’s in charge of 8!!) the last two years. S doesn’t always get the same group, but there are definitely repeat campers. And despite my general aversion to kids, I learn so much about fortitude, courage, kindness, and joy from these girls– some as young as six. They blow my mind every damn time. And my friend S… She is so young in age (mid 20s) and yet, she carries so much weight on her shoulders, from being the primary caretaker for her mother who has cancer, to serving as a nanny for her nephew, to herself battling a painful and debilitating skin disease… Hands down, she has one of the purest, most selfless hearts I’ve ever encountered. And she is AMAZING with the kids– so attentive and energetic and fun. She always inspires me to do better.

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