Category Archives: Friends

  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Deluge of Tears

    Last week, on the same day that I had gone to visit the kids at Camp Wonder, I learned of Buddy’s passing on Facebook. He was the hyperspaz yellow lab whom we dogsat last year while his family welcomed their third child. The FB posting was frantic, something like “Please pray for Buddy. The vet is doing CPR on him right now,” followed later by a post saying that he was gone. WTF???

    I so wanted to contact D to ask what the hell happened? I mean, he’s only four years old, hardly the age for death! I wanted to know and I was annoyed by the “info but no info” kind of social media post that seems all too prevalent these days. But after pausing and letting the truth sink in, I realized that the details didn’t even matter. I was just dumbfounded (he was such a strong boy) and sad. He had only stayed with us for ten days but he’d grown on me. I suddenly felt so regretful that the day they came to take him back home was the last day we saw him. I thought there would be later opportunities, but I suppose bc of the human relationships (and our personal aversion to hanging out with a gaggle of kids), that never happened. And now he’s gone. The one with ears even more velvety than Martin’s. He’s gone.

    A few days later, after a bunch of people on FB kept asking what happened, D finally shared the details. Buddy had just finished an ordinary play session, and then he suffered from heat stroke. My mind just kept imagining that happening… And escalating so quickly. It’s amazing they even got him to the vet. Ugh.

    Years ago, when I worked at the environmental agency, every summer, the rangers would ask us to put out warnings and signs reminding people about heat stroke, esp for dogs. People would go up a steep trail with their dog on a hot day, and come back down carrying their dying dogs in their arms.

    I thought about how much we anthropomorphize our animals. They are so much a part of us, that we forget they are completely different animals with different DNA. To be honest, until this news about Buddy, I had forgotten that dogs don’t sweat. I mean, I knew this fact, but somehow it was buried deep inside and it had left my consciousness. And I thought about how much Buddy panted and breathed so loudly when we had him… The vet did say that he thought Buddy had a condition that compromised his ability to self-cool… Anyway, whenever we took him to the park, he ALWAYS went after the ball. He would appear physically exhausted but his face and body was always ready for more. Back then, I stopped playing with him bc I didn’t want him to over exert or bc I wanted to get going, but it was never about heat stroke. This could very well have happened on our watch, and that scared me even more. This was a devastating but powerful reminder.

    Of course, that evening I started scrolling through our pictures of Buddy. So heartbreaking. And then I saw my old pics of Remy and Ramona… People always say you have to tell the people you love that you love them. Do dogs know? I was petting Marty today, wondering does he know I love him? I tell him but we speak different languages. Does he know from my actions? Is loyalty a kind of love? Clearly, I’ve got insomnia tonight, and the brain is just all over the damn place.

    Needless to say, I’ve been crying a lot lately. That said, I am still trying to make the most of my life, so that means I kicked my studying into high gear. Today, I even tried something new: I got my butt to Starbucks, downed a chai latte, and then hunkered down from 11-4:30p. Government-backed loans, the law of agency, and real estate appraising. I was doing pretty well until I got into Fannie Mae and Ginne Mae and Freddie Mac. WTF. Thoroughly confusing. And then the fucking mortgage-backed securities and insurance and guarantees and… Argh!!! Why is his shit so goddamn complicated? I got really frustrated bc isn’t that what the movie The Big Short is all about? This intentionally complex system that then screws people over?!?! Thankfully, Bubs explained it to me after he got home. It’s still confusing but less so. I’m gonna sleep on it.IMG_0176 IMG_0177IMG_0198(2)

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  • Lessons from Kids

    Today, I was up in Livermore hanging out with my friend S and her girls at Camp Wonder. I saw some familiar faces from last year, but overall, S’s group was noticeably more chill than her groups from previous years. Perhaps it was the older ages (9+)? Or simply different personalities? I don’t interact with kids enough to really know. Regardless, I was thrilled to see several of the kids playing with my headband and bracelet-making kits, even proudly wearing their creations afterwards. Those kits, man. Can the instructions be any more confusing? For reals.

    It was great to catch up with S. She’s had an extremely difficult year, getting kicked off her insurance and then having to go off her meds. Compared to last year, her arms and legs were covered in scales, and she said the chronic pain got really bad the last several months. It was so upsetting hearing her describe firsthand our broken healthcare system: Medi-cal refused to cover the meds she needed: to make matters worse, the program administrators insisted that she go through various courses of cheaper meds first– meds that she’d already tried in the past and that had proven ineffective (some with extremely damaging chemotherapy side effects)– before giving her the known working meds. So despite her extensive medical records and documentation, with physicians already having tried the cheaper drugs, the program made her jump through the hoops all over again! And during this time, of course her condition and pain escalated. Argh, so incredibly frustrating that she was forced to endure even though a helpful treatment had already been identified!! WTF?!?!

    I was really glad to visit my friend and her girls, but on the drive home, I felt really sad. Seeing all the kids with such severe, disfiguring, and debilitating skin diseases… It reminded me of all the pain and shame and embarrassment I had felt when I had severe cystic acne. And no matter how badly I had it back then, my case was just superficial shit. These kids’ diseases are on an entirely different level. Some of them have skin so sensitive, it has to be bandaged and dressed multiple times a day– their arms and legs completely wrapped and covered. The skin that is exposed– it’s splotchy, lesioned, and discolored. Some have lost their hair. And as if that weren’t enough, they are in chronic pain, with arthritis and blisters and organ issues. Some kids don’t have fingernails much less fingers. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about how much they suffer. And they are just kids. How do they still find joy in each and every day? How do they find the strength to laugh and play and smile through the overwhelming discomfort and pain? And then I think about the families who provide for these precious little hearts. Honestly, where do they find the courage and stamina? 

    I am reminded again today of my many blessings. And I’m grateful for the kind souls behind Camp Wonder and the Childrens’ Skin Disease Foundation (created by a fellow Dukie, btw!). I am humbled by their purpose and commitment. And the kids… I am inspired by their sweet smiles.

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  • 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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  • Channeling Anger

    Last week, I met up with M, the lady who replaced me at the university. I headed out to Los Gatos to check out her big side hustle operation spiffing up free/old/beat-up furniture and then reselling it. Yes, I am drawn to scrappy people! Her house is super charming, filled with many of these treasures. It was a damn hot day, but that didn’t stop us from first venturing out on a hike. I’m super out of shape, so I barely kept up between the trail elevation changes and the fricking high heat. Of course, I’m sure it didn’t help that my blood was boiling during our walk since we gossiped about our former workplace. By the end of the hike, I was physically exhausted but emotionally agitated. The rest of our visit was nice though. We hung out in the shade, drank wine, and ate snacks. She showed me her elaborate workshop and supplies.

    Still, when I got home, I just couldn’t shake my annoyance about my former employer. Trying to find a way to channel my anger, I hopped onto Glassdoor. And I drafted an entire review. But before posting, I just kept hearing John’s voice: “Why are you dwelling on the past? It’s time to move on. You need to focus your energy on what’s ahead.” I paused. Then I did some research. Unsurprisingly, the consensus from job experts pretty much aligns with John’s stance: shut up and move on. The primary reasoning behind that advice seems to be that you don’t want to stir the muck and create trouble for yourself, like you don’t want to be blacklisted or whatever. You left that toxic place for you. If other people don’t leave, it’s not that bad for them, and why should you be their advocate?

    To be honest, I feel like it’s such shitty advice to tell people who know something and who could share the real scoop about a workplace, to just be quiet and pretend everything was fine. Isn’t that partly how all the violence and harassment and abuse in this world just keeps happening unfettered? People see something and know something and yet, they remain silent. I mean, sure, we’re talking a different level of severity but still. There are parallels.

    And you know me: I like to consider expert advice. Ultimately, I make my own decision, but I don’t make it in a vacuum. On one forum, a commenter basically asked someone else who was considering writing a negative employer review, “What are you wanting to get out of your public review?” Good question. And now I don’t even remember his reply. But for me, I have always valued the truth. It’s some kind of compass that’s just deeply ingrained in my person. Like when people pose questions about infidelity or whatever. “What you don’t know won’t kill you,” or whatever bullshit people say. Well, I don’t want to continue in blissful, pain-free ignorance… at least not when it comes to the most important relationship in my life. I WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH, however damaging and heartbreaking. Even if the indiscretion were short-lived or over or whatever. I want to know, and I will choose the truth every. damn. time. Otherwise, I’m just stupidly living in a foolish fantasy. So tying it back together: I guess I feel a similar stance with these asshole employers. Like, hey you’re not going to behave like jackasses and not get called out on it. Maybe I struggle with this notion that bad people are “getting away” with things. Sure, I might feel differently in cases where my personal safety or the safety of my family is in real danger, but with an employer, is it really THAT bad to burn the bridge? Why do I feel so strongly one way and most other people feel strongly the complete opposite way?

    Then I researched how Glassdoor handles negative reviews… there were a ton of claims that people’s negative reviews got removed or shoved to the bottom or manipulated in some other way to have less of an impact. WTF? Is every fucking thing in this world rigged??? In the end, I saved a copy of my review and just closed everything down. Enough negativity for the day. I mean, in the past, there have certainly been plenty of times when I DID speak out and say something and in the end, not a damn thing happened. Just like with my exit interview at the public agency. Just like my exit interview at the university. Both instances of inaction suggest that it’s not that people (at least internally) don’t know the truth, it’s that they don’t give enough of a shit to do anything about it. So then, which is worse? That said, there are still the prospective employees. I use Glassdoor when researching companies, and has it swayed my decisions before? Yes.

    Anyway, in other news, Bubbey’s back pain has been getting progressively worse. I am both annoyed and frustrated that at 40, he is having these kinds of debilitating issues. That said, annoyance and frustration doesn’t serve anybody, so I’ve decided to focus on measures to lessen his discomfort. For the last year, Bubbey has been talking about those new foam mattresses that are recommended by his podcasters, so after I finally realized this purchase would be different from his usual impulsive buys, we ordered the Casper. The mattress arrived and we set it on our “arrangement.” You see, since moving back Stateside in 2006, we’ve always put our mattress on top of a grid of big Rubbermaid storage bins. In the beginning, it was due to space constraints: we didn’t have storage, so we put our crap in the bins and then did a double duty, using them to also support the bed. But then I was reading about how the foundation for the mattress is just as important as the mattress itself. Probably just a sales ploy, but at this point, his back pain is so bad, we just need to pull out all the stops. So I ordered a slatted frame. And last night, I went through the bins. Most were empty but I did uncover my high school prom dress (a tight squeeze but it still fits– then again, I wore shit looser when I was younger) and my red wedding dress (Fucking A, it no longer fits in the bust… really?!?!). I was thinking to get rid of both, but Bubs says I should keep the wedding dress. Back to the mattress. I don’t know that I feel a difference between the frame and the tubs as the foundation, but we’ve had the new mattress a few weeks longer. Even though I’ve been getting to bed super late, after I fall asleep, I do think I am sleeping more soundly. We’ll continue to evaluate the product. Maybe quality sleep will help me better manage my negativity.

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  • V is for Vanity

    Despite months of “I’m 40” self-proclamations, I officially turned 4-0 this week. So far, birthday week has been pretty good. I’ve gotten a few more bites on Rover (those lil’ doggies are my youth/energy elixir!!), and I was super stoked to receive my Schoola and Thredup shipments. I still can’t believe how fucking affordable used clothing (in great condition) is! I’m gonna be hard-pressed to ever pay for new clothing again. For realz.

    On Monday, I met up with K for lunch at a new Italian place (new to us, anyhow). I consumed an incredibly filling meal. I got eggplant parm but the meal also came with salad plus we had cheesy bread plus pasta. Clearly, I’m going full hog this week. Oh well. I hadn’t seen K since last month’s Best Life getaway. I’d kinda gone into unabomber mode since, so I was bummed to hear that K’s been dealing with fam health issues the last several weeks. That health shit always crops up so unexpectedly and it’s fucking scary as hell, esp when lab results never turn up anything definitive. So frustrating, but at the same time, I’m comforted to see that in such emergencies, her people are thankfully well supported and well loved. It’s not always that way, which is a sad reality for many. More on caretaking later.

    On my actual bday, I indulged in the world of free. Yup, just my style, right? I started off the day driving into San Mateo with Bubbey. We met M at her neighborhood Starbies, where I got a free chai latte. Then Bubs caught the train and M and I drove on up to Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. As part of their Good Neighbor Program, I got free admission AND a free dessert. $60 Bubbey bucks, baby. Throughout the day, M hooked me up with food, drinks, and gifts while we gabbed and chilled by the pool. When I got home, Bubs prepped a whole fondue meal. Yeah, it’s pretty damn luxurious being the queen for the day. I lived it up while I could.

    What else. Oh, the day before my bday, Bubbey decided to sit me down to go over parental talking points for my trip out to MD next month. Are you for realz with this buzzkill topic? All this heavy and serious shit, like what’s their real plan for Taiwan? Are they really never coming back to the US for any extended period? If so, how do they want to handle offloading all their stuff here? Next, I’m supposed to express gratitude for all that they’ve done for me and offer to take care of them when the time comes. Third, I need to reassure dad that I’ll care of mom should something happen to him. I was like, wtf? I am NOT ready to have those conversations. I mean, hello, remember that massive blowup (ok, just one of many) I had with my mother??? That was just a few months ago! I’m certainly not proposing that they come live near me much less with me. Not. right. now. Then, Bubbey proceeded to comment about how they’ve done so much for me and it’s my turn to return the help. I just started bawling. I know how much they’ve done for me, but at the same time, I never asked to be born. Yes, this sounds super immature and selfish but shit, I still don’t have my crap figured out. How am I supposed to take this on? And I know I have a blessed and privileged life, but to be honest, some days, I really wish I were never born. Like, I wish my mom had aborted me. That’s not to say any ONE thing in my insular world is that horrible, but like I have shared, sometimes I just feel so out of place in this world. Like I’m saddened and overwhelmed and paralyzed by things I see and learn and know.

    I know the right answer. And in my mind, it has always been my intention to step up when my parents need me. It has never ever been a question in my mind or in my heart. But in recent months, I’ve just grown so frustrated, not just with my parents but also with seeing parent-child relationships elsewhere, like with my grandparents and my parents, with John’s family, and with other families… It can be a major royal fucking mess– bringing out the worst and/or the best in people. So to have that conversation now, like next month… I’m just not ready today. And maybe that’s the thing about Rover and Pinterest and whatever else is occupying my attention… no matter how complicated or difficult care is for elder dogs, they always accept your choices/decisions free of judgement and with gratitude. When I see the growing suspicion or distrust in parents towards their children, no matter how rarely it surfaces, it bugs the shit out of me. Like with my maternal grandmother towards my dad when he was selling her townhouse or like with my in-laws towards their kids who are trying to get instructions on what to do… I’ve heard and read that when people get old, the paranoia and distrust elevate bc that’s part of the cognitive decline. But it still just makes me feel badly (and angrily), bc I mean, do they think this is easy for the kids? To try and honor the parents’ wishes and to do right by them while also trying to keep their own lives and shit together??? It all just feels like a cruel joke. But ultimately, I know this is life. And fuck, I have it a gabillion times easier than most. So just buck up and get ‘er done.

    Back to more light-hearted matters… My next Pinterest experiment is this floral jeans + t-shirt combo. I finally found floral jeans on ThredUp. Guess jeans for only $13!!! I’m wearing them now and somehow this combo doesn’t quite look as good. Hmph! Oh well, good enough!

    Btw, I had a funny exchange the other day. My friend asked me if I’d gotten a boob job. Yup, lil’ ol me. What can I say? The power of clothes that fit and swimsuit tops with oomph! Who knew Lands End offered such magic! Regardless, a well-timed compliment just as I enter the 40s Club. Sure enough, I’m becoming vainer and vainer while the face and body get saggier and crinklier. Good times ahead, man.

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  • Best Life with Best Friends

    Last weekend, J and I hosted our Best Life with Best Friends in getaway in Templeton, CA. Overall, we (both natural pessimists) were happy with the weekend… I mean, sure, leading up to the event and some part into it, I did let circumstances and the planning tedium/logistics get to me (my own fucking fault!). But shit, if I step back and look at the big picture, what an incredibly beautiful setting to enjoy with our dearest friends. Indeed, it was a big group, with people at different life stages and at different levels of familiarity, but the arrangement was flexible enough that people had the opportunity to hang together and also go off and do their own thing. I appreciated how there wasn’t the pressure of having to hang out with everyone all the time. For example, my friends J and J retired to bed early or took the baby to a local farm. J sometimes just sat by the pool and worked on writing her book. When some of us went to Jack Creek Farms and Croad Winery, M stayed back to enjoy the pool and hot tub. I’m an E (ESTJ 14/16 times), but I can also appreciate sprinkling in some solo rest.

    This was also our first time doing an overnight trip with kids. Initially, I had some qualms about how things might work out, but honestly, how refreshing to witness the wonderment of children! Obviously, it helps that my friends’ kids are really well-behaved. But man, watching them explore the property, visit with the goats, call out to the horses, and play in the pool, I was reminded to savor these moments and to find delight in these simple pleasures. Too often, as a planner (and occasional people pleaser), I really lose my perspective and get stuck in the details. But looking at the photos, the house really was quite a gem, surrounded by such breathtaking landscape.

    More images on Flickr

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  • Inevitable Progression


    Since returning from Europe, Martin has not been well. The sitter took great care of him, but since being home, he has had a few bouts with anxiety and his appetite is waning considerably. We have resumed giving him fluids every few days, but it doesn’t seem to work the magic that it used to. He vomited a couple of times, had diarrhea, and is visibly weaker. The hind legs are starting to give out, and he is definitely thinner.

    Meanwhile, my childhood friend N is at the end now with her dog. Also suffering from kidney disease, Ally has stopped responding to everything: she is not eating and she no longer has the strength to get up. N is a vet, so she knows much more about this terrible “progressive” disease. The word, “progressive” doesn’t even seem like the right term. Progressive suggests advancement in an upward direction, but really, our puppies are degenerating right before our eyes. When I spoke with N two days ago, I tried to be optimistic: Marty and Remy bounced back so many times; maybe Ally will too. But N knows better. And today will be Ally’s last. Once again, we must say good bye to a loyal and trusted friend. I remember all of our furry companions– how much they have enriched our lives. Their time with us is just never enough. Ever.

    I don’t know how much, if at all, Martin will bounce back this time. I hope that, like Nathalie, I will know when it’s time. And I will have the strength to let him go.

    That’s the thing about life. There is never a good time. I was wanting this year to be one of celebration not sadness. I’m not sure that things are panning out that way. I recently got approved to be a dog sitter on Rover. My idea was to specialize in caring for old dogs, thinking it would be a way for Martin to gain some company, as he does seem to do better in the presence of a pack. But now I don’t know if that will all happen in time, bc well, “progression.” Ugh.

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