Category Archives: Health

  • My Rover Record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • 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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  • 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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Kobayashi Part II

    As you know, Bubs and I hit up the HOPR back in March for his 40th bday. I was all bummed bc Bubs totally thwarted my plans for leaving the joint with a shit ton of leftovers. So for my bday, I was super stoked about a HOPR do over. In early May, I tried to get reservations for my bday but shit, that place was booked big time and the earliest booking I got was like June 27. WTF? Fortunately, as my charmed life would have it, the week of my bday, a slot opened up for Friday, June 10. I suspect a cancellation came in for the NBA Finals game, but hell yeah, I took what I could get!

    All day, I fasted. When we arrived, I was famished. And then, the ritual began: loaf of fresh baked bread, salad with beets and drenched in Thousand Island dressing, English cut beef, creamed spinach, loaded baked potato, and Yorkshire pudding. We sat next to a couple who was there celebrating the hubby’s bday. I overheard them tell the waiter that they come every year for the splurge, and I felt like a spoiled punk already having dined twice in three months. Anyway, as I made my way course by course, by the time I got to the meat, my tummy started feeling nauseas. Oh hell no, you are NOT gonna fail me now. It is GAME TIME, baby! Was it something about the meat this time (medium well) or had I over-fasted? I dunno but shit wasn’t feeling right. J looked over and was like, are you ok? Fuck man, I will not be stopped. I just continued to get it down my pie hole. It didn’t taste bad, but somehow not as savory as last time. The waiter came by and offered the complimentary second plate. Yup, bring it on. Similar to last time when the waitress was like utterly shocked by how much I had consumed, the lady at the next table, also expressed surprise. Yeah people, I don’t back down in a buffet-like setting. If I’m gonna go, there’s only one way to do it. It’s the Chinese in me. Years of training, I tell you. Meanwhile, Bubs devoured his prime rib original cut. Homeboy should have gotten the second plate, but as usual, he refused to play my game. Instead, while I dug into my second plate, I had to endure his disgusted looks. Dude, your dirty looks aren’t gonna shame me into not doing my thang. I took a few more bites, and then I got all that shit packed up. Two full bags. Give my body the night to process everything through the system, and then the next day, I am ready to go again. The leftovers were tasty! The lesson learned here? Obviously, the 40-y/o body isn’t as robust and sturdy as the younger version. I would like to look into re-creating the salad and Yorkshire pudding at home (new inspiration). Between HOPR and the two buffets we had in Vegas with dad, I think it’s time to put buffets behind us. Kobayashi needs to retire!

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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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  • Guinea Pig

    I’ve been feeling a little down lately. Typically, these low phases are triggered by some combination of depressing world news, growing responsibilities with my parents, and feelings of isolation. My typical response to too many uncontrollable factors is to obsess over personal details (factors I can control), so I was pretty full speed ahead on this big Project Me program: I was going to the gym, changing up my makeup routine, trying out some new hair/skin products, re-coloring my hair, experimenting again with my wardrobe, and then also continuing with my real estate classes.

    Last weekend, Bubbey was out of town again. He headed back East for his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Man, we were on such a great roll this past year and I was so excited about celebrating our many milestones in 2016. But now, in recent months, J’s gotten really busy at work and he’s had to travel a lot more for the job and for his family. By contrast, I spend most of my days relatively quiet, mainly hanging out with Marty, who has his own share of ups and downs. By the time Bubs gets home, he’s chatted out and I’m barely getting started. Sigh. These are the forgotten challenges that come up when one person is on sabbatical, I guess.

    After I finished managing the HVAC project last week, I started feeling like maybe it was time to get back into a professional setting, so I sent out some resumes to positions in commercial and residential real estate offices. Despite my many years in project management and specifically with handling residential real estate matters for my parents, it seems that I’ll still have to start from the beginning. I had a pretty good phone interview on Thursday for an admin role with a commercial firm, but the HR lady cautioned that it was entry level with typically 2 years before advancement to the next step… J thinks I should just focus on getting my license and then ramp up immediately as a salesperson rather than waste any time in some admin role, but he also doesn’t seem to notice that I’m quietly withdrawing into oblivion. In the very least, I figure the gig will give me exposure to a new industry, and if it’s not particularly stressful or challenging, I’ll be able to prepare for the license exam while also maintaining work-life balance.

    I have a big bday coming up, and even though our Best Life weekend was partly to celebrate my 40th, I thought J and I might still do something together in addition. Turns out, he’s headed back to NYC that week. Initially, he seemed excited about suggesting that I join him for the week, but later, as the project scope and details remained nebulous (with creep likely), it seemed like he wouldn’t necessarily be around. I’m pretty good about exploring a city solo, and I considered inviting my Boston bud to meet me in New York, but I dunno, ultimately, it just sounded like too much coordination and effort. I’m trying not to be upset about it… esp after I watch the news or read about other people’s lives in developing countries (@natgeo on Instagram), I feel totally lame for even complaining. Still, it’s upsetting to feel unappreciated and undervalued– both work-wise and relationship-wise. To combat my issues, I’ve been visiting Pinterest a lot lately, trying to get inspired and motivated.

    Speaking of motivation, my kit from SmileClub Direct arrived, and I created my teeth molds. There were four total– two for the upper teeth and two for the lower teeth. What an interesting kit: for each mold, you mix the catalyst putty with the base putty, lay a tube of the mixture into the tray, and cram it into your mouth. Of course, I was a crazy person, so I read every single instruction and tip beforehand, bc I wasn’t about to fuck up my molds. Two chances, beotch. I will say, usually, I have a really high threshold before the gag reflex kicks in, but shit, there were a few times when all that mouth action triggered some heaving. Nonetheless, I think my molds turned out according to spec, and today SCD emailed me saying they received my molds. I cannot wait to get my sample trays (for free teeth whitening) and treatment plan soon. I’m pretty excited to see what comes back. This remote orthodontics thing could be pretty frickin’ cutting edge, no?

    On another plus side, Marty has been doing well again. Still finicky with his appetite but he’s been following me around everywhere, watching my every move, and just overall paying attention. His eyes are clear and alert, and he bounces with excitement every time we go for walks and car rides. My little buddy. What would I ever do without him.










    4-IMG_4174 5-IMG_4199 6-IMG_4202

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  • Project Me

    Martin had a good day today: he ate some food (without meds); he didn’t vomit; and he went on an extended walk. A few days ago though, my neighbor had emailed me a list of things regarding the City’s On Call Plus service, yard waste, pet sitting, and how Marty was doing. I replied that things weren’t good and I was thinking maybe we were a month away. The next day, she replied that she and her husband hadn’t said anything to their daughter E about this. She suggested that I might start preparing E so she isn’t fully taken off guard when shit goes down. I mean, sure, I know E in that I have paid her to walk Marty during the week for the last year, but she’s 10, and I have no idea how adults communicate topics like death to kids. To be honest, I had been thinking about it, and all along, I’ve been verbalizing that he’s a lot weaker and older and not feeling well, but I dunno, isn’t the deterioration and death of a dog something the parents are supposed to interpret for her? I replied asking for her suggestion. She said E is mature for her age, and I should just “repeat over and over again that Marty is dying.” Really?

    A sidebar about my neighbor. She’s a French lady. Very nice, very organized (she’s a project manager), extremely active and disciplined (just turned 50 and started competing in marathons and Iron Woman shit). Now that I think of it, she’s pretty dang direct too in her communication style. Is it a French thing or just her thing? I don’t really know. But an example of her bluntness:

    Before we headed to Europe in April, I had “refreshed” my side shave. You see, my initial foray into the side shave was just a teaser. In February, I had shaved a small section from my face back to the front of my left ear. As I had mentioned in my Instagram back then, the move wasn’t nearly as dramatic as I had anticipated. So in mid April, I decided to take the shave a bit closer (number 2) and shave it farther back towards the back of my skull. Maybe by then I had already been desensitized, bc even though it was a lot more noticeable, it still didn’t feel like a huge deal. Then again, when I sent a pic to Bubbey complaining about the vertical demarcation from the old shave, he replied, “Forget the vertical line, how come the shaved area got way bigger?!?!… It’s a little extreme.” Whatever though. What does Bubbey know. So off we went on our European jaunt with my expanded shave debuting in London and Paris. When I got back, the neighbor came over with E to walk Marty. She looked at me with great horror and gasped:

    F: Oh my god, what happened to your hair?!?!?!?

    Me: Haha. Oh, I just shaved it.

    (She was practically speechless.)

    F: What did John say???

    Me: He said it was a little extreme. (Shrug)

    F: Well, it will grow back.

    Me: Yeah it will… And then I’ll just do it again.

    I always chuckle a bit when I think of that exchange. I really can’t see any of my American friends or acquaintances reacting in such a manner. But yeah, back to the Martin death thing. WTH? Weird, right? Is she tying to give E like unadulterated exposure so the girl isn’t coddled? I dunno. I don’t exactly understand it, but heck, if you want me to play the radical honesty card with a child, I’m game.

    So beyond the stressful Marty doggie care these last couple weeks, I’ve been doing my very own version of GTL (S/O to Bubbey’s show Jersey Shore), except my version is Gym, Tanning, Learning. You see, when I was obsessing big time about my physical imperfections a couple months ago, I came to this realization after watching a ton of makeup and skincare tutorials on YouTube: looking good takes a lot of fucking effort. All the makeup people I follow on YouTube? Absolutely stunning and gorgeous. I mean, they’re already naturally pretty even with nothing on, but holy crap, there’s a HUGE difference in before and after. The “enhanced” version is super gorgeous. And these ladies can whip themselves ready in a flash (under 8 minutes). That said, let’s be real. They use a gazillion products AND there’s so much maintenance even beyond the makeup. Seriously, from teeth whitening gels to permed lashes to tattooed brows to shaving their faces to special shampoo… A shit ton of work and effort. So of course, that got thinking: here I am moaning and groaning about how ugly I am, and am I doing all that work? Nope. Just complaining while sitting on my ass. THE worst. So fine, time to step up my game. I have switched up my foundation to give more even, less splotchy coverage. Added bronzer for some healthy glow. And I think I’ve been over-stripping my skin, bc homegirl does a lot of skincare prep to get her acne-prone skin plump and ready before putting on any color. So now I am trying to hydrate my skin more often to see if that will help me achieve her smooth and flawless finish. I’m telling you: that shit is an art, and she is a master. I’m fascinated.

    I also did some additional reading on the dermaroller, and I might be giving that up. I haven’t noticed a difference in skin texture after three uses and some papers are claiming that extended use causes serious damage. I might do it a few more times, but I won’t be re-ordering.

    On Mothers’ Day, I ordered my evaluation kit from SmileDirectClub. Yes, it’s over 50% cheaper than the regular ortho and that def plays a factor with cheapie old me, but honestly, more than anything, I can’t help but be intrigued with the concept of mail-order ortho treatment. So I’m going to create the molds and see what treatment plan is proposed and then go from there on deciding whether or not to really go forward.

    Fitness-wise, I’ve been going to the JCC pretty consistently. The gym just got some new ellipticals too that are making me sweat my brains out. Then I sweat some more in the sauna and steam room. I got my shower routine down. Yesterday, I changed up my exercise activity and hit up the pool (where I befriended a very outgoing 9 y/o Latina girl… Why are kids approaching me?!?). Oh and I am back on the self-tanning wagon. I still had some St. Tropez left (given to me by my gal K), so I figured I had to use it up, even though I’m sure K will insist that shit is expired. Whatdya know. Maybe the gym sauna/shower routine is working some kind of magic: No application mitt or anything, and the color is deep, uniform, and streak-free!! Yeehaw.

    Yup, still studying my real estate books. Shit is finally starting to sink in. And the info is coming in handy for duties back East. I think I’m finally back on a roll! Just in time for our upcoming weekend getaway. Thank fucking goodness!

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  • Sweating with the Oldies

    So it’s been three days since we returned from Europe, and we are still jet lagged, though slowly getting closer to normalcy. Bubbey started off waking up at 2 am on Monday, then 3 am on Tuesday, and now 4 am today. As soon as he gets home from work, he eats dinner and crashes. I have been doing a little better– but still waking up earlier than my usual. Meanwhile, my right eye continues to twitch like a mofo. It all started the day I arrived in London. I thought it was caused by me wearing my contacts for the long flight (10 hrs) and beyond. My eyes got super dry, but even after using drops for days and skipping contacts altogether since returning,  that shit is still spasming. We’re talking two weeks now. I did my WebMD research on this and it seems that the causes are primarily stress, fatigue, wind, caffeine, physical exertion, alcohol. Hmm, I mean I’ve been cranky lately but would I say stressed? The other elements, however, do apply. But that’s never been an issue before. Fuck man, I can feel it: this is 40. I’m getting screwed again.

    Motivated by yet another expiring Groupon, I decided that exercise might be the answer once again. Yesterday, I opened up my one-month membership at the JCC. That facility is fucking monstrous, linked with a big retirement community and everything. Two floors, two pools (the indoor one is heated to 87 degrees!!), two saunas in each locker room, and a shit ton of classes. Originally, my plan was to do the yoga classes and then wade around in the pool. But looking over the class schedule, I thought I would try Aqua Stretch this morning, you know, two birds, one stone kind of deal. So this morning, I was up early and made it to the 8:30 am class. I mean, I dunno what I was expecting but all old white women. Ok, well there was one younger lady (I think she was autistic) and one Asian lady. Both of whom left early and the class was only one hour! In the few minutes I spoke to the Asian lady, she said she’d just returned from Europe (I said, “Me too.”) and asked if I bought any luxury goods (like Longchamp bags or whatever that brand is) during my trip. Jesus Christ, am I the only person who’s NOT into luxury goods?!?

    Class wasn’t too hard, so it was a nice intro into fitness again. I liked doing the movements in the water, but I’m not really digging the class thing (with the oldies). I dunno, I guess I’m ageist. Afterwards, I figured I would live it up with the amenities. I took a shower there, used the shampoo and bath gel, used the hair dryer and q-tips, stepped into the sauna. Fuck yeah. Granted, there are a lot of naked bodies everywhere which makes a prude like me a tad bit uncomfortable. Then again, I can’t be kept away from my free shit. Haha. I guess I also got good training/exposure to this kind of environment when I joined the fancy gym in Shanghai years ago. Back then, the bathroom/showering facilities were much nicer than our apartment, so I did all my bidness there (after working out, of course). Yeah, I was fucking fit when I was in Shanghai. Sigh.

    After luxuriating in the amenities of the JCC, I went home. Dad called. He has friends visiting in May, and he asked me to research fun things for them to do. See? Fucking OnStar over here. But on the plus side, not a single mention about my career/job. This is a record, man! Not since I left SCU at the end of January. I’ve been wondering whether this is deliberate bc he doesn’t want to stress me out, or if given his and my grandparents’ health issues, he no longer believes that stuff matters above all else. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a combo of both. I haven’t even told them I am studying real estate.

    My sweet friend M came over today for lunch. She’s so thoughtful. Remembers everything– she’s a tracker like I am. Brought over lunch to celebrate my wedding anniversary. She’s got a fun project going on, and she’s always so freaking disciplined with working out. Super fit and now she’s on some Whole 30 diet that’s uber hard core. She’s sitting there eating a salad while I’m packing away the chips, beans/cheese, AND burrito. That kind of willpower is no games, man. Even in the presence of pure gluttony. SMH.

    Tonight, Bubs and I are going out to dinner for our anniversary. Man, can’t believe it’s been 13 years. Then again, it also kinda feels longer than that. Sigh. The wild and crazy life I gave up to be with Bubs. Sacrifices, man. My Chinese peeps better be eating that shit up, bc hell yeah, the struggle is real. :P

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