Category Archives: Travel

  • 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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  • Debrief and Decompression

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

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

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 In reviewing all the comps in their price range, their house is in great condition but the interiors are definitely outdated, which translates to “poor showing” status.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Scammers are Everywhere!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Dapper Dabbler

    So I’ve been continuing on my Pinterest challenge. Over the holiday weekend, I attempted this concoction. I was pretty happy with it. The Chambray shirt, man. That’s a key item. I got mine for like $7 at Ross, and I’ve been looking to upgrade, but I haven’t yet found the right fit and cut. For now, this cheapie will have to do. Meanwhile, I’m not like walking around town picking up a shit ton of compliments a la my friend G either, but I feel good strutting my stuff– mostly re-styled versions of items I already own. Today, my first Schoola shipment arrived. I’m sad to say that one top was mint instead of white (the color didn’t come across accurately online), and another top looked pretty unique/funky (asymmetrical) online, but it just didn’t work. They will go back in my bag of donated items. Not a huge bummer, considering everything is like $7 each but you know me: I’m always aiming for that perfect score.

    This afternoon I am trying a navy, flowy midi skirt from my shipment. Man, midi skirts are such a bizarre length to work with, esp since my go-to skirt length is mini to above the knee. I know, years ago Stacy and Clinton insisted “No miniskirts after 35,” and for a while, I followed that rule, but now that I’m 40, fuck it: I do whatever the hell I want. Defiance with a capital D, mother fuckers! So yeah, today I’m being very experimental and pairing this midi with a black/white gingham button down shirt and strappy brown wedges. It’s an odd mix of country and 1950s. Not my usual silhouette. Then again, who cares. It’s almost 2pm and I’m pretty sure no one has seen me, except for Marty and Ramona. That said, this afternoon, I will be hitting up my hair salon. You see, last night, J tried his best to refresh my side shave using his trimmer tool. To give full context, 1) he admitted he didn’t know what the fuck he was doing and 2) the tool is not exactly a buzzer like they use at the barber shop. I mean, these days I’m a badass risk taker, so even with those caveats, I agreed to give it a try. Why not, right? So um now the side shave is uneven as fuck. Short hairs by my ear and longer hairs near the split. Pretty much a hack job. What can I do but laugh. Thankfully, no one sees the Hermit day to day. Whatever, I’ll have my stylist Mindy take that shit down to the 2 blade and then trim up the longer ends of my mullet. That part is getting kinda long and I’m not feeling the layers, so we’ll see what she can do.

    In other news, SmileClub Direct still has my molds. I’m waiting on the sample trays (for complimentary teeth whitening) and details on the full-blown treatment plan. Then again, if I get a job sooner than later, maybe I should just go with the legit dentists using a decent dental insurance. I dunno though. I still kinda want to try this remote dentistry option… I know, I’ll probably end up being one of those dumbasses who goes to get liposuction and then dies bc the doctor was a total quack using a goddamn Dyson. Fuck man, 40 is making me lose my mind!

    J had something come up tonight with his former colleagues. We did a lot of cooking over the weekend, so I’m ordering Munchery for me, another new app/service I recently tried. The meals are somewhat hit or miss, but the food is definitely on the healthier side, and the app ordering and delivery make things pretty damn easy. Plus, you know I use coupon codes every. damn. time. I will say, the Caesar salad is my fave. I know, you’d think a Caesar is pretty basic and easy and just tastes the same everywhere, but I’m telling you: there are differences. And I def crave Munchery’s. If you are curious and want to try for yourself, here’s my referral link.

    Oh, I almost forgot: J and I hit up an RV showroom in Gilroy this weekend. As you know, Bubbey went on that two-week cross-country road trip last summer with his brother-in-law. I think that trip kinda opened a can of worms, bc ever since, Bubs has been talking about getting a tricked out large shuttle/small RV so we can go national park hopping. Admittedly, I have my own romantic thoughts of living on a ranch and/or buying some land and building a container/prefab home. I’m very much intrigued by the tiny home/small living concept. That said, I feel like renting out our house and living out of an RV for an entire year is a completely different beast. For starters, neither one of us is mechanical or handy. These things require a lot of maintenance and people def break down while driving these rigs. I don’t exactly like the thought of being broken down on the side of the road (possibly a less traveled one) waiting for help. We’re not exactly survivalists who would know how to last in high heat or in the wilderness or whatever. Second, while some units are extremely luxurious, the environmental engineering side of me is pretty skeptical about the plumbing and waste management. I mean, you’re essentially lugging all your sewage around with you until you can hit a pitstop and swap it out. I dunno. It makes me think of cruise ships too. I swear some fraction of that sewage is just getting dumped straight into the oceans. Third, I’m concerned about personal safety. I mean, where are we parking this thing and who else is around? I know the Houseboat isn’t exactly top security either, but I dunno, somehow it still feels safer and more secure than a vehicle in some random lot or campground. Finally, being on the road for a year is a long time. I feel like we don’t even know how to vacation for longer than 10 days. But the thing about relationships is this: you have to at least try with encouraging and facilitating your partner’s dreams. That’s just what you do bc you want that person to be happy and you also want to continue growing together. So I’m not saying no. I’m saying I have my reservations, but I’m open to further research. The next step? He’s going to look into a rental for sometime this summer, and we’ll see how that goes. Ok, gotta run now. Time to fix my hacked hair!

    RV1RV2 RV3

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  • Kidney Bean

    Last week felt like a busy one. On Tuesday, I started my very first Rover stint. Yes, for a very long while, I was strongly prejudiced against little dogs (they can be so fucking yippy!), but after dog sitting Helix and Joey, I’ve been warming up to the idea of these compact and portable pups. So we’re about a week in now, and truth be told, Ramona has very quickly melted my heart. She’s so independent and sassy (like my Bembo), and despite being 13 y/o, she still likes to play. Even J was commenting that Ramona really has been quite the ideal Rover. She’ll well-behaved, doesn’t bark/yip, has excellent bladder control, and is just so darn cute without being overly demanding. Her pudgy body is so tiny too, I call her a little kidney bean, esp when she sleeps in fetal position (and snores like a mo fo!). I’m already feeling sad that she’ll have to go home next Saturday. As for Marty, he is doing better again: eating well, tracking me around the house, and he gets so happy about going to the park… The two pups don’t interact much, but I’ve noticed that for Marty, simply being in the presence of other dogs seems to lift his spirits.

    In work-related news, as you know, I started applying for jobs at real estate offices and property management firms. I heard back from the one commercial outfit regarding their entry-level position. We had a good phone interview, but last Tuesday they decided to proceed with others. I was ok with it: after all, I did feel like being a receptionist/front desk person was not exactly my speed, even if only for a short period. Interestingly, I also heard back from a local realtor’s membership organization for their education coordinator gig. I interviewed with the head of PR and Comm on Friday afternoon. She was a very impressive lady, super well-connected and active in the community; we had a great conversation, but by Saturday, I decided joining a realtor’s association would only delay my entry into practice after earning my license. She was very kind, and responded immediately with a very personable reply, saying she had arrived at the same conclusion. She also noted that she was really impressed by my level of research and prep for the interview. Hee, hee. If only she knew: research is practically my middle name. Ha! Regardless, it was cool to get these two interviews under my belt. I will say, I’ve been pleased with the response to my applications. Initially, I was attributing the interest to my re-vamped resume (chronological now instead of functional format), but Bubbey suggested that since real estate is oftentimes an industry for encore careers, the hiring people are much more curious and open to people with different backgrounds. Makes sense. I’ll take it!

    In other news, I am making progress with the townhouse in MD that I’m planning to get on the market in mid-late July. I had a call Friday with the selling agent, who’s proposing some minor renovations to get things ready. I’m going to move forward on those to see if they’ll get us a higher sales price. I’ll be checking in on the project in person in July. At the same time, I’ll be helping my parents with posting/selling their furniture/possessions/furnishings and cleaning out their primary residence. I’ve booked 7 days back home around the July 4 holiday, and frankly, I’m dreading the trip…  John will stay back on Marty duty so it’ll be yet another unbuffered session with the parentals… I know, apparently the Volcano likes to play with fucking fire.

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  • Volcanic Eruption

    So yesterday evening, shit blew up on the Houseboat. One more goddamn straw, and the volcano erupted. As you know, for the last month, I’ve been going to the JCC for my Groupon. During this time, I’ve suggested to Bubbey numerous times that he cancel his membership to 24 Hr Fitness and try out this swanky gym. It’s only 6 minutes away and lots of people go late at night, so maybe this can be our evening activity after he gets home from work. For weeks, he agreed to try it out, but he kept procrastinating– he had to go to his London trip, then there was Best Life, then DC, blah, blah. Fine. Mind you, I’m only on the elliptical for 30 minutes. This is not a huge time sink. So he returned from DC on Sunday. On Monday night, after he got home from work and we finished dinner, I suggested we get ready. He was feeling too full, blah, blah, blah, so we took Marty for a walk at the park. In my head, the intention was to walk Marty, get the digestive juices flowing, and then go to the gym. After we home, I got my things ready and once again, no. Too tired: I just got back from DC. Whatever. After all the bullshit of recent weeks, I had had it. As I left, I said, “Fine, but next time, I’d appreciate if you’d stop offering to do things that you have absolutely no intention of following through on!” Oh, what do you mean? When has that ever applied?

    Are you fucking kidding me? This same bullshit has been happening over and over again. I slammed the door and left. While driving over to the gym (six minutes), I was stewing like a mother fucker. I’m surprised I didn’t rear end the slow ass drivers in my way. I was gonna call him and blow this shit up. Excuse after excuse. Repeated prioritization of everything else before me. And I’m not even needy! Shit, I have hung out with so many friends who make/ask their partners and spouses to do every little thing. Fuck you! I was so pissed.

    I stepped on that elliptical and sweated my brains out. Afterwards, I sat in the sauna and continued to stew. I mean let’s be real. Best Friends was his idea, supposedly a gesture for me but as the whole trip materialized, it was just a ton of planning and work for me. And then anytime I needed help with any aspect of the weekend, he either dismissed my concerns about the logistics, or he totally ignored any part that was important to me. For example, he hardly even sang for karaoke (and then went to bed early); then how many times did I mention the goddamn photo booth and in the end, only two test pictures; and then to make me throw away all those recyclables that I had collected throughout the weekend?!?!?! Not cool. Where there is a will, there is a way. I’m serious. And what, in the end, all of my irritation was just supposed to wash away bc 1) he had returned from London the day before departure and gotten ingredients on Friday morning 2) he grilled up dinner Friday night and 3) he mostly fought off his jet lag to be social with our friends for three days? Puhlease.

    I got home from the gym and was still so stinking mad. I went directly to my office and started doing my own shit. The house was dark, so I assumed he went to bed already. Typical Bubbey M.O. whenever we fight. I printed crap out on the printer, went to his office to retrieve my printouts and turns out he was lying on the floor there in the dark. And he looked so sad. So then I caved. In a more controlled manner, I told him I was upset he was going to be away for my bday. Usually, bdays are just bdays, and who the fuck cares. But this was a big one. And I felt like last weekend when I was trying to price out tickets to join him in NYC, he never responded to my questions or email about dates and whatever. Then, bc he was so busy with family matters, we weren’t able to sync up much, and when we finally did, he couldn’t offer any clarity. You know I hate that indecisive bullshit, so then I just abruptly said fuck it. He finally came clean and admitted that he’s been feeling overwhelmed between all the work travel and family stuff, and now the company’s future is uncertain… I mean, admittedly, there’s a lot going on. So I piped down. But fuck man, he def deserves crap for 1) never apologizing for cutting London so damn close to Best Life and leaving me hanging with details and 2) never apologizing for missing my bday. I swear, sometimes I really have to spell shit out for him.

    I know he loves me very much. But still, sometimes his effort just feels so damn half ass. And his actions really come across rather inconsiderate and thoughtless. I have played the scenarios over and over in my head. Am I over reacting? Am I asking for too much? Am I missing something? being short sighted? How would a truly mature adult handle this situation? Honestly, I feel like every single one of my friends would be annoyed by the same things, if not MORE things, and I can’t say that they would just let that shit slide. Yes, marriage is a constant work in progress. Just when I feel like things are easy and our relationship is coasting along in a strong steady state, shit happens to really bite me in the ass. Yes, I know I have the memory of an elephant and I don’t let shit go. In my defense though, why should I let shit go if you don’t admit any responsibility or wrongdoing in hurting my feelings? That’s just not gonna fly no matter how rational your reasons may be for why shit HAD to get prioritized above me.

    Anyway, the other takeaway was that I need to get back to work. Like, I need to have my own shit going on, my own activities and social circles, and life. Thankfully, things are finally starting to come around. My first Rover client arrives tonight for 11 nights. Then, I just got another request today for June 9-19, so maybe my old doggie boarding business is gonna pick up steam!

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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.










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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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  • London + Paris

    Whew, I’m finally back on the plane headed home. Thank goodness. Don’t get me wrong: Bubs and I had a great time in London and Paris. We did TONS and we really enjoyed catching up with friends and family… That said, both of us are also ready to return to our bubble. It’s funny, bc when most people vacation, esp somewhere far away, they go for AT LEAST two weeks since they’re “already traveling so far.” But for us, ten days felt a little long: we get fatigued being away from home. Next time, maybe shave off another day or two. Shrug.

    Both cities were amazing, offering lots of walking (which we enjoy), breathtaking landmarks and architecture, tasty foods, and easy transportation, but dayum, we are tired, boss! For one, there’s the jetlag. Bubs had flown in from NYC (EST) and I from California (PST), and then we met in London so it was the intersection of three substantially different time zones. Then, I’m out of shape and neither of us is used to walking 15-20k steps/day, so our bodies definitely had to adjust. (On average, J clocks about 10k and I do like a lame 2k.) Second, the weather in London was cold, rainy, and windy… What can I say, the Valley has made me soft to the elements. Add to that, we did way too much eating out, so yeah, too many bodily changes going on at once. After so many days of hard living (excessive eating/drinking), our stool is coming out like rabbit pellets. Seriously.

    Typically, J and I are superstar packers, but this trip was kinda a fail. I blame Bub’s business trip to NYC: he had all his fancy shirts, a blazer, a work bag, his shiny shoes, etc. Then we were also misled by his eldest sister, a shopping aficionado who urged us to take a big suitcase for “all the goods” we were going to buy. It ended up just being kinda cumbersome to lug around.

    But that info is just boring details explaining why we felt so damn tired. On the positive side, we had a fun adventure. London reminded me a little bit of Canada, where the common language kinda fools your brain into thinking you know the country and culture but shit is off just enough that something feels amiss. In London, my highlights included having afternoon tea (tea biscuits and scones with clotted cream and jam) with our friends whom we met over a decade ago in Shanghai. They’re very unconventional, and the lady is quite entrepreneurial, so I enjoyed hearing her interesting business ideas. Entrepreneurial people are so refreshing bc I never have to explain why I left my shitty jobs (as with my college roommate and her “what job number is this for you now?” comment). J and I also had some incredible meals, including some fresh, new Mediterranean flavors from Chef Ottelenghi at his restaurant Nopi. Les Mis at the Queen’s Theater was a memorable night: our seats were perfect, just far enough so our necks weren’t strained and stretched but close enough that we were in the midst of the action. Surprisingly, I didn’t completely lose my shit during the performance like I normally do… I mean, I really am wed to the NYC Broadway rendition of the songs… That’s just what I grew up on, and frankly, it’s always going to be my gold standard.

    After five days in London, we hopped the Eurostar train to Paris. The ride was pricey (next time, get the tickets in advance!) but comfortable, if somewhat restless. There was an Indian family next to us who brought on their entire lunch– bento boxes of curries, naan, rice, and all– and proceeded to have a freakin’ party on board. To my amazement, they talked THE WHOLE TIME, like 2.5 hrs.!?!? Who has so much to say amongst family??

    Paris was a really beautiful transition. Unlike the clouds and gloom of London, the weather was warm and sunny, at least for the first two days. Thank goodness I packed three different outerwear, bc I used it all on this trip. I shed my big puffer and switched over to my thin athletic jacket topped with my F21 red pleather. I was feeling pretty badass and chic sporting my MJ jacket with my edgy side shave. Haha. Yup, side shade (aka quasi-mullet) made its European debut.

    In Paris, we met up with J’s youngest sis S and our niece M. S is a project manager, so we got a shit ton of landmarks crossed off our lists in just a few hours. Traveling with other people is always a riot: M was super lax; S was aggressive about hitting the sites; then, as a group there was a lot of indecision (due to decision fatigue?) re: food/drink spots. Usually, J and I like to leave the hotel, come back mid day to rest/nap in the room, and then go out again. On the there hand, S is very much an out all day until late evening kind of traveler. Her very first day in, she got off the 10 hr flight from SFO, cabbed 30 min to the hotel, and then stayed up and out until 11pm. The next two nights, after all of us spent the entire day out, she and J hit up a nearby bar at like 11pm. I declined: I was so tired and the bar scene is even more exhausting. That night they got home after the bar CLOSED at 2am. The next night, it was the same deal except Bubs came home after the first bar closed at 2am, and S continued to hit a second bar with some new friends she made at the first bar! She got back to the hotel at 6am!?!? Hard core, I tell you. She was asking us how late we normally stay out on the weekends. Um, same as during the week, lady. Bubs goes to bed around 9 or 10; I fall asleep around midnight or 1. If we go out, we are almost always home by 11p.

    So of course, after we retired to our rooms one of the nights, Bubs was all sighing and stuff. “We need to have better hobbies or new activities for when we travel. We need to be more fun.” Yada, yada, yada. I mean, I’m the first person to be inspired by how other people live their lives, but sometimes it’s so fucking frustrating being downplayed. I mean, I drink but I don’t really go to bars and drink a lot nor do I make friends with strangers in such settings, so what, now that means I’m boring and no fun? Or I’m not a huge shopper who goes overseas and brings back a bunch of loot, so now I have no interests and hobbies? I started getting a little defensive with Bubbey, bc why do I have to keep defending or justifying how I live my life? Am I supposed to keep apologizing for not being the way other people are? When does this stop, this mentality that there is something wrong with me or us and our choices? I dunno. I was annoyed. I mean, already I have self acceptance issues about my career, so please don’t pile on all this other shit. If you want to be a different person with different interests, have at it. But don’t impose that shit onto me. Like the whole bar scene. I’ve given it plenty of tries, and I just don’t like it. I’m not going to apologize for not jiving with it.

    I digress. I’ve missed my Marty a lot on this trip. I’ve been really happy with the frequent updates from the sitter. I think I found a good one, so it’s a relief to have options esp since I might be headed back East or to Taiwan again soon. I’m also excited to start cooking at home again. Apparently, there IS such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” Seriously. My body needs to stop shitting rabbit poop and get back to normalcy.

    More images on Flickr

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  • Groupon Grind

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

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

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

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

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



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