Monthly Archives: January 2005

Weekend Activities

Weekend Activities

John and I had a terrific weekend. On Saturday, we drove out to Santa Barbara, a quaint lil’ town on the coast. Went to the farmer’s market where there was excellent produce. We went crazy and bought roasted almonds, blood oranges, naval oranges, raisins, the whole shebang. Unfortunately, we had a major lunchplace miss– some deli shop that made awful sandwiches. Still, we had a good time walking around. Traffic back to LA wasn’t the greatest and John is especially impatient these days with his aggressive driving, but we made it back to Oakwood okay.

On Sunday, we went down a few exits on 101 and hit the Getty Museum. Man, they have some kind of endowment: the place was amazing. Check out the pictures. I keep saying, I just have to work for a nonprofit like the Getty Museum, then my friends will all be wanting to job shadow me (instead of the other way around). John and I mostly hung around outside near the fountains and gardens. We’re not really into paintings and sculptures much. We’re retarded like that. 🙂

CA: Home of the Warrior (Sen. Barbara Boxer of course!)

CA: Home of the Warrior (Sen. Barbara Boxer of course!)

I know, I know. I’ve been on the west coast now for two weeks and I’ve totally slacked with Goodbers. Sorry bout that, but I’ve been damn busy.

So the apartment in LA (Sherman Oaks suburbs actually) is quite the cutsy studio. Love the Murphy’s bed… I think I wanna live in a studio just so I can use one. As usual, Metapa was good to us. Nice apartment with tennis courts, a gym, hot tub, heated pool, the works. After the first week in LA, we drove up last weekend to San Francisco. Susan came out to hang, and we met up with my college bud Josh as well as John’s college roommate Bri. I had a lot of fun getting together and hanging out like the days of old. SF is definitely better the second time around. My first impression (during our honeymoon in April 2003) wasn’t that great. The city was much colder than I had imagined (I was wishing for FL beach weather), and the bums sorta got to me. Fast forward a year and a half later and it’s still colder than I had imagined (still, FL beach weather) but at least Shanghai’s prepped me well for the panhandlers. Josh took us around and we saw some terrific sites in SF and across the bay in Marin County.

There are many things to like about SF– the mountains, the waters, the dogs, the progressive politics, the organic goods, the diversity… But SF is expensive as hell, and a bit yuppie for me. I know, it’s like the kettle calling the teapot black, but hey, I try to live modestly and keep my feet planted. John’s the Starbucks aficionado.

I’ve walked through Chinatown every day this week; disappointingly, I have yet to hear some freaking Mandarin. It’s all Cantonese, which I think sounds like clucking chickens . Okay, not that bad but certainly not as melodious as the other billion dialects. It seems John is itching to get back to the States. He wants his Lexus convertible and fast internet. What a sucker for the cush lifestyle. It’s not that I don’t enjoy luxuries– I just don’t want to have to NEED them. Anyway, this week in SF, I’ve been taking some classes/seminars on NGO stuff: grantseeking, proposal writing, fundraising, etc. Very general but quite informative and good. I’m learning all kinds of interesting factoids. For example, in 2003 Americans gave $240 billion to charities. Of that amount, individual donations accounted for 75%! Can you believe? Corporations only account for about 5%. I think it’s pathetic. And of the individual contributions, 60% came from households earning less than $50k/year. How’s that for Reagan’s trickle-down economics bullshit. I also met with some SF NGOs this trip. Super cool peeps out there and it feels great to connect. I’m realizing that networking skills are super money for NGO work. I gotta work on that. I wanna put together some elevator spiel. Any of you got one? How do those things go anyway? I’m enjoying my time here– feel like I’ve learned a lot. Plus it’s always cool to meet up with like-minded peeps.

Ok well I’m getting tired. Flying back to Sherman Oaks tomorrow night after a full day of seminars. I’m looking forward to a warm weekend in LA.

Hell-Ay, Here We Come!

Hell-Ay, Here We Come!

I know you’re already sick of my gripes about the SH cold. Sorry, just one last time: BUUUURRRR! It’s fucking freezing. I know, you think I’m just being cheap and not turning up the heat. Well let me set things straight: John’s no penny pincher and I’m telling you, we have the heat on full blast. Doesn’t help. You gotta just experience to know what the hell I’m talkin’ about.

Lucky for you, the complaining will stop soon: we’re heading to LA tomorrow. That’s right, land of the stars. John’s company is based in CA (San Francisco, now) but they have the development team in LA. Closed up the VA office a few months ago. So, this will be my first time to LA. I just got news yesterday that Brad and Jen are done for… guess that paves the way for me to hatch a plan. Hee, hee. I know, I’m such a groupie. Well there’s a ton of speculation, but I think it’s the kids issue. I have to say, don’t harass a woman who ain’t ready to have kids, okay? Yes, I’m a bit biased: 1) I’m female 2) I’m getting my tubes tied ASAP and John’s getting snipped. No kids for us, man! DINK (or SINK) forever!

So the sad news about the trip (besides the damage being in LA is going to do to my self-esteem) is that I’m gonna abandon my babies once again– for four fucking weeks. I’ve been all stressed out lately, because I had a tiff with my boarders. Long story short, I had reason to believe the dogs weren’t getting taken outside multiple times a day, so the thought of my housebroken dogs (they NEVER pee inside) being driven to pee in their kennel was just driving me mad. Hopefully, it’s all worked out now though. After numerous calls and emails. Sigh. I’m exhausted from the stress of it all.

So while I’m in LA, I’m gonna connect with the Center for Pacific Asian Families, a domestic violence shelter. I was hoping to attend their 65-hour training, but it spans two months. Either way, I’m looking foward to learning more about NGOs committed to helping the AP community. After a few days getting over the jetlag and settling in, John and I are driving up to San Francisco. His company headquarters are there, and well, we’ve been toying with the possibility of SF being our next destination (should we go back to the States). It seems to offer many of the things we want: multicultural population, techie stuff, dog friendly peeps, fresh organic produce, and good weather. We’ll see though. I certainly don’t feel as safe in the US as in China… And though sorry to burst the bubble, but the US government ain’t so honest and law-abiding. Yup, our very own are also guilty of censorship, corruption, and deception. Yeah, I am still on my anti-whatever spin. Can’t help it. You listen to Democracy Now and you’ll understand.

So back to my itinerary, yeah. Going to SF to meet up with my attorney-friend Josh from Duke. Mr. Hunky Dory. While I’m in SF, I’m gonna attend some free training seminars at the Foundation Center to learn about NGO stuff– grant writing, fundraising, budgeting, etc. Should be cool. I hope the weather cooperates in CA though. Been reading about a lot of rain lately. 😛

Oh, last thing. After weeks of god-awful, torturous research, I finally purchased a tri-band phone so I can be connected anywhere in the world. I actually ended up getting John’s model— a year later. I know, we’re such dorks. But hey, I like being on the same team. 🙂 So I will have a cell phone. Of course rates will be pricey since it’s pay as you go, but anyhow, let’s connect somehow while I’m Stateside. Okay gotta get back to packing. Later folks!

Oh by the way, anyone interested in buying my old laptop? Check out my posting on ebay. Yup, I’m back to feeding my Ebay addiction now that I’m gonna be in the US for a few weeks. Awww yeah!

Back from Thailand

Back from Thailand

Yeah, John and I were in Thailand when the tsunamis hit the day after Christmas. Thankfully, we weren’t in Phuket yet: our flight was slated to fly into Phuket that evening, and when we arrived at the ticket counter the agent didn’t even say a thing. We hadn’t heard news of the event all day. Coincidentally, an American behind us asked us if we were crazy, because only journalists and aid workers were traveling there. Then we pieced together the crowds huddled around the tv screen in the airport (but we couldn’t understand the scale of anything since the news was in Thai). We decided to cancel our flight and stay in Bangkok.

So I guess you could say we missed it by a day. We were really lucky. The rest of our time in Bangkok was pretty low-key. I couldn’t stop watching the BBC (even though it rarely had new information). When we forced ourselves to turn off the tv, we just walked around the city. Just weren’t really in the mood for museums and stuff. But we enjoyed walking around in the sunshine (90+ degrees) and eating fantastic international foods (why can’t they get it right in Shanghai?).

John and I gave blood for the first time. The Thai Red Cross was doing a blood drive for the tsunami victims. I was fine at first, but the longer we waited, the more nervous I got. I’m not a fan of needles drawing my blood (shots I can do). I started eyeing the operation through the windows and I noticed this one nurse was so unsure of herself. She would tie up the arm and then nervously move the cotton gauge above the piercing spot, then below, then above, then below before finally sticking in the needle. As I got closer in the queue, I kept hoping not to get her. Just my luck, I got her. Fortunately, she had practiced on enough people before me and it went fine. John, on the other hand, was doing fine until they took out the needle. Then, he almost fainted. They lifted his legs. He was fine after.

So if you haven’t already donated, here’s your chance. There are plenty of NGO’s to choose from.

We returned to Shanghai New Year’s eve. It had snowed and iced for the first time in six years. The road conditions set off a bunch of car accidents and we didn’t get home until late. By the time the dogs were delivered, we were exhausted. Went to bed before ringing in the new year. Oh well.