Monthly Archives: May 2005

Can I Work Here?

Can I Work Here?

I like to think of myself as an anti-MNC (anti-big corporation) kinda gal. Still, sometimes, I gotta credit where credit is due.

The other day, John and I were cruising around San Mateo in our rented Chevy Malibu (rides like anything BUT paradise) and we passed this awesome office campus. Behold Siebel Systems. I was overcome with Google envy all over again. Just seeing that no-games jungle gym was sign enough: they frickin’ offer onsite childcare (not applicable for me, but still a good indicator). I can only drool: if their workers get onsite childcare, I can only imagine what other extras those lucky bastards get: surely an onsite gym, catered lunches, maybe even onsite massages? Hello? Why can’t employers I work for ever offer those amenities. Frickin’ A. I’m going down the wrong career path, man.

I admit I have a thing for nice office buildings. Always have. Can’t help myself. When John and I lived in Tysons Corner, on our nightly walks by those kickass skyrises, I often fantasized about what it’d be like to NOT work in a shithole office with crap cubicles, no windows, and gray dingy carpeting. I guess somehow I correlate efficiency with a nice workplace. I don’t know what my hangup is: I can settle with a low-key, hodge-podgy apartment, but goddamnit, I want a nice workplace. I don’t understand what the big deal is either. Anyway, I’ve always pined after these places. Unfortunately, as someone who is drawn to nonprofit work, I don’t see that dream coming to fruition any time soon. After all, money ain’t growing on trees for NGOs (unless they are a Bay area SPCA or the Getty Museum).

When I lived in Raleigh, I remember trying to get into IBM’s Center for Environmentally Conscious Products. Not only did their work sound progressive and interesting, their office campus in Research Triangle Park was awesome. That gig never panned out, but when I moved to China and got this educational writer gig with Big Blue, I thought finally I’d fulfill my dream of a supped up office. Fat chance. Instead, I got to experience a white-collar sweatshop. Welcome to China, baby.

Ah well, one day I’ll get my chance…

Acupuncture is Working!

Acupuncture is Working!

I’ve only had two treatments, but I swear this shit is working. John and I had such a packed weekend, and it was wonderful: we were more active than we’ve been in weeks. On Saturday, I volunteered at a doggie charity event to raise funds for the Milo Foundation, a no-kill rescue shelter in the area. I actually heard about it from Robert Yau, the CEO of, an online dating service for pet lovers. Robert emailed me a few weeks ago after he saw a posting about my StarPups*Shanghai website. Anyway, he was supercool, and I was so happy to be in the company of dogs. My buddy Josh volunteered with me; we had a good time.

Later that afternoon, John and I toured around the city and checked out various districts. After a while, many of the neighborhoods started looking the same… I guess the larger question for us is whether we want to live in the city or the burbs. I still prefer to live overseas, but…

No doubt about it, this area is beautiful. The water, the mountains, the sunshine, the natural parks… what’s not to love? Anyway, you’ll see from the pictures, the weather this weekend was awesome.

On Sunday, we drove down to Santa Cruz. Checked out the Boardwalk (fortunately, it wasn’t as trashy as the ones in Ocean City, MD and Atlantic City, Jersey). Walked along the water. Ate fried Twinkies (yeah, I actually enjoyed them). Was a good time.

Stick it to me!

Stick it to me!

So recently, I’ve been battling bouts of depression, allergies, and overall physical discomfort. I went to an allergist on Wednesdy and was not impressed. The nurse was quite personable, but I wasn’t really given much explanation for anything. Got a sample of Flonase, which the doctor said would work better than any oral medication, and a prescription. Then, the nurse was told to set me up for allergy tests. What would these test for? What was involved in the assessment? No answers from the nurses, and the doctor was already busy with another patient. Good thing my copay was only $10.

Later that day, I had lunch with John and his coworkers. As soon as the term “allergy test” came up, they each had some story about how those tests were totally bogus. Oddly enough, they each knew people who swore by acupuncture as a cure for allergies.

I’ve been toying with the idea of trying more holistic methods of treatment. Not just for my allergies, but for my general well being. Detox, acupuncture, massage… they all conjure up pleasant, relaxing images. What the hell. Might as well try it out, right?

The needles aren’t that bad. I definitely can feel the pricks, especially on the ear, but after that quick initial jolt, it is easy going from there. Twenty minutes on the medical bed with the needles in me and an IR lamp warming my legs. I don’t feel anything during that time, but it’s a bit strange seeing the needles sticking up from my nose and chest. I kept my first needles as souvenirs.

Dr. Lin estimated I would probably need six sessions before I’d notice results, but I think my body is responding already. That first afternoon, I felt unusually clear and alert. No sniffles. I want to be a believer. Since I’m leaving town at the end of next week, I’m going to squeeze in as many sessions as I can. Anyway, after the deductible, insurance covers 90%. Not half bad. I know, kinda weird: I’m getting acupuncture done in the US, rather than in China. I’m a weirdo that way. Oh well. I’ll let you know how the treatment goes.

Phone Manners

Phone Manners

What the hell is wrong with people these days? Allow me to rephrase: what the hell is wrong with my “friends” these days? I am so annoyed. Okay, a brief history: after I moved to Shanghai, everyone stopped calling (except the ‘rents). God forbid my Duke-educated and other brainiac buds learn how to make an international phone call, right? Or what, is 5 cents/minute using an international phone card too expensive or too much of a hassle? What the fuck is the problem? Well whatever the obstacle, I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. Plus, I was so busy getting settled in another country, I didn’t mind much. Fast foward 18 months.

I’m back in the US on one of many three-week long stints. Recently, I got this Vonage phone which basically hooks me up to a US number using Voice over IP technology. While I’m in the US, it’s not anything novel. People can just call a CA area code number and get to my hotel room. The cool thing about Vonage though is that when I’m in China, that US call will reach my apartment in Shanghai. So anyway, I’ve been a little bored being back. The US just doesn’t appeal to me that much. The over the top, drive everywhere lifestyle of the SF burbs is getting to me. So, what better time to reconnect with friends, right?

Well my “friends” are basically turning me into a goddamn, pathetic stalker. I email that I’m back. I text message them to call me. I call and leave messages on their answering machines. No fucking reply. I mean, I understand that customer service has gone to the shits the last two years, but I’m not a frickin’ customer. I’m your friend!! Usually, I’m quite laid back about these silly friendship sort of things. I mean, come on, people have their own damn lives you know. Can’t be on the damn phone all day. But really, give me a break. What’s the real story here. Am I just no longer a friend (out of sight, out of mind)? Did I do something completely inexcusable (that I’m not even aware of)? Are they ashamed that they’ve dished my calls and messages this long already? Are my repeated messages scaring them? Are they really that self-absorbed? What’s the deal? If I received a single sentence email stating why, I’d be totally happy with that. We could end things right there. But this no closure shit is ridiculous. And as I do possess mild forms of OCD, the lack of response only makes me persist further– at this point, I think I’m going to chew some people out really soon. Honestly, I just don’t get it. It’s depressing really. People are the shits. Bottom line. That’s why I gotta help animals.

I’m in a sour mood these days. I think it’s the combination of being away from home (Shanghai) and feeling disconnected here. John works all day and I stay busy learning random things, but I don’t know. I’m just done here. I can’t get excited about being in this beautiful place with gorgeous weather. On top of that, Bubs and I haven’t been getting along. Surprised? Well you should be, especially after all my puke-inducing posts going on and on about how Bubs is the best. Shit started hitting the fan after he returned to Shanghai in April. We just started clashing. Then we thought this trip back to the States would be fun and a good opportunity to re-bond. But that’s failed. I did all the PA stuff, but what more does he want me to do? Yes, we should do some fun weekend trips, but if he’s too tired to drive long distances and he doesn’t like my driving, what’s the point? I mean, we’re not creating some Goodbers Book of Travels, so if we don’t feel like traveling, who really cares? Who are we trying to please? I just want to go home and play with Remy and Martin. I’m gonna see an acupuncturist tomorrow, hopefully get this allergy bullshit behind me, and then start plotting going home. Lucky me, the parents will be there as soon as we’re back in town. Joy.

First Weekend in CA

First Weekend in CA

John and I started out with all these adventurous plans for the weekend. First, it was Yosemite. Then, that was too far and we thought Santa Cruz would be a better destination. Ultimately, our lazy asses triumphed and Saturday was spent sleeping. I know, sounds so lame but I swear the bed here is just so damn comfy. So big and soft and cushiony. You just can’t fight its sleep-inducing effect.

Plus, my allergies are totally out of control now. The maid must have thought we were wasteful tissue freaks– I went through an entire box in one day. Constant drainage. When I pop Allegra to get some relief, the shit knocks me out. Hence, the wasted Saturday. I’m calling the allergy physician first thing Monday morning. I just cannot continue like this. Seriously, aside from the elephant nose, itchy eyes, and jandiced complexion, I just cannot function like a regular human being. And I’m not even working, right? So, first things first.

I’m happy to report that Sunday was a bit more active. We headed downtown to the Fisherman’s Wharf area to check out the Farmer’s Market. Unfortunately, we’re still in our “less is more” mode, so we didn’t feel like buying anything. Was good to walk around though. John is improving his parallel parking skills (only hit the curb once this time). We grabbed lunch at a Mediterranean place– it was disappointing. Had a crummy Greek salad that tasted way off from the strange dressing to the offbeat olives.

In the afternoon, we walked to Coyote Point park, down the street from our hotel. Not a particularly attractive park, but it had some paved trails in the woods and offered picnic areas, volleyball fields, kite-flying fields, and a small beach. Took some pics. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been posting a ton of pics for you. And they’re good ones, eh? Thanks to our new digital camera, the Canon SD500. John did a great job researching it. We’ve been very pleased with the results. 🙂 Btw, if you want a decent used camera (3 MP), check out my Ebay auction for our Nikon Coolpix 880. Also a very nice camera, but you know how John and I are. We gotta stay current with technology. It’s great to reunite with Ebay. Yes, being back in the US requires that I hook right back up to my Ebay IV. Cleaning house somehow clears my head. I dunno. Ebay’s a weird form of therapy for me.

So this week begins a whole new list of things to do. I discovered on Craigslist that a bunch of students at Stanford are looking for subjects to participate in their research. Hehe, I used to do this when I was an undergrad at Duke. Easy money, baby. And sometimes it’s actually quite fun. So I’m signing up to participate in some Stanford study on Chinese American women. Yeah, bring it on. Ask me anything about the Chinese parents, the expectations, the pressures, the constant confrontations. Bring it. I’ll talk your damn ear off!

I’ve also decided to learn Spanish. If I’m gonna live in Cali, I want to know Spanish. Today I ordered a book/CD and this evening I found a website with the basics. Should be fun.

Ok, gotta hit the sack. My sleeping is all fucked up again, thanks to my allergy meds. Sneeze, sneeze, sneeze!

I Hiked 8 Miles!

I Hiked 8 Miles!

I spent the day with Kelly, a friend of John’s coworker. We hung out together since John and Alon were hard at work. I’m quite pleased with myself as I planned the stops and prepped the driving directions. So first stop was Muir Woods, a beautiful and peaceful place with redwoods and sequoias. I was last there two years ago with John (on our honeymoon). Of course, John and I were lazy then– we only walked the small loop, and we left the park after about an hour.

Today was different. Kelly selected the longer of two trails, and we ended up walking 4 miles uphill and back. Exhausting. I mean, I had just done the elliptical the other day and was sore as hell from my 10-minute workout (I know, pathetic). Ah well, I survived and all was good. After Muir Woods, we grabbed some grub at Greens. Not as tasty as I recall. Think I just ordered the wrong thing.

Hit the Palace of Fine Arts next– super beautiful although the architecture of Roman columns felt slightly out of place. Last stop was a drive down Lombard street– what a ritzed up neighborhood over there. As we headed back to John’s office, we had the great fortune of getting stuck in rush hour traffic on 101S. Not fun. Luckily we weren’t traveling on 101N– the scene was much worse.

Anyway, off to bed soon. Enjoy the pics.

Insomnia Sucks

Insomnia Sucks

Bummer. I wrote this lengthy blog yesterday about everything I’ve been up to. Then, the internet connnection died and I lost the post. Fuckin’ A. Well I suppose I’ll have to recreate it. Unfortunately, I can’t do that right now… I’m going to pick up John from work shortly.

But overall, I’m doing okay. Running all kinds of the usual, unpleasant errands that require calling banks, setting up appointments, seeking customer service assistance. Loads of fun I tell you.

The good news is the weather in SF is awesome. Really sunny, bright, and warm. Guess it’s a fair trade since SH is really nice this time of year too. Well yesterday after work, John and I went to Half Moon Bay. Got some nice shots for you. Earlier the same day, I met up with Josh in downtown SF. Caught up over lunch and walked along the waterfront. I saw a fleet of five tow trucks remove a bunch of cars along the Embarcadero. Sucks to be the car owners. Got my public transportation fix too: rode the BART downtown. Smooth, easy ride. Of course I probably looked like a druggie– I was so tired from my recent sleep deprivation.

Did I tell you? I visited one of the area animal shelters a few days ago. Our hotel is right next to one– that place had the plumpest stray dogs I’ve ever seen. This pups were living the good life– huge, clean kennels, nice blankets, new toys. I was thinking of putting Remy and Martin up in there. Just kidding. Anyway, animal shelters are no games here. That particular one operates on a $7M annual budget. Not too shabby. They have 80 staffers and 500 volunteers!! If only women’s orgs got that much community support. Ah well, the animals deserve good things too. Okay, gotta run. More later.

Life of a Jet-Setter

Life of a Jet-Setter

I like to think of myself as a jet-setter, but anyone who knows me will quickly call me on that bs. Still, I AM back in the US again. Just like that. Don’t get me wrong– John and I haven’t moved back to the States (yet); we are just here on a three-week stint for his work. Yeah, when did we plan this? Uh, the day before. Long story short, John’s company abruptly laid off most of the software development team last week. Fortunately, John’s position was spared but he now faces more pressures and responsibilities. At the moment, much is still up in the air but frankly, I was getting sick of his one month on, one month off schedule. Rather than stay in Shanghai for my handful of classes, I decided to go back with him. So here we are.

I’m such a sorry traveler. I almost lost my cell phone at the airport. Like a total dumbass, I left it on the seat. Minutes later, I was already at the tram stop in the next terminal before I realized my mistake. Argh! I hate losing things… With my blood pressure skyrocketing, I rudely shoved my way onto the next tram heading into the opposite direction and ran back to the waiitng area like a maniac. Can you fucking believe my phone was still there? I was floored. Despite my haste in going back for it, I was fully convinced it was gone. What a pleasant surprise. Humans aren’t all assholes after all.

Yeah, I guess you can say I’ve been depressed lately. The whole month of April was just blah. Difficult to explain but the world was just getting to me. I was starting to think people were inherently evil (I still believe that, actually). I couldn’t deal with all the violence everywhere. Just one example? This ridiculous occupation in Iraq. Bush is such a goddamn, egomaniacal, dick! John and I celebrated our 2-yr anniversary in April, but it was a sad reminder of the continuing chaos in Iraq. The world was just disappointing and depressing me. At the same time, I was getting bummed about own directionlessness. I was doing things I enjoyed and getting into StarPups, but my father’s voice haunting me. “What’s your plan?”

So my latest revelation is that the world is still shitty, but I am of course going to continue in my blessed, overprivileged life. I’m going to focus on learning– it doesn’t matter how I will eventually apply what I learn, but at least, I will work to stay mentally active. I still feel strong pulls toward progressive causes, but I’m just not sure which sub-area: animals, women, environment, etc. There is so much to tackle and I often feel overwhelmed.

I think the logical immediate choice is to continue on my dog work. My buddy Danielle is going to keep me posted on all the happenings in SH regarding the expat animal association, Second Chance (where both of us volunteer). On my flight over, I updated the adoptions page with new pix. Check it out.

Apparently, San Francisco is like dog-lover capital of the world. I knew the place was progressive and animal friendly, but geez, dogs are even allowed on public transportation here! Today, I found a ton of SPCAs in the area, as well as a bunch of doggie day care/training centers. Amazingly, the SF SPCA seems to have sizeable coffers too! Finally, an NGO that doesn’t have to be in financial crisis mode all the damn time!

Okay, well it is 5:30 AM and obviously, I haven’t beat out the jetlag. 🙁 I’d better get to bed now. Driving John to work in the morning.