Monthly Archives: August 2006

Ten Years is a Long Time

Ten Years is a Long Time

Is it antifeminist to say that I hate my vagina? In other words, sometimes I just really hate being female. I know, it sounds practically sacrilegious to say that; after all, I’m supposed to embrace my womanhood, feel the sisterhood connection, etc. Well, sorry. This was a bad week. And yes, I do hate when men bring up menstruation every time a woman shows any ounce of annoyance or impatience. Still, I have to come clean today. My period affects my mood– in a negative way. No fuckin’ doubt about it. But, I should clarify: women can make that statement. Men, on the other hand, just shouldn’t even go there.

So this week was a tough one. Now that I’m convinced (despite my father’s expert opinion) that the pill was the root of all my skin issues, I’ve decided to stay away. Unfortunately, one of the bastardly side-effects of being drug-free is full-on, unmitigated menstruation-related discomfort. My. fucking. god. First, there’s the PMS. I’ve been the biggest denialist (?) out there, but no more. Last week, I watched Cast Away. Yes, generally an uplifting film about human fortitude. But the part where he returns and finds the wife has married another? So painful. Already pretty bad for a normal week, but last week? Jesus. It was as if Remy had died. Sobbing, wailing, asthmatic breathing, the works. Like a true masochist, I (we) followed Cast Away with The Notebook. Yes, leave it to Nicholas Sparks to gag you so hard with a love story, you practically feel the spoon touching your stomach. I was an absolute mess, I tell you. The whole sofa cushion? Drenched in my tears. And it wasn’t even the last part– where the couple died together in the hospital bed– that got me: it was the scene where she came to for a moment– such a tender, touching moment– and then suddenly, she was gone, screaming frantically at the “intruder” in her room. Holy shit. I was an emotional wasteland. And that was only Tuesday.

Yesterday was our tenth anniversary of togetherness. I know, all these silly milestones get a bit ridiculous (and nauseating). Sorry, I really am trying to cut the list down… Anyway, I was ill yesterday. You see, the night before, I made lemon-egg lamb chops. I was actually starting to feel good about the whole cooking thing, so I tried a new recipe. Needless to say, I managed to undercook the meat and then I grossed myself out after slicing through the pink/bloody chop on my plate. John insists his piece was cooked and tasted delish, but the next day, we both felt sluggish. I actually came down with my usual mysterious fever sickness and I was bedridden most of the day. Serves me right for getting overconfident in the kitchen.

John came home early, but I was still messed up at 5 pm. By the time I finally started feeling better, we were in the danger zone, so we needed food fast. We went across the street, stuffed our faces, and then John asked me what else I’ve done consistently for ten years. Say what? You know, like we’ve been together for ten years, so what else has received similar attention and commitment. Well, shit. I can’t be answering behavioral interview questions when I’m ill, you know? Ten years is a long time. I mean, we’re talking pre-Remy era. Uh well, ten years ago, I collected receipts… We laughed, and then on the walk home, my mystery illness came back with a vengeance. You know, maybe it has nothing to even do with the lamb… maybe it has to do with my period?? TSS even crossed my mind. I know, a little gross but I was checking like a madwoman to make sure I hadn’t left a tampon in for like three days or something (someone I know actually did that!). Ugh. Back to the v. It’s a damn inconvenience sometimes.

So the rest of the night was busted (sorry, Bubs). We watched March of the Penguins, another story about survival. And parental love. Blah, blah. Cinematically, the film was beautiful. And the story was also quite enlightening, but with a major belly ache, it lasted an eternity.

Ten years is a long time. And yesterday was a long, uneventful day.

P is for Pretentious

P is for Pretentious

So our storage unit is on the top floor of our complex. The Jefferson at Bay Meadows consists of several buildings, but each is only four stories high. And the elevator is confusing as hell– the least user-friendly elevator I’ve seen. Aesthetically, it’s a nice lift– roomy with a high-ceiling for super tall/long furniture pieces and it’s relatively new and sturdy. It has doors on two sides, but the buttons don’t make sense. For instance, I have trouble figuring out how to open the back door (on the opposite side, facing the visitor entrance). Anyway, when I first started moving stuff upstairs last month, the highest number on the keypad was 3, so I just assumed that was the highest floor the elevator serviced. I figured the third floor apartments were double-level, and you just had to go up one flight of stairs to reach the storage units on the top floor. I know, it sounded a bit off, but I didn’t give it much thought after that. I just went to the third floor and took the stairs.

Well when my monster shipment arrived last week, I noticed a P button next to the 3, not next to the 1. I thought about it and I knew that the parking garage (usually marked P) was the G button. Huh? Was this possible? P stood for Penthouse, maybe? Seeing as I had two really huge, heavy-ass boxes, I gave it a try. What do you fucking know? P is for Penthouse. Mother fuckers. I mean, this isn’t some swanky, high-rise like the Trump Plaza. Why couldn’t they have just used a fucking 4 button like any other apartment complex? Swear to god, these pretentious freaks. What the hell? John just chuckled, shook his head, and said, “Classic doobies.” He says he knew something was up when I told him the elevator didn’t go to the top floor. Well, I didn’t see him pressing the P button! How the hell was I supposed to know?

From 2005.08.21

OCD to the Max

OCD to the Max

So our ocean shipment FINALLY arrived on Thursday. Air Tiger Express (aka Integrated Freight Solutions), my ass! Jesus fucking Christ! Those bastards– I’ve been wiping their butts from the beginning. Twice now, they’ve tried to overcharge me: once in Shanghai with the packers and now again in SF with who knows what kind of bogus fees. They have no idea who they’re dealing with. I mean, I record everything. I keep receipts, invoices, quotes for years. Needless to say, they tried but they failed. Not squeezing an extra dime out of me, especially with that level of incompetence.

The good news is, everything is intact, even my fragile pieces like my Chinese instrument and my beloved oil paintings. So the last two days, I’ve been in a zone. Serious, non-stop unpacking of 20 monster-sized boxes. Thank goodness for our storage room upstairs, man. What a lifesaver!

So things are looking good. During the process, I’ve sorted through everything again and managed to weed out a couple more boxes of stuff– books, more clothes, computer stuff. Craigslist, Ebay, Goodwill– it’s got to go.

I watched an episode of Neat on HGTV the other day. The featured woman was a total packrat. Majorly insane hoarder. The host made packrat chuck all this stuff, and then that night the cameras caught her rummaging through the garbage trying to recover a few pieces, including a stuffed bear. Very disturbing. After that, I went on an organizing frenzy. Moved shit off the kitchen bar countertop. Cleared out the bathroom shelves. Re-organized everything. Then after my shit came in, I put up the pictures… just had to get shit up on the walls. Didn’t want to wait for Bubbey. He’s super indecisive when it comes to picture placement anyway. So yeah, it’s been an intense two days. And I am sore as hell, because John’s been mostly MIA due to a super busy week at work.

But the place is shaping up. I’ve moved a few more notches toward the compulsive end of things (if you can believe that), which means I now believe in cleaning a little bit every day. I was skeptical at first, but what can I say, I’m a convert. Daily cleaning keeps the dirt under control. Dusting here, windows there, vaccuuming everywhere. The system works. Now I just have to figure out how to organize my cosmetics junk and office supplies. I’ve been using a lot of rinsed-out jars– for coins, pens, brushes… not sure if that’s the way to go. Takes up a lot of space. Any suggestions from my fellow organizing freaks?

The Old Crush

The Old Crush

OMG, the weirdest thing happened yesterday when I was out walking the dogs. At the intersection, I noticed this Middle-Eastern dude crossing the street. Of course I didn’t have my contacts in, but I thought he looked a lot like my college crush (pre-John, of course), Ali. We both did a few double-takes, but that was it. After all, Ali’s in med school at Penn; why the hell would he be in CA and in my neighborhood, of all places? Still, I thought it was freaky enough to warrant an email just to say, “I know this is unlikely, but maybe it’s possible??” Well turns out, that guy wasn’t him, but Ali actually IS in the Bay area– Menlo Park, just a few exits down. Isn’t that odd? He’s interning for some venture cap firm in Baltimore, and the company sent him to their CA office for two weeks.

The Chinese term yuan2 fen4, (įž˜åˆ†), comes to mind. įž˜åˆ† translates to “fate,” and it isn’t necessarily romantic– it’s just this connection between two people who are otherwise unlikely to meet and click. At least, that’s how I interpret it… Yeah, so Ali and I went to Duke together. He worked a bunch of summers in Bethesda, Maryland (not far from my hometown). Then, I went to grad school in his hometown, Gainesville. His girlfriend is from Baltimore, my birth city. Now I’ve just moved back to the States, and he’s on the peninsula? Well, I think it’s interesting anyway, especially considering I haven’t been in touch in like three years.

You know, my buddies in college used to tease me about hanging out or meeting up with Ali after I started going out with John. They warned that old sparks might fly and then, I would have a dilemma on my hands. Ha, ha. If only my life were as dramatic as Laguna Beach. Ah, everything worked out. In the summer of 1996, I revealed my feelings to Ali. He rejected me (quite bluntly, in fact) and a week later, I asked John out on a date. The rest is history. When the summer ended, I went back to school and everything was fine. The Ali crush was over– no messiness, no confusion. Hurray for Bubbey!

From 2005.08.11

Culinary Creations

Culinary Creations

I’ve been spending a bit of more time in the kitchen these days. I wouldn’t necessarily call it “cooking,” perhaps “prepping” is more accurate? Regardless, I give myself a pat on the back for effort. Ok, so I should also thank my buddy Joe (as in Trader Joe) for facilitating the inevitable, i.e. eating at home. You see, living in the ‘Teo ain’t nothing like living in SF. There’s not Zagat rating really. I mean, sure you find some gems here and there, but the stats certainly don’t work in your favor. So then it’s like, go out and risk it with hit/miss trial and error or aim for the surer bet at home. Despite my reliance on frozen foods and some processed foods (hey, I gotta start SOMEwhere), I still think eating at home is healthier. I know I get brownie points for rice, fresh veggies, and salad! So usually, the main entree is where Joe helps me out: pre-seasoned pot roast or frozen breaded chicken fingers or frozen scallops. But you know, the stuff tasts pretty damn good. I mean, definitely better than the dining out flunkies. And sometimes, I do actually go fresh– John buys steaks from Costco (who wants to join my Costco co-op?), I’ll get free-range chicken breasts. Yeah, my struggle with vegetarianism has ended. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going back, especially if I’m going to be prepping the meals for both John and me. Free-range is the current compromise. But damn, handling those raw steaks… I still get a little grossed out. And I always apologize to the cow.

So not to brag or anything, but I think we’re doing pretty well on our latest health kick. Granted, I haven’t returned to the gym (Gold’s Gym is just too intimidating), but I’ve been walking the dogs every morning– taking them on a long, brisk powerwalk. I know, it’s not the same as cardio and I’ve put on a couple pounds to prove it (boo!) but for now, I’m ok with it. And the doggies love it.

Yesterday was so hot that Marty, for the first time ever, plopped himself in a puddle. He was so cute. Normally, he’s deathly scared of the water. I don’t know what it is– he gets all skittish, especially when little waves come up a beach or when water spurts out intermittently from a fountain. Bizarro. Remy, on the other hand, loves the water. It takes her a while to plunge in completely, but once she’s in, she loves it (even though she can’t swim worth crap– she constantly chokes and gulps down water). My little angels.

From 2005.08.10

Miss America and the Ugly Duckling

Miss America and the Ugly Duckling

So John and I are heading to Vegas this weekend to celebrate his sister’s 29th birthday. We (along with his college bud, Brian) are meeting Susan and her posse out there. Interestingly, Brian asked me last weekend how I get along with Susan. Funny he should bring it up, considering she and I are pretty much opposites. In other words, I’m already on the grandma path but next to her? I’m freakin’ knocking on death’s door. Aside from being traffic-stopping gorgeous, Susan’s wild, crazy, and fearless. She’s just one of those people… you know, she tries everything and just has a good time everywhere she goes. On top of that, she has a Jennifer Garner figure PLUS she can drink any person– guy or gal– under the table. Seriously, she can, and with that kind of drinking stamina, you really wonder how she doesn’t have a huge-ass pot belly. Go figure. Guess she’s just tough, and it’s not just the multiple tattoos (including a huge one on the top of her foot), tongue ring (since removed), 330-mile Raleigh-DC AIDSRide AND high-level job that prove it.

Of course, I always support my fellow strong women. You got to give it up for people who balance work and play. It’s an art, for sure. Maybe I’ll learn something this weekend from the master.

In other news, I’m still stuck waiting. Waiting for EVERYTHING– my ocean cargo (which is now two weeks late), my wedding ring (still in repair), my new hair color and cut (the first opening for a hair model is AFTER Vegas–I know, I’m a cheap bastard), and a goddamn job (ANY job!). So what does this mean? Well it’s certainly not the end of the world, but I don’t have all my stuff for Vegas. Like my Pamela-approved outfits, my contact lenses, my magic poison… I’m still sort of living on a diet– it’s like I’m camping or something. Not a huge deal, but just kinda sucks. I don’t exactly want to be the butt-ugly duckling sitting next to Miss America while every dude in the house lines up to buy her free food and drinks, you know? On my own, sweats and sneakers are fine. But in public and next to Susan? I gotta do my homework… for me, for John, for the greater good! Ha, ha. Think I’m exaggerating? I’m totally not.

A few months ago, John was in LA helping Susan move in. They went to some swanky bar. The bartender/owner was instantly smitten with her, so what happened? Susan and the rest of the crew (including John and his former coworker) got tons of food, not to mention kickass, fancy cocktails… for free. Then, at some point during the evening, John went outside. When he tried to get back in, there was this huge line. He called Susan at the bar. She talked to the owner, he talked to the bouncer, and voila! John was in. And the bouncer was instructed to like recognize John and everyone else in the party, so they’d bump right up to the front of the line. Star treatment, I tell you. Just like Entourage.

I suppose if I’m really worried about Vegas, I could go out and buy stuff to feel better prepared. I’m not that uptight about it. My cheapie self still wins in the end. After all, I don’t need anything– it’s all in my shipment. In conclusion, I’m going to Vegas, and I’m gonna try my best to have fun. John will be there, and I’ll have Cirque to look forward to. Plus, my travel book says there are lots of local guides with coupons galore! That will keep me busy while everyone else is drinking and gambling… kidding!

Living the Life

Living the Life

How do you live your life? How do you want to live your life? I’ve been back three weeks now. Here’s my usual schedule: I wake up, take the dogs on a walk (45-60 minutes), do “stuff” (I knock a bunch of errands, phone calls, and boring shit off my GTD list– job apps, follow-up emails, moguling info for my parents, news, activities research), and then I try to have something edible for dinner when John gets home. To be honest, I spend hours on “research,” a nebulous yet accurate term.

Today, I investigated job follow-up contacts. You see, so many companies nowadays are going the automated, text resume input route– a process I’m convinced is devoid of human interaction. So for example, I submit resumes through their little application interface (five-step process or whatever), or I send messages off to generic email accounts like “” Whatever the method, I’m not getting real, live human responses, and it’s freaking me out AND pissing me off.

This morning was the last straw. Weeks ago, I applied to two writing jobs at two different environmental engineering firms. Today I log into the “career center” and for again, my status reads, “interview schedule pending.” Wtf? The status hasn’t changed in like two weeks! Does “schedule pending” mean HR is working on the schedule in general, or is does it actually refer specifically to my application? Enough of the bullshit, man. Screw it. Today I freaking did some intensive research and dug out some actual names and email addresses. This afternoon I wrote to the marketing director of one company and the office manager of another. I need a live person, damnit. I want to know that my documents are not just collecting in some junk bin in some random cornery printer room isolated from the rest of the office. Anyway, I’m not hopeful but I guess we’ll see what happens.

This past weekend, John and I actually interacted with people. Ha, ha. Saturday night, his buddy Brian came down from the city. We had steaks on the grill. Afterwards, we walked off the meal in downtown San Mateo. Then, we returned to the apartment and watched tv. Story of my life– too much damn tv. And I’m getting sucked into series again, like Entourage and crapola like One Ocean View and LB and the Hills. The common theme among all four? Livin’ it up with the beautiful people. Fucking sucks you in every. damn. time.

And with our new Netflix membership, the tv time ain’t going down anytime soon. Although maybe there’s hope: I am pleased to report that after two DVDs of LB season 1, I’m cured. That shit is kicked off my list. No more. I’m definitely drawn to drama, but my god, high school? It’s just way too long ago. I just cannot identify. At all. Plus, watching high school kids that look like that kinda weirds me out. They are doing far too much crazy shit for being under 18, know what I’m saying?

On Sunday, we went to Joel and Karen’s new place in Russian Hill. They cooked up a crazy gourmet meal… add those two to our list of people NEVER invited to dinner at our place. I mean, you can’t go to someone’s house and eat homemade cheese bread, goat cheese salad with dressing made from scratch, dill-herb encrusted salmon, steamed mussels, candied carrots and then invite them over for a desperation dinner. Just doesn’t work that way…

Joel and Karen are major foodies, and they can spout off a whole laundry list of SF restaurants they’ve been to to prove it. No wonder Karen is a super prolific food reviewer on Yelp. See that’s the thing. John and I used to be total foodies. We had like all the CIA cookbooks and gourmet food magazine subscriptions… but now, we’re sort of trying to get away from the food obsession. We want to adopt a more active lifestyle and somehow I just can’t see us juggling both. I’m sure some people can pull it off (K and J) but it takes so much energy. We’re just starting out… If we focus on exercise and activity, we can’t simultaneously focus on making tasty slow foods (different from health foods). Dilemmas, dilemmas.

So my latest pledge? I’d like allocate less energy on food and tv and more energy on learning activities. I’m letting tv suck the life out of me. The drama is getting a bit exhausting or annoying (Entourage excluded); plus, watching hot people all the time gives me a complex. And if I let that get out of hand, I’ll end up becoming a total recluse. Messed up living.

So here’s my list of fun things I want to do in the next six months:
1) Get back into Mandarin learning. I researched classes in the area, and is it me or is there like nothing out there that is upper intermediate to advanced? There are some courses at the area universities but they’re all like part of some East Asian studies degree program. Maybe I’m not searching Google right. Regardless, I revisited Chinesepod today and was pleased to discover tons of new content. I think that will be my mode of learning for the time being.
2) Spanish. John and I hit the library this weekend. I got my Spanish for Dummies book. Would like to visit Pamela in Peru this winter, so gotta get studying. Luckily, Spanish is different enough from Mandarin that I won’t get things mixed up with studying the two languages concurrently (at least I hope not).
3) Cowgirl bootcamp. I dunno what it is, but I want to learn to lasso. Of course, there’s absolutely no practical value in acquiring this skill, but it just seems so fun and well, Legends of the Fall-ish. I mean, what’s not to love with galloping horseback on a ranch in Montana? Granted, I’m not keen on roping, hog-tying, and branding an animal, but maybe I can lasso a golf cart or something. I don’t know– haven’t thought that far yet. I researched some ranches and damn, that shit is pricey! Supposedly, the whole rustic ranch thing is big now with affluent urbanites for corporate retreats. Fuckers. I need to find a place that’s hardcore, where you actually get dirty rather than just go on lame little trail rides and sip wine all day. So who’s in? John doesn’t seem that excited about it.
4) Dog agility. I’d like to try this with Remy. Could be fun. I just hope I don’t run into the dog people.

So that’s the short list. Of course, getting a job goes without saying. Duh.

Lizards and Flying Pigs

Lizards and Flying Pigs

John and I headed into the city this past weekend. We checked out a BATS Improv performance at Fort Mason, right across from where my good friend Josh used to live (sniff, sniff!). Yeah, Josh is no longer in SF; he moved to Boston the same day John moved to CA. Total bummer, and I’m still not over the shit timing. Anyway, Josh used to live in a kickass apartment right along the water in the Marina district. Prime, prime location and well, you pay out the nose for it too.

Anyhow, the improv was enjoyable, though not as entertaining as the one we saw years ago in Ballston Commons Mall. I kinda forgot that improv is a popular event for families and kids, because it’s a bit like madlibs– the performers get key words and ideas from the audience so the kiddies really eat that stuff up. That was really the crappy part of it, because kids always suggest lame topics like “lizards” and “flying pigs” and shit like that. Still, in spite of elementary- and middle-school-aged kids packing the theater, there was a hefty dose of cussing, so I felt right at home.

I also bought a used bike this weekend. Went to this lady’s house… it was a total sty and she creeped me out (Was she high or insane? I can never tell these things– either way, I got a bad vibe), but the good news is, I got a decent road bike for $50. Gotta love Craigslist, or as my father calls it, Gregslist. I just need to pump the tires and get a lock. Voila, my new gym-replacement. Check out the rad pics– Shimano brakes, yeah!

Consumer Advocate

Consumer Advocate

I need to get a job as a consumer advocate. Why? Because that’s what I spend my day doing (among other things, of course). You know those annoying feedback surveys on receipts? I actually fill those things out. Last week, I called the Old Navy customer feedback line. The automated voice asked about my shopping experience, how long I waited in line, blah, blah. Pretty painless. In the Old Navy case, I got an incentive (10% off coupon code), more than enough to snare a cheapie like me. Sometimes, I even fill out the comment cards for free. I’ve also written thank you notes to sales people who are super helpful (the lady at Nordies replaced my broken Skagen watch for free!).

Just last week I filled out a survey for my apartment complex… I suppose it’s kind of consistent with my whole activist/advocate stance. Maybe I’m still a sucker for that whole “individual can make a difference” ideal. I mean, granted, I am still rather burned out on political advocacy, but I don’t know, I guess I’m not ready to become a full-fledged bitter, nothing-ever-changes cynic. Not today anyway.

So yeah, my private form of advocacy now is like fighting for consumer justice (for my immediate family). One example? We bought a set of KitchenAid knives in April, and the steak knives can’t cut jack. John and I now eat steak like cavepeople: we stab the slab with a fork and then just rip the meat off with our teeth. Total heathens, I tell you. So the other day John complained that the knives are really shit, especially for KitchenAid. That’s the thing about John: he complains about a lot of things. Problem is, he rarely takes action. I mean, maybe he’s just commenting for the sake of commenting, but to me, if you’re unhappy with something, you have to at least give the company/person the chance to rectify the situation. It’s sort of like Ebay: don’t leave negative feedback unless you’ve already fucking contacted the other party and the issue remains unresolved, know what I’m saying? Otherwise, that’s just not cool. So anyway, during our last steak dinner, I made a mental note to call KitchenAid the next day. Simple. They’re replacing the dull knives… of course, we’re still waiting for them to appear, but hey, gotta love good customer service. Makes my day every time. And as unbelieveable as it sounds, good service isn’t extinct yet (although the end may be near).

Speaking of decent customer service, Dell recently replaced my shit Dell Axim PDA. That fucking device had been driving me crazy for months. In China, every time I went to use my Chinese-English dictionary in class, the whole unit would just die. No goddamn response. I lost count of how many times I had to reset the piece of crap. I wasted months– resetting, resyncing, recharging, re-freaking-straining myself from bashing the thing against the wall (and I rarely show such violent tendencies). Don’t get me wrong, Dell customer service is still far from stellar, but certainly my latest experience is a step up from before. Plus, in the end, I got a new PDA. Thank fucking god. Now at least the damn thing turns on and off when I press the power button. Of course, now I’m thinking of ditching the PDA altogether. After all, the PDA is so yesterday. Check out this sweet baby. I know, a huge price tag but when you consider what people shell out nowadays for totally impractical things, for example jewelry, it’s not so bad. Just make sure you use it, you know? I have a love affair with Sony… Yeah, yeah, I know they’re assholes sometimes with the whole non-standard, proprietary memory stick but back off, man. Don’t tell me the whole iPod craze with freakin’ $40 PLASTIC sleeves and $30 cotton SOCKS ain’t a worse form of highway robbery! Speaking of iPods, I’m proud to say, I’m still out of the loop and off the bandwagon. Music just doesn’t do it for me. Sure, I have my favs, but I think I could live without: I’m more a news radio kind of gal…

And actually, I’m thinking of dropping the mobile phone too. Maybe I’m still suffering from sticker shock, but come on, $50 for the cheapest cell phone plan? Ridiculously steep. I’m fine for now. No one ever calls me anyway. 😛