My friend Fonda is a 40-year-old Indonesian Chinese lady who’s married to John’s coworker: in other words, we are both Greenplum wives. She’s from a family of 13 children, so she’s very sociable. Fonda doesn’t have a formal job, but she stays busy keeping their big townhouse in check. Her top two hobbies are cooking and shopping. She loves cooking; oddly, she eats very little. And her husband? He loves cooking too, but his pref is for Western foods whereas she cooks Asian foods (Indonesian, Singaporean, Thai, etc.). So what ends up happening is, she cooks all these wonderful tasty foods that he doesn’t want to eat (at least not every day), so she gives them to random people– like a sales clerk at the local mall, or the security guard of their complex, or their neighbor.
Now that I’m in town, she invites me over twice a week for lunch. Crazy good shit: lemongrass fried chicken, thai curry chicken, pork wontons, Singaporean stir-fried noodles, rice vermicelli, shrimp/avocado dip. I know, I’m lapping it up. John keeps hoping I’ll learn something from her on one of these lunches, but really, she has everything ready by the time I step in the door. She did tell me about a stuffed green pepper dish which I made for John the other day though– so I am building up my skills.
Anyway, Fonda is a really sweet lady, and we have a good time hanging out, but at the same time, we’re at different times in our lives. I’m always pining away for professional fulfillment; she wants to cook, shop, and travel. And boy does she shop. The first time we shopped together, she dragged me into all these stores I’d never stepped into: totally high-end and intimidating– LV, Hermes, Armani Xchange, Cache. My god. LV is no fucking joke, either. Bags– ugly bags– that cost three to five grand easy. I can’t tell if she has that Asian obsession with brand names or if she just really thinks the bags are beautiful, but holy shit. I just measure that value in terms of laptop computers and cars. It’s a lot.
Yesterday, she showed me all this stuff she purchased on her latest trip downtown. I don’t mind checking out the goods. Still, I’ve never had an eye for fashion, and seriously, I just don’t see it. At all. Her stuff is, well, unusual. Sure, she totally pulls it off, but I don’t know. The styles are just totally off-the-wall. Some stuff she buys on sale, like Armani jeans for $100. Other stuff she says she can’t wait until it goes on sale, because it will be gone by then. Surely. Someone is snatching that stuff up? Right. One blouse was $165!! And jesus, I had no idea she had multiple LV bags. FIVE in her closet. Here I was all happy to upgrade from Carrefour to Bass. I really feel like the kid from the wrong side of the tracks or something. Apparently, her sister is like best friends with the First Lady of Indonesia. Gulp.
So all along the way, I’m like trying to drop hints to Fonda that I’m a cheap bastard. For example, when we drove by Ross yesterday, I told her I shop there: jeans for $10. She said she used to shop there in Boston. We went in: she didn’t find a thing.
Today, she went to get her hair done. She got a perm and cut. The total came to like $350, and she thought that was reasonable. She said she called places downtown and it was $500. Is it just me, or is that totally shocking??! Half a grand? Well, at least she was happy with the results. And apparently, the prices here are so much cheaper than in Singapore, she says. Shrug. Guess Fonda and I are both mavens, in own senses.
Anyway, the big news of the day? I got a job!! HUNDREDS of applications later, I got an offer from the fuel cell startup company. Of course, in typical fashion, they low-balled me. I got all worked up prepping my case for a better rate. When I returned their call, I was all nervous and flushed. My heart beat a million times a minute. In the end, I got almost 50% more than their initial offer! Yippee! So it’s three days a week starting out, and then if everything goes well, full time in the new year with benefits/options/salary negotiations then. The only condition is that I start Monday, which is totally fine by me. Yes! Back to the working world. And now that I know where my place of employment is, we can now figure out where we want to live– we may be moving farther down the peninsula.