Friday, January 30, 2009

The Web Celeb 25

My favorite 2 bloggers are in the top 10 on Forbes Web Celeb 25! I always knew Dooce was big, but I had no idea she is nearly as big as Perez Hilton!

Scrolling through the list, I was surprised to see Wil Wheaton's name at #14. Who knew he was still alive?? I always wondered what happened to him, ever since my big crush on him from the days he was on Star Trek: The Next Generation

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Conversation Starters for Sleepless Nights

Before my schedule looked like 9-5 most days of the week, I could sleep in for forever. Now some annoying internal clock wakes me up in a panic around 7 on weekend mornings, convinced it's doing me a favor by letting me know that I've overslept and will be late for work.

But before, in high school, I could sleep for 12-14 hours a day. If by some strange chance I happened to wake up in the middle of the night (I was a very heavy sleeper) for some water or to go to the bathroom, I might run into my mom, also awake for some strange reason. If I were in an ABC family drama, this might have been the beginning of a story about a rare moment of quality bonding time between mother and daughter – my mom would be sitting at the kitchen table in her fuzzy, worn robe, staring down into the steaming cup of tea in front of her, lines of worry creasing her face. Then I'd appear, awake and looking for a glass of water. My mom's face would clear instantly upon the sight of me, a smile spreading across her face. I would say with concern, "You're up late... Am I bothering you?" Then she would shake her head, still smiling, pull out the chair next to her and say warmly, "No, never. I always have time for you bumble bee." And then we would share the plate of cookies in front of me (they would be homemade oatmeal) and talk about how school was going.

In reality, I never saw my mom when she was awake in the middle of the night. At least, not at first. Without any lights on and no visible signs of anyone drinking steaming tea, when I would wake up in the middle of the night and wander out of my room, it was hard for me to tell if I was the only one up. Because there were never any telling signs of anyone else being awake, I was constantly startled to find my mom was, in fact, awake too, sitting in the middle of the living room in the pitch dark, just sitting. Not making any noise and not drinking anything, the only sign of movement in the room was her blinking. It was downright creepy, but also fascinating. I used to secretly think that maybe she was a creature of the night, a vampire maybe? Then one morning she took all the mystery and excitement away. She told me she was envious of how everyone else had slept through the night; she hadn't been asleep for more than a few hours before she woke again and stayed awake until morning. That was when I learned of my mom's insomnia spells.

I'm no expert, but it seems that the older we get, the less sleep we need and the more likely we are to be struck by bouts of insomnia. As a person who cherishes her rest, this frightens me. I know the evil person I can become on 5 hours of sleep. Insomnia has the potential to destroy me. Because of this, I've decided to start collecting bits of conversations and saving topics overheard – the only requirement being that they must be the complete opposite of excitement-evoking and should instead invoke the level of excitement one feels upon finding lint in one's pocket.

I have two of these precious topics collected so far. And these are actual pieces of conversations I have heard. The first is a topic I heard being discussed by two elderly women sitting next to me in a cafe. The topic was duvet covers. Not duvet cover designs, materials or patterns. Not bargain duvet prices or sales. Not a story about a duvet that murdered its master. No, this conversation topic was about how long it took one of the ladies to put on her duvet cover that very afternoon. The extremely high level of difficulty of getting the comforter corners to fill the corners of the duvet cover was also touched upon, but mostly it was a play by play on the length of time it took to put it on.

The second topic is about spice racks. Not about the best blend of spices to spice a rack of lamb or how to create a magic potion to get someone to fall in love with you. This conversation topic was about how to store one's spices. The myriad of ways! Did you know there are spice-storing methods to suit nearly everyone's particular needs?

I hope that I will always sleep well, but if there comes a time when sleep doesn't come easy, when I must haunt my home in the dark like a vampire mother, then at least I will have these topics to draw upon and discuss with myself to ease me back to bed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baby-Faced

Other than when I'm trying to hide a horrendous mountain of a pimple or when I'm eating extra saucy buffalo wings, I don't really pay too much attention to what other people might be thinking about my face. I'm aware that it looks somewhere between 16 and 21 and that people can guess my age more accurately if they have contextual clues to work with. For example, people at work think that I'm 20 or 21 because I'm not an intern so they conclude that I must have finished college somewhat recently. In the same vein, it's not common for them to see me swigging beers or taking shots while at work either, so that's why sometimes people guess 20 because they don't think I'm old enough yet to legally drink. However, if I'm just walking around by myself wearing nondescript clothes and not carrying any telling props, then I might pass for much younger.

My job at work recently has been getting juicy. Among other things, it includes lots of editing, some writing and some event planning. Tonight I attended a dinner event where my job was to greet people and make pleasant chatter. It's weird how for once I really became aware of my age, a relatively young one compared to the average age of the table full of guests. When they talked about their kids who were college-bound or just finishing college, I talked about my sister, which is not quite the same. When they made jokes about how they started their careers on the Lisa computer, I smiled too, as if I understood just how much that dated them. They talked about wine pairings, their husbands, their career histories, emerging new technologies and their applications and about what they do now. It was fascinating, a world I could only smile and nod at.

The lady sitting next to me told me she thought I had just graduated from college. One thing I can say that I like about being baby-faced is the shock value it will have when I'm 35 and pushing around my baby in the park. People will pass judgment on me, presuming that I'm a 17 year old, unwed, uneducated, miserable teenage mother. And then my baby, who inherited the genes to look much younger, will sit up and surprise everyone by telling me about the conclusions she's recently drawn from Moby Dick (because I never did understand that book myself). In actuality, she'll be an exceptionally brilliant 12 year old who just looks like a toddler. I'm sure that will land us a spot on Oprah for sure.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Do Whatever You Want

The other night, while having dinner with Denise and Nathalie, I met one of Denise's friends for the first time. After talking to him for a bit, it was clear that he was funny, easy-going and a big fan of the restaurant's salads. The thing that struck me the most about him was that–get this–he pretty much does whatever he wants.

If he doesn't feel like going to someone's wedding, he doesn't. If his girlfriend is hanging out with her girlfriends and he thinks it might be boring, he won't go. If he wants to skip someone's birthday because he'd rather catch a movie, he does. So simple! So easy! So blissfully wonderful sounding!

I, on the other hand, operate under a completely different set of rules. If I don't want to do something or go somewhere, I'll run it by maybe 5 different people to make sure I'm not acting out of line. This is a conversation I have about once a week with these 5 different people:

Me: So then after I ran into her, I said, "Yeah, totally, we should definitely hang out sometime." And then she said, "Yeah, that sounds good! Just let me know."

Person I'm talking to: ...

Me: So do you think that means I need to invite her out Saturday night? 'Cause now I'm thinking I might not even go. Maybe I'll just stay home, I've been meaning to just catch up on my Us Weekly and all that, you know? And it's not like we set a firm date right? I think it was just one of those, we should hang out sometime moments where it's ok if you never do. Or do you think she's waiting for me to make some plans?

Person I'm talking to: ...

Me: No, you're right. I know. I shouldn't invite her to Saturday's thing. Wednesday's thing would be much better. Then I can just stay home Saturday and not feel bad about not going.

So you see, when I met this person who actually lives out this idea of doing whatever you want, whenever you want, it inspired me. Why couldn't I be like that? In fact, there was no reason (that I could think of) that I couldn't, so I would. I would start doing it immediately.

At the end of dinner that night, it was agreed upon that we would all meet up the next night, Friday, to go out for so and so's birthday. I was on a food-induced high and couldn't think of a better idea. Well, Friday night came and 8:30 rolled around and sitting at home in my pajamas all of a sudden felt like the start of one of the best nights of my life. The last thing I wanted to do was to get dressed, drive out in the rain, find parking and then commence bar activities. I texted Denise that I didn't think I'd be going, to which she texted back "Aww... you should go."

For the next hour and a half, I tried to enjoy shamelessly lounging around in my pajamas on a Friday night, but the happy thoughts of being a bum slowly turned into thoughts of how much Denise was going to hate me for flaking and wondering what the elipsis after "Aww" meant in her text message. I worried, Was I going to be that girl who says she will go, but NEVER goes?? After an hour and a half of this, and after Nathalie texted me with "Where are you? I'm at the bar," I decided that maybe I could start living by my new mantra of Do Whatever You Want at a later time, so off to the bar I went.

I wore a t-shirt, some jeans and some sneakers. I have come to accept the reality that I don't like wearing jeans or sneakers, but it was cold that night, so out of necessity I did. I'd like to mention here that I come from a long line of people who also prefer not to wear pants. My mom, my dad, my grandma, my grandma's grandma, her mom and dad and their moms and dads and all their brothers and sisters all spent their days wearing sarongs, so it's no wonder then that I don't like having to wear pants when I'm supposed to be out relaxing and having a good time. The constricting waistlines, the way the bottom of pants get wet in the rain–pants have a way of feeling so inconvenient. Why can't skirts be warmer? Or why can't sweat pants be socially acceptable going-out attire? Also, I have just recently rehabilitated my feet back into shoe society, but they still don't like wearing socks. A lot of the time they don't wear any socks at all.

And as it turns out, on that Friday night, I found out that the garment aversion had spread to my torso. In the bar, on the dance floor, I lifted my arms up as part of "my move" and realized I wasn't wearing a bra. As soon as I realized it, I remembered taking it off when I had resigned myself to staying in that night and remembered never putting it back on. I also remembered the sorta-see-throughish shirt I was wearing. I pulled my arms down and told Nathalie about my dilemma who then laughed at me for a good while before offering me her sweater.

Things on the dance floor returned to being good again, until I decided to walk off towards the bar. In doing so, I bumped into a boy (which is almost unavoidable on a 6'x6' dance floor) who was standing in the middle of the dance floor holding a full glass. Who does this??? The bumped boy proceeded to act like I had just told him a very offensive Yo' Momma joke and continued holding this stinky-poo look on his face for what seemed like 5 minutes. No amount of apologizing could get him to stop.

I knew I was going to be annoyed for a large part of the night if I stayed and had to look at the boy whose Momma's So Ugly Even Rice Krispies Won't Talk To Her. So right then and there, I decided to take a page from the book of Do Whatever You Want, and I decided to leave. I was feeling about ready to leave before the whole incident, but deciding to leave for sure to limit my annoyance felt good. There I was, deciding to do whatever I felt like doing right at that moment and doing it. I could get used to that.

However, I suppose that if I were to really embrace the new line of Do Whatever You Want thinking, it could be really dangerous. At this rate of garment aversion, there could be a really high likelihood that I might end up in a nudist colony by the tender age of 29.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pinkberry Celebrities – They're Just Like Us!

They say when one door closes, another one opens. I'm starting to think that that may be the same way habits work – kick one habit to the curb and pick up a new one. Since Christmas, I have had about 2 cups of regularly caffeinated coffee. Other than that, I've been sticking to decaf while working in the office, and I've been stealing sips from Alan's regular cup o' Joe on the weekends. It can be a little hard waking up in the mornings without the caffeine boost, but I like the liberty I feel from no longer being an addict. I can say no to caffeine like I never could before. It's like I've taken my life back into my own hands, free at last from the highs and lows of espresso and double-brewed coffee. In breaking off my long standing relationship with coffee (a substance that once co-existed within me like the air in my lungs), I also realized that I was no longer addicted to anything. Or so I thought.

On Saturday, I had the nerve to tell Irene that Alan and I went to the new Pinkberry in Santana Row, and I wasn't sure how much I liked it anymore. The yogurt wasn't quite as tart as I remembered and was much creamier. The strawberries weren't as juicy, and the mango bits weren't ripe. And where was that indescribable, hard-to-put-your-finger-on something in the yogurt that all Pinkberry lovers swore was crack? Sadly, it was nowhere to be found. At least not in my cup of fro-yo.

She looked pretty shocked when I told her this. In fact, I even shocked myself a bit with this confession. But it was more than just shock. I also felt a general disappointment. When have I not loved Pinkberry? When have I not spent my days and nights waiting for this exact moment when a Pinkberry would open in my neck of the woods? I wondered if this was what it feels like to fall out of love after 30 years of being happily married. What a terrible feeling.

Waiting in line with higher than high hopes and expectations.

The yogurt on the far right is mine. A medium original with mochi, strawberry and mango. Mochi, as I will later find out on Wednesday, is a semi-secret topping as it's not listed on the menu.

It starts off well as I sit down with my yogurt, but a few bites later I thought, "Who are you Pinkberry? I don't even know you anymore."

On Tuesday, a craving for the Pinkberry from my dreams attacked. I thought of the tart, tangy, light and refreshing taste I once knew so well and decided to give Pinkberry another try. Maybe Saturday was a fluke. Alan and I bundled up and made our way over in the cold. And sure enough, this time, the Pinkberry tasted just as I remembered it in L.A. You never forget the taste of Crackberry! I could feel the addiction taking hold of me nearly immediately. This must be coffee's last joke on me, to replace itself with an even more expensive habit.

Cue music. "I can't see me loving nobody but you, for all my life...."

You can't tell, but this is his excited face.

Also on Tuesday, I saw people standing in line holding these pieces of paper. It turned out to be a buy one, get one free coupon. You can print one here. I told the girl behind the counter that I'll be coming back every day until the 25th when the promotion is over. She didn't look too overly thrilled, but maybe she didn't hear me...

Today I convinced not just myself and not just Alan, but also Denise and Justin to go again with me! They had never been so it wasn't too hard. And lucky for us that we did go. Inside a tent, set-up right outside the shop, we met Ron Graves, the CEO, and Elliot, the shop owner!

See how Justin and Denise are all smiles now? This is the monster that I am, introducing Crackberry to two innocent people. Oh, how quickly their savings will be depleted now!

Here is the CEO of Pinkberry chatting it up with us. He was impressed we were all eating the mochi topping since that's not listed on the menu. Then he gave us the inside scoop on another "un-listed, secret" topping – a POM shot. I think I'm going to need to try that one soon. Like as in tomorrow.

Here's the store owner, Elliot. Real nice guy who invited us to the grand opening. Technically he's not supposed to, but I figure I'll just show security or whomever this picture and say I KNOW Elliot. That or I'll point at Denise who will be cleverly disguised as Lucy Liu and demand we get some schwag.

Monday, January 19, 2009

5 Signs of Increased Domestication

Bagel Monday's and free lunches aside, I find there is nothing quite as wondrous in the working world as a three-day weekend. The days leading up to the event are filled with an excited anticipation, while the days following it are marked by a rejuvenated spirit and increased productivity.

I spent this three-day weekend doing the usual weekend activities of sleeping in and lounging around, but I also realized something a little frightening. Something was happening to me, something I had never felt before -- my own increasing domestication.

Here are the 5 signs I've recognized in myself and if they also happen to strike a chord with you, perhaps we can both quit our jobs and form a board. We can give ourselves impressive titles and when asked what we do, we can tell people that we sit on a board, a Stay-At-Home-People Board. In general, people are impressed by others that sit on boards, so naturally we will gain lots of respect and admiration. Of course, we'll have to explain that the difference between us and Stay-At-Home-Moms and -Dads is that we don't have any children, but that we get to reap all the benefits of staying at home. People will be quitting their jobs left and right to join us in our cause! (Our cause being the ability to spend our afternoons watching Ellen, planning and cooking well-balanced meals, befriending all of the employees at Pinkberry and regularly re-arranging the living room furniture). At some point, we'll have to assemble another board, one that is expressly responsible for financing all of this, but we can worry about that later.

5 Signs of the Burgeoning Home-Maker Inside Me:

1) I covet Crate&Barrel home decor. When catalogs come in the mail, I will look at the clothing catalogs and admire the shoes or the dresses. Sometimes, although very rarely, I might look at what fruit is on sale in the Safeway ad. It is only within recent months that I've started keeping Crate&Barrel's Holiday 2008 catalog in the bathroom to see what place settings are in or what festive door mats are available. A few weeks ago, I saw this wooden bath mat while looking through the store and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. Every night while brushing my teeth I stare at my old yellow bath mat and I despise it for letting itself go, just getting all old and dirty and non-fluffy. I know it's not its fault because that's what happens to all cotton bath mats, I know. But I couldn't help myself, so I went back to Crate&Barrel and got myself a new wooden one today. Next to the bath mats was this hamper, so now I have a new Crate&Barrel want.



2) I have demonstrated a decreased frequency of going out and visiting places at night that are dimly lit. Usually, these are the kinds of places where you can also buy an expensive alcoholic drink and dance squished up against a sea of sweaty people to loud music. I didn't realize how long it'd been since I've been out in downtown San Jose until Saturday when I almost stepped into 5 puddles of vomit because I forgot to watch where I was walking.

Towards the end of the night, drinks spilled with a malevolent intent caused heated words to be exchanged and necessitated Alan leading the offended out of the bar. When I met back up with Alan, he told me that a passing stranger had just informed him that someone up the street got blasted. He thought this meant that someone got really, really drunk, so you can imagine his surprise when he found out that there was actually a shooting 3 blocks from where I just was.

3) I spend 2/3 of a 3-day weekend cleaning. And I consequently feel a deep sense of accomplishment and pride after seeing the results I have created.

4) I retire on the sofa after work wearing my silky-on-the-outside/fleecy-on-the-inside Madam robe so often that Alan has asked me if he should get me a small lap dog which I can stroke while eating my Godiva chocolates. It seemed like a funny joke until I saw this dog resting on the ground in Pinkberry the other day. It would be sorta nice to have a dog like this, wouldn't it?


5) I like ugly sweaters. A small part of me knows deep inside that I shouldn't admit this, but it's true. I do. The only other person I know who likes ugly sweaters is Aunt Sisine who defends her taste in holiday attire by saying it's something she can wear when she helps out in the kids' classrooms or when she's throwing a party at home. Between Aunt Sisine's collection and Nathalie's, we could have our own party any time of the year.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Working on My Fitness

For a long while in college, I somehow managed to sustain a high level of physical fitness. Mental health was a whole other issue, but physically speaking, I had never been so fit in my life. I ate a low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian diet (for the most part) and got regular aerobic exercise. I was running the fastest I'd ever run, was doing the most push ups I'd ever done and was building up my endurance to a fine peak with Billy Blanks' twice weekly Tae Bo classes. But for all the crunches I could do and regardless of how fast I could walk uphill, there were two things I physically could not (and still can't) do – touch my toes and do a pull up.

Touching my toes has been an unresolved New Year's resolution of mine for the past 3-5 years, before I finally gave up on New Year's resolutions entirely. It's funny the amount of disbelief people express when I tell them I can't touch my toes. When I told my sister, she said, "But they're right there… See!" And then she bent over to show me that she could do it, so why couldn't I?

Doing a pull up was something I had been wanting to do since forever. If I had to give a more exact date for the start of this desire, I guess it might have started in the seventh grade during physical testing. It was the day we were all asked to do as many pull ups as we could. We were told that if we couldn't do a pull up (and I thought Pshh, who couldn't do at least one pull up?) we could do a flexed arm hang where we were supposed to hover with our chins just above the bar. When my turn came, I prepared to bust out 10 pull ups and rubbed my hands together like a gymnast applying chalk does before a routine. But to my horror, after grabbing hold of the bar, I found I could only pull myself half way up and try as I might, I couldn't go any further. The P.E. teacher witnessed my struggling and suggested that I do the flexed arm hang, or in my opinion, the modified pull up alternative for weaklings, which is what I realized I was since I couldn't do a real pull up either.

These two physical weaknesses are always in the back of my mind. I think that I should stretch more, that if only I stretched for that much longer I could touch my toes. And I think that if I just lost 75-85 pounds, I might then be able to do a real pull up.

So when Denise asked if I wanted to join her for yoga yesterday, a recent memory at a family gathering came to mind and I eagerly said yes. You see, one afternoon, after we each ate 3 helpings of lunch (or something typical like that), Nathalie, Justin and I found ourselves crowded around a pull up bar in one of the cousin's doorways. We went in a circle to see how many pull ups each of us could do. I couldn't do any. I don't remember if anyone else did either because all I remember is that Denise suddenly appeared, rolled up her sleeves, gripped the bar and did 3 pull ups out of thin air.

Shocked and utterly amazed at her impressive strength, we asked her how she was able to do them. She explained it, in complete seriousness, by saying "Because I'm hella buff." (Which is a very funny thing to hear coming from possibly one of the smallest human beings alive (of a non-dwarf or non-midget stature)). Surprisingly, she attributed her hella buffness to yoga. Since then I have always been curious about this yoga she does–this workout/routine/series of stretches she does that promotes hella buffness–and knew I had to go see it for myself.

It should be noted that I've always been slightly skeptical of yoga. Mostly because when I think of it, I picture rich, shi-shi, fou-fou housewives–the ones you see shopping at Whole Foods at 2 in the afternoon wearing 4 carat rocks on their hands and sipping Starbucks nonfat lattes–as yoga's primary clientele, and I've got to admit that is a little off-putting.

But then yoga also brings to mind Birkenstocks, fresh vegetables, the ability to touch one's toes and Zen and peace and tranquility. I think I was never really able to reconcile the two ideas before, but this time the idea of actually being able to touch my toes and do a pull up won over everything else.

Denise does yoga with Sherry Han, which I learned is a common thing yoga-goers will ask other yoga-goers – "Who do you do yoga with?" Yoga-goers are faithful to their yoga teachers, and they don't usually stray very far. On our walk to the studio, Denise prepped me on what the class would be like.

When we got there, I spread my mat out and sat with my bare legs stretched out in front of me in imitation of everyone else. Still watching my neighbors, I put my arms in the air, clasped my hands together and pointed my two index fingers to the ceiling.

Sherry made her way around the room to greet people. When she reached me she stared in the direction of my ankles and feet. I followed her gaze and saw what she saw–swollen, stuffed ankles and feet, like sausages that had been soaking in brine. She grabbed at my ankles and touched the tops of my feet.

"Too much salt. You need to stop eating so much salt," she said. I nodded. I was a little embarrassed but also pleased. Denise hadn't told me about the free nutritional consultation I'd get.

I started picking up on the poses by watching the people in front of me. At one point we were in a pose on the floor with our heads turned to the side. As I held the pose, I noticed my neighbor looking at me so we smiled at each other and then we smiled some more. Just when I wondered how much longer we were going to need to hold this for because it was getting slightly awkward staring at each other, I realized that everyone was turned the way she was and I was the one with my head turned the wrong direction.

By the end of class, I had rid myself of my earlier kankles. I must have sweated out all my excess salt in those 1.5 hours. In fact, I have never sweat so much from posing or stretching in my life. Immediately afterward and into the next day, I felt a very distinct and different kind of soreness in my muscles, as if they were looser and tension-free, like all my body parts could now move as they were meant to.

I could definitely see how Denise could get hella buff from yoga. Maybe yoga could help me get hella buff. Or even just touch my toes.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Because My Face Said So!

A familiar scene: a parent asks their child to do something (or, equally as often, not to do something), only to find that her Mini-Me replica doesn't want to cooperate without hearing a good reason first. This prompts the kid to ask the question "Why?" followed by "Why?" and then by "Why?" then reasonably proceeded by "Why? Why? But tell me why?" to which the parent snaps in exasperation, "Because I said so!"

When the delightful time comes for me to have this conversation with my own Crocs-sporting child, I'm going to have to change this expression to "Because my face said so!," and she will know I mean it.

My face has always been an easy-to-use color-coded legend for decoding my emotional state at any given time, but recently I'm starting to notice that I have less and less control over it. Sure, before, you could tell when I was happy, upset, angry, elated, excited, hungry, etc., but there was at least the one face I had that translated to neutral, to my feeling something not quite good nor quite bad and perhaps indescribable all together. Now my face only reads as happy, upset, angry, elated, excited, hungry, disappointed, frustrated, etc. and trying not to look happy, upset, angry, elated, excited, hungry, disappointed, frustrated, etc. It's problematic not having a neutral face because when I know my face should look one way, it looks the complete opposite way and is not even capable of feigning mild disinterest.

While riding on BART last year from San Francisco to Walnut Creek, I met a man who was of a questionable mental and personal cleanliness state. When I saw him walk by on the platform the first time, I knew I wanted to avoid him. When he turned back around and stopped right in front of me, I knew I had to avoid him, lest I should have an extremely irritating trip. The whole time while waiting on the platform, I thought me and Neutral Face were doing all right for ourselves, maintaining our neutrality and keeping the crazies at bay. It wasn't until we got on the train and he sat down next to me did I understand that I had been betrayed. By my own face.

I wanted my face to exude a distant calm coolness. An expression that communicated that I would most like to be left alone, in my coolness, and that I didn't want any trouble, but if there were trouble, I had to give fair warning that somebody risked getting his feathers ruffled. But obviously, after 20 minutes of the crazy man talking incomprehensibly at me, I was sure my face did not say what I wanted it to. When the man started giving me high fives to signify to the whole train we were in cahoots together and began loudly condemning the lesbian couple sitting a few seats away from us, I'm pretty sure my Neutral Face was long gone and one that actually attracted crazy people had taken its place. This is what the new face said: I am really tired and not feeling like talking to anyone, especially not anyone crazy, but if you are crazy and in the mood to talk a lot and loudly, then please come talk to me, closely if you please, to teach me a lesson on how I need to appear more scary-looking when riding on public transportation in the future.

Now, that was just my face betraying me with a crazy person. Recently, my face has started betraying me with important people, which is what made me think I should try to get a grip on the situation and try to bring Neutral Face back. Just last week, after a peak of frustration, I walked to the kitchen for a cup of water. (Kind of like how smokers go outside to suck on their cigarettes and inhale and exhale their stress away, I walk to the water cooler for refills and refreshing sips of hydration as part of my stress management.) Who did I run into in my moment of angst except for a big man on campus who should not know, should never really ever know, that I have reached a peak of frustration. As he turned to face me, I realized I didn't have enough time to run back from where I came, so I decided to stand there and to try to be as normal as possible. Smile, I thought. Smiling would make it normal. But I found that when I smiled it felt like my face was suddenly made of broken eggshells, and the longer I kept smiling the more cracks started to form.

How are you?
he asked. I thought he might be referring to my cracked-up face, so I said Good. (Because I couldn't think of anything else to say). And then I stopped smiling and started nodding, because nodding has yet to fail me. There is no other way to read nodding except to read it as, Yes, I am good. Believe you me, I am so good!

I don't think he bought it. He walked over, slung an arm over my shoulder and told me it was going to be an exciting year. Then he said, "A recession is a terrible thing to waste." Which made me think about that anti-drug ad campaign from when I was growing up that had the slogan "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." I don't think that's what he meant to get me to think about, but that's what I found myself thinking about. That and how to get Neutral Face back.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Difficulty of Conversation at Baby Showers

Today I went to a baby shower for someone at work who, you guessed it, is about to have a baby very soon. Here's the thing with baby showers -- in the spirit of celebrating the beautiful new life which is about to begin and the beautiful miracle which is about to happen -- everyone in attendance talks about their own experiences of bringing new life into the world. This includes, but is not limited to, the craving and consumption of McDonald's for a week straight, the suffering from complete and absolute nausea the following week, the change in hormones during the different trimesters and the flattening and widening of the feet. A large part of the conversation revolves around the yet-to-be-born's name, particularly the difficulty of picking said name and the special meaning behind each name in consideration. Shower guests will also be polled on which spelling is favored for each of the potential names -- Jennie with an ie or Jenny with a y?

While everyone talks in a flurry with wide, excited eyes, I nervously eat the chips and salsa in front of me. I tune out of the conversation and think: I didn't know about the feet. I miss the transition into the next topic because I am still in disbelief of the idea of having even wider feet than I already have. Soon, the feelings of surprise turn into a sort of bitterness as I think about my precious pair of wide sized shoes I miraculously found at the old lady shoe store and that I had falsely believed I would be able to fit into and wear for the rest of my life.

When I snap out of it our lunches have all arrived, and just as I'm about to dig in, someone asks the waiter for a diet coke and someone else starts talking about water.

"Did you guys feel it when your water broke?" a water-breaker veteran asks.

This seems to be another favorite topic judging from the myriad of responses offered. One person had their water "trickle," another felt a pop, a mini-explosion if you will (which sounds a little worrisome, I envisioned a firework exploding) and one thought she had peed the bed.

Quiet for far too long now, I wanted to chip in my two cents. But because I had never had any breakage of water, I offered an insightful question instead, one I hoped would show that I could relate to them, "And, this water, is it like, water? Or is it like pee? Or, no. Maybe it's like something else all together?"

But of course, as we all know, babies only stay babies for so long before they turn into mini people. For some time after being born, they are easy to please, easy to make laugh and easy to love. But then, upon the realization that cooties might actually be a good thing and right around junior high, something terrible happens to the whole lot of them. And this was what was discussed next.

"I just don't know what's wrong with him. I mean yeah, he's 15 now, but still. These past few weeks he's just like, 'I don't care,' 'So?' 'Don't go in my room,' 'Leave me alone,' 'Don't touch me,' 'I don't want to talk about it.' Last night when I asked him to unload the dishwasher he told me he'd do it later and I said 'I asked you to do it now' and then he said that his friend was going to call him soon and asked if he couldn't just do it later? I told him no and made him do it right then, and now he's still mad at me."

That reminded me of a time not too long ago in high school when my mom asked me to put away a stack of laundry and I felt that if ever there was an unreasonable request, that had to have been it. It really was the most unreasonable thing because I was right in the middle of watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it wasn't even on commercial yet, it was right in the middle of a crucial scene, and couldn't I just do it in a minute?

I almost relayed this story, happy to be able to contribute finally, before I realized I was relating to her son, not her, my colleague, so I sat back, ate some more chips and spent the rest of the shower shoveling in huge mouthfuls of my fish tacos which required long, drawn out moments of chewing silence.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Oh How the Things in Life That Go Bump Change

When I was a kid, I didn't have a fear of the dark per se. What I was really scared about were the things that go bump in the night. And my imagination and I, with a little bit of help from our friend The Dark, could conjure up a million and one things that could not only go bump, but also burp, scream, hide, lurk or just be plain creepy. I never knew what lingered in the shadows waiting for me to fall asleep, so I had to take precautionary measures.

No matter how hot it was -- it could be the middle of a sweltering summer and it wouldn't have mattered-- I had to have some kind of blanket or sheet pulled over me, at all times. Obviously this was to help prevent aliens from reading my mind, honing in on my exact location and swinging their spaceship by to abduct me. Closet doors had to be left slightly ajar because it'd be too obvious if the doors were completely shut. Leaving them open just a tad gave me the upper hand in the game. It signaled to the ghosts and furry monsters that might have been hiding inside that
I knew they were there and that I didn't even really mind. In fact, I dared them to come out. But they never did because they'd rather wait to have that element of surprise and really get me good when I least expected it.

All that practice of learning how to keep aliens away might have been all for naught, because I'm starting to realize that there are other bedtime things to worry about, things that I never even
thought to be worried about.

One of which has to do with my new night guard. It is a small piece of hard acrylic shaped to fit over my 4 front teeth (sorta like what you see in the picture, just on my lower teeth). This was prescribed to me after the dentist noticed I had a bit of excess wear on my teeth.

"Do you grind your teeth at night?" she asked.

I told her that I thought I might, but I wasn't entirely sure, what with my habit of being knocked into unconsciousness at night and all.

So, taking her advice, I started wearing a night guard while sleeping. It could have been just in my head, but my jaw did feel looser and less tense the following days after wearing it, so maybe I did grind my teeth. When I made this comment to Alan, he piped in, "Yeah! It's so much better listening to your chomping thing on that plastic than it was when it was teeth on teeth."

I stopped what I was doing and looked at him. "What do you mean 'chomping thing'? What 'chomping thing'?"

"That chomping thing you do. Man, it sounds terrible," he replied, all casual like. As if he were saying, "I wish we still used that brand of toothpaste we got last time. Man, that stuff was minty."

A "chomping thing" sounds like a frightening thing to be doing while you're sleeping, so I asked him to demonstrate. And sure enough what he did was a big chomp, like the kind of bite a half-starved person would do if you were to give him a large drumstick to eat.

When he finished demonstrating, he went on to say, "But the way you do it is really loud. I can't even try to do it as loud as you. Sometimes it's so loud I worry that you might break your teeth."

Now, why a person wouldn't wake the person they are sleeping next to (who also happens to be the same person he is supposed to care deeply about) to get her to stop doing this terrible chomping thing is beyond me. Just imagine if I'd never listened to my dentist and never brought home a night guard and never commented about how much better my jaw felt afterward. One day I would wake up with smashed up teeth remains in my mouth and I bet Alan would feel sorry then that he never bothered to tell me about my bad habit because he was "too sleepy."

When he started to feel bad about not telling me, he started opening up about a whole host of health-related problems I suffer from at night, all these weird things I do that I have never recalled doing upon waking up. Ever. One thing I found particularly interesting was the cough attacks; I wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, disturbing the peace with my raging, hacking, coughing fits. My entire upper body seizes and my head shakes around on my limp neck and there is gasping -- oh, but there is gasping -- for breath, like my life depends on it. And then, as suddenly as I had started coughing and gasping, it is over, and my face is relaxed and soft, like I had never even had the cough attack in the first place.

So really, if I don't die from not eating enough nutrients because my teeth are smashed to smithereerns, then I might surely die choking on my Night Guard or from my own saliva or from lack of oxygen during a cough attack. Alan will just think the choking noises are a new manifestation of my night time health problems and keep right on sleeping. These are the real things I should be worried about!

Monday, January 5, 2009

How The Sun Set Over Pacifica


Standing next to the ocean with chattering teeth and while clutching to keep one's hat snug on one's head is some kind of terrible. Makes me wish we could skip the rest of winter and head straight to the end of spring.

Pinkberry Opening Date

A reliable* source has revealed exclusively** to me that Pinkberry*** in Santana Row will open its doors on January 15, 2009****.

*This source has been wrong once or twice before, so I should clarify that when I say she is reliable, what I really mean is that I am just really hoping that this time she has gotten all her facts straight.
**If "revealed exclusively" means having the Santana Row concierge answer the same question I call her with every other day -- Is Pinkberry open yet? -- then I think it is definitely fair to call this exclusive. However, if you build a rapport with the concierge by calling often enough and develop just the right amount of pitiful-ness in your voice like you are a desert traveler in search of just a drop of water to quench your thirst, you can probably call for yourself and get a straight answer.
***The tantalizing, smooth, creamy, but not too creamy (not like custard creamy), illegal stimulant-laced goodness of a blessed frozen yogurt with mochi, strawberry and mango toppings.
****The day God himself will deliver unto me the best, most delicious present of all time (at least this year... so far.).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Interesting Bits and Pieces

Every new year's, three-quarters of the female population in the post-industrial world make one (if not multiple) of the following resolutions:

1) Lose weight (usually between 5-15 pounds)
2) Eat better
3) Spend less

This year I have decided I do not believe in New Year's Resolutions because I don't think something like "Lose weight" can be accomplished effectively if focused on during the first quarter of the year only (and let's face it, people usually forget what they've resolved by the end of February).

So this year, instead of sharing what my resolutions are, I'd like to share a few splendid and interesting bits and things people have recently shared with me.

1) Faith (n.): complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Or, the name of the two-legged canine who walks upright like a human!



2) More proof that people can have the job of their dreams -- even if that means getting paid to travel the world over to dance with people in front of famous landmarks and monuments. (My favorite part is when he is in Poria, Papua New Guinea).



And in case you have a similar dream to Matt, learn how he did it below.



3) Thai introduced me to this hilarious video blogger, Natalie, from Sydney. Her video blogs are mesmerizing; I couldn't stop watching them all! She kind of reminds me of Ellen and makes me, too, want to talk in an Australian accent.





4) Often, I think about what I will dress my kids like when they are born. Today I was at Target and passed by some mini baby work out clothes -- mini baby workout clothes! They looked like they were for someone who is 9-12 months old. Do babies go to the gym at that age? I should look into this because here I am thinking that many babies are still trying to master the art of holding up their head at that age, not hitting the gym to beat their best time on the treadmill. But then I remembered this article about a Super Baby, so if mine are anything like him, maybe I will need to get them some fancy work out gear.

Lastly (and this is very random), on New Year's Day, I found myself engrossed in the world of New York socialites. Being the avid Perez Hilton reader, I thought I might be more interested in the lives of socialites, but it turns out I'm not. I did think it was interesting though that there is a whole world of people who are obsessed with them.

What triggered this interest was a show I have started watching (the name of which will be withheld to save myself some embarrassment). On the show, a socialite works for a famous designer and got me thinking "What do socialites actually do??" So I did a little google search and found this internet universe dedicated to documenting and capturing the moments of socialites' lives. I even read this 8-page article about a website ranking socialites and the strong hold it possessed over all of them. Then I read about the new socialite blogging king, an 18-year old college student who runs the PerezHilton.com of the socialite world, Peer Avenue Peerage. When the article came out, he had never even been to New York! This is what he says when he talks to the reporter:

“I live in Urbana, near a farm,” he whispers when I call. “Oh, my God! I’m not supposed to reveal anything. I’m like—I’m not even white! Do you know how fucking riotous this would be? I am not the poster child. You would not even believe what I look like.”

Thursday, January 1, 2009

This New Year's I Vow To Never Eat Doritos or Chips and Salsa Ever Again

I have never fully understood what the big fuss is over New Year's, which is probably why on New Year's Eve I found myself with absolutely no plans. It wasn't until Preethi said it'd be a shame not to do something (since we got the next day off work) did I feel any motivation to do anything. We decided we'd either meet in the City for dinner and drinks at Beretta, where we would continue drinking until the new year came, or go to a nearby bar.

With this in mind, Alan and I waited at the Caltrain station for the 6:55 pm train to take us to our destination. At 6:50 pm, a woman's monotonous voice came over the intercom to inform us that "due to a fatality on the tracks that occurred at 6:11 pm, all trains would be delayed for 60-90 minutes." The fatality could have been due to any number of reasons, but standing on the platform that night, everyone seemed to be in agreement on the cause of death. While we were all waiting -- bright-faced and cheery -- to celebrate an upcoming year of renewal and second chances, someone else had been waiting for the train for a very different reason -- to help him never celebrate anything ever again. I couldn't help but wonder, What could have driven someone to end it this way, on this particular night that bears so much meaning to so many other people? What could have been so bad that made jumping in front of a train seem like the best solution?

By the time we got to the City (now 60-90 minutes delayed), dinner was out of the question, but we did manage to have a nice New Year's at a small dancy bar and I forgot all about the reason for our tardiness.



After dancing and New Year's hugs and kisses, we walked back to the station to make one of the last trains heading home for the night. Bundled up, seated and toasty warm from the evening's libations, I fell asleep as soon as the train pulled away. It wasn't until I was rudely awakened from a very loud, bothersome conversation that I remembered the person (I'm assuming it's a guy) who had jumped in front of the train tonight (also, another assumption).

Every other word in the conversation was a curse word. A loud curse word. Directed at whomever happened to be in the speaker's line of vision. The girl in the conversation spoke in a shrill voice, that increased in shrillness when she talked about how excited she was to go home and "eat some motherfucking chips and fucking salsa, motherfucker." To which the boy in the conversation responded, "I just want me some Taco Bell." And then he added, "Or some Doritos. I want a bag of Doritos and to fucking sleep."

After their discussion of what fine dining awaited them at their respective homes, they then started harassing some poor man who asked to get by them for the bathroom. I will spare you the details of this delightful part of the conversation. Just know that at this point my ears were bleeding and I wondered if lightning might strike down upon me to put me out of my misery. It almost made me want to... to jump in front of a train. That was when I realized I might have reached the answer to the question I asked earlier in the night -- what could be so bad as to drive someone to ending it all? I would bet money the jumper was caught on a train with these splendid, stimulating individuals when his ears started to bleed. That had to be it. There could be nothing worse than listening to these two.
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