Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trick or Tweet!

This Halloween I wanted to be something relevant, something on the top of everyone's minds these days. I struggled coming up with a national health care costume, so instead I was Twitter!

It all started with lots and lots of blue feathers.

And touches of felt.

Creating my felted breast.

Keeping my tweets to a minimum.

Tweet!

Tonight we went to our first ever Silicon Valley Tweetup, a networking/karaoke/costume party event at Rosie McCann's in Santana Row.

They had a costume contest... and I won first place! :D I got a S5 Real Pocket PC.

Alan was Dr. House.

Here are the lower halves of our costumes.

Nathalie was Ugly Betty -- her poncho was too cute!

Superheros, Ugly Betty, House, Twitter, and Lucy -- Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Insides

I can't say how I would do it if it were me because I don't think it's something you really know about until it happens to you. It's the same reason why when someone dies, and I want to say something, anything to let them know that I am sad for them and that I wish I could make it better somehow, that I don't say anything at all. But what I do know is that sometimes it feels as if my insides have all changed into different colors and have twisted into warped shapes and sizes.

There was a time in my life when I imagined my insides to be all glistening pink and vibrant reds, but I have spent enough time in hospitals now to know that the fluids coating our guts and intestines and pumping around in our bodies come in a much wider myriad of colors. So now, when I don't feel well, when I feel overwhelmed, when I feel like crawling into a small warm, gurgling cave, I picture my insides. My stomach is a dark misshapen burgundy brown, my kidneys forest green and sadly shriveled... And somehow, imagining all these things floating around inside me provides some kind of order, provides a reason for why I feel so off kilter, and somehow this makes me feel a little bit better.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Costume Ideas

Oh Halloween, a night of tricks, treats and dressing up -- or in some cases, dressing in nothing at all. Historically, women Halloween goers have been classified into two categories: the kind that dress up as sexy animals/professionals and the kind that dress up as anything else. It's a common misconception that those who fall into the latter group must wear costumes of a completely unsexy nature, but as a member of this group, I can attest that this is simply not true. Below are some Halloween costume ideas which are not your typical "sexy cat," "sexy police woman," or "sexy woman without her regular clothes on." Take a look -- I do believe that even the most regular sexy costume wearers will be surprised at just how sexy a little non-traditional sexy can be.

Chicks are hot. Mama hens are even hotter.
Consider this: pizza often arrives at the party piping hot. Add a little pepperoni or spicy sausage, and you've got a slice with a bite!

Superheroes fight crime and keep us safe, but inside they're still human, just like us. Someone who does great things but whom we can still relate to? Now, that's sexy.

Although jellyfish are beautiful, enigmatic creatures, often times you can see right through them. No bullshit, just straight up jellyfish guts and heart and all.

While satyrs walk a fine line between being a sexy animal and a non sexy animal costume, the fact that they are mythical creatures that are half goat and traditionally male makes them more of a geeky costume than anything else. And if we learned one thing from Kevin Arnold of The Wonder Years, it's that geeks are lovable and appealing.

Donning Hawaiian garb is another great costume idea for those who are accustomed to wearing sexy secretary costumes and who are considering transitioning to more subtle Halloween dress. You are at once sexy with your bold floral print and pined for. People often associate Hawaii with vacations, and we all know everyone could use more of those.

Another costume option for those interested in being something more abstract is the "starry night." In movies, couples are forever going to the drive-in to make out underneath the star studded sky. In effect, starry skies bear witness to entire parking lots filled with teenagers making out -- what could be sexier?!

Another plus to the starry sky ensemble -- face paint. Face paint* screams fun. It tells people that you are an adventurous, fun-loving person who is not afraid of getting temporarily artistic with the delicate skin area around your eyes.

Finally, if time and resources are limited, you could consider being a fire thrower. The concept is a very straight forward one which can be appreciated, especially if your friends are of the creative variety who often dress up as hard to guess people, places, things or theories. All of that cleverness can become tiresome, leaving you to be the hero of the party, the breath of fresh air, as you simply wield your fire stick about.



*Not to be confused with facial tattoos which look most uncomfortable and which must be quite restrictive in terms of limiting one's career options.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Birthday Baskets

Anyone can give a gift card, but not many give custom birthday gift baskets. Today Nathalie gave me one as my belated birthday present, and it was so worth the wait. It was so cute and specially filled with all the kinds of things I like, it made a bright spot in my heart.

Inside was a: Starbucks mug to commemorate the year we worked there together, a personalized "Home Sweet Home" sign, a handmade pillowcase (!) and... a Christmas sweater with sewn on jingle bells. What can I say, Nathalie knows me so well.

Much better than Hallmark. I'm a sucker for homemade cards.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why You Should Always Look

There comes a time in people's lives when they will find themselves drinking much too much, tripping over their own feet and falling down in public places. It just so happens that this period of life often coincides with the time when people leave home for college. The business of falling while inebriated can be rather funny to the faller at the time, but the next morning, more often than not, a feeling of shame can set in. While the faller usually tends to feel post-fall embarrassment, standing, less intoxicated onlookers tend to feel embarrassment for the faller immediately. To help deal with these overwhelming feelings of awkwardness, one might do one of the following things: point and laugh, pretend like it didn't happen, or be completely relieved it was not you who fell and play it cool by expressing disdain for the faller and his/her inability to maintain composure.

I've since graduated from college keggers, a scene rife with many occasions of falling. However, that doesn't mean that my life is devoid of all falls all together. I still am a witness to a good fall now and again because I am only human and so are those around me. And because I can be a very self-conscious person, when I see someone drunkenly fall, my first reaction is to be thankful it's not happening to me.

Last night, Preethi, Denise and I were all at Slim's in the City to see Owl City*. There we were, being swept away by his buoyant music. Song after song, we inched closer and closer to the middle of the crowd, standing close enough to people to smell their shampoo. I was loving it. I had started thinking about Seattle, about the rain and if it really rains that much there and if I could get used to it. In the middle of his set, I decided I was going to explode, so I quickly found the restroom and relieved myself.

Walking back to the middle of the floor where I had left everyone, I walked past the bar and saw a woman who looked, at first, as though she was going to lean on the bar, but then who completely tumbled to the floor. Her friend (her boyfriend perhaps?) standing next to her reached down to help her. Immediately, I did a number of things. I quickly looked away and then I felt my upper lip curl. I mean, were we at a tailgating party? Was this a kegger? No, I didn't think so. I was still thinking about how some people should really learn their limits when I finally found Denise in the middle of the crowd. Preethi had disappeared somewhere, and it wasn't too long before Denise said she would "brb" and slipped away.

A few songs later, it started to get rather lonely in the middle of the crowd by myself. I checked my phone and saw that Preethi had texted me that she wasn't feeling well and was getting air outside. I made my way to the exit and saw that Denise was with her. I was just about to tell them both about what I had just seen by the bar (and almost added a "Can you believe some people??") when Preethi apologized for stepping out. She had started overheating and getting dizzy, then when she went to get a glass of water from the bar, she started getting tunnel vision and then she fell over. (Yes, I know! That woman! It was her!) She said that some stranger had helped her get outside to get air. But because she is a nice person, she did not add that a stranger had to help her because her own friend had turned up her nose and snubbed her and walked away. (Thank you and sorry, Preethi!)

So, my advice is to never be overly judgmental when you see someone fall because maybe they only had one drink (as Preethi did) and are really just suffering from too much heat and/or dehydration. Also, make sure to look and to look good because it might just be your friend falling down by the bar with the strange man catching her.

Post-fall


*Owl City sounds just as he does when recorded! His back up singer for this show was wearing a sports bra. Or perhaps it is more accurate to call it a crop top as it was not overly flattening but really rather flattering. She is that lucky person who gets to say that she went to work in her crop top and that no, she does not work at Hooters.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pretty ingredients

Chili and basil and soft white rice noodles, these are a few of my favorite things...

Today Alan and I made pad kee mao (a.k.a. Drunken Noodles) again for Irene's birthday dinner. If there is anyone who loves pad kee mao as much as us, it's her, so I found myself in the kitchen this afternoon happily chopping up a storm. The ingredients just looked so pretty in the light, and as I chopped, I had such monumental hopes for how they would all combine and taste together - in our tummies - that I had to capture the moment. There was something about cooking today that was very soothing and peaceful. I even dare say that I enjoyed cooking today. It may very well be that a cooking bug has come over me. Does anyone have any favorite websites or blogs which can show me how to make easy, yet delicious meals that don't come in blue boxes with little packets of cheese powder?

I think I might just cook everything with chili and garlic from now on.

A quintessential pad kee mao ingredient is the Thai basil. You can tell it apart from other basils by its purple stem.

Required sauces, from left to right: fish sauce, oyster sauce, black soy sauce

The squishier the noodles feel, the better.

(Not pictured (but still important): sugar, ground turkey, Alan's taste buds for sauce measurement)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Corporate Socialness (Online)

Something has happened at work that has left me feeling quite tickled. A little while ago, they came to me and said in so many words, "Sobrina, we'd like to give you more work to do. What do you think about that?" Well, it turned out to be a great kind of new work to do, the kind that requires me to be on Facebook and Twitter. All. Day. Long. Because I am now the resident keeper of our company's Facebook and Twitter. It's really rather delightful because even though people can still go to HR and complain about the incessant sweating I do, at least they cannot complain that I'm not doing my job and am just squandering away the day on the internet. Now if only they could come to me and say, "Now we need you to stay on top of all your favorite blogs and send us a report with all the interesting bits at the end of each week. Make sure to keep an eye on the fashion trends. And also, feel free to spend time writing to magazine and book publishers when you notice a spelling mistake." I would have my almost dream job.

Speaking of sweating, last week Tanu sent me this card from someecards.com. Two things:

1) Perhaps the sweetest card I have gotten in a long, long time
2) Someone has the awesome job of coming up with these cards, and I, for one, would like to meet this person who seems to know me so well, almost as well as Tanu

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

If Only Swiffers Came in Industrial Strength

Lately I have grown to appreciate the simplicity of the kitchen floor. It's easy to tell when it needs attention -- the more crumbs and bits that stick to the bottom of your feet, the dirtier it is. It could stay dirty for a long time, too, as you could just put on some slippers or not turn on the light to avoid having to think about it. And you only ever really notice it when you are standing directly on it, like when going to fetch a glass of water. Other than that, the kitchen floor doesn't really bother me at all, not when I'm at work, not when I'm driving around -- it pretty much does not bother me more than it should. And I like that.

On Sunday, I took to doing right by it. I swept it and then Swiffered it down. Then afterwards, I stood and marveled at how clean, smooth and shiny it looked. It was as good as new and it took only 5 minutes to get it that way. I felt a great sense of accomplishment and called it quits for the day.

About the same time that I came to appreciate the kitchen floor was the same time that I began wishing depression was more like it. Sure, depression and the kitchen floor have their similarities, but one is much easier to fix than the other (surprisingly, I found the easier one to fix was not depression). Maybe its the startling similarities between the two that trick some of us into thinking they are both quick fixes -- a quick sweep here, the swallowing of that pill there -- but we would be fooled. Like the dirty kitchen floor, depression starts off with just a few crumbs here and there. At first, we try to brush them aside, and since they are out of the way enough, we keep going about our daily lives. Then the crumbs start to accumulate, but because you have trained your eye not to notice them too much, this accumulation goes unnoticed as well. It is not until you can't walk out of the kitchen without rubbing your foot against your leg to get the debris off of it that you realize you have a real problem, a crummy kitchen floor or a very depressed boyfriend.

The challenge is that I want to ask him to take off his jacket, walk outside and shake off all the negative thoughts, fears and feelings clinging to it, but not everything can be solved by Swiffer sweeping cloths.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stillmotion Films

After having dinner with my family Friday night, I came home to hang out with Alan. Unfortunately, he was in no mood to do anything of the sort and so instead I sat on the couch and watched video clips of people's weddings. Yes, I know, there are potentially better things to do on a Friday night than to watch complete strangers tie the knot, but there I was. Alan was in bed with a bah humbug written all over his face, while I was in the next room, bearing witness to the remarkable joy in these people's faces. "I'm celebrating happiness!" I wanted to shout over to him. But then again, there I was in my pajamas, sitting on my couch late on a Friday night, watching video clips of complete strangers.

Anyway, I was watching clips from Stillmotion, a boutique photo and cinema studio based in Toronto that shoots weddings. Their work is absolutely stunning, check out a few pieces below.

This one takes places in San Jose!

angie + joseph // a san jose sde from stillmotion on Vimeo.



I love the beginning of this one:

anna + norbert // london, ontario sde from stillmotion on Vimeo.



Neat:

joyce + raymond // stillmotion special edition sde // LA from stillmotion on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Moment You Knew

Recently I was reading a magazine and came across an interesting piece which was a culmination of readers' responses to the question: when did you know your significant other was the one? There were all sorts of heart warming answers, lots of things like: 'I knew he was the one when I met his family and saw how well he treated his mom' or 'When I couldn't imagine not waking up next to her every morning.'

I thought about what Alan might say about me. It'd be easy for him to come up with something, what with there being a whole list of endearing things I do for him to choose from. For example, he could say something pertaining to my thoughtfulness; something like, "I am reminded she is the one every time I leave a room and she reminds me to turn off the light!"

When I thought about what I might say about him, it turned out to be a tie between "I knew he was the one when I asked him not to eat my leftovers from the night before so I could have them for lunch the next day and he respected that" and "He always turns off the light before he leaves a room." It wasn't until this week that the tie was broken and I picked a new answer all together.

This was the week we stopped by Krung Thai, our favorite Thai restaurant, for dinner and noticed that the portions were getting significantly smaller. We liked one dish best there, the pad kee mao, and could easily eat three plates of it each, but there we were, eating half a plate each with a large lettuce leaf garnish covering the other half of our plates. No one else could make pad kee mao like this, so with our stomachs half full, we went home saddened. Later that night, a great idea came to me that I could just learn how to make pad kee mao myself and make loads and loads of it -- enough of it to eat for weeks on end. I knew how Krung Thai's pad kee mao tasted; surely that was enough for me to be able to replicate it.

The next day, I picked out the ingredients common to a handful of online recipes, decided these must be the essential ingredients, and headed to the supermarket. When I got home, I realized I had misplaced my measuring cup but figured I could eyeball a 1/4 cup (who couldn't?) and so proceeded to whip up some delicious pad kee mao. I hadn't whipped up anything in a long while, but I'd been watching plenty of people cook regularly on The Food Network and that bolstered my confidence.

First I chopped up Thai chilies and garlic, fried them together, then threw in the pound of ground turkey and Thai basil. That was what the recipe called for, and if I just did what it said, I could have the tasty noodle dish it promised in less than 30 minutes! Next I added a 1/4 cup each of fish sauce, oyster sauce and black soy sauce. This is where the eyeballing came in handy. As I added these three ingredients to my ground turkey, the whole thing started looking like a dark soy sauce soup. Inside, I started to panic a little bit, but then thought I could remedy it by adding in the noodles. Noodles were absorbent right? They could just soak up the extra saucy-ness and fix the problem. I stirred the noodles around in the soup-sauce, waiting for the extra sauce to soak in or evaporate.

After an eternity of stirring, I had started to sweat and the sauce was still there -- so much of it! I gave up and poured the concoction into two bowls. I handed a bowl to Alan and took one for myself. I wanted so badly for it to taste like pad kee mao. It looked like pad kee mao. It faintly smelled of pad kee mao. But, after one bite, it was apparent that it was no pad kee mao. My eyeballed 1/4 cup of each sauce ingredient must have been closer to a 1/2 cup because the saltiness of the noodles blocked out every other flavor in the dish. It was almost like I had come up with a new way to serve salt. Salt for dinner -- it's what's for dinner!

Disappointed, I threw the lot of it in the trash and crumpled on the couch. I had had such high hopes for my culinary creation. Alan told me that it was a good first start (which was generous, considering that we were only able to eat 2 bites each), and that tomorrow he would teach me how to cook to taste. I was a little bit skeptical, but the man could make some mean marinades, so I agreed.

The next day, there we were again, the garlic, the thai chilies, the turkey. I cooked them all together and when it came to the part of creating the sauce, Alan stepped in all nonchalant like. He took a bowl and mixed the three sauce ingredients, tasting here, tasting there. It wasn't until I screamed that my garlic was going to brown that he finally came over and added it to the pan. I added the noodles and mixed. They were the same motions I had gone through the day before, and I wasn't about to get my hopes up. He scooped us a plate each and we sat down to try our joint effort. I took a bite and then I had the moment I knew -- I knew Alan was it when he helped me (almost exactly) replicate Krung Thai's pad kee mao. That was more important than being nice to your mom or waking up each morning to each other. This was pad kee mao, one of my favorite foods. This was serious.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Growth

The past two Octobers Alan and I have made it a point to celebrate Hayden's birthday with him. We would have started the tradition sooner, except, well, Hayden was busy being born.

October 2008 - Hayden's 1st Birthday

October 2009 - Hayden turns 2!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Real Pants Alternative

When trying to get an accurate reading of a couple, one might ask, "Who wears the pants in the relationship?" Some couples even fight over the title. This might be a result of the backwards thinking that if you're not the one wearing pants in the relationship, you must be wearing something way worse, like a beret or a shiny laminated disco shirt. I, on the other hand, do not care to be the pants-wearer at all, simply because of this: pants are uncomfortable. If I didn't have a job where people (who are not my intimate companions) must be regularly subjected to seeing me move about the office to use the printer and to get water, I might be tempted to forgo the whole formal pants wearing practice all together. Slacks, jeans -- anything with a pre-determined waist, a zipper and some button closure -- fall into the undesirable list.

Since I am not quite ready to make the move to a nudist colony and Bay Area weather is not always at a steady, warm 80 degrees year round, I have had to make certain adjustments to get along with this article of clothing. For example, as soon as I get home from work, the first thing I do, even before taking a moment to relish my adult gummy vitamin allotment for the day, is to change out of my slacks into a pair of Sort Of pants. Sort Of pants are typically made of a soft fleece or terry material and have a widely flexible waistband. Some are so flexible that you are also given a drawstring should you feel the need to tighten or loosen even more. These kinds of pants are fine for lounging around the house or running a quick errand, but for all their comfort, I must admit they are prone to looking a tad sloppy when spending a night out on the town.

I had come to accept this sad fact that comfortable pants are not meant for outside wear, until I recently found out about jeggings: the love child of denim pants and leggings. Anyone who has ever sported leggings knows -- those bad boys are comfortable. Their extreme comfort may be the reason why they are so thoroughly abused by legging wearers today. We all know that leggings are not pants, but still, we continue to see people who pretend like they are. Has anyone ever thought, what if leggings were more substantial? What if they looked like regular pants, with a zipper and a button and back pockets and all, but with that trademark legging stretch? What would happen then?

This past weekend, I had to find out for myself. I tried on a pair of jeggings, and then I fell in love. I think, if the right pair is chosen, (because I have seen some not so cute pairs), jeggings can be the brilliant solution for those who dislike wearing real pants but who want others to believe they are, in fact, wearing real pants. They also tuck fantastically well into boots! Now please don't tell anyone, but I'm never wearing real pants again.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Your Heart Will Hurt

The last time I felt this sad from watching a TV show was probably when Felicity was still on and she chose Noel over Ben for the fifth time. They don't make TV like that anymore, TV that makes you feel something. Now it's all just beautiful people in beautiful clothes all the time. I like the beautiful people as much as the next person, but I forgot what it's like to feel the pain of a TV show's characters (and I'm talking about real pain, more than the pain of watching Heidi continuing to be with that jerk Spencer) as if they were your actual friends. This show I speak of -- the one that made me sit motionless after turning off the TV to gather my thoughts and then to cry quietly over the injustice of it all -- is The Wire.

I know, I know, you're either thinking, The Wire?! That show is whack! I tried watching the first episode and it was BORING! or else you're thinking, Oh my gosh, best show EVER. It seems, among those who have seen any of the series, that there are no in-betweeners, or else these people are so far and few in between that they shall be excused from this discussion all together. Now, I know I have one more episode left in season 4 to watch and all of season 5 to go, but I think I'm just going to say it right now... I think The Wire may be my favorite television show of all time (next to Felicity, which, if you know me, is saying a heck of a lot). If I didn't have a job, you could bet that I would be sitting at home all day quoting the show to Roy and having him guess which scene it's from and then discussing what our favorite characters had eaten for lunch in the scene prior to that.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Such Great Heights

Today we were at the park celebrating Hayden's 2nd birthday. Alan and Jon were celebrating views from tall trees.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Work Mode

One day over the summer, while my sister was visiting, I had a brilliant suggestion to save her from the impending boredom waiting for her after I left for work: I suggested that she come to work with me. To strengthen my case, I told her that there was a computer lab and they were all hooked up with an internet connection. Plus, I would be there, doing the life changing marketing work I do.

Whether it was the thought of seeing me in action or the idea of watching wrestling all day with my grandpa that was compelling, she followed me to work. First we got breakfast in the kitchen, and then, after making a great show of the different kinds of milk and coffee creamers we have available, I introduced her to my boss. My boss asked her what she thought of our company and of being at work, and my sister proceeded to say that it was really quiet. Then she started asking if it was always that quiet and what do we do if it's so quiet? Before she could question if anyone in the building was doing any real work at all, I quickly rushed her away to show her my cubicle.

"This is my desk," I said. "I sit here." I sat in my chair and pulled out my keyboard tray.
"What do you do?" she asked.
"Well," I said slowly, quietly hoping that I might get called right at that moment to see about a secret mission to Peru. I remembered I don't often get those calls reserved for women sleekly dressed in all black like you see in the movies, so I decided to be honest. I opened up a few Word documents and showed her the stuff I had been working on. It must have made an impression; she looked at it for a full minute or two before asking if she could go back to the kitchen to get some Goldfish.

Since then, she would be proud to know that I've shaken up my work routine. Namely, my lunch hour. Whereas before I'd make a sandwich and sit at my desk or stand outside awkwardly with the smokers, now Nathalie and I drive to a nearby park and do bootcamp workouts. The first day we went, there was a deafening sound ringing in my ears. I covered the sides of my head and turned to Nathalie, "What is that noise???" Turned out it was the sound of joy and laughter coming from the nearby school, all the kids out on recess. There were kids running -- running for fun -- kids playing tetherball, climbing jungle gyms, they were non-stop movement and energy.

As I did my lunges, I felt a pang of envy. I wanted to sound joyous like that. Perhaps I could talk to HR about getting a tetherball pole installed in that underutilized walkway by my cube. I bet Google doesn't even have tetherball.
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