Sunday, November 24, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
Sunday, November 17, 2013
In their most recent post, Kate Bailey writes about the banal things which are joyous accomplishments into adulthood. And I totally agree with what Bailey says. At one point I was there. I could check off all her bullet points.
But then my marriage ended, and somehow I'm demoted into some hybrid post-college type of life – with a kid as an added bonus. I'm back at ground zero in terms of dating, trying to figure out that game. I gave up living in my house and now reside in a smaller place (though I ADORE it!). I'm back to owning furniture that had to be assembled. My fridge looks like it belongs to a bachelor, with just milk, eggs, and bottles of alcohol. You don't even wanna know about the cleanliness of my bedsheets. I live paycheck to paycheck. Savings? What's a savings?
Despite all that, I am still an adult. I deal with: joint custody, home ownership, being a landlord, being a renter, juggling full time work with being a single parent, and just trying to figure out who I am and how to be true to myself.
As a kid growing up, I was always a cynic, a sarcastic teen, a pessimist. And I read about how youth is supposed to be optimistic and naive. I was much too negative to fall for such hopeful bullshit.
But you know what's weird? I feel more optimistic and hopeful now then I ever did in my youth (okay, I realize I'm still young, but just go with me on this), despite my situation being more difficult now that anything I dealt with as a kid (I'm fortunate to have had a breezy childhood). I like hearing about good deeds of humanity. Sometimes they make me cry with love for this world. I like doing things that make me happy because feeling happy feels good! And hopefully that happiness spreads to others.
I also accept sadness and anger and those icky feelings much better than before. Feeling things is much better than not. It makes me feel connected not only to myself, but how I relate to people and the world.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this... again, always having trouble fitting it all together.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that there will always be setbacks, things in life you cannot foresee, but you just have to take it in stride as much as you can. And realize that sometimes being vulnerable, showing that rawness, and accepting things for what they are can be a strength, not a weakness. And that helps you grow up a little bit more.
I still have a lot of growing up ahead of me.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Teacher: You're a good writer. So tell me, why do only get B-plusses and not As?
Me: Because you're not giving me As?! You are totally welcome to give me As. I want As.
Teacher: You need to write better and take that extra step. All the pieces are there in your writing. You just need to connect everything together in your conclusions.
Me: Ah, yeah. I guess that's why I'm a B student. I can't seem to tie it all together.
And that pretty much sums up me in general. I am great with details, but have trouble with how it relates to the big picture. And I need to work on that, not just with writing, but with how I relate to the world, with my life. I tend to focus and worry too much about the little stuff, which causes a lot of unnecessary anxiety.
It takes a lot of practice for me to be as calm as I present myself to the world. Fake it 'til you make it, as they say. And I definitely have improved over the years; I'm more laid back and grounded. Perhaps I'm actually making it!
But back to writing... I realized today that I've been blogging for almost 10 years. About 600 posts among my various blogs. That's a lot of writing when you think about it. Hundreds of hours (it takes me forever to write a post). And I mean sure, it's journaling, a lot of dear-diary type entries. But I find myself needing to write when things are especially tough for me, my own self-therapy. It helps me process. Writing takes the jumbled mess of thoughts in my brain and makes sense of them as I lay everything out.
So perhaps I should stop those negative thoughts of You're not a writer and embrace the fact that I am! I'm no Pulitzer prize-winning author, but I can express my thoughts through words. That counts, right?
Why is it so difficult for me to embrace the things I do?
I like to dance, so I dance, but I don't call myself a dancer.
I write, but I don't call myself a writer. Why not?
I bake, but I don't call myself a baker.
What then, is the definition of dancer, writer, baker to me?
On the flip side...
I take photos. I do call myself a photographer.
I knit. I definitely call myself a knitter.
Why do I consider myself to be a photographer? Because I get paid to do it? What about knitting? Is it because I'm confident and proficient at it?
Perhaps because there's some level of expectation to be good at something in order to be something... like I don't consider myself a writer because I'm not good at it. Or I'm not a dancer because I just flop around to music; I don't believe I'm good at it. Why can't I be something simply because I like doing it, regardless of my talent or skill level? This is something I definitely need to work on.
Do you do things often, but not label yourself as someone who does these things? (Ugh, did that even made sense?) Tell me I'm not alone in this way of thinking.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
I'm a little more settled in this apartment. I still need some key pieces of furniture like a dresser and bookshelf for Yoshi. I also don't have a sofa, and I continuously hem and haw over getting one or not. I really like having a big dance floor in my living room, and a sofa would greatly impede on getting my boogie on. But, it would be nice to have "proper" seating for guests, or just to have an alternate place to lounge aside from me bed.
Yoshi and I had a great evening Monday. We danced all night after dinner. And we had a lip sync concert. And we took silly selfies. And we laughed. So hard. She said, "My shoulders and chest hurt from laughing so much!" I said, "My face hurts!" And we both laughed more. As crazy as we sometimes drive each other, we love each other and have so much fun together. I sure got lucky with this one.
So I'm no longer dating that guy I mentioned in the previous post. Without going into too much detail here, suffice it to say that I had an amazing, unforgettable six months with him. One day I'll look back on this experience with great fondness; I'm not quite there yet. Still too fresh, everything. It's getting much better though.
Work is going well. Busy, busy. I'm improving in both my product photography as well as photo editing. Sometimes I still can't believe I get paid to be a photographer/editor as my full time job.
I've been spending time with friends as well as taking some time to reflect on things. I'm trying to find a balance. It's easy to neglect one in favor of the other.
Monday, September 02, 2013
Mr. Snoopy and I separated in the fall of last year.
I just moved into a new place.
I started dating someone that I'm quite fond of. I'm in too deep with him. But I'm enjoying it for what it is.
So, a lot of change. Even things with my work are in a state of transition as we get ready to move to a new space.
My birthday is in 10 days. It's gonna prove to be an interesting year.
Thursday, July 04, 2013
Ca Blaze, Lil Beast.
I can now die happy.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Ideally, the other photographer and I would like to spend more time photographing the products ourselves and less time editing. And it seems to be heading in that direction, or at least for these past couple weeks it does.
So there's an upcoming sale of vintage jewelry. Cartier vintage jewelry to be exact. And guess who had the privilege to photograph them? Yup! Yours truly. The sale isn't up yet, so I won't post any of those photos until then, but I will give you a couple teasers of some iPhone pics I snagged.
Lovely platinum diamond band:
And this rose gold beauty:
I didn't snap a shot of my favorite ring, but will post my studio shot once the sale goes live on Monday. I had $30,000 worth of jewelry sitting on my desk. Unreal! It was a dream job day.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Larry et Laurent. In the flesh. Swoon!
Sunday, April 21, 2013
-taking my very first dance class! so fun!
-riding my bike for 14 miles
-going to a farewell-brunch for an inspiring runner-coach-friend as he moves back to MN
-eating a 420 cookie
-dancing at the Verdi Club for hours with other parent-friends
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
I stopped running completely about a year and a half ago due to knee problems. I don't think I'll ever have strong enough knees to run great distances, but I hope to do a 10K in the future.
My brother just ran the Coaster Run, which offers a 10k and a 5k, at Knott's Berry Farm. You run through Camp Snoopy. You get a Snoopy tee. And a Snoopy medal. And boysenberry pie at the finish line! That's the perfect race for me. Snoopy and pie. I'm so doing that next year. That's my goal.
I'll try not to compare my running self now to perhaps my strongest race in the past, the DSE Runners Windmill 10k, where I had a phenomenal-for-me time of 47:13 (averaging 7:35/mile) and placed 9th among the women (it was a small race, but I'll take anything I can get!). For now, I'm happy to run 3 blocks in a row without getting winded.
I have to remind myself not to overdo it. And at the same time I have to push myself enough to at least make an effort. I can be quite lazy.
Saturday, March 02, 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Monday, February 04, 2013
I had a couple friends over last week so they could learn how to knit. I took that as an opportunity to try my hand at making peppermint patties. See, my killer neighborhood grocery store, BiRite, sells these amazing peppermint patties. They are so delicious and instantly addicting, and at $2 a pop, it adds up fast! If you know me, you know I like to make things that people usually don't think to make (e.g., marshmallows, crackers). So I wondered, "How does one go about making peppermint patties? What in the world is that filling made of?"
My google-fu brought me to the Joy of Baking recipe. I substituted peppermint extract because I couldn't find the oil (after hitting three stores). The ratio is 4:1 extract to oil, so I used 1 tsp, which turned out right. I also subbed vanilla paste in lieu of the extract because that's what I had on hand, but it's a straight 1:1 sub.
I also learned the hard way why water should never touch melting chocolate. I accidentally got a few drops of water into my bowl of my double boiler with my bittersweet chocolate chips, right at the beginning, and thus ruined the entire batch of chocolate. It was impossible to completely melt and instead turned into a gloppy, grainy mess. I tried adding some canola oil in attempts to reverse the seized chocolate, but to no avail. I cut my losses and spread it out onto wax paper and made a huge chocolate bar for later (which is now in my fridge when I get the munchies). Luckily there is a good supply of chocolate chips at my house, but I had to settle for semi-sweet instead of bittersweet.
All in all, it was pretty fun, slightly messy, with incredible yummy results. I shared them with my favorite parents during morning drop-off at Yoshi's school, and with my "pod-mates" at my new job. And I ate more than I should have. Next time, no water in the chocolate! Can't wait to make these again.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
In my retreat, I've turned to watching a slew of movies (online, 'cause I'm hibernating). And of course it's watching those movies where my thoughts are triggered. I'm thick in my Johnny Depp phase, and I love it. A couple days ago I watched the post-modern western film Dead Man, which is a strange, funny, surreal, violent, dark, and beautiful movie. (Neil Young's imposing improv guitar score could have been slightly toned down though.) The ending scene completely slayed me, I was in tears. (SPOILER: floating out along open waters in a canoe, swaddled in furs, under the cloud-spotted sky, seems like a perfect way to die.)
I cried because I was in an already fragile state. Recently, my dad had another stroke. His first one was six and a half years ago, and he never fully recovered from it, his mobility was permanently compromised leaving the left side of his body with feeling of numbness, which, over the years, seemed to get more severe.
And so last Thursday my mom calls and tells me, in her typical nonchalant manner, that Dad had another stroke. She told me not to worry nor come down to the hospital, but of course I did worry and I did go down.
I brought Yoshi because she was still on winter break, and thought that she might help cheer everyone up by her mere presence. Of course, I selfishly didn't think about her feelings of seeing her Ji-chan in a hospital. Hospitals are creepy for her and she immediately looked uncomfortable and froze in the doorway and I had to pry her inside. Good job, me.
I bribed her with an It's-It ice cream sandwich from the cafeteria, which helped.
I'm not impressed with the hospital he stayed at. The staff didn't know what they were doing, the doctors seemed incompetent (they actually misdiagnosed his stroke at first). I couldn't wait for the staff to clean up his urinary incontinence accident during his dinner so I diligently mopped up his pee, such a good daughter.
And at that moment I felt awful and guilty and selfish for having my own child. I don't want Yoshi to be in my shoes, to see her mom get old, get sick, and feel obligated by love to take care of me. I cried at the possibility that in 40 years I will be in my dad's position and Yoshi will be in my current one. Ah, the cycle of life and death. It's quite a ride, isn't it.
And as I wondered back in 2008 at the amazement of my dad still alive and kicking, 4 years later I still wonder the same thing. I wonder how much longer this can go on for, watching the body get worse and worse, and now the mind. I wonder how it must feel for him. What is it like to see your body deteriorating, compromising your quality of life? I mean, I have bad knees from running, I wake up with a sore back often, and I definitely don't feel like a spring chick, but that doesn't seem like the same thing. Over this past year or two, any friend or family member who asks him how he's doing, he answers quite honestly, and sadly, "Not so well."
My dad is diabetic, partially deaf, now suffered a couple strokes, has COPD or some kind of chronic lung condition, bad sinuses, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a build-up of potassium in his kidneys. He was recently diagnosed with MRSA, some kind of staph infection in his nose, which they found out a couple days ago at the rehab center. He is currently undergoing intense rehabilitation to learn how to walk again, how to improve his speech, and hopefully improve his memory. To be honest though, I am not optimistic he will bounce back well.
This reminds me of when my grandmother was dying, when I would go down and see her, watch my dad as he helped his mom as best he could, and then drive back up to the city and cry. Repeat, repeat, until finally she passed away and I felt immense relief.
I have the terrible thought that I hope he doesn't suffer long, the morbid wish that he might die soon so he wouldn't have to struggle as he does. And the selfishness that I can't bear to watch him go through it, so I don't want to prolong it. Just rip it off quick like a bandaid.
But I have a feeling this may go on for years.
It's a good thing there are many more movies for me to watch.
Thursday, November 08, 2012
Then recently a friend gave us his Crock-Pot since he never used it. I decided yesterday that it was time to try that sucker out. I went to the local grocery store where the butcher gave me advice on how to best prepare the chuck roast (pre-cut into cubes). I followed her directions and 6 hours later, a perfect dinner was created. And I even have some leftovers.
I have a feeling I'll be using this a lot this fall/winter. Yay!
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
It's getting a little out of hand though – and here's my guilt creeping in – with probably too much spending.
I bought a pair of fancy jeans that can only be worn with heels. And some work pants. And a jacket (thrifted). And a sweater (also thrifted). Stop me. I'm out of control.
I'm getting my hair cut Thursday. The last time I got a haircut was last September so I'm way past due with split ends and overgrown layers. I haven't figured out what style to get.
I'm seeing a specialist about my knees. Maybe I'll be able to run again. It's also been a year since I last ran.
And tomorrow I'm getting a tattoo after contemplating one for at least 10 years. I've gone off the deep end.
On my actual birthday, I'll be taking an all day workshop on macro photography at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. In preparation for it, I bought flowers and took macro shots over the weekend:
Friday, July 20, 2012
My mom went to Hawaii for a family wedding, but my dad stayed home because he's not physically able to keep up with the demands of travel. They both asked me to stay with my Dad in Santa Clara to keep an eye on him. My dad asked, "I need you to babysit me. Can you?"
My dad let us sleep in until 9am on Thursday morning. My dad lets Yoshi get away with things like eating multiple desserts, staying up really late, and sleeping in. Yoshi loves this. Duh.He asked what we should eat for breakfast. He suggested McDonald's which Yoshi poo-pooed because she's not a fan of their breakfasts. I was a little bummed because I now know they have decent coffee (a fact which still blows me away). My dad said, "Hey, do you know... the... International House of Pancakes? I haven't eaten there in years." So I asked Yoshi if she would like IHOP. Her eyes went bright and she said, "Yes!"
We drove to IHOP and my dad lamented the poorly placed handicapped parking spot. It was not near the entrance. We parked closest to the front door and I told him that there was no other parking space closer. He couldn't figure out why the handicap parking was around the corner. "That's where the ramp is," I replied, "I'm not sure why the ramp is over there though."
Yoshi got a hot chocolate, which she loved. That was the only thing she consumed though. Despite wanting pancakes she did not eat any. This is not unusual for her (she's picky and fickle about food), but it still pisses me off nonetheless. My dad and I had an overpriced, mediocre-at-best brunch. The coffee was lukewarm. I was lamenting my Santa Clara McDonald's coffee, piping hot, but not burnt.
We went back to the house, where we would have just a little bit of time before we had to head back to SF. I took this downtime to ask my dad if we could snoop around in the backyard tool shed – a cramped, musty place of hoarded treasure/junk.
Yoshi always wanted to know what was in there, and it had been so long since I looked in that I didn't know. So we explored. My dad showed me the place on the sheet metal shed door where a cabinet fell on it, permanently screwing up the tracking so it's even more difficult to open and close. Who knows why there was a cabinet outside next to the shed. It's not there now. I wonder where it went?
Finally we peeked inside. It had that same familiar smell of old tools and metallic mustiness. It was already really hot inside. Just like I remembered.
Lots of tools. A lawnmower. My parents don't even have a lawn.
And toys! My old Mumble Bunny, which was a battery operated stuffed animal with a moving nose-mouth thing. I liked to force feed it carrots. Puzzles! Some kind of Transformer thing. A fancy Happy Holiday Barbie with a ridiculously poofy 80's dress.
And a cardboard box that was written in Sharpie that said....
I have vague memories about this toy, but I saw it online a few months back when I was doing my random google image searches on "vintage snoopy toys." And now I held the box in my hand.
I told my dad we'd continue exploring another time, but that it was important to open this box and play with Bowling Snoopy. Of course my dad got confused with my sudden halt to the shed exploration. But c'mon! It's Snoopy!
We opened the sealed box and sure enough, there was a big ol' plastic snoopy, a couple of yellow plastic balls, and ten plastic bowling pins. I got a wet paper towel and started wiping them clean[ish]. Yoshi ran to the kitchen and got herself a paper towel to do the same. Never have I seen her clean so much and with such joy as those past two days.
My dad, Yoshi and I tried to figure out how to best set up the game. My dad suggested the hall, which was perfect. Yoshi lined up the pins. And then we had to figure out how to get Snoopy to throw the ball along the ground. At first Snoopy chucked the ball up in the air about four feet. That didn't seem right for bowling. Hmm... Ah, Yoshi realized that Snoopy had to aim down. Of course.
That game is a lot harder than it looks. I'm surprised any kid ever got a strike. When Yoshi knocked down one pin we all cheered like we won the world series.
And then we had to go. Suddenly we didn't want to leave. We were all having fun with this ridiculously impossible Snoopy game. My dad thought we were going to take the game with us, but I decided to leave it there so there would be an extra special game for Yoshi to play with at their house.
My dad asked if we would come back and do more gardening. I said of course. Yoshi wants to be my parents' personal gardener and make sure everything is in good order. Both my grandfathers would have been so proud.
My mom came back home from Hawaii later that night. I have no idea what my dad told her about my visit, but I think my mom was happy that I was able to spend some time there to keep my dad company.
I was honestly shocked at how great a time I had. I feel like I understand my dad better. It reminded me of when I was around Yoshi's age and we'd hang out together. He'd putter around in the garage and I'd ask about which tools did what and he'd show me how they work. He still likes to show me the latest tool he got, even though he's not quite agile enough to use it well. And when I was Yoshi's age, sometimes my dad and I would stay up late talking. He would tell me some random bit of trivia like how many times the average American moves in their lifetime, and then he'd tell me what he thought of that, like tell me all the places he lived. This visit, he told me that he doesn't really like to travel, although he would really like to go back to Japan to spend time with his cousins. He wouldn't mind if they came here though. He's too feeble to travel now. He wishes they would hurry up and visit already, but obligations are preventing that from happening.
In the meantime, he'll have to settle for visits from his daughter.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
I went back down to Santa Clara on Wednesday. Yoshi was happy to come along. We rented a fun, sporty Hyundai. It has three doors, and we didn't figure out until the next day how to open the third door from the outside (the handle is flush to the window of all places).
I had told Yoshi about all the gardening I did when I first hung out with my dad, and so she really wanted to garden too. When we got there, she asked me, can we garden now? It was 90 degrees which is way too hot for my cold San Francisco heart, so I suggested we wait until after dinner. She ran off to the guest room ("Yoshi's room," my old room) to play with toys.
I chatted with my dad for a bit, then Yoshi requested I play with her, so we played with My Little Ponies and some of Eric's old diecast cars. Back when toys were made out of metal.
For dinner we went back to the ramen joint and got ourselves a couple of bowls of cold noodles. Yoshi ate her favorite – steamed white rice. And some cold tofu, but my dad and I ended up eating 90% of that. She was grossed out by the sprinkling of Katsuobushi (dried flaked bonito fish) on top of the tofu, which was a bummer because I loved that stuff as a kid. I'd eat it by the handful, sometimes accidentally inhaling it down the wrong pipe and end up in a coughing fit as I choked on it.
When we got back home Yoshi immediately asked to garden. So I told my dad we'd like to trim some plants back. He said, "What?! Now? That's okay, you don't have to do that," but I insisted that Yoshi was interested in helping out. So we went to the garage to dig out the tools. My dad find a pair of mini pruning loppers, the perfect size for Yoshi. She was thrilled with it. I grabbed the pruning shears and the regular size loppers.
We headed to work on the side yard of the house. We trimmed back a bush/tree/shrub thing and made it more lollipop-shaped instead of all crazy-hippie-shaped. Yoshi was in charge of cutting back all the unwanted growth growing at the base of the plants. We ended up pruning some kind of olive-type tree, the lemon tree, the orange tree, and three other trees that I'm not sure what kind they are.
My dad got out a pickaxe and dug out some overgrown, dried-out weeds. All three of us toiled away in the yard. It was hard work, but fun!
Yoshi and I stopped to pick a few oranges from the tree. Yoshi searched for the perfect ones, which happened to be lumpy, but she liked that.
My dad said, "You know, when we first moved in [35+ years ago], I tried an orange from that tree. It was really bad. I never had one since."
"A lot can happen in 30 years," I said.
So he ate an orange. "Hey! It's good!" He chuckled at this amazing discovery. Yoshi and I laughed.
I was surprised that my dad let Yoshi use such a potentially dangerous gardening tool. I was almost more reluctant than he was to let her use it, especially when Yoshi went all manic like she does when she's in her really happy zone, whacking away in a frenzy. He did tell her often to be careful. But he was happy seeing his grand-daughter so enthusiastic about work. "Teach 'em young!"
Yoshi used a little rake to gather all the trimmings into piles around the yard. Then she watered all the plants. After we put all the tools away, ready to go from the garage back into the house, I noticed the door into the kitchen was locked. "I didn't want anyone to come into the house. You know I don't trust anyone!"
"I'm surprised you trusted Mom enough to marry her!" I joked.
"You know, your mom is the complete oposite. Did you know she used to leave the front door open during the summer when it was hot?" (There was a locked screen door though.)
"Oh. Really," I said. I did this all the time when I lived there. Please don't tell him.
"Yeah! But now, you know there are all sorts of strangers and crazy people out there. She can never leave the door open again."
You would think that my dad was a city dweller, with all this precaution about people coming into homes. Although he did go to high school in East Palo Alto, murder capital of the US. I guess that gives him street cred.
I told Yoshi that I was going to mop the floors in the house. I asked if she wanted to help. "Yes! I wanna mop!" she exclaimed as she jumped up and down.
Who is this child?
So I fill up a bucket and hand her the mop. We tackle the bathroom first. Then the hallway. She was really excited about mopping down the hall for some reason. Only her 8-year-old brain knows why. I did a little bit near the front entry way and part of the dining room, but then she practically grabbed it back and continued on. My dad was flabbergasted at this worker bee. So was I.
By now we were both sweaty and pretty filthy. We took a shower in their newly remodeled master bathroom. It has a marble shower stall (or some kind of polished white stone). "You know, a lot of Bachan and Jichan's house is really run down. But the their bathroom is so fancy! It has a bench in the shower! And look at the walls! It's all so fancy!"
Once we were nice a clean, it was time for dessert. My dad had been looking forward to giving Yoshi orange creamsicles ever since I first came to visit on the weekend ("Yoshi likes these," he told me.).
My dad gave Yoshi two.
Please forgive me for posting pictures of them eating. This is totally something my mom would do.
Yoshi wanted to play a game, and my dad wanted to join us, so we found a deck of Uno cards. I asked my dad if he knew how to play. He said no, so Yoshi and I taught him. He had some trouble with the Reverse and Skip cards, but he managed to figure most of it out by the end. When he was down to one card, Yoshi said, "You have to say Uno!"
"Unnnooooooooooo!" my Dad sang. Yoshi and I busted up laughing.
Yoshi won the first game. I won the second. It was looking pretty doubtful my dad was gonna win the third game with his collection of cards in his hands. But! Soon he was down to one card again.
"Uno!! Uno! Uno! Uno! Uno!!! Unooooo!" with these last two exclamations my dad said them in a high pitched voice. Yoshi and I couldn't stop laughing. My dad is silly sometimes. (I remember during a visit to us in Portland he started quacking at all the ducks by the pond near our house.)
And he won! We finished the game satisfied, each with a win under our belts. My mom called during the game and was delightfully surprised we were all playing Uno. I don't know if she was more surprised that we were spending time together playing a game, of if it was because my dad learned something new.
Finally time for bed. Yoshi stayed up late, which is typical when she stays with my parents. Who am I to argue with her? There was nothing that we needed to do the next day so we could be a set of lazybones together. I went to bed late too.