Is this what it’s like to be rich…or just yuppie?

I resist a lot of the conveniences that my social circle often takes.

1. Taxis
2. Smart phones
3. Owning real furniture
4. Cable TV
5. Magazine subscriptions
6. Dry cleaning and/or wash and fold service
7. Cleaning services

Now I don’t know if it’s because of my Asian upbringing, but everything can be a waste of money. And yet am I hypocritical?

But wait let’s back to number 7.

One of the first few potential roommates I interviewed said that he liked having a cleaning service come regularly—every week. He had been perfect up until that moment. I reacted almost too quickly, “Oh I am not sure about that…”

Later, he said that he was going to get his car to try out the garage. I was excited to have the roommate search to be over. I waited 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes…then he called to say that he changed his mind and was going to take another place.

So when another potential roommate visited, I held back my tongue and just nodded. But she surprised me by saying that she would pay for it…that she didn’t mind.

Today, I came home to a sparkling oven and range. Squeaky floors. Emptied out trash. It was welcome…and yet strange. Almost uncomfortable. But it was clean. Even though I hated how my previous roommate did non-adequate job of not cleaning, I had done it all. I emptied the trash, scrubbed the bathtub, swept the floor, wiped down the counters, mopped the hardwood floors. But never a completely perfect job. This…today’s cleaning was complete.

It troubled me for some reason. I had explicitly stated earlier that my room was not to be cleaned, so it was the only room in the entire apartment that was untouched—my bed unmade, my wrappers here and there…my desk still the way I left it…it contrasted, but it was mine. All mine. My control.

There was an article I read recently about a study that showed that people who did moderate housework regularly were healthier than those who did not.

I don’t want to be that person who relies on a cleaning service to have a happy home. I want to be satisfied.

Then it comes to this question: why do we have to measure our happiness by the level of cleanliness?

Banana Cream Pie!

Remember this?


The spoils from a cookie exchange? I got the cookies back in December (of course). But then it sat in my room and Chris’ place for months until one day…

I thought…what can I do with it!

So I put it in a blender…


Then I pressed PULSE.


Which resulted in cookie dust!


Lots of cookie dust!


Making into…a pie shell full of bananas!


Covered with custard…


Into a slice of a banana cream pie!


Ok, the final presentation could have been better, but what with a shaky excited hand could I do?!

It was tasty.

Guess her…muff?

I was appalled at first. Of the website. Only recently have I realized that I am a staunch liberal and have this fervent feminist yelling inside me. Like all modern females, my attitude toward porn has always been, Can’t you find something real, instead? Like IRL?

And although the website objectified women (first it shows a normally dressed woman, then on click you see the women in various stages of undress: the point is to guess…bare, not bare, landing strip…etc.). And yet once I got past that initial disgust, I saw the value.

What surprised me is that I could easily guess what was under there just by judging how she looked on the outside from the outfit she chose wear, the eyebrow shape, the posture, the pose, etc. WHY? How could I?

Oh wait…is it because what’s under reflects the outside?

Having a car #1: I can have fresh meals!

As many might know now, I now have a car. After not having a car since high school (that’s 10 years fyi), I have a single car garage in my building and will have it until my roommate buys a new car.

What’s amazing is that now…I can have fresh meals! Before, I would drag my sorry self the weekend before or what ever day I had 2 hours free to a supermarket (or I luckily made it back before 7 pm to the corner store)…then buy things for the week. As any city person knows, every evening can change. A coworker invites you out, but your chicken is defrosted…well too bad! Or a friend suddenly drops in town and says “omg we haven’t seen each other forever”…well I guess there goes to the spinach.

So today I drove to my favorite market—Manila Oriental Market aka M.O.M. which is located in that god forsaken place (sorry Tinna) of an-area-that-is-south-of-Mission. There were a few times that I would take the 49 muni bus there, but like all muni buses, it was full of annoyingly smelly people and people who gave you stares. I don’t mind usually, but it’s the kind of thing…that when you get home, you realize that your fellow muni passengers really sucked the life out of you and you just don’t want to cook anymore.

As I walked in today, I thought…well I feel like making roast chicken tonight. So I got chicken and picked up a few more essential items. And automatically, I thought about my meals in the next few days. I had some stuff for the Japanese rice bowl that is great with fish. But wait a minute…I didn’t have to even buy fish today! I was so awestruck! I could buy fish on Thursday, Friday…or even on the day that I planned to make the dish! The fish would be FRESH!

It was a revelation.

Next up: classes on the other side of city that I could actually get to without an hourlong bus ride. But what!

There was nobody else, so he talked to her

It was a “girl geek” event. I was mildly interested, because I had heard of Moxsie…and was wondering really…how did the female voice survive in this world dominated by male yells?

No, not really.

But what interested me the most was the dynamic between the genders. The World Cup was the background of my social circle for the past last week. Not to mention that game 7 of the NBA finals—the most important game…the biggest rivalry in NBA history.

And yet, at 6 pm, I along with a room full of female attendees were there to take part of a panel of fashion entrepreneurs. Were we here because no girl would find herself in a room of sports tv?

I got Chris to attend, because it was an excellent networking opportunity—at least to build up his circle. Of course, I didn’t think that it would work out the way it would.

As the panel began, I sat down with a few friends anticipating eagerly the discussion…I hoped that it would be intellectual instead of a regurgitation of what I have heard multiple times at female-oriented tech events. Turning slightly, I noticed that Chris was talking with one of the employees of the sponsor company in an animated fashion. She was laughing.

Good. At least he will be entertained.

30 minutes later, I twisted around and saw him talking to another girl. Older, but a bit more heavyset. Again, he was animated and I could tell from the girl’s body language that it was an incredibly engaging conversation.

And so it went for the next 30 minutes. When the panel ended, I found him in the demo area. Not viewing the demo exactly. Rather he had set the computer to a streaming video of Game 7. A crowd had formed around the computer. Half of which were cheering for the Lakers. The other half cheering for of course the Celtics. And not surprisingly, the crowd was consisting more and more of the few guys that had attended the event (which totaled around 6).

And there we were, watching the game until the venue emptied out.

Traffic = this is a great place to be

Early last week for a biz trip, I flew first to Chicago, then hopped on a small airplane barely packed with passengers. The flight was barely 38 minutes and beverages weren’t even served.

On the way to the destination, I noticed a lack of traffic. Not even during rush hour. Not even when the freeway became a single lane because of construction. My coworkers and I cruised through.

When I came back to the Bay Area and for some reason decided to endure the traffic from San Francisco to Palo Alto at 8 am in the morning…I realized something.

Like wait a minute, this is where I want to be. I want to be where other people are. I don’t want to be in a place where a post office services multiple cities. Where there is one high school that serves over 10 miles of populace. I don’t want to be a place where everybody knows my name.

I want serendipity and excitement.

So what if one major tradeoff is traffic? It means that a lot of people want to be here. And that I am not the only one.

Appear to stay awake

At 5:50 AM eastern time, the alarm went off. Not my alarm on my iPod touch, you see. It was the annoying type of alarm only heard on clock radios. And I certainly did not set it for 5:50 AM.

Despite a quick dinner, I didn’t get to sleep until 1 AM the night before after working on powerpoint slides. Blame my need to be thorough. And then that started an hour of tossing in an unfamiliar room with a so-so bed.

And so c’est la vie. During the meeting, most of the time, I had enough adrenaline running through me—whether through anxiety or actual interest to keep me well awake. I wonder if that’s how Jack Bauer does it. But there was a 30 minutes after lunch with a high-powered executive giving a spiel in a darkened room. He was really only giving the preso to the three of us from my work.

And I knew that the next 30 minutes were going to be horrible unless I somehow found a way to really really engage myself—to ask a stupid question (thus embarrassing myself) or think about how I will run the workshop. But neither could compete with my drowsiness.

So I would aimlessly write something in my notebook. Tilt my head in interest. Echo what my coworker said. Prevent my head from doing the deadly nod. Flip through my papers. Anything.

There were a few times that my eyes wanted to close desperately. Just let me be, my body yelled. And I would tell it, Just wait 8 hours and it will be ok.

It’s more than 8 hours later…and I am writing this blog entry.

What if I start to like him?

Man slaves. That’s how it all started. I had joked about it once…and it stuck.

A friend once was appalled that I preferred male roommates, “How could you…what if you start to like him?”

I have always hated the quote from When Harry met Sally, Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

As a result, I hated chick flicks for years because they never reflected the kind of life that I had. I have this urge to show my independence (ingrained in me by my fierce dragon lady mom) and as a result always somehow related better to males especially starting in college.

Sure there was a period where I was nearly attracted to every guy I met. But then there was a realization of what I really liked. Never went to college? Immediately off my list. Fat fingers? Gone. Fobby? Erased. Can’t fix a computer better than me? I don’t think you even existed.

That is not to say this isn’t a path to friendship to me.

Of everyone that I meet, nothing even gets past stage 1. Except for a percentage of 5%. It’s this small percentage of people that interest me that can sustain my interest for more than an hour. It’s this same percentage of people that can spend the entire day with me without causing me irritation or annoyance due to difference of values and expectations. It’s this percentage that makes me suddenly want to be a better person, to help them be a better person…and be more whole…together.

My skin is darker than most

“Her skin is too dark,” his mother said with a disapproving tone.

I laughed when I heard about it later. It was ridiculous. Growing up, whenever I was asked “what I was”, I would quickly respond, “a carbon based being with four appendages.”

Despite being of the same ethnicity (Chinese), I realized today…that this was almost…racism. But unlike other “brown” people, I wasn’t as troubled. I am idealistic hoping for the best—hoping that all my better merits will shine through. My graduate degree, my generic middle-class upbringing…etc. And yet…

Despite all the issues happening today from the BP castastrophe to greening the earth, it’s racism that troubles me the most. It’s this essay that reminded me how fragile society is. If the issue was easy, there wouldn’t be controversy.

My own issue: why do I know more Asians than non-Asians?

Do I choose people because…they look like me? And why do I find myself relate more easily to Asians? Particularly ABCs. Do I naturally try harder? And why doesn’t it work for non-Asians? I don’t deliberately put a guard up between me and non-Asians…but I can sense it’s there.

Of course, I didn’t choose Chris because he was Asian. But rather because he just fit. And like all relationships, I don’t see his race. (Although I appreciate that we share similar Asian frugal spending styles.) I saw him.

At my cousin’s wedding in July, I was shocked to see that nearly his entire guestlist was Asian. Despite the fact that he grew up and went to college in Michigan. What happened?

In San Francisco, I live in a building that is all Caucasian (except me). My neighbors are also Caucasian. This is the first time that I have made that observation.

Am I a poseur? I want to be completely diversified by deliberately putting myself with those who are different. And yet I surround myself still with those…who almost look like me?

“I love my iPhone…”

“…and I can’t live without it,” he said.

While at LAX waiting the 2 hours for my flight, I had been idly browsing through my computer. Not willing to pay for the internet at the airport and being…smart phone less, I was manually updating my phone book.

When suddenly a guy appeared next to me with an iPhone cord and his power-less iPhone. He apologized and explained his situation. He was going to Hawaii and just needed 5 minutes of charge so that when he arrived in Honolulu, he could make a phone call. I nodded and allowed him to plug his USB cord into my well-charged laptop.

At a quick glance as he rambled about how love for his iPhone, I pegged him as a non tech-geek. I asked him about his favorite apps and he handed me his iPhone. I browsed through it…the standard…but then I didn’t recognize more than 75%. He said that he had jailbroken his iPhone…thus the different wallpaper.

When I pointed out that he could quickly jot down his friends’ phone numbers and call the old-fashioned way…or even better…ask his friends for a specific place and specific time…he paused for a moment. It was a lost cause, I could tell. Like him, I was already dependent on technology. I do have four phone numbers memorized—Chris’, my parents’ (landline and cell), and my sister’s.

And after 10 minutes, he was satisfied with his phone’s charge and thanked me, “Thanks for letting me take some of your juice.”