Thursday, June 18, 2009

We got the beat!

I've been slow to post the past couple weeks. The symptoms started a few weeks ago. I noticed I was much more tired and even needed naps after work. Tim had to step up a bit on weekends and help with tidying the house while I rested. Food lost all it's appeal for awhile because flavors just weren't appealing. The indigestion and light nausea didn't help. I lost a couple pounds from the lack of eating.

I went to the doctor and had a six vials of blood drawn for a variety of tests. The results came back today telling me my blood type and saying that my red blood cell count is a little low; I'll have to retest. Other than that, my tests were clean.

This week, things seems to be better. My stomach growls and I eat. It's such a relief to be able to enjoy food again.

Even better, I went in for another test today. Because the person screening me was a technician, she was not allowed to describe to me anything she was doing or saw, but she implied that it would be easy for us to make the correct interpretation. Tim knew being there to support me was important. I also wanted him to experience things for himself so that he could enjoy the moment as much as me.

In the dark room, with my bursting bladder begging to go to the bathroom, we got to peak at a black and white tv monitor. I could tell by the smile on Tim's face that he saw what we had been hoping to confirm. After eight weeks of wondering and worrying, we got to see our little kiddo's heartbeat on the ultrasound.

I can't tell you how relived we are to be past that painful memory from February. This time around feels much more real. There are still tests to come. Given my advanced age (yes, that's how they refer to pregnant women over 35), the baby is not out of the woods until we complete the first trimester. Also, there are the genetic tests that come between weeks 11 and 15 to make sure our child will live a happy, healthy, and productive life. All we know now is that we have a beautiful human being growing inside me.

It is with this happy news that I must bring a little sad news. It's time to focus on the future, and I feel it's time to close this chapter of my life. My search has been fulfilled with a wonderful husband, home, and future child. It's what I've dream of much of my life. I'm hoping to get myself to return to the days when I kept a handwritten journal and chronicle bits about the new family we'll have come January.

I've met some amazing people here in blogland. You've given me laughs, insight, and support through the years. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspective on life and living. I still enjoy peaking into everyone's lives from time to time and still hope to because I always appreciate learning from others. If our paths should ever cross in the real world, I hope that somehow we'll know to connect.

I wish you all much love, peace, and happiness. (Wow, does that sound hippie or what - it must be the blouse I'm wearing ;) )

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Buying into "local"

Living in California, I realize that my view of the world is considered "skewed" and sometimes whacky. What can I say, I've lived here since I was six, so it's just what it is. I'm not an extremist of any sort, but I do understand trying to do little things to keep our world a little healthier.

Amongst our circle of friends, we believe in trading on Craigslist and Freecycle. We recycle and shop at farmers' markets. I can't say that any of us go out of our way to do other things such as buy eco-friendly materials or live more simply.

The one thing that is making me think more is the practice of buying locally and seasonally. Now that foods (except processed foods) must display their country of origin, I wonder if people will make different choices knowing this? When I've browsed the product aisles, I've put things back after seeing labels reading "Product of Chile." I mean, I love blueberries, but do I need to buy them in January from a country 9000 miles away? No, I will wait until they are from Central Valley in June.

Some people rationalize that it's okay because transportation is cheap and we're supporting their economy and creating jobs. But do we really know that? Could we actually be making them too dependent on foreign economies, destroying more land for farming, and discouraging innovation for a quick buck? I also tend to think the importation of cheap goods and government subsidies make people focus on price rather than quality. This is where all the rhetoric is lost on me. I want to do the right thing, but there doesn't seem to be a simple answer.

If you apply that practice to all foods, tropical fruits such as bananas and mangoes are pretty much non-existent. How can a kid not have bananas? And man, I'd miss mangoes.

Monday, June 01, 2009

You want my job?

The other evening, I met up with a friend. We're not super close, but we try to catch up with girlfriends for various job and personal chat. She was particularly interested in meeting this time for job search ideas. Her internship ends this summer and it's time to find a permanent job. Since I recently had success with my job search, she was curious to hear if I came across any interesting companies and how I searched.

While we work in the same overall industry, we touch different types of products and are familiar with different corporate structures. At one point, I mentioned something about missing my old job, the one where I was laid off at the end of last year. She asked me to describe what I enjoyed about the job. At the end of my description, she asked if the company was hiring.

Ouch? I must say I was really put off by her question. Maybe she wasn't thinking. Hello? They laid me off six months ago. Wouldn't it be odd if they were hiring? It was awkward responding to that. I mean, if they were hiring, I'd hope my manager likes me enough to give me first shot at an opening. Otherwise, that would be telling me I'm being lied to about why I was let go. That's a fact that I don't want to be true. It was my dream job, and I was there less than one year.

I realize that I've said plenty of stupid things in my life. My friend deserves the benefit of the doubt that she wasn't thinking how it would sound to me. Also, there's part of me that doesn't want to get involved with helping a company considering how cruelly they cut me.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Maximum capacity

The hubby and I hosted a small party last weekend. Besides having people over to help with the wedding favors, we really haven't had a party at our little place.

When I bought my place, the one thing that I didn't realize was how small and inflexible the orientation of my living/dining room is. There are only two ways to fit a sofa and chair with a tv. That means we can't physically seat more than four people comfortably unless people are willing to sit on the floor or on the stairs. Hence why I tend to avoid having many parties even though I enjoy entertaining.

The theme of this gathering was to play board games. I'm not talking about Taboo, Pictionary, or Scrabble. We're talking hard-core, 3-hour, strategy games designed by famous (often German) games designers. A group of us love to spend a day playing games such as Agricola, Power Grid, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers of Catan to name a few. We rarely get through more than one or two games before we call it a day.

I invited maybe 16 people thinking we'd get 6-8 guests. What I hadn't expected was for my dear friends to attend with their cutie two-month old twins. Unless one goes to visit their house, there's little chance of seeing them. In addition to them, I had two other couples bringing their babies. Knowing the babies were coming probably drew in many more people than I had counted on coming.

Once more, usually at parties, people come in waves. I figure even with 14 people and four babies that we'd be okay. Strangely, nearly everyone came within the same four-hour block of time. There were people around the dining table, on the sofa, in the kitchen, on the stairs, in the hallway, and in our bedroom. It was great to see everyone, but it was tough to takes three steps anywhere.

For a couple of the younger, single folks, seeing so many babies around was a bit odd. The majority of us are now in our late 30s, early 40s so naturally our interests and priorities are shifting. Sometimes I think back and wonder how much of the old days I miss. Not being a big party animal, I can't say I miss the blaring music and bad dates. I suppose I do miss the excitement of being out on the town.

All in all, however, it's great to be able to sit back and enjoy time catching up with friends and just being yourself.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Ostrich and Mittens

Concealed guns in national parks?

I just get so mad when I see this stupid credit card interest bill making the rounds in the Congress and the Senate. I'm sorry but what the hell is a gun law going in the middle of a credit card law. THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER!!!!!

People should not be allowed to tack on such ridiculous ideas onto bills that are completely unrelated to each other. The laws being passed are a long discussion in and of themselves but to stick the two together is preposterous. Any respect for whichever congressman did this is never coming back. If I ever run into this person in a national park, I'll make sure to use my, bought with no background check, gun wisely. (Hint: I'll be the one protecting the bear.)

Rant over... continue with your lovely spring day!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back to the cube

It's my third day on the job. I hate starting new jobs, not because I don't like the job but because I hate feeling like a stranger. Ever had that strange feeling that people aren't telling you something?

My cube is decent, not fancy. The area is a mix of engineers, strategic planning, IT, and marketing. The cube farm is surrounded by conference rooms and offices. It's very frustrating because *all* the windows are in the offices which means those of us in cubes get no sunlight unless we physically step outside the building. At least in my old offices, they building had skylights which helped compensate.

My new boss comes across as a very quiet, gentle soul. I keep wondering if there's tiger hiding inside that I'll only see when she gets crossed the wrong side. She keeps hinting that we have a lot of work ahead of us so I keep waiting for the big wave to come crashing down on me.

Because this company sells something more technology related, it's exciting and yet foreign. I like that I can walk into the demonstration room and actually play with the equipment we sell. Then again, it doesn't have that same "save the world" feel that my old company had. In my old job I always worried that staying in the field would niche me into a narrow career. I know that this job will give me more flexibility for future jobs. Still, there's something less exciting about it. Maybe it's because the people are less geeky here. (Yeah, I know, that normally isn't a bad thing.)

I just can't wait to get my first paycheck!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gardeners that don't think

I can home today wondering if I'd see the neighbor's cats. As I walked under the pergola to our front door, I realized that I forgot to duck. The little momma finch who's been nesting tends to fly away if we linger too long, too close to her nest. The nest, as I've probably mentioned before, is made from seed pods of some local tree that they intertwined with the jasmine vines that grow up the pergola.

But when I looked up towards the nest, it wasn't there. In fact, once I got my bearings, I realized that a huge chunk of vines had been chopped away! I followed the beam of the pergola to see that they had trimmed back the vines to reduce the dead and overhanging debris. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, they failed to notice the bird nest and cut it away with all the other brown material.

My heart just sank. It was so cute to know there would have been a baby bird chirping away in a matter of weeks. For me, it's also one of those weird omen things that I wanted to believe was a sign of hope for our own desire to have a baby. I couldn't help tear up as I dialed up Tim to tell him the sad news. I pigged out on a generous helping of Jalapeno Cheetos to console myself. (They are yummy!!)

Why couldn't the damn gardener thought of trimming these vines two months ago? You're supposed to cut things back in the spring before things start to bloom. I've also felt the community landscapers were kind of lazy. They never remove weeds or debris from our tiny lawn. They just walk around with the gas-powered blower. So long as the sidewalks and street look clean, the job is done. The day I have my own gardener, I'm going to insist he used only human-powered tools - broom, rakes, push mower.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sticky fingers

I couldn't help be amused by this article I saw today about tourists who returned an artifact they took as a sourvenir. I applaud them for returning it because it would be so easy to simply throw it away. I'm wondering if that means there are other souvenirs that they'll be mailing back home.

Whenever we travel somewhere, I am definitely tempted to take a piece of nature home. Growing up near the beaches, however, I was reminded early of the damage even a taking a little piece of earth could do. It struck me when the naturist said that if every tourist took one tiny shell, the beach would be clean of any shells. Besides, the shells were important to budding young creatures who need them for shelter. This notion has stayed with me and is why I rarely take anything.

The other superstition that I think about is the bad luck associated with taking lava rocks. The volcano areas would be stripped of lava if people took souvenirs home. It's tempting because some of the rocks are so intricate with their lacey patterns and the minerals often produce beautiful colorations. Perhaps it is a myself created to discourage the taking of lava, but I'm I'll for it if it's working to preserve the beauty there.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Picture window

I'm sitting here at the desk in our second bedroom. Tim almost never opens the window blinds because it's too much glare against his monitors. But now that it's after sunset and it's a nice day, I opened them up for some fresh air.

It's also fun to sit here because there are so many birds about. Underneath our pergola is a finch nest. The birds cleverly built a nest by attaching it to the jasmine vines that spill over the edge of the pergola. This way it's well protected from the weather and blends in with the shadows. It took some time for me to realize it was there. Each time we walk out the front door, this poor mama bird dashes off in fear that we're out to catch her. Otherwise, she dutifully sits on what I am guessing is a little egg.

Sitting here, I now realize that our neighbor's tree also has a nest. I always thought they were big clumps of leaves that the squirrels made. Now I see there's a brown dove cozied up on top of the clump. The male bird is sitting on a nearby branch keeping her company. I just hope the cat doesn't get up the nerve to climb that high and attack the nest.

And on a random note, this is Tim's computer I'm typing on. I just noticed to the edge of my Firefox browser window there is a column of icons on his desktop. The eight icons are all Sims games - original, university, nightlife, business, pets, seaons, voyage, and freetime (yeah, that's a good one). The boy is crazy. I haven't seen him play Sims for probably a year. Sadly, the last time he played, his Tim and Pandax didn't do so well. If I remember correctly, Pandax died. Oops. Hopefully real life deals me a better fate.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

One quick swoop

I stepped out for a bit. At the last minute, I joined my family for a trip to China. Since my brother's never been, my parents decided to take him on a basic group tour. We haven't had a family trip since who knows when.

At the time I bought the plant ticket, I decided that I might as well since no job offer was near. Suddenly, the day before the trip, I got an offer. I tried to negotiate a little, first on vacation, next on stock options, then on job title, but the HR person wouldn't budge. What I don't understand is that if none of these things are negotiable, then why even ask me what benefits I got at my previous jobs? It would seem she already had her mind made up.

I felt a little at a disadvantage knowing that I was leaving the next day. Normally, I would have liked to mull over the details for a day or two and get advice from friends. Compared to my last jobs, I'm taking a 9% pay cut, one week less vacation, a job title two steps below my previous job, and the rest is about par. On the other hand, my commute is now 12 minutes instead of one hour each way. If one were to count that commute time as part of work hours, I'm making up maybe $10,000 of my salary by being able to sleep in and get home a little earlier (assuming the hours in the office are comparable). I really do want to like this job, it's just a little frustrating to know I could be compensated better. I suppose if I don't like the job, I'll just switch in two years when the economy is better.

It is a relief to know I'll be working again. As much as I enjoy the free time, my mind craves a bit more challenge. I'm the type of person that needs some structure. Every one's dream is to be their own boss, but I'd have a hard time doing that at home. There are way too many distractions.

The trip was pretty good. The biggest concern both me and Tim had was how Mom and I would get along. The thought of being nagged 24/7 for 10 days wasn't appealing. For the most part, she behaved. The one time we had a fight was early in the trip. She came over to our hotel room while my brother was in the shower. We chatted and I mentioned that I hoped to find a little something for Tim. My mother immediately questioned why I would do that. She reasoned that guys don't care and don't need anything. I shouldn't be spending money when I don't have a job. Besides, she felt I already had too much stuff and didn't possibly have any space in the house for more junk.

This really made me mad considering we had just spent the day looking at inexpensive pearls to buy for my sister-in-law. My mom had been asking what my brother had been asked to buy for her. It felt really unfair that we should spend all this time thinking about the shopping list for everyone else and not Tim. After a few minutes of bickering, I got up and told her that I felt she was being totally unreasonable. I never said that I needed to buy something expensive for Tim, it could be something as cheap as $1. Also, I told her this is why I never tell her anything. When I can't even share a simple comment or thought without getting nagged or criticized, there's no reason to say anything. She retorted that she feels it's her right to express her opinion when I'm wrong. Great.

So, I stored out of the room. Unfortunately, I left knowing that I couldn't take the room key with me. It was in the slot that provides power to the room. I wasn't going to leave my brother to shower in the dark. I spent the next 10 minutes wandering the hotel hallways, hoping my mom would go back to her own room. Sure enough, just as I returned to the 8th floor, I heard a door shut. As I walked past my parents' room, I could hear her tell my dad that we had just fought and why. He immediately scolded her for doing so and ask her why she would do such a thing. Her explanation made it sound like she had done nothing wrong and she nervously laughed off the situation. My mom just doesn't get it.

The next day my dad encourage me to find something nice to give Tim. He's great. I don't know how he has the patience for my mom sometimes.

Finally, a couple quick notes about China:

1) Automobiles (especially buses) don't have to stop when making right hand turns; don't assume anything in the crosswalk no matter what the light says.

2) The Chinese have a sitcom which my dad described as their version of the Cosby show. It seemed strange to me to have a show with a family that included three children when Chinese couples can generally one have one. How do people related to the show?

3) The Chinese are learning to use trash cans. There are commercials and billboards trying to demonstrate the idea. As you may know, spitting and other mucus disposal actions are very common. One guy came over to the trash can behind us, pinched one nostril, and proceeded to blow out some mucus. It was not very appetizing. My brother was very disgusted by it all. I said, "at least he put it in the trash and not on the sidewalk." He agreed.

4) Being a flight attendant on a flight to/from China must be one of the worst jobs ever. A large Chinese tour group boarded my plane. When they boarded the plane, they talked loudly and bustled about trying to switch seats with each other. The attendants had a tough time getting them to sit down and buckle in so that we could depart. During the flight they constantly ignored the seat belt sign and announcements, having cell phones on, gathering in the aisles to chat, and using the restroom. During meal services, they never listened to what was being served. For example, the breakfast choices were eggs or noodles. The woman in front of me kept asking for rice. And this group was flying to five different cities during their tour of the U.S.?

5) When it comes to lines, one must be pushy or you'll never get anywhere.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The search may be over

It's amazing to think that I've not been working for nearly six months. Granted the first two I was still getting paid, but it was still time I didn't know what to do with myself.

During the past month, I've had interview with two companies. The first company is a well-respected company in the area. They've been around for more than 25 years and accomplished huge things for their industry. As great as it is to have this company on one's resume, working there can be less than satisfactory depending on which department. In a former life, I probably would have been quite happy there. In my current type of work, however, the culture and expectations are molded to certain types of people. Former specialty consultants, ivy leaguers, and what I would describe as somewhat sorority personalities can do well here. Unfortunately, that's not me.

Several people I've know over the years have gone there thinking this was a dream job and company only to realize within six months that they were unhappy. The hiring process is very rigorous. You must pass two phone interviews, one of which includes a mock scenario. Then, you are asked to take a personality test which they use to assess your fit with the group and customize interview questions to test you ability to respond to negative situations. Hiring is done by consensus so all members of the management team must agree. If another manager wants to hire you, you must also interview with them. I suppose if one manager had a grudge with another person, they could mess with your candidacy.

Being a darling of the industry is also what has caused a major change. A big, foreign company has just offered to buyout the remaining share for the company. Basically they know this U.S. company and its products are worth major moolah and don't want to split profits anymore. They swear there will be no major changes to the company as they want preserve the positive culture and retain employees.

I have my doubts. Wanting to keep employees likely has to do more with the research and development arms of the company as opposed to G&A. Even the interviewing managers, although positive, reveal some concern in their pauses.The last thing I need to start a job where I'll get laid off at the end of the summer.

The second job has been going well. I interviewed with the hiring manager and then visited the company to interview with a handful of others. A week passed and I met again with the hiring manager at a local cafe. It was just a light conversation checking whether I had any additional questions, and obviously it was a chance for me to reinforce my interest in the position.

I'm still not completely sure why, but she then suggested I meet with her boss, the VP, so that I could ask her any additional questions about the department and company. I just went in and had a 45 minute chat with the VP. She asked me twice about why I wanted to join the company. The rest of the time was really me asking questions about her vision for the department and company going forward. I feel like she has a solid vision for the group and how it will help transform the company. It should be a good growth opportunity if I am willing to assert myself.

Tick tock, now I wait for HR to call me and tell me what the next steps are. I get a good sense there planning to offer me a job (unless I did something horribly wrong while talking with the VP). The only question is whether the package will be decent. Admittedly, I've gotten kind of comfortable lounging around in my pjs until 11am and playing with the cats for a hour each day. Then again, it would be nice to have a juicy paycheck every month!

Friday, April 17, 2009

On the clock

During my follow up check after the D&C, we were given instructions about how to proceed. We were told I had to wait one menstrual cycle before we could try getting pregnant. That meant waiting until April.

Back in college, I was dating this Catholic guy. We argued and discuss our future. One topic that lacked agreement was sex and contraception. I didn't mind waiting (and am soooooo glad he was not my first guy), but I was concerned about not being able to use contraception. I could not fathom having an accidental third or fourth child someday. Even though he knew that even his parents kept condoms in their dresser drawer, he wanted to obey the rules.

While volunteering at the school hospital, the ex came across a box of workbooks kept in a storage room. No doubt the workbooks were intended for some health seminar specifically on natural contraception. The book talked about the rhythm method and provided instructions on how to practice it. Surprisingly, it all made good sense to me. Mainly because I had already suspected the nuances of my monthly cycle back in high school. I was lucky to have a very regular, 27.5 day cycle. I even had clear mucus that would appear about 10-14 into my cycle which I suspected indicated ovulation. Out of curiosity, I tried monitoring my temperature and changes in my body for a couple months. It's really cool that a woman's body makes a sudden increase (0.5 degree) when it's time to ovulate. The charting was easy and accurate as far as I could tell.

I knew the minute Tim and I were ready to start trying, I would use this method to predict ovulation. Fortunately, I'm still mostly regular though I sense there are months I don't ovulate at all given my "advanced age" (as people in the medical community say). I started recording my temperature as soon as the D&C was over. I was excited to see a decline in my temperature as my period approached.

The change from 97.6 to 98.0 came several days earlier than I expected. The doctor had told us that during my fertile phase, we should have sex every other day. Since sperm can survive up to 4 days, it's not critical to have sex every day. Apparently, there's reason to *not* have sex every day. For men, having sex too often depletes the sperm supply which could result in lower supply when actual ovulation occurs. The every other day system allows for a continuous and ample infusion of troops.

Honestly, we're not big on sex. Sadly, I think my libido died down several years ago. We're regular but not frequent. Some times I worry that it's not enough for Tim, but he seems okay with it as long as we cuddle and fondle a lot. Having sex every other day for a week is new to me. It's definitely weird to do it because you need to rather than being in the mood for it. We've had to be a bit more patient and creative, but the job's getting done. Besides I do like joking about his troops and whether they've been properly trained.

Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dramatic rescue

We has some *major* wind the other day. As beautiful as the clear sky looked, the velocity of the wind combined with the cold made it a very unfun day to be outside.

Late in the afternoon, I was standing in my kitchen drying the recently cleaned parts of my Cuisinart. A curly soap line has formed in the plunger element, and I needed to rinse and dry it.

Standing at my sink, I have a pass-through window so that I can see my dining table and look beyond that out to the patio. Behind my patio lies a fence and fast encroaching redwood trees. The trees were likely planted by the neighbor to create some privacy. I question whether they thought through the implications of growing redwoods in a yard the size of a two car garage. They're beautiful trees, but their size is going to be a problem one day.

As I was trying to thread a towel into the crevices of the acrylic plunger, I noticed something fall from the tree. It was followed by bits of tree branch. The wind bullied the trees and apparently one of the branches snapped. Just a minute later, a brown mass cradled by green needles fell and landed on the ledge of the fence.

When I moved closer to the window to look, I realized there was also a strange gray stick off to one side. Once my eyes focused more clearly, I realized that it was a squirrel. It's head was unusual, flatter and triangular like a snake. I realized that it was a juvenile. The poor thing was clinging to the fence for dear life. I imagine it was not moving because it was stunned by the fall.

Soon after, a larger squirrel, presumably the mom, came down the tree and cautiously hopped onto the fence. Just as she approached the branch clump, the juvenile tried to move. He looked frantic as he tried to find some leverage and ended up upside down with his right foot caught in the remains of the nest. Mom finally heard the rustling and tried to reach for her child. With her hind claw tightly gripping the top of the fence, she stretched down to reach the juvenile. She managed to get one paw on him, followed by her teeth. It reminded me a little of a momma cat picking up one of her litter.

The juvenile seemed a little calmer knowing Mom had arrived. His body seemed to relax a little to allow Mom to rescue him. She, however, did not have a secure grasp of her child. Her grasp on him was shaky and then the remains of the branch and nest began to slide off the edge of the fence ledge. Because she was standing on some of the branches, she was sliding with it. She seemed to tighten her grip as they fell down with the debris some five feet to the ground.

Fortunately, Mom landed safely and quick hopped from a planting pot and scaled the fence to return to the site where she had just stood. The juvenile did not move and I wondered if he was okay. She used her paws to adjust her hold on him. Under one arm, she tucked in his tail, and then his head under the other arm. She had balled him up as if he were a tube of dough shaped into a horseshoe and skipped down the fence ledge off to some unknown location.


Monday, April 13, 2009


Happy Birthday to a few of my blogging buddies out there! I know you've just had or are about to celebrate another year.

Tim and I celebrated my birthday over the weekend. (Ignore the year, it's not worth mentioning any more.) We started out by having a mellow morning wandering the local Farmers' Market. The weather was perfect, sunny and cool. We picked up some sweet strawberries and some blood orange juice. We also bought a few sweet peppers and squash for a meal I was planning to make for some friends. I didn't realize they were going out of season so I was only able to pick enough for them, not any for us to enjoy.

As we were leaving the market, Tim noticed the flower stand and asked if I would like a bouquet for my birthday. I hesitated because I will be leaving town next week and didn't want to spend the money if I wasn't going to have time to enjoy them. We picked an inexpensive arrangement of tulip that are just about to bloom. It's really lovely to look at the mix of colors when I'm in the kitchen.

When we returned home, Tim cooked up some eggs with cheese, turkey, and greens. He decorated the plate with a few strawberries. What a lovely breakfast treat. Even better, Tim's mom and aunt were sweet enough to call and wish me a happy birthday.

I immediately started on my cooking once we cleaned up breakfast. Our friends just had twins and we were planning to visit in the afternoon. If there's one thing that I've learned from friends is that it's hard for people to eat during the early months of parenthood. The best thing friends can do for new parents is to bring them so tasty homemade food. I found a great mac and cheese recipe that's been quite tasty. I figured this would be a good comfy food for them, balanced with the fresh peppers and squash.

For fun, I curled my hair and buffed my nails to a perfect shine before we headed out. I dresses up in a cute BCBG black skirt that sits high on the waist to elongate my stubby legs and wore a burgandy top with a floral, satin trim. It's fun to dress up after months of jeans and knit tops. The only faux pas was that Tim chose to wear some black jeans and a reddish-orange suede shirt. We almost looked like twins. (Yipes, is this what happens when you live too long with one person?) I had showed my new outfit last week, but he forgot that my plan was to wear this for our night out.

Meeting the twins was great. Other than a couple of brief cries, they were very well-behaved. Eight pounds can really hurt the arms quickly. I found myself trying to rest or lean on furniture to lessen the load. The parents seemed amazing collected and content for all that's going on. Of course, they are incredibly organize with a clipboard to track all the bodily changes of the twins. We haven't seen them since January, so it was really great to catch up. Hopefully they'll be able to take small outings with the kids by summer.

For the past few weeks, Tim had been telling me that we'd be going to a restaurant based on a Top Chef episode. While I thought it would be good, I wasn't totally excited because I had been openingly wishing for two other restaurants for a couple months. I was a little disappointed that he had not chosen one of them. As we drove through the city streets, however, it soon became clear that we were not headed to the restaurant he had been claiming.

Once he punched in the address into the GPS, I was excited. We were headed to a Michelin-rated restaurant that many friends have loved. We each customized our four-course dinner. I loved every dish I tasted - complimentary carrot ginger soup, risotto with lobster and shrimp, seared scallops with a fresh pea puree, quail stuffed with quinoa and foie gras, a perfect strawberry-rhubarb tart, and a little petite four birthday plate. Needless to say I was stuffed. Thank goodness there was a tiny bit of give in my skirt's waistline.

We wrapped up the evening by watching a couple episodes of the first season of Top Chef. I'm pretty sure I know who wins, but it's still interesting to watch because the format and cast of characters is so different from season five. It's interesting how much more I analyzed dinner because of watching this show. Tim was all cuddly and loving. It was a fabulous was to celebrate.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Just sick

Since last week, there was some buzz about finding this missing girl in the Central Valley. We all know that as time passes, the chances of a happy ending fade fast. Unfortunately, last night, the search ended. Someone stuffed her into a suitcase and discarded her in a pond. I wonder if they counted on the fact that the dairy processor regularly drains the pond.

The thing about this one is that it must have happened just doors away from home. It's not like some open neighborhood where a random person drove through and snatched her. At least my perception is that a mobile home park is an enclosed area. People there are either tenants or visitors. The murdered has to be pretty stupid because it's going to be easier to identify suspects. All that matters is finding clear evidence to convict.

Considering the police issues search warrants only hours after announcing the discovery of her body means they're hopefully closing in on the bastard. I hope he is sweating bullets and panicking.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

If I had the skills then

Over the weekend, Tim and I attended our first wedding as a married couple. It was also interesting because they got engaged two months before us but had six months longer to plan the event. For me, this was a significant outing because it actually meant that I got to dress up.

The bride, Chi, and I met years ago through mutual friends. We were both single gals living in the same city. She initiated the friendship by encouraging me to call her to go hiking and golfing. "Saving Face" came out around the time we met, so Chi often joked that she was worried I thought she was hitting on me. Oh, we were silly gals.

I've now been unemployed for over four months. That combined with cohabitation of my little place has made for a living situation that is new and unexpected. For one thing, my closet has filled up with various items that we've had to "hide" from visiting guests and numerous intrusions but construction or cleaning people. The problem is that I've had little reasons to clean up the closet since I've been wearing jeans and long sleeve knit shirts virtually everyday. The skirts, slacks, blouses, and sweaters neatly organized and hanging in my closet haven't seen daylight since last fall. Other than climbing around to get to my ski clothes, I forget that I own all that stuff.

I considered buying a new dress for the occasion but didn't find anything affordable. Besides, I realized after trying on some cute and sexy BCBG dresses that, sadly, I'm getting to old for them. I dug out all my cute floral dresses knowing that we would have decent spring weather. The dress I wanted to wear turned out to be a bit tight around the shoulders. Tim convinced me that I should wear this black dress with red and fushia flowers. It's a nice dress, but I was disappointed that the neckline came up to my collarbone and failed to show off any part of my chest. I felt like an old lady.

As hot rollers reprogrammed my hair to curl, I proceeded to prepare my face. While I'm someone who doesn't typically wear a lot of makeup each day, I have developed a better sense of what looks good on me over the years. I must say that going through the wedding process and having several trial makeup sessions at the department stores was very educational. I know to add a darker shade color in the far corners of my eyes and highlight my brow bones with a light color. When I first bought the my bottle of Le Blanc de Chanel Sheer Base, I felt some major buyer's remorse. How would someone like me possibly finish a $45 bottle of white liquid before it goes bad? I was thrilled to have purchase my Rouge Double Intensite lip colour in Violet Sapphire. More recently, however, I have come to appreciate my Chanel items more. I've been late to makeup party, but I'm here now.

An hour and one half later, after the eye liner, the eyebrow brush, concealer, foundation, an angle brush with powder, three colors of eyeshadow, a tug-of-war with many individual false eyelashes, and a quick brush of deep red nail polish on my toenails, my awesome lip colour, two egg-sized mounds of mousse, and dozens of spritzes of hair spray I felt confident that I looked HOT. (Okay, not a supermodel or anything that fantastic but damned cute and potentially sexy.) Looking at myself in the mirror, I couldn't helped be impressed that I'd actually managed to figure out how to do this right.

Then my mind wondered how different my 20s could have been if I had made this kind of effort on a regular basis. Would I have been willing to sacrifice (invest) an hour of my life each day to look more attractive? It's difficult for me to imagine, but there are many women who go through this every day (and some are rich enough to pay someone to do it for them). It does look good, but I guess I never believed it was good use of my time (because I could be sleeping instead). I can't help be curious about the "what if." That confidence probably would have extended beyond my face and made me more comfortable wearing more flattering, fashionable clothing. What kind of men would I have attracted/dated? Would I have been married earlier? Would it have changed how my career experiences? Who might I be now? I browse places like Forever 21, Anthropologie, and H&M. Occaisionally, I find little gems that I love, but mostly I know they'd just look odd on me not only because of my body shape but because of my age. I feel like my interest peaked a decade late... oh well. ;)

I still don't wear makeup that often and have definitely been out of practice recently. I realize that even if I'm just running errands that it really is an ego boost to wear a little makeup and look good while one is out with people. A little bit of definition and color couldn't hurt.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Good for now

I had a phone interview the other day. It's for a fairly large, well-respected company in my industry. This was my second interview with the department, specifically I was talking with who I presume would be my supervisor.

At the end of the interview, she wanted to assess my interest level in the job. This department and a sister department combined would basically described the job I've been doing the past several years. At this company, it's divided into two functional areas of expertise. Her assessment of my resume is that I look better as a candidate for the other department. She asked, "given a choice between the two departments which position would you be more interested in?"


There's a part of me that knows I should say what she wants to hear so that I can land a job. However, there's also the part of me that wants both sides to find the right fit for the job. In this case, I feel I'm a good short-term fit, but I can't say that I'd want to do this particular job for years to come. It's a little too specific and I prefer a bit more variety.

I caveated my answer and said, "If you were to ask me which I want to do for the next five years, I'd have to choose [the other department] job because I like being involved in product decisions. If the horizon is two years, I'd say I'm open to both. This job is very interesting to me because I like the opportunity to work with many other departments. I also think this is a good place to extend my skills and learn how to better predict future trends and how to strategize."

She seemed satisfied with my response and appreciated my honesty, but I couldn't help wonder if that means it's now back to start with HR finding me a position to interview for. Did I do the right thing?

If you were asked to choose between two job positions, how would you answer?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Back in the know

Not being able to watch television on our LCD the past couple weeks, Tim and I resorted to watching downloads from the Internet. We don't have cable, we don't have a DVR. A long time ago, when I lived alone, I made myself choose between paying for Internet or cable television. It just didn't make sense to live alone and pay for both. Clearly, I choose the Internet.

Ever since, I've relied on an antenna to give me all the free, normal channels available including the major networks and PBS. True, I miss the Food Network, Bravo, TLC, and HGTV. Frankly, one of the reasons I quit cable was because the local provider took Bravo away from the standard package and made it a premium channel. That really irked me. I was sad at first, but really haven't missed it that much.

Now, with all the online shows and, ahem, unofficial downloads available, we don't worry. Unlike most people, we do try and watch many of our favorite shows live - "How I Met Your Mother," "Lost," "Pushing Daisies" (please someone bring it back!), "The Amazing Race." Yes, the commercials can be annoying, especially because the volume always rises during the breaks. Still, there's something about seeing it "live" that feels more exciting.

Lately, a couple friends have wanted to make references to a show only found on cable television. It's something that's been very popular and of interest to me - "Top Chef." I've just never made the effort to find a way to watch it. The other day, Tim was searching online for a show episode that we missed. I decided to search for "Top Chef" and download the first couple episodes.

Five days later, I think we're on episode 11. It's been really fun to watch the cooking and see how personalities have emerged. How much do you think Stephan is simply acting the part of big jerk because he likes the attention? I don't think Tim likes it quite as much as I do but we still only watch it together. Having the ability to watch whenever and as many as we want is definitely making us spoiled. No telling me who won!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Emerging nuggets

Part of my severance package includes two months of services from a career services firm. I was offered this at my last layoff as well, but never had a chance to try it out. Seeing as how much longer my unemployment could last, I figured I might as well explore what the firm had to offer.

The two months of service include access to their online resources, free workshops, and eight hours of one-on-one career counseling. In the few weeks I've be "active" I've simply met with the counselor. I fully intend to start attending workshops now that other projects have wrapped up.

The first counseling session was a tug-of-war. While I'm sure she is generally knowledgeable and helpful, I didn't feel like she had a good grasp of my industry. For years, I've read resume advice about how each bullet point of a job description should detail how a responsibility translated into metrics, i.e. how did you make or save the company $$$. With a majority of jobs, I can understand this. A sales job is pretty obvious, did this, sold $$$. If you're a computer programmer, created this program, translated into %xx increase in customers or website hits. In manufacturing, an employee could improve a process to complete production faster or negotiate a vendor contract to decrease costs. I digress... the point is that my job, my area of expertise is difficult to measure most of the time. It's more of a consultancy type role where my analysis and conclusions help support other people's decisions and provide direction (when they listen). My work does not lead to a direct outcome in most cases.

She kept pressing me saying there had to be a way to rewrite my resume statements to show how my work translated into tangible results. I pointed out a couple places on my resume where my statements matched her request, but they didn't seem to meet her expectations. I honestly thought about it a bit and could not create a satisfactory outcome. It was frustrating that my explanation of my work could not convince her that my resume holds up well as it is. At one point she even asked if I had been using this resume and how many responses I had received. I told her that prior to this job loss, I had received a call for almost every job I'd applied for. Needless to say she didn't seem to have a response immediately ready after hearing my answer.

I also expressed my feelings that there are times when these formats seem full of crap to me. I'm not the type of person to use a bunch of business jargon to make me sound important. When I've reviewed resumes, I can see the difference between someone who appropriately uses business terms and some one who's simply copied them to make their job appear bigger than it is. Maybe I'm hurting my changes at landing a job, but that's not my style.

To be fair, I asked a couple of colleagues about their resumes. I explained my impression of the resume guidelines. It was a relief to hear they had similar feelings about the stance of career counselors. For most jobs, it's a helpful and certainly can strengthen a candidacy. I just don't like being pushed to do something because it's the *only* way.

In the following visit, we agreed to let my resume remain as is for that particular career track. She probably thinks I'm just being impossibly stubborn, but I know my resume works. Why else would I get two phone interviews. On the other hand, I will acknowledge that I need to have a couple alternate versions of my resume that are less specialized if I want to have a shot at jobs that are less analytical and outside of my current profession.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wimp in training

I tried my best to treat the visit like any other appointment. I was pretty good about feeling normal as long as I didn't think about what had happened and what was about to happen.

The office scheduled me for 1:45pm but told me to come in before 1:15pm so that I could take some medications to prepare me for the procedure. Tim left work at lunch to pick me up and drive me there. I had told him he could take a book or laptop with us so he could do something while he waited. He told me he didn't need anything because he was planned to stay with me the whole time.

When I checked in, the receptionist gave me a clipboard with three documents to sign. The sheet listed out all the details of the procedure, the inherent risks, and the post-procedure care and warnings. We read through it all together to ensure that we'd both know what to expect and what to watch for once I went home. The list was very thorough including a space for an initial next to each post-procedure warning.

Once I turned in my forms, the nurse assistant came out and showed me the pills I needed to swallow. From a little plastic cup, she poured out the three pills. The first pill was cut in half, some Vicodin for pain. The next pill was 200mg of Valium to help my muscles relax. The third pill was this humongous, green oval which I can't remember its purpose. Perhaps it was ibuprofen to help with the inflammation and pain. The main thing was that it was 800mg which must be close the maximum size pill anyone could possibly swallow in one gulp without choking.

So we sat in the waiting room for 15-20 minutes waiting for my drugs to take effect. I couldn't help sit there observing the pregnant women who came through and wonder if they simply thought I was going to my first prenatal appointment rather than ending my pregnancy. It was hard to be in that moment knowing everywhere else around me there was new life.

I felt fine when they called us in. Never having taken Vicodin or Valium, I had been waiting for something interesting to happen. Given so many people get addicted to these drugs, I thought something cool would happen. The nurse took me into the procedure room where a paper gown and heating pad lay waiting for me on the exam table. Tim tried to keep the mood light by keeping my ass warm with his hands while I changed into my gown.

Dr. F came into the room and asked if we had any questions. She assured us that the procedure has a tiny risk of complication and that we could go back to normal after one period had passed. Tim was very struck by the wording in the post-procedure instructions, "No foreign objects should be placed in your vagina for at least two weeks." You can guess at the types of silly comments he made later. He asked whether any tests would be done to determine the cause of the loss. Dr. F. said that's usually not done with a first pregnancy. Despite my age, she said it's rare there's anything seriously wrong and that only if I miscarried again or demonstrated other problems would they perform any tests because of the expense.

Once I laid down and put my feet in the stirrups, the usual examination techniques started. Dr. F. was good about telling me what she was doing a second ahead so that I wouldn't be too surprised. As a local anesthetic, she injected me with lidocaine which quickly became noticeable by a tingling in my mouth. Since I'd had a crown done over the summer, the sensation was very familiar.

What was odd was how quickly all the drugs that were running through my blood interacted with each other. I think I still had my head on, but it didn't feel like it. Moving my head even one centimeter made everything feel like it was spinning. Naturally, as she started preparing for the D&C, my discomfort grew. Let's face it, going to the GYN is never fun. Was the valium working at all?

At one point, she touched me without any warning and I pop up. At the time, I thought it felt uncomfortable, but Tim told me she had just swiped me with a cotton ball. The emotions, the medication, and the discomfort had gotten to me. I remained a good patient the rest of the time and didn't move. I squeezed Tim's had tightly through the cramping, pinching, and poking. Of course, I thought about the baby. But really, what was more concerning to me was my reaction to the pain. Am I a total wimp or what?

The procedure itself does not take too long. I swear the doctor and the assistant were gone within minutes after they told us it was done. The assistant told us to take our time leaving the room. I wanted to get up, or at least turn sideways to try and alleviate the cramping, but my head was having none of that. The dizziness was overwhelming.

I didn't have any feelings of nausea or pain, just the dizziness and cramping. I thought about what labor must be like and scolded myself for whining over this. I mean, come on, if this bothers me, I'm not going to survive labor. This pain can't be more than a five on a scale of one to ten. All I could think about is "wimp, wimp, wimp." It's just like me to think about something totally off the wall when I should be focusing on more immediate things.

I could see Tim and the room fine. Opposite the exam table, I spotted a brown, canister vacuum-like machine. No doubt it was the source of the suction I heard during the procedure. I couldn't help wonder if what was left of our baby was somewhere inside it. Now, it was just a soup of blood and tissue that would be discarded with the other biohazard trash.

I must have tried four or five times to sit up, maybe another three or four to stand. Considering how small I am, those drugs all must have whomped me good. I leaned on Tim the whole way out. I was proud to have survived the elevator ride given that the nursing assistant had said it seems to cause women trouble. I slept most of the way home and proceeded to crawl into bed. I slept away the afternoon while Tim went back to work. I'm so lucky that I have him to take care of me.

By evening everything seemed fine. I was pleasantly surprised that I never felt the need to take any ibuprofen. No wonder there was no take home prescription other than three days of antibiotics. We ate and watched tv together the rest of the night.

Since then, I've talked a little bit about miscarriage with a couple of friends. I don't know how much it helped. The rational side of me already knows all the literature and facts. I know that miscarriage is common early in pregnancy (> 20%), and everything will be fine. Talking about it only seems to make me upset for reasons I can't fully explain. Heck, I even got upset when I open the medical insurance bill for that week. It's wonderful to know I have all the love and support of friends, but it doesn't change what happened. I'm sad, I'm angry, I'm disappointed. Only time can make that all fade. Until then, I just keep preparing myself for better days to come.

Monday, March 09, 2009


After all the time I've spent with my neighbor's cat, I can't help wonder what drives them. I've never been much of a pet person besides the random goldfish and beta that I kept as a teen. But how much do fish really count when they're really only good for looking at?

Larger animals likes cats and dogs truly interact. They remember you, they show anger, they show love. My dad had a family beagle and cat when he was young. You can tell when neighborhood pets visit he'll be friendly and playful with them. While I think he enjoyed having pets, he said pets were dirty.

My mother, on the other hand, is scared of anything that walks on all four and has a mind of its own. Seriously, my friend's cocker spaniel, Lady, took off into our house once and headed straight for the master bedroom where my parents were watching television. As I rushed down the hallway towards the room, I could hear a shrill voice exclaiming in terror as Lady happily greeted her newly found friends. While my mother cowered and panicked over the presence of the dog, my dad called summoned the dog to him and gave her a friendly pet on the head.

This past couple months is the most time I've ever spent with a cat. Loki is incredibly moody. Early on, it seemed he was always happy to lay down on the ground and allow me to stroke his belly. But there have been more and more days when he'll try to grab and bite my paws if I attempt to pet his underside. How am I supposed to know when it's okay or not okay to be rubbing his belly? Okay, maybe he's playing because he purrs the whole time, but, ouch, his claws and teeth are sharp.

When his family was out of town for several days, he was coming over all the time, not only during the day, but at night, meowing at the front door for attention. I came to understand why mothers have such a hard time when their infants keep crying. He grew so bold as to attempt to hop in my lap when I was squatting down to pet him. He'd proceed to snuggle his face into my hands or arms and position himself so he could take a nap. It was adorable that this animal trusted me enough to curl up and fall asleep on me.

Most days, he just wants to play. It's not that he even wants to play with me. He simply likes having a human around. If I go out to fetch the mail, he'll follow me. Sometimes he'll stay "undercover" by moving quickly from one shrub to another to keep up with me as I proceed down the sidewalk. Other times, he'll run along side and even dart directly in front of me so that I almost step on him. He's amazing obedient, not crossing the street until I encourage him to. Even though he wants to explore more of the new surroundings near the mailboxes, he'll come when I call that it's time to walk back.

During each of these activities, he'll have a variety of meows which I wish I understood. There's the obvious door call which either means "come out to play" or "I'm lonely let me in." When I first see him, I'm guessing he's say "hello." But there are other times, when he sits in my lap, or when I'm watching him play in the scrubs when I have no idea what he's trying to tell me. I feel like I need the equivalent of the DVD that teaches you how to distinguish between different baby cries.

Tim enjoy playing with Loki as well. I think he also finds it good for me to have a friend when I'm alone at home. Our neighbor's are supposed to move this summer when their house is complete. We'll be sad to see the cats go. Tim's asked what we'll do then. He's joked a couple times about kidnapping the cats but obviously that's not an option. While a cat would be fun, I'd feel bad forcing the cat to be outside since I'm allergic to them. Besides, there's no guarantee we'd find a cat with a personality similar to Loki's.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Not human

I'm sitting here wanting to write something but find unsure what to say. At any given moment, I seem like a totally normal, happy person. I pay my bills, run errands, watch tv, cook, clean, chat with friends, eat, play with the neighbor's cat, and search for jobs. But when I stop to take in my surroundings and think about who I am, there's nothing there. I'm just going through the motions of what I'm supposed to be doing.

There are many things that make up our identity. Cancer patients, women especially, go through incredible anguish because of the hair loss associated with chemotherapy. It's strange how thousands of strands of dead cells are so strongly tied to image and identity.

One of the key components of identity for people is their job. I have now been unemployed for four months. It's now equivalent to the time I spent looking for a job after grad school. This time, however, it's harder because I'm more established, more experienced, and more specialized. My expectations for income and responsibility are different as is the willingness of employers to hire me. There are few jobs in my expertise right now. As much as I like what I do, I wonder whether or not my industry has a stable, long-term future in this part of the country. Each day that passes, I question how much longer I should continue to search for something in my current profession versus shifting to something else. The upside is that I may have more flexibility in finding a job. The downside is that I will have to take a significant pay cut and potentially start with a job that is not stimulating. The struggle between taking a job for the income versus taking a job that will build a career is a frustrating choice. I don't feel like I can have both in this economic environment. The fact of the matter is that I don't know whether my career profile reflects who I want to be.

Not having a job didn't seem to bother me so much when I thought I was pregnant. I think it was because I knew that I had the role of mother to play. Being a mother is a huge responsibility that I know would be challenging, frustrating, yet fulfilling. I didn't worry so much about my unemployment because the time off would be used to make things better for the baby. But now that there is no baby, that part of my identity has been taken away (at least for awhile). True, I am still a wife, but frankly Tim would be fine without me. It adds to who I am, but I don't feel it defines any part of me.

They say being unemployed is an opportunity to do something for yourself. The truth is that it's scary for me because I realize I have no interest in pursuing anything. Everything sounds interesting, but I lack the motivation to do anything or I talk myself out of it because my interest is not financially sustainable (coming from the Asian perspective). What's wrong with me? I know I'm smart and responsible. Nothing I did contributed to this current economic crisis. I know I have many unique skills, but I have no idea what to do with myself. I feel so worthless when I see my friends are doing fine. While I know it's not reality, inside, I wonder if I've done something wrong in my life to end up here. I'm a logical person, and I need a logical reason to explain what is happening. Of course, there probably isn't any explanation that is going to satisfy my frustration and questions. I feel totally lost, and I need to do something to feel like a human being again and not just some automaton.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Unfortunately, my concerns were validated today. The doctor found my uterus to be smaller than what would be expected for someone at this time. She sent us to have an ultrasound performed. The referral sheet I took to the ultrasound office read, "Reason for ultrasound: Viability."

In my heart, I already knew the answer. I feel like I've known for two weeks, but I just didn't have solid proof. It was horrible laying there on the table as she waved the wand over my abdomen. This was supposed to be that wonderful moment when you first get to see the little human inside your belly. Instead, as Tim tried to figure out what the technician was looking at, I tried to distract myself by analyzing the light and shadow effect on the ceiling tiles created by the sunlight emanating from the exam room window.

It got worse when they said they needed to do a vaginal ultrasound. I felt helpless and tortured to have this wand inside me being moved around in a rather uncomfortable manner. All the while, they said little to us. Finally, the doctor asked if we wanted to watch the screen as she examined me. I appreciate her honesty as she explained what she was seeing.

Maybe had my uterus been empty it wouldn't have been so hard. But there it was, this tiny grey blip that she said had probably been our fetus. All around, there was still blood flow but not to the fetus. There was no sign of a heartbeat. There's no explanation, it's no one's fault, and yet one can't help wonder - what happened?

I was told that I would need to have a D&C. I'd heard this term before, I knew that it meant cleaning out what still remains inside. Still, the gravity of the procedure didn't really hit me until the drive home. They would be scooping out what was once our baby as if it were just some unwanted tissue. Why can't there be a more loving and peaceful way to say goodbye?

At least we have one night left to spend with our little wonder and be able to send it off with happier wishes.


Today's the big day. Assuming the OB/GYN is not called to the hospital, we'll be driving to the office in a couple hours to find out about the baby.

The past couple of days I've been a little nervous because I've been experiencing a tiny bit of blood. It's like that last day of a period when it looks like a streak of reddish-brown paint on a pantyliner. It shouldn't mean anything bad but it's definitely alarming to me since I've had no blood before and so few symptoms these 10 weeks (and no symptoms that last two).

Seeing the discussion about layoffs and miscarriage this morning didn't help alleviate my worry. Layoffs are tough but her situation definitely was not ideal on either side. I couldn't help be curious about the woman interviewed because I briefly met her in cyberspace while searching for some wedding vendors. It sounds like she's pregnant again, very close to our estimated due date. I hope all the best for her.

I meant to write sooner, but I can't find my camera cable. It's not fair to tell what I've been up to the past week without visuals.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I've got a penny

I admit it... I couldn't resist when I read the blurb in the newspaper. Yes, I went to the website for the octuplets. It's so pathetic that I can't even garner the courage to post it here because I have such negative feeling about this woman.

It's a simple page showing small pictures of each of the babies. It's all cutesy with crayons and hearts all over the page. There are only two buttons on the page, each of which are located once at the top of the page, and once in the bottom corner. One link is supposed to allow you to leave comments for the family, the second is a link to give you the opportunity to donate money for the babies. Can you say "gag?"

For fun, I clicked on each of the links. First, I tried the comment buttons, both of them. For a fleeting moment I wished I was clever enough to post something that seemed kind on the surface but actually insulting with some analysis. No matter, I couldn't help smile when the page turned white with a couple sentences at the top saying that the page I was looking for could not be found. How much do you want to bet more negative postings were submitted than friendly ones.

When I clicked on the other button, the one to donate money to the family, there was no problem linking me through to PayPal. The webpage does also provide an address for mailing contributions and other donations to the family. I was wondering what they'd do if I sent them one penny in an envelope?

The news announced today that the grandmother is in foreclosure on the house where all 14 children are supposed to live. Really, I feel horrible for the children but I just can't feel sorry for the family given that the parents have supported their daughter despite her bad decisions and she is clearly being selfish. She needs to learn a lesson the hard way. Maybe she'll actually spend some of the money she's now earned from the tabloids to help her mother pay for the house?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Second market TVs

As we prepare for some remodeling, we're trying to get rid of things that are simply taking up precious space. I've been lucky to sell a handful of things on Craigslist. We've also made several trips to Goodwill for things that aren't worth selling or are too time consuming to deal with.

On this trip, we dropped off an old CD-ROM read-write drive, a box of random kitchen items, and a 27" Sony television with its original remote and box.

I have lurked in a couple of the local Goodwill stores for the past six months, but Tim hasn't been inside a store since he first moved to his last apartment some eight years ago. He was curious so we took a stroll through the store. I think he was also curious to see what might happen to his tv.

As we entered, it was clear that Sunday is a popular day to shop at Goodwill. The parking lot was pretty much full and the store was bustling. At the far right wall, we could see televisions displayed along the wall. Just over to the left there was a couple and elderly man examining a tv on the linoleum floor, preparing to plug it into the wall.

Tim spotted a large Sony XBR tv and noted that the price tag read "$69.99." Not a second passed before the elderly man helping the couple pointed at the tv and claimed it was his. There were a couple other people looking at the selection of electronics and discussing with others the selection of tvs available. I felt kind of sad to think our effort to keep Tim's tv pristine and well-packaged would be for not once they dump the tv on the store floor and the remote into a box of tangle cables and random remotes.

I guess with the switch over to digital television, this is a good time to cheaply upgrade those little 20" tvs. While the better off upgrade to LCDs and plasmas, the financially challenged get to enjoy bargain prices on big tvs. Do you think all these buyers know that they need to be a DTV converter? I suppose it's nice to know that someone will appreciate the tv.

On our way out of the store, I realized why there were so many people in the store. A small board posted days when the store offered additional discounts on selected items. It just so happened that Sunday from 3pm to 6pm, the entire store was an additional 30% off. Wow, what a deal on electronics and anything else in general. It's definitely like going to a collection of garage sales - go early and often.

It's rare I find anything I want to buy at the thrift stores, but I must say they can be a great place to pick up deals. You can bet that when it's time to buy my kid kitchen stuff for college, it's going to be second-hand stuff.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Empathy and perspective

One of the things that I feel Tim and I struggle with as a couple is having perspective. I'm not perfect, and I will admit that I'm probably not seeing all of his side of things. It's difficult when you lived more than 35 years only having to worry about yourself (essentially).

The last couple of days, I've been overly worried about the baby. I'm worried because I feel totally fine minus some burping. I've had no breast soreness, no extra peeing, no fatigue; I'm feeling nothing out of the ordinary. They say that most miscarriages happen before the baby is 10 weeks. This is week nine. It just seems too easy given all the stories out there about the typical pregnancy.

I know I tend to worry a lot. I also tend to express myself out loud, whether or not my thoughts should be heard by others. Maybe my worrying is wearing on him. When we finished watching tv tonight, I mentioned that I'm really concerned that the baby is gone.

His response sounded very annoyed and hassled. He asked why I had to say such things and why I was worried so much about something I couldn't do anything about. Perhaps that's true, but I just felt like I got no empathy from him, no attempts at reassurance, something other than his agitation.

I was angry. I was hurt that he shows no concern. I don't understand how he can be so... casual about it. He hasn't even made a real effort to read any of the pregnancy books I've brought home. There's a part of me that's disappointed. I thought he would be more curious to understand what's going on and what's to come. Am I expecting too much?

I've told him before that his responses to my requests and complaints *sound like* he's annoyed. Tim says that's not what he intends. But somehow, that's what I hear. We haven't figured out how to adjust this so that I don't think he's being insincere or mean. It's frustrating because neither of us want to fight, but this is taking some time to move past.

It could very well be that I sound whinny or obsessive at times. It's hard for me to know when to keep things to myself and when's it's important to express how I'm feeling. This is the part of marriage that takes work. I just hope we can be successful in making things between us better before a kid comes along.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

To tell or not to tell

With the job market in such rosy condition, I've been assuming that finding a job may not produce any results for six months or more. This combined with my soon-to-be growing belly doesn't seem to bode well for my chances of landing full-time employment in 2009.

On the off chance I come close to being offered a job before I start showing, one *big* question looms. Anti-discrimination laws do not allow hiring companies to ask, not am I obligated to tell them that I may need to take maternity leave before I have been with the company for one year. However, I can't help wonder what kind of mistrust this could create coming into a new job.

I want and intend to demonstrate that I am a valuable employee. Is it wrong to not say anything during the hiring process? If it a job I am truly excited about, I want to be a good employee and show integrity. How much does it jeopardize my chances if I am upfront about the situation? Let's face it, it's going to be difficult to prove discrimination if they don't hire me, and I am unlikely to do anything about it.

Anyone know of any friends who have been in this position? Thoughts?

Monday, February 09, 2009

In the eye of the beholder

It's been almost six months since Tim moved into my place. While we love being together, adjusting to each other's habits has been a challenge.

The one thing everyone warned me about was his lack of cleanliness. His apartment was a disaster. Literally, no one, not even I, visited the inside of his apartment the last couple years he lived there. No one other than me had seen his place all the eight years he lived there since the first month he moved in. I believed him when he said he'd treat his living space better if he owned rather than rented.

Now here were are. With the wedding, the renovations, and my lack of a job, we have yet to hire a housecleaner. Ideally, they would come in one day each month and eliminate the squabbling that comes about. Perhaps once we have the new kitchen and bathrooms, we will hire someone.

For the time being, it's a struggle between taking initiative to clean and making an observation on the accumulation of dirt. The problem with that is the sense of time tends to get lost. I've also learned that his level of cleanliness is different than mine.

As Tim was washing the dishes the other night, I asked him how he likes living with me. He smiled and hugged me but added that I complain about his lack of interest in helping me clean. He said that what bugs him is different than what bugs me. For example, he doesn't like coming home to find that I leave dirty dishes on the counter. It clutters the kitchen counters when he wants to use them.

In contrast, I notice dirt much faster. Last week, I finally cleaned our bathroom sink. The chrome drain was covered in a layer of slime with spots of mold. The sides of the basin looked like birds had come by with all the white toothpaste streaks. Yet, though I thoroughly cleaned it so the basin was a shiny cream color and the chrome drain sparkled, he failed to notice that anything was different when he came to brush his teeth. The same goes for the stairs where his black sock lint catches along with my hair. I know he said he vacuumed but it still looked dirty to me.

I will give him credit on the toilet. The first couple months the smell drove me nuts. Guys must build up an immunity to the smell that even a few stray drops of pee can produce. I'll come home on a Sunday afternoon and find a strong smell of bleach emanating from our bedroom. That tells me the toilet has been cleaned.

I'm not sure how we can come to a comfortable middle point on some of these things. Clearly, the housecleaner would be best. Still this difference in vision extends beyond things hiring someone can fix. We're both a bit packratty which means there are stacks of papers and random souvenirs collecting on any clean surface. As we prepare for the baby, I've been trying to implant the message into his head that things need to be packed, donated, or thrown away. It's hard, but we need to push each other to get this done.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

That was quick

Everything seems normal except for a bit of soreness and lower back pain. I temporarily gained a couple pounds after the Super Bowl party, but it's thankfully gone away. Still, my alien visitor has been AWOL so it seemed time to check something...

I went to the local drug store and debated which box to buy. I felt like a guilty teenager does when they go to the condom section for the first time trying to figure out which box to grab and not wanting to be noticed by other shoppers. Should I get the cheapest one, the 2-pack or 3-pack, the one that works faster, or the one that is more sensitive? After minutes of debate, I grabbed the 2-pack box that was one dollar cheaper than the other brands.

I followed the directions and waited for one minute. The pink, control line appeared. Next to it was a faint, second pink line. Neither Tim nor I knew what to make of it. He reread the directions to see if there was any comment about how to interpret our results.

Yes, the pregnancy test seems to indicate that we're going to have a baby. While we're happy, I guess we're still a little in denial. The blood test will be a more solid confirmation. I guess I'm also skeptical because everyone always talks about the side effects like morning sickness and I'm wondering why I'm not feeling anything unusual.

It's also surprising to see because I've been bombarded by this idea that it could take several months for us to conceive. We weren't even consciously trying when it happened. There's a small part of me that feels guilty because I know so many women out there are struggling to get pregnant.

I think I can best describe my feelings as cautiously happy. It's because I'm older, and I know the possibility of something going wrong is a little higher now. I don't want to say anything or commit myself to the idea until I know the baby is healthy.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Meet my little friend

Now that I'm home more, I'm discovering little things about my street such as a cute group of finches that hang out in the olive trees across the street. The most entertaining thing I've come across is my neighbor's cat. S/he's this cute orange, striped cat with a white underside. I knew they had gotten a couple kittens late last year because we noticed them looking out from a bedroom window. I suppose the cats finally got big enough to be let outside.

Every morning I typically head out around 10am to run errands. Almost every day, he comes running over to play. He and his shy sister explore the front yard clawing anything that moves, chewing whatever smells interesting, sharpening their claws on the tree trunk, and exploring the hidden treasures in the bushes. I'll play with him by grabbing one of the overgrown vines in the bushes and dangling them in the air or pulling on the ones that are wrapped around the branches. He is completely intrigued by the sounds and movement.

There are days when he clearly wants attention. When I walk near the car, he'll hop on the hood in order to get my attention. The first couple of times he tried, he missed hopping up and I'd pick him up. With practice, leaping onto the car and onto fences has become a piece of cake. It's been interesting seeing his skills develop. He has no fear.

I'm not sure the cats have quite figured out cars. They have a confused look on their faces when cars go by. They are intrigued by the movement but scared by the sound and size. It'd most entertaining when he's been on the car as I start to leave. I can't convince him to get off so I inch back slowly. It takes a few gentle starts and stops before he realizes it's best to hop off.

His curiosity is incredibly entertaining. He'll bite anything. He tried biting the rubber bad of the newspaper and it was like he was plucking a banjo. When I watered the plants once, he repeatedly tried to bite the stream of water. Crazy cat!

The only downsides so far have been his minor destruction of the big jade plant, digging in potted plants, and chewing of things such as our door mat. His climbing and clawing lead to branches of the jade plant breaking off. If jade plants are supposed to represent money in Chinese culture, could he be causing me bad luck? ;)

We finally ran into the neighbor and learned the cats are Loki and Thea. Remember the Norse god Loki? It's a very appropriate name for the cat. I've learned that Loki often plays fetch like a dog. It's funny to see cats that will repeatedly chase after things like a dog. After being nine months of living in the same household with the family, Thea is still very cautious about allowing humans to approach her.

I'm allergic to cats so I can't have one of my own. I have to say this is the ideal arrangement. When I feel like some pet therapy I call out to Loki and get a little love and play time. I don't have to feed or clean up after him. Not having a pet growing up, this is really fun.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunnier days

Once again, I disappeared for awhile. I have a partial excuse... I was on my belated honeymoon!

The honeymoon was great. We headed to Latin America to experience a little culture and a lot of nature. One starts to realize how plain and a little boring the local animals can be after experiencing the amazing diversity of the tropical area. It also makes me wonder what interesting wildlife used to exist in my home area before humans chased it all away.

We spent a little time on a small cruise. It was amazing that all the tourist on our boat got along. We even exchanged e-mails and shared photos afterwards. How cool is it to have a diversity of people come together, enjoy spending time together, and learn from each other. It's also wonderful to know that I can spend three straight weeks with my hubby and enjoy (almost) every moment.

We had it all, hiking, snorkeling, close encounters with animals, ancient ruins, colonial history and architecture, local artisan crafts, local New Year's customs, indigenous cultural tour, illegal payment to leave the country with the correct documentation, a lost hotel confirmation, a lost library book, crazy taxi cab drivers, horseback riding, rafting, zip-line, and a 6.2 earthquake. I'm sure I've missed something.

The best thing is that this really helped to lift my spirits. I must admit that being laid off from my job only two weeks after my wedding was a real blow. I know we're fortunate to be financially secure for awhile. Tim still has his job and feels pretty secure about it.

Still, part of me can't help feel unlucky and extremely frustrated. We had been planning to escape our two-bedroom condo and buy a real house. With our two incomes and a decent down payment, we could take advantage of the market and get a house we could live in for twenty years. Losing my job changed all that.

The job market is rough to say the least. It was scary to watch the job listings dry up as the holidays approached. I managed to get that one interview, but in the end, they went with someone else. I have to admit that my enthusiasm for the job waned as they dragged their feet and saw how disorganized they were. Still, I really want *a* job. I also didn't think things would dry up so badly.

I'm not religious but certainly the loss of the job makes me question my self-esteem. I can't help wonder what I've done to deserve such bad luck. I'm the type of person who tends to dwell on the bad and feel like I'm not good enough. I'm embarrassed and feel a bit like a loser. Not only can we not buy a house, I can't even refinance my current place. The rate dropped just weeks after I lost my job. No income, no loan; it's as simple as that. This combined with the fact that we're trying to start a family is disheartening. Had I just had a few more months of work, we could have done something to make our financial situation so much better. It feels unfair when the friends we know are all (at least on the surface) in a much better place than us.

We're not holding back on getting pregnant. After all, I'm no spring chicken. As long as there is nothing wrong with my parts, I assume we'll be pregnant in the next couple months. The money part is a little scary. Let's face it, I will have a hard time landing a job if I start showing before I can get hired. I can't imagine 12-16 months with only one income in this expensive region we live. Ouch.

On the bright side, I've been putting off remodeling parts of the house since I moved in. It seems a little counter-intuitive to spend money when no income is coming in, but I do have the time. I never realized that managing major improvements can be like having a full-time job. We're getting new countertops, new flooring for the high-traffic areas, energy-efficient windows, and new appliances. The prices are decent given the slow economy. Tim will be the first to say he's happy that we'll finally have a fully functioning microwave and toilets. I like the idea of having a flat kitchen counter top. Hopefully a good chunk of the expense will be earned back when it comes time to sell the condo.