Aug 13

The first 10 days

It’s been a whole 10 days since I moved into my new place. Here’s what’s been going down.

Delancey Street Movers

While I was stressed about the move, everything went smoothly. I hired Delancey Street Movers, which had been recommended to me by a few co-workers. The organization is, as the website says, “the country’s leading residential self-help organization for former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have hit bottom.” My co-workers raved about them, saying they were fast and professional.

And they were. There were five guys – a couple sporting neck tattoos, a few missing teeth, but all polite and fun – and one crew leader, and they were awesome. They were extremely thorough, very careful about wrapping up my stuff and at my new place, patient as I hemmed and hawed and changed my mind about where to put furniture. When they were finished, the crew leader encouraged me to spread the word.

“I’ll tweet it,” I said, which for some reason they all found hilarious.

The only snag was the guy I had spoken with on the phone wasn’t clear about the price. He had said $35 per guy but left out “per hour.” He didn’t give me a total, which I should have insisted on. So it was more than I thought it was going to be, but still worth it. There was no way I could have done it myself, they did an excellent job, and it’s a good cause.


There were a few things I expected to be disasters but weren’t.

Public transportation. Since I was taking public transportation to the new place, I thought it would take me a good hour to get there and that the movers would be waiting around (the crew leader promised me, however, that they’d take me off the clock if I was late). But it only took about 45 minutes. I hopped a cab to the Powell Sttreet BART, then another cab from Rockridge to the place. Once you get on the BART, it’s pretty fast.

The big truck. I was also worried that the movers’ truck wouldn’t fit through the gate at the condo complex, and that they wouldn’t be allowed to drive up the hill due to weight issues. I kept picturing them having to move the furniture from beyond the gate a far distance to my apartment. But they fit through the gate and got up the hill just fine. They parked in front of the garage and brought in stuff that way. I relaxed upstairs and just waited for them. Unloading the furniture was much faster than loading it up, and I was thrilled to see the place come together as they set everything up.

Comcast. Finally, if you remember, I was quite stressed about my cable/internet situation. I kept hearing that trying to move Comcast was a nightmare. That old service got canceled early, that service people never showed up, etc. etc. Still, that Monday I tried moving my service online, only to find that the prior tenants hadn’t yet canceled theirs. Comcast said they would contact them, and also I asked my friend (who owns the condo) to ask them to cancel it.

I assumed that they would never do it and started looking to other options, like MiFi. However, that was much more expensive than I thought. At the same time, I got thisclose to buying a device and signing up for a plan, until I decided to wait one night and see what happened.

I’m so glad I did because the next day, my move day, I took a chance and called Comcast. It turned out the prior tenants had canceled their account by then, and that since the apartment was already set up with Comcast, all I had to do was hook everything up and call an activation number.

And lo and behold, it worked. My internet was immediately available. I was confused at first about the cable. Turned out I couldn’t activate it until it was actually wired up, which I couldn’t do because I neglected to take a cable wire with me. Dehr.

Luckily I had taken the next day off so I was able to pick up what I needed, and after I hooked it up, it worked. Hallelujah!

A breather

I had taken an extra day off just in case, and I was so glad I did. I went into the city early and picked up a couple of hair care products I had left in the medicine cabinet and to drop my keys off with the management company. Then I had the whole day to have a leisurely breakfast and pick up a few things (like the cable wire).

And you know what else I did? I saw a movie. Star Trek into Darkness. It was SO GOOD, and the best reprieve to several stressful days.

The commute

Since commuting for a week, I’ve come to find that it’s really not bad – that is, if everything goes as it should. If there’s no Bay Bridge traffic and CalTrain is running normally, it’s actually quite nice. It’s a one minute walk to the bus, which is one of those nicer ones with soft seats. I listen to NPR and stare out at the water, and in about 30 minutes we’re in the city.

Then it’s a less than 20 minute walk on the Embarcadero. I’ve already fallen in love with that walk. It’s peaceful, the sidewalks are nice and wide, and it’s right next to the water. I usually manage to catch th 8:19 train, which is less than 30 minutes.

But if something goes wrong, everything goes wrong. On Monday a big rig caught on fire on the Bay Bridge, and that 30 minute bus ride became more than an hour. Thursday night the CalTrain hit a car (only minor injuries) and there were delays of over an hour. A co-worker and I split a cab to Millbrae, where the BART is, but I had long missed my bus and had to take a cab from the BART to my place.

So when things go well, it’s pleasant. When things go bad, they go really badly.

Oh well. I’ll survive.

The apartment

What helps is that the apartment itself is so nice. It’s way bigger than my old place and has tons of storage space. In fact even more than I need. Plus it’s in much better condition, so quiet I haven’t worn earplugs at all since I moved in, and you can’t beat the view.









Jul 13

Moving Stress

StressAs some of you may know, I’m moving to Oakland. This Wednesday. Eek.

The truth is I’d rather stay in San Francisco, specifically my area. So many things are walking distance – Whole Foods, three small grocery stores, a million restaurants, Union Square, Japantown, the movie theater, my gym, my krav maga place. There are lots of buses, and while the 1.8 miles to the CalTrain is a bit of a schlep, I’ve grown to enjoy it.

But all of that means something else: high rent.

If you haven’t heard, rent in San Francisco has gone bonkers. The median price of a one-bedroom in my area is over $2,700. My rent is lower than that, but not by much and I have a feeling for not much longer. We just got a notice in the mail that the management company wants to do a lot of repairs on the building, which is good, but that means even higher rent. And because of tenants’ rights in SF, I know mine is the highest in the building.

Back in 2009, I looked at a beautiful one-bedroom in Russian Hill for $1,900. The same place is probably over $3,000 now, and $1,900 will get you a shitty studio. I know: I’ve looked. Having lived in one-bedrooms for years, I can’t bring myself to live in a studio or have a roommate. (NO WAY.) Hence, the move to Oakland.

Originally, the idea was for me to get to know the East Bay to see if I wanted to buy a place there. However, that’s been put on hold and I’m tremendously relieved. My parents would rather take their time fixing up their house before selling, and I, quite frankly, don’t feel like buying anything. So that makes the idea of moving Oakland even harder, what with a longer commute and living in a location that is, while beautiful, not so conveniently located if you don’t have a car.

Teaches me to make decisions right after a break-up.

I realize It could be that I’m just stressed about the move itself and once that’s done, the commute and other stuff won’t be that big of a deal. But part of me wonders if I shouldn’t have gotten a place near my job. The rent is cheaper and getting to work would be a breeze. On the other hand, the places don’t seem as nice as my new one in Oakland. Ditto the $3,000 and under SF one-bedrooms that I looked at on Craigslist out of curiosity. In fact, they seemed shitty and definitely not worth over $2,000.

So all of that makes me feel better about my new apartment. Other upsides include very affordable rent and a really pretty place that is bigger than my current one, in much better condition, and with lots more storage space. It’s also quieter – the apartments are carpeted and I’m on the top floor so now more Frankenstein neighbors walking around in their shoes on hardwood – and has a gorgeous view with a little deck that can fit a small table and chairs. I love imagining waking up in the morning and gazing out at rolling green hills and having my coffee and breakfast outside.

Okay, I just convinced myself. Now here’s hoping switching over Comcast will be half as easy.

[Photo: “Stress,” CC BY 2.0 by Bernard Goldbach]

Mar 13

AWP 2013: Writers, friends, and snow

Last week I was at AWP and had a blast.

I actually had more fun than last year, which was overwhelming and lonely since I was there as an individual writer. This year I went to work the book fair for my company, which I really enjoyed.

Tuesday, March 5

Set-up for the fair was on Wednesday, but I didn’t like the idea of getting in late and feeling rushed so I flew in on Tuesday.

That night I crashed with my friend ES. Getting to her house via public transportation was pretty easy, except for the fucking weird guy on the Silver Line (which is a fancy way of saying “bus”) who kept staring at me. At one point, I stared right back him, which was probably not a good idea, but, as I often do nowadays, I had assessed that I could take him in a fistfight so stare back I did.

I ended up getting off a couple of stops too early, and didn’t have to deal with in for much longer anyway.

ES had yummy food waiting for me when I got to her place: pasta with turkey sausage and broccoli rabe. I pigged out and we chatted and watched TV until two AM, ES because she’s a night owl, me because I was on darned Pacific time.

Wednesday, March 6

ES and I spent the day working together, and eating more of that tasty pasta. Then I was off to the hotel. “Set-up” for the book fair comprised of checking to make sure our giveaways had arrived (they had), and then I was free as a bird.

I was also starving. I dropped in a Wagamama and had their chili ramen. Delish!


View from my hotel window

By this time the weather had turned crummy. When I arrived on Tuesday, it was dry and in the 40s. Now it was raining and snowing. Blech. Luckily I didn’t have to go outside to get to the train station so getting back out to ES’s wasn’t too bad. We grabbed some southern food for a late dinner, and then I was back at the hotel.

Thursday, March 7

My first full working day.

My hotel was a 15 minute walk to the convention center. However, since I walk fast, it was more like 10 minutes for me, and it was all inside. It’s connected to a mall, which connects to another mall, which connects to two other hotels and finally the convention center.

What with the snowstorm, I didn’t leave the complex for three days.

The first thing I noticed at the book fair was how fancy some people’s booths were. They had furniture! art! beautifully displayed books! Our booth was, shall we say, streamlined in comparison. All we had were our giveaways, these adorable little notebooks with hearts on them. Then I got the brain storm to place them like this:


I didn’t think it was a big deal, but a couple of people said they loved how the notebooks looked, and that our schwag was “the best at the conference.” Wow!

I had a lot of fun talking to people. I told them about our site and our contest: give us your favorite word and you’re in the running to win a random drawing of some pocket-sized dictionaries. As for the little notebooks, I think people assumed they were for sale, so I had to yell, “Free notebooks!” often. Several people made 180 degree turns when they heard “free.” It was funny.

My neighbors at Red14Films were also super-nice. They were fun to talk to and shared their chocolate.

That night ES and I had plans to see a play, but the weather was so bad, our plans got canceled. I actually didn’t mind. I was spent. I went to the gym and ran three miles, showered back in my room, then wandered the mall for food. It was after seven, but a lot of stores were still open, which for some reason delighted me. I didn’t want to shop but I liked knowing that I could if I wanted.

I felt like having bad Chinese of all things, and got myself a plate of Panda Express. It was pretty good! The vegetables were fresh and only lightly cooked with no sauce, the way I like them, and I enjoyed orange chicken. Then it was back to my room for some herbal tea and television.

I watched a terrible movie with Robert Pattinson. From the movie, I realized that a) Robert Pattinson is a kind of weird-looking dude, and b) he can’t act for shit. Christina Ricci was quite good though. In their scenes, she seemed to force Pattinson to tone down his overacting.

Friday, March 8

Another day at the book fair  and lots more talking. I had plans with my friend PL in the afternoon. I hadn’t seen PL in years, since before I moved to San Francisco, and was glad to learn that she’d be at AWP with her magazine – and her nine month old.

I was yakking with someone when all of a sudden a woman with an adorable baby walked up to our booth. It was PL! Her son is soooo cute. He’s very chubby and smiles at everyone. I wanted to kidnap him and bring him back to SF.

After I finished working, I went up to PL’s room and hung out. It was so great catching up with her. It had started to snow a lot earlier in the day, which was a good thing because PL and her sister (who had come along to help with the baby and for fun) ended up staying that night instead of leaving during the day, which gave PL and me a chance to have dinner with ES too, who would be staying with me in my room, as well as a couple of PL’s friends/colleagues.

None of us really wanted to go outside so we ate at PF Chang’s. It was pretty tasty, though quite salty. I found out one of PL’s colleagues, who’s a writer/editor now, used to be an actress and had a small but pivotal role in one of my most favorite shows ever. I forced myself not to act like a stupid fan girl and limited my questions to half a dozen. She was super-nice about it.

Saturday, March 9

I was really tired on this day since I didn’t sleep well the night before. I slept well all the other nights, at ES’s and at the hotel. But the night ES stayed over, we stayed up very late, past two AM, and I got stressed about getting up in time to work the fair and to pack my stuff and check out. I got maybe two hours of sleep. Ugh!

But working the book fair was fine. With lots of coffee and adrenaline, I was able to power through it. I was, however, worried about having a lot of leftover notebooks to ship back.

PL and her sister (and the baby!) came by, and I complained to them about my plight. They told me to go ahead and use the bathroom if I needed to, and they could watch my stuff. When I came back I saw that they had totally taken over the booth and were giving away notebooks like crazy: “Free notebooks! You know you want a free notebook! Yeah, you do!” They were so awesome. They had heard my spiel several times so they could repeat most of it. I got to show lots of people the site and we had a ton more entries in our favorite word contest (the results are here). That day the fair was open to the public so ES was there too. It was loads of fun.

After we were done, we grabbed a late lunch at the food court, and then PL and her posse was off.

ES and I schlepped back to her ‘hood to head out to a cooking party one of her friends was hosting. Luckily the weather had improved tremendously so getting around wasn’t too bad.

Since I was dead tired and am not a confident cook, I sat around like a bum while everyone worked to make delicious crepes. (Crap, I should have taken some pictures.) The crepes were delicious. ES made a layered dish with spinach, lots of cheese, and, well, crepes. It was so damned good.

Sunday, March 10

My last day in Boston! ES and I had every intention of seeing a movie, but ended up yakking the day away and missed the start time. I was just as happy to walk around and enjoy the nice weather.

In the late afternoon, we went to a town that’s on the way to the airport and had an early dinner of yummy Korean food. The restaurant was very modest, but I knew it had to be good because there were Korean people eating. And good it was. I had duk mandu gook, which is a clear beef soup with beef dumplings, rice cakes, glass noodles, and egg. I want it now!

Then we were off to the airport, and I was catching my flight to Newark. Since it’s only an hour in the air, the plane was quite small. One row of seats were singles, which felt totally luxurious, especially since the flight was half empty. I had to a wait a while for the train from the airport to my parents’, but the ride felt fast, even full of drunk college kids on their way home to Rutgers. Then I was at my ‘rents’.

~ ~ ~

The time with my parents was nice. I got to catch up on sleep and work, and eat my mom’s good cooking. I also got to see another college friend for lunch. Inevitably my parents started to get on my nerves, and I was very happy to head back to SF. I’m currently still on east coast time, which means early to bed and early to rise, but I like that anyway.

Jan 13

If You Hate ‘Marketing’: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means


Search terms that consistently bring people to my blog are “I hate marketing job,” “I hate marketing careers,” and “why apply for marketing.” It’s because of this post I wrote back when I was applying for any kind of writing job. That post recently received a comment:

Ah, the artist’s conundrum, working a job you don’t believe in. I’m doing the same thing.

I feel for you, man! That was me for many years, although it wasn’t so much that I didn’t believe in the work but that I was being pressured to do work I didn’t want to do. I was perfectly happy being more marketing operations than marketing marketing. It was a job that needed to be done, and I was good at it.

But it wasn’t valued, at least not by my last marketing boss. When I left the team, he wanted to give my projects to his secretary. First of all, FUCK YOU. Second of all, his secretary did not want to do that stuff. That was why she had chosen to be an administrative assistant. And what was extra stupid was that there was an administrative assistant who was interested in those sort of projects, but she had been shut down so often (by this same boss) that by the time I left, she had left too.

I was so scarred from my experience at my old job that I vowed never to do marketing again. However, I’ve recently realized that “marketing” doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere. At my old company it meant, “Do a bunch of stuff that costs a lot of money that may or may not increase sales of things that are unrelated to the stuff we’re marketing.” Our team was, shall we say, a special case, and because of this, I think some people felt the need to overcompensate and put on a show of doing a lot of stuff. There was a lot of stress and pressure to meet arbitrary deadlines, and freaking out over mistakes that only mattered to the higher-ups.

Sound familiar?

Luckily, three years ago I found a job that I love with a company that I adore, and so while I’m no marketing expert, I thought I’d try to think of some tips for those, like the commenter, who are currently in marketing and hating it.

Play to your strengths. Duh, right? At my old company, I had just one boss who told me it was okay to want to be in operations. “Play to your strengths,” he said. My strengths at that time were being highly organized, efficient, meticulous, and process-oriented, all skills you need in a field that involves multiple players per project (marketing manager, marketing agency, a review committee with several members, the actual marketing operations person, etc.).

Those four words made me realize it wasn’t me, it was them, those who were pressuring me to do stuff I didn’t want to do, and that I should emphasize those strengths while applying for new jobs. While I never got a job in marketing operations, I did eventually find a great position (at the same company) as a communications manager.

Your hobby, your job. Since I was 12, I’ve wanted to be a writer. But I was always reluctant to write for my nine to five because I thought it would take energy away from my more literary pursuits. However, after freelancing for six months, I realized that wouldn’t be the case.

(Full disclosure: I was able to quit my shitty New York corporate job, move to San Francisco, and write full-time because my boyfriend was supporting me financially. I know not everyone has that option. However, I also realize now that I had enough money saved up that I would have been okay without a full-time job at least for a few months.)

I applied for blogging gigs and writing jobs, part- and full-time. It was pretty discouraging at first. I guess without professional blogging experience, I couldn’t even get a bite. Finally, I expanded my search to outside San Francisco, spotted my current workplace’s job listing, and the rest is history.

In my current job, I’m technically part of the marketing team, but my job is more writer/editor than marketer. I LOVE my job. I can’t emphasize it enough. The strengths I use every day are my writing skills and creativity, but also organization and efficiency. I blog about almost anything I want, do some author wrangling, edit, and tweet. Keep in my mind that in addition to writing, I was already blogging and tweeting well before I got this job. I’ve had a blog in one form or another since 2005, and have tweeted for fun and to market my book and other writings since 2009.

Believe in the product. It really helps. And I don’t mean force yourself to believe in it when you don’t. I mean look for a job with a company that makes something you like. Easier said than done, sure, but at least look.

What marketing really means. Another post that comes up with those “I hate marketing” search terms is this post by Remarkablogger, who says it so well:

As a marketing channel, blogging and social media are NOTHING like traditional marketing. They are the opposite of it in almost every way. You don’t have to sound like a marketing brochure. In fact, it’s way better if you don’t. Just be yourself. You don’t have to sound like Crazy Eddie the Used Car Salesman or Precious Roy (bonus points if you know who Precious Roy is).

I admit I don’t who Precious Roy is but I love this explanation of blogging and social media as a marketing channel. This is why I love my job so much. I get to be myself and write about stuff I’m interested in (which happens to fit the brand of the product). Writing this way gets readers to our blog (and by extension, the products) and creates a brand and a voice.

I don’t know if these points will help people at all, but writing this post helped me understand marketing in a new way.

Jun 12

Yesterday’s checklist

  • Struggled with worked on novel.
  • Attempted to run three miles at the gym.
  • Ran half a mile at the gym.
  • Attempted 30 minutes on the elliptical.
  • Completed 20 minutes on the elliptical.
  • Sweated. A lot.
  • Sweated straight through cute yet ineffective Gap “fitness” shirt. (Nipple sweat, I haz it.)
  • Bought a replacement shirt at krav maga.
  • Was delighted by surprising cuteness of said krav maga shirt.
  •  Kicked ass did not have ass kicked in krav maga.
  • Sweated some more.
  • While punching, was told, “You started with nothing, and now you’ve really got something.”
  • Was simultaneously pleased and insulted.
  • Bought groceries. Avoided passive-aggressive hipster cashiers.
  • Did three loads of laundry.
  • Worked on struggled with novel some more.
  • Sparred with boyfriend. Received accidental headbutt (ow).
  • Watched funny/sad South Park about home shopping network-esque jewelery sellers who bilk old people with dementia.
  • Watched Jerry Sandusky-esque Law & Order: SVU, complete with stilted PSA from Ice-T.
  • Attempted to watch old No Reservations: Shanghai. Passed out on couch.

Apr 12

Writing update

Here are my latest publications and writerly activities:

The Nervous Breakdown

I’m back, baby! After an eight-month hiatus, I finally wrote something for TNB.


Blog, blog, blog! Here’s the word-nerd stuff I’ve been blogging about:


Still working away. Right now I’m revising the present-day sections. I decided that the plot I had set up was too complicated, or at least too boring. At first I ignored the advice from the agent speed dating thing, but then as I was reading over what I’d written, I realized that the sections that occur in the past were much better than the present-day ones, and that the present-day parts were boring as fuck. In a nutshell, I got rid of the fiance and made the main character, Lucy, a quirky alone, someone who’d rather be alone than just date willy-nilly. However, a reason she doesn’t date is she’s afraid she’ll be hurt again, as she was when the love of her life left her.

Anyway, hopefully that’ll work.


I have a big birthday this month – okay, this week – and to ease the pain celebrate, I’m giving away PDFs of my memoir. Just go to Lulu and download it. Should be easy but if you have any trouble, let me know.

On a side note, I just noticed today that the email address attached to my Contact page has been wrong all this time. GAH!!! I doubt anyone contacted me, but if you did, I apologize for never getting back to you.

Jun 11

So busy

This week I was very busy with work stuff.  While I love how my role has expanded, and while some things are totally fun (like live-Tweeting the Scripps National Spelling Bee!), some stuff has me worrying.  Worrying because it’s unfamiliar territory and I’m afraid to fail, so much so that I woke up at five in the morning two days in a row, and couldn’t sleep, my head spinning: “How many I supposed to achieve what is being asked of me?”

This morning, of course, after a good eight hours of rest and sitting in my pajamas, drinking coffee and listening to the rain, I feel better.  These are good, exciting challenges that are forcing me to not be complacent, and that, unlike my old job, actually make sense and are related to what I love in life – words.

In book news, I was happy to hear that the cover contest participants have begun to receive their free copies.  I don’t get the postal system: I think my friend in Switzerland got her book before folks in the U.S.!  Weird.

Anyway, if you got a free book, or if you bought one, give me some internet lovin’ with a Tweet, Facebook post, review, or just tell your friends. I’d appreciate it! :)

Also, remember I’ve set up a Black Fish Facebook page.  While I started with the fish having a faux-Asian accent, I quickly got sick of the idea, having forgotten an important lesson in marketing: be sincere.  Sometimes I have a tendency to over-snark, so I’m toning the snark down a little on the page.

In crazy mom news, my mother has gotten word that my book exists, and has been bugging me about it. If you know anything about the book, you know it would not be a good idea for my mother to read it. I’ve told her this again and again, yet she still feels left out.

“So all your friends get to read it?” she asked, implying, But not your own mother?

“This is not something you want to read,” I told her. My father gets it though.

“I don’t want to know,” he says.

It’s good to have at least one parent who is not crazy.

Mar 11

Too scattered for a decent post

Somehow this week became very busy.

Work. My job has been more hectic than usual.  Lots of activities, meetings, presentations, and getting food. We also had a college student “externing” with us, and I wanted to make sure he wasn’t bored and that he was able to make his way through the wilds of San Francisco without getting mugged by a meth head.

And oh yeah actual writerly work! I was pooped by the end the end of the week.

Travel. MB will be teaching a one-day class in L.A. in a couple of weeks. Normally he does all his own travel, but since I’m joining him – and wanted to fly in and out at non-crazy times and not stay at a random hotel (and I have control issues, apparently) – I made the flight and hotel reservations.

I’m excited! I’ll be missing my brother, who won’t be around that weekend, but our hotel should be nice. I paid eight more dollars a night to get a corner room, and put us on the “upgrade standby” list, meaning if upon check-in a better room is available, we get it for just five more dollars a night, as opposed to $20.

There’s not much in the area except a mall, but I imagine while MB is teaching I’ll have a leisurely day, work on my writing, work out, do a little shopping. It’s just nice to go someplace different.

Fall anthology. Last week I turned in revisions for a piece that’s in an anthology coming out in the fall. The editors had awesome feedback, and it took me a while to figure out how to do the revisions. I’m happy with the changes though.

And this morning I just handed in copyedits for a piece that’s coming out in a literary magazine May.

Memoir. Remember my memoir? I’ve still been working on it all this time, and to remind everyone, I plan on selling it on Lulu this spring!

Recently I entered the LAST revisions, and have been in talks with my pal Eva about cover designs. She’s a talented letterpress card designer – check out her cards! they are adorable – and I’ve been so excited to see her draft designs for my memoir cover.  You’ll get a sneak peek (and perhaps a chance to vote on your favorite) early next week!

I’ve also decided to liven up the title pages for each section of my memoir, of which there are five:

  • The Rat and the Horse
  • The Rat and the Monkey
  • The Rat and the Rat
  • Rat, Horse, Rat
  • Rat

The section titles refer to the Chinese horoscopes of the main characters, and I thought it would be cool to include drawings of the animals on the mostly blank title pages.  Eva liked that idea too, and made the great suggestion of putting some action in the section titles, both to help her with the art and to give the reader a preview of what’s going on in that section.

Then I thought, What if I put pseudo-horoscopes instead?  Just a few short sentences pretending to be a Chinese horoscope but really giving a subtle hint to the reader of what’s to come.

This has been much more difficult than I anticipated.  I’ve been combing the web for the right descriptions of both animals and how they get along.  Now I need to boil all that down in a few sentences.

MB thinks I should go even shorter with three words.  For example, for The Rat and the Horse section, A complete disaster. I’m not sure about that.  I’m toying with the idea of a six-word subtitle, in the tradition of six-word memoirs and novels, supposedly started when Ernest Hemingway was asked to write a novel in six words:

For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

How incredibly sad is that?  Just those six words.

The Nervous Breakdown. Oh, and I’ve so been running around like a headless chicken, it took my bud Gloria to nudge me to check out The Nervous Breakdown – where I’m the featured author this week!

And of course I need to actually catch up on TNB reading, as well as post a piece before the month is out.

And now, the gym!

Jan 11

This will be one of the babbling posts

I have the day off today for Martin Luther King, though I dreamed last night that I went to work, and there were all these people there whom neither I nor my co-workers knew.

Finished a couple of drafts this week, a short story and an essay.  It was pretty painful.  I’ll take another look at them later this week.  Now I’m working on one for The Nervous Breakdown, which should be more straightforward (hopefully).

MB and I saw True Grit last weekend. We both enjoyed it very much, despite the fire alarm that went off just at the start of the exciting third act.  Luckily, they let us back in almost immediately, and didn’t have to wait too long for the film to start again.  Plus we got free passes, woohoo!

The girl in the movie was excellent.  The whole time I kept picturing her as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movie.

Had a burger for the first time in six months. At Fish & Farm.  It was worth it.

I finally straightened out my health insurance. I signed up online.  It was surprisingly easy.  Now just waiting for my little card.

I talked to my mom and found out even more stuff about my grandmother. I think I’ve written about how she sold her dumplings, potstickers, and scallion pancakes out of her house in Berkeley for 25 cents each, and how people would come from all the Bay Area to buy them.  Well, she used that dumpling money to pay off the mortgage of that Berkeley house (true, that was just a few hundred dollars a month, but still), and was able to save up enough to buy ANOTHER house in San Jose (with my aunt as a co-signer).  I had no idea about that San Jose house, and just love the idea of Puo-puo as this entrepreneur.

There is a story here.  I even have a title.  But it’s a secret!

Watching cartoons. MB and I watch a lot of animated shows.  Family Guy, American Dad, Archer, whatever anime that happens to strike our fancy and which is not too weird or crazy (currently, Ghost Hound), and new fave, Bob’s Burgers.

Lately we’ve been catching up on Metalocalypse.  Last night MB said, “You’re not into metal and you’re not that into cartoons, but even you love Metalocalypse.”

I’m definitely not into heavy metal music, but not into cartoons?!?!  Hey buddy, I was watching them WAY before I met you, and I’m not talking about Tom & Jerry or Bugs Bunny.  Then I started trying to remember all the cartoons I’ve watched regularly as an adult, pre-MB, post-childhood:

  • The Simpsons
  • Beevis & Butthead
  • King of the Hill
  • Aeon Flux (when it was on late night MTV, not the Charlize Theron movie)
  • South Park
  • Dr. Katz
  • Doug
  • The Rugrats
  • Hey, Arnold!
  • Nick at Night (back when it was like a Robot Chicken that made sense)
  • Arthur
  • Angelina Ballerina
  • Chibi Maruko-chan (a Japanese cartoon I first saw in China, would love to see it again)

Not into cartoons – ha!

Jan 11

Goals and Pseudo-Resolutions

I’m not much for making New Year resolutions.  Stuff like “lose weight” or “be more adventurous” is too general and easy to give up.  I used to make year-long goals, but I decided those were too “big” as well. Inspired by my pal Simon Smithson over at The Nervous Breakdown, I’ve instead decided to tackle goals over two-month increments.  From those two months, I break the goals down into weeks.

I like this approach because it breaks goals into much smaller, more concrete and specific tasks (“get published more” becomes “enter at least two contests, submit at least one piece, post at least twice to The Nervous Breakdown,” while “get in shape” becomes “work out at least three times a week”).  But not too specific.  I don’t write down tasks day by day – too many details and too much pressure.

Here’s a slightly abbreviated version of this week’s tasks (my week starts on a Sunday):

Week of January 2, 2011
Blog post 1 (you’re reading it!)
Blog post 2
BONUS: blog post 3
Workout 1 (Ran 4 miles)
Workout 2
Workout 3
BONUS: workout 4
Turn in piece for contest due this week
Finish up draft of short story
Think of idea for contest due at end of month and start draft

It doesn’t matter when I do these things, as long as I do them this week.  And I give myself a little pat on the back when I do more than the minimum.  This also helps keep straight all the upcoming contest and submission deadlines.  Sometimes I get caught up in what I’m doing at present, and don’t look ahead to see what deadlines are coming up till the day before.  Planning for two months helps me keep looking ahead – but not too ahead. It also remind me to keep submitting to publications.

HOWEVER, there are a few broader changes I want to make.  I don’t really want to call them resolutions, which implies, “From now on, I’ll do this thing and will be forever perfect.”  Maybe New Year tweaks is better.

Stop arguing with myself. At my old job, every day I would wonder aloud if I should go to the gym.  Finally, one of my co-workers said, “You spend more time arguing with yourself about whether or not to go to the gym, than actually going to the gym.”  After that I said, Fuck it, I’m just always going to the gym.

Chocolate cake or not?  Sandwich now for a second breakfast or for lunch, as planned?  Get up now or in 20 minutes? And most of all, gym or not? Time to stop hemming and hawing over simple decisions and make the healthier/cheaper/more efficient choice.

Don’t put off till tomorrow what I can do today. Last week I had the whole week off. Lots of opportunities to work out right? Yes! Did I take them? No.

Don’t get me wrong. I made my goals. I hit the gym Monday and Tuesday. But I skipped Wednesday because I thought, I’ll work out Thursday and Friday. I went Thursday, but skipped Friday, thinking, I can go on Saturday.  Guess what?  I skipped Saturday.  If I had just gone on Wednesday, I wouldn’t have felt all blah and guilty by Saturday.

If there’s something I can do TODAY – go to the gym, run an errand, work on some piece of writing – don’t “plan” to do it later because later something might come up, which I could use as an excuse not to do it.

Stop worrying. This will be the toughest one.  Basically, I need to:

  • discern “real” worries from fake ones (real worry: untangling my health insurance; fake: wondering if MB will unexpectedly leave me for someone else)
  • if it’s fake, remind myself the worry is all in my head and remind myself of something I know (eg, MB’s obvious love, affection, and devotion to me)
  • if it’s a real worry, decide if I can do anything about the worry now
  • if I can’t, make a plan (see bi-monthy goals)
  • remind myself that worrying does nothing to change anything, that my situation didn’t change from the moment before I started worrying to the moment after – except that I started worrying

It seems to be working, at least so far.