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]

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.

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.

Dec 10

Away from home for Christmas

This is my second Christmas now away from home.  Last year we were a bit more festive: Christmas Eve MB made a yummy past dish, and on Christmas Day, he prepared some lovely cornish game hens with stuffing and a salad.  This year we’ve been very lazy.

Yesterday morning was like any other.  I worked a bit in the morning, then hit the gym.  Five miles, woohoo! For lunch and dinner, we ate random leftovers and at whichever restaurants were open (Mel’s for a late lunch, a Thai place for a late dinner).  We hung out the New People cafe in Japantown for a while.  (Vegan donuts for half price after 5 PM!) I brought my writing but didn’t feel like working so I – dangerously – ended up shopping instead.

All I bought was a $45 super soft sweater.  It’s dark gray and the material is unbelievably soft and cozy and not scratchy.

In the evening caught we caught Tron: Legacy, which wasn’t as bad as the reviews make it out to be.  I mean, a lot of the dialogue was dumb and boring, but there was plenty of action and the special effects were amazing.  Plus the music was super-cool.

There were a surprising number of people at the theater.  Lots of Asians, as I predicted, and at least one person who wanted to get away from her relatives.

“My family is so dysfunctional!” she said to someone on her cell phone.  “I don’t want to hang out with them on Christmas Eve.”

We got home around 11, had our late Thai dinner, and watched an episode of Boardwalk Empire.  We would have liked to have gone to sleep shortly after, but we had trouble with our noisy neighbor yet again.  This time it was her television, which she apparently moved into her bedroom (which of course is right under ours).  It was probably regular volume, but at two, three, four in the morning, regular volume directly under us seems very loud.  MB even stomped on the floor really hard (all 180 pounds of him jumping up and down three times).  The neighbor gave a little screech, then turned the volume down a tiny smidge.

Made no difference.  By 3:30 we decided to give up on sleep and got up for a while.  Finally, at 4:30 she turned off the TV, and we were able to go to bed.  So annoying that we have to schedule our sleep around the habits of a big fucking loser who happens to live below us.

I slept till about 9:30, and got up only because I had a huge craving for coffee and the vegan donuts from New People.  It was so bad, I couldn’t even wait to make new coffee.  I zapped yesterday’s leftover while a new pot percolated.  Still delish and highly effective.

I called my parents to wish them a merry Christmas.  My mother told me that apparently my father is now a huge fan of shopping online.  He hates shopping in real life, but loves ordering things like toasters and water heaters off the internet.  So the Amazon gift card I got him will be put to good use.

Since this morning I’ve been working on a draft of an essay for a travel writing contest due in early January, and jotting down some weekly goals, to help keep them all straight but also so I can cross them off as I complete them.  Check!  Or strikethrough! I should say.

Today is gray and rainy.  All we have planned is possibly checking out this Chinese restaurant we’ve been meaning to try.  Hopefully it’ll be open.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Dec 10

Quick and random update

I know I’ve been pretty lax lately with the updates.  I could say it’s because I’ve been focusing all my energy on my memoir, but really I’m just lazy.

Life has been peaceful since my grandmother’s funeral.  Besides working and writing, I’ve been (as usual) trying to exercise more consistently and regularly.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve been very good, though of course today I’m tempted not to go.

Last Tuesday I was a ball of firy productivity.  I got up early and went to the gym.  Then I went right back out and headed to Union Square for my mother’s Christmas present: a gift card from a department store.  But first a delicious ham and gruyere baguette and coffee from my new favorite place, Crepe O Chocolat.

Going to the store early was a good idea.  There were hardly any people, nor at another store where I got some new pajama bottoms.  I’ve had the same ones for YEARS, and MB is constantly making fun of how thin they are in the seats.

Then I was back home before noon. Spent the afternoon working and writing.  By 3 I could have really used a nap, but I pushed through it.

On Thursday I was out and about early again.  Sent my parents’ package (btw, I love the automated postal machines but hate the people who feel they have to read every entire screen for each and every package; here are two pieces of advice: THEY’RE ALL THE SAME and JUST SAY NO), hit the gym, had yummy spicy seafood Vietnamese pho, did a bit more shopping, hung out at the New People cafe in Japantown to work.

But I was feeling very blah for some reason.  Just physically tired.  And piggish too!  MB had a dinner meeting so I just ate the leftover pizza in our fridge and then a bunch of Doritoes.  So much for my low-fat diet.  Then I had pizza again the next day at work!  Need to lay off the cheese for a while.

My latest obsession is The Hunger Games.  The books are SO GOOD.  YP turned me onto them, though I’ve been hearing about them for ages.  Gripping and surprisingly brutal.  No mushy love stories or sparkly vampires.  (There is some sparkling but only because the progtagonist is tripping from some deadly wasps.)  I’m on the second book now.

This rainy weather just makes me want to curl up and read The Hunger Games all day.

Oh, and write too, I suppose.  My memoir is taking way longer than expected, but I’m wrapping up the last chapter.  Now it’s quite a bit longer.  At start it was around 50,000 words, but now I’m close to 90,000.  I expanded quite a bit, especially in the beginning.

Back to work!

Jun 10

Feeling much better

I don’t want to speak too soon, but the vertigo seems to be going away.

Yesterday I felt pretty crummy: light-headed, groggy (though that may have been the motion sickness meds), and a little nauseous.  But then I did my therapy, which usually brings on several bouts of vertigo (necessary in order to be rid of it) but I didn’t experience any.  Maybe just the tiniest bit of nystagmus.  I slept semi-inclined, just in case, and this morning, while still groggier than usual, I felt much better.

My plan is to keep doing my therapy for at least a week, sleep semi-inclined for one or two more nights, and see the doctor on Friday.  He may or may not know anything about BPPV, but at least I should just get myself checked out.  I’m not taking any meds though, that’s for sure.

I was surprisingly productive yesterday, despite not feeling well.

  • I wrote a draft for my next Frisky article.  It’s too long and meanders, but at least I have something on paper.
  • I bought groceries and much-needed TP.
  • I did a load of laundry.
  • I wrote a draft for my next Nervous Breakdown post.  Suddenly inspired while I was, of all things, folding laundry, I jammed out the piece in under a couple of hours.  When you’re inspired, you’re inspired.

Jun 10

A quick post before work

I don’t have anything too intelligent to say, except that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with our upcoming LA trip and my parents’ visiting next week.

I mean, it’s not like I have that much to do, but now that I’m working, even just those few days a week, I feel like I have a lot less time.

But I’ve accomplished just about everything:

  • dresses bought
  • shoes, already have ’em
  • accessories, already have ’em
  • hair cut
  • library books renewed

Of course we already have our plane tickets and hotel reservation.

So why the overwhelmed feeling?  I guess I’m used to having a lot more time to myself.  Plus over the weekend I figured out what I want to write this month, and it’s kind of a lot.

A long essay for a contest that’s due July 1. It’s mostly excerpted from my memoir, so it’s a matter of putting those excerpts in the right order, with the right transitions, which I think is sometimes harder than writing an essay from scratch.

At least one post for The Nervous Breakdown. Originally I was going to post the excerpts that are now going into the long essay.  So I’ll have to write something new, which is better anyway.  I wrote a draft of something this past week.  It’s sort of all over the place right now, but I think I can cull one or two essays from it.

An essay I owe to a magazine I’ve written for before. They’re not strict about deadlines, but I want to turn it in this month.

An submission for another literary journal. Reading period ends August 31 so I have plenty of time for that, but I’d like to get started this month, if possible.

A bunch of dinky how to articles. Part of me says I should stop doing these, but I actually kind of enjoy them, if the topic isn’t too nonsensical and if someone else hasn’t already written about the topic.  Plus it’s a guaranteed payment.

Whew!  Obviously I’m bringing my computer to LA.  Friday night there’s a rehearsal dinner, but the wedding the next day doesn’t start till four, so we have the whole day.  We’ll just be at the hotel, but MB and I are very good at occupying ourselves.

Feb 10

TCOB + Valentine’s Day + CNY

Now that I’ve handed in the essays for the contests I wanted to enter, I have lots of paperwork to take care of.

First off, my writer’s contract.  There’s so much to fill out!  But it gives me assurance that I’ll most likely get paid and that I’m one of their official “vendors.”

The guy who did my taxes suggested I start collecting my writing expenses so I could write them off next year.  I’ll have to go back and see if I had anything from this year.  Then I may start keep a spreadsheet.  (Yay, spreadsheets!)

Also, I got a NY jury duty summons.  I had gotten one back in August but postponed it till February.  I was worried that I’d have to actually fly back to New York, but I called the place and they said I just had to send them evidence that I do indeed live in SF now.  I wrote an anal little cover letter and need to make copies of stuff to send.

I also need to hit the gym and go to yoga.

* * *

Had a nice weekend.  My brother was in town so we got to see him a couple of times.  Otherwise I worked like crazy on my essays and MB played his new guitar all day long.

On Sunday, we were supposed to get dumplings, but didn’t feel like schlepping out to Richmond.  It was such a beautiful day, we decided to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf instead.  It was pretty crowded, but tolerable.

We wanted to eat at that seafood restaurant we tried when we first moved here, but they had an hour and 45 minute wait.  At first we thought forget it, but then decided to put our names down.  We took a leisurely walk out to the water, down this long pier.  The sun was setting, which was beautiful.

“Do you want to take a picture?” MB asked me.

I shook my head.  I find that with sunsets, my photos never live up to the real thing. I prefer to just enjoy it in the moment.

We returned to the restaurant a little early, but our table was already available.  It was such a lovely unplanned Valentine’s Day.  I noticed other couples around the restaurant, all dressed up and formal.  You knew they had been planning this evening for a while (like the young dressed up couple in front of In ‘N Out Burger: “I gave my girl a rose and took her to In ‘N Out!”).

To me, the most highly anticipated events never live up to expectations.  Weddings, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day.  Why wait till a specific day to celebrate?  Why not just act like that every day?

Anyway, we both got the prix fixe dinner: soup or salad, a fish entree, and dessert.  At $30 it was a little overpriced, but the food was good and the service excellent.  I got the salmon poached in olive oil with rosemary and garlic.


Now I’m hungry.

Yesterday MB had to work so I was on my own.  YP and I had our long-distance photo expedition – the theme: good luck symbols of Chinese New Year – so I hoofed it to Chinatown and took some pics.  I ran into lion dancers and their noisy firecrackers, “bai nian-ing” at businesses.

lion dancer on grant street

Here’s the whole CNY set.

All righty, off to the gym!