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toastykitten

September 2017

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toastykitten: (Default)
Hi!

I keep meaning to write a public intro post, and then I forget or get distracted by one of my kids. Anyway, I jumped off Livejournal after being there for over a decade, and am only now deciding to post more publicly. I'm not a consistent poster these days, but I lurk a lot and occasionally I'll post about something, especially if it pisses me off. Stuff about my kids/family will be locked. 

Anyway, here's the basics: I'm an LA Chinese American mom of two still figuring out what I really want to do with my life. My hometown is Oakland, though, so I occasionally write about that and how weird it is to go back there these days. 

What I've been reading/watching lately: Narcos with my husband, Hidden Figures (loved the movie, currently reading the book), and Brooklyn 99, mainlining the Happier podcast (before that it was Savage Love but I can't deal with the political commentary right now).

Add me, don't add me; it's all good. 
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Person: "Oh, you're Arab? I couldn't tell.  And you're Catholic? I didn't know they had those."

Mark: "Yes, we do have those."

Wedding planning is getting under way! I have my church, and I have my reception site. I am going to make people drive. Cue evil laugh. Must find dress. And invitations.

So far it turns out that we are really close to everything, but it takes forever and a half to get wherever it is we're going. Driving in L.A. is not as bad as I thought it would be, although it's no picnic, either. Here's one thing about L.A. drivers: they're very, very decisive. I learned very quickly not to let people cutting me off get to me, because you know what? They're out of my way in two seconds anyway.

The Trader Joe's is close by, which is good for me because the Ralph's that is within walking distance has the most depressed looking workers and customers ever, not to mention a pretty meager selection of food. Oh well. Can't be too picky.
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My books are unpacked!

I am finally getting over my cold, though still a little sniffly.
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(Besides family and friends, of course.)
  • Clear traffic.
  • Tap water.
  • Trees.
  • Breezes. Though Silverlake was actually foggy today. Unheard of!
  • Decent grocery stores. Turns out our nearest farmer's market is tiny!
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We need to do the last of our packing and then Monday we leave. I am so excited about moving into our new place. It's going to be so awesome. I am going to learn to garden and take care of a house! It's in such a super-cute area, and it's in a neighborhood where I can actually walk around and explore a little bit. One of the first things I want to do is take my camera and take pictures of all the amazing houses in the neighborhood. They are so beautiful.

So when I tell people I'm moving to LA they always tell me they hate it. Mostly because they don't like driving. But that's SF people for you. People who hate LA haven't seen most of it or lived in it long enough to understand it. I love LA, even with the driving and the smog and the shallow pretty people. I like what's underneath - the most diverse, authentic food available, the hope that carries people for so long, and all the creative energy from so many talented, crazy people who would rather do what they do than get a "real" job.

Mark is going to turn off the Internet and TV today. Oh noes! The day before my last day at work, he surprised me with a little early Valentine's gift - a teddy bear dressed in wings and a shirt that says "Love Bug". It was so cute! I love surprises.
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  • Books - packed. DVDs, CDs - packed. Still everything else to pack.
  • Watched Cloverfield. Short review: Can't bring self to root for douchebags. Don't care whether they get eaten.
  • Next to us, were a couple of morons who didn't understand the trailer to 10,000 B.C. (Or any of the other trailers that played, none of which required any brainpower.) I mean, seriously, first frame comes on, they go "Huh?" Second frame showing caveman. "What the fuck?"
  • Iron Man does not look any good at all.
  • Koi Palace - ate here again after a really horrible first experience. It's a long wait, but the food was really good. Service was also better than I remembered. I also theorized that the Outback right next to it gets most of its business from pissed-off Asians who've been waiting in line too long for dim sum. What supports my theory? The fact that this particular Outback is now open for lunch only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, prime dim sum hours. (Most Outbacks do not do lunch.) I mean, why not? Most of the customers at Koi just parked at the Outback anyway.
  • Project Runway - I don't really care about this season this much, but I'm watching it anyway to see who wins. I hate the Asian chick, which is a shame, because I think she is talented and I would like to root for her, but she honestly rubs me the wrong way.
  • More relatives arrived from China. It remains to be seen whether the younger one will actually learn English. She's 16, which makes it extra hard, and I'm pretty sure she didn't want to come. After telling my friends, one of them asked, "Do all your relatives cycle through your house when they come here?" Yeah, pretty much. Hopefully she gets registered in school soon.
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  • We're moving to Los Angeles next month! We will be living in Silverlake and I am so excited about it. We are going to have a garden and be walking distance to a bunch of things. More specifics will be in a friends-locked post. But for now this is what I am excited about:

    • Silverlake Wine and The Cheese Store of Silverlake.
    • Driving in a place where people are actually skilled at driving. They may be assholes and there may be a ton of traffic, but they can merge properly and won't change their mind at the last second about which exit they want to take.
    • Living somewhere where I can go to the beach and enjoy it instead of freezing my ass off and running back to the car. (Why yes I am a total wimp, why do you ask?)
    • Cheaper. Better. Dim sum! AKA Monterey Park.
    • Trying to tackle as many places in Jonathan Gold's Counter Intelligence as possible. He is my favorite food critic ever and he knows where to get the best basturma.
    • The Griffith Observatory. (Just a mile away!)
    • MOCA. One of my favorite museums, ever.
    • Sawtelle Blvd.
    • The music scene! I have been checking out LAist the past couple of weeks, and it seems like there's always great shows going on.
    • Sun!
    • Living in the city instead of a suburban area where everything closes at nine.
  • I gave notice at my job last week. Everyone seemed pretty happy for me.
  • Anyway, I just started packing, and I have so far packed about eight or nine boxes and they are all books. And I am not even done yet. (I just told Mark and he just said, "You're really proud of yourself for that, aren't you?") 
  • Just so you know, this was a mutual decision. Everyone keeps thinking that Mark is making me do this, but trust me, both of us want this and we've thought it through thoroughly.
  • Of course I'll miss all you guys in the Bay Area, but that is what phone numbers and emails and visits are for, right? (And GoogleTalk.) And we will be coming back up occasionally since most of my family is up here.
  • Wedding will definitely be in Los Angeles. I have my church and I am looking for a place to book the reception. And the photographer. And everything else. We'll see. I went with my mom today to get one of those gaudy twenty four carat gold dragon phoenix bracelet sets. People only wear them on their wedding day and then they put it in the safety deposit box forever. We went to this one place and the guy was all, "People don't wear those anymore! You should just get some diamonds or something." I got a pair that I could live with, but my mom was kind of disappointed because she wanted me to get this set that was really thick.

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I rang in the new year with Mark and another close friend. I was so pooped out from December that we decided to do a quiet dinner and watch the Dick Clark show that's now also co-hosted by Ryan Seacrest. (Did it freak anybody else out that it wasn't snowing in New York?) It'd been a while since we watched stuff on live television, and I always forget how stupid commercials can get. Ah, TiVo, I love that 30-second skip button! It was a lot of fun!

2007 was overall a good year to me - it was a year of really big decisions. I moved in with Mark. We decided to get engaged. I started writing for eHub. I also started writing for my friend's site - FramesPerSecond (although not as much as I wanted to - definitely will do better this year!). We thought long and hard about what we want from the future - lifestyle, career, and family-wise. And we've made some decisions that will drastically affect this year for us. I'm a bit nervous, but I've never been so excited, either.

I think that I'm finally ok with being an adult. (Mark will be happy to hear that. :P)

I hope this next year that I will be able to do more of what I want to do - last year I got so bogged down and stressed out by work that I barely read anything, drew anything, or even wrote, as you can see. 

Although I don't know how much of that I'll be able to accomplish on top of the wedding planning and other things.

I'll definitely try.

Today's schedule: hotpot with my sisters!
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Someday I will write a real post.

Last week we went to the ER twice. Mark is fine now, and was diagnosed with a bacterial infection and given extra antibiotics. We weren't reassured by the doctor's "worst-case scenario - it might be Chrohn's disease or colitis". In fact, I'm sort of frustrated that we're in 2007 now and medicine is mostly guessing until you get it right. I'm not saying that our doctors sucked; they were doing the best with the information they had, but still. A little certainty would go a long way, is all I'm saying.

More aggravating was the fact that we actually bought groceries and planned to cook last week, but because of the above, didn't get to do much of it. My mom was sweet, though, and made me bring Mark some soup and "wife cookies". No, I have no idea why they're called that. I went home for dinner on Saturday and she practically kicked me out of the house right after, telling me I had to take care of him. (I bet Mark just looooves that.)

I've been working on my eHub articles and part of that is reviewing different sites. Doing this, as fun as it is, is still annoying sometimes, especially when I have to deal with a website that does stupid things - for example, instead of writing out their features in plain old text, advise you to watch a video, or linking to an "about" page that is non-existent, or my very biggest pet peeve - charge money for things that are now standard to give away for free. If I can get what you are offering for free somewhere else, why wouldn't I go somewhere else?

Today my train was delayed due to a person being struck by another train. According to what we heard, it was a probable suicide. Which is awful.

I will write about New York later. Still have to work on other stuff first. Some links of interest to me, and maybe to you:

Remember that tasering incident in UCLA? UCLA's campus police decided to taser some kid because he had no ID, and there was an internal investigation that found no fault with the campus police. However, there was another investigation and this time found that the officer violated "use of force" policies. via Metafilter.

Daniel Wu's blog is still going. This time he writes about the destruction of the Queen's Pier. I have a soft spot for him because he went to school in Oakland. I mean, true, it was Head-Royce, one of the best private schools around, but still. Oakland!

I am with John Scalzi on the creation of a union for bloggers - WTF? First, who are you going to bargain with? Actually in the comments it's noted that the original person who talked about it was actually trying to figure out ways for bloggers to get health insurance. But still, unless blogging is your sole source of income (in which case you need to start looking for another job) maybe you should just look at the stuff that's already out there.

New York's deliverymen sue their employers.
Aug. 4th, 2007 08:10 am

me busy

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Mark's sick. This was not a fun week. Going in to work today.
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Jul. 7th, 2007 09:37 am

weirdness

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Someone I knew in childhood entered the Miss Hong Kong Beauty Sponsor pageant. Scroll down to #11. She won a small award for "Perfect Intelligence". It's so weird! I knew her when she and her family first immigrated here, and we helped them out for a bit. Over the years we lost touch. I don't even know that we'd have anything in common to talk about anymore.

In doing my search for her, I also discovered blogs for AsianPopNews, and TVB.
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Over the weekend, we were in Los Angeles. Some of Mark's teenage cousins were visiting from Jordan, and I introduced myself.

Them: "Where are you from?"
Me: "I'm Chinese."
Them: "Really? We love Chinese food."
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Jun. 9th, 2007 09:07 am

a reminder

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You are legally entitled to a free credit report Annual Credit Report from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian every 12 months.

I had to buy another one because some items popped up on my credit report; for example, claiming that I was late on one payment to a bank account that was closed years ago, even though I always pay my bills on time. This item had not popped up on previous reports, and drove down my credit score. I disputed this online.

So annoying.
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May. 13th, 2007 02:26 pm

stamps

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Was I the only one who didn't know that stamps are going up May 14? Time to stock up on Forever stamps.
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We were at a party last night for a friend who is moving to Portland. (It seems like all the geeks are moving there.) It was really, really nerdy and I'm kind of glad I did not wear my "I heart NERDS" shirt because that would have been just overkill. I actually didn't know anyone there, as this person was more Mark's friend. But I got to meet a lot of nerds, and girl geeks in particular - one owned a hosting company, one went to school at Harvey Mudd. One of them is currently working on a nonfiction book on women in science and engineering. We talked a lot about that, and also about writing and publishing in general. I felt kind of sad because I have not been writing anything in particular for years, and she seemed to have this commitment to her work that I just don't feel.

Of relevance: Zeldman commissioned a study for stats on women working in web design. Results: unsurprising. Comments on post: unsurprisingly annoying.

What was weird about this party was that we couldn't find people who watched tv. Not that this is a prerequisite for being our friends or anything, but Mark and I really like watching television, and love talking about certain shows. It was a pretty nice party overall.

I finally started reading an actual book again. I was in the middle of A History of God by Karen Armstrong, and then I stopped. For the past few weeks I've been doing crossword puzzles during my train ride, but now I'm back. The History of God is pretty fascinating, and I'm learning a lot, but Armstrong has some pretty strong tics that can get kind of repetitive and annoying.
Mar. 8th, 2007 12:44 pm

links

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Interview with Kal Penn

Asian-Black romance in indie film. Featuring "Ando" from Heroes.

Amazon Unbox: If you register your TiVo with Amazon's new download service, you get $15 worth of movies free. So from what I've gathered, you can rent or buy the movie you want to watch on your TiVo (or computer). The buy price of movies is totally not worth it - it's the same price as any physical DVD you would buy in a regular store. Are you sure you want to spend $12 on Fearless, with no extra features or commentary or deleted scenes. If you delete it, Amazon will remember that you bought the movie and allow you to re-download the movie as many times as you want. If you rent a movie, you have 30 days to watch it. Once you start watching it, you only have 24 hours to complete the movie. Renting is the better deal, because it only costs $3-5.

California to consider trans fat ban. So stupid.

Been packing mostly. Now we have to decide whether to hire movers for the big stuff or just ask friends to help. I don't know which is preferable.
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I LOVE this time of year. Mark gets red envelopes, too, which always makes me happy. Anyway, I drove up to Oakland at eight in the morning for our vegetarian breakfast and we took the kids - nieces, nephew, and Kaitlin to the Oakland Museum, where they were having a celebration for the new year. There were taiko drums, lots of arts and crafts, and we all got free pens and water bottles. They all had a good time, and I really enjoyed hanging out with them. They are so freaking adorable, and they say the funniest stuff, too, like:

"Give me some sugar, Bubba!" (As far as I know, this kid has never watched Evil Dead or knows who Bruce Campbell is. I was informed by her sister that "she says it all the time at home.")

"My name is Butt-Butt."

I finished a few books last week. I'm so surprised, especially since it took me for-fucking-ever to finish Foucault's Pendulum, which I would describe to most people as the "most boring thriller ever with a really stupid ending". Anyway, the books I've been reading:

Go Ask Ogre, by Jolene Siana

Jolene Siana was a huge fan of Skinny Puppy growing up, and she decided to write to Ogre, one of the members in Skinny Puppy (an industrial band), over a period of a few years. She made art out of these envelopes and journals and used the art and writing as a way to work through her depression without even realizing it. At the end she says that she realizes that this act of writing probably saved her life. Ogre kept all her journals, letters and artwork, and gave it back to her after nine years. The work itself is really, really raw - it's almost painful getting through it because of how thoroughly honest and candid the work is. She writes about her dysfunctional family, trying to find a place in the world, and cutting herself. At the end, we see a change of voice as the older Jolene reflects on her experience of re-discovering her younger self, and it's fascinating to see how much she's changed, yet still the same person. I sort of recognize where she's coming from - it's really easy to see why she kept writing to Ogre, even though he only wrote back a few times, and why she kept writing things she didn't feel she could admit to her closest friends. It was a way of working out her confusion and depression - and it feels good to know that someone else knows what you're going through. I don't think I was ever depressed in the same way she was, but I used to write to Mark all the time and it was really cathartic, but I would freak him out sometimes with the intensity of what I wrote. And what's funny is that I wrote to forget - as soon as I committed those words to paper I had worked through whatever angst I was going through and I felt normal again, or sane enough, at least.

There's a new Skinny Puppy CD out if you're interested.

The Spiral Staircase, by Karen Armstrong

This is the memoir of an ex-nun and her experiences after leaving the nunnery and trying to find her place in life. It's really funny, poignant, and interesting. She writes about how she goes into the nunnery in order to "find God", leaves, gets misdiagnosed by a psychiatrist, fails out of college, tries to get away from religion only to keep bumping into it. She writes in an engaging and careful way about religion, and finds herself getting angry with "God" and religion, and then eventually finding a way to meditate on "God" that is meaningful to her. She frequently compares the rituals and acts of religion with finding solace in art, and makes the point that the main monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, Islam, are not actually about "right belief", but about "right practice" - doing good imbues the divine in you. The idea of believing in God Himself is irrelevant. It's pretty fascinating, and gave me a lot of food for thought. I'm not really religious myself (I would call myself Buddhist if pressed), but I know that eventually we're going to have to deal with the question ourselves (since Mark is Christian and slightly more religious than me) - of what we want for our future, of how we want to raise our kids, etc.

I started Snow Crash, too, but I got bored. Maybe I'll go back to it later.
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Dude, even Cartoon Network is running a Chinese New Year marathon! Happy new year to everyone, good fortune and good luck in the coming year! I have to leave in an hour for our vegetarian breakfast.
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Mark's parents are here this weekend. Last night I had dinner with them, and gave them some of the treats my mom makes for the Lunar New Year. His mom instantly recognized one of them (the rosettes, which are these crunchy sweet things for good fortune in the coming year), saying, "I know how to make this! I have the tool and everything." She said it was probably the same batter, too.

Food. Bringing people together since forever.
Jan. 30th, 2007 11:04 pm

items

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  • I received my new bag from etsy today. It looks really nice. I bought it from CeciliaJane. The zipper is a little messed up, but you don't really notice it unless you're looking at it very closely.
  • Los Angeles was fun, but I was sick for most of it. I spent some time with Mark's family, and one of his uncles was all, "So, Kim, you learn how to cook Middle Eastern food yet?" We hung out with some friends, ate a lot and generally just chilled. You can't ask for more. Anyway, Mark's grandfather ended up in the hospital (he's fine now) which was a little scary. It's funny whenever I go down to see his family - I can see all the genetic predispositions coming out. I now know what to look forward to in forty years.
  • When we landed back in San Jose, we were waiting at the curb for a friend to pick us up. While waiting, an Asian gentleman with a small, crying child for some dumbass godforsaken reason decided to not stand on the perfectly good sidewalk, but decided to block traffic by standing out in the middle of the lane where all the cars are trying to maneuver around each other to pick people up, drop people off, etc. He was also blocking our vision. (Hey, I'm short.) Not only that, but he wasn't even looking in the direction of the cars! He was looking towards the baggage claim and talking on the cell phone at the same time while holding his crying child. I got increasingly irritated with this guy because not only was he blocking our view, he seemed also to be utterly unaware that cars were trying to park where his body was. Finally I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him (politely) to stand on the sidewalk because I couldn't see. He gave me a look and gave me one of those Asian mom irritated clucks (y'all know what I mean) but at least he got OFF the friggin lane.
  • So when I got sick, everyone at work told me to take Airborne tablets. It was kind of funny - apparently these are all the rage these days. We talked about it with one of our L.A. friends, and he told us that Emergen-C was much better, and that Airborne is bad for you if you're pregnant because it gives you 100% of Vitamin A and I guess that pregnant women are not supposed to get too much Vitamin A. Anyway, I took some while I had my cold, and I have to say, I recovered really quickly this time. I have no idea whether it's a placebo effect or not.
  • After that post about In N Out, we went and got some for lunch. Ah, In N Out, how I love you. Mmmm...next up is going to be a round-up post of best burgers in California.
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