I stopped counting the years and count my experiences…

My hibiscus produced three flowers over the last two weeks. It’s pretty easy maintaining hibiscus indoors — all it needs is lots of sun and water. It’s growing season so it needs to be fed frequently. My kitchen window is the perfect home for the hibiscus.

Continue reading I stopped counting the years and count my experiences…

Who’s the sheeple now?

I received a notification a couple of weeks back for having this WordPress account for 12 years. I had this WordPress account when I was 21 years old. I was in my last quarter of university figuring out what was next. Side note: I’ve been blogging for far longer. I started blogging since I was 16 years old. I had a Xanga because everyone in high school had a Xanga. When I was 17, I decided to switch to Livejournal because I preferred the interface. At 16 and 17, I wrote about school projects, exams, books I read (which everyone else in my class has read), hanging out with friends, etc. I was very cautious to not slip writing about high school crushes ;-). Then from my first year of college to senior year, I had a Blogspot. I wrote about personal finance — out of all things. All of them I wrote very intermittently.

Continue reading Who’s the sheeple now?

DIY vs. Delegate

This is the weekend I finally catch up on sleep. My husband came back from training — which was a relief. But of course he’s catching up on sleep this weekend because he’s going back to work to his regular job on Monday. I’ll admit the last two weeks were difficult — especially when Lana was sick and then I was sick. When my husband is away, I like to use that time to work on a bunch of projects — it could be an art project to display in the dining room, plant something in the front yard, etc. But lately I’ve been too tired to do basic things.

Continue reading DIY vs. Delegate

Exhausted and disillusioned

I finally made it to the end of the week and why did its arrival feel so freaking slow?! It’s been quite a week and I could not wait for it end! Well as of last Friday, my husband was off for two weeks for military training. Over that past weekend, I was working on Lana’s room — decluttering and reorganizing. Then…well let’s break this week past week down:

Continue reading Exhausted and disillusioned

Bitter pills

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share. This week was a little rough since I feel like I opened a can of worms this past Sunday. I am so glad Friday came about knowing my BIL was gone for the weekend.

So what happened was my husband brought up that his brother wants to get a shed in our backyard to store his stuff. When my BIL moved in, he took up A LOT of space. Prior to him moving, my husband cleaned up the garage hoping it would finally become a two car garage with a proper station for his tools. Then his brother moved in. We thought he was going to just move in and occupy the spare room, but it reality he took the room and half of the garage with a bunch of his stuff. He even took up a good part of our backyard. He even bought a greenhouse thinking he would get into gardening. He also got a miniature wind turbine, some solar panels, and a basketball hoop. Side note: the greenhouse broke from one of the windy nights. It has not been fixed since then. When he got the mini wind turbine, he asked if we knew anyone with a post hole digger. We had to put our foot down that we did not want him to dig our yard for his mini wind turbine.

I almost agreed to him getting a shed, but I had to really think about it. It may have meant finally freeing up the garage, but my husband always HATED the idea of having of having a shed in the yard. I even brought that up to my husband that he does not like sheds, that should have been enough to just say “no.”

Then after some thought I said, “we just can’t let him buy a shed. He does not even pay for rent here. Let’s say if he moves out, he needs to take his shed with him because we don’t want to deal with it.” My husband told me to talk to his brother about it. A few minutes later, that was what I did. I just went ahead and told him and he was very shocked. And so was my husband. My husband was shocked the way I brought it up; I did not provide a preface. Was I suppose provide a preface? I served it cold and stoic. I did not build up to the main point, I just went straight for it. I said, “Hey I heard you want a shed for your stuff. I understand that you need storage space for stuff to free up our garage but here it is what I think: you take up a lot of space for someone who does not pay rent.” He said “I know.” He did say other stuff, but I told him to not interrupt. And then I go on about how we (my husband and I) thought this living situation was going a temporary thing, we thought he could be independent on his own. Then it was back to talking about how having a shed is a thing we don’t want. Then I compromised, he can have his shed under the condition that he pays rent. But in the event he leaves, he needs to take his shed and everything else here otherwise we would just get rid of it. I think that is reasonable.

He replied, “I know.” He does have a job now, but he shared he has a lot of stuff to take care of. He was very reluctant to include rent as one more thing to take care of. I am truly sympathetic to his situation, but my reply was “welcome to the real world.”

My BIL started to grow hot by telling me, “not everyone had to go grow up in a loving stable household. Some of us had to struggle.” He goes on about how some get out of it (referring to my husband), while others stay struggling. It rubbed me the wrong way. I have a loving family, but they never coddled me to do nothing. When I was younger, I wished they did because I was tired of working for everything all the time. Why could I not be that person who just got stuff because I asked for it just once?

But as I got older I’m glad they never coddled. I felt they prepared me with coping with the bitter pills of the real world. I was always optimistic about the next steps of life like moving out of my parent’s house and living in West LA or getting my own cellphone, but I kept things realistic on what’s to come. I knew living in West LA was going to be expensive, but it beats taking the commuter bus to school every day. Also, I thought it would be fun to live near the beach. I knew it is one thing to buy a cellphone and another thing to make payments on a monthly plan. I was ready to take it on, the good and the bad.

I’ve made my fair share of stupid decisions. I was in credit card debt and there was a time I was late for rent constantly. There was a time I was almost kicked out of my apartment because I was so late on rent. I had to take on gig jobs like catering and tutoring to help me stay afloat because I was a bonehead in finances.  I even considered moving back in with my parents even if it meant spending two hours of my day commuting to school and back.

I was poor and naïve in finances, but I had grit and determination to get myself out. I had lots of goals and I was aware a lot of it required money. Even when I had a full-time job after college, I did pick some gig work. In my early twenties I lived in San Diego and it was so dang expensive. I still had debt to take care of and bills to pay. I also bought a car because San Diego was not public transit and pedestrian friendly compared to West LA. I complained to my parents about how I was so tired having two jobs but I needed two jobs because my full-time job was not enough income for me to live on. My parents told me “welcome to the real world.”

When my BIL suggested that we are not relatable, I’ll admit, it did rub me the wrong way. He (and so many others before) have implied that I don’t understand struggle. My husband told me maybe if I talked about my struggles in my early 20s, he would find me more relatable. I thought about it really hard. After looking back, my struggles versus my BIL’s (and my husband’s) are very different. Their struggles happened in childhood shaping their point-of-view. They talk about how they grew up poor, but they never quite elaborated. My financial mistakes happened in adulthood and I took ownership those mistakes. I was the one who chose to move out of my parents’ house, I was the one who signed up for credit cards. When you are a child growing up poor, you feel like you don’t have control of your world. A child did not choose to grow up poor.

This is going to sound incredibly outrageous, but for me, being a poor college student and struggling in my early 20s was more like a rite of passage.I learned the hard way on how to live on so little and I do not need much to make myself happy. I don’t need an extensive wardrobe, a closet just for shoes, a new car, etc. All I need is exercise, being outside, cooking, and being creative just to be happy. Signing up for credit cards was one of the things I regretted doing in college. I wished back then I learned that living more simply would have made me happier.

When Friday came yesterday I was so relieved to know he went back to his hometown. We have not talked to each other all week. I am sure I could have approached it more gently like asked him how his job was going. Then it would lead to “hey because you have income, you can pay for rent now.” And then it would lead to “because you pay for rent, you can have the shed.”

February Overview

If we were were having coffee, you’d notice that my husband and Lana are out for the morning. They’re going for a run along the beach. All I can say is “I am overwhelmed.” Not in a bad way though. It’s been ages since I’ve had the house to myself. I slept in and woke up at 7:30 AM and thought I’ll start off by making that milk bread recipe I’ve been meaning to do, write on my blog, finish folding laundry, change the bedsheets, spend 30 minutes decluttering the house, put together my tax stuff, etc.

We realized we need a more conscious effort in Lana bonding with my husband. Last Sunday, I stepped out to run some errands for an hour and Lana started crying. When I came home, she calmed down. We realized, just like the dogs, she prefers mom. I mean, I take her with me to work almost everyday for daycare. Also, I keep the stroller in my car so I do more walks with her. Yesterday when my husband got the day off, I had to remember to not take the car with the stroller and take the small car to work so he can take her out or take out the stroller if he wants to walk around the neighborhood. My husband works long hours at his regular job which has no daycare. In addition, he’s in the National Guard so he has to work one weekend per month plus the three weeks of annual training. Overall, he has significantly less time to spend with her. We have to look at each month when he can spend his days with her, and it’s not as much as we’d like. But I’ve learned that it’s not about the amount time spent, it’s the quality of time. Her version of quality time is simple, she appreciates the neighborhood walks and lunch outings.. She’s not demanding a trip to Disneyland.

In other news, my brother-in-law has a job. He started his training/orientation at his work yesterday. My husband gave him an ultimatum a few weeks back that since there was no progress over the last several months, he should move out in two weeks. Since then e actively looked for work and went to interviews, and finally he got a job. It may not be the job and/or salary he wanted, but now he’s productive. In the beginning, I told my husband “maybe he thinks our house is prison because we made him sit down in front of his computer looking for work.” I can’t believe it took a warning that we’d boot him out to get him to go, go, go.

Anyways, February overview. Let’s review my 21 in (20)21 list:

Self-Love

2. Start off my day reading the The Daily Stoic from January 1st to December 31st. 

I’ve missed a few days. I thought maybe it would better to read the following day the night before.

3. Do the #Read21in21 where I read for 21 minutes per day. This is still going :-).

Home

8 Get a credenza for the living room.

I finally started shopping and looking around. I found it and placed an order. I scheduled it to be delivered in a couple of weeks since it is my free weekend.

Finance

12. Save six months worth of living expenses.

In progress

13. Create monthly meal plans.

Still going

14. Make our own baby food.

This happened. I made brown rice cereal and it’s a lot. I kept the rest in the freezer.

Health

16. Get the COVID-19 vaccine.

I got both doses!

How did your February go?

Weekend Coffee Share: The opposite of #vanlife

If we were having coffee, we’d watch be watching Nomadland. It’s a wonderful film and I want to read the book. It’s definitely not glamorous like Instagram’s “omg #vanlife.” I know people who were in the opposite situation from those in Nomadland, they decide to quit their jobs and drive across the country spending their days sightseeing. If they could, they would probably do vanlife indefinitely, but their parents cut their vanlife journey to a short six months. I wonder if they recognize themselves in a position of privilege to quit and go. They have jobs that allowed them to save enough money to not work for so many months — most Americans can’t come up with $400 for an emergency and I was shocked to find out the median savings account in America is $3,500. (Side note: maybe my years of acting like I am still on a budget as a 19-year old UCLA student working in restaurants and catering in order to get by in West LA is paying off. For reference, I am 33 years old now.) Also, these people are young enough to quickly go back into the workforce in about the same level of title and pay as they have left it. But then again, six months of not working is relatively not a long time. We are a year into the pandemic and people have been unemployed or “furloughed” for just as long as the pandemic has been going. Those who are furloughed are hanging there in the hopes their jobs would call them back to the office. Then there are those who finally realize it’s time to start looking for another job.

The focus on older adults living on the road in Nomadland was absolutely fascinating, especially since I worked in senior living and recreation for so many years. They are houseless because their social security is not enough to continue their previous lifestyle of having and maintaining their old home. They supplement their income by looking for seasonal jobs. A social ill that was not mentioned but has been happening for a long time is that there are very few options for affordable housing. When I worked in senior housing, affordable housing was incredibly competitive across the industry because there is just not a lot of inventory to house many eligible seniors. People are on a 10-year waiting list before being able to move into their affordable home community of choice. I could go on and on about affordable housing.

If we were having coffee, I’ll talk about this one thing that kind of bothered me at work. My supervisor was telling me that a few volunteers have complained that I don’t like them. Of course this complaint was made when I was on maternity leave. I was a little thrown off because I asked her, “who do I not like?” I am absolutely clueless. She never disclosed who they were. She told me that maybe my tone and my directness could be perceived by some (by some, it’s four people) as off-putting. I have done some self-reflecting, it’s not the first time in my professional life it has been brought up to my attention. I have been corrected to say things better to ameliorate my tone over the years, and to be honest I don’t like it. When I pause to think of the “right” thing to say, I struggle because I am going through word after word to say the “perfect sentence.” Actually that was not the part I was bothered by.

I told my supervisor that I am not in a position to bend the rules for people, if they feel compelled that the rules don’t apply to them, then they need to talk to her. What bothered me most about this complaint is that I found it to be unfair; I observe my administrator (my supervisor’s supervisor) and other people in higher positions who are just a frank and direct. We don’t paint them as “off-putting” but rather they are too busy to deal with the frivolities of a long winding e-mail. Maybe these people thought “this assistant director has time to deal with my situation.” And if I did not give them what they wanted, then I must not like them. I also wondered if I looked a bit older, I probably would not have had those complaints.

To end on a lighter note, it’s my favorite season — cherry blossom season! I’ll be spending my weekends walking around my local park admiring the cherry blossoms.

Probation status

Disclaimer: This blog post talks about my experiences of racism as an Asian-American.

I was listening to Friday’s “The Daily” on the rise of racism on Asian-Americans as a result of CoVID-19. In fact, I listened to it twice. After work I went to a Chinese restaurant to pick up takeout to declare my support for Asian-Americans.

I unfortunately know some people who called CoViD-19 as the “Chinese virus” because it came from China. I want to tell these people that YOU think you can get away with it because you are a white Christian person. I don’t know a time when white Christian people experienced racism. I don’t think that white Christian people in America can understand racism beyond what they learned in a textbook. Here is the twist and I am almost embarrassed to say this, but these people are my friends. I have white Christian friends — I grew up in a mostly white Christian area of Los Angeles. Ever since I was of school age, I already knew my white Christian friends will never empathize the ugliness of racism. People always asked me where I am from, but they never asked my white friends where they are from. I found these micro-cuts to be somewhat paralyzing.

The thing I want to tell my white Christian friends that they may think it is cute nicknaming CoViD-19 a “Chinese virus”, but there are major consequences where Asian-Americans are getting slurs on the streets and are unwelcomed everywhere they go. At my work I had two international students from China who volunteered at the hospital who then ultimately decided to go on leave many weeks ago. I supported their decision and let them go on leave with no penalties. I can hear the other side saying to me I am encouraging people to slack off. They’re sheltering in place, they’re not relaxing at the beach.

source: vox.com

Anyways, back to the podcast. Jiayang Fan shares her Asian-American story. She was born in China, but spent more of her school years and beyond in the United States. It started her not recognizing these little moments as not racist to then getting older and finally recognizing it for what it is. I listened to it twice in one day because I deeply related to her Asian-American story and “otherness”. So here is mine:

I was born in the United States — Chicago, Illinois to be exact. We moved to San Diego, California when I was one because my dad’s job relocated there. A few years later my dad lost his job. My mom, sister, and I moved to the Philippines for about a year until my dad was able to look for work. When we returned, we moved to Los Angeles. We did not live in downtown LA…we lived in the far reaches of LA County. It was a mostly white suburb where the houses were big, bland, and look all the same. The lots were small. You know, the definition of the American Dream.

When I was in elementary school in America, I had to take ESL (English as a second language) classes. I took ESL from 1st grade to 5th grade. What a way to make me feel like I was an “other” from the rest of my class considering English is my FIRST language. I was born in the United States. Even living in the Philippines, English is predominantly spoken. When I was in 4th grade, I read a lot of English literature for fun — many years later these same books were assigned reading in high school. My parents were really trying to pull me out of ESL classes. It took the school about five years to realize that I spoke English and decided I no longer needed ESL. Later on, I met other people who have shared similar experiences. If you have taken ESL classes in elementary school, you probably recognized your “otherness” early on. Since most of my classmates were white, I already knew I looked different the moment I started school.

That was one of many moments of my Asian-American experience. The older I got, the more I realized that Asian-Americans will be the perpetual foreigner even if they were born here and even if they have never spoken their ancestral language. I’ve observed this with other ethnic groups too. Our presence is probationary; if we excel in everything, if we speak English “correctly”, if we don’t eat “weird” food in public, have “normal” names, if we don’t get upset and offended — then we are welcomed to be here.

I remembered a few years ago, my Asian-American supervisor brought up a complaint about me that a someone on the other end did not understand what I was saying over the telephone. At first I was perplexed, but then it quickly escalated to being annoying. The thing that took me over the edge was that the recipient stated I had some sort of accent. My supervisor reminded me it was not the first time someone brought it up asked me, “what was I going do about that?” What did he mean? Should I get an accent coach? Also, he reassigned this recipient to another coworker. Deep down, I was concerned about my job. It was just one small thing, but I worried how much more until I become obsolete?

As much as I wanted to make speech on racism and unfairness to make my Asian-American supervisor understand what I am thinking about, I instead resorted the shortcut. I called him nit-picky and told him how I am not looking to change. Also, how dare he take their side? He concluded that I was stressed out at work and suggested to take the rest of the day off. Maybe I really needed the day off, but in retrospect, the situation was handled poorly. Nothing meaningful came out of it other than throwing tempers.

I was afraid to cry out the r-word. It was easier to throw everything else instead when I snapped. Since then and until I stopped working there months ago, I was always afraid to make phone calls and give speeches. When I started working at my current job, it was like I regained all my confidence. I credit that the people I work with and the people I serve are far more diverse.

It is hard to call racism for what it is. In the podcast, Jiayang created a scenario if she had a conversation with her mother about what she has gone through. Her mom would ask back, “were you hurt? Did they take anything away from you? Why are you making something out of nothing?!” That last part was incredibly relatable. I remembered when I left work early that day, I went to visit my husband at work to tell him what happened. I cried about it too. My husband is an Asian-American, but he seemed to have a hard time understanding why I was really upset. Then again, I feel my husband has met all the criteria of being welcomed here — I don’t know of anyone who complains about him. I talked about it with my parents, they advised me to speak slower even though that was not the complaint. Sharing my story felt like a losing battle…was I making something out of nothing? I decided to shelve this incident, along with many of my incidents of my Asian-American experiences. That was until “The Daily” episode came along on Friday. It reignited me to share my own.