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Mom Dating

Several years ago a friend told me she was hesitant to get to know a new neighbor because they were renting and she didn’t know how long they would be around. I didn’t get it. I figured if you get along, why not make a new friend. What could it hurt? I have changed my tune since then.

We moved to Fremont 2 years ago and it has been easy to meet people with whom I have a lot in common. In fact, I have this one friend who I can drink with AND can rely on to get my kids if I have to work late. This last year with SO on travel so much, she has been a godsend, inviting me and the kids over for dinner when she knew I needed a break from holding everything together alone. So my kids would play with her kids, while she and I would cook and chat. But she is moving.

Not far, mind you. Only 30 minutes away. But still. Our girls will not be in the same GS troop together. It will be harder for her to come out and play (karaoke rules, y’all). And I wonder how long we can sustain this friendship. We both have busy lives. And 30 minutes travel requires more planning than when we lived 3 minutes from each other. Would either of us have invested in this relationship knowing that time was so short?

I met another potential friend on one of our karaoke outings. A friend of a friend. We went on a family date the other day to see if our families get along. We were also using the opportunity to get to know each other (in daylight, sans booze) and our future plans. She pointedly asked me if I would be sticking around. Because she liked me, but didn’t want to invest in a friendship if I was just going to move away. I felt the same way. I have moved from being ok with casual dating to wanting a long term relationship.

So, Ms. Neighbor Who Just Moved In, I’m sorry if I seem to not engage fully. I don’t know where you will be in a year. And while I am ok with sharing a laugh and a beer while our kids play together. I will likely not invite you into my life.

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Please and Thank You, People.

Please and Thank You, people. Please and Thank You.

When you say Please and Thank You, you acknowledge that the person you are speaking to is a human being with their own will. You acknowledge that every person has an option to say “No”. No one HAS to do what you ask.

What if I am the boss and I sign his paycheck? He can still say no and risk being fired and leaving you in a lurch. So say Please and Thank You.

What if I am the parent and he is my child? He can still say no and risk being timed out or spanked and leaving you with huge therapy bills in their teen years. So say Please and Thank You.

What if I am the patron and he gets paid to serve me? He can leave you waiting longer for your food or, worse, spit in your food. So say Please and Thank You.

I actually had a boss tell me not to say Please because it is a sign of weakness. “Just state what they must do”, she would say. “It’s their job.” Well, no one liked her. And she couldn’t get anything done without invoking names of higher powers. How much easier would it have been to add a Please and a Thank You? You are not conceding your authority or position on an issue. You are acknowledging that we live in a civil society and that everyone has a right to choose.

Please and Thank You are three little words that convey respect and appreciation. What other words are as economical in building good will and lubricating the wheels of society?

So, please, say Please and Thank You.

Thank You.

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Dutiful Daughter and Dutiful Wife

Family issues are awful. In-law issues are even worst.

I don’t get along with my in-laws. I think it’s because we have our respective positions and are unwilling to budge. My way of coping is to keep conversations superficial and to limit my contact with them. When we are thrown together into a situation (i.e. Holidays, Grandma visits). I don’t talk. I don’t comment. I am civil.

But it goes both ways. SO doesn’t get along with my parents. Fortunately, they don’t speak the same language. Or, unfortunately, as they just conjure stories in their heads more based on their feelings than objectivity.

I don’t know whether it makes sense to work things out with your in-laws for the sake of the people you love, your spouse, your children. Maybe it’s not even possible. All I know is that I was so looking forward to living closer to my family. But we have become so used to having our separate lives that I worry living closer will result in more in-law issues. It will be difficult to choose between being a dutiful daughter and a dutiful wife.

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Squeezing Months Into A Weekend

I brought the kids to visit my family this weekend. It’s been 6 months since the last time we visited. The boy has learned to walk and throw tantrums in that time. The girl, to sass (more).

It was a whirlwind of dinners and parks and dim sum. Trying to squeeze months of interaction and catching up in 3 1/2 days. I have 5 siblings. The kids have 4 cousins. No matter how much I try, I always leave feeling like there was not enough time. And I always regret not talking more to this sibling 0r playing more with that nephew or niece. Being so far from my family, having my kids be so far from my family, sucks.

At the airport, on our way home, Mui tells me she is sad to be leaving. She wants to cry. She misses her aunts and cousins. She wants them to live near her. I tell her that if we moved back to California, she would have to leave her friends behind. She tells me she would be sad to leave her friends, but she wants to be closer to her aunts and cousins. I feel the same way.

I have made good friends here in Salt Lake City. I have built a life and a community. But I still miss my family. My parents are getting older and I can’t be there to help them. My sisters and brothers got married and had kids, all while I was away. I was not able to support them except over the phone. My nephews and nieces are growing up and I only get glimpses and snapshots of their lives.

To move back to California, I will have to leave friends. I will have to leave my big-ass house and move into a shack with (maybe) indoor plumbing. We will have a significant reduction in standard of living. (The median household income in Mountain View is WAY more than our household income.) We will have to pay an arm and a leg for childcare. I will have to buy less shoes and purses. But I want to be closer to my family.

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It Takes a Long Time

I am coming to love this Scary Mommy person. A lot of what she talks about resonates. Her latest post is about how she expected the close-knit friendships she saw on ThirtySomething when she was thirty-something. But her life at thirty-something is nothing like the show.

I moved to Utah 5 1/2 years ago AND I am thirty-something. Thirty-six to be exact. I left behind friends and family and moved to a new place, full of strangers. The first couple of years were TOUGH. I was lonely and my (then) 2 year old was my shopping partner, ice cream pal, and overall best friend. I probably had a hand in my isolation. I worked from home and the girl was in day care, giving me an excuse to not meet people. And I also kept a wall around me, resenting having to move for SO’s job.

Then I made friends thru my sun.com blog, with whom I got better acquainted thru Twitter. I belonged to a community and was less lonesome and unrooted. I have met some of them in person, but many I only know thru the internets. But all of them I want to invite to my house for homemade wonton and beers.

But I still needed friends in my physical life. And it took a long time. I would say about 3 years for me to build relationships with people who I can count on to watch my kids or get my mail or have a drink and a cry with.

When I went into labor with my son 3 weeks early, my mom was not here yet. Thank God that my neighbor and good friend, Merri Lee, had offered to watch Mui while SO and I were in the hospital. Otherwise, we didn’t know what we were to do with her.

When my other neighbor and good friend, Jenny’s, daughter passed, my heart broke like she was my own because Robyn and Mui were best of friends and had grown up together.

And I am making new friends thru my friends. I am going to see Lady Gaga in March with Jenny and a couple of people I met thru her. People who have the same humor as me (dry and kinda mean), people who like a drink like me (or two or five), people who like Gaga like me (I WILL get them to go in costume), people who make up a part of my community.

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Meet @ThinGuy and @MrsThinGuy – Check

I was in Vegas last weekend with my sister and BIL. He had some dental convention and I kept my sis company. Along with checking out the outlet mall and the M&M and Coke stores, one of my must-do’s was meeting @ThinGuy and @MrsThinGuy (Craig and Denae to those in the parrallel, non-twitter universe).

We met at Firefly on Paradise, a tapas place with really good food and really good mojitos. I had a lot of both. I was nervous to finally meet Craig and Denae. I have this short complex and Craig is a giant. Fortunately, we were sitting except for the initial hug, hug, handshake, handshake.

I also got to meet Julie and Terry, a couple of their friends. I think Terry is Mr. Magically Delicious. I forgot to ask. But he is Irish. And was wearing a green hat with a shamrock on it. And wouldn’t share his cereal.

I had a blast. My sister and BIL had a blast. Huge thank you to Craig, Denae, Julie and Terry. Definitely keeping you guys on the Vegas-Must-See list.

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Hakka Head

A few years ago while visiting my parents’ village in China, we noticed something. The men and women there have some huge noggins. And the men all looked like my brother, but I digress.

My mom, my brothers, one sister, and I have been saddled with huge heads proving one size does not fit all. And my children have big heads, too. In fact, Didi can barely fit his head through the neck hole of most of his shirts.

Growing up, we could not understand why we had big heads. Big heads were not a Chinese thing. Most Chinese people can find a hat that fits. But during this trip, we hit upon it. All those people in my parents’ village have big heads and they are Hakka. Therefore, Hakkas have big heads. Which explains the missing top on the Hakka hat.

When I got home, I checked online for famous Hakka people to test my theory. Deng Xiaoping – big head. Leslie Cheung – big head. Chow Yun-Fat – Really big head. Our family now refers to our big heads as Hakka heads. As in “Don’t cry, Mui. You don’t have a big head. You have a Hakka head.”

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Welcome to My World

I have finally gotten around to getting my own domain. I have imported all posts from blogs.sun.com and blogspot.com. Now that I have to PAY for having a blog, I plan to post more often.

This site is in flux. I am not techie enough to know how to do things fast, but techie enough to break stuff trying. So please bear with me if something you like disappears or something you don’t like jumps out of the screen and bites you.

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6 Word Story Contest

Tweeters were challenged yesterday to write a story using 6 words a la Hemingway: “For Sale: Baby shoes, never used.”

@editweapon won a @zappos contest where the prizes were a Van Halen towel and a $100 gift certificate to zappos.com. @editweapon decided to pass on some of his spoils by presenting the $100 gift certificate as the reward for the best 6 word story.

Here is my submission: Parents dial 011-86 to call home.

I don’t know who won or if they have chosen a winner yet. But I loved the opportunity to flex my creative writing muscle.

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Welcome, Marc!

My friend and colleague, Marc Dierens, recently started his own Sun blog. He is avid in virtual social networking and just gave our staff a briefing on Second Life and Facebook and how Sun utilizes them to build and strengthen networks internal and external to Sun.

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