Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Snake Under the Roof

At first I thought "No, I'm not going." when my friend invited me to go with her to an equestrian ranch. The only thing I have that's remotely connected to equestrian is my handbag, which has belts and buckles that vaguely resemble the ones on a saddle.

Then I thought "What the hay? I've never been to one."

So this city girl went on a country ride. Boy was I surprised by what I saw there!

According to the owner, the snake was the only thing that stopped the sparrows from building their nests under their roof. They have tried everything and nothing else worked. It's a plastic, inflated snake. No wonder they say "bird brain."

The following items in the pictures, i.e., carriage, fake western settlers, golf cart are all from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch auction. Humans are real:

I thought it was tacky to ask people for money when I saw their boxes have "Got Cash" on them. Thirty minutes into their performance I realized it's because they specialize on Jonny Cash's music. They are quite good at it!

Grandpa and his date were dancing the night away:

A couple of riders performed some galloping and jumping for us:

Turns out there are quite a few equestrian ranches out there by the Silicon Valley -- silly me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Identity Crisis

"We’re home!” Andy announced, with the crate in his hand.

We rushed to greet him, or more accurately, to greet Princess. She looked at us and let out a soft meow. We got her out of the crate and examined her tail stump. Her long and beautiful tail was gone. The short stump was wrapped in gauze. I saw shiny reflection in Andy’s eyes.

She came home one day and the tail was broken. The vet had to amputate it.

Andy asked me why anyone would be so cruel to do that. I didn’t know what to tell him. One thing was certain: it wasn’t done by another cat. She was a big girl, fed by her previous owner with beef. It had to be a human with some kind of instrument – maybe a broom - who did this.

While Princess purred and rubbed us with her head as if she didn’t realize something was amiss, Andy told us what transpired at the vet’s office.

They showed him Princess’ x-ray that everything was fine, except the tail was gone. They gave him the medication for post surgery care and instructions on what to do and when to go back. He paid the bill and, as he was about to leave, the vet asked him:

"By the way, do you know your Princess is actually a Prince?”

"What?!” we yelled.

She was given to us by her previous owner who had to leave the country for a long period of time. We were told that Princess was her “daughter,” and that she was a spade female cat. That’s why Andy named her Princess.

After we picked ourselves up from the floor and wiped the tears off our cheeks from laughing so hard, Andy added, “No wonder he was peeing all over the house and tearing the carpet up. He was acting out his identity crisis!”

(In loving and laughing memories of Princess, who had mistaken identity while we had her.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Edge of Abyss

I was shocked to see him. Jessica invited me to a birthday dinner for her father, who turned ninety five and still dates, dances a couple of times a week, and has a healthy appetite. Her husband, on the other hand, used to weigh three hundred eighty pounds, now reduced to close to a skeleton.

He has throat cancer for two years now. The doctor said the chemo and the radiation treatments failed to keep the cancer cells at bay, and they have spread to his bones all over his body. He told Jessica her husband might have one year to live.

We were devastated when we heard the news. Jessica seems to be handling it very well. She didn’t fall apart. She didn’t cry whenever I talked to her. Her days are going normally as if he had a bad cold and would take a while to recover. She even resumed her photography classes just to get away from it – which is probably a good thing.

I know I wouldn’t be so strong if this happened to me. I would definitely cry a lot. Instead of classes, I would probably go to church for support. I wonder if this means I’m weak.

I also wonder if her husband knew he would have to go through this before his life would end prematurely, would he have smoked for thirty years before Jessica finally made him quit?

Most of all, I feel so bad about this whole thing. I’m at a complete loss of words as to what to say to him, and I feel very guilty about it. What can I do to make him more at peace with this dreadful and hopeless situation? What can I say to a person who’s staring at the dark abyss that he will have to jump in soon?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bitter, Or Sweet?

They say be careful what you wish for. I know what they mean now.

The shock, the memories, the nameless feeling of something lost, the (yet again) sleepless nights of seeing your ex so unexpectedly is not exactly a pleasant encounter.

I left the house early one Saturday for the flea market in search of a present made of jade. It’s a place I usually don’t go anymore for: 1) the distance is great; 2) there is a danger of running into a person with whom I can find no purpose of meeting. Nevertheless, it’s the only place I could think of where the vendors won’t ask an arm and a leg for something came from the earth. I would visit there once or twice a year and, so far I have been fortunate not running into him.

It was early. Some vendors were still setting up their stands. I passed the first slot where the merchandise was displayed on the ground, and the vendor was talking to a prospective customer. I stopped at the second slot and glanced back at the customer, and said to myself, “Oh no.” He gained weight, for which I was happy to see, but otherwise still looked like the person I once knew.

Should I say hi or should I hide? I didn’t know what to do. I pretended to be browsing and crossed his view point a couple of times. He didn’t recognize me. He then went to a stand and stood by a woman who was selling some wooden jewelry. Girlfriend? He sat down at the back of a van that was parked behind the stand. I went up and touched the wooden earrings on her stand. He looked at me through the jewelries, but showed no sign of recognition. Should I take my sunglasses off and let him see my face, and joke “So, you are selling now?”

I moved on to other vendors and purchased a couple of "can't live without" items. When I was done I once again decided to go up and just say hi. What’s the big deal? We can be polite for a few minutes, and we’ll part ways. Just when I was about to walk up to him I saw the ring on his left hand. It’s not his girlfriend – it’s his wife! I turned and left the market.

He had a very well paying job, so I know they don't have to do this. Maybe she’s doing this for fun and he is there to be supportive. Maybe he lost his job and they have to do this for a living. I don't want to embarrass him in front of his wife – so I told myself. But are there any other reasons?

For a year or so that we had been together, I had the feeling that he was divorced on paper only. His ex-wife will always have control of his thoughts, actions and his affections. The fact that he was never able to verbally express how he felt for me was, to me, evidence strong enough. The yellow gold ring made me wonder if he had married his ex-wife again, for white gold is much more in fashion nowadays.

I guess it didn’t matter. Regardless who she is, I just got the confirmation that he never felt strong enough for me. I didn’t need to face him to reaffirm the reason why our relationship was not what I wanted. I already knew. I should’ve known and had the good sense to run away from him when he told me he thought I was fat -- judging from the picture I sent him. Now both the bulge and the joke are on him. That’s the only thing of which I could be happy.

The next day I received a one-ring phone call. I didn’t answer, and it didn’t ring again.

Scary Moment

I heard a scary story the other day at a pot-luck lunch at work. Several consultants joined us unexpectedly, and, while we were eating and making small talks (one of the uncomfortable things you do when you have to eat with people you are not necessarily that familiar with), one of the consultants started talking about how she met her fiancé. Turns out she met him through online dating.

What’s remarkable about it is while most people try to hide the fact that they are doing this (the thought of ‘loser’ still prevails when it comes to online dating, and she said it herself that she would never have done it if not encouraged by her friend) she had no problem sharing this with people she mostly had not met before that day. More remarkably, she’s Asian. I couldn’t help but noticing the difference between Asian-born Asians and American-born Asians, and I must say the openness about one’s personal live was refreshing to me.

I was raised to hide my emotions, thoughts and personal affairs to myself since that was the "proper” behavior. Sometimes I just want to scream, “What’s the freaking big deal?!” I think it just shows how judgmental and oppressive the society was. Her openness, however, was not the scary part.

What’s scary is after she submitted her profile, which consisted of 500 or so questions (enough to make me stop before I start) she received a list of names of good matches, and her ex-husband was one of them! So what it did to me was (others were laughing because it was kind of funny) confirming my reasoning of not dating.

Some people are willing to kiss all the toads before they find a prince. I think the odds are really crap shoot no matter how scientifically the process is designed. You could end up with a guy for 10 years and supposedly a perfect match for you, and still end up divorced and starting anew. Too much work for not that rewarding of an endeavour to me. At least that's how I feel at this moment.

Mobile Workers

I work for a high tech company. This means I am surrounded by smart people everyday at work. This does not mean, however, everything conducted here is always smart.

They just implemented a mobile work environment and moved our team to the first office building that’s newly designed for that purpose. It means that you can sit anywhere in the building to work by using your laptop and logging on to your IP phone. It also means that we are the first batch of guinea pigs to try it out.

I’m not sure the reason behind this design, but I can tell you why it doesn’t make much sense.

1. We are not mobile workers. We are stationary workers in that we do our jobs on site, at a fixed location with the same group of people we interact on a daily basis.

2. To be truly mobile, there are no more desktop computers. We have to carry a laptop, among other things, with us day in and day out.

3. There are no drawers under these new desks. Whatever we need to get through the day, we need to carry them with us day in and day out. This includes: notebooks, paper print outs, pens/pencils, rulers, calculator, hand lotion, toothpicks, breath mints, etc. We used to be able to put these in the drawers in our own cubicles and not having to worry about it.

4. Every night before we leave, we are supposed to clean out everything on top and around the desk, so somebody else can use the same work space if needed. Which means nobody will use ours since as I said, we are stationary workers!

5. There are no more cubicles, just clusters of workstations with small pieces of mesh screens between them, which do not block either sound or sight. There are, therefore, no place to hang calendar, reminders, important notes, pictures of your loved ones, etc. In other words, the place looks very high tech, but relates to not humans, but machines. We all know we spend more time with our co-workers than with our families.

A cubicle at least provides some privacy, along with a sense of having our own space. Some pictures of our loved ones can give us some kind of comfort by reminding us: Maybe all this is worth it. Not anymore. Thanks to this high tech design, the last bit of human factor is taken out of our working lives. My guess is whoever designed this must be a man. Don't you think?

Two-faced Eva

Sandra was very sweet when she was training me on her job before she went on maternity leave. She was very patient and very pleasant. I thought I was very lucky to have stepped in for such a nice person. I worried about her position when the company started letting people go due to a reorganization at a large scale. I even worked with the admin to decorate her cubicle with signs and ribbons to welcome her return. I largely discredited another employee’s comments on how insecure she was, and hence caused much friction between them.

She surprised me with a totally different personality after returning to work. She pounded me on every single thing I did, even though I maintained all the files according to her specifications, and went through the very challenging year-end close with little problem. She often uses sighs and smirks to let me and others know how incompetent I was. It was so demeaning and unpleasant I eventually went out of my way to avoid as much contact with her as possible.

I now understand what the other employee said when he told me she was insecure. I had merely eight days of training and performed her job for 5 months without problems after she tried training others for the same job with unsuccessful results, and now she felt threatened because I can actually do her job.

Is she immature? Is she an emotionally unstable person? Is she a two-faced fake? Or is she all of the above?


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