Wednesday, December 26, 2007


It's recently come to my attention that people are sometimes a little too into their babies. And when I mean "a little too into," I mean OBSESSED. I'm not talking about the typical doting parent who loves his child to death and would kick the ass of anyone who'd hurt his child. I'm talking about parents who will cover 90% of her wall with her child's art work, prop up ten to twenty thousand framed photographs of her child at various stages of infancy, use a mousepad with a picture of her baby on it, use the baby's head as a background, screensaver and mouse icon on her computer, and affix as a signature to every email a picture of the baby.

It's a bit much.

I also find it amusing how everyone thinks that their baby is the smartest baby in the whole wide world. (So much for the teachers who thought Albert Einstein was retarded when he was in grade school.) Parents forcefeed the states and capitals to their infant so that the infant, whose umbilical cord is still healing from being cut a few hours ago, can recite them at baby parties. I want to just tell these parents to chill out. Just chill out. Chances are, if the parents are smart, so will the kids.

But maybe these parents are right -- if Einstein had watched Baby Mozart as an infant and was forced to memorize the periodic table when he was 2, he would have uncovered the mathematical proof of time travel, God and existence as we know it.

Damn, Einstein's parents f-ed that one up.

Now IKNOWIKNOWIKNOW, I won't understand this insanity until I have a baby, and I don't have a baby so I don't understand, so who am I to complain, wah wah wah. I readily admit that when I have a beb of my own, I'm gonna brag about how kick ass smart he is and how he's going to be such a superhero when he grows up. I get it.

I just hope someone calls my shit out when I start fashioning postage stamps and refrigerator magnets with my baby's head on them. God help us all if I do that.

Worlds apart

Single life and coupled life are both very interesting.

As a single girl, you have single friends and talk about sex and bad sex, guys and bad guys, date and bad dates. For the past few years, this has been the bulk of my existence.

Now that I'm in a relationship, I see this whole other world, the world of couples. It's a world where all of a sudden your couple-friends invite you over for dinner, and you begin attending parties with other couples. You go to shops that only couples seem to go to, shops that sell dog calendars and coasters and feng shui stools and minimalist keychain holders. And then you're invited to couples-outings. For example, a married couple invited us to go on a vacation with them. It's a whole new world.

And only now do I realize that there are two different worlds, because my former single life seems like a distinct segmant of my life. I recently noticed a growing distance between me and my single friends. Maybe we just have less in common now, given that we talked about boys 99.9% of the time. Or maybe it feels like the boyf takes up 99.9% of my time, if not my thoughts.

I also noticed that a few of my single friends have gone out without inviting me. When I was single, they'd shoot an email during the week asking if I wanted to see the new bar or club opening up and check out the 'market' there. We'd go and meet various socially retarded men and go on dates with them despite the red flags and complain about it the week thereafter. Rinse cycle and repeat.

Now I'm not invited so much. Granted, it could be because I'm not as fun as I used to be. But a part of me suspects that it's because I'm no longer on the market and wouldn't delight in the adventures of meeting suspiciously attractive sociopaths.

I do know that, the boyf notwithstanding, it's important to maintain one's girlfriendships. Because without the girls, where would we be? I think everyone goes through at least a couple emotionally traumatizing events in her/his life, and in the end, we each get through it with at least a little help and support from our friends.

I've seen too many times where a woman, once she snags a guy, will "disappear" on her gal pals. A year or two later, she breaks up with the guy and, only then, she realizes she has no friends. It's dangerous to bank one's entire social life on one guy. Even if she's happily married.

So my mandate to myself is this: I maintain and nurture my girlfriendships.

No matter which world I'm in.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday night

It's Christmas eve, and I'm here at home, obviously with free time to blog, read and play with the cats. My mother is altering her dress for her Christmas concert tomorrow at church. Needless to say, my brother and I will be in attendance.

Earlier today, I was looking through drawers and closets for a blank notepad, when I found some old photo albums. One was a leathery bound volume, and it creaked and hissed as I carefully opened its hard thick cover.

I saw my mom in her white wedding gown, with sky blue eyeshadow and thick mascara -- that was the style then I suppose. I saw pictures of my parents and my brother and me when we were toddlers. My eyes were so small then. Pictures of me and my brother hugging or climbing a tree. Pictures of us smiling in front of a birthday cake. There were pictures of my mom in her fobby mullet, my dad with his bushy black hair. There was a picture of us sitting on top of the orange Oldsmobile. Us wading in the pool at Disney World. Us with our grandparents who, I hate to say it, look the same age as my mom now and my late father.

There was one picture of me, I think it was 1982 or something. I was in a tree, with a denim skirt and white stockings, and my mouth was agape, frozen, in a presumably deafening bawl. I REMEMBER that day. Of course my mom, thinking it was hilarious that I was shrieking my head off hysterically, decided to memorialize the moment by taking a clean photograph of me.

I remember that day. I climbed that tree, and after growing bored with the view, wanted to get down. When I looked down to the sole branch that would be my escape, I saw at the bottom of that branch just inches below my foot a humongous colony of ants. Black ants, crawling in thousands of directions, waiting to eat my foot and then the rest of me. I was trapped in the tree, and probably going to die there since there was no other way to get down. Confronted with an imminent, horrible death, I began crying. And noticing no one was helping me, the crying evolved into an all-out bawling tantrum.

This was literally a cry for help.

It was at that moment my mother stood in front of me (gleefully I imagine) and took a photo of me.

That picture is in a photo album in my house. Clearly, I'm not still annoyed that my mother took a picture of me at a particularly vulnerable moment. Clearly. I closed the leather bound photo volume not too soon after seeing that picture, and placed it back in the cabinet.

Memories. Like the corners of my mind.

R & R

I am reading "The Kite Runner," by Khaled Hosseini. I decided on a whim to buy it in the airport since my flight was delayed by over an hour. I didn't read it on the plane at all (was catching up on sleep), and only started reading it in the airport after I arrived.

It's a good book.

It's amazing how universal certain things are -- the immigrant experience, diaspora, a country having a dominant culture and subordinate (and therefore oppressed) culture. I confess I am pretty ignorant when it comes to any culture, even my own, so I found the story told from an Afghani point of view was fascinating. I had never heard of a Hazara until I started reading this novel.

I also noticed some uncanny similarities between the protagonist's father and my own Yellow father. Are all dads from the Asian continent all the same?!

Anyhow, like I said, it's a good book. And the title, very apt.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fairy tales

I am home for the holidays. One of my habits when I come home is to look through my old bookcase and peruse through books I've already read and yearbooks and random book reports I happened to save.

This afternoon, I found one of my first "short stories." I wrote it when I was seven or eight years old. It's not exactly an exemplary work of fiction, but I thought it'd be interesting to share. If I had a scanner and the requisite patience, I'd have scanned and posted my illustrations here. Suffice it to say I wasn't bad with the Crayola markers and watercolors.

A Pretty Secret, by Yellow Gal

A long, long time ago a poor, poor family had a baby. It was a girl.

Every night something strange would happen. A big star would come. It was a fairy.

The fairy would make kind wishes to the baby girl. The mother named the baby Lisa.

Sixteen years later, Lisa was beautiful. The fairy still came. The fairy told her not to tell anyone she had a fairy visitor.

One day she told everybody that she had a secret. Everybody wanted to know about the secret.

A few years later, somebody asked Lisa about her secret. She disobeyed the fairy. She told the person who asked her.

Then the fairy came and said, "You foolish girl, you." So she put a spell on her that she would never move again. "Someone will have to make you cry," said the fairy.

Lots of years passed and Lisa's parents died.

Lisa was still a girl. Three handsome men came. One thought the girl was so beautiful that he would make her cry. He tried, and tried, and tried, but he could not make her cry.

So the second man tried, and he tried, and he tried, but he could not make her cry.

So the third man tried, and he tried, and he tried.

At last he made her cry.

She was unfrozen. And they lived happily ever after.

Don't ask. I don't know. The explanation I can think of for the randomness of the story is that I read a lot of fairy tales back then, and there was always some beautiful girl disobeying some fairy and being cursed and it always took three tries for some dude to save her.

Like I said, not exactly an exemplary work of fiction.

The third grader within can't help but wonder though. I've been in two long-term relationships thus far. Could this guy be the one who saves me? Is the third time always the charm?

Then the adult in me wonders why we make up these stories and sayings. I guess people would rather hear something fanciful and happy, rather than knowing nothing and feeling like it's all a crapshoot.

I guess we'll all figure that one out in the end.

Stand up

So I did confront my boss, specifically about his screaming and cursing at me. I did it in a non-confrontational manner, or so I thought. When I brought up it to my boss's attention (with my other boss in the room, door closed), both of them started explaining away the concern, how other bosses are so much worse, how fortunate I am that I didn't work at such and such place. I guess I thought it through more than I realized, because I had a response to every point they made. Then I got this vibe in the room, a negative vibe, a defensive vibe. At one point, my boss said to me, "Cut me some slack!" He was frowning and looking away from me, in a way I had never seen before.

And I realized it. I had hit a nerve.

I reached my hand out across the desk towards him, as a gesture of kindness, and said, "I hope you don't take this personally."

And he said, "Of course I take it personally. You hurt my feelings, and I take it very personally. I don't think I'm a bad person."

And I said, "Oh, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings!"

He responded, "Well you did."

I was shocked. I expected to get yelled at, retaliated against, etc. But I hurt his feelings. I hurt my boss's feelings. I was in disbelief. It occurred to me that I wasn't the first person to express this concern.

I do admit though that at least one of their responses was legit: I need to get a thicker skin.

Anyhow, in the end, he said, "This is who I am. I'll do my best to address your concern, but chances are, I'm not going to change."

I responded, "Quite frankly, I expected you to say that. This is how you've operated for over fifty years so I honestly don't expect you to change just like that. I just wanted to express to you how I felt."

"Fair enough."

"Fair enough."

So that's that. I don't think things'll change remarkably. But I felt better that I stood up for myself. I even felt a little bad for hurting my boss's feelings, and perhaps a little insubordinate for dare criticizing my boss (both the Naysayer and the Boyfriend quelled the latter concern).

But I stand by the moral tenet that a boss shouldn't scream profanities to his employee. It isn't right.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just a little

I'm about to confront my boss with a few things that concern me. Needless to say, I'm anxious as shit.

But I take solace in two things. First, if I don't stand up for myself, who will? No one will stand up for me but me. Second, I know I'm right.

Why does it take so much to have a little faith in oneself?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Self-improving Yellow Gal

I know I have many flaws. But one flaw that stings me in particular is my passivity, which is related to my occasional passive-aggression.

I detest this about myself.

No doubt, I can be pretty blunt to people. Say things to their face. Tell them what my damage is or how they pissed me off. And I usually feel great after airing out my concerns.

And other times, I'm not. And I hate that. Part of this I suspect emerges from my upbringing. My mother, the most passive person I know, always discouraged rocking the boat and confronting people when it could be avoided. Is this an Asian thing? Or a female thing? Or a female Asian thing?

If someone ripped her off, her typical response would be, "Oh forget about it. I don't want to cause trouble for anyone. Let it be."

Another factor is the Christian factor. As I mentioned many-a-time in my blog, I was once a hard-core Bible thumper. Matthew 5:38-42 says: "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." I literally interpreted this as, "If someone asks you to bend over and grab your ankles, hand him the lube."

And, in addition to my upbringing, I have a general desire to be liked. If given a choice between being liked and being disliked, which would you choose? I naturally choose A. If you tell someone he's wrong or he's stupid, you will be disliked. If you tell him he's right or smart, you will be liked.

All of these factors are detrimental to my personal life and professional life. As an attorney, this has been particularly troublesome.

For example, I sometimes worry over pissing off opposing counsel. My boss tells me, "It's not your job to be their buddy. It's your job to represent your client. Clients don't pay you based on how well you get along with opposing counsel. They pay you based whether you win."

Another instance this hurts me professionally is when I deal with my bosses. One boss in particular has cursed me out and threatened to kill me. This clearly is not right. Yet I haven't the guts to go up to him yet and say, "While I appreciate the benefits of constructive criticism, cursing me out and threatening to kill me are unprofessional and inappropriate. I request that you stop doing that because that conduct serves no valid purpose."

But instead of asserting myself, I do nothing. And then I get mad, both at myself and the perpetrators, for allowing all of this to happen. Then I act pissy around them (read: passive-aggression) and then get mad for being pissy.

It's stupid really.

A woman once told me it isn't until you're 40 when you're fully self-actualized, when you finally get it and you don't take shit from anyone, no matter how pissy or cantankerous someone is to you. When I first heard this in my early twenties, I couldn't believe how long it would take for me to reach that level. But now, I realize how far I have to go.

This entry is a confession. In other words, I already know that my habits are wrong and should be eliminated. Toward that end, I'm reading an interesting book, "Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling," by Jane Hyun, that addresses how certain Asian Americans face cultural impediments to their careers.

For example, in Japan and no doubt other Asian cultures, it is disrespectful to interrupt your superiors/elders or question the validity of their opinions. In America, it is encouraged to speak up against The Man, interrupt, push forward and be the "squeaky wheel." Therefore, if you harbor traditional Asian notions, even unconsciously, you won't get as far as someone who does rock the boat and stand up for himself even if it causes conflict.

I may also read books that are geared towards women. We all know that on average, women make less money than men for the same job with the same level of education. Part of this we may attribute to embedded sexism. But another part is that women don't self-promote. They don't ask for raises. They don't toot their own horn. Meanwhile, men go out of their way to pursue promotions aggressively, ask their bosses point blank for a raise, and tout their accomplishments.

The women who defy feminine convention and demand their propers, like Martha Stewart and Hilary Clinton, end up succeeding. Granted, they are reviled as "bitches." For some reason though, I suspect that neither Martha nor Hilary give a flying fuck.

I also plan on connecting with and picking the brains of other female Asian American attorneys who have practiced longer and therefore know what it's like to work in a White Man's world and beat them at their own game. I can't wait until that day when I am reviled as a bitch and don't give a flying fuck and can bring anyone to their knees. I won't cower or flinch when confronted. I'll step forward, look at him in the eye, and say "What?"

BUT until that day, I'll harbor this flaw. It's only a matter of time. And effort.

Friday, December 14, 2007

On the other side

I recently connected with an old high school friend through myspace. Apparently, she's residing in Southern California, a.k.a., the Other Coast. I perused her photos, and seriously, every picture she has is of her on the beach, on a yacht, on a yacht by the beach, in a tent that's near a beach that's near a yacht; and wearing a tank top and shorts, a halter top and shorts, a sun dress, or a swimsuit.

Right now I'm picking a fuzzy lint off of my gray turtleneck sweater, and I can't help but once again envy those folks with their perpetual sunny weather and perpetual sunny demeanor.

Strangely though, she recently posed the following question on her bulletin board: "Should I move back east?"

Move back? But, why?

A myriad of responses appeared on her message board. A common response was being closer to family. Fair enough. That's legit. Though quite frankly that's the reason why some people move away.

And there were other reasons. Good food, fat people, winters with damp scarves and windchill factors, and cab drivers who say "fuck you" for no reason whatsoever.

Was this a dysfunctional symbiotic relationship she had with the east coast? Or perhaps the greener grass wasn't as green as she hoped. Maybe she wanted the less green grass, the yellower grass with its patchy growth, pet droppings and broken glass.

Ultimately, I suspect that there is something fundamentally irreplaceable about whatever place we call home; and while the grass may be greener on the other side, it's just that: the other side. It's not Home.

@ the office

There's something unnerving about being alone in the office on a Friday evening. Maybe it's the fact that I'm free to wear my hair in an offensively spiky ponytail or that I can wear bathroom slippers around the office without judgment. It's very quiet, save for the sound of traffic outside my window and the soft humming of the printer next to me.

Of course I'm not really alone. The janitorial staff has yet to make its round on my floor (they tell me in broken English I work too much - I haven't the heart to tell them that I am just a bad procrastinator). And outside my window looms another glittery sky scraper, some of whose windows are still lit. I always have this vague feeling that people are still there, sitting at their computers, occasionally glancing over to my building and wondering if there are people here. I wonder if they can see me, with my offensively spiky ponytail and bathroom slippers. I wonder if any of them have binoculars.

I can't take credit for the binocular idea. I remember seeing an episode of NewsRadio where one employee was looking out his office window with binoculars. Coincidentally, another employee was simultaneously looking at him through her window with binoculars. Comedy ensued.

But really. I can't say I feel uninhibited enough to run around screaming my head off at the top of my lungs, though my boss has been known to do that once in a while. Perhaps the craziest thing I've done is have "a male guest" visit me late at night (the whole swooshing all the papers off the desk thing is fun, but it's a real pain to pick up everything afterwards). I could at least close the door for that. The second craziest thing is probably playing trance or rap music at full blast in my office late at night whilst typing up a brief. I think once, one of the building's security guards came up to investigate the noise, and upon seeing me in the hallway, a bespecled Asian girl in a spiky ponytail and bathroom slippers, went back downstairs.

But right now the office is very quiet. There's something unnerving about being alone in the office on a Friday evening.
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