Dusk

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dusk over hills with cloudsAs the sun waves its last goodbye

And disappears over the hills

The brilliant colors fade to pastels

Dusk

 

 

The temperature cools

Fireflies come out

And there’s a certain beauty

A little bit of magic in the air

 

A hectic day gives way to a quiet evening

It’s the tranquility I seek

I feel so serene, so calm

As peace washes over my heart

 

In that moment, it’s all I need

Dusk.

That girl with purple hair

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As a treat to myself for a job well done presenting to a VP and to celebrate the holiday weekend, I finally tried purple hair a week ago. I’ve gotten highlights and streaks of color before, but never done my full head. I was inspired by a co-worker who has dark purple hair, which is quite subtle. Mine came out brighter than I wanted, but I’ve grown into it and quite like it. In fact, I often forget my hair looks like this now. What do you think?

Before…

After!

Kitty lovin’

Celebrating the 4th with very patriotic purple.

Glowing purple.

First day at work like this!

I then spent a day exploring Lands End in all my hues. 🙂

And finally, I managed to match the tables at an MBA mixer BBQ. >.<

Fast that food

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I’ve been up in NorCal for nearly six weeks and today was the first time it occurred to me that I could eat fast food. Ever since coming up here, I’ve been trying all sorts of local restaurants (mainly Asian cuisine) and pigging out on boba. Somehow along the way, chain restaurants fell off the radar.

As I was trying to figure out what to eat tonight, I wanted something that wouldn’t be much effort. Enter fast food. The realization that I didn’t have to decide between Chinese or Vietnamese was like a revelation. I’d completely forgotten to even consider other options. 

So I took the easy way out and got McDonald’s. But sadly enough, it didn’t fill me up!! I’m still craving boba. ? I’ve now broken my unintentional fast from fast food. I don’t plan on using that backup often but at least it’s in my back pocket again. ?

Celebrating a most excellent day

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What a wonderful day it turned out to be. I woke up a little anxious because I had a lot on my plate, including my first presentation to a VP at work. I took it one step at a time though, and make it through a crazy day with some great wins.

I started the morning working in a small team on survey questions for a group intern project before doing a run-through of the presentation with a colleague in Engineering HR. I then had to focus on other aspects of the group project (an interview guide) and then it was time to go volunteer at a Party on the Patio event. There happened to be an intern expo happening in the same area, so I swung by and was able to get a really nice leather notebook! That made me happy.

Then while volunteering, we biked to blend smoothies, handed out patriotic bead necklaces, and encouraged people to enter the raffles. I met some cool people and the time felt nice and long, giving me a mental break from everything else. I earned a free t-shirt and lunch for my time, which was nice.

I geared up for work again, returning to my building and meeting about some data around diversity. I met with my Eng HR buddy again to go through the presentation again and it was really coming together at that point. We took a break to listen to Bryan Cranston (some famous dude you may know) talk to Chuck Robbins (our CEO) for the closing keynote of CiscoLive! out in Vegas. Another colleague in Eng HR had put together a viewing party complete with cake, milk, popcorn, and other snacks! Nom.

I left that party early to get into gear for my meeting with the VP, which started a little late and with a slightly frazzled audience. She had just wrapped up another meeting that didn’t seem to leave her in the best of moods. Luckily, the presentation went off without a hitch and she really liked it, with just minor comments and a great dialogue around what the intention and purpose of our work was. I was happy to hear her say she ended up in a much better mood after our meeting. 🙂 My team was incredible in getting me prepared for such a successful meeting!

On a high, I went to chat with one of the advisors we have who has been through our internship and the rotation program. She and I had a great conversation before I returned to the intern area and began to prep for my evening interview. I had signed up to conduct the very first interview we’d use for the group intern project. I tested out the technology with some colleagues, worked out some kinks, and then got ready for the conversation. My interviewee was in China and such a fun, vibrant woman! I had a lot of fun talking with her and I think it was wonderful content.

I was pretty drained by the end of the day, having been at the office nearly 12 hours. I got home to rest and was about to go to bed when my host texted to chat. He and I ended up discussing the terms for the rest of my stay and I’ll be moving to a new location this weekend! I’m absolutely pooped now but I wanted to remember this day when I got in quite a few wins. The past two weeks have been intense and I’m looking forward to a slightly slower pace through next week as everyone peaces out for the holiday weekend.

And now I’d like to go pass out, thank you very much. I’ll reward myself by trying to sleep in a bit tomorrow.

Identity crisis

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I never expected my 30s to bring about a re-evaluation of my life. My last manager had said that was the decade where you settle in to your life and get comfortable with yourself. And so I thought it would be – go get my MBA, get into my new career in HR, and build that family.

PC: Tamir Elterman

Generally, it was going to plan like that… until I went to Israel for spring break. That trip gave me the opportunity to get back in touch my adventurous, quirky, unconventional spirit. Somewhere along the way, I put that away and didn’t think about it. But then as I got the opportunity to traipse around and take cool photos, dance on chairs, hug and love my classmates, and use my body for fun poses, a part of my past was unlocked.

I’ve always had an inclination towards more masculine things. I liked the idea of being different and unexpected. I also like feeling strong, so a lot of the activities I gravitate towards make me feel powerful (butterfly stroke, weight training, long and triple jump). I’m much better with a burst of energy than anything requiring endurance. I also moved around a lot and never quite fit in into any categories, but it became something I quite enjoyed. I leaned in to all the things that set me apart.

When I was younger, I was known as a tomboy. I’d play in the dirt and grass hunting insects. I’d play full contact basketball with the boys and occasionally get a little knocked out. I could run faster, climb higher, and scream louder than just about anyone on the playground. When I went back to China for the summers, I’d follow around my male cousins who could never escape their little shadow.

In middle school, I started to get into sports and began swimming. By high school, I had joined the varsity swim and track & field teams, as well as a YMCA swim team and JROTC. I stayed very physically active until college, when it started to dwindle. I did AFROTC my freshman year, but we only did PT once a week. Starting sophomore year, I no longer had organized physical activities but I did join a business fraternity. I’ve enjoyed the oddity of being a “bro” within that context.

My senior year, I finally got around to teaching myself to skateboard and that really set me apart. UCLA is very hilly, so there weren’t a lot of skateboarders and of the ones willing to brave the steep hills, I only saw one or two other females. I enjoyed being unique like that. I even went a strange(ish) route when I chose to double major in Psych and Econ, which have absolutely no overlap with each other. This combined with my year studying abroad eventually led me to take an extra quarter and finish my degree in December. Again, the one who doesn’t quite fit any mold.

My first job out of college was a 6-month stint out in Singapore. I traveled around Southeast Asia on my own before heading back stateside. For a period, I became the only woman at my next company’s office in a building with a dozen men. I guess it was somewhere along these lines that things started to settle? I wasn’t doing as much unusual stuff, though I did choose not to have a wedding when I got married (and not to change my name).

Once I moved out east, life settled into a rhythm and I stopped thinking about some of the more interesting things. I still loved to interact with all sorts of creatures and I even began volunteering as an Insect Ambassador at the Smithsonian. I would travel to places to experience new things, but I guess I forgot a lot of the things I wanted to try when I was younger. When I got to my MBA program, everyone was so serious and focused on business that I was too. Plus I had barely any time to get through the core curriculum, working on readings and group work and attending a slew of events.

So come spring break, when the course load became more manageable and I had space to breathe… I guess it was time for an awakening. But that was just the beginning. I got back in touch with how fun it was to be my goofy, oddball self. I started to be more active again. Even more important was something awakened in me by my new bestie – he has been obsessed with tattoo designs, which reignited my interest.

I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I’d like to get a tattoo, but I never knew where or what. Since talking to Bestie about it, I actually ended up waking up from a dream with the idea of a tightrope walker. And then I also wanted an owl and he found me an incredible design that I absolutely love. The third is the crown that Princess Bubblegum wears; it’s simple, symbolic, and small.

From there, I’ve started to get back in touch with things I had never really dared to explore. Motorcycles. Shaving my head. Skydiving. Getting scuba certified. All had been in the back of my mind as interests, but I didn’t give them much credence beyond that. Now I’m all about planning for these things. But the biggest thing of all to come from this is that I wavered on a future with kids. The sudden revival of interest in all these things I love leaves little room to think about the responsibility of little people.

In a way, I’m not sure who I am anymore, or what I want. I feel like I’m living these parallel lives – one going along the same track as before, slow and steady, while the other one veers off into all sorts of worlds that have yet to materialize. So far most of these changes have lived in my mind. I haven’t gotten a tattoo, motorcycle, or side shave, much as I want. It’s hard enough struggling to understand myself and what I truly want. Is this a phase? Am I being foolish, getting carried away in the tide? Or is this a new iteration of me?

Summer work life

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I’m starting to settle in to my role at Cisco and create a few habits. I generally get to work around 8 (ugh) and wrap up around 5, with lunch at 12 with some of my fellow HRLPers (Human Resources Leadership Program interns and full-timers). After work I go to the gym to work out and then relax in the steam room and sauna before showering and heading to dinner. Some evenings I have happy hours or other events to attend.

Later in the week, the interns in other Cisco departments tend to get together for dinner. They also try to coordinate lunch together, but I work in a building about a mile from them so it’s too much of a hassle and I like having some time to my own intern cohort and potential workmates.

I usually get home (to my AirBnB) around 8:30-9:30 and sometimes I chat with one of the other tenants. There’s a South American working for a wine company, a Chicagoan who works at the ER at Kaiser, a traveling consultant, a Chinese girl and her friend, plus one mystery guy who I have yet to meet. I then spend the rest of the night in my room grooving to music and doing a variety of things online before calling it a night.

It’s a rather peaceful yet somehow still busy life. I feel a certain amount of stress making sure I do a good job this summer at work and I also want to ensure I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the area with a variety of friends. This past weekend we went to the redwoods and Santa Cruz, which was an amazing time. I held my very first banana slug!! I’m sure there will be more to come. I should also try to reconnect with old friends who are working up in the SF area, but it feels oh so far…

4th floor, special birds

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I have a tendency to prescribe meaning to just about everything. The smallest coincidence or pattern can become something I pay attention to, record in my journal, and ponder over.

This week, it’s been the fact that I’m living much of my life on the 4th floor: room 405 at the Hilton Garden Inn I was at this week, my office space at Cisco is on the 4th floor of the building, and today I got room 426 at the Courtyard Marriott I’m staying at. Every time I get in an elevator, I’m pressing 4.

The other pattern has been cool bird sightings. It was a hummingbird on my first day, a hawk or falcon my second day, a stork or heron yesterday, and some gulls today. I love spotting birds that I don’t often see, though they’re probably a lot more prevalent around here so this may actually be common. It still takes my breath away though and the magic never ceases every time I glimpse some of my favorite birds: hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, storks, hummingbirds, swallows, peacocks, swans… 

I started to attribute seeing a bird as a good omen for the day and when I saw it, I felt a sense of peace. The day didn’t feel complete until I had my spotting. It really serves no purpose since I’d forget about it soon after, but in that moment I cherished life just that much more. I could use some of that now as I struggle to find a place to live, work through emotional challenges, and try to stay focused on doing well in my internship. Perhaps I should use a talisman. I sort of want a tattoo to become that for me – a thing I can attach meaning to and be reminded of my good intentions whenever I see it.

Starting at Cisco

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Today I began my summer internship at Cisco in HR!!

All badged up.

Breakfast at the all hands, Cisco Beat.

Awesome mugs they were giving out!

CEO Chuck Robbins kicks off Cisco Beat.

Got lunch at the local cafeteria.

Delicious Indian food!! ?

The cool swag they welcomed me with. ?

One of the execs brought her dog to work.

I got to put this sticker on my laptop. ?

Asia travels

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I’ve been traveling through Asia with some of my classmates for school and now for fun, so I haven’t had the time to really sit down for a post. It’s been such an amazing time and in trying to explain work husbands to my cousin in Japan who joined me for part of the trip, I talked about creating my own little extended family unit. I think that’s a fitting way to describe the closeness I feel with these incredible people. I’m with two of them now, as well as some who could very well be siblings or cousins of sorts (I’ve taken to calling one of them “lao ba” – an affectionate “old dad” nickname). More on my non-blood family another time… for now, here are some pics.

We stayed right across from Taipei 101.

Climbing Elephant Mountain was difficult but totally worth it.

I’m all about climbing and nature and views.

Pretty sure I lost this dress at the hotel, boo.

This bus was like a time capsule!

Taipei airport music-themed rest area. Off to Shanghai!

Visiting Baosteel to watch steel being made was cool.

It’s super hot when it rolls by and glows all over you.

City God Temple has tons of shopping.

Professor Lin and have the same taste and voted for the same logo design.

Hangzhou visit to Alibaba took us to this beautiful city.

Cats!!

At the highest place in Shanghai enjoying the view.

A funky place for live music in the basement of The Peninsula.

We found an amazing rooftop bar to contrast the club below. What a way to end our time in Shanghai.

The last breakfast buffet! I loved the salted duck eggs and congee.

I finally had time to try the fresh noodles before heading off.

Family

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I’m such a bleeding heart.

If I ever got measured for sentimentality, I’d probably be off the charts. I have a soft, squishy part of my soul that is reserved just for 6 very important people: my parents and my grandparents. Whenever I see them, I leave feeling a little nostalgic and pensive. It gets more pronounced as we get older and I think of all the love I have for them. How strange that I can feel so loved that it makes me tear up every time.

Growing up, I always thought of my parents as 35. In my mind’s eye, they didn’t age and my impression of them was frozen in time. Then at some point in my 20s, I realized they were hitting 50. Ever since then, they’ve been stuck at that age for me and they probably will for many years to come. Something about that changing doesn’t sit well with me, so I like to keep them in a little time capsule in my mind. Luckily, when I see them in person, they still look 50 to me so it’s easy to keep up the illusion.

Throughout this time, I’ve started to appreciate everything they’ve done for me more and more. We’re not an affectionate type of family, but I’ve taken to hugging my dad and kissing my mom on the cheek whenever I greet them. Just typing that makes the tears well up. What is it that makes me so sappy??

I’ve pretty much always been like that. I’ve written about how I love tenderness before and I shared some stories about my laoye, my nainaimy mom, and my dad and yeye. I guess I should add in a story about my laolao to make it complete. Thinking about each of them tugs on my heartstrings in ways that I don’t understand. Each of them has given so much to get me to where I am today and I feel close to them, yet I hardly ever see them.

I see my mom the most, at about every other month when I go home for a day. I see my dad 2-3 times a year, whenever he is visiting from China. Two of my grandparents died many years ago. I see my living grandma and step-grandpa and other grandpa on average once every 3-4 years. The closeness I feel is certainly not reflected in the frequency of our interactions.

Perhaps this distance is why I enjoy expressing nuggets of love to my friends. Absent cousins or grandparents to snuggle with and share my thoughts, I cherish the friendships that give me that outlet. As an only child, I craved the intimacy of a sibling and I’ve spent my life on the lookout for friends who could fulfill that desire. Maybe that’s where my sentimentality comes from, as I try to derive meaning in every moment, every interaction. I love inside jokes and pet names and hugging and sharing food. All these things that casually indicate a deep level of comfort with each other. To me, that’s love and it’s what I seek. More on that another day.

Back to my family though – the most mundane interaction with them can easily make my heart swell. I don’t know what it is about them that is a huge trigger for me, but I feel it more strongly with each passing year. I mean, just this weekend I had brunch with my parents and I felt incredibly sad to part ways. Did anything notable happen? No. Is either of them in poor health? No. Is there any specific reason to be sad? No.

But I’m a softie with a giant trigger on my heart that is basically a big CRY NOW button. And hanging out with my beloved family activates that for me.

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