That whistling gal

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Today, my coworker started chuckling when I walked towards her whistling. I thought it was because of something else, but when I asked her why she was laughing, she said it always amuses her when I whistle, since she usually only hears guys do that. I’ve never really thought about that before, but it’s true enough. I can’t seem to think of a single female I know who also whistles. I haven’t considered that from the perspective of those who see me. What do they think when I whistle? Is that an oddity?

It’s interesting how something so normal to me suddenly gets this halo of specialness just because of my gender. Why don’t more women whistle? In the public eye, the women I’ve seen whistling generally do those really shrill, loud whistles to get attention. Is there a time when they’re just whistling a tune like I often do? I’m going to be more self-conscious when I whistle now. It always seemed rather natural to me to try to whistle and when I finally taught myself how, I just kept practicing. Today’s observation has brought new light on this activity. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’ll certainly continue my whistling ways. With so few women whistling, I might as well represent.

Tea time

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blue and white tea pot, tea cups with tea in them, and slice of strawberry cake on round wooden trayPanda’s mom gave us this adorable tea set when we were visiting and I finally unpacked it today for us to use. After rinsing it all out, we got some of the loose leaf tea I’d bought from the Tea & Spice Exchange and brewed a pot. There’s something about brewing tea in a pot and then pouring it into tiny little cups that is such a fun experience for me. There’s a certain ceremony about it and it exudes gracefulness as you pour. The delicate little cups make me feel all fancy. I’ve been coveting those cast iron pots at Teavana for years and I’m still trying to justify the cost to myself. In the mean time, this set makes a perfect starter set for us to use at home. Paired with a slice of Chinese-style cake, this spread made the perfect way to wind down at night. I’ll be having mini tea parties nightly!

World Cat Day!

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Between vacationing, reading, writing, and so much more, I’ve neglected to post as much as usual. I just finished up the novel I was reading (Amy Tan’s latest – The Valley of Amazement) so that should free up time to blog more. It’s hard to write when so much flowing through my head consists of ideas for no less than five separate story lines for potential novels of my own. I add to them when I can and get a mind dump every few nights.

In the mean time, here’s a belated World Cat Day dedication to my beloved felines. I was absolutely tickled to find it coincided with my now marriage anniversary date!

cat napping on top of open book

To Missy, the best snuggle buddy ever, particularly in the cooler months. She’s overcome her little mute tendencies and now meows all the time!

cat standing with front paws in sink and back up on counter

To Molly, whose old grumpy self has eased up a bit. She still follows my mom around like her life depends on it and it’s hilarious.

cat sitting on sofa with one paw outstretched

And to Smokey, the adorable little weirdo who gives me some super entertaining stories to share at work. She may not like to be held, but she’ll come to you on her own.

My cats are a special bunch and provide me with endless joy and entertainment. Don’t worry if I become a crazy cat lady. I’ll be loving it!

He’s a keeper

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rows of empty seats on plane as first people start boarding and flight attendant waits near back

I enjoy getting priority boarding using his status. Peace on the plane as I settle in!

When Panda and I were flying down to Orlando for a vacation last year, he got an upgrade to first class, which he gave to me. I was sitting there next to a really nice lady who was going down for a meeting with Disney about those new smart bands that you get as your pass (her company makes them). As we chatted and I mentioned that my fiance had given me his upgrade, she commented that “he’s a keeper for sure!” And indeed he is.

tray of hot breakfast offered in first class of united flights

I enjoyed some breakfast on the flight.

With this most recent flight, he got an upgrade again and they were one seat short of upgrading me along with him. As usual, I got to take the seat up front and enjoy the meal service, snacks, and drinks. I’m pretty spoiled by him in general and this is just one of the many ways he pampers me. I love that he never hesitates to share these kinds of things with me. If we don’t get an upgraded seat, I get my beloved window and he’ll accompany me in the middle seat even though he prefers the aisle. At home, he takes care of pretty much all the chores (though I’m convinced that much of that is due to his need to clean more frequently than I – he ends up doing things before I think they need to be done). When we go out, I rarely need to bring anything other than my phone; he’ll take care of the driving and the payments and whatnot.

Even when it comes to things like my personal choices and life changes, he is strongly supportive. When I decided to go try out a job opportunity in Singapore just six months into our relationship, we found a way to stay connected through email and Skype. When I was interning, looking for a job, and then going to work after returning stateside, he opened his apartment to me. When he left to work on the east coast, he (mostly) indulged my newly-implemented 20-minute rule: every night before sleeping he had to announce he was getting ready and then spend the next 20 minutes – minimum – talking to me, no distractions. When I decided to quit my job, he understood my need to strike out on my own.

Most recently, he was the one who encouraged me to keep my name when we get married. I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to preserve my current identity yet meld it with his family’s (and no hyphenated names, thank you very much). I thought I shouldn’t shun all traditions, right? But then again, Chinese tradition involves no change of name either, so perhaps we are observing tradition, in a way. :-P We’ve been together for about 6 years now and I’m so excited to call him husband soon!

plane seat decorated with blue stars and gifts for make a wish kid heading to los angeles

Mostly unrelated, but I wanted to share this from our flight… a special passenger was on our flight – a Make A Wish kid!

Traffic spike

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I like to check how much traffic my site is getting each day, and WHOA when I checked yesterday, I found that July had ended on an insanely high day for me. I typically get about 150-180 page views a day, with a previous high of 256 or so. Out of nowhere, it shot up to 344 on Thursday!

new record for blog page views in a single day now at 344

Did something break? Did I suddenly show up in search results a whole lot more? Did I do something really good for the traffic? I have no idea. Everything’s back to normal now and I don’t know why there was that influx. Crazy, but awesome. Can I have some repeats? :-P

A fun day at work

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Recently, Canvas decided to do a Shark Tank initiative to gather ideas from across the company for what we can do to increase the trial subscriber volume. Everyone was invited to partner up and present an idea to five Sharks – a panel of decision-makers at Canvas. I was interested in participating, but didn’t really have any good ideas. One of my coworkers had reached out to me to partner up and just as we were about to get together, he found out that another guy one our team had already signed them up as a team. I kept an eye out, wondering who else I could team up with, but nothing really presented itself.

Today rolled around, with pitches scheduled throughout the afternoon. Right before lunch, a colleague who is a good friend started talking about it because she’d just learned about our Shark Tank (she didn’t get the emails). She needed someone to work with, so I offered to join her. After lunch, we met up with our coworker with the idea – he had to leave early and didn’t want to present anyway, so we took the idea and ran with it. He acted as our adviser and really helped make sure we had a ton of great information, so we were well-prepared. We took all that content and broke it into a bunch of slides, then started practicing. We even rehearsed walking in and greeting the Sharks. It was hilarious and so much fun!

I signed us up for the first time slot at 3:30 under our chosen team name: Double Trouble. After about an hour, we were pretty confident in our presentation. We had the entrance, presentation flow, and even synchronized moves all ready. We did a practice run in front of the idea man before he had to run and he loved it! Just as we were looking forward to going first, the Sharks came over to ask us to move to 4:10, the second slot. They had to postpone the start to 4. While it was sad we wouldn’t be first up, it did give us extra time to rehearse! I then booked a meeting room so we could practice clicking through the slides.

When it finally came time to pitch, we went through our presentation nearly flawlessly. Our high energy and funny moments really captured the Sharks and they had a great time with us. We certainly had the most memorable and entertaining presentation! The idea was a hit too, and we finished off on a fabulous note. I think the Sharks were not only impressed with how prepared we were (especially considering we’d only prepared for about an hour and a half), but how enthusiastic we were! I think some of them know us both to be more quiet, and not nearly as goofy as we turned out to be. Wins all around for team Double Trouble!!

We were still high from the rush of joy after that fun experience when we were told about the free food in the kitchen for a “Christmas in July” Happy Hour. Check out the awesome spread, including some super cool Australian dessert – pavlova – and an assortment of fruit as well as cocktail shrimp. We had a fabulous time enjoying the food before I decided to get back to work. I’d lost about half a day due to all this Shark Tank and Happy Hour fun, so it was time to get crackin’ again.

australian pavlova desserts, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and other fruit for office happy hour

Homemade and oh so delicious!!

watermelon, blueberries, cocktail shrimp, and tim tams spread out on table for office happy hour

The crack in my back

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Have you ever felt the need to crack your back, but was unable to? I’ve been getting this a lot lately. I try and try and try to get my back to pop in that satisfying way, but the tension in my spine only increases. GAH! I twist and turn to no avail, contorting myself into all sorts of strange positions. It’s the most frustrating thing. I really need some better way of achieving joint nirvana. I think I get these issues because I’m so cold at the office, but I’m not really sure how to prevent it and/or how to cure it.

At least the past day or two I’ve been able to get the crack I want eventually (and I always seem to have to twist to my right). There’s that one trouble area on my spine that always needs a’crackin. Everywhere else is fine! I need to figure out how exactly to get that crack whenever I need it, because I feel like I’m about to snap my spine when I contort too hard and still can’t get the pop I’m aiming for. Any suggestions?

Back in the day I had a friend who could lift you to crack your back. I tried to train Panda to do that, but it’s not working, so perhaps that’s not the solution. Too bad I can’t poke it to crack it or something. The closest thing I’ve been able to do is get another part of my back to crack when I slowly come out of bridge pose. But that doesn’t help with the real tension which seems to be near where the kidneys are. Perhaps I just need to get massages more frequently. I always feel better after those!

One rotten apple…

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She’s a poison coursing through my veins. Each interaction injects me with more venom, until I can hardly take it anymore. My mind fights the toxins but my body is weak… and all too easily I become consumed. This negativity must stop.

When I look at her (if I have to) I see ugliness. If I stare too long, the snaking tendrils of Medusa’s serpents take hold. Oh, but she’s a multi-faced chameleon. She’ll do what suits her best and get everything to her benefit. She’ll play you if she can. It’s a mirage though, and the moment you lose usefulness, she’ll throw you aside. Another carcass on the road.

Careful to avoid those eyes. Those dark, black, soulless eyes. If you don’t get lost in the abyss and turn to stone, you’ll become one of her kind. Who needs a vampire’s bite when you have piercing eyes of fury? Eyes that haunt me in my sleep, thrust me awake from their cruelty.

They say that one rotten apple ruins the bunch (and it’s true). Indeed, I can see the disease spreading. It’s not crippling, but the limping it causes is certainly not ideal. How much struggling can you handle before you break entirely? Make this rotting stop, before all is lost. Let’s cut out all the browning bits of apple and remind ourselves of the beauty of a fresh, ripe fruit. Don’t allow that one to ruin the bunch irreparably.

The name game

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With our civil ceremony fast approaching, Panda and I are preparing to jump through the legal hoops. One of these items is the marriage license application, with which I will need to indicate how (or if) I will change my name. The only thing we’ve agreed is not necessary is for him to change his name. But when it comes to mine, I was all for adding his name as a second last name, ie, Qin Bear (assuming his full name is Panda Bear, you see). I remember reading about a blogger who had done this and claimed to be able to use Qin or Bear or Qin Bear. That’s exactly what I’d like – a tie to his family name without actually really changing my identity. On the day-to-day, I’d still be Mary Qin. When it came to anything related to him, I could be Mrs. Bear. If it was something related to the kids (who I plan on naming with his family name), I’d be Mary Bear to match their surname.

However, I’ve been digging in to it and it seems things might be more complex than that. Technically adding the extra last name is changing mine, which means I’d still have to go through the annoying process of updating all my records (no thank you). Then there’s the question of whether two last names (NOT hypenated) is truly acceptable and whether the two can sort of be used interchangeably. If I indicate my new name is Mary Qin Bear, would a check written to me as Mary Qin be just as valid? I haven’t a clue… [any lawyers in CA please feel free to chime in!]

We were talking about this last night and he sees no need for me to change my name. I’ve built an identity around it and it’s a strong name. I actually have far less of a connection with my first name than my last. Perhaps I should drop it and make my name Qin Bear! You may call me Qin from now on. ;) I did want to add his to have that connection to his family roots and also share part of my last name with the kids. To some extent, I didn’t want complications because my surname didn’t match theirs, but Panda makes a valid point that our mothers raised us with their own last names and never had an issue. So should I just keep my name entirely? Seems a little lacking, after all this time that I was planning on adding a name.

And then of course I have intense debates with myself in terms of what the social influences are that are playing into my decision. Am I being too deferent to tradition by including his name? Am I being too headstrong by not? What is actually making me choose the way I am and does it make sense with my values? I’m thoroughly confused. Is it legal to list Mary Qin Bear on the marriage certificate but not update all my legal documents so I continue to use Mary Qin but have Bear floating in there on the marriage license? I think I might go with that.

Thinking of all this last name drama reminds me of an amusing fact: all three of my cats have different last names. Molly was given my mom’s last name, Missy was given my last name, and Smokey was given Panda’s last name. I sure hope it’s less confusing with the real kids. :-P

Voices hushed, voices crushed

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
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There’s an epidemic out there. It’s a diseased thought, the idea that women shouldn’t speak up.

Why shouldn’t we express ourselves freely? Why shouldn’t we stand up for ourselves?

From a young age, we are taught that showing so much emotion is weakness. That complaining is really just whining. That saying something to defend ourselves is sassy or downright b****y. That a strong woman is not “feminine” (enough). We’re attacked for being too loud, too proud. For doing what we want, for being ourselves, for daring to be ourselves. We’re told not to rock the boat – “don’t create a scene.”

Really? Pointing out injustices is creating a scene? No wonder the majority of us endure rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and other abuses. Heaven forbid we “make a scene” over it. It’s hard for me to believe that in this day and age, we are still plagued with these issues. We keep our voices hushed so we don’t bring that negative attention to us. Who wants to be labeled a whiny b****?

When I bring up an issue that is bothering me, it should not be perceived as petulant. When I share I’m struggling with something, I should not be judged as weak. When I cry it out, I should not be any less respected. I had a friend suggest that bringing up grievances is showing your weaknesses. Just grin and bear it, right? But to me, doing so in a respectful manner is a show of strength. Strength is not pushing the world away and trying to go it alone. Strength is standing up for yourself and getting help doing that if you need it (and you probably will, if the struggle is meaningful and worth it).

And so it goes, this perpetuation of a preposterous idea. Women constantly find themselves put down and judged harshly for doing the very things men are praised for. “Way to stand up for yourself,” they cheer him on! “Why be such a drama queen?” they ask her. How in the world are we supposed to achieve equality with this sort of mentality standing in the way? How will women be respected when society continues to a demure beauty and men continue to objectify them? Just because “that’s the way things are” doesn’t mean it’s right, doesn’t make it acceptable.

This is how our voices get crushed. It’s no wonder we barely speak.

 

(So thank you, blog, for giving me a bit of my voice back.)

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