Posts Tagged ‘family’

Time disconnect

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“Holy cow, is it really [insert day of week]?!”

This happens to me just about every single day. Call it the life of the self-employed/entrepreneur/stay-at-homer. Every day is mostly the same to me – there is no such thing as a weekday vs. weekend. I work daily, unless I have plans to go do something, so it really doesn’t matter much what day of the week it is. And so it is that I often find myself disconnected with the rest of the world in that way. I don’t hate Mondays nor do I look forward to Fridays the same way a “typical” worker might.

calendar page from the world's most super-amazing 100% awesome cat calendar for 2014

Without a calendar, I’d be lost.


Perhaps I need to build more of a weekly structure, but it doesn’t make sense to take time off when I’m really trying to build something. I’m certainly not wearing myself out and I get plenty of rest and play daily; in fact, you could say I go through an entire week each day: there’s the waking up in the morning and trying to get a rhythm going (Monday), getting back into things (Tuesday), starting to feel an afternoon slump (Wednesday – “Hump Day”), recovering a bit as my day looks like it’s ending (Thursday), and feeling good that I’m nearly done with my day’s work (Friday). Usually my “weekend” is sort of sandwiched in between the other moments, though sometimes it ends up being no more than the time that I sleep.

Since I don’t watch TV or read the newspaper, the only way I can really stay in tune is based off whether Panda is home or not, but I’ve been staying with my mom more and she works from home too…  but hey, is it really that important that I always know what day it is? I could just check my phone’s calendar and in the long run, it doesn’t affect me much, so I’m perfectly fine forgetting the days sometimes. What about you? Would it drive you crazy if you didn’t have a distinct weekday and weekend? Or do you meander through the weeks and months without a strong sense of time like me?

Sunday Social: past & future

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Sunday Social 
I really like the prompts for yesterday’s Sunday Social so I thought I’d join in! I saw them when catching up on Ramblings of a Suburban Mom and hey, better late than never, right?

1 year ago I was doing…
A bit of relaxing and enjoying life. I had just quit my job, was trying to find my way in the world of self-employment, but took a break to go back to China and attend my cousin’s wedding. Not long after, I had a grand vacation with Panda (our first time flying together!) in Hawaii before figuring out what to do with my entrepreneurial endeavors. I started by launching DeckMyPhone.com and later created PandaLoves.com. On the blogging front things were still tootin’ along as they have been since 2009, when I decided to do more “for the public” blogging. Prior to that, my blog was really more of an online journal/diary.

5 years ago I was doing…
Training for UCLA Orientation. I had not yet met Panda (wow, can’t believe I’ve only known him for less than 5 years when it feels like ages). I still had a month left before the quarter ended and I walked for graduation. It would be 6 more months before I finished up my classes since I took an extra quarter. Over the summer, I met Panda and we began our little romance, which has been tough but rewarding! I also went back to China at the end of this summer, getting a chance to check out the Paralymics in Beijing and visit relatives.

10 years ago I was doing…
A whole lot of adjusting and trying to grapple with living in California. I had just moved from New York the year before, was finishing up my junior year at my new high school, and still kind of hated LA. The weather was too dry (my skin hurt), I was still bitter that I had been torn away from my old high school and friends with little notice (we moved within 2 weeks of me finding out), I missed NJROTC (had to transfer to an AFJROTC unit since there was no Navy one nearby), and I didn’t like having to choose between track or swimming (they’re the same season in CA but not NY). Yeah, I was probably a bit of an angsty teenager. Oh, and I had just started to hear of this college called UCLA, which hadn’t been on my radar before.

1 year from now I’ll be doing…
Some sort of steady work. I’ve decided to get back into the “normal” workforce so I certainly hope I’d have a job by then! I’d love to continue my blogging and eBay sales on the side and hopefully will get my blog above the 1 mil Alexa rank threshold. I started off around 7.4 mil just over 2 weeks ago, when I decided I wanted to bring up my rank. As of now, I’m at 4.1 mil and I’m sure it will only get harder to move up but I’m confident that I can make it into the 6-digits range. Panda and I will be engaged, but I do not expect to be doing any wedding planning yet. We’ll both be living and working together (finally!) and building a nice little home life together before the craziness of kids.

5 years from now I’ll be doing…
The motherhood thing. I’ll probably have had my first child, if not a second as well (assuming there are no fertility issues). I’m sure Panda and I will both have our hands full. By this point we should have been married for a few years (whew, thank goodness! I will be glad when the wedding is over). I have no clue on the work front what I might be doing – maybe I love my career and keep it up, or maybe I decide I’d rather stay home. My ability to make money from home could help decide, or maybe Panda will decide he wants to be a stay at home dad. If we’re both working, our parents might come help watch the kids at times. I expect to have my cat Missy as part of our household too. Molly’s old so I don’t know if she’ll still be around, plus she loves my mom so maybe she’ll stay at my parents’ place.

10 years from now I’ll be doing…
Yikes, this one is the toughest one. I really can’t imagine what life will be like in 10 years. Ideally, Panda and I will both be working in careers that challenge and excite us. We’ll have a beautiful home with all kinds of personal touches we added over the years. We’ll probably have two little kids who are just starting the education journey and dreaming of their lives as adults. We’ll have a comfortable life filled with family activities and vacations and probably a terabyte of pictures stored away. I’d love to be getting a variety of subscription boxes so I can have a ton of mini projects to do, ranging from crafts with the kids to cooking with Panda. I’m sure I’ll still have way too many skincare items but a hopeless addiction to trying new ones nonetheless. I might still be trying to use up any single bottle of nail polish. I think I’ll still be blogging and trying to win stuff and selling on eBay on the side. We’ll see!

Empty nest

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I got a brief feeling of empty nester syndrome today, as I dropped off our visitors at the airport. It was a whirlwind of taking out the luggage, trying not to get run over by traffic, and waving goodbye. In just a few seconds, I was back in the car and they were off into the airport. As I pulled away, I suddenly felt a little lonely. There were no more guests to drive around town, no more big meals, no more chatter. I’ve always lived a pretty quiet and solitary life, even when my parents were in the same house. This flurry of activity is a rare occurrence and it was rather fun to have a change of pace from my usual daily patterns.

I’m pretty pooped though, so I’m off to rest with my adorable kitty! Just look at her. 🙂

cat sleeping in corner of couch with head at funny angle

Living it up in LA

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It’s been a busy two days for my relatives! They spent their first full day in LA out at Universal Studios, with a brief stop in the Hollywood area first, and a visit to Griffith Observatory afterwards. They took pictures of the Hollywood sign, walked around Hollywood & Highland, checked out the Chinese theater, looked at the star walk, and even stopped for some photos with some street walkers dressed as pirates from Pirates of the Caribbean. Then it was off to nearly 8 hours doing every possible thing at Universal Studios! The shows, the rides, the sights… and some of them they even got around to twice. Pretty impressive.

sunset over hollywood hills with hollywood sign on right sideI picked them up at 6:30 yesterday after that full day of adventure and we wrapped up the night by swinging by Griffith Observatory to check out the view of LA and look at all the exhibits inside. They peered into a telescope looking at a giant telescope atop Mount Wilson, learned about tidal waves and seasons and moon phases, played with the giant periodic table, figured out the way the pendulum worked, and tested out their weights on various planets. Oh, and they took a ton of pictures along the way! The sun was setting as we arrived at the observatory, so they went crazy getting some great shots of the natural scenery. We didn’t get home until 9:30 and then it was time to eat up for dinner!

Today it was another full day, first going to the Getty, where we explored nearly all the exhibits (it was actually my first time entering anything other than the West building). Then of course we had to wander around the garden area, where there were a ton of great pictures to be taken and flowers to be admired. Three hours later, we were able to wrap up and get to Santa Monica, where we wandered around Santa Monica Place, Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica beach, and the Pier. There was a stop for lunch so we’d have the strength to continue going and we saw everything ranging from the shopping strip to the ocean and even paused to check out a trapeze lesson on the pier!

panoramic shot of getty garden area view

Before we knew it, it was late afternoon and we rushed off to the Getty Villa since you could park there for free if you go on the same day as visiting the Getty. They close at 5 though, so time was limited. Traffic on the PCH was awful and it took a good 45 minutes to get from Santa Monica to the Getty Villa! Insane. We made it just 10 minutes before closing and they almost didn’t let the car through, but I sweet talked them. 🙂 Once again it was a great time for lovely pictures, with some exploring of the grounds before they started to chase us out for the day. On the ride home, we made a pit stop to get some ingredients for dinner and then another to get the wine that they forgot the first time around. We were going to make our way to some outlets too, but they decided that they can figure that out when they’re in Vegas or on another leg of the trip.

They sure did check out a lot in these two days, and got a pretty good feel of things from the coast all the way inland. There’s of course plenty they missed out on, but I think they covered quite a bit of ground in just two days.

Visitors

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Some relatives are coming to town, so my mom and I will be picking them up soon. We spent the last couple of days rearranging things in the house so we’ll be able to accommodate them. My mom, cousin, and I will be in the master bedroom as they take over the other three beds we have. I’ll be taking then around town the next two days before they head out again. Should be an active weekend!

One nice thing about having guests is that you really take the time to tidy up around the house in ways you might not have for awhile. It’s pretty cool that our rooms look so clean and organized now and hopefully it sticks for some time after they’re gone. I hadn’t realized the dust and water marks that had built up. Now everything is sparking and wonderful. Feels good to have such bright, gleaming surroundings.

When you have guests over do you do some spring cleaning too?

One day, someday

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I’ve come to a realization. This whole time I thought being an entrepreneur working on my own schedule was the most important thing to me. While I do cherish the ability to work from home as I please and enjoy the atmosphere and weather here, it’s not enough. Or, more accurately, it’s not the most important thing for me right now.

For the past couple of years, I’ve had to say “we’ll do this someday” or “in the future let’s get that” or “we can go there one day” when referring to anything I wanted to do with Panda. Most things have to be put off – we’re just not at that stage in life yet. Then, recently I came across all these bloggers who are married and have this great home life. The kind of life that I want. And you know, it’s hard to sit here and wait for that future day to come, when Panda and I can finally live together. I’m ready for that stage.

ironing board being used as desk

Case in point: an ironing board shouldn’t have to double as a desk. I want a more permanent solution.


So really, while my work freedom is something I would love to hold on to, I see now that emotionally what I need is not that. First and foremost my heart desires to live with Panda, so we can start to do all those things “for the future.” I want to have a home I can make my own, whether it’s how things are organized within it or how it is decorated and furnished. In addition to that, I need more socialization. Working on my own is lonely and I always knew I’d want a business partner, but that didn’t work out. After a year of plowing ahead, I’ve learned that I was right: I’d work so much better with a team.

I’m so glad that my parents have been unconditionally supportive of my efforts. They gave me the time and space to figure this out for myself. In my stubbornness, I probably would have jumped off the deep end if they pushed me to stick with a “9 to 5” job. Ran off to some remote place to start some obscure small business or something. Instead, they let me sit around at home, evaluating what I was doing, altering my direction as I learned, and that is what has led me to this point. Entrepreneurship may be for me, in a future setting, but right now it’s not what I need.

What I need is a happy (pseudo-married) home life. I’m in no rush to get married, but I do want to build a home life with Panda. So far I’ve only stayed with him sporadically and never felt like I could make the place “ours.” I guess you could say I’m in the mood to be nesting? At least in terms of getting furnishings and developing lifestyle patterns together. And on the work front, I need coworkers and a team more than I need the freedom to work from home or work odd hours. I’m ready to re-enter the workforce.

It’s time for “one day” and “someday” to become a reality. I don’t want to put it off anymore, so I’m dusting off my resume, revamping it, and going on the job hunt.

365great Day 50: love

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Learn more about 365great here.

365great challenge day 50: loveLove is a powerful emotion that can amplify other emotions. Suddenly the world is rosier, everything is worthwhile, and smiling to yourself becomes a common occurrence. Of course, it can also cause great jealousy, even rage when those you love have hurt you or been hurt. Still, overall love is an extremely positive experience and state of being. Most of the people in the world strive to love and be loved, for good reason. For me, I am just glad every day I have those who love me and who I love. My emotional well-being is so much better because of my loved ones. We may have our ups and downs, but we always get through tough times and it is invaluable to me knowing that I have them by my side. The feeling of love is truly uplifting and great!

Languishing

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I’ve been in and out of a funk lately. For a time, I was focusing on a new project, but ever since I got back to the West Coast I haven’t really been able to concentrate on it. Instead, I found myself getting into my blogging again, with a big bout of inspiration. Also, I picked up a hobby obsession with entering (and winning!) sweepstakes/giveaways. Oh, and I’ve started to carve out a little piece of the reviewing world for myself, getting some products for free in exchange for feedback for those brands/companies.

sitting on front porch with legs extended working on laptop

Why wouldn’t I want to work on my front porch?


While all this is good and well, it’s not exactly a career unless I get a mad following or something. I’ve been working on promoting my blog more and I’ve seen improvement, but still, it’s tough to make a good living as a blogger and few people can rely on it solely. I’m enjoying myself and doing what I like, but I can’t help but feel that others are judging me for my lack of career at this point. It makes me wonder if I should be more eager to get back into the work force and earn a more steady income.

I’m a stubborn one, so the more people try to push me towards “normalcy” the more I want to buck against it. But I do see the benefits – I mean, I don’t want to have financial difficulties in my life. I’ve been fortunate to never have been in debt or had anything I couldn’t pay back and I never plan on experiencing that. Perhaps it’s unfair to assume the “housewife” role and stay at home doing what I can online as Panda goes out to work each day.

sitting under cabana working photo edited rainbow filter

Enjoying the weather while working? Certainly!


Still, I can’t help but wonder why I need to join all those Americans who work too hard, stress themselves out, and don’t even have fun along the way. What’s the point of earning a ton of money if you’re risking your health and happiness? Why is it that career success is often seen as more important than personal success (like within the home)? Perhaps that’s what’s wrong with this society. There’s so much glamour in earning a big paycheck, driving a fancy car, owning a large home, and otherwise living the “high life.”

Meanwhile, the quality of life and your personal well-being is completely ignored. Is a crazy high income worth never being home? Is a super busy schedule worth the shortcuts you take for your health? Maybe I’ve been taking it easy for too long (a year), but I sure do enjoy this ability to sleep in or stay up as I feel and manage my time freely. Are you only “good enough” if you’re sleep-deprived, too busy for socializing or relaxing, and soaring in your career? It sure seems that way, what with people bragging about how crazy their lives are.

lounging by pool in cabana with view of harbor

Should I feel guilty I get to work like this?


It’s sad really, that I almost feel ashamed that I’m not overworked. In fact, it’s just guilt that maybe I’m not being ambitious enough with my earning potential that is causing me this stress right now. I’m perfectly happy otherwise – I get time with family, I get work done, I get rest, and I am pretty well-balanced with the areas of my life. But I bet there are those who would look down on me and my situation and think that they’re better off because they have a nice paycheck. It’s not that I don’t want to earn money – I’ve just seen how big the trade-off is and I’m no longer sure that all that insanity is worth it.

I’ll probably still end up getting into the grind, working at that rat race that never seems to end. Yes, even entrepreneurs who don’t enter the traditional rat race find themselves in one of their own. Anybody with a job in the US isn’t truly immune to the intense competition, no matter what your industry or role. All because our society has developed in such a way that we aren’t deemed “successful” otherwise. And gosh darn it, I’m not about to disappoint my family. If they see failure in no high-power career, then I guess I’ll try to build that nice little career. But I’ll probably still languish around from time to time since I can’t quite say that it’s what I truly want. However, I don’t want to be dead weight and/or a burden either. So I guess it’s time to suck it up and get back in touch with my work-related ambitions.

Rationing control

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Perhaps you associate rationing with wartime, like I generally do. Did you know that in China they still do it? Well, at least in terms of the [centralized] heating supply. Every year, as fall fades away, the citizens await the day that their heating will get turned on. It’s earliest in the northern cities (like my hometown of Shenyang) and later in areas like Beijing. For those in the south – forget about it. No matter how cold it gets, they have no heat unless you purchase a special air conditioning/heating unit for your home. Then, as spring approaches, as soon as the government deems it warm enough, the heat is taken away again. And so year after year, the Chinese get to deal with bundling up in their homes because they don’t have enough heat.

chinese granddaughter and grandfather standing outside doorway in winter

Maybe that’s why winter wear looks like this and usually includes 5-7 layers, even indoors.

Back when I was born in the 1980’s, there was a lot of food rationing too. My mom always told me how eggs were a valued commodity in the cities and when she was pregnant, she got to enjoy the one egg per household (per month I think, though maybe it was per week). I had a cousin who was a year older than me and when I was born, I turned out to be a big eater. Or drinker, I guess. I gobbled up milk like nobody’s business (which meant that my cousin’s milk rations often went to me too). Maybe that’s why I grew up so big and strong.

Even housing in the old days was “rationed” – you were given a place to live and that was that, pretty much. If you wanted to move (within the same city), you could apply to be “given” a different apartment that might be newer and/or in a better location. I believe there was some sort of lottery system to help determine who got to live where. Certainly unlike the American buying experience I’m used to, where any house anywhere is fair game if it’s in your price range.

And then there’s the One Child Policy, which is kind of like rationing children to families. Except in this case, rather than waiting to be given what you want, you have what you want (once) and that’s it. Still, it’s similar to getting handed rations since you are allowed a limited supply, which has nothing to do with your personal situation. Rather, it’s an “everybody gets the same restriction” kind of thing.

Each of these in their own ways take control away from you the individual. You do not have the power to decide that you want to heat your home earlier in the year, or that you want to eat half a dozen eggs in one sitting, or that you want to move clear across town to that beautiful new complex, or that you want to have another child. Granted, things have eased up over the years and many of these rules have gone away or at least become more flexible. Still, sometimes it amazes me what sort of uber-controlling environment some cultures grow up in. And how the act of rationing itself is a rationing of control: Here, this is how much control we’ll give you over your own life. All’s fair in communism, right?

The worrisome type (& a story about a golf club)

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I grew up rather carefree, with just a normal amount of teenage angst and self-doubt. My personality has always been the type to “smile first, figure it out later” – or sometimes I just laugh it off. While I am stubborn and can have a temper, I’m usually grinning or chuckling at something. I guess I take after my dad, who may not smile as much, but is pretty easygoing about things and not really one to worry too much. Meanwhile, my mother and boyfriend are completely different!

taylormade 7 iron golf club head with background of grass

The golf club.

Let me give you an example: recently, I found an offer for a free “Boccieri Secret Grip” for a golf club. I had no idea what that means, but my dad’s really into golf so I thought he might want it. Since he was busy, my mom and I went to Dick’s to redeem the offer. The coupon instructed us to bring a 7 Iron or driver in tow – we grabbed the 7 Iron because it’s lighter :-P. So we get into the store and are sent to the guy in the golf section, who takes the club behind the counter. My mom and I check out the two giant spaces they have for testing golf clubs, one which includes a projection of a videogame-like golf course.

Then we look back at the guy.

My dad’s golf club had been stripped into a sad-looking pole! Gone was the TaylorMade grip. The handle was exposed and he vigorously tore off some leftover tape still sticking to it. At this point, my mother and I are in shock. Ok, so call us clueless, but we had no idea that a free grip meant removing the one we had! We watched as he stuck this double-sided sticky paper to the pole, then wet the exposed surface and the interior of the new grip. This allowed the grip to slide on.

taylormade grip with cut splitting it down middle

RIP, old grip.

He handed it back to us as we stared, dazed. What just happened?? In a trash bin, on top of a pile of papers, lay the original grip. Sad, forlorn, floppy. We asked for it back. We were surprised to find that it had been sliced straight down the middle, but I guess that’s how you remove them. The guy explained to us that the Boccieri Secret Grip has a metal weight in it so the relative weight of the club head is lighter. Apparently that’s supposed to help with your golf game. He also showed us the TaylorMade grips they had in store, which we could always re-grip the club with. The patterning wasn’t the same as ours, but it was the same brand.

new boccieri secret grip on golf clubAnd so we left the store, my mom clinging to the ruined grip. We had some grocery shopping to do and throughout the entire time, she kept sighing and sort of melodramatically “wailing” in despair. She was sad, upset, even angry that the guy had so heartlessly cut up the old grip. To her, TaylorMade was a brand name and Boccieri was… not. And so she felt like the club had been downgraded. Plus, she wasn’t happy that the set no longer matched.

new boccieri secret grip on gold club with old taylormade grip laying on groundI, on the other hand, while certainly shocked at first, quickly recovered. Maybe it really is better and maybe it will help my dad’s golf swing or precision or something. Also, just because we hadn’t heard of the name didn’t mean that it wasn’t a brand name in itself. Who knows. But more important than the brand is the performance! And that’s pretty much exactly what my dad said when we got home. I don’t think he was thrilled that the grip was replaced, but he was open-minded and willing to give it a try. He also wasn’t so concerned about a perfectly matching set or any brand name.

Even then, my mom had a hard time letting it go. It was still a big deal to her! That’s just the type of person she is. I guess some people just get much more worked up over things. To me, they cause themselves a whole lot of unnecessary stress. But hey, that’s their prerogative! Are you the worrisome type too?

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