Yellow roses

Today, two dozen yellow roses were delivered to my mother at her house. The last time I had flowers delivered to her three months ago, a massive fail happened, as the FedEx delivery guy decided that since no one answered the ringing doorbell that he would take the liberty of throwing the flower box over the gate. Needless to say, my parents came home to a dented cardboard box, and when they opened it, at least six of the 24 pink cymbidium orchid blossoms had been destroyed. I called the Bouqs to complain, and they issued me the full credit back to my account. I guess we can say that today’s delivery was “free.”

I called her after work, and she said, “What do you think you are, some millionaire? Why did you send me flowers again! It’s such a waste of money!” I know she loves them, as yellow is her favorite color, and few things put a bigger smile on my mother’s face than a vase filled with yellow roses. I told her that they were technically free, and then she got all excited, probably valuing her flowers even more now that she knew her daughter didn’t spend a hundred bucks on them.

“Stop and smell the roses.” Sadly, this is something my mother doesn’t know how to do.

“35”

My mom’s been harping on me to have children since I turned 25. Granted, I wasn’t even engaged at age 25, but she wanted me to marry as soon as possible (even to a guy she didn’t even like) so that I could have children as soon as possible (and so that she could have grandchildren as soon as possible. That’s what this is really about). At ages 25, 26, 27, and 28, she kept warning me how dangerous it was to have children after 30. I thought the scary age according to doctors was 35? No, don’t listen to the doctors, she said. They don’t know. “I have wisdom,” she said. “Do what I say.”

Well, I didn’t listen. And here I am, 30 and childless. At least I am married now, so we’ve ticked off another box for her satisfaction. So she was saying to me that all my friends and I need to start thinking about babies soon. “You know that after 35, it’s no good to have your first child, so you must think about it now. After 35 is no good anymore.”

Isn’t it interesting how she adjusted her “scary” age to go along with what I am doing and not doing?

NYC ID – an unexpected ‘adventure’

I set up an appointment to register for my New York City ID card today at the midtown Bryant Park library, and with me, I brought my passport for photo ID and my W2 as proof of residence. Well, the entire visit ended up becoming a total snafu (for those of you who aren’t aware, SNAFU is one of my favorite acronyms, and it stands for “situation normal: all f*cked up”).

First, the W2 was not considered a valid proof of residence “because tax season has ended.” Wait, so if I brought the W2 on April 10 vs. today, it would have counted? The W2 is clearly for earnings in 2015, so if her logic made any sense, wouldn’t that just eliminate the W2 completely as a proof of residence in 2016?

Then, because my W2 didn’t count, I had to access a computer to print out a bank statement with my mailing address. But I didn’t have my library card, so I had to request my card number from an employee. The employee was slow, hard of hearing, and barely knew how to obtain my library card number. He gave me a reservation for a computer, which timed out and prevented me from logging in. Another worker sympathized and gave me a guest code. The guest code did not work. She gave me a second one. The system timed out.

Finally, I got another guest computer code to work, but now, the printer payment method didn’t recognize my credit card and insisted I did not provide sufficient payment for my print job. I was in hell. The printer payment machine needed to be reset. Finally, I printed all three pages of my bank statement, presented it along with my passport to the NYC ID workers, and was given the form to fill out. Then, it got processed, and I was told it would take 2-3 weeks to arrive.

The entire process took over an hour. This is why government systems are terrible.

On the bright side, now,  with this card, I can get one-year free annual membership to places like the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, all the botanical gardens, the Public Theater, and even Lincoln Center and NYC Ballet. Who would have thought so much trouble would go into getting this single ID card.

Broiler miseducation

Now that the weather is warming up with spring here (well, it actually isn’t warming up, but the idea is comforting that it should be getting warmer), I’ve been looking at a lot of different recipes that require grilling. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to an outdoor grill with our apartment, so the next best thing we can do is broil. It’s the same, right, just that the heat is coming from the top rather than the bottom?

I told Chris I wanted to broil Vietnamese lemongrass beef for dinner tonight, and he whined and insisted it would be bland and boring. “Broiling is so bland,” he said. “Why can’t you do something else?”

When did anything marinated in Vietnamese fish sauce, among other Asian ingredients, become boring? What a silly goose.

Cousin lack of love

I was on the phone with my mother the other day, and she let me know that my aunt told her that my cousin in Brooklyn just got laid off. That’s sad news, I responded, but I’m sure he’ll find a new job soon if he looks hard enough. She then added he was given six months’ severance paid at 100%. Okay, I said, if I felt sorry for him at all, all of that has now quickly dissipated. Who gets six months 100% paid severance after getting laid off?

She suggested I call him “to comfort him,” and I balked and told her the idea was ridiculous. When the entire country was in a recession in early 2009 when I got laid off and stayed unemployed for almost three months, where was my cousin to “comfort” me? He never called once, and at the wedding of his brother that I flew to attend, he barely said one word to me because he was angry I told him to stop complaining so much. That was a cue to him to stop calling or reaching out to me at all.

I told her I don’t want to spend any time on my ungrateful cousins or my psychotic aunt anymore. No more unneeded family dysfunction; the wedding was the end of the “optional” contact. The most I’m willing to tolerate at this point is just the dysfunction of my parents, and even that, I can only take in small doses.

New York pizza

A few weeks ago, we had a two-day long sales conference here in our New York offices when one of our sales leads, who is vegetarian, decided to order all breakfasts and lunches for the two days to be vegetarian and/or vegan. Granted, this made a lot of the team angry, and some revolted by not eating the food and either bringing their own or even going out to grab a slice of pizza. We had team members fly in from LA, San Francisco, and Chicago, and the ones from California were especially eager to get their New York pizza fix.

I asked one of them which pizza place he got his slice from, and he said he had no idea; it was just some random corner place two blocks away. “It doesn’t really matter to me,” he said as he took another big bite of his pie slice. “All the pizza here is better than the pizza we have in LA. You guys have no idea! You just take it for granted living here!”

Hm. Well, I do think there is good pizza to be had in California, especially now that foodie culture has invaded pretty much every major city, but it is true that we probably do take it for granted living here. It’s like with every great thing you have convenient access to; you don’t really know what you have until you don’t have it anymore. I guess that justifies Chris and I having pizza for dinner two weeks in a row, the second being tonight.

SoulCycle therapy

One of my colleagues is friends with someone who works at SoulCycle, so she was able to snag our company two free weeks of SoulCycle classes. This was actually really good timing for me because I’ve been wanting to try SoulCycle for months now, but I just couldn’t deal with forking over $34 for a single class (plus $3 for the special spinning shoe rental) when I pay about $65 per month for a full unlimited month’s worth of gym membership (which includes full equipment access, all classes that also has spinning, and full locker rooms, showers, and amenities).

I went after work today to a 6:30pm session on the Upper East Side, and it was kind of everything I expected it to be. The front desk staff was a little uppity when I told them it was my first time. They offered to sell me a $2 bottle of water (no thanks), and when I asked where the locker rooms were, the worker said they had lockers, but no actual room (it’s just a hall with lockers), so if I wanted to change, I needed to use a stall in the restroom. They gave me the awkward spinning shoes that I’d need to clip into my bike (I asked if someone would show me.. I’m clueless), and then I went off to get changed.

The class itself is high intensity, very motivational, and now I can see why some people actually cry during class. We all have our insecurities, things we are trying to hide about ourselves that we’re ashamed of and want to change, and things that we are striving to achieve. This class has an instructor that will chant and yell you through all of these things, about letting go of the negative things in life that drag you down and pushing you to get closer to achieving your goals — for spinning and for life. There are times in the class where she will ask you to close your eyes and visualize escaping all the bad and running closer to the good; it can definitely be an emotional experience. And when I was cycling and trying to escape the negative, I thought about my negative relatives and all the stupid things they’ve done to me that I want to move on from. It’s almost like therapy in an exercise class. I suppose that would be worth paying $34 per class for.

I left class drenched, sweaty, and feeling sore in some good places. I wouldn’t necessarily call it the most effective total body workout, but it was certainly a workout. I never learned how to un-clip my shoes because they told the newbies to leave them on the pedals, though. I’m not sure if I will be back, but it was definitely the most intense evening I’ve had all week this week.

Zucchini “noodles” need to die

Living in a city full of very privileged people, I always hear a lot of judgment when it comes to foods that are “good” and “bad” for you, or even products and ingredients in bodycare that supposedly aren’t good for you. I know I am a judgmental person (and you probably are, too, whether you realize it or not), but one thing I never, ever do is judge what people are eating to their face — ever, unless I have something positive to say. I’m very aware of how food shaming can be hurtful because judging what someone is eating to their face is like judging their weight to their face. No one wants that.

I heard someone in the office saying a few months ago how toxic sodium fluoride is (yes, that active ingredient in most of your toothpastes that prevents cavities and plaque? Yeah, that). All breads, rices, and grains seem to be getting a bad rap because they are so full of carbs (it’s as though we’ve all forgotten that meat and fruit and vegetables also have carbs, too?). Someone recently said to me, and I had to try really, really hard to bite my tongue, “I just feel like a vegetable is always going to be healthier than a grain,” when letting me know proudly that she doesn’t have any bread, rice, or grain of any sort in her entire apartment. High protein grains like sprouted wheat and quinoa are on the holy grail list of what are “power” foods. And then there are these stupid things being done where people want to try to fake wheat and rice by making things like zucchini “noodles” and cauliflower “rice”… and then they complain that these things just aren’t as satisfying, or the result isn’t the same as having real spaghetti or real rice. Have they thought that maybe they aren’t the same because… they are not the same thing?!

I’m happy to do things like try raw kale chopped up in salads, green juices, quinoa in my porridge, or test out squash or sweet potato flour occasionally in a baking recipe, but I don’t think I can ever accept the demonization of things like wheat flour, rice, grains, or even fat. We’d all be a lot healthier and happier if we just ate a little bit of everything in moderation and stopped making it seem like carbs or fat will be the death of us. The constant neuroses that I am surrounded by in this city around “good” and “bad” foods will annoy me to no end.

Nepalese nail worker

The wedding is officially over, especially now that I am getting my wedding manicure removed. I went to get my gel taken off my finger nails tonight, and a very young Nepalese worker was assigned to me. She couldn’t have been any older than 28. She told me that she moved to New York from Nepal about three years ago with her sister, and all her family, friends, and even boyfriend were still there. She hadn’t been home since she left, and she had no idea when she’d go back because it’s so expensive to fly. She said she talks to her boyfriend on the phone every morning before work, six days a week. “It’s hard, but we make it work,” she sighed. “I just don’t know when I will see him again.”

The cynic in me wondered if he was true to her and if he were cheating on her. How do we deal with long-distance relationships when there is no end to the long distance in sight in the future, especially in a case like this? I gave her a big tip and said I hoped to see her again soon, and good luck with her boyfriend. She’s going to need it.

Rush hour in Manhattan

I was walking up to Grand Central from my office after work, avoiding the 33rd street stop on the 6 to get on at 42nd and Grand Central, when I stopped at a red light and observed all these other commuters rushing to get home. Everyone is doing their own thing, on their phones, talking or texting, hurriedly rushing to get somewhere after work. Amidst all the noise, I thought about how anonymous you can really be in this city. There are so many people here that if you died, no one would really care that much. You’d probably be forgotten.

I looked on at the usual homeless guys who stand or sit around near Grand Central Station as they said the same things over and over again to people passing them by, hoping to get a few extra coins for their food or drugs or whatever it was that sustained them day to day. No one really pays them much attention. No one pays the people who walk around them on the street very much attention. And it made me feel so sad. I’ve been in this city for almost eight years now, yet I really haven’t made that many good friends here. I guess I am a lucky person in that I actually met my now-husband here; it’s hard to be single in a city like this that presents so many options and almost encourages a short attention span. New York is a really easy city to be lonely in.