Registering to vote

After watching last night’s infuriating debate, I was filled with anger, thinking… how stupid can Americans possibly be to be backing someone like Trump in droves? The only criticism I heard of Hillary at my office today was that she “just doesn’t come off as genuine” and sounded like she rehearsed too much for the debate (because apparently preparing for the most watched debate isn’t a smart thing to do. No, I get it… sounding “rehearsed” isn’t very good, but given that the person is competing against a total liar, is the decision really that hard?) . I don’t know about you, but not coming off as genuine is a far cry from being a racist, sexist, bigoted liar. We had some small talk about the debate, and getting exacerbated, I said, “Well, I hope you are all registered to vote!”

And then, it’s like my heart shattered. Two people in my row said the words that I currently hate the most (well, other than “Make America great again!”): “I don’t know if I’m registered to vote.”

Then go fucking register! Go to a place like this that will completely dumb it down for you and make it fail proof!! Don’t just sit there and whine about not knowing whether you’re registered or knowing how! We’re an internet company, so just Google the damn thing! It really isn’t that hard! One of them was one of my direct reports, and I immediately ordered her to go to that site and check to see if she was registered. I even watched her navigate the site to make sure she was going to do it (I can be that overbearing boss… sometimes. But this MATTERS). Apparently, New York City DMV has really made it easy for locals to register simply by checking off a box on their driver’s license or state ID application, so she was registered that way, but at the wrong address. “Correct the address, and soon,” I admonished her. I couldn’t help but be annoyed. I’m supposed to be hiring smart people here.

I just cannot get over the fact that there are so many Americans who think that the voting process or application process is so hard that they don’t even take the time to vote. So many people in this office are in their late twenties and thirties and have never voted. How can they take for granted the rights that they have that other people in the world would die to have? Oh, I forgot. It’s because they have no perspective and only think of their own lives and what’s immediately around them. And especially as women, we should be voting every chance we get because we still haven’t hit the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote being a right in this country. There are some women in this country who have absolutely no clue, like the women who would actually register as Republican, or even worse, vote for Trump. Some generations really don’t get smarter.

Presidential Debate 2016

We watched the first presidential debate via live stream tonight, and it certainly proved to be the show that I’m sure Trump wanted it to be. Donald Trump made sure to interrupt and cut off Hillary at least 10 times (I mean, isn’t that what men do to women all the time, and it’s acceptable?), predictably refused to release his tax returns as all presidential candidates are expected to do unless Hillary released all the e-mails off her private email server (completely  irrelevant, but not like he cares), and dug himself a hole when rambling on and on about blacks and racism, which only made him appear to say everything but “I’m a racist and hate blacks.” He lied through his teeth, acted like an impetuous child, and used the single word “Wrong!” every time Hillary stated a fact about his shady business dealings and character. Not everything Hillary said was true according to fact checks done, but at least she appeared poised, calm and collected — presidential. She didn’t stoop to his level of defensiveness.

At the end of the debate, Hillary says that this election really isn’t about her or Trump; it’s about the American people. And she’s right. This election really is about whether we will prove to the world whether we’re really the dumb shit Americans that the rest of the globe thinks we are, or whether we actually have an ounce of common sense to not elect a racist, sexist liar to the highest office of the land.

Autumn is here

Autumn officially came to New York at the end of this week, which means that we can expect cooler temperatures very shortly. While Chris gets annoyed about the impending cold, I get excited because it means I can get all my favorite fall produce, including butternut and kabocha squash, a stunning array of sweet potatoes and fingerling potatoes, and honey crisp apples (unfortunately becoming way too popular now and well known). It also means I can do things like make pumpkin bread and test out all the fall recipes I’ve been collecting since the spring now that all these fruits and vegetables are finally available locally. And, it also means I can start planning our early Thanksgiving celebration meal, which I look forward to every year after the last celebration has finished.

I’ve come to embrace the four seasons, especially having come from a city where the seasons didn’t really exist. All I knew growing up was overcast, grey, and cloudy, ranging from the 40s to the 60s. Then, there was what we call “Indian summer,” which is when occasionally out in the Richmond District in San Francisco, we’d see the Golden Gate Bridge clearly from our house on top of the hill by Golden Gate Park, amidst blue skies and if we were lucky, temperatures in the 70s and 80s. We don’t get the gorgeous changing colors of the autumn leaves much in New York other than in Central Park, but I still look forward to the colors anyway especially since we live right by the park. Sometimes when I think of autumn in the northeast, I think how crazy it was that before the age of 18, I’d never seen a real autumn before. And then I think that I look forward to ensuring my future kids get the privilege of experiencing it all the time, whether it exists where we live or to travel to see it.

Wine and Cheese Tasting Cruise

Today, we finally redeemed a gift certificate to go on a wine and cheese tasting cruise around Manhattan. Chris’s cousin and his wife gave this to us as a wedding gift back in March, and we chose this month to redeem it while the weather was still warm. We lucked out since the weather was meant to be cloudy and grey, but the clouds cleared by the time the afternoon came, and it was sunny and blue skies for us.

We sat on the boat with a couple named Tim and Carla from Calgary and discussed all things New York, Calgary, and Banff related. Of course, the conversation became a bit political when the topic of Trump came up. “The whole world is watching this and wondering what Americans really think of this,” Tim said laughing. We’re all just amazed that (the Trump candidacy) got this far.”

We are, too, and embarrassed as hell that the obsession with an e-mail server and a woman who seems more ambitious and interested in power than smiling and being “feminine and ladylike” could potentially cause Hillary to lose to a racist, sexist, tax evading, bull shitting con artist and liar. I keep thinking this, but it’s so true: how can any smart, reasonable person vote for Trump? How? The rest of the world is asking that question. Why aren’t more Americans?

The cruise itself focused on wines and cheeses from Portugal. The cruise itself was great since it meant we got to be on the water, which we rarely do in the city. But the portions of cheese were a bit skimpy, and we never got offered seconds on anything. I guess it really was just a “tasting” sadly. It helps to have alcohol when talking about the current state of politics in this country, though.

Love, Love, Love

Tonight, Chris and I went to see the Love, Love, Love off-broadway show at the Laura Pels Theatre. The show depicts what they call the Beatlemania era, a time of the “Me” generation. It shows two people who fall in love, get married, and raise children in what is to me, a house full of dysfunction. This quote I read from Mitch Albom’s Five People You Meet in Heaven rang in my head:

“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”

The parents of the two children in the show are clearly very into themselves. They both work hard and seem ambitious in their careers, but they never truly hear or listen to anything that their children say. They are superficially involved in their lives with things like birthday cakes and candles, but really have no idea what their children do. Fast forward about twenty years later, their son is still living with their dad (as the parents have divorced) and is clearly suffering from a mental illness that the parents don’t want to address, and the daughter is barely making her rent payments in her sagging career as a professional violinist. She blames her parents for her lack of mobility, and as “payment” for their wrongdoing, she demands that they buy her a house in an economy where she cannot afford that luxury.

I’m not sure I agree that her parents should buy her the house. In the end, they refuse and do what they always do — ignore her and her brother in favor of what they want. It almost makes me remember how Ed used to say he always felt ignored by our father, that our father preferred being in the garage and tinkering with things down there and talking to himself over talking to and bonding with Ed, so Ed actively and consciously made the decision one day as a pre-teen to altogether stop talking to our father. I didn’t always get it then when I was young, but as an adult, I understood completely. How much can we blame our parents for what our lives turn out to be, and how much can we blame ourselves for potentially not trying hard enough and finding our own way? I think that’s what I’m always wondering.

Unequal world

September marks the beginning of the school year in New York City, which means that my mentoring program restarts for the year. I was getting ready to see my mentee, who I’ve been paired with for the last two years, next Tuesday, when I received an unexpected email from the program coordinator, asking to speak with me on the phone. I called him this afternoon to learn that my mentee, who would be starting her junior year of high school at age 15, came back from the summer three months pregnant, apparently with twins, and would likely not be able to participate in the program anymore. In fact, based on her age and socioeconomic situation, it’s highly likely that she will drop out of high school altogether. I immediately felt disappointed not just for her, but for the entire system itself.

My mentee attends a school that is predominantly made of teens who have immigrated to the U.S. somewhere between the ages of 8-12 (mine came at around age 12), and almost all of them speak English as a second language. Their classes at this American high school are all taught in Spanish, with the exception of English class, which is taught in both English and Spanish. At home and with her friends, my mentee speaks only Spanish. Her only opportunities to speak in English are with me and in English class. She’s 15 years old, pregnant, and understands English at barely a third grade level. What do you think her chances are of finishing high school and attending college given all this information? Her school never taught any sex education (comprehensive sex education is a step up and probably not even conceivable), and her exposure to the dominant language here is minimal. She’s planning on having these children, which means that her main focus will need to be on them.

I wish I could say that I have high hopes for her. Maybe I would if her English were better, or if she had an environment at home which encourages learning and growing academically (she does not; in fact, her mother doesn’t really see the value of college and thinks her daughter should be working post high school). The odds are against her. I wish I could do more to help her, but now I may never even see her again. There is so much wrong with our education system and how we treat immigrants in this country that today, I just felt like I was at a big low. I’m powerless to help her, similar to how I was powerless to help my own Ed. For anyone to say that someone like my mentee has an equal chance in this country to succeed the way I do or the way average Joe does is absolutely senseless and wildly ignorant.

The other thing that is frustrating is just the fact that she’s pregnant and probably had no idea what her risks were of getting pregnant or any sexually transmitted disease. I’m literally twice her age, and the thought of being pregnant right now for me is very scary and foreign. Yet, I’m married, at an age where it’s socially considered “normal” to get pregnant and have children. I have a good career, salary, and resources that would provide me pretty much everything I could need or want to give birth to and raise children. This picture here — this is not what she has. She is surrounded by the social stigma of teen pregnancy, of being an immigrant who doesn’t speak English well and hasn’t “assimilated” into society, and who knows what her health benefits are like. And from a physical perspective, I’m sure it’s completely bewildering for her, all these changes she is experiencing. What does it probably feel like for her, someone who is just physically growing into her tall, awkward body, just developing breasts and is still trying to figure out what it even means to be a “woman”? It’s like part of her youth will be lost. She’s like a baby herself about to have babies.

Avocado toast takes over city

I love avocado toast. I’d actually been making it way back when I was still in college, far before it became the trendy “healthy” breakfast option at restaurants across New York City in recent years. I would toast a piece of multi-grain or whole wheat sourdough bread, mash a quarter of an avocado, and top it with sprinkled red chili flakes, sea salt, and pepper. Occasionally a fried egg would go on top, or some oil-packed sardines. It was always satisfying and tasty.

And then it wasn’t so tasty when I started seeing on menus across Manhattan, with two slices of multi-grain toast topped with avocado and the occasional poached or fried egg priced anywhere from $10-17. Yes, that’s seventeen dollars. Really. And I won’t be surprised when it goes above that. The New Yorker, smart as always, published this illustration that shows exactly how ridiculous this “trend” has become in this city, if not the entire country. I shared this with my friend who I knew would laugh out loud from this, and she exclaimed, “fucking hate avocado toast and every place that makes it.” 🙂

Adele

Chris surprised me with tickets to see Adele at Madison Square Garden tonight. I honestly never thought I’d be able to see her in concert since it’s so competitive to get tickets for her shows, and she doesn’t tour or make albums that frequently, so this was a crazy surprise.

A few things were shocking to me during the show: they started more or less on time at around 8:10, and Adele had zero costume changes; she wore the same dress the entire evening, which lasted about 2.5 hours. She performed three songs right away back to back without any introduction or talking, and she was clearly singing live — no doubt about that. Her self-deprecating and light bragging humor was so real and funny. She asked the audience if we were hoping to have a good time tonight, and when we all started cheering, she responded, “Well, I don’t know why you’re here, then. You do realize that all I do is sing and whine about men and all my broken relationships, right? You think that’s a good time, eh?” Her humor around having a completely sold out tour was especially funny.

It was such a contrast to what I hear about American performers who are far more diva-like and egotistical. Mariah Carey, in her past shows, would always have on average a costume change per two to three songs (most of which showed way too much skin or ass crack), which also meant long periods (10-15 minutes each) of being off stage. That’s a long time when your show is only 2 hours long. I’ve been told that Beyonce concerts are known to start an hour to an hour and a half late. My cousin attended a Madonna concert in the Bay Area years ago where cameras of any kind were completely banned; in fact, that’s what happened at the Shania Twain concert my cousin, Ed, and I attended at Key Arena in Seattle; we have no photos from that show because cameras were prohibited.

Adele’s authenticity and complete focus on her voice were so memorable. The only thing really done to accommodate her was a man discreetly coming on stage to refill her hot water and honey for her throat. And as always, her live performance of “Someone Like You” was so moving. I could feel myself tearing up hearing her belt out the words to that timeless song that I’m sure people will remember decades from now.

“So dangerous”

I talked to my mom on the phone today, and of course, she asked about the bomb since she heard about it on the news, and she asked where I was at the time the bomb went off. Funnily enough, I gave my mom the answer she’d always like to hear: I was at home. We actually were. And of course, she sounded relieved. “It’s so dangerous out there! I tell you not to go out too late!” she exclaimed. Before Chris and I were together and I was still living in Elmhurst, she used to admonish me every time I said I wasn’t home on the weekends. If I were out meeting friends for drinks or dinner, or even just going out shopping, she’d sound annoyed, interrogating me about all the details (who, what, where) and when I’d be home. Her absolute favorite response to “where are you?” is when I’d tell her I was at home reading — I guess that’s what good girls do.

Explosions

Last night, an explosion went off in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, causing mass pandemonium and 29 people injured. Another contraption that appeared to be a bomb was found a couple blocks away, and so the entire area was blocked off until later today. I woke up this morning to a slew of text messages from friends and family, all asking if we were okay. Chris, still on London time, took my phone and marked me as “safe” on Facebook so friends and family would know we were fine.

It’s a bit surreal to me. We’re living in a city that has terrorist threat written all over it, particularly since New York City was the place that saw its twin towers fall and change the city and the entire country forever. But our media skews stories to the point where the basic message is this: our country is safe, but other countries are not; beware. I hear colleagues and friends and friends of friends make inane comments about how dangerous it must be living in or traveling to places like Paris or Nice or Istanbul, all affected by acts of terror in the last 12 months. And you know what — it makes me angry. These are all amazing cities to live in and visit, cities that people love. New York City is also one of these cities. Do I walk around this city every day thinking, oh my god, I live in such a dangerous city because we were affected by the 9-11 terrorist attacks or just had a bomb explode downtown? No, I live my life and do my everyday thing, and I don’t allow the media and all the stupid comments around me to sway how I live my life and travel. But that’s the thing: New Yorkers here want to freak out about Istanbul and Paris and Nice, but they would never blink an eye when it comes to this city, their home. I’ll take the subway and walk these streets and even take New Jersey transit (which we actually did take today to go to a friends barbecue) and embrace this city for what it is. And that’s what everyone else should be doing, but with the rest of the world, and not being so scared of the world outside of the bubble that is the United States, a country that actually isn’t so safe overall given how stupidly easy it is to get a gun without any real training.