Turbulence, turbulence

All night long last night and through the morning today, the entire New York City area experienced torrential downpour. I woke up in the middle of the night to the rain loudly tapping my windows, and I knew this was going to be really bad. Some subway stations  got flooded in uptown Manhattan. I even got a flight alert notification saying that my early morning flight today might get delayed due to heavy winds. I had a two-hour buffer between the time that my plane was scheduled to land and the time of my business review meeting. I needed to make this meeting.

So, the flight took off a bit delayed. But as we were ascending, the worst turbulence that I can ever remember began. The plane didn’t even feel like it was going straight. It felt like it was going sideways to the left for a few minutes, then sideways to the right, then as though it were tumbling down but trying to lift itself up all at the same time. None of the feelings made sense. I was sitting at the front of the plane and looked back to see people’s facial expressions. For the most part in First Class, people were fairly nonchalant or passed out. But the people in the front of Coach looked disturbed. A colleague who sat back there told me that at least 2-3 people were yelling at the back of the plane, and several others had their eyes closed and their hands together as though in prayer. Let’s all just brace ourselves.

It lasted for over 15 minutes. Even the flight attendants were not allowed to get out of their seats. At least we finally got to a clear, smooth path. We didn’t die. It’s all good news.

Outgrowing friends

I had brunch with a friend today who was visiting from Seattle. She and her now husband have been living in Seattle for almost six years now, and although it was originally intended to be a temporary stint since they both were born and raised in New Jersey, she’s grown to love the city a lot, as well as the friends she’s made there. The two of them have enjoyed the careers they’ve been growing in, and they love the west coast way of life.

She told me that although her husband ideally says he wants to move back to New York/New Jersey to be closer to their childhood friends, she doesn’t see that being a huge plus in their life, as so many of their friends’ lives have gone in directions where she can no longer relate to them, and she’s changed herself, too. She’s lived in other places and has other ways of thinking. She’s outgrown them, and they’ve probably outgrown her in their own ways. It’s a hard thing to confront. She even had the “tough talk” with one of her friends who asked why she hadn’t come to visit her when she’s in town. I don’t even think I’ve had a conversation that confrontational with anyone.

All of our lives are changing. It’s hard to relate to people who stay in one place their whole life when you’ve moved around, experienced other things and other places and other people. We can’t always grow in the same direction, but dealing with it continuing to move forward is the only way to go. There’s nothing wrong with growing up and moving on. It doesn’t make us bad people. We’re just adults making adult decisions now.

Dysfunctional relatives visit

So my aunt has been in town for the last several days, and she suggested that we meet up for lunch with Chris today. That lunch ended up never happening because she insisted on bringing her friend, who we will call Marie, with her. My aunt is constantly inviting random Jehovah’s Witness friends to pretty much every single family gathering we’ve had since before I can even remember.

I’ve never liked Marie. She’s a free loader, a gossip, and judgmental to the point where I highly question how “Christian” she really is. She’s a fellow Jehovah’s Witness, which is how she and my aunt met. To me personally, she’s said disparaging things about my brother (yeah, you really do not want to go there with me), made sweeping statements about my husband just because of his Indian ethnicity, and has made generalizations of what it’s like to be the wife of an Indian man and that I should “be aware” of those things. So, the last thing I want is to meet up with my aunt and have her insipid JW sidekick join me for a free lunch.

The worst part is that even though she’s fully aware that I dislike Marie, she still brings her to meals with me unannounced. So I don’t even get to decide whether I see her before I actually see her. This time, she actually told me via text that Marie would be coming, to which I said, “can you please come by yourself?” She then responded that Marie needed her help and that she could not leave her alone. Let me get this straight: she can’t be left alone because she’s supposedly unwell, but she can travel with you to a restaurant in the East Village to meet me?

There’s enough dysfunction in my family as is. I don’t need someone who is not family from the JW world to be brought in to annoy me and eat with me. When I told her I didn’t want to go if she would bring Marie, she simply responded that she’d see me the next time I’d be in San Francisco. I guess that’s the way it’s going to be, then.

Real spring

It was in the 50s when I departed Boston today. I had my warm coat and scarf on, and as we touched down at LaGuardia this afternoon, I could already feel the heat. It was so strange — to leave New York when it was cold and drizzling and to come back when it’s over 70 degrees and sunny. I immediately felt like I had to peel all my layers off to feel comfortable.

That’s the awkward thing about transitional seasons like spring and autumn. It’s hard to know what to dress and how to dress, especially when traveling to different cities as unpredictable as those in the Northeast. But it was encouraging to see the beginning of cherry blossoms lining the Back Bay when I was heading to lunch with a partner today. I’m ready to be done with all my cold-climate clothing and wear lighter clothes again. I’m ready for some change.

 

Organizational changes

When in transit yesterday, my manager sent me several Slack messages to ask where I was, and if I could join the mandatory meeting that was on my calendar. I had communicated I’d be on a plane at that time, but the meeting sounded really urgent. As soon as I landed, I called her on her mobile phone, and the big news she wanted to announce is that she’s leaving the organization. I wasn’t quite sure how to react, but I knew that this was not necessarily the best news given that she had barely been here for nine months.

In the tech world, every startup, even the late stage startups, feel like revolving doors. People are constantly coming and going. It’s hard to know who to trust and confide in because they may just peace out the next day. And when it’s your manager who leaves, it’s normal to question the stability of the team and what the future holds for your own position.

For the most part, my day-to-day doesn’t change. But I’m wondering what the overall impact will be to our team and the general feelings around the organization around her departure. No matter where you are, the rumor mill still continues to rotate.

“Wine hour”

I arrived in Boston today for my short work trip, and at check-in, they let me know that there would be a daily complimentary “wine hour” from 5-6pm each day, where the team would serve local wines of the region and some small bites during this time. The tradition began when the hotel first opened many decades ago, and the hotel owner wanted to make his guests feel welcome, as though he was hosting them in his own house, so he served wine and appetizers to all his guests to make them feel comfortable. Now, it’s expanded to all the locations and is considered “wine hour” across Boston. For those who are unacquainted, Boston is extremely puritanical, and the term “happy hour” is pretty much banned and illegal. So no bar or restaurant can advertise that they have a “happy hour,” and instead, some places who want to entertain the notion of a “happy hour” have to come up with pseudonyms like “wine hour” or “beer hour” to be legal and kosher.

Boston is a great place to visit. Because of stupid laws like that noted above, I’m so happy I don’t live in that area anymore.

Work friends

The office has been pretty quiet this week due to a lot of work travel for many people across teams. I’ll be away from the office Wednesday through Friday of this week for customer visits in Boston, and other colleagues are in San Francisco for everything from a major conference for a platform we use, to internal product training for the sales team.

One of the colleagues in my office who is on my team and I were talking about our colleagues in general and our general work environment, and we both agreed that for the first time in both of our careers, we actually liked the people in our office and would not mind and would even welcome spending time outside of work with almost everyone. It’s a rare instance to have that be the case, where you aren’t sick of work people where you’d like to see them in a more social, less professional environment. Sometimes, I even find myself missing some of my colleagues when I am away or they are away from the office. That is a very strange feeling for me because I’ve never quite had that before. Things certainly are not perfect here. But it helps when the colleagues you see regularly are supportive and multi-dimensional, and have lives outside of work that we can talk about and enjoy discussing.

Empty house again

It was almost like reverse empty-nest today: Chris’s parents left to continue onto the next segment of their trip. And our house was empty again. We did the laundry, ran the dishwasher, and tidied up the bedroom. It was quiet. And we caught up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and Chris did his finances while I caught up on my book that I’ve been neglecting on my Kindle. And when we talked to each other, it’s almost like I could hear a slight echo of my voice in the living room. It seemed so strange.

I wonder if that is part of the feeling that “empty-nesters” get once their kids leave the house. There’s no noise. There’s no towels or clothes everywhere. There’s less to fuss over.

 

Miserable spring

It’s been a cold, miserable winter here in New York. Even though it’s technically spring now, it still feels like winter. And Chris’s parents didn’t pack for a winter trip when they came to see us. So while Chris is trying to drag them around to see as much of the city as possible, both his parents have been resisting due to the cold temperatures and the frosty wind, which this weekend, seem to be quite harsh.

It’s funny to think of us dragging them around the city when it’s cold. I then started thinking about all the cold Thanksgiving trips we’ve taken together, and even when it’s been extremely cold as it has been in Switzerland or Germany, we still trekked out and maximized our time. It’s a bit different with Chris’s parents because they’ve visited New York so many times; not seeing a museum or eating at a restaurant wouldn’t be a big deal to them. But their motivation to get out and see things on their trips here is so much lower than when we travel to cold climate places. Sometimes, I kind of just wanted to be warm at home with them, too, instead of out. But Chris would never allow it. 🙂

 

Shoes in the house

Today, we hosted brunch for Chris’s parents, his mother’s cousin, and his family. His mother’s cousin’s mother was also in town visiting from India, so we had a pretty full house of eight people. Everything went pretty well from the food to the conversation. The one bit that I noticed was not normal was that no one took off their shoes when they came in.

We’re a very Asian household in that we always remove our shoes when we go into our apartment. I strongly dislike outside dirt in the house, and everyone knows how dirty the streets we walk on all day long are. We step on everything from dirt to spit to dog pee and poo, and I don’t want any of that inside my house. But then, there’s always the conflict of having people take off their shoes when either a) they’re too elderly to bend down and take them off like Chris’s mom’s cousin’s mother, or, well, if they’re just older and you feel awkward telling them what to do. I felt a need to clean the floors after everyone left, but then we ended up going out because Chris was in a rush to get us out to enjoy the daylight hours on a Saturday.

Coincidentally, there’s a thread I read on Facebook where someone asks the question: “If you are a shoes-off household, do you tell people who enter your house to take off their shoes? Why or why not?” And the responses varied wildly from “always, yes,” to “never, it’s their shoes and their feet,” all the way to “to some people of some ages, yes, and over a certain age, never.”

I still don’t like shoes in the house and even take my shoes off at houses where people don’t take off their shoes.