Chinese New Year dinner at home

As someone who enjoys cooking, I like to cook for others and have people over at our apartment. When more people come, it makes more sense to have more dishes, which is not always practical to do when it’s just the two of us. Traditional Chinese meals always have multiple dishes at the table that are eaten family style, so having Chinese New Year style meals with 7-8 dishes is a comfort to me and a reminder of some of the greatest Cantonese meals I grew up with.

At tonight’s dinner, other than 75 percent of me, we didn’t have any other Chinese guests. No one else would really understand Chinese traditions around the Lunar New Year meal unless they grew up with Chinese friends and were invited to their homes. But that’s part of the fun with food: you get to introduce people to different cultures by feeding them. But the sad thing is that people of my generation don’t really do things like this anymore. They don’t really make the foods that they grew up with. They rely on restaurants and their older relatives who will eventually die to make these things for them. So when those relatives die, when those restaurant owners decide to close their shops, who is going to continue these amazing food traditions for future generations to enjoy and appreciate?

Queens play

Tonight, we went to see the play Queens at the Clare Tow Theater at the Lincoln Center. The play is about two generations of immigrant women, seven of them, who come to the U.S. in hopes for a better future for themselves and their future families. They share living space in a basement apartment and their concerns about trying to make ends meet, even though most of them spend all of their waking hours trying to earn just barely enough to cover their heavily discounted rent. The woman who ultimately ends up owning the building where that basement apartment is located leaves her home country hoping her daughter will come join her, but she never does. Instead, she grows up and builds her own life back home in Poland. She even had a child and got married and never informed her mother in the U.S. Their family and friends back in Poland just assumed her mother was having a grand old time living the easy money-making life in New York.

When I watch shows like this, I always feel even more frustrated and angry at the current political climate which is so anti-immigrant, so anti the American dream… well, according to President Dipshit, the “American dream is for Americans.” He wants a merit-based immigration system. He wants to deny people who are trying to flee life-threatening political situations in their own country the right to come to the U.S… those are people in situations like my mother once was, like so many of the people I know have descended from. People leave their home countries and everything and everyone they know and immigrate for better opportunities, not to enter foreign countries where they can commit mass terrorist attacks and laugh at all the pain they want to cause others. At the end of the day, we all have more in common than we think. We just want to live happy, healthy, prosperous lives and be free. We all have that in common. It’s just a shame that people like Dipshit and idiots on the right don’t seem to get that commonality. People immigrating today — their intent isn’t any different than the people who immigrated after World War II or the Vietnam War. They just want a shot at a decent life. That’s all.

In the Body of the World

Tonight, my friend and I went to see Eve Ensler’s monologue play In the Body of the World. I was eager to see it, especially after having read the original play that made her famous (Vagina Monologues) and seeing it performed by a Wellesley cast during my first year in college.

The play is a monologue of Ensler walking us through the brutality she witnessed over women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The prolonged war over copper, gold, and coltan—minerals used in computers and cell phones—has claimed eight million lives and led to the rape and torture of hundreds of thousands of women. Ensler’s philanthropic organization, V-Day, was beginning to build an urgently needed women’s center there when she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. In a series of medical nightmares, she sustains the same harrowing wounds as Congolese women who were gang-raped and is flooded by memories of her father’s sexual assaults. She feels herself gradually being removed from her own body and being separated from it. She aligns her body with the earth and pairs her cancer with the pillaging of the Congo and BP’s poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico. She illustrates her healing through her emotions and courage. Ensler harnesses all that she lost and learned to articulate the essence of life: “The only salvation is kindness.”

This was my friend’s first time joining me for a theater show. I wasn’t quite sure if this would be too intense for her first time, but she actually really enjoyed it and found it very profound, and wants to come to more shows with me.

Shopping in Chinatown on Valentine’s Day

My usual end of day meeting got cancelled today, so I left work a little early to do some Chinese New Year grocery shopping in Chinatown. I wasn’t sure if it was because everyone in Chinatown was mostly home preparing elaborate celebratory meals or already off to their romantic Valentine’s Day dinners, but I was shocked to find that the grocery stores I usually go to were extremely quiet. The roasted Chinese meat shop still had a queue out the door, but that was pretty much it. I was able to get all my shopping done in less than 45 minutes after hitting three different shops.

The stores were all decorated with Year of the Dog new year’s decorations. It made me a little nostalgic for the types of decorations and traditions my grandma would do when I was growing up. I’m never going to be that person to deck my house out in Chinese New Year decorations or do the odd traditions of not washing my hair on new year’s day or maniacally cleaning the house before the lunar new year begins, but there actually is a little fun and excitement involved in all of that.

It’s all right, though. I can still embrace the food traditions. Food never will die.

Dieting

I don’t believe in dieting. It’s not that I think everyone should eat whatever they want, get fat and obese, and then die from heart disease and other diet-related issues, but it’s that I think everyone should eat what they want to, except perhaps limit themselves on certain things that are not extremely nutritious. Everyone I have seen who has been on a “diet” seems to end up failing in some way, and that’s usually because they are depriving their body of something they love, so they end up binging. I don’t believe in depriving one of anything they love to eat because that just seems very cruel. Everything is a “bad” food when you have too much of it. So it has always bothered me that once-upon-a-time cult diets like Atkins or the currently trendy paleo diet exclude foods that are clearly, clearly “good” for you, things like fruit or beans. That makes zero sense to me.

So I really had to bite my tongue today when our two friends informed us that they would be starting the Keto diet as of tomorrow. That means extremely limited fruit, no carby foods (say goodbye to noodles, rice, and all grains), no beans, and limited sugar. That is so tragic to me. No noodles?! NO BEANS? And even fruit for the most part is off limits? It’s like my total hell.

I actually was very respectful. I didn’t encourage them to do the opposite. I even applauded them for trying to lose weight. Just don’t ask me to follow the same diet because then I’d really have a negative reaction.

There’s a difference between weight loss and better health, though. I don’t really think this is the way.

Departing a company

Adam Grant has said repeatedly in presentations and talks that he’s given that countless studies done, employees do not leave companies. They leave their managers. Over seventy-five percent of employees who left their jobs voluntarily left not because of their position or view of the company, but because of their bosses. It is often times this case when you see “boomerangs” happen at companies, where employees leave a company to go to another, and eventually return to that company they left.

I personally could not relate to this given that in my last few departures, it was always a multitude of factors that contributed to my leaving: lack of desire to work in a specific type of role, pigeon-holing into specific responsibilities, lack of growth, lower than market-rate pay, lack of ethics, sexism, borderline racism, delusion among employees, lack of real product or technology that has any traction with customers of value, lack of respect for manager, manager’s manager, and general colleagues in general.

Somehow lately, though, I can relate to that statement. Adam Grant really does have it right, doesn’t he?

$3,500 for Super Bowl tickets

I’m never going to like football. I understand why it’s interesting and why people get obsessed about it, but the hype around Super Bowl every year is never going to be something I will get into. It doesn’t help that for four years, I had to work late for weeks leading up to the day of the Super Bowl and on the night of the Super Bowl (that is the world of online advertising when you have a major car brand as your customer).

So it grates on my nerves to hear a very stereotypically male colleague of mine complain for days on end that he and his friend, whose shared life-long dream has been to go to the Super Bowl, may not be going because all the tickets have exceeded their $3,500/ticket price ceiling. $3,500 for a game that lasts a few hours? That money could be spent on a trip to another part of the world that is fascinating that will actually expose you to something different, something that might actually enrich your life.

Football just makes you stupider, more brainwashed, and ignorant of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the resulting disease of years and years of head trauma from participating in a sport as violent as football.

Christmas tree take down… overdue

Because this past Christmas was the first time Chris and I had our own Christmas tree in our apartment, he humored me and allowed us to keep it up through the end of January. We haven’t turned the lights on it much in the last week, but it’s still fully decorated with all its ornaments, the sturdy and the delicate. He insisted that by February 1st, we had to take it down and put it away (it’s fake for a cleaner apartment, plus it’s more economical and environmentally friendly). It’s another year to go through before we can get to the glory of Christmas again. Now, we just have to find a home to put it in since we’re really pushing at the limits of our closet space. I actually think that even though it’s not Christmas season anymore, having it up, along with a few other Christmas decorations around our TV, makes the apartment seem a bit more festive and homely.

Work life at the end of a fiscal quarter

Even though I am not in sales, my role is so intermingled with sales that sometimes, the stresses they face with meeting their numbers at the end of a quarter tends to spread to me. It’s never been more apparent than at my current company, which makes sense because for the first time, I actually work at a company where we really are closing deals and driving revenue and success for our customers.

So you can imagine how frustrating it is when about four different people are messaging me, texting me, and emailing me for renewal updates. It’s as though there’s no central way to share information and no streamlined method of disseminating the same piece of knowledge just once. We’re supposed to be a tech company, yet like with all companies, the biggest area of frustration always comes back to what seems to be the most basic: communication. We’re still working on it. Or at least, some of us are while others are just having their hair set on fire.

Aussie lunch

Today, we had brunch downtown with two of Chris’s brother’s friends who have moved here from Hong Kong (and are originally from Melbourne). Before they moved here, Chris had never met them, and this was my first time meeting the guy in the couple. It was hilarious to see exactly how much he has in common with Chris’s brother. The two of them have been friends for over ten years now, and they’re so similar. They both love sport. Their intonations are similar, and how they tell stories (long-winded, weaving in and out irrelevant past stories) are the same. Their Australian accents even sound the same. Even the way they pause and say, “uh/um” is the same! It’s as though I met Ben’s white Australian equivalent.

And after our brunch ended together, his wife says, “Yes, Chris is just like Ben,” but she’s obviously joking. They’re quite opposite, and the “opposite-ness” is even more pronounced when Chris is there.