Getting older and its implications

Yesterday morning, I woke up at around 4:30am, likely again from the little bits of jetlag that I’ve faced this week. It’s not something to complain about of course… until about an hour and a half later, I woke up again from a half-sleep, this time to a sharp, stinging, biting pain in my right calf that would not stop, and I started grabbing my calf and trying to depress my fingers on the spot where the stabbing feeling seems to be radiating from. It lasted for a good minute before I could stop holding my calf. I was pretty much screaming or moaning the entire time, and it certainly felt like longer than a minute. It felt like at least two or three times as long as that.

This type of pain seems have happened every now and then for me in the last couple of years, and it always happens when I know I am not getting enough potassium. This never used to happen to me before. “It’s a sign you’re aging!” my colleague, who is in her 50s, told me, laughing. “Welcome to aging, you youngin’!”

That… is not comforting. I actually am very comfortable being in my early 30s. I am probably the most confident about myself than I have ever been in my life. But sudden muscle spasms… no. These are not welcome at all.

Lack of curiosity

In the world of tech startups, I’m basically surrounded by highly privileged people every single day. At my company, which like most companies is mostly a bunch of white people, every single day I interact with people who have no idea what it’s like to have a real life dilemma: to struggle to have food on the table, a roof over their head, legitimate and legal status in a country, the difference between life and death of a struggling loved one. So if I am surrounding myself every day with people who generally have the means to live a comfortable life, then why do I feel like every time I take an international trip that I am the one who is privileged versus them, and they make it seem like they could not do the exact same trip?

I don’t believe it’s because of lack of ability or lack of means or lack of money. It’s really about lack of desire or curiosity. I have shopaholic colleagues who spend endlessly on clothing, shoes, and accessories, and others who spend way too much on rent when compared to what they probably earn. I have another colleague who has an inordinate amount of extremely expensive and collectible Nikes. And then there’s my colleague who loves flashy cars. We put time, effort, and money into the things we care about. They don’t really care about travel or learning about the world. But I do.

A lack of curiosity about the world is so unattractive to me. If you live a comfortable life and do not struggle to make ends meet, it’s hard for me to fathom why you would lack curiosity in understanding other peoples, other cultures, other places in the world and how they operate. The world we live in is so vast. It’s far more than just the tri-state area.

Ikinari steak

When people think of New York City, the major landmarks that they tend to think about are the Empire State Building, the Chrysler building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park. When people think of food, iconic places like Katz Deli come up. But when we think of generic foods, we think of bagels and… on the higher end, steak. But does steak really need to be “high end”? Why do we need to have such a high price tag on what is really just another cut of of a cow?

So leave it to the people of Japan to come up with the idea of attempting to make steak more affordable by setting up Ikinari Steak years ago in Japan. To save on space and furniture costs, they initially created this as a ‘standing room only’ restaurant, where you would order your steak (served Japanese style, no less) and your sides, then eat it standing up, pay, and leave. It finally came to New York last year, and while the first couple of locations were kept as standing-only, they finally realized that here in New York, we’re too lazy to stand while eating, so they created a few locations (they’ve been expanding like crazy!) that actually have tables. So we took Chris’s parents to one of the sitting locations near Times Square today before our show, and we were shocked at how good it was given how little (relatively speaking, this is still New York) we paid.

This is definitely going to be a cheap-steak fix when we don’t want to pay Keen’s Steakhouse prices, or when I don’t want to deal with cooking sous-vide anything.

human psyche: the biggest enigma

I was sitting at Argo Tea this afternoon on my lunch break, chatting with my mentee about the start of her summer and her most recent going-ons, when she started telling me about a guy she dated briefly last summer who suddenly started texting her again. They stopped dating because he became too clingy, and she couldn’t deal with his emotional outbursts, which she claimed happened very frequently. I was not happy to hear this… at all.

“What is the nature of these sudden text messages?” I asked her. “What’s he saying?”

She said that he’s been messaging to ask her to meet up. No context has been provided. He’s already asked her to meet him about three different times, everywhere from watching a movie together to just sitting in Union Square to chat.

That just seems so open ended, I responded to her. Why would you two not communicate for an entire year, then he suddenly starts messaging to ask to hang out without any pre-explanation? That makes zero sense, and you should start ignoring him or just flat out saying you will not meet him. Be direct.

She insisted she hadn’t met him, but she clearly is enjoying the attention because she’s been sending him messages that lead him on and make him potentially think she will eventually meet him… eventually.

The human psyche is one of those eternal enigmas that I will never fully understand.. I guess none of us ever fully will, which is why there’s an entire academic subject area devoted to attempting to understand this. I don’t understand why people think what they think, and why they do all the stupid things they choose to do to inflict irritation, confusion, and pain on others. The worst of these situations is when the person inflicting all this ridiculous crap has no idea he’s causing problems. I can guarantee this guy doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong or questionable. What is wrong with people?!

Costco clientele

When I was young, I always looked forward to going to Costco. Because of all my fond memories going up and down the aisles, sampling food and drink, and discovering new interesting foods, as an adult now, I still love it and get excited about it. Today, I took Chris to Costco for the first time, and for the first time at Costco, I actually felt really annoyed. I felt like the clientele were being really rude. People were crashing into my cart, seeing that I was trying to get through and refusing to move. Kids were getting right in front of my cart as I was moving, as though they wanted me to run them over. Chris noticed that there was one guy who seemed to be there just to sample every sample station. He asked each person when their food would be ready so he’d come back. Those are the annoying Costco clientele, the ones who are just there to get the free bites and are nuisances to the workers. I asked one worker where the toilet paper was, and he pointed me to the randomly placed paper towel rolls and told me they were there (no, they actually weren’t; the toilet paper is all situated at the front of the warehouse where all the paper/disposable plates/cups are put).

It was my least enjoyable Costco trip. I wonder if it’s just because of this actual Costco. It’s always felt a little more hectic going to this one in Spanish Harlem than the one in Long Island City, and especially the ones in San Francisco and South San Francisco that my parents frequent. People always seemed a bit more respectful, like they actually disciplined their children, and the workers were more courteous when we asked where things were located.

Luke’s Lobster commentary

I’ve always loved crustaceans. I had a short period in my (teen) life when I declined eating it at Chinese restaurant dinner tables because I was too lazy to get down and dirty and pick the crab meat out of the shells I’d have to crack. But other than that, I love the sweet, juicy, fleshy meat of crabs and lobsters, and I feel sorry for people who cannot appreciate how good they are.

The way I have appreciated crustaceans has evolved. I grew up eating crab and lobster the Chinese way, which means either battered in salt and pepper or ginger and scallion and stir-fried. When I got older, and especially after I moved to the East Coast, I started appreciating Maine lobster, simply steamed, cracked, and dipped in some butter. I love lobster rolls Connecticut-style, meaning tossed in butter rather than mayonnaise (Maine-style) and served in a fluffy, toasted bun. I also realized how delicious Maryland blue crabs were after spending a Thanksgiving in Ocean City, Maine, and being completely spoiled with the easily and readily available, fresh, and cheap little crabs of the region.

So it’s been disappointing to me while living in New York when people get excited about Luke’s Lobster, one of the original chains that serves Maine lobster and semi-local crab rolls. The rolls are teeny tiny, even for me. A few bites, and your $16 crab roll and $19 lobster roll are finito. The lobster is mostly claw meat as opposed to tail meat (and we all know the lobster tail meat is really where it’s at). The crab meat is much sweeter than the lobster meat, and as someone who has a deeper love for crab meat, I get it. But then why pay more for the lobster roll, then? After a few years of avoiding it, I decided to use my lunch credit today to get a crab roll, and when I went to pick it up, I was immediately saddened looking down at my bag. The roll was in a skinny container the size of a hot dog bun. That’s all $15 on crab gets you here in New York.

This is another reason to travel — to get better and cheaper access to all the foods you love and can appreciate in different setting.

 

Appropriate usage of emojis?

The colleagues on my team here in our New York office get along really well. We have our own private Slack channel where we make comments on everything from work and personnel-related questions to the most ridiculous and random banter, complete with moving giphy images and borderline inappropriate commentary on people we know and life in general. We also take coffee break walks and sit around the lunch table when we don’t have lunch time meetings and talk about current events and things happening with us.

Most recently, the topic came up that in the age of the #MeToo movement, it’s as though dating and romantic relationships cannot really move forward the way they once did. When you go in for a kiss, do you actually have to ask permission before you do it, or can you just go in? Or is it possible that could be interpreted as sexual assault? Or, in the case of sending text messages to anyone from colleagues to friends to potential friends-to-life-partners, is it okay to send things like flower or heart emojis? Can those types of “expressions” be misinterpreted as flirtatious or romantic rather than simply being friendly? I was actually a bit thrown off when we started talking about emojis because I use emojis a lot over text and Slack communication, and then I started second guessing myself about how and when I was using my hearts and flowers.

Is this really the era we’re living in, where we aren’t sure when being “friendly” can be interpreted as too friendly?

 

“You’re going to get sick in India”

We’re leaving for India in a week, and since I have been sharing with friends, colleagues, and family that our trip is coming up, it’s inevitable that a handful of people will insist that I will get sick during this trip. And the people who are the most insistent are the Indian people, no less, whether it’s colleagues who have either traveled to or were born in India to even my own in-laws, who last night were warning me about eating and drinking in their motherland. India is one of those places that doesn’t seem to inspire much of a “wow” reaction when I tell people I am traveling there; rather, they ask if we are visiting relatives (yes), or they ask what my purpose is there.

I’ve only gotten bad food poisoning once, and that was during my trip to Vietnam over ten years ago. I was bed-ridden for about three to four days. Without getting into too much gory detail, I just needed to be near a toilet at all times. It was especially excruciating because everyone else around me got to eat delicious food, and all I was left with was plain watery rice porridge and ginger water. The water there was not clean to drink, nor will the water in India be, but I’m still excited to go to this seemingly exotic place and be on sensory overload. To even drink a cup of chai in India right now makes me feel excited and eager to start the trip this second, to be away from my everyday reality and all the annoyances that come with working in a politics-filled start-up.

Interview candidates

Our team is hiring for a new counterpart of mine, so yesterday was my first day interviewing potential candidates to fill this new role on our team on the East Coast. When interviewing, I try to be friendly but also fairly expressionless to ensure that the candidate doesn’t know which way I am leaning. But honestly on Friday, I was so confused by the experience that I had that it took me a few hours to realize that I did not like this person at all.

The worst thing you can possibly do during an interview is not answer the questions that are asked of you. If I ask you about A, you need to answer about A. Don’t give me scenario B and then ramble on and on about how that made you look good. That’s basically what happened today. But because this candidate’s delivery was so confident, if I really weren’t listening to anything he was saying, he could easily have won me over with his level of confidence and delivery. But, I was listening, and he didn’t.

Last week during our team week, we had a “speak easy” public speaking session, where the presenter basically said that the most important part of public speaking is how you portray yourself; the content is secondary. Well, in an interview, you need to be really good at both; if your content sucks, then you suck, and we don’t want to hire you. We don’t need some arrogant bullshitter who wants to try to own the place getting hired.

When your colleague tells you that you’re dressed inappropriately

Since yesterday was party night, I figured I could wear something festive that I normally would not wear. I’m generally a bit conservative at work, more than I would be with friends or family given that, well, it IS work, and I want to be taken seriously. That’s why at my last job, when a number of women at various levels would come in wearing everything from tube tops, backless tops, to halters and extremely short skirts, I always did a double-take and wondered if they thought that way of “professional” dress was a smart idea. I’m all for wearing those things at non-work settings, but work settings require some level of modesty, don’t they?

So yesterday, I wore a pleated but festive pink midi-length skirt, heels, and a black spaghetti-strapped tank top with a built-in bra. I’m obviously small-chested, and though for many years, I had insecurities about it (since so many things I wanted to wear never fit me right there, and it used to enrage me), now I embrace it and love the fact that I have a small chest; I’ll never have to worry about sagging, back pain, or whether I am exposing too much cleavage. A female colleague, who had clearly had a bit too much to drink, came over to me to compliment me on my outfit. She then said, “You do realize that if you were a B, C, or D-cup that your top would be inappropriate for a work setting, right?”

I laughed and told her that I was extremely cognizant of my small breasts and embraced it, and figured I could get away with wearing this given it’s an after-work party for two people leaving.

She then went on to reveal to me that she was happy that I embraced my small chest, that she failed to do this when she was in her 20s, which then prompted her to get a boob job, hence her big chest now. She said she seriously regretted it, but given that it costs just as much to take them out as to put them in, she couldn’t be bothered to pay to get them removed anymore and just sucked it up.

So… that was not information I needed to know, but great. Now I know it whether I want to or not.