Why does the weekend feel so short

“How was your weekend?”

This is the usual question you get every Monday when you go into the office. Everyone has a long laundry list of things they need to achieve and get done for the week. And this question, as generic and as cliche and routinely repeated as it is, is so annoying, even when I myself often ask it.

The way I usually want to answer this question is…. “too short.” Two days off in a week is too short when you have errands to run, an apartment to clean, laundry to do, countertops to dust and disinfect. The amount of time actually spent “relaxing” on my own is so little. Sometimes, you have weeks when even socializing feels like work. And this was one of those weeks.

I want what Adam Grant advocates for: a four-day work week. That would be quite glorious, and I think we’d all feel more fulfilled and as though we were more productive.

electronics playground

This afternoon, I went to B&H in search and research of a new camera after selling my Canon Rebel T3i a few weeks ago. My goal is to find a mirrorless camera that, by definition, is lighter and less bulky than a digital single-lens reflex, but offers better photo quality and more modern features that my dated 2012 camera did not offer. Look at all these things I can consider now: Mirrorless! HD video! 4K video (WHAT?)! An electronic viewfinder! Wi-Fi built in! The options are endless, which can be a bit of a danger since I’m a camera novice, and these days, I’m really over fiddling with aperture and thinking about F-stop, and just want to shoot on no-flash or automatic. The fussiness just wasn’t for me in the end, even though I wanted it to be.

I spent some time playing around with mirrorless cameras from Canon, Panasonic, and Sony. My loyalty in the back of my mind is still with Canon since I’ve had almost all Canon cameras since 2004, when my brother first got me my very first point-and-shoot digital camera. But the Canon mirrorless does not offer an electronic view finder; it’s got its touch-and-view screen only. I’m so used to using a viewfinder that I wonder if that may end up being a deal breaker for me. But you can flip the screen fully around! And you cannot do that with the Sony or the Panasonic screens.. which only tilt half-way, and I’m not even sure what the value of that tilt is in real life when traveling or shooting food/cooking.

B&H truly was an electronics playground full of geeks who knew 100 times more about cameras than I did. Many conversations I overheard were for serious amateur photographers and even professional photographers who owned cameras that were in excess of $5,000, no lens! I definitely felt like a novice in there, though. People really knew what they were talking about in depth.

No plus-one

I went out to Forest Hills today to attend a friend’s housewarming party/baby shower. Since Chris is traveling internationally, I went on my own. And I’d never really felt more unattached than when I showed up at this party, where literally everyone, with the exception of the host’s two single friends, his mother, and his grandmother, were all paired up. I’m generally a social and outgoing person, but at this party, pretty much no one wanted to talk to me because everyone seemed to be glued at the hip to their plus-one/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife. The people who ended up talking to me were 1) the host obviously and 2) the two single male friends who came. One of the friends was familiar to me since I met him the last time I came to this friend’s house for a dinner, and so he ended up latching onto me, for better or for worse. We clearly had very little in common, so it was a nice break when the second male friend arrived and could change up the conversation topics. I got asked a few times where my husband was… not because anyone knew Chris, but because they saw the wedding band/engagement rings on my left hand. Go figure that everyone is going to want to size me up to some degree.

I don’t really think about being married that often in a social context because…. I suppose I’ve never really had to think about it. Chris and I are not the couple who attends an event and cannot be separated. In fact, we tend to break off pretty often, and sometimes it seems like he’s just more social when I am not there. But I could tell that the host’s friend who latched onto me was very cognizant of being single in a party where pretty much everyone was paired off. And I’m sure it made him feel self-conscious and perhaps even made him question his self-worth.

We don’t really live in a society that’s progressive enough to not judge people who are single by their early- to mid-30s sadly. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. But we live in a judgmental world. Just because someone is dating someone or married to someone doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s a better person or more “put together” than someone who is not paired off. I don’t think I will live to see the day when this is not a measure we have to hold ourselves against.

good manager, bad manager

I was at dinner tonight with a friend and his friend, a former colleague of both of ours who you might describe as a fiercely independent power woman. She’s also Asian and swears like there is no tomorrow. I was sitting at a fancy midtown bar, telling them about the work drama that ensued this week that has left me feeling like I want to burn my office down. I described the head of my team to her today.

“You know what?” she said to me, with a look on her face that clearly matched how I’ve been feeling this week. “She sounds like the kind of person who has an exact vision of what she wants a role to be all down to the last bullet, but she doesn’t have the empathy and awareness to understand how someone who doesn’t fit the mold could actually do that job, but even better than they would have originally imagined. That’s because her mold is so restrictive and colored by what she is projecting onto it. She wants someone who can be just like her in that role. You will never be her, and that’s okay. But for her to not understand that you could still be successful in that role just because you are not exactly like her is a sign she’s a poor manager of people. Good managers see the strong qualities of their direct reports and allow them to play up those qualities to help them shine. Bad managers simply reject those who are not exactly like them or the mold they want them to be.”

That just made me want to have yet another drink.

Hair breakage

I’ve never really been into hair at all. I don’t use any hair products other than shampoo and conditioner. The few times a year when I curl my hair, I use a heat protective spray and hairspray to set the curls. But ever since I started highlighting my hair about two years ago, I realize that my hair gets less oily than before, so now, I can go with washing my hair with shampoo as little as two days a week sometimes. However, it’s also led to more frequent split ends since I have very fine hair, and recently, much to my complete horror, the ends of my hair just keep breaking every single time I comb through it or take my hair out of a bun. Tiny little one- to two-inch pieces break off, and I’m left with a mess to clean up on my bathroom floor and in my comb.

Yesterday, I went in for a trim with my hairstylist, and I told her that my hair was breaking. It’s most likely due to the combination of color treatment, harsh winter cold, and my morning blowdrying I have to do before heading out for work (since the last thing I want is my hair to turn to ice and break into pieces outside). She gave me a three-step deep hair conditioning treatment/masque to apply this weekend and said I needed to start giving my hair some TLC, otherwise it would just keep breaking.

I left the hair salon feeling so high maintenance. Now, I’m going to be that woman who has to masque her hair.

Madeleine Albright’s wise words

The former secretary of state and fellow Wellesley alum once was quoted in a speech for saying this:

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

And I have never felt it in a more resounding tone than this week.

But, I will wait and be patient for now.

Dad’s worries

My dad is not the kind of person who shows his emotions. He’s the stereotypical Asian male, the one who is usually stoic, sticks with the facts and the tasks at hand and never tries to enter the realm of feelings and inner thoughts.

I sent him this article from the New York Times about a successful woman who experienced her own stroke quite young, the same article I wrote about last week. I said to him over email, hey, sometimes, even when you think you are healthy and are doing the right thing, things happen, and you need to treat them with urgency.

He replied back with something along the lines of, “Luke Perry’s situation was probably more complicated than that. He was likely on drugs!”

I responded, eh. Should we really be that quick to assume drugs were responsible for this? I’m not fully sure?

My dad’s last response to me on this via email: Even if you think you are healthy because you’re eating relatively healthily and exercising regularly, if you work in an office full of politics and have a stressful work life, then you aren’t healthy!

I stared at that short and sweet email for a while. He’s basically saying to me… that that is my life. That’s probably Chris’s life.

Then, I thought about all those times my dad has always said that working for someone else is always going to be terrible because you are at the beck and call of someone else. You are constantly serving someone else and not yourself, that the best way to live is to work for oneself because you can run your life the way you want it and don’t have to answer to anyone.

Before I left to go back to New York on this last trip home, he said, “Remember to take care of yourself,” with a stern voice. My dad worries about me. I know he does because my mom always tells me that he wonders if I am getting enough sleep or am stressed out from work… because they know I would never tell them if it was bad.

My dad is right, though. Working for someone else really does suck… especially when you have officially gotten recognized for being a top performer and are not rewarded proportionally for it.

No favors here

It’s a small world we live in, but this small world certainly has a lot of people… a lot who are smart, and even more who are dumber than dumb. The worst people, to me, are the ones who feel entitled to whatever they get or want.

I had a pretty sour end to the last company I was employed at. To this day, I only actively keep in touch and spend time with one person from there. Everyone else… I truly could care less about. But when I left, only a very small handful of people reached out to me to be cordial. Outside of those people, I really could care less. So it was amusing to me when one of the people who totally ignored me when I left sent me a message that started with “Hi friend!”, then asking me how I like my current company because she’s considering applying (she’s still at said last shitty company), and would appreciate a referral.

Wow. Really?

I deleted it and will not respond, but if I did, this is what I would have said: “If you think you are going to get any favors from me when you never reached out to me and ignored me upon my departure, you can keep dreaming, you entitled loser.”

What goes around comes around. If you are kind to me, I will likely remember it forever and go out of my way for you. But if you aren’t…. you can expect absolutely nothing from me. Ever.

Eclairs baking class

I left the apartment at 9:45 this morning for my short walk over to Sur La Table, where I booked an eclairs pastry class with the generous cooking class gift card a friend gifted me for my birthday. Apparently, I was the last person to show up with just five minutes to spare before 10 o’clock. I grabbed my name tag, my apron, and sat down.

I glanced across the entire group of about 12 students. I was one of two people of color in the entire group. Everyone else was white. The other person of color was an eager beaver young black woman, probably no older than myself, who was ready to buy every major baking supply the place had. Her enthusiasm actually made me more excited and made me feel like I should buy more, for better or for worse on my wallet.

Unless the class is an Asian-themed class, like the Vietnamese cooking class Chris gifted me in January, it’s almost inevitable that cooking classes’ clientele are mostly a bunch of white people. I am usually one of the rare few who “adds diversity.” As someone who likes to cook, most of the time, with the exception of the croissant baking class, I usually do try to make these things when I come home. I like experimenting in the kitchen, but I get that many people who take cooking classes just want the experience that one time and will never have the intention of making those dishes ever again on their own. I suppose that is okay. But how do we create cooking classes that attract a more diverse audience? Are cooking schools and stores like Sur La Table even thinking about questions like that, or are they really just in it to make money on whoever is will to pay their $50-200-per-class fees? At the end of the day, we live in a capitalist society, so maybe they really don’t care as long as people can pay up.

But… that makes me so sad. The world is so not equal at all. “Learning” was not made to be equal.

evolution of Flushing

My friend, a former colleague and his friend, and I went to Flushing today for a food crawl in hopes of discovering new and interesting foods. The one thing that hasn’t changed in New York for me is the constant discovery of new, interesting dishes across the different regions of China represented in Flushing. It feels like every single time I go back to Flushing, as I am going into basement food stalls or the new and shiny food malls of New World Food Court or New York Food Court (as it’s generically called along Roosevelt Avenue), I’m discovering yet another region or city’s cuisine I’ve never heard of, but is just as delicious or more delicious than the dishes I have been acquainted with. Today, the three of us visited six different spots to grab food, and all were delicious. I got to have my beloved Happy Lemon salted cheese green tea with lychee jelly and introduced it to both of them.. and they loved it, even despite the initial skepticism of “salted cheese with tea — what?!” I realized the best way to sell this concept: “If you like salted caramel, then you will like salted cheese with tea.” This ended up working, and one of them was tempted to get a second drink. I even found a stall that served very similar fish and chive dumplings to Shandong Mama in Melbourne, so I will definitely be going back there. But the most surprising thing we ate today was Luo si fen, which is a pork bone and river snail soup with mixian (Yunnan) style slippery rice noodles, beef, pickled bamboo, and vegetables. The broth was sour, salty, hot and numbing like the Sichuanese peppercorns. It was kind of addictive. Even though we kept scooping through the soup to find snails, there were none. I read later that in this soup, the snails actually don’t get served; they’re merely there to “flavor” the broth. But if you think about it… do snails really have any real flavor on their own..? Regardless of that, it was definitely a highlight of the food crawl today.

Being in Flushing today and eating all the super cheap, delicious food reminded me yet again of how much I love this neighborhood and really should spend more time discovering new things there. There’s always a delicious, cheap find around the corner there. When you think of all the expensive and “just okay” meals in Manhattan, it’s really such a small price to pay to trek out to Flushing and have such a good experience there every single time.