Category Archives: this and that

Kind of a Big Deal

About 22 months ago, I asked my boss to take a week of sick leave because I wasn’t feeling quite well. In my own estimation and the opinion of other medical professionals, that sounded like enough time to get some good rest and back on track if not completely better. No one, least of all me, thought that I would so quickly fall down the rabbit hole. I wouldn’t return to work for several months and when I did, it would be part-time. During those first months back, this day seemed a pipe dream, if not completely ludicrous. I am so very grateful for my job, my boss and the higher-ups who supported me. I have been restored to good health for some time and have been intermittently working 40+ hours/week but due to scheduling, logistics, and contractual stipulations/obligations, today is officially my first day back working full-time. It feels a bit like the first day of school. I’m wearing a pretty dress. I made myself pancakes to celebrate. (I’d have a mimosa if I didn’t have to actually go to work). Though I have been around enough to no longer believe that “everything happens for a reason,” I do still believe that every experience, even the very unpleasant ones, add to your life. Whether by removing a layer of your naivety, showing you a strength you didn’t know you could muster, or revealing who really has your back when the chips are down, you are changed. Big hugs and thank yous to those who had faith in me when I had all but lost my own. And to the doubters, sorry to disappoint. I’m back. And I’m here to stay.

I can't wait to see this on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Universal Studios.

I can’t wait to see this on Thursday! Photo courtesy of Universal Studios.

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Go Ahead, Make My Day

Still on my Bucket List of Places To See.

Still on my Bucket List of Places To See. Photo Courtesy of Grand Canyon NPS (W. Tyson Joye)

I’ve been a little MIA because my day job has been my day-into-night job this week. Despite being tired and my house looking like it was ransacked, it’s been a really good week. Even beyond the mundane frustrations of a large metropolitan hospital, some weeks I joke that I am just “staving off death” rather than “saving lives.” Yesterday, I was reminded that I didn’t take an oath to fix illness, but rather to try and alleviate suffering.  I was delivering the good news to a patient who had been eager to go home for several days; I had spent much of the week reassuring his worried wife (who herself apologized, “sorry, I’m so neurotic!”) and attempting to explain his condition-low salt levels in the blood, which in his case was, counterintuitively, due to an excess of free water in his blood. He was a chemistry teacher in his pre-illness life and despite my crude drawings on the dry erase board, we were getting nowhere until I channeled high school chemistry class: “there’s not enough solute for the amount of solvent.” Eureka!

As I was leaving his room, my patient said: “You are awesome. That’s the word I used when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time when I was eighteen. Awesome.”

Wow, I told him, gesturing my hands like a balancing scale: me, Grand Canyon. Gentleman, pay attention: if that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is. I told him that I will put that in my special mental shoebox that I dip into when work is frustrating, when patients or their families yell at me, when I haven’t peed or eaten because I am trying to work faster, for when I forget to be grateful that I get to do the work I do, even when anyone who works in a medical setting will tell you it is so incredibly not glamorous despite its media portrayal (no McDreamies or McSteamies here…though a cute murse did put his phone number in my coat pocket while we were squeezed in a supply closet once…but I digress).

It was one of the most original thank yous I have ever received, at work or otherwise. And it made my day. So if you have the chance today and feel a desire to thank anyone in your life for something, do it. It just might make their day. And yours. Happy Monday! :)

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Don’t Build your Own Glass Ceiling

Last weekend, I decided to run a 5k while on vacation in San Diego. I grew up there and knew the course would be pretty flat and a quick one. I was looking to PR. Not that it would be difficult because I do not run 5ks very often (prefer 10k and half-marathons) and my last time was 29:55, circa 2008. To commit, I told a few people I was aiming to run a 26:00 and under…because I knew that was pretty safe. I was pretty sure I could run an average of an 8:20ish mile for 3.1 miles.

Saturday AM, I’m running on adrenaline and Nespresso. I keep thinking about what my run coach/friend/ass-whooper O texted me: Don’t doubt yourself!!! At the end of the day it’s only 26 minutes of your life. I have a bad habit of holding back, even during workout runs.  It’s partly subconscious; am I worried that if I go out too fast, I might get tired/run out of gas and then what…God forbid…have to walk?! So this time I tried to just run as good as I felt, while glancing at my Garmin every 5 minutes or so rather than every 30 seconds. When I was coming around the bend and saw the finish line (and my dad standing there cheering me on), I knew I would make my goal. What I didn’t know then was that I ran an average 7:56/mi pace and won first in my age division! I couldn’t have been more excited. Ok, maybe my dad was more excited. It was an amazing start to a great day–which was followed by an afternoon spent at the beach and awesome dinner with my visiting BFF. I also learned a good lesson: don’t hold back, (applies to racing and, well, life in general): putting your whole self out there, even if you fail, is always gonna be a win. My new goal? Sub-24!

Race morning. In another lifetime, I was to be married at this spot. Life has a sense of humor, so it's probably best I do too!

Race morning. In another lifetime, I was to be married here. Life has a sense of humor, so it’s probably good that I do too :)

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On Chivalry

Over the weekend, I was at my favorite sausage and gin joint and got involved in an animated discussion with my bartender friend (a lady) and Guy at the Bar. We were discussing who should pay on a first date. All three of us agreed that the dude should pay. Lady bartender and I agreed that the woman should always do the reach and/or offer but that a gentleman should not concede. I mean, I will back up my offer if allowed to do so, but chances are, unless you are my unicorn, we will probably not have a second date. It’s not about the money, it’s about the gesture and, in my experience, a pattern of behavior to come. With the caveat: if the girl is being rude and/or the date is a total disaster, both parties have the right to say “let’s split this?” I have offered to split the tab when I do not want to see someone again. But the honest truth is that ladies (in general; I wear pretty much the same makeup no matter where I am going because it’s the only kind I know how to do) spend 10x the cost of a coffee or drink getting gussied up for a date. Not to mention that putting on makeup is kind of a pain:

*As an aside: Guy at the Bar insisted on buying me a cocktail (it was 2pm on a Sunday but what the hell) and then asked me out. He was physically attractive, but there will be no date because he was way too young; I draw the line at 32 35 these days. God forbid I be labeled a cougar (or as my friend I says, “puma,” a slightly younger cougar). Plus, he pulled a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, to the point where I thought he most likely was on something; not that one has to be high on drugs to ask me out. At least I hope not. But because after my friend F arrived to join us, he clammed up and actually moved down to the very end of the bar. F joked that she was man repellent but I’m 95% sure his cocaine/speed just wore off. Unfortunately, when I am put on the spot, I don’t know how to not give out my number. I didn’t learn from onlybadchi’s experience…

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Pilates is My Yoga

I have tried yoga a handful (two handfuls, really) of times and I still haven’t been hooked. I’m sure I will try it again sometime in the future but I find it more frustrating than calming. Unless you are in a smallish class, as a beginner, you’re pretty much on your own. Also, there is always that one guy or gal who has to exhale orgasmically after some downward dog or chattaraunga. Aside from being unnecessary and a little TMI, it also makes me feel like I am definitely doing it wrong. My inner not-so yogi wants to shout: show-off!

Enter Pilates. It requires controlled breathing and focus on your body and posture, but the nature of the discipline and the Reformer make it more clinical, which suits me just fine. I started practicing after I had spine surgery, as a form of physical therapy, but I have come to find it soothing as well. I have arrived at class, full of road rage from an evening commute and left calmer, stretched out and sweaty. Not to mention having to log roll out of bed the next morning because my abs were so sore.

A goal to strive for.

A goal to strive for.

I tried a new class last Friday–Pilates Jumpboard. I love it. A board is placed at the foot of the Reformer and with only 1-2 springs attached, it’s plyometrics, while lying down—perfect for a lazy exerciser like myself. My instructor, Jenny Tate, is awesome. She is high energy without being overboard, always has a fun playlist and the classes are limited to 5 students, which is basically semi-private. As my friend I says, after a certain age (any age, really), exercise is no longer a luxury or an option. It’s medicine. If you live in LA, you should check out Jenny’s studio. Just don’t take my Reformer!

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I Love My Mom

The second worst thing about the Missing Year (which was actually 17 months, to be exact) other than having to live through it, was watching my parents live through it. As mentioned previously, I was not only absent from my own life, but also from the lives of those I love. I am well aware how lucky I am to have parents who are spry and healthy at their age, but I regret causing them to age exponentially last year. After a previous episode many years ago, I vowed not to put them through that again. I failed.

I have said before that my mother has given me life more than once. Even though she didn’t completely understand what I was going through, didn’t always say the right thing (my last iPhone met its demise when I hurled it on the floor during one of our conversations—a move that is very uncharacteristic of me and also not so smart if you have hardwood floors), she has always made it clear that she is there for me, no matter what. There were many months when I didn’t want my parents to visit and sometimes did not even want to speak on the phone. I know this was hard on them, especially my mom, whom I often chat with on my commute to work when I am in my usual state of mind. She put her feelings aside and let me know that I should do what I needed to do, but that I could always pick up the phone and she would be there. Even as I started to function better “on the outside” (e.g. with strangers, at work), in the comfort of those closest to me, I regressed to being a sullen teen. I hated myself for not being able to act more mature, sitting there with a long face and monosyllabic answers. While it must have been hard, she comforted me by saying that I shouldn’t feel like I had to pretend around family, that I could be whoever I was at the moment and I was still loved.

From what my friends who are parents have explained, there is nothing worse than seeing their child in pain. Worse yet, to feel helpless in the face of pain that they cannot fix. I know I felt awful when I saw my mom crying and knew it was because of me.

So, as much as it has been a joy to me to feel better, it has made me especially happy to see my parents also get back to their normal lives as well. The spark in my mom’s eyes is also back; her posture, the expression on her face, lighter and relaxed. Again, I am so very, very grateful to be feeling like myself again. And so very grateful for the most supportive parents one could ask for.

My mom loves her some emoticons!

My mom loves her some emoticons!

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Pretty Lame

You’re pretty funny for a girl.

You’re pretty tall for an Asian girl.

You’re pretty outspoken for an Asian girl.

You’re pretty for a doctor.

You’re pretty for an Asian.

I’m never sure how to respond to such statements. Usually I just bite my tongue and say thanks with a tiny pinch of sarcasm thrown in. Unless I am slightly inebriated, in which case: good luck to you, sir.

I dated a guy in college who told me that while I wasn’t the prettiest girl he could date, he picked me anyway because I was the “best overall.” As he told me this, his face lit up excitedly like a Golden Retriever puppy, as though I would be equally excited to hear this.

My most recent ex confessed to me one day (looking back, it was the beginnings of the end) that he had really been looking to date someone 5-8 years younger than me (presumably because of my waning window of fertility) but that because I was “super awesome” (he speaks surfer) he thought what-the-hell and decided to be with me anyway. Actually, what he said, verbatim:

Ex: But because you are super awesome, I thought I’d snatch you up…or you might not get the chance!!! (referring to my chances of procreating)

Me: …

I did not see that coming. Silly me, I had expected, oh, I don’t know, something to the tune of: “…I thought I’d snatch you up…before someone else did!!!” In the moment, I had no response because I was sort of dumbfounded. The next day, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that on some level, he really did feel he was doing me a favor. That’s not a great feeling.

I don’t like to generalize, but these types of compliments are almost always from men. I know that they don’t mean any harm, but the extent to which they think a lady would be thrilled to hear these declarations might actually be more disappointing (watch this video). Ladies, for example, do not give backhanded compliments accidentally—when they are handed out, it’s usually with claws out, hoops off, and a side of death stare. You know where you stand. (“OMG! Love your bangs. They totally make your face look smaller!!!”)

My advice? If you are about to compliment a lady (or anyone for that matter) but your compliment contains a clause of any sort…just keep it to yourself. Because I’d rather be “average in general” than be “best of the…meh.” Nor do I feel like deciphering what your comment really says about you or about me.

Besides, if I really need an ego boost, I can call up my mom or my BFF to hear them tell me the truth: that I am super awesome :)

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I Love LINK

Ask your question. Out loud.

Ask your question. Out loud.

So continuing with the series on things I love, I just spent another afternoon at my new favorite Lazy Sunday hangout, LINK. I always end up staying there about an hour (or two or three) longer than I intend to. Other than making their own sausages on premises (this Oriental Lady does love a good sausage…interpret as you will), they also have a large selection of beers on tap and a full bar with a pretty badass mixologist. And they are walking distance from my house, which is a plus, since they also serve bottomless mimosas on weekends. The latter being the reason that I am usually only sober for the first thirty minutes I am there and why the staff gets to enjoy has to politely listen to my ranting and raving. I am a purist, so my favorite is the Hollywood: a classic pork link with relish, caramelized onions, and mustard. I told one of the owners that I detest most condiments but they make their own relish (it tastes like the pickled vegetables on a Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich) and it is really good. What I also like about LINK is that everyone who works there is genuine, funny (i.e. they laugh at my jokes) and passionate about what they are doing. I’ve always thought it would be cool to have a Cheers to hang out at, but I am about as close to being a barfly as I am to being a supermodel. But due to aforementioned ranting and raving, I’m pleased to say that (almost) everyone who works there knows my name. If you happen to be in LA, check it out for yourselves—they are so serious about happy hour, they do it twice a day from 4pm to 7pm and 10pm to midnight, every day! I highly recommend sitting at the bar. I swear I don’t work for them nor do I have any vested interest in singing their praises…

How can you not love a place that uses this signage?

How can you not love a place that uses this signage?

Okay. Maybe I lie. Maybe I expect a pint on the house the next time I’m there. ;)

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Unbelievably Grateful

IMG_2579

This quote has a permanent place on my fridge to remind me to be grateful of what I have and not to get caught up in what I still want (air quotes) and do not currently have. It reminds me that there is a big difference between “wants” and “needs.”

I have dealt with depression before (most recently, the entirety of 2014, which I refer to as the Missing Year because I was missing from my own life and the lives of those I love and care about). Suffice it to say that for months on end, I was only able to sleep 3-4 hours per night. And sometimes, as I was finally falling asleep, I wished that I wouldn’t wake up. Not because I wanted to die, but because I didn’t know if I could get through another day feeling the way I was feeling.

Yesterday, I was running along a favorite path that I hadn’t been to in a while. The sun was shining, it was 80 degrees out (a big apology for mentioning this to all East Coasters and Midwesterners) and I was running faster than my usual pace.  I do not listen to music when I run. Partly because when I am not depressed, I value my life and don’t want to be surprised by traffic, but partly so I have time to think or just listen to my breath or feet hitting the ground. It’s probably the closest I get to meditation. Yesterday, the thought crossed my mind: even if nothing in my life changed from how it is right now, I would be okay with it. In fact, more than okay. I am happy right here, right now. And for my friends who saw me through 2014, they know how this is nothing short of a miracle. And how incredibly grateful I am to have been restored to myself.

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That Buddha, He Sure is Smart

If you can do something about it, do not worry.

If you cannot do something about it, do not worry.

                                                                    —Buddha

This quote comes in handy when my mind is wrangling things that cannot be changed/aren’t my desired outcome/are completely beyond my control. One of my new year’s resolutions (Chinese and otherwise) is to cut down on complaining at work (it’s hard–try it for yourselves!) or at the very least, avoid non-constructive complaining, i.e. try to come up with a solution, not just complain for the sake of complaining. Having said that, about two seconds after I announced my resolution to my colleague/friend N, I starting ranting about the ridiculousness of some recent office politics.

N: That’s not complaining, is it?

Me: No, it’s just me pointing out an objective fact.

N: (laughing) Just checking.

Oh, Buddha. Give me strength.

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