Halfway through the year– eek!!

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Half-Way-There-50-Yard-LineSo this post is insanely late. Like so so so late. And the more time that passed, the more I put off writing a post. It’s kind of like how you can put off going to see the dentist or the optometrist. And then you start getting worried about how much time has passed and you worry that your body has decayed to the point that invasive procedures will be suggested and you go into denial and then you put it off some more. That pretty much describes how I went about not writing a post for the past couple of… months?

So I’m writing now because somehow, in the blink of an eye, we’ve now passed the halfway point of 2015. How did this happen? I can’t believe it. And for me, the one year anniversary of me moving to SF is approaching. I cannot believe life is passing by so fast.

Also, though it hasn’t been yet a year, I have now moved on to a new job. I don’t think there is a lot of value talking about things that have transpired in the past few months. Things were tough and then an opportunity presented itself and so I had to pounce. I’m pretty happy with the transition and I hope this is something I can stick with for some time.

Knowing that this is the halfway point, as well, there is that moment of self reflection: what have I set out to accomplish and been successful, where am I failing to make any progress. Lots of items on both lists.

So that’s it from me. Just a check in that I’m still here. Still plugging away. Now that I’m past the 50 yard line, it’s time to hustle.

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What I learned from spending a night out with MILFs

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milfSo admittedly this post is a little bit tongue-in-cheek. And I am writing it with the greatest of respect to those referenced in this piece. Just wanted to say that as a point of context.

About a week ago, I went out for my friend/ex-coworker’s birthday. Though approaching 40, married and with kids, she has never looked or seemed her age: not in attitude, appearance, etc. She planned a girls’ night out (GNO– an acronym I only recently learned) along with a bunch of her similarly aged and similarly situated friends.

Now, I’m in my mid 30s, unmarried, no children. My energy levels have taken a nosedive recently, though I suspect it’s more to my lifestyle and less based on my age as I will soon explain. So I was a little eh since a night out can have such an impact on your body the next day at this age than it ever did in one’s 20s. But she was excited and I wanted to make sure she had a good time. So I rallied!

As her friends trickled in to the Thai restaurant that had been selected as the first stop in that night’s festivities, the only thing that came to mind as I met each of them was: WOW. For being older than me, and managing a family at home, they look GREAT! I mean from body to skin to everything appearance-wise, I could not believe some of these women were in their late 30s to early 40s. It was incredible.

Now I have blogged about this a little bit here and there. I am often pretty vocal about making good choices in one’s youth. One, because it’s important and two, sometimes because I didn’t make good choices myself and I want future generations to learn from my mistakes. I have always said: use sunscreen. Everyday. Maybe even multiple times per day. I also believe in being reasonably smart about the things that you consume. I personally like to cook a lot of my meals from scratch as I have an aversion to the chemicals and preservatives that they put in packaged goods. I’m not a fan of fad diets or unrealistic expectations when it comes to dietary trends, like fasts and the like. My personal philosophy is: make good choices that are at least logical if not grounded in dietary facts. Don’t swing wildly one way or the other (because your body knows it and it will adjust, and negatively, given these inconsistencies). Just generally try to do the right thing for the needs of your body.

I think meeting these women was something related to seeing evidence, in the flesh, that a balanced life is something worth pursuing. I literally stared at the woman sitting next to me in the face for long periods of time (she probably got freaked out by it). Her skin could be described as nothing short of luminescent. No wrinkles. No acne. No age spots. Just exquisite skin. I don’t know if it was genetics or life choices but she as well as multiple attendees were in better physical shape than I would say is true of many people my age and younger.

So then we get to the dance floor. At one point, my friend (the birthday girl), said to me, “This is moms gone wild!” We were drinking and dancing like it was nobody’s business! At one point, a group of mid 20s boys (yes, I called them boys) came up and started hitting on people in the group. One guy had a man bun. It was actually really cute but also a bit hilarious.

This is where I give my observations about girls in clubs, now that I’ve been to two in the past two months (this is like a record high for me at this point). I get that people go to clubs to be seen and also to attract the opposite sex. So naturally, it’s kind of a competitive place where girls are vying for guys and vice versa. But my experience of 20-something girls at dance clubs is that they just seem really bitchy. They are there tugging on their too-tight clothes, giving you the stink eye as you walk by. At one club a few months ago, a group of girls was being obnoxious and pushing people around on the dance club.

So I guess that might explain why the group I was with attracted some attention. We were there just to have fun, dance, goof around. Not standing around self-consciously hoping guys would notice us. I don’t know. I know that this is all a part of being young and the single life. And maybe I was this way too– though I don’t remember ever eyeing other girls up and down and giving them the stink eye.

So I named this piece the things  I learned form spending a night out with MILFs (which if you haven’t already figured out means “Mother I’d like to {F-word}”). I learned if you take care of yourself, you can be extraordinarily hot when you’re older. That you should always look for opportunities to just shake it out and have fun. Umm, and that the intact bonds between women who have been in each others’ lives from school to marriage to now being the matriarchs in their families is really quite inspiring.

That’s it. Happy weekend!

Headed to Chile!

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chileOooh, I realized I haven’t write in quite some time. Without going too much into it work has been tough for the past couple of months. Not knowing what the future holds, I made the only somewhat spontaneous decision to head to my beloved South America, thereby blowing out all my PTO in the next week. I had been thinking about it for some time, but priorities during the earlier part of May made it difficult. But seeing as that there is a three day weekend coming up, a reasonable plane ticket was secured, it’s now early Fall in South America and eff it, why not? I made the choice to buy the ticket last night.

So yeah, will head out next week. Getting increasingly excited!

Q1 2015 Spending

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Screenshot 2015-04-15 at 10.18.31 PM

Ok, this post is something I have been planning for some time. I was unemployed for a 6 week period last year and for 3 of those months I received unemployment. I was waiting for my checks but later realized that the money had been deposited into an old unemployment debit card account. When I found that card, there was $3000 there. I wondered: how long would $3000 last me (in food only)? My guess at the time was 6 months and I started tracking my spend in January 2015.

What shows above is the breakdown of my food costs. Here is the breakdown of costs per major food consumption category (activity) per month (in dollars):

1Q2015 January February March
coffee 11 21 17
eating out 69 72 92
groceries 292 206 181
socializing 231 137 151
total 603 436 441

On average, I spend right around $500 per month on food– thankfully the majority of it on groceries and the 2nd largest category is socializing (any meal where I spend time with others). Eating out is when I grab prepared food. Coffee is when I buy coffee or some other casual drink (boba included).

Here is the breakdown in percentage by category:

1Q2015 January February March
coffee 2% 5% 4%
eating out 11% 17% 21%
groceries 48% 47% 41%
socializing 38% 31% 34%

So I do think $3000 would go about 6 months given how I am pacing. With this tracking, I should also be able to figure out how much I am spending on needs versus wants. Here is some rough math about my likely spend rate for this year:

Food: 12*500 = 6000

Rent: 12*1600= 19,000 (yeesh!)

Needs (power, phone, internet, Netflix): 12*(10+40+40+10)=1200

My needs are around $30,000

My retirement contributions will likely be $10,000

So approximately $40,000 of my paycheck is already accounted for. Let’s see what I can save this year…

To be continued at the end of Q2!

Standing by her man

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TBill Cosby, Camille Cosbyhe past couple of weeks have been somewhat interesting. Work continues to be something of a disaster. I publicly shared my story about being cyberbullied late last year. And then a day after sharing that, the girlfriend of my cyberstalker texted me to express what was in her own words “disappointment” that she “needed to get off her chest.”

She asked me not to share the text and I agree that even in this case, it doesn’t make sense to share the communication word for word. One, because I don’t think that’s totally fair. But also, to be honest, her rationale is so off that I can’t really bear to re-read the texts themselves. I texted her back yesterday to say that I wasn’t going to keep the text private as a means of being totally transparent with her. But I also did tell her that I wasn’t going to be obnoxious and blast the communication everywhere. And I’m not going to do that here.

In a nutshell, the GF thought that once I had told her to let her boyfriend know to knock it off with the insulting blog comments that everything was over. I should note that she never responded to my text and I never received an apology from anyone, namely the cyberbully. I should also note that character-wise, this woman is very passive and often likes to sweep uncomfortable things under the rug instead of having true and honest life discussions. I’m not going to go into why I think this is, but suffice it to say I wasn’t surprised to hear that she thought that “a hanging chad” was a satisfying ending. She said that my “tactics” could have more negative outcomes than maybe I was realizing. Which is actually where she is wrong. I hoped for negative outcomes. That was the point. I made the risk to shed the spotlight on a cultural and digital problem and her boyfriend, who is a perpetrator and has never publicly paid for the crime, was the perfect “villain” as it were. And frankly, no one should ever think that lack of punishment is ever where something ends. While statutes of limitations do exist legally, there is always the opportunity to right wrongs, if even in the courtroom of public opinion (see art accompanying this post).

She positioned it as retribution/retaliation– blaming me (the victim) instead of being honest and blaming her boyfriend for being a social miscreant. I told my friend about it and he told me that the term for what she was doing is called “gas-lighting” which is defined as: a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted/spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception and sanity. In a nutshell, as my friend put it “stalker’s gf is trying to pull the ‘you’re too sensitive argument’ on you.” She in fact did say something to that effect, that if I really stopped I’d realize how much this situation has been blown out of proportion.

The scariest thing is that she was using the same tactics as the cyberbully, saying things like “you should move on.” These were nearly verbatim the same lines that the cyberbully wrote in his final post, trying to control what I covered in my blog. For a second, I thought that maybe the cyberbully was actually writing the text on his girlfriend’s phone but then I noticed certain phrases that I knew were uniquely her’s. And then I realized that the brainwashing was probably pretty complete and that it would probably take her years before she comes to her senses and realizes that she has paired yet again with an overly dominant and controlling mate.

In the end, this is what made me not want to keep quiet. I think had the cyberbully apologized, things wouldn’t have escalated. Had his company taken some kind of action, I would have been fine. Had she asked me to please cease and desist, sure I would have considered it. But trying to use the psycho-babble on me, saying “I’m sorry that you felt badly” (instead of “I’m sorry it happened” or “I’m sorry that my boyfriend is a giant ass”) was super unsatisfying. In the end, I told her that I had moved on, that I stopped being close with them even when we worked together and gave them space to brew in their toxic relationship. The cyberbully came after me: finding my blog, following it and responding negatively. I don’t know a better example of “not moving on” than what he did.

Following the public admission, other ppl at work came forward with stories of their own. And despite the cyberbullying having occurred and now supporting stories that this guy just isn’t good, the girlfriend kept saying she was so “puzzled”– a phrase that I have heard her use many times before. Listen– the Bermuda Triangle is puzzling. The disappearance of Amelia Earhart is puzzling. Images captured of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are puzzling. Getting direct evidence that your boyfriend is a big, bullying jackass– not so much.

In the end, I don’t feel bad for what I did. Truthfully, I had thought about other things in the months that have passed that would have been way worse. And in each case, I didn’t want to be that person that did that thing, even if it was to a scummy person. I felt like this was the right thing: to be honest, to hopefully enact change and to right a wrong that the perpetrators never once made an effort to right. And the way I see it, it’s not just that I stood up for myself. I feel like I stood up for the long line of victims that this guy would likely target over the course of his life. I hope that it causes him to think for even just a second before he ever acts like that moving forward. As my friend put it, “he underestimated you. Nobody’s ever stopped him before.” And for that reason, I feel like I did the right thing. And if the girlfriend can’t see the situation for what it is, and places the blame on the wronged instead of the wronger, well I mean– I wish her luck as she navigates her life. It’s gotta be hard living with blinders so thick that you can’t see the truth staring you right in the face. Happy weekend, everybody!

You are what you eat

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eatmemeI meant to write on this topic some time ago but I wanted to read my copy of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” to see if it yielded me any additional insights as it relates to diet and food. It’s definitely an interesting book (though a bit hard for me to get through) and if relevant, I’ll pull in points during this post.

So a good six months ago, I wrote this post about my ex-coworker– a woman that I wasn’t fond of and who for me represents kind of the worst of people you can work with or encounter in your life. To recap, she was acting in a way that made members of the team feel bad / uncomfortable and just generally speaking, most of us did not like her (I am yes, speaking for myself but her name has also come up independent of my opinions during conversations with ex-coworkers, who have described her with words like “cold,” “mean” and “unappreciative.”

One of my biggest pet peeves with this woman was that she claimed to be on the Paleo diet and would force this conversation topic on everyone though none of us cared. She went so far as to tell three of us that we should also be on the Paleo diet though we were all thinner and in better shape than she was. I am lucky in that I am naturally thin. I will be the first to admit that. But even being thin, I would never think it appropriate to tell other people what they should or shouldn’t be doing related to their diets. It’s just rude.

What was even more irritating, though, was that she and the other partiers weren’t really staying on this diet that they so trumpeted. Nearly every weekend, they would go on these big alcohol binges. When I told my friend about the hypocrisy of it all, he pointed out that being on a stringent diet and then binging on alcohol is probably one of the worst things you can do for your body. Your body goes from being starved of calories to being overwhelmed with empty calories. The only result is that your  body will go bananas and gulp up all the extra calories which will effectively sabotage your efforts of training your body to rely on a regimented diet of whole foods. I’m not a dietician or that fitness-focused but even I think that this makes sense. And I wouldn’t have judged it (I frankly don’t care what people do with their time or bodies) but being served with the daily hypocrisy was pretty annoying.

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” takes an economic and dietary look at American food, showing that the way the food world is structured has less to do with what is good for us and is instead focused on doing things that make sense money-wise. There are lots of “cuts” (that’s a meat joke) to the book but the one part that I honed in on is the “fakeness” of the foods that we eat. All the production and chemistry and science that goes into producing the food that we buy on our shelves cannot possibly bode well for our individual and collective health.

This was something that I thought a lot about when I was living abroad. I lived in Brazil during a quarter of graduate school. We were drinking quite a lot and not necessarily living how we had back at home. We ate all-you-can-eat beef buffet (churrascaria) quite a lot. But all of us noticed that for our bacchanalian ways, we didn’t look so bad. In fact, we looked great!

I don’t have a scientific explanation for it. But one thing that I did think about was the amount of processed food that I might eat at home in the US versus what I was eating in Brazil. Except for maybe spaghetti sauce, I was actually eating a very clean diet when I cooked food for myself. I would buy vegetables and fresh fish from the food market at Osorio square once a week. And food at the stands, like the sandwiches, were made fresh. For breakfast, I would walk down to the corner supermarket and buy two pieces of fresh bread.

I’ve long though that one of the major things making Americans fat is all the processed foods we eat. In France, a piece of bread that you buy at the local boulangerie is rock hard within a day. Bread you buy at an American supermarket stays soft for WEEKS. That cannnot be normal.

Because of this and also because eating out is so expensive, I try to make my food whenever possible. I eat out with friends to socialize but if I’m home, I make myself food and from scratch whenever possible. I was raised during the 1980s and 1990s, when the consumer packaged foods industry blew up. My mom was a working mom so when we got home, we would often eat Tuna Helper (which btw, I will still admit I find delicious) or some other pre-made meal. I think back on that somewhat grossly– like all that crap I consumed for all those years. Today, I buy groceries from the Asian supermarket which keeps my food costs super low but also, I think eating solid foods like rice and fish and vegetables is how you should be living in other to keep good stuff going into your body. I think every meal I prepare for myself is probably $2-3, maybe $5 at the most. And I try to make everything from scratch, being able to identify each part to the most basic ingredient.

I don’t know that the main point of this post was for me to share advice or tell you what you should be doing as it relates to your diet. I do think stuff like this is a personal choice. But I do think that it’s important that people educate themselves on how their food choices impact their health (and finances). You should know so that you can make the right choices. I don’t personally believe in fad diets like Paleo diets– I think anytime you are cheating with binges or going off the strict script, you are only setting yourself up for failure. You should stick to a regiment that you can stick with and that gives you the right fuel to maintain good health. That’s it.

The post about nothing

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blahSo I will freely admit that this post is somewhat coerced. I don’t really have much to write about but I am realizing that my last post was well over a week ago. So I’m feeling like I need to write something just to continue the illusion of momentum.

So the day after my last post was rough in the context of what I was thinking and feeling. Without going into too much detail, a male coworker made a comment about another colleague being protective over a product because she is “a 30 year old, unmarried woman without kids” and that was the reason. This is clearly not something one wants to hear in a work setting (and not something one ought to be saying frankly). I told my manager that his comment bothered me (because I refused to go to a group lunch with him) and she didn’t understand what the big deal was. I went back and forth with her about it. It wasn’t until a meeting 4 hours later that she did a 180 and said that I should report the guy to HR. So Tuesday wasn’t a fun day.

Then Friday was also not a fun day. Without sharing too much, basically there was a breakdown in process and I was being expected to do something with a much tighter timeline. When I explained to my manager that the process wasn’t ideal, I think she took it personally and became pretty defensive. It wasn’t a very productive conversation. I cried– which I’m not proud about.

The weekend was fun. Went to a brunch. Went to a dinner. Then rather unexpectedly went on a 20 mile bike ride with a friend on Sunday. This past week was somewhat hectic. Today, I tried to do all my life things: did some exercise, cleaned my apartment. Shipped out another bag of stuff to sell on ThredUp (to date, I’ve made $250 which feels kind of fantastic).

Tomorrow, I’ll need to return a library book and probably go for a job in the meantime. Then am making a beet and sweet potato salad to take down to a dinner I’m attending in the peninsula.

It’s now approaching the end of the first quarter of the year. I think things for the most part have been good. Work is a bit eh and I need to think long and hard about what it is I am doing. The past couple of weeks have been a bit rough and I am getting a lot of internal push and pull about whether I tough it out or whether I throw in the towel. Life, I have found, is not as stable as I would like for it to be. There are some weeks where it’s crazy busy and then other weeks where I’m a bit bored. And in truth, I’m not totally happy in either. It’d be nicer if there could be more balance.

So there. Not much to report but at least I wrote something. Happy Spring Forward!