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May 2006

My President

May 17, 2006   

I weep.

Update: The video got pulled from YouTube. You can find a different link at Crooks and Liars.

Back to [Non]-Routine

May 16, 2006   

So we have been back from outer space for about three weeks now, and things are definitely starting to settle into a routine of sorts. Yet “routine” doesn’t seem to describe the changes in our lives well.

Seppo has been at home, cleaning, organizing, and cooking his butt off. And I have been reaping the benefits. Boy, have I. He’s been making me breakfast with a cup of cappucino every morning, packing me lunch, and making me dinner every night. And doing a bunch of insane work around the house too. I’m really getting spoiled. I had better not get used to this. ๐Ÿ™‚

We joined a museum membership to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco since getting back, which lets us have unlimited access to the Legion of Honor and the de Young. We visited the de Young a couple of weekends ago. We’ve been trying to take our momentum from Europe and transfer it to our own area. ๐Ÿ™‚

As a part of that effort, last weekend, we attended an early showing of Over the Hedge (which was hysterical, cute, and endearing in every way — I’d bet that it is going to be a big hit with young & old alike) with Holly (which she helped to make, so stay for the end credits!) at the Metreon then grabbed lunch and sat out at the adjacent Yerba Buena Gardens to take in a free outdoor program put on by The San Francisco Ballet School as a part of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. Wow, that was a lot of links.

Prison Break just aired its season finale, and it was nail-bitingly good. I constantly feel like I’m going to suffer a heartattack when I watch this show. American Idol will also have its season finale soon (I think next week), so less tv watching for me, which coincides well with longer days and great weather!

It looks like PB is now available for purchase via iTunes. And even better [!!!!] Firefly is too!!!! If you haven’t seen it yet, you have no excuse.

I am thinking that I want to go in to have a complete physical soon, so I know what things I need to focus on. I worry about the “invisible” things that I don’t know about like high blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin resistance, random allergies, bone density, etc. Not to be paranoid, but you never know. Anyway, I am going to make an appointment sometime this month.

In other news, Colin is intent on destruction (of the good kind) and construction. Woo! I can’t wait!

Internet Addiction Test

May 15, 2006   

I took the IAT (Internet Addiction Test). My results:

Your score: 42
You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage.

I misspelled “addiction” as “addition” both times in the title and in the first sentence the first time around. An internet addition test would be quite different.

Food Gaffes

May 11, 2006   

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I read a book called Making friends (The Girls of Canby Hall, No. 18) about three very different girls who end up as roommates at a boarding school.

As I’ve Googled (goodness knows my memory is shot), the girls are from Boston, Chicago, and… Texas. I don’t know why they didn’t say what city the third girl was from. Anyway, they all have very lame names and the characters are quite the exercise in regional and socioeconomic class stereotypes — it was the 80s after all:

  • Jane Barrett from Boston: prim & proper, quite the blueblood WASP blonde
  • Andy Cord from Chicago: fun-loving black girl from a boisterous middle-class family
  • Toby Houston from… Texas (I believe she was not actually from Houston): naive but sweet redheaded farmer’s daughter who had never been to the big city

As I sliced some brie tonight (yes, I “cut the cheese”), I was thinking of the time I was at a friend’s house for a dinner party and I was jokingly taken to task for a breach in etiquette in cutting cheese. Do you know the proper rules for cutting cheese?

Yeah, I know. I guess it makes sense, but how are you to know without someone explicitly telling you?

Anyway, I swear this has something to do with the Girls of Canby Hall.

At some point in the story, the three girls go to Posh Spice a.k.a. Jane Barrett’s home for a weekend. Baby Spice a.k.a. Toby has trouble with the artichoke, which she’s never seen before, whereas Sporty Spice (or maybe Scary Spice since people from cities will cut you ;p) a.k.a. Andy, despite the fact that she’s never seen it before either, manages to successfully mimic the Barrett family. Or wait, maybe it was the other way around. Anyway, one of them chews and chews on the entire leaf for a while until someone shows some mercy. I think the Jane character then painstakingly shows how to properly eat an artichoke.

It was a humiliating experience for whichever character it was.

Meanwhile, I was this 10 or 11 year old, full of pre-teen anxieties, as well as being a relatively new immigrant to the U.S. I had no real idea of what “Americans” ate in their homes, other than what I saw on Growing Pains or Family Ties or what I observed at lunchtime in school. I had friends of various backgrounds, but I was rarely allowed to go over other people’s houses, so it was largely a mystery what the theoretical “average American family” ate on a daily basis. So you can imagine my interest at this odd foodstuff that even other born-and-bred Americans had trouble with.

I had all these fears about food because I simply didn’t have contact with various foods. Man, when I had real Indian curry, you should have seen how weirded out I was that it wasn’t like Korean curry. I was like, “Where is the real curry?” Stupid, eh? Heh.

In high school, I made the dumb mistake of putting both lemon and cream in my tea. Curdle-rama. My friend called me an idiot. ๐Ÿ˜€

Back to Canby Hall… So I went off to college at some point, and I wanted to try artichokes, filled with fear and trepidation and excitement at the prospect of eating this Very Exotic Food ™. My then-bf and I went out and bought some, cooked them up, and ate them. They were tasty. But somehow, the book had made it seem like it was just impossible to figure out how to eat properly. But all you needed to do was see someone eat one leaf and it was easy as pie.

Once I learned the hows and whys of cutting cheese, it was not difficult to remember, but it was embarrassing when I was told I was being greedy by cutting the tip of the brie. I only meant to cut the smallest part so I didn’t look greedy. Oh well.

Seppo and I always sweat bullets at some of the fancier restaurants for fear that we’ll use the wrong utensils. I know the general rules, but there always seems to be some exception. Alas.

So, you guys have any embarrassing food-related gaffes?


May 11, 2006   

I woke up feeling really tired, achy, and with my nose running like a faucet, not to mention swollen eyes.

On top of that, navel-gazing is extremely tiring. It can wear a person out! ๐Ÿ˜€

I’m taking today off from work. I feel really crappy, a little cranky, and a little muddled in the head.

Peace out, yo.

The Psychology of Beauty

May 11, 2006   

Note: I’m no psychologist, just an arm-chair speculator.

What is beauty? My muddled thoughts and words from my previous entry on body image is forcing me to try to articulate this more clearly. My guess is that in the distant past, when scrabbling for food and genetic survival, standards of beauty were probably strictly tied to health and physical dominance.

I’m sure that research into various different aspects of current day conceptions of beauty, we could find a reason to justify each aspect. I recently read an article about how blond hair came about and how we might presume it came into desireability, instead of being seen as an odd mutation, as well as why light skin was important in the nordic regions (having to do with Vitamin D production). I don’t know why the long necks of the long-necked tribe which I don’t know the name of were valued as beautiful, but I’m sure there were logical reasons behind that as well. I’m sure the underlying initial reason people with glasses are teased because it’s seen as a deformity, a physical problem.

So I don’t dispute that we are genetically and socially conditioned to look for outwardly physical signs of health. It can be a strong indicator in most segments of the population.

However, when someone feels “ugly” or when someone looks upon someone else as “ugly” or “undesireable”, my guess is not that the first and foremost thought is, “Oh my goodness, this person is SO unhealthy.” The person is more likely thinking, “This person doesn’t look good to me.” Period.

I think health is a huge public and personal concern. But I also think that’s NOT what most people are thinking of when they judge each other and themselves on their physical appearance. I firmly believe that many times people wield it as an excuse & weapon to judge someone else to find the judged lacking. Not that everyone does this — no generalization can cover the entire range of the human experience — but my personal interactions and my accumulated second-hand knowledge of the world confirms this to be true (not that I’m not willing to accept evidence to the contrary).

Worse is when people come to conclusions about someone’s lifestyle based on appearance. Looking at someone who is, say, 50 pounds overweight, people feel comfortable making non-health-related value judgments about the person: he/she is lazy, he/she doesn’t care about him/herself, he/she should be ashamed, he/she should stop overeating, etc.

I hate that. How do we know anything about them? Maybe that person has already lost 20 pounds of excess weight and have been steadily exercising and eating better to improve themselves. Maybe they’ve always been super-healthy and had a really bad injury that’s kept them off their feet for a while and they are struggling to find something that works. Maybe they are really feeling good about their progress but strangers’ looks of derision makes them feel like it was all pointless. Or maybe they are trying to work their way out of a lifetime of bad habits and bad self-esteem, learning to love themselves so they can start confidently, happily start making good long-term habits.

I am not saying that’s how it is for everyone. But I don’t know what’s going on with the particular person, do I? I only know that for the last several years, all I did was sit on my ass and watch TV. I was and am lazy. But my appearance didn’t cause people to harshly judge my character despite the actuality that I was/am a lazy sloth. So I got to have an unfair advantage. Not to say that I’m super-skinny or appear uber-fit; I don’t. But I fall firmly in the range of BMI that they say makes a person healthy, despite having no available stats for my blood pressure, cholesterol level, or ability to sustain prolonged activities. I know the BMI is useful as a general guideline because there is a correlation between weight/size and health, but I am merely saying it’s just one indicator, one I could use to pretend I was living a healthy lifestyle.

Anyway, I’m veering sharply into health again, when I’m honestly trying to discuss beauty.

To me, it’s all beautiful. I remember when I was 5 years old, looking at my grandma’s paper-thin, wrinkly skin and her sagging arms and breasts, and mostly her love for me in her eyes and thinking, “She is so beautiful.” My mom has always fluctuated in her weight, from very slim to pretty rotund to slim again and back, and she’s always been beautiful to me. I’ve had exes who were shorter than me and and exes who were pushing 300 lbs. They were all beautiful to me. Yes, the ex who was close to 300 lbs was actually starting to show health problems, and we started to deal with that, but he never stopped being beautiful to me. Neither did the ex who most women would have dismissed as being too short (at 5’2″ he was definitely a shorty).

So many things are not considered beautiful. But honestly, can we all only be/date/marry/procreate with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? Is everyone else ugly?

I find my friends to be beautiful: those who think their cheekbones are weird, those who think they are too fat/skinny, those who wish their boobs were smaller/bigger, those who have long torsos, those who have short torsos, those with practically no eyelashes, those who think their foreheads are too big, those who think their heads are too small/round/big/whatever, etc. Guess which ones apply to me. ๐Ÿ˜€

People all want what they don’t have. I dearly want my friends’ beautiful lush lashes and bigger boobs. Maybe my friends want my straight hair or relative slimness. I feel paranoid about my weird forehead and wish I had a neat widow’s peak. Maybe no one else sees it and wishes they had my relative inability to sunburn under most conditions. I wish I looked more my age, maybe someone else my age wishes they looked younger like me. I really wish that I had dimples (one of the cutest traits anyone can have, in my opinion), but maybe someone else would trade my lack of freckles for that.

I wish for all those things, but only in passing. I am who I am.

It’s about really, honestly knowing your good traits and bad traits and appreciating your good traits and working on the bad traits that can be changed. It’s not about kicking yourself over everything and anything you are not or things you can never change. It’s about loving yourself so that you can give yourself the confidence to know you can be better (in all ways, not just physical) and remembering all the positives so that you don’t drown in a pool of despair when you face a new hurdle. I’m not saying we should wave our hands around and make all the bad disappear, but we can gather our strengths around us to provide momentum to tackle the next big task. Ignoring the good in you is just as bad as ignoring the bad in you. I recommend neither.

Being human, I admit that a part of why I started to work out was that I started to feel unattractive. I even lied to myself and told myself it had to do with health — and honestly, it was an issue because gaining something like 10 pounds in 2 months is quite alarming for anyone — but mostly, it was vanity. It really was. I wasn’t thinking, “What does this mean for my health?” but rather, “I am starting to feel paranoid about how I look.” I know it’s stupid, but we all do this to ourselves. Even as I look upon my friends and family and see only beauty, even with all my self-confidence, I am my harshest critic. To myself that is. I often portray an impenetrably confident persona because I think that’s how I *should* be, so I try to be that way. Also, I felt that my friends would, no, *should* poo-poo it if I admitted my efforts were primarily to look better, so I pretended looking better was merely a side benefit. Ha!

Looking better *does* boost the confidence to try harder to be more healthy, at least for me. For me, it confirms that confidence in yourself helps to make more positive changes. Derision and scorn do nothing but make people feel isolated and unliked. I save derision and scorn for things like criminal acts, not people’s appearances.

ETA: After reading the comments, it appears I save some derision for really attractive celebrities wearing ugly clothes. But it feels like good-natured laughter and not actual derision. But I am leaving myself space to see if I’m just wrong.


May 11, 2006   

For someone who is obsessed with communication issues, I sure seem to have screwed that one up.

I’m just obsessed with it because I have to be since I’m so bad at it.

YMCA รขห†ยฉ Louvre

May 10, 2006   

What could the YMCA and the Louvre have in common, you may ask? Nekkid ladeez. Lots of them.

It’s funny; I’ve always had a good body image and self-confidence (which I’ve gone on and on and on about *snore*), but it’s really reached a new level of self-comfort after having seen so many nude depictions of the human form at the Louvre and equally many naked women of all ages/colors/sizes/shapes in the Y locker rooms. There is such a variety of shapes that the more and more I was exposed (no pun intended) to them (the art and the old women at the Y), the more and more I internalized that it was ridiculous to point to one and say, “Ah, there, that’s the ideal that we should all strive for.”

All the differences and variety just seem so natural, not something that should be the source of shame for anyone. All the nudes in the paintings and statues, all the depictions of Venus or Aphrodite, all of them have what by L.A. standards would be big arms and big bellies. But after gazing upon them for so long, I can see the beauty and naturalness of those parts. The bodies were in fact idealized for their times, but in a different way than today. When I see magazine covers, the most famous women seem so unnatural: pulled and stretched and tightened and fake-tanned to an alarming degree. Where is the softness, the pleasing round curves?

This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe the stats for the U.S. being one of the most unhealthiest and overweight countries of the world; I do believe it. This is just… an increased sense of acceptance of what is actually within the normal range.


May 9, 2006   

This is the year that many of my friends and I turn thirty years old. I have no trepidations about it. I fully expect that I’ll be my hottest *cough* at age 35. ๐Ÿ˜€ I know that supposedly I will be anxious and worried about what this means for me as the day draws closer, but I don’t feel anything yet.

And yet, for some reason, I thought to myself that I have about a month to decide on something I’d like to do before I turn thirty (which would give me just under another month to actually do it). I started to google around for other people’s lists of things to do before turning 30, but you know what? I think I will write down a list of things that I’m proud that I’ve already done (most of them since turning 20).

Warning: Self-congratulatory pats coming up. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Put myself through school entirely on my own.
  • Bought my mom that two-story house I told her I would when I was in the fourth grade.
  • Wrote two [bad] novels.
  • Fell in love with a great man and worked on making things work.
  • Moved out to another coast on my own and overcame my biggest fear of making friends/interacting with strangers.
  • Learned to really appreciate true friendship, the kind that lasts over distance and time, and even the fact that we’ve never met face-to-face.
  • Learned that I don’t always have to be strong.
  • Learned that I’m not always right and it’s ok.
  • Lost weight gained from new job.
  • Travelled (Canada :D, Vietnam, Korea, England, France).
  • Joined a gym.
  • Achieved financial stability and began savings & retirement plans.
  • Became an aunt twice over.
  • Held my little infant brother and tried to be a good [absentee] sister to him as he grew up.
  • Learned to appreciate my older siblings.
  • Learned to understand somewhat the depth of my mother’s unconditional love.
  • Made a difference in my friends’ lives.

Of course there’s more. But it’s late. And these things? It’s not just a list. They really mean a lot to me. I never thought, when I was a kid, that I’d do these things. I remember being depressed and feeling like there wasn’t a lot I can hope to achieve, not knowing how to make things be different. But here I am. Things are different.

And I am happy.

Untitled mish-mash

May 9, 2006   
  • Seppo woke up early (he had to take his mom to the airport) and made me a full breakfast this morning. Schweet!
  • I think more than 50% of my close friends are in interracial or interethnic (? proper term? no?) relationships. Whoa!
  • My hair looks better when it’s parted somewhere other than its natural part. Yawn.
  • I took a retirement planning seminar today at work and have been reading a debt management book recently, and think I need to learn more and start changing my strategies. Also yawn (but suppressed, like you are sitting in the front of a class or in a meeting with management).