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November 4, 2009   

At some point, when I can find the time, I’ll post about my mom’s visit, my labor, our baby’s birth, our experiences the first few weeks, and my feelings about it all.

For now, I can reach over to my iPhone to tweet some stuff but that is about it.

Visitors are welcome! I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed having people come by. The only caveat is only staying 2 hours or less. Saying that makes me feel like quite an inhospitable hostess but one thing I’ve found is that a long visit means fewer nap opportunities, which means that I may actually have an embarrassing crying jag later in the day, so I might as well just let people know now.

Interpersonal communication

September 21, 2009   

It’s a topic I’ve covered a zillion times before. I recently thought about it again because back in August, Becky tweeted: “Dating Tip for Dudes #38: She doesn’t necessarily want a suggestion, she just wants you to listen. Do your BEST.”

In romantic relationships, friendships, family relationships, coworker situations, there are several categories of what kind of interaction a person is looking for when they reach out. They could be looking for any of the following:

  • A shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear. This person is looking for a friend in their corner. This person wants to vent. The best thing you can do is listen and let them know they are not being crazy/oversensitive/etc.
  • Wisdom and/or perspective beyond what they were able to come up with on their own. This kind of person wants advice. Drawing from prior experiences and similar situations to tell them what you might have done in the past in a similar situation will help them.
  • A kick in the behind to get them started on making changes. This person wants a coach. Tell them you know they can get off their butts and kick ass. Remind them of their prior accomplishments.
  • Actual, concrete assistance, where the friend/family/etc. offloads some of their workload. This person is seeking help.

In all of these situations, it is very important that the person reaching out and the person responding know what it is that is being sought out, otherwise the two people will end up in a very frustrating conversation.

Let’s say someone is complaining to you about their current job, or feeling like a schlub, feeling unmotivated. This could be a friend, your SO, your parent/child, etc. Depending on what they are seeking, you might do any of the following:

  • Let them vent: Ask them if they just want you to listen. Listen to them. Do they seem mostly angry, sad, depressed, frustrated, or something else entirely? Ask them questions that let them work out how they are feeling, and why. If there are things you don’t understand, ask them, but let them lead the conversation. Sometimes, a large part of stress is not knowing exactly how you feel, and talking it out can make the person feel better. It also helps to know someone else is in their corner and cares about their perspective. Something that’s important to remember is that it’s not about how you feel about the situation, but about how this person does.
  • Give them advice: Ask them if they want advice. You’ll see that this is a theme. This interaction is not about you giving someone what you’d want in their place, but what that person wants. Remember even when they ask for advice that they are not you and will not behave the same as you in the same situation. Consider how applicable the situation you are describing is to the advice seeker, be nonjudgmental, and don’t say “should” and “must”, but stick to “could” and “might”. This is not an opportunity for you to tell a slightly-related story or for you to “give them a life lesson”, so don’t repeat yourself  and or make them think that you believe there is one bandaid to their type of problem. Adjust your advice as more details are revealed and let the person feel heard, not categorized.
  • Coach them/Kick them in the butt: Some people like this. You really have to know someone really, really well in order to do this, and things differ situationally, so ask them too. I have very little to say in this matter because I am not a person who responds well to this, but I know this is definitely what some people want. Anyone who relates to this, feel free to talk about this in the comments.
  • Offer help. Again, ask them if they want help. People often think others will ask for help when they need it, but I find this to be completely untrue. People feel incredibly guilty or embarrassed to ask for help, but are grateful when it is offered. Let’s take the example of someone looking for a job. Concrete help is not repeated nagging/reminders to update their resumes; concrete help comes in offering to do some chore for them so they will have a time slot free that they did not previously have. It could also come in asking them if they could use a resume format and a reviewer, and acting promptly if they answer in the affirmative.

Generally, I fall into the 1st and 4th categories and will feel completely frustrated if confronted with 2nd or 3rd categories. For me, when vent, what has usually happened is some perfect storm of feeling like I have too many to-do items and not enough time, combined with juggling a couple of stressful situations at once. These situations might have to do with worrying about a friend or family member, getting over an illness, preparing for a deadline, or any of a million different things.

So by the time I vent, I am completely overloaded. The thing that will help is if some of those things on my to-do or stress-about list can come off the list, through the magic of circumstances or through help. The last thing I need is another thing to worry about or another item to add to my to-do list.

Also, I’m a resourceful lass. By the time I vent, I’ve been thinking about the situation for a very long time from many angles. I’ve explored several reasonable and several unreasonable paths to a solution. I’ve thought about the players in the situation and have probably tried talking to them. I’ve researched the crap out of any remaining questions I have about the situation. Basically, I’ve devoted a lot of time & thought to resolving the situation.

Realizing this opened my eyes to exactly why I get frustrated in the face of advice when I’m seeking a place to vent, and I think it is relevant to the tweet referenced in my intro paragraph. When someone gives me advice, it’s usually someone who cares about me, and someone for whom I care in return. When they give me advice, there are two things that might happen:

  • If I’ve already researched that solution, it makes me frustrated that they would have thought I hadn’t thought of something that took them about 5 minutes to come up with; OR
  • If I haven’t, this effectively puts another item on my to-do list to pursue. Because they are important to me and are likely to follow up with me out of concern, this means that I have to push off the other actual to-dos I have on my overburdened list to go look at this new thing. It might be immensely helpful too, which is another good reason to pursue it. But does it help alleviate the things that led me to venting in the first place? No, because I still have all the to-dos on my list still.

Help differs from advice in that someone is actually taking items off my to-do list. That is fabulous. Advice adds more items to my to-do list or makes me feel like they think I’m stupid. Being listened to when venting helps tremendously because I need to release the pressure valve and work out my feelings, and that lets me know the friend/family/etc. hears my needs and addresses them.

And there is no formal end or conclusion to this. I hope this lack of finish fills you with immense dissatisfaction. 😀

Next blog post will probably be a review of NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

Update: I just realized that sometimes, I really do want 2 & 3. 3 in particular is helpful when I’m losing motivation. Having someone remind me of my accomplishments can really kick me out of a funk. I very, very rarely ask for #2, but when I do, I am extremely grateful to get good advice. The critical difference is that I’ve asked for it, which means that I want a new perspective and that I know I have the bandwidth to handle whatever advice I’m given, rather than being overloaded.

At home

September 18, 2009   

Tuesday was my last day at work before going on leave to wait for the alien bread we’ve been baking in the human oven. The alien bread is due in about 2.5 weeks! :O Seriously, it is shocking.

I do feel bad calling the baby things like “alien bread” and “skeletor” but it’s hard to come up with an in utero nickname, and I hate the one my mom calls him (“ddol ddol i” — like “smarty” or maybe more like “smartass”). Well, it’s hard to come up with a real name too. Hopefully, Mobi won’t take things too literally and try to dine on this alien bread.

There was some confusion for the legal definition of what was happening to me, leave-wise. Because my company is so small, most of the common leave-taking job protection doesn’t apply to me (one lesser known one does though but under different terms than the more commonly known stuff) but it was really a matter of making sure we were all individually happy with the arrangement, covering everything from how long I’ll be gone, if we want it to be full-time immediately upon returning, if they can contact me while I’m on leave, etc., much of which are “softer” issues. I at no point was actually worried about not having a job to come back to, but mostly about the legalese in terms of collecting my short term disability insurance. That headache has largely been taken care of, so I can relax. 🙂

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Hawaii. It was… awesome. Seriously awesome. One of the best things was being able to be in the water all the time, which was so great for my strained joints and swollen hands & feet. It was fun going all over the island (Oahu) and nomming on everything in sight. Most of the trip is covered on Seppo’s blog. One of the worst things was getting our stuff stolen, but that’s the kind of thing you just have to roll with. The other bad thing was the flight back from Hawaii. My feet were swollen so badly that I almost busted out into tears several times during the flight.

Note to self next time if I fly while pregnant:

  1. Don’t fly 3rd trimester!
  2. Upgrade to business or first if I have to fly during 3rd trimester — I am a total cheapskate, but the extra money will be well worth it, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

Last week on Saturday, I sucked up all my “scared of meeting strangers” fears with the help of my friend & recent mother MJ and attended the Kimchi Mamas Bay Area meetup! :D There is so much I loved about the meetup!

  • Meeting with other women, period. I love events for women!
  • Meeting with other people who either grew up flanking both American mainstream & Korean cultures, or trying to reconcile feeling disconnected from Korean culture (I feel both ways at times). So many of us clearly felt like the “outsiders” among other groups of KA women that the sheer number was comical at this particular gathering. 🙂
  • Meeting with other parents, many of them with very young children, who have gone or are going through the same issues juggling careers, multiple cultures, parents & in-laws, etc.
  • Meeting articulate, well-spoken, well-read people who were not afraid to speak their minds, yet were incredibly & sincerely nice.
  • Meeting for the first time some people I had been reading for months/years!

I would totally do this again. At some point, as Jomama and Karen the Californian blogged, many of us seemed to suffer from the “Holy crap, am I gonna be dressed up enough for other Korean girls?!” fear, and tried to primp up nicer than normal — several people owned up to wearing eyeliner/lipstick/etc. that they usually never wear. I had the same fears, but since I’m terrible at makeup, all I did was try my best to fill in my half-balding right eyebrow.

I got to see Shinyung, Twizzle, and Mary again, which was great! I wish I had gotten to talk to them a little more, but I got to meet new people which I enjoyed immensely. I hope we do this again! 😀

On a completely different note, Seppo and I have been attending classes to get ready for the baby. We are taking a 4-week series on childbirth and a 3-week series on newborn care. We really like the instructor for the newborn care class, who also happens to be the backup instructor for the childbirth class. I wish I could remember her name… Heh. I really like that she’s very non-judgmental and doesn’t appear to push a particular agenda, while presenting a multitude of options for things to try and why we might like them.

Taking the classes seems to have lit a fire under Seppo’s butt! After the first week (was that just last week??), he ran out several times during the week and the weekend to get our bag packed in case the baby comes early and is really getting into reading up on some baby-related stuff. As for me, now that I’m on leave, I’m trying to focus on getting one major thing out of the way everyday, when I’m not obsessing over how the project I was working on is going. Heh.

This blog entry has been brought to you by the letters B for boring and M for meandering. Next time, let’s hope we’ll see something from letter E for exciting and C for concise. :p

Note to self: blog about the difference between advice & help. That thought has been incubating for a while now.

Lunchtime Blogging

July 28, 2009   

Been crazy busy with work lately. Not so unusual, but it’s pretty exciting. I wish I had a couple of breathers to just sort of clean up all the messy corners and tighten up the loose bolts, but time is limited.

Sleeping badly lately too, probably far less than before getting pregnant. Hip joint and left shoulder hurts like a mofo. Hip joint pops every time I get up and hurts like a joint that shouldn’t pop.

Clearly have been tweeting too much, as I can only seem to write in fragmented sentences.

Looking forward to the new season of America’s Best Dance Crew. Woo!

The public areas of the house are starting to tidy up  and feel nice.

Trying to figure out when to have my mom come out to help with the baby.

Found out yesterday that my sister told my dad I was pregnant. It is nice to know he knows. I’m still reluctant to talk to him, for complicated reasons. I may write him a letter. He has a job as a security guard and is working. With my grandmother’s recent passing, I don’t want to have regrets about not reaching out to him later, but it is still really hard.

It kills me that even with all the money I make, I don’t make enough to  pay all the bills here, shore up our financial security, and still get my mom off food stamps. I breaks my heart that she’s still on food stamps. It just kills me.

I’ve finished the Sookie Stackhouse series (up to the most current one out) and started Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. She got me with her free Kindle book, Darkfever.

Looking forward to getting away to Hawaii in August. At the same time, I think about my dad in Korea and my mom and think, gah, is this really, really ok? Couldn’t I be helping them more? I know there are things I need to do for myself too but in the long run, what will make me happier?

A blogger I read regularly is getting divorced. It saddens me more than it should, given that he’s a stranger.

I’ve been cooking Korean food the last few days. Simple Korean food (not restaurant food) really feeds more than my body; making it and eating it calms me, makes me feel rooted, and other touchy-feely bs that kinda makes me want to hurl, but there it is, undeniably making me feel good. Truly, it is comfort food.

I feel tired. I feel restless. I feel like things are changing faster than I can really take in. I don’t feel like myself, but a wimpier, weaker, whinier version of myself. This too shall pass. I’m not used to it, but it’s not like it’s a permanent state.

I recently reread my NaNoWriMo project from 2 years ago. Or has it been three years already? It wasn’t as good as I had hoped it was. Oh well. It was a learning experience, and I think I can come up with something better.

I’d like to organize my photos. I wish I had more photos as a baby.

Seppo and I talked about how amazing it was that we are where we are in life right now. I was born in my grandmom’s house, lived in houses without running water or indoor plumbing or a modern stove (cooking was done over the fire), and now I live in the Bay Area, in a great neighborhood, living a comfortable life, calling some incredible people my friends, with access to all sorts of material and cultural goods and experiences. It’s crazy. Honestly, if I thought it was just through my own hard work and not also through a series of incredibly lucky events and helpful people, I’d be the most arrogant ass on Earth.

Life, despite all the little bumps and bruises, is great. The bumps and bruises are tiny, insignificant. Our child-to-be has every chance to live to great life, and I just have to make sure he doesn’t become an entitled person, but an appreciative one. 🙂

Brand spanking new

July 22, 2009   

I’ve not only moved my website back and combined it with the pregnancy/baby blog, I’ve also migrated to WordPress! I have become a big fan of WP for personal blogging. It is the *cough* shizzle, as I might say if I were someone else entirely.

I think there will be some kinks to work out in the next few days, but I love the millions of plugins WP makes available so easily.