Classing It Up

It’s that wonderful time of year again! When Ben and/or Jerry decide to give out free ice cream cones. When BBC America deems that yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch. And Gotham, ah Gotham, provides two full days of free writing classes to would-be wordsmiths.

I took a fiction class tonight to kickstart my personal writing back up. That whole be-careful-what-you-wish-for thing totally applies to my dream food writing job. Doing it all day long makes it a lil harder to want to do it more afterhours. (Why does that whole sentence sound so dirty?)

Because there were so many fiction classes to choose from, I went the creepy route and googled the heck out of all the instructors. One stood out because she taught writing in a prison. I figured she had to be good or else they’d have shanked her.

Now, I think if I’d kept this quiet, I could have been proud of my proactive approach to finding a good teacher. But no. Of course I had to go and raise my hand during the Q&A and ask about the prison thing. And of course she had to pause and tilt her head and muse, “Oh I mentioned that? (puzzled look)” And then of course, I had to explain my whole Google-based decision making process to an entire room full of people edging their chairs away from me. The coup de grace was when I waved my hand dismissively and giggled “Creeeepiee!” Yeah, one guy screamed and ran out the door.

Ugh. Maybe I should just get therapy. Do they give any free sessions or discounts through Groupon?

Well, That Was Fast and Fab!

This week’s post is about me. Yes yes, I know everybody wants to read more about the mama and the papa. Geez. They’re not even online and they’ve taken over my blog!

Anyhoo, new year, new job! I just started at Fab.com as a copywriter, and it really is as amazing as it seems. If you don’t know the site yet, sign up for a free account. We have a constantly updated roster of artists and cool brands who offer special sales on our site. I’m really debating if I should just ask for my salary to come in the form of store credit.

Funny enough, I was hellbent on staying independent at the end of last year. In a few short weeks, I built a ton of momentum for freelance writing and branding work. It was exciting to indulge in being a workaholic and know that all of my efforts were entirely for myself.

But you know what they say. Love finds you when you’re not looking. Apparently, that applies to jobs as well as relationships. During my daily Fab break (I was serious about the store credit for salary), I did a quick check of their job postings and fell over. After 6 months of hardcore obsessing over this company (have you signed up yet?), they listed a description that was exactly what I wanted as the next step in my career. I can’t even remember writing my cover letter. I think it was basically heavy panting over how much I adored them. It might have counted as sexual harassment if they didn’t like it, but fate was on my side. They reciprocated my feelings, wrote back in 5 minutes flat and allowed me to gush all over them.

My first week has only strengthened my feeling that this is magically right. I am surrounded by smart, driven people who achieve great things in and out of the office. We treat the designers and artists with a ton of respect because we love what they create for the world. That generosity of spirit extends to the way customers and employees are treated, too. I’m just so excited to be part of a company that is out to spread beauty and smiles through the land. This is love.

A Week with My Parents

Five minutes back in the city after a week away, and I found myself talking to a stranger on the subway. The suburbs have rubbed off on me! Serendipity being what it is, I came out of the convo with a recommendation for an amazing new bakery in Soho and (hopefully) a new foodie friend. God, I love this city!

The dining room CHANdelier (I’ll give you my puns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands!)

Seven days with my parents was the perfect amount of time. No matter how much time passes, I’ll always be their little girl. I’ve come full circle from wanting to escape that label to understanding how lucky I am to be so loved. This week, I ate dish after dish of home-cooked meals and took the time to ask my mom how she made each one. She’s so prolific that it got confusing! We dined on marinated spare ribs, sauteed eggplants, boiled turnips (white AND green, so festive!), garlicky shrimp & bacon scramble, pan fried ginger tilapia, and a parade of homemade soups, each a recipe handed down through Chinese history to cleanse or restore the body. It’ll take some time to write everything up, but I definitely want to share the love.

Between bouts of eating and sleeping as I pleased, like I reverted into a newborn, I told them about all the things that I’ve learned from my time in the startup community. My dad and I actually debated the virtues of various marketing techniques until my paltry Cantonese vocab stunted the discussion. Thinking back to all those petty, stompy-footed teenage demands to “treat me like an adult,” I was astounded to find out that I had finally earned that right. Feeling our relationship evolve in this way was so rewarding that it was, at times, emotional.

In a way, I was meeting my parents for the first time as an equal (an equally strange adult, that is). I found myself watching their daily routines, things that I had grown up with and taken for granted, and noticing the minute details that make my mom and dad so very unique. I found myself scribbling notes madly to capture all the new (old) things I was finally seeing. Because, with this new awareness came the bittersweet knowledge that I can no longer take them for granted, and I wanted to save every sweet second possible. Below are a couple quick sketches of life with my parents. I hope that you enjoy getting to know them just a little bit.

My mom has been growing this ivy for 5 years. It’s hanging down from their second floor balcony!

Dinnertime Talk

While eating, my mom jumps up to call a friend as if remembering something vitally important. She squints at the large buttons on the cordless phone and pushes each number with purpose. I assume her friend answers because my mom starts speaking in her telephone voice, which is at least 10 decibels above normal conversation volume. The sound traverses the room and rebounds off the perfect white walls of my parents’ newly built townhouse.

As I tune in to her side of the conversation, she is telling the friend that a particular sauce, of soy sauce and scallions in hot oil, would be delicious on a batch of pickled turnip strips that she had dropped off earlier that day. Knowledge imparted, she hangs up without much warning. I’m used to this, having been effectively hung up on many times in the past, when she decides that everything has been said and forgets the formality of a goodbye. For my mom, a phone call is an action item, not a leisurely activity.

Before I finish chewing the bite that I had just placed in my mouth when she left the table, she is back and laughing at how slowly I eat.

Karaoke and the Neighbors

My father loves to sing karaoke. They have a complex system, complete with speakers as tall as small children, woofers and sub-woofers, whatever that means, and four or five control panels with more tiny switches and knobs than I’d imagine a spacecraft would need. This system is set up in their basement where it is ice-cold and, for some reason, where a full family room and formal dining room are also set up. It looks nice but, even on the hottest day in the deepest part of summer, it feels like the inside of a walk-in freezer. So my dad dances while he sings to stay warm, flicking the cord of his golden microphone every so often to avoid tangles and to show me how it (it being showmanship) is done.

For five of the six nights that I was home, my dad sang karaoke loudly and late into the night. Some days, he sang and danced in the morning to “get the blood moving” when he woke up. Since my parents live in a semi-detached townhouse, and the machine is flush against the one connecting wall, I wondered what the neighbors thought of this habit. They never seemed to make a noise, but I saw their cars parked out front regularly so they were home often enough to witness this ritual.

I started to theorize that they were ruthless kidnappers holding hostages next door and only showing up to feed them enough to keep them alive. In which case, I hope that one day a kidnapper will be careless enough to drop or leave his cell phone within reach of the most intrepid hostage, who will then be able to describe the loud Chinese songs filtering through from the neighboring condo. My parents, being somewhat of a Brangelina-style celebrity couple within the local Asian community, would quickly be identified as the melodious background noises in question, thereby guiding the police to the townhouse in time to rescue everyone. My dad would be a hero!

Of course, the other option is that the neighbors are gradually building up a passive-aggressive grudge against my parents and will one day retaliate by putting a microscopic scratch on the side of their prized black BMW. It is the one thing my mother fears most. I’m more inclined to believe the kidnapper scenario though. Mainly because the neighbors drive a black SUV and a large white van, both with tinted windows. Quite incriminating.

Gettin’ Some W & W

What a week! I didn’t even go out for Halloweekend. I just hung out with my wigs and skulls at home.

You know how some people always need R & R? Turns out I need W & W: writing & working out. Despite the hectic work schedule, I’ve started making time for those two things again. It makes a huge difference and actually makes my work better, too.

To force myself back into a steady writing schedule, I joined a Meetup group called Shut Up and Write! After a few minutes of introducing ourselves, everyone abides by the rules and writes continuously for an hour or more at each meeting. I’ve gone to two meetups already and am loving it. It’s so much easier to be productive around other productive people, instead of hanging out with my tv. (Although I have to say that the new seasons of New Girl and Community are really making tv time worthwhile, too.)

On the workout front, I’m keeping up with the footballing. Our team played the last game of the season on Thursday. I’ve been improving every week, so I psyched myself up to really make a difference this time. And I did! Not only did I pull my first flag off an enemy player, I pulled two. Both were from guys, so I was equal-opportunity about it. And the highlight was that I stopped a runaway touchdown run. The guys said that we’ll be practicing in the off-season, so I’m hoping to go pro in like, one maybe two years. Be sure to add me to your fantasy football leagues!