Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Bootie is bootie

Monday, April 13th, 2009

I kind of have a big ass for a short Asian girl so I love bootie songs. Every time I see this commercial, it makes me giggle!!

Times are tough

Friday, February 27th, 2009

I am a little stress bunny lately. I realized this morning as I was driving into work that my four year full time anniversary date was the 22nd, and next month I’ll have been with my present employer for 5 years. Five years is the longest I’ve done anything in my adult life. I’ve never been in a relationship that lasted 5 years, I’ve never lived in any apartment for 5 years (though I lived in SF for 5 1/2 years straight before I left and came back). So 5 years at one company is pretty impressive.

I’m lucky to work for such a great place and lucky I have job security, but now that I’m fully vested, I’m somehow more stressed about the future than I was before. Originally I thought I’d have enough money to go back to school for a couple of years and move on to something else, but I realize now that a) I don’t and b) even if I did, I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving my job right now.

Having a partner complicates matters too. It’s one thing to look after myself and only myself, but I worry about the German boy who’s still looking for a job in pretty bleak situation — bad economy and no visa. The near term future is uncertain so the long term future is too, and all of it makes my head whir.

Seven things about me

Monday, January 12th, 2009

I don’t know why I’m doing this because I hate chain mail. But since I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately, and I find this particular thing interesting since it’s been around for over a month (maybe even longer — I only did the quickest of searches) I thought what the hell. My friend and co-worker, Marcus Börger tagged me so here I go. The few of these things I’ve read have been really long. So I’m going to do one short and sweet and only list things that I don’t think are posted elsewhere on this particular blog.

  1. I left home when I was 17 (and moved back when I was 19 with a baby)
  2. I almost named my son Mountain (I spared him the potential torment and used it as his middle name). “River” and “Leaf” were also on the short list.
  3. In high school I won a summer scholarship at a local art college — my teacher entered one of my drawings in a contest. But I ended up spending that summer in rehab and never really drew again.
  4. From the time I was little, I always thought I’d grow up to be a surgeon — I even had the tattoo picked out for when I finished med school. But then I went to my first day in my first college level fiction writing class and it was all over.
  5. I’m really fascinated with and enamored of extreme bondage.
  6. Charles Gatewood once asked me to model for him. But I was more impressed with the fact that he remembered me and where he met me over 5 years later when I ran into him at Writers with Drinks in 2008.
  7. I love making crafts: beads, cards, knitting, sewing, jewelry. In my new home, I have a little room entirely dedicated to crafts :)

Now I’m supposed to paste these rules and the next 7 bloggers I wish to torment:

  • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post – some random, some weird.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter. (I just emailed them — hope that’s not cheating)

My seven people are mostly people I know, and a couple I don’t know at all, but would love to hear 7 things from:

I <3 H&M

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

The first time I ever saw an H&M was in Germany so I still call it the “ha & em”. I bought a sweater there (I still have it and wear it sometimes). This past weekend, I was on a mission to buy new jeans and tops. I haven’t bought new clothes in a while and I’ve been wearing the same old ragged shit for…I don’t know, ever. I’ve lost a couple of pounds so I thought I’d treat myself to some clothes.

I only spent an hour in H&M, and I got 4 shirts and a pair of pants for $100 plus tax. So freaking cheap! That’s like almost a whole week’s worth of outfits (if you’re like me and not too picky about how many times you wear the same pair of pants to work in one week :)

Anyway, lately I’ve been more interested in fashion. I’ve been searching for a good fashion blog for a little while now. Once I get a good list, I’ll post it here. It’s funny to think all these years I never really gave a crap about it and now, mid 30s, I start to be interested. I’ve been wondering if part of that is just getting older and feeling like you have to compensate for age with external means of beautifying yourself.

I don’t feel old usually and I’m not embarassed about my age, but I work with a lot of younger people and sometimes I realize…my god, I’m like 8 years older than this person!

But you know, your body changes, your skin changes, your hair turns white. You can’t help age. Aging’s been great for me and my girlfriends though. A good friend of mine pointed out last night when I was whining about my fashion fetish that our girl friends have gotten more and more attractive as they’ve gotten older. I hope he meant me too :)

Been out of touch (but you shouldn’t care)

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I know it looks like I had a blog explosion happen last night, but I’d been sitting on those two blog entries (Oahu and noodle bar) for almost a month and a half or longer. I decided last night I had to birth them or they’d never get posted.

I’ve, again, seriously been considering dropping this blog. I was poking around on the Alexa site the other day and looked up my three websites. This one is ranked the lowest. The one that’s ranked the highest of the three (at just below 600,000) hasn’t been updated in six years — six years! And my old blog is between the two and it hasn’t been updated in 4-5 years.

Which only seems to validate my new theory that personal blogs are insanely boring. I’ve virtually stopped reading personal blogs. And when I do get the energy to visit one, I almost immediately give up and surf away. It doesn’t matter how great or shoddy the writing. It doesn’t matter if I know the person well or don’t. The funny thing is that I used to be fascinated by personal blogs.

Now I’m interested in content blogs. The reason my old websites rank higher than this one is because they actually have real content. And it seems that even though it’s ancient and oudated content, it still drives traffic. More traffic than my puny little life ever will.

All this thinking though has generated enough energy in me to start a couple of new blogs (cause one just isn’t enough!). A health blog, and the blog I’ve been wanting to do for years now. My top secret, money making cash cow as it were. It’s not live yet, but goddamn it, it will be. I’d link to the health blog, but it’s my food diary and workout log — it’s even more boring than this blog so I’m not even going to tempt you into visiting it.

The cure all

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

There’s nothing a hot tub, a bath bomb, and Nine Inch Nails can’t make better. Uplifting? No. But dark contemplation and a sense of relief and relaxation? Yes.

I won’t let you fall apart
We’ll find the perfect place to go where we can run and hide
I’ll build a wall and we can keep them on the other side

Relationships are complicated things. My sister got robbed at gunpoint in Oakland just recently and it scared the hell out of me to hear her tight little voice on the phone just after it happened and I didn’t even care about it — about everything she’d lost — all I could think after I realized she was safe, was that she was safe. They didn’t hurt her and she was safe. And what a vulnerable place that is — loving someone so much that you’d give anything for her safety.

We’re in this together now

None of them can stop us now.

When it comes down to giving things up and making decisions, everything’s a compromise. A setting aside of one thing for another. Someone told me once that every time you make a decision, you grieve for the things you decided against. Maybe I’ve mentioned it before because it’s been stuck in my head ever since, but she’s right. You give up one thing to pursue something else and it’s a loss, and a part of you grieves for what could have been. In love, in careers, in life and life threatening situations, you can’t have everything you want…you wouldn’t possibly know what to with it all.

It didn’t turn out the way you wanted it do, did it

My two favorite albums are The Fragile (Left) and Things Falling Apart. I love all of Trent Reznor’s music, but these two albums let me sink into myself and let my thoughts run their course.

Do you know how far this has gone?
Just how damaged have I become?

You have the wrong email address

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

I’m amazed at the amount of mis-addressed email I get. I get a lot of spam, including email from places where people have signed up with my email address — that’s my favorite. Every week I have a few people trying to recover the password for “their” email address from gmail — they clutter my inbox, but I can just ignore them. Then I get people emailing me just to see if the address if valid — just ignore those as well. And then I get a lot of mis-mailed email. Sometimes someone has typoed the address, or left off the rest of the email address (like black.kat@gmail, or kat.kramer@gmail, etc), but the most amazing thing to me is people who email other “close” people with the wrong email address, or important emails that get mis-mailed to me — like emails about insurance claims, rents not being paid, or all the business docs that people send me.

I got an email the other day from a poor mom practically begging her son to email her and dad. She said dad was bummed to not be able to get a hold of his son in his times of need. It was sad, but seriously — how do you not know your own son’s email address?! And really, his name is Kat? Maybe that’s why he doesn’t get in touch with you.

Sometimes I email people back and tell them they have the wrong email address. Like if it sounds like they’re looking for some long lost friend, or it’s a really cute and sincere email and I feel bad they won’t get a response from whoever they meant to really email. Or if it sounds like something important — business related or something like that. I had someone once explain to me, no — you know — the PG&E rebate for the air conditioner, after I told her I wasn’t the Kat she was looking for. No, seriously, I don’t have an air conditioner and you’re emailing the WRONG address!

Another reason I’m a girl

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Another Bay to Breakers under our belts — this year is my boyfriend’s first. I think Tucker’s first, too. I spent the day entirely too sober. In fact, half way through I was thinking to myself that I never wanted to do this again.

This is one of my favorite costumes (seen early in the day):

The humans are dead; We poisoned their asses

Tucker was trashed, and Ed was trashed and sans his wife. Normally Ineke keeps him occupied and happy, and without her, he’s a little boy. The boys got into a tussle at one point and even when I know they’re messing around, I can’t stand to watch it — I can’t stand the idea that someone might get hurt. Tucker kept telling me what a good mommy I was the entire trip and I thought oh god…I’ve devolved to this…mommying my male friends.

This year there were a couple of nasty episodes — perhaps every year there is ugliness and I’ve never noticed before because I’ve been intoxicated. It makes sense that tens of thousands of drunk people must result in some nastiness. But it turned me off to the whole thing. But next year will roll around and I’m sure I’ll forget and we’ll be here again, in our dirty bathrobes, walking up the hill with a bunch of drunks and the giant floats they’re pushing into our ankles. (Pictures to come shortly).

One of the boys

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

My boyfriend works on a ship so he comes and lives with me for a month at a time. We’ve been together eight months but have only been in the same country for just over 11 weeks in total.

One of the things I realized on his last trip was that one of the reasons I fight relationships is because I want to keep being one of the guys. I don’t want my boyfriend to take my place in my circle of guy friends! I don’t want to miss hanging out with them because he’s hanging out with them. I don’t like the idea that guys night out will actually only be for guys and not include me anymore.

The other thing I realized was that I’m being slowly edged out of the guy group whether I have a boyfriend or not. And after thinking about it for a while I realized that it’s been happening for a while now and I’m ok with it. I like hanging out with the girls — I actually prefer them. I was out with the boys one night last week and it was 3 of them and me (including my boyfriend) and they were talking about their bachelor party weekend and whatnot and I was bored! Partly because I’d heard all the stories before, but partly because there were no other women to goof on the men with me or to counter with bachelorette party stories with.

I don’t know why it is that as I get older I care more about my clothes and my earrings and my makeup and making aprons and photo albums and pretty little table settings. Good god, if I’d known this was what I’d turn into when I was 17, I probably would’ve cried my little heart out and tried to extinguish myself. But here I am, 17 years later and I’m having fun. And I’m a girl, goddamnit, a real honest to god girl and I never would have guessed it, but I like it.

Your friendly serial killer

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

I’ve been absorbed in Dexter, the Showtime series about the blood forensics expert/serial killer. I love this criticism of the media buzz around Dexter on the Media Research Center’s site (a conservative group). I found it humorous.

I’ll admit to having a long time fascination with serial killers. I used to read true crime novels (those hideously unliterary little mass market books) when I was a kid and was always especially interested in the serial killers — the ones that were compelled to repeat their rituals over and over and over again. I see in my son this same fascination with death. The last time he was here he picked up a death encyclopedia. I told him he could pick between that and a coloring book on brain anatomy (we were at Paxton Gate). I was hoping to color the amygdala with him and talk about anatomy or something foolishly educational. Of course, he chose the book that catalogued different ways people died and when (which, btw, he’s learned quite a lot from), and I picked up a black and white photograph of what looked like a pile of dead dolls.

My fascination with murderers is partly why I love crime dramas. Though I also love them because each episode is discrete — you don’t have to watch an entire season to get it. Sure, there are some insignificant narratives that arc through a season, but I’m only interested in the crime. That human relationship stuff always makes me impatient.

Last night, I saw the most gruesome CSI episode: Pirates of the Third Reich. Why is it that every strong, independent, intelligent, attractive woman on TV just happens to own a pair of knee high black leather boots and a matching bull whip for just the right occassion? Like whipping your daughter’s murderer to death. The episode was about a methodically organized serial killer (much like Dexter). And in both the CSI episode and the Dexter series, there is just enough gore to be a little scary, but not enough to make me turn away.

The thing with Dexter is that he really doesn’t seem that off. The things he thinks aren’t so foreign to me. I was thinking tonight how it’s a little like anthropomorphizing an animal. Not that I would equate a human being to, say, a cat, though arguably you could say that by society’s standards, serial killers aren’t “human”. But, it’s a little like that — attributing feelings and thoughts to something, a person in this case, that don’t actually exist. But in the series, Dexter’s desire to fit in, to live a normal life — isn’t that what we all want? Maybe it’s harder for some of us than for others, or maybe I don’t understand your average person very well, or god forbid, maybe I’m giving away too much about myself when I say that I can relate to what that character thinks. I feel like he’s just a lonely, longing person who feels like he’s missing something, play acting through life, a different mask for different situations, and I think many of us have felt the same way. And I think that’s the point the show is making — that he’s a serial killer, but he’s still just a person like you and me.

The cinematography is gorgeous. The scenes from the opening credits make the mundane look threatening and murderous. It’s like an mini allegory for the entire series. And you would have never thought that a butchered, bloodless body wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine could be beautiful. But I promise you, it is.

Dreaming about mom

Monday, September 10th, 2007

I dreamt about my mother last night. I haven’t done that since she died. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that — I can’t recall ever dreaming about her, but it’s hard to remember dreams anyway.

I remembered it vividly while I slept, but now all I remember is that I dreamt that she came back from the dead and was sitting at a table with us talking about dying. In the dream, I so heartbroken. I was crying in my sleep and I woke up in the middle of the night crying.

I think it affected my entire day. I wanted to stay isolated, dwelling on my own thoughts. And now, for the first time in many weeks, I feel lonely, like I’m missing something.

The other day I saw a hummingbird on my patio for the first time since I’ve lived here. My plants are doing awesome on the patio and are blooming like crazy right now. Some of the plants I took from my mother’s garden are blooming for the first time since I’ve had them. This weekend, I looked out on the patio and saw a hummingbird in the geraniums. My sister thinks that when a hummingbird visits her, it’s mom. I don’t believe that but because she does, whenever I see one, I think of both her and my mom.

For me, there are multiple types of “writing”. There’s my hardcopy journal, my blog, my fiction, and then long personal emails. And each pulls at me at different times. I think I write in my journal and send personal emails least often, my fiction second, and my blog first. But fiction’s moving on up. I want it to win out over all the others. I dragged myself out of almost sleep last night and this morning to start a new story. Answering the call to write is natural now in a way that hasn’t been for a long time. And it keeps me sane and content and hopeful in a way I haven’t felt in a long time either.

My son, the jock

Friday, September 7th, 2007

My son called me yesterday just after his first water polo practice and I was so proud of him! Not because I want him to be some high school jock, but precisely because he’s not. I’ve tried to encourage him to exercise, to moderate what he eats and to make healthier choices. I try to lead by example and hope that my passion for running and vegetables gets ingrained in his brain and sprouts new neurons that help associate running -> mom -> good.

Treading water for a long time is hard. Even more so for someone who isn’t in physical shape. He just had his first practice but they have their first game this week. And he doesn’t have to play if he doesn’t feel comfortable, but he said he thought he’d give it a shot anyway.

He just started high school, too, so I was asking how he liked it. He says he’s getting pushed around. Walking down the hall, someone’ll just push him against the lockers. Being a girl, I didn’t know this kind of torment in high school. I think there was some mild freshman hazing in band (yes, I was in my high school band), but it was nothing. Is that because you’re the new kid? Yeah. So I guess it’s happening to your friends, too? No, just me. Porsch (his older sister) thinks its because of the way I dress. Cause they’re all gangsters.

Oh, it made my heart cringe! I was picturing him in my head in his clothes and wondering what about them might be offensive — a futile exercise really because what do I know about what’s in the minds of today’s teenagers? Not to mention teenagers growing up in a different environment than I did. I didn’t even know what was in their minds when I was one of them.

Are you going to join a gang? No, mom, why would I do that?

I’m proud of him because he’s strong and makes do. Like I do. You learn what lessons you can, then move on. Not to say that nothing gets to you and that things don’t end up festering in your heart, but there’s a resilience that makes even the worst of things bearable enough to get through. Because if they weren’t, you’d end up crazy or dead. High school isn’t forever, but it always seems like it is.

The kindness of strangers

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

I’ve had the nicest (and funniest) experience with strangers the last two days. Last night when I got to the 24th and Mission Bart station from SFO, I stopped at my favorite burrito place to eat and went outside to stand near the bus stop to have a cigarette before I hailed a cab home. As soon as I had my cigarette lit, someone came up to me and offered me a ride home. I saw him before I went in to eat, and he looked and seemed friendly and I didn’t get any creepy vibes at all, so I said yes. He ended up being as friendly as I suspected he might be — we talked about work and where we lived and riding motorcycles on Skyline. As we got closer to home, I was worried he’d ask for my number, but he didn’t — just gave me the name of the place he worked at in case I ever wanted to stop by.

This morning, I was sitting on the bench in front of Hahn’s Hibachi on Castro (around the corner from my shuttle stop because I didn’t want to be smoking in front of my colleagues), and I had a bunk book of matches from the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas and couldn’t get the damn thing lit. Every time I’d strike a match, it’d flare up, then immediately die. As I’m struggling with the matches, this guy comes up to me and offers to help light it and takes the book of matches from me. I told him thanks, but the matches were bunk, so he takes four at a time, fails in lighting them, then acquiesces that I was right. I ask if he’s got a lighter by chance and he says no, but wait — I’m going to get that lit for you (though you shouldn’t be smoking those anyway) and takes off. I thought he’d gone away so I snuck into the doorway of Hahn’s Hibachi and again, try the matches, but then he returns with a lighter and lights my smoke. I think he went to Walgreens two doors down to buy a lighter to light my cigarette. So I thank him profusely and he walks away again. Then I’m sitting on the bench, holding a bunch of used matches in my fingers (cause god forbid I litter), reading my book, enjoying my smoke, and he walks by again and grabs the burnt out matches out of my hand as he passes to toss them out! I thanked him again.

I love that movie, Pay It Forward because it’s touching and beautiful and because I think it would actually work. Because random acts of kindness engender other random acts of kindness. After that guy lit my cigarette this morning, I picked up some trash lying in a flower pot I was sitting next to. Perhaps it doesn’t seem kind, but I don’t know if I would’ve noticed the paper sack wrapped beer can or would have thought to throw it away if it hadn’t been for that stranger. And I’ve been thinking about these two things that happened to me recently because I consider myself a kind person, but how often do I go out of my way to do something nice for someone I don’t know — not often at all. But I’m rethinking that.

Since we’re on the topic of strangers…I had funny thing happen to me tonight as I was leaving my gym. It was just about 11pm and I saw this attractive couple out in front of the Four Seasons Hotel next to the gym and there’s a guy walking down the sidewalk asking the man if the woman is with him. He responds, yes, and the guy says, You guys are an attractive couple — you look good together, and as I reach him on the sidewalk he turns to me and says, Do you know where you’d look good? No, where? In my bed. And I start laughing! Not in a cruel, mocking kind of way (cause that’s mean), but in a genuinely amused kind of way (because I am). And he says, in the lingerie I’d have picked out for you, you’d look scrumptious, man! Scrumptious! Fresh peals of laughter, and a thank you. That made my night :)

The nicotine patch is evil

Friday, August 31st, 2007

I have never been able to kick my nicotine addiction. I’m always either smoking or trying to quit. Except I never really try that hard. Instead of quitting smoking, what I’ve actually done is replaced cigarettes with nicotine patches that I supplement with the occassional cigarette. And if I feel like getting back into full on smoker mode, I just stop wearing the patch for a week or two. Then get back on it.

I think what the patch has done for me is actually worse than what would’ve happened to me without it. Not only is it a crutch (actually more like a cane) that helps me get through withdrawl, but it’s an artificial “out” that lets me allow myself to smoke whenever I please — because it’ll be easy to quit; just get on the patch! And surely, I tell myself, being on the patch all the time is better than smoking every day.

Without the patch, I’d either still be smoking a pack+ a day towards inevitable death, or would have tried quitting several times before (hopefully) succeeding to slow down in my approach to inevitable death. Right now, I’m in this middle ground where I’m not a real smoker, and I’m not a real quitter, and I have no idea what my death stats are.

I think part of my problem is I have an inflated and false sense that I am safer from the cancer causing effects of smoking than most other smokers. Because I work out regularly, because there is no family history, because other people in my family smoke. I’m not afraid of it. The more dangerous and risky a drug is, the easier it is to use the fact that you don’t want to die as the impetus to quit for good and never look back. An overdose is immediate, and guaranteed if you overindulge. Overindulge in cigarettes and maybe you’ll get diarrhea and a bad stomach cramp and headache (I’m making those symptoms up). Dying from cigarettes takes time. Too long to be a deterrent.

I read this article the other day about how most mouth and throat cancers have decreased as expected with the reduced rates of smoking. Except for those at the base of the tongue and tonsils. They think it’s caused by HPV (the genital warts virus). Now, if you had to choose, would you want to tell your mother you had throat cancer from a) giving head or b) smoking? Ding, ding ding! I choose smoking.

The joy of writing

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

The weeks that I have to turn in a story for my writing group are good because they force me to email out something that’s somewhat “complete”. I haven’t turned in anything longer than 3 pages and none of them I could really consider complete, but that I’m writing fiction at all is a delicious thing.

Lately I come home at night and I’m compelled to write and it feels good. I was talking to a good friend tonight about how when you hate work, it’s a really tough thing because you spend so much of your time there. And until fairly recently, I was miserable at work for many months. And all that time I was trying to sort out what it was I wanted to do next. I have a lot of interests, I considered a lot of different things, but in the end what I love and have always loved is writing. The only reason I haven’t pursued it is because I’m scared. I look at what Marg has done, and what Ineke is planning to do, and look at the other independent women on the periphery of my life, and I find what they’ve done, or are working on, inspiring. Fear is a silly thing to let get in the way of something you really want to do.

Now that I have a long term goal — something I haven’t had since I moved to San Francisco — I’m content. I’m still not crazy about work, but everything’s tolerable when you know you’re working towards something better.

I haven’t really written fiction since I graduated college. I half assed wrote one complete, new story when I applied to graduate writing programs years ago, but nothing since then. My new stories lately weave in bits and pieces of my real life in a way that’s entirely new to me. My stories in college were complete fictions, and while imaginative, are completely different from the stories I’ve been writing lately. It’s still fiction, but drawing on the pieces of my nonfiction experience has been interesting.

I obsessively read over a submission several times before I hit send. Part of it is the editorial process, and the other part is just hearing it over and over again in my head because it pleases me, and because I’m trying to hear if it’ll please other people, too. So many people know I write and so few have read any of my fiction. Somehow it’s ok to present it to less initimate people to critique, and scarier to give it to someone you care about to read. An intimacy and trust I’m not confident enough for. Yet.

Revisiting the accident

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

To attend Grandma’s birthday, we were driving on the freeway my mom died on today and it’s a regular drive for my sister, but it’s only the 2nd time I’ve driven it since my mom’s accident over a year and a half ago. As we were driving home, I was watching the side of the road wondering how the hell she drifted off into the dirt shoulder when the asphalt shoulder is so wide, but then it narrows and I imagine that must be where.

In my obsessive post death search for anything related to my mom, I found a callous post on some usenet group about her accident and it made me so upset. Just a couple of days ago, I happened across it again unintentionally and it incited some old anger in me. But it quelled pretty quickly. Death is so commonplace — it’s meaningless unless it’s personal. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, over 39,000 people die a year in fatal car accidents in the U.S. (at least back in 2005 and trending upward every year). And according to the CDC, motor vehicle fatalities were only about 0.02% of all fatalities per year in the U.S between 1988-1992 (source: Atlas of United States Mortality), though motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of injury death in the U.S. (between 1979-2004).

At over 2 million deaths a year, that averages out to close to 6000 deaths per day (rounding liberally).

It’s been long enough that I can start weaving the story of her death into my stories. Bits and pieces of that whole experience (most of which I’ve blogged here) will color both the fiction and nonfiction I write for probably the rest of my life. One random death on one day like any other, but this one was my personal death.

Ethical investing

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

I admit that in the past I have made my stock purchases based on sentimentality. Well, I say in the past, but it’s really my only method. I’ll do the research to make sure it’s a sound company to invest in, but my heart does the picking first. A couple of weeks ago I was trying to pick some new companies I wanted to own stock in and someone suggested Starbucks (SBUX). My immediate reaction was no. But from a financial standpoint, Starbucks is a sound investment, and one of my financial management company’s top 25 picks year after year. They grow, they make money, they’re a great company for any investor.

I’ll admit that I ignorantly dislike Starbucks. I have always preferred to support small, local companies and somehow hold it against the coffee giant for being everywhere. If there’s another coffee place around, I’ll purposely not go to Starbucks so I can frequent the other place. I visit my local Tully’s instead of Starbucks in Noe Valley — and yet, as a friend pointed out — exactly how local and small is Tully’s?

I can’t imagine investing in a company that I purposely avoid, but if the returns are good… Now that I have a small chunk of money for the first time in my life, it’s interesting to me how tempting it is to just invest in successful companies without regard to their practices. I would really, really like to invest in Nike. But the unresolved sweat shop stuff makes me uneasy.

I now know that Starbucks, on the other hand, is known for its corporate responsibility (though lately it’s had some labor union issues). It treat employees well, supports local communities, supports coffee farmers, etc., etc. I made myself walk into Starbucks last week and took notes on all its splendor: the ethical water, organic free trade coffee, the little stand with stuffed polar bears and walruses that said, “what you do at home can save their lives.” All that and they support local artists (Irene Hendrick’s prints were up on the wall). I had a vanilla latte there while I waited for my shuttle, and couldn’t help but think that “corporate responsibility” and “environmentally friendly” were trendy now. Have you been to your local book store lately and browsed the new releases section? Not that this doesn’t make these efforts less important or disingenuous, but would as many companies be trying and would it be so easy to do if it wasn’t so popular? Supply and demand — walk through your local grocery store. Sometimes I wonder to myself, are all those products labelled environmentally friendly, organic, healthy, low fat really what they claim to be?

I chose not to invest in Starbucks. I opted for one of PowerShares’ alternative energy ETFs (PUW), along with a couple of other sentimental choices. But I’m glad I did the Starbucks research — now I can buy my Starbucks coffee with no guilt, knowing that they’re out there trying to save the world and all.

Privacy in the future?

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

I cleaned up this blog several months ago (not long after my virtual stranger Googling me incident) and deleted all the personal entries that were too personal. I left anything I considered benign, and anything related to my mother, benign or not. Having had a online journal for so long, it’s still an endlessly fascinating subject to me — this need and desire to expose myself on the one hand, yet my concern for privacy on the other.

I’ve been thinking about how differently my son’s generation must view privacy. And I know I’m onto a relevant topic because a friend and expert in this field is seriously considering the implications of this as well. I had my son visiting me for four days and he was talking about myspace and about how they post party announcements there which was an interesting and updated version of the story I heard last week: mom discovers a 15+ year old flyer for a house party at her house while she and dad were away. A printed flyer. I’ll bet you kids don’t print flyers anymore.

Sites like myspace, flickr, youtube, twitter, etc, along with your cell/smart phone mean at any given moment you can broadcast your whereabouts and your whattodos, and can share intimate and assorted details about your personal life for most, if not all, the world to see. And kids do. Without qualms. So when these children become adults, do you think they’re going to be bothered by cashless transactions or FastTrak devices that can tell their friends where they are at any given moment or RFID tagged everything? I think not — these things will only make their lives simpler: gratification faster, information sharing with their pals seamless, and fridges keeping themselves full. Why wouldn’t you want this kind of technology? Who cares if the marketers (and whoever else they want to share information with) know and keep track of everything you buy, or that someone could paint a pretty accurate picture of your life based on your travel history, especially if they tie it with your financial transactions because who in that generation is going to care that every single purchase someone makes will leave some sort of electronic mark?

I feel old and paranoid just talking about it. Everytime I shred a piece of paper with personally identifying information on it, I wonder to myself, why do I bother? Why, when you can look up any one of the x domain names I own and pull up an address? Why bother when my trash can has my address on it? Why, when someone can just steal my mail — who cares about all the credit offers I’ve already shredded when the next one will be stolen before it reaches my mailbox? Just this weekend I received a pin number for a credit card I never received — I wonder where that ended up. And just try not to give your social security number away — everytime I ask someone if they really need it and can’t I provide some other method of identifying myself, there isn’t and I can’t or it’ll take me two extra days — and honestly, most of the time it’s not worth the two extra days for me so I admit it, I’ll give it up pretty easily. Nowadays, identity theft is to be expected. You are now encouraged and expected to anticipate it and to monitor your records and credit reports accordingly. I feel like I’m fighting an endless battle that few people of my generation care about, and far less, if any, of my son’s generation will care about.

What’s left to defend if everything about you is electronically recorded? Soon, you’ll want to and be able to monitor the state of your elderly and forgetful mother, your drug addicted teenager, his thieving friends, your daughter and her questionable sexual behaviour. And then the government will want to, too.

Maybe this generation doesn’t watch or read enough science fiction. Or maybe I’ve read too much.

Still grieving…and I thought I was done

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

It’s been a year and a half now and I realized well after Mother’s Day that I’m not done grieving. And long after I thought I was o.k., I realize I’m not. I still miss her. I finally went to go talk to someone — I told myself I would much earlier, but never got around to it. The weeks before and the weeks after Mother’s Day this year were so bleak and dark that I finally felt myself snap. And I still wasn’t sure it was grief. Just everything else in my life gone wrong.

I’ve never been to a psychologist before and I’m fairly suspect of their efficacy. But I can’t argue the benefit of having someone to talk to that won’t tell anyone else what you’ve told them and that isn’t a part of your normal life. Someone you can share things with that you’ve stopped sharing with your friends and family. Because you’re worried you’ll wear them out, worried of going over the same ground over and over again, and because you don’t even realize that you need to keep covering that ground.

When I called to make my appointment I asked, what do you specialize in?. I figure they must all have something they specialize in. She said she didn’t have a speciality, but dealt mostly with work issues, grief, and life changes. I told her she was perfect and went to see her. I spent half the session talking about my mom and I hadn’t anticipated that. I haven’t told the story of the accident in so long, it was cathartic to retell it and to recall that memory, slightly faded as it was. She told me I should start reading one of the many books I’d bought on grief that I never got around to reading so I started On Grief and Grieving tonight. And the intro is already full of God so I’m skeptical, but it’s also full of dying and that’s cathartic, too.

I got a phone message this week about a car accident my mom was in before her death. And it made me sad and angry. Why do I have to deal with this? Shouldn’t this be over? But I guess life and all its responsibilities go on after death for the rest of us still living.

Death’s been busy in my life lately. I just finished Harry Potter: The Half Blood Prince. It made me sob. I recently joined a new writers group and one of our first stories is about the loss of a son. Haven’t had the heart to read it yet. My sister’s fiance’s stepfather just passed away yesterday. I only met him once, but my heart breaks for his wife.

And me — I don’t want to say goodbye. But I know I have to.

Another Mother’s Day without her

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

Our second mother’s day since her accident. We were at the grave on Saturday and I sat there wondering how much money people spend on flowers for their dead loved ones, how much money have we spent in the last 478 days on flowers for my mother’s grave? And how long are we supposed to keep it up? For the rest of our lives? I don’t begrudge the money (I only rarely am there purchasing the flowers myself), but wonder anyway.

I was at the Korean market 2 weekends ago and I haven’t been in a Korean market in a long time. I sobbed the entire way home. I had foolishly thought that I was over grieving, but that car ride home make me realize how much I still miss having her in my life. And I’ve been thinking about her ever since.

My sister made Josh and I these beautiful picture frames with photos of us with her. Josh showed me his and I started sobbing. It was a picture of her smiling and him so much younger and smaller in front of Burger King. Time slips by too fast: we age, things change in big and small ways and often irreversibly. Josh will never be that small again. My mom will never smile like that again for the camera. Life is a series of heartbreaks and disappointments and sadness. Mixed in with some less morbid stuff that makes those things bearable.

I look at her photo almost every day. The same half smile on her lips, the same almost sad expression in her eyes. Sometimes I ring the hummingbird chimes, tell her photo good morning or good night, touch the things that remind me of her, wear her ring. Sometimes days or weeks go by and I don’t think of her. And other times I can’t stop thinking about her. Sometimes I sob for missing her. But most of the time I’m fine.

It’s mother’s day and I was thinking about my son today and wondering if he worries about me. We were talking about smoking and riding motorcycles this weekend. I don’t want him to do either (not yet with the motorcycle anyway; never with the cigarettes), but I can’t tell him not to. Not when I do both. I wonder if he realizes we want to protect him, and that when we don’t want him to do these things it’s because of our years of experience, not because we want to deny him pleasure. I was thinking tonight that worrying about your child and worrying about your partner are very different things — you can love both unconditionally, but you accept that your partner is an adult and you don’t try to change him. With your child, you want to influence, change, and shape him and wonder how best to do that without taking away his sense of free will. I don’t have a partner right now, and I’m not the most influential person in my son’s life, but I worry about both anyway.