Friday, February 1, 2008

How does another Star live?

Inspired and completely amused by my father-in-law's recounting of the humdrum of his day, here's my version of a typical weekday.
6-7AM: Either my mother or Josh brings my gigantic 22 lb baby into my bed and I feed her while I'm half asleep.
7-7:30AM: My gigantic baby is writhing aggressively in our bed, wanting to play. I try to stay away because I don't want her to kick me in the stomach but at the same time, I have to stay close to protect her from falling off the bed.
7:30-7:40AM: Mad rush to get ready for work. I'm still half asleep.
7:40-7:45AM: My older daughter, mother, my nanny and I exchange some hugs and benign pleasantries and I leave to go to work.
VARIATIONS: My nanny drives me to the train. My older daughter and gigantic baby are both in bed with me, my husband tries to rouse me from a deep sleep, etc.
The next eight hours go by in a blur because I'm at work.
5:45PM: I walk in the door at home and my older daughter feeds me her current favorite lie: You sleep by yourself (she means, I slept by myself, but it's not true).
5:45-6PM: Eat whatever scraps I can find like a barbarian. Talk with mouth open (just kidding)
6-7PM: Eagerly wait for the arrival of my husband, play with Sadie and Dazee, try to con Sadie to drink her milk and finish up her dinner. VARIATION: some nights, I make dinner.
7-7:30PM: Get Sadie bathed and feed Dazee.
7:30-8:30PM - My husband and I take turns in comforting the children. We switch off, back and forth, praying for them both to shut up and go to bed.
9PM - Hopefully by now they're both asleep, so I can do any of the following: ignore my husband because he's watching TV, nag him about something, blog, eat more, go shopping or window-shopping online or in a store, exercise or maybe talk to my husband.
Sometime between 10:00-11:PM: Feed Dazee
Sometime between 10:30-11PM - Yikes! Where did the time go. How did I waste two hours doing nothing? I have to take a shower, wash my hair, blow dry it, floss and brush my teeth. Can I do this in less than 20 minutes so I can get to bed? I curse myself for not being in bed sooner.
Sometime between 11PM - 11:30PM: Hopefully I'm in bed, clean and refreshed. Now I'm ready to talk to my husband and I tell him I love him and that I'm so glad to be married to him.
Within 2 seconds of his head hitting the pillow, he's asleep and sometimes he snores.
I toss and turn for anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours and then I drift off.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yes, love is for sale!

The Ritz Carlton in Orlando is the pimpiest hotel ever! I told one person my name and soon after, scores of nice and maybe even sycophantic employees started chirping, Hi Miss Star! out of nowhere and everywhere. I was like a celebrity.
I asked a hotel staff member, where can I get a plate for the buffet lunch. I'll bring it to you Miss Star. I asked if there was soymilk. There wasn't. I said that I would be fine with water. But a few minutes later, a glass of soymilk was magically produced. I couldn't get ice out of the ice machine and a cleaning lady happened to be in the area. So I asked her about it and she offered to get ice for me from another floor. I asked someone else where I can find an ice bucket, she offered to deliver one for me or go with me back to my room to show me where to find it. When I first arrived, four men swooped down and offered to bring my luggage up, escort me to the elevator bank and press the elevator button for me. On my way out of the hotel, I realized I needed a plastic fork to eat my breakfast on the go. They were going to produce silverware for me to take with me, but I declined. I did help myself to an apple in the beautiful display of fruits, water and Gatorade that they had in the front with a nice sign: Welcome back joggers and runners!
I flagged down an employee so I could grill her about how hotel staff are inculcated with the Ritz culture and spirit. Turns out the interview process is mind boggling -- she had over 5 hours of interviews and met more than 10 people. And once you join, you go through a rigorous training program that the Ritz even provides to other companies as a money making service. She told me that the name thing is something they strive for, they have to greet guests that are within 20 feet by name; it creates magic and mystique and that's what 5 star service is all about. Have a nice day Miss Star! she tells me after we part. And that totally freaked me out.

Keeping up with the Jones

It seems like I'm cursed to a life of inconvenience and minor frustrations when it comes to giving people my name. I had a 14 letter long last name which meant that every now and again I had to put up with nincompoops who insisted I spelled my name wrong. I don't know why the obvious doesn't occur to them: I spelled my name right but they heard me wrong.
I've always had very little pride in my name, always wishing for a non-ethnic, easily understood name like Smith or Jones.
So when the opportunity came, I happily switched from a 14 letter long last name to Star.
Even though my newly minted last name is short, it's still prone to misunderstandings. Sfar? Whether it's for a credit card inquiry or a car service request, I have to say my name multiple times or even spell it. Today, spelling it didn't even matter because they couldn't find me in the system. I was furious. Turns out, she thought I spelled Spfar. Even though I said Star like in the night sky. I thought about this a lot from the ride home from the airport. I think to be clear, I need to say, Star, like twinkle twinkle little star.
My poor mother has more issues than me with her name and on top of that people don't understand her when she gives our address. GRAND! she yells. They always hear or come up with some ridiculous street name, with no similarity to Grand. You have to hand it to all these creative-think-outside-the-box types. So my mom tries to rectify the misunderstanding by shouting, GRAND, like BIG! But that doesn't help because she mispronounces big. I told her to say, Grand, like Grand Central. She says that that has been effective.
So I'm going to bank on using twinkle twinkle little star, unless you can come up with something shorter or more effective.

Thanks world!

Having kids has made me happier and sappier.
I was thinking about the quote - it takes a village to raise a child...
I've had so many mishaps and misadventures while nursing and with each situation, I've had to ask and rely on the help and kindness of strangers. A sampling:

1. My flight was delayed one hour today, which freaked me out. I'm used to nursing or pumping about every 4 hours. I knew I was going to be engorged even without the delay, with the arrive at the airport an hour before, baggage claim and all that other non-sense. But an extra hour would mean something like 8 hours without pumping. I delicately explained my situation to the lady at the Continental counter. She couldn't really do anything about it, felt sorry for me, gave me a $6 meal voucher and told me about a bathroom that had an outlet. So that wasn't too bad, privately sitting on a dirty toilet, making milk for my baby and thinking about what to buy for $6. [I got a sugar free chocolate bar for my grandma and a dark chocolate square for my husband]
2. I once forgot to bring the AC adapter to my electric pump while at a company function in a hotel. I had a few employees scrambling to find something and in the end they did produce it. Hurray!
3. The best thing really is having the confidence to tell anyone I meet what I do and getting them to help me. A few times I had to ask hotel or other staff if they could put something in the fridge for me. It's sometimes met with a little suspicion. Like maybe they think I'm a crazy or frivolous person: I NEED to have my kit kat bar at a certain temperature or need to keep some weird flammable chemical stable. So I tell them in a voice like I'm talking to a confidante that it's breastmilk. Then it either makes them smile or really uncomfortable. But in the end, they always follow through with the request.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

For all you daily followers

I'm going to be in Florida for a day and a half, so no blogging until either Thursday or Friday. Unlike BKNY, this is not a tease, I'm really taking a break tomorrow. I have two new posts below. Enjoy!

Raised to follow the herd

Every time I've heard the Shakespearean quote, "To thine own self be true", I never felt like whoa, now that's a pearl of wisdom. When I graduated from high school, some people had even used that quote in their yearbook entry. Again I was uninspired.
About a year and a half ago, a senior person in my company was leaving a division just when I was starting. I had a lot of respect for him and felt sad to see him go. He gave me these parting words as advice, "Be true to yourself." He gave some examples of what he meant but again I wasn't moved by it. I felt like he was making a big deal about sharing a cliche.
Recently, something happened at work that was weighing me down. I felt like I had to speak up even though it was very difficult for me to do so because it would mean contradicting my boss and other superiors. I reasoned and rationalized why it might be best to stay quiet - it's lose lose, they'll only think less of me and nothing will come of it; I won't be able to change their minds; no one likes to be corrected. But I felt so strongly about the situation that I eventually worked up the guts to speak up. I had to make my case over email since everyone was out of the office. After I sent the message, I prepared myself for the worse. It's nerve wracking to send an email, to hang myself out there, not knowing if someone agrees with you, rejects your ideas or whatnot along with not knowing when you might get a response or not. And to my surprise, I quickly got positive results - my boss and others agreed with my reasoning to revert the decision.
And then something powerful dawned on me; I was true to myself. I couldn't have lived with myself if I didn't say something. But by the same token, it would have been so easy to do nothing. I'm so proud of myself for being true. I hope this trend continues, having the courage to be myself despite whatever fears, real or perceived.

Redin' and ritin'

For some reason, it really annoys me when people pronounce the first syllable of my name with a short vowel sound: Kass- a- mā . Even more infuriating to me is to do that and skip a syllable: Kass- mā. The worse butchering is to use a harsh z sound, Kaz- mā. I'm not asking for much. I don't expect anyone to say my name with a Thai accent like the French expect people to pronounce French words in a Frenchy way. To me, based on the rules of spelling and phonics, there are two acceptable way to pronounce the first syllable of my name, either with a schwa or a long a sound: Kə- - mā or - -mā. Pronounce it any other way and you've created a lot of scorn and ire within me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Turns his back on TV after he's done

My husband is a person of consistence. He is the same person in different situations with different people; he does not compartmentalize himself or his life. He doesn't say what he thinks you want to hear (part of that might be because he doesn't know what you want to hear!). He will make strange noises or sing self-modified children's songs to humor himself at work because he's not embarrassed to be himself. Finally, he is not easily convinced of anything but he won't agree or disagree with you; he'll keep it to himself. On and on, numerous examples of his constancy.
Recently, I discovered something consistently inconsistent about him. He will not admit to this, but he loves to watch TV - TV programs or movies. While he's watching, he's pretty riveted. It's hard to get his attention and he can sit in front of the screen for a long time. From time to time, I might catch a big laugh, a smile or other kinds of positive reactions. Once, while he was watching a comedy, where I could hear him whooping and laughing so hard, I thought he was crying. After it was all over, he tells me scornfully, "That sucked." Recently, he's been glued to Heroes. After the end of each episode, he tells me it wasn't any good. He will repudiate anything he watches even though it is apparent to me that he enjoyed it.