Friday, May 30, 2008

Lost and found: my sanity

Whenever I lose anything important that I use on a daily basis, like a wallet, I always feel shame, despair, regret and helplessness. Recently I lost my cell phone. Predictably, psychological trauma unfolded. For the first 4-5 days, I pretended I knew where it was. Oh I left it in the office or in my coat pocket, I repeated to myself. My husband ignored my self-delusion, sprang to action by activating a new phone for me. Even though I had a new phone, I still had a sinking feeling and felt pangs for the old one. I had a degree of certainty that I lost it either at the NY public library or at Naniwa, a Japanese restaurant. For a few more days, I did nothing to recover my cell phone except fret about it a few times daily. Then by day 10, I started writing down recover cell phone on my to-do list. I still did nothing about it.
Today, day 15, I got the courage to call the library. I got disconnected or hung up on, about six times by their lost and found department. When I finally I got through, I was asked to describe my cell phone. I was at a loss for words. How the fuck do you describe a cell phone? I blathered something unintelligible. Verizon, I shouted (as this is the service provider). Then I helpfully blurted, Motorola. He put me on hold, came back and said, I didn't find anything and then hung up on me. I was at the peak of frustration because I wondered if he didn't find anything based on my very descriptive description or he really went into the lost and found box, encountered a black hole and dutifully reported back the truth to me.
After this unsavory experience, I met Josh and a friend for lunch at Naniwa. As soon as the waitress came by, I relayed to her how I lost a cell phone. I could see Josh rolling his eyes. He pretty much wrote it off and considered it gone. She told me that I should go check with the hostess because they did find a cell phone and do it now before it gets too busy. Excited by this shred of hope, I ran up to the front and told the waitress at the bar that I lost a cell phone. She nodded and told me to go to the coat check guy. I told him about my situation and that I lost it about two weeks ago. He made me feel as if he did have it. After a few minutes of wait time, he came back with a shoe box full of random possessions, like an umbrella and other stuff, each item carefully wrapped up with white printer paper, secured by a rubber band, with a date and Japanese lettering written on them. Cell phone, cell phone, he recited as he rummaged through this box and then he handed me something that looked like a pickle jar. He laughed and I laughed. Then he gave me my cell phone! I was so happy, I wanted to hug and kiss him. And I could tell he was really happy for me too.
I giddily ran back to our table and relayed this wonderful story to my lunch companions. I felt like the people at Naniwa really know how to run a lost and found. Every person at Naniwa that I talked to knew about the cell phone. It was like they have a Town Hall meeting at every opening or closing to talk about all that was found, so that they can provide a reassuring experience to frazzled customers like me. A well run lost and found is a real competitive advantage. I think they should go into a highly lucrative consulting business of how to run a tip top shape lost and found.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gardening - me, uncharacteristically methodical, him, uncharacteristically hasty!

Having worked with Josh a few times in the garden, I can make a hasty conclusion that his approach is more big picture to my tendency to be a perfectionist.
When we planted the cherry tree, he dug a pathetic, shallow hole. I insisted on something deeper. Maybe it's easier for me to be more exacting because I don't have to do the work; in the case of the cherry tree hole, he was forced to make it bigger at my behest.
I don't know if I can change my garden personality. Today for example, I got really upset that he tried to transplant multiple bulbs at one time into shallow holes, while I spent a lot of time preparing a nice trench for them. After that, I gingerly placed each bulb into their new deep home. Because I started working pretty late in the day, I quickly ran out of light and that forced me to stop working. Otherwise, I feel like I could have spent all day staring at my trench trying to perfect it. Similarly, while we were weeding, Josh took out a few of them, in a lackadaisical, half-assed way and then he abandoned the task and quickly moved on (or got distracted) to something else. It was interesting to see this hasty side of Josh, as he's normally a lot more patient and deliberate.
I went to work at full speed, determined to pull them ALL out. I felt a lot of consternation if I didn't do something just right - if the top part of a weed came out but not the roots, I was very critical of myself. After I cleared the area in a major way, I lamented to Josh how I could spend all day weeding this bed and still feel like the job was not done.
My approach was time consuming and inefficient, but doing it any other way made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Take cooking, for instance, he is more of a perfectionist, taking great care in preparing meals, while I'm more of a speed queen.
I have a hypothesis - for activities that we do all the time, maybe because we are more skilled and have more practice, we can and tend to do those with haste or finesse. On the other hand, for activities that are new or occasional, we feel a little intimdiated by the foreigness so we approach them slowly and deliberately like a nerdy beginner. And for the biggest hastiest conclusion of them all -- because I tend to be a hasty person, maybe that means I tend to feel comfortable simplifying everything while people like Josh take the time to consider each situation uniquely? I do feel like I can get to the crux of a situation quickly, in fact, I enjoy forming conclusions from very little evidence. I guess I'd make a poor scientist, because I'd rather spend time intuiting than actually setting up an experiment. Or maybe I just need to figure out areas where I have good intuition, then I can beat out any slow-assed scientist any time. I think I can read into people's emotions and intentions a lot better than Josh. Somehow, I can create a lot of context out of thin air, while he places a lot of emphasis on words. I did read somewhere that words count for only 7% of meaning, things like body language, tone, etc. account for the rest. If that's true, that's good for me, because it's harder for me to pay attention to words. I prefer to read faces and tones.
I think I'm going hastily end my long rambly post.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Border control and immigration

I don't agree with all of Mayor Bloomberg's points in his testimony, made in 2006 to the Senate, but I'm really excited by his plain language, liberalism and realism.

I especially love this passage: "It’s as if we expect border control agents to do what a century of communism could not: defeat the natural market forces of supply and demand… and defeat the natural human desire for freedom and opportunity. You might as well as sit in your beach chair and tell the tide not to come in. As long as America remains a nation dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” people from near and far will continue to seek entry into our country."

New (to us) computer

Our new computer was set up last night! Woo hooo!!!!

I was sitting outside the house, digging up bulbs when the UPS guy made the delivery. From far away, I could make out the super big font on the box, "REFURBISHED", it screamed, flaunting how my husband likes to buy things. I would have thought that the marketers would have had the good sense to spare our fragile egos by not advertising to the world that we buy non-virginal goods. It's stupid, but I did feel a little embarrassed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm not the star

Invariably, in all of our first birthday party pics, the mom is always cut off.

Is the photographer (dad) to blame or is this a fact of life that moms are merely lap props?

I have a lot of evidence, here's the most recent one. Note big sis' hand going in for the center of the daisy, or raisin. The plate that the cake is sitting on was painted by me, while the delicious carrot cake was baked by my mother in law!

The good old days

Last night we made my father in law trudge out an old projector along with boxes and boxes full of slides from over 30 years ago. It was fun to see pictures of Josh and his sister at the same age as my children. I liked seeing the similarities of how the genes got passed down. Daisy looks and acts just like Josh used to!

I don't know if my father in law enjoyed this activity or not - he certainly tried to ruin all the fun. He sat at a distance, was hemming and hawing or frowning the whole time. Not only that, he threatened to throw out all the slides, calling them useless trash. Can you imagine?! Who doesn't enjoy going through old photographs, talking about good memories, pointing out the out-dated cars/technologies, fads and seeing things you didn't see before?

Here are some highlights:
1. The baby car seat that Bailee sat in gave way to some riotous laughter-- it looked like a funny contraption, had a fat rubber tube that restrained her, but best of all, pudgy baby Bailee sat shotgun, facing forward!!!!
2. My mother in law, sporting long flowing hair (which tempted me to get the same carefree romantic hairstyle for myself) to her waist, tending to the garden with her parents. Josh pointed out the cars in the background - so 70s! Even a VW bug bus!!!
3. The baby high chair was made of wood and looked like a piece of furniture, it even had turned legs and a fan back. Nowadays, everything is plastic and made in China. As a side note, I used a nail cutter to cut a hang nail while I was there and noticed how well it worked (not like all the junky nail cutters we own). I flipped it over and saw the engraving, Made in the USA! NOTHING is made in the USA (except my kids) in my house! I'm sure it's over 30 years old, just like everything else in Josh's house.
4. Pictures of the same plant, still alive, from more than 30 years ago, and it grew more than 4 times its height but in the same itty bitty pot!
5. The pre-cursor to my husband's current white, straight and perfect teeth - crooked, chipped and pretty rotten looking. (Aren't I a terrible person?!)
6. My mother in law, jauntily dressed and accessorized while on vacation in Europe. Can you imagine that she walked long days on cobblestone in cute shoes? In comparison, I pretty much look like a slob in my sneaks. I bet her shoes were made in Italy and my Pearl Izumi sneakers are made in China.

Farnk, I don't think you should throw out those slides. Imagine the endless possibilities of entertaining blog entries from poring over them.