Yank Sing: NOT family-friendly (updated for the 2nd time)

So, turns out they were lying. There's still no sign about changing facilities being available. They're going to hear from me again. Sigh...

I received an apologetic phone call and a $50 gift certificate from the restaurant, along with a promise that a sign would be posted in the restrooms offering changing facilities to parents upon request. I haven't yet gone back to the Spear St. location to see if this has been implemented. I did go to the Stevenson St. Yank Sing today for lunch, and the servers were extremely helpful with Alex, finding a spot to store his stroller while we dined. (I'm kicking myself for not checking their restroom to see what the changing table situation was, but hey, the need--thankfully--didn't arise!) Unfortunately, the food wasn't that great, but that's not the point of this post....

I promised to write this post after paying $180 for lunch for 3 adults and 3 kids ages 1, 4, and 7 at Yank Sing Restaurant in San Francisco and still having to change my baby's diaper on the FLOOR of the restroom because of the restaurant's lack of a changing table.

When I very politely asked the manager why there was no changing table, she informed me that there wasn't enough room in the "design" of the stall. I told her that was patently ridiculous; they manage to fit changing tables in AIRPLANE bathrooms, so there's no way one wouldn't fit in this rather capacious, elegant bathroom. She blathered on about something to do with the table that was there being big enough to change a baby, which is also ridiculous since I'm pretty sure there was a plant on it. It was then that I realized she was just trying to get rid of me. She didn't promise to look into it. She didn't assure me it would be taken care of. She didn't ply me with a half-dozen free pork buns to go. She gave me some stupid nonsense and tried to get rid of me. I promised myself I would write a blog post about it.

Too bad I don't get enough traffic to make a difference. But I do vow never again to plan a business lunch there. And I certainly won't take my out-of-town guests there anymore. And there's always Yelp! My dad was already basically boycotting them because of their high prices and predatory serving methods (when you first sit down, they descend upon you with all these high-priced dishes, often offering you two or three servings of each, all the while keeping the cheaper, more filling fare on the elusive carts). They also charge you per person for tea, even if one of those people is an infant who brought his own damn drink!

If only she'd promised to put a changing table in. My friend, mother of the two other children, realized after she'd heard about my trouble that I should have just started changing Alex on the floor of the restaurant. That would have gotten the point across nice and fast.

Two weeks old but no less depressing...

I'm catching up on blogs and saw this post by my friends Benj and Jessica. It's from a NY Times article, and it completely blew my mind:

No, wait. It's believable. In fact, it was easily predictable. Which doesn't make it any less astounding:

The increase in incomes of the top 1 percent of Americans from 2003 to 2005 exceeded the total income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans, data in a new report by the Congressional Budget Office shows.

The poorest fifth of households had total income of $383.4 billion in 2005, while just the increase in income for the top 1 percent came to $524.8 billion, a figure 37 percent higher.

I went to see No Country For Old Men the other evening, and this fact seems somehow related to that movie's themes of desperation and a society gone uncontrollably, savagely wrong. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but I guess I wouldn't be the first to do so. (The bartender at Bender's, where we went for a drink after the film, heard us deconstructing the movie and said her friend had done a complete analysis of the movie as Biblical allegory. I didn't go that far, but I do see the struggle of the poor in this country as a deep root of our societal decay.)

Happy thoughts!


More Knitting, More Working Out, More Momming

Originally uploaded by generaltsao.

Quick update. Nick has started working out, and he's gotten me exercising on the weekends. Last weekend, we ran both days (during Alex's nap). It was hard. I felt horribly squat and out of shape. Exercise always feels great afterward, but running outside in the city makes the "during" particularly difficult.

When we don't have time to run during Alex's naps, we've been taking long walks around the neighborhood. Today we walked up an insanely steep Noe Valley hill, and we had to take turns pushing the stroller. I actually think I got a bit of an upper body workout doing this, so I feel pretty good. The weather has been mostly beautiful--sunny, crisp, and fresh. It's definitely fun for the whole family, especially when Alex wants to push the stroller, which is really cute.

Next up: early morning yoga with Tutu. There's a place right by here that has classes. I hope we can drag ourselves out of our warm beds to make it there sometime, because I'm sure it will feel great.

While I've continued knitting a ton, I haven't made as many hats as I'd anticipated. I'm practicing a lot and learning, so I end up knitting stuff and then unravelling it because it didn't turn out quite right. But it's fun and relaxing, and I have come up with two "gift" hats so far, so that's pretty good. (Luckily, most people I know are foregoing gifts this year, so there's not a ton of pressure for me to come up with too many thoughtful objects...)

Alex is now 15 months old. He's very much a toddler--running around all the time in his little Spider-Man sneakers that light up. He's got a bunch of molars and sleeps completely through the night about 80% of the time. Even though I've really loved every stage of mothering, and I have incredibly fond memories of his being a little blob of a newborn, I do have to admit that it's much easier now that he's more of an independent being. It's nice being able to go out without him, feed him normal food when we're out together, let him run around parks and playgrounds, and communicate with him and seeing obvious evidence of recognition. He's still such a charmer!


More Working Out (and Knitting!) Working Mom

Yesterday I felt so sore, but in that great way that comes from having exercised thoroughly. I tried to keep a good thing going by walking to this knitting class that I'm taking at Imagiknit, which is a 17-minute walk from my house. I walked briskly and felt fantastic, even though it was a very abbreviated session. (Better than nothing, as I'm finding myself saying more and more these days. BTN!)

Perhaps you are wondering how I have time for a knitting class when clearly I do not have time for exercise. Let me just say that even signing up for it was a huge inner struggle--was this really how I wanted to use up my extremely precious "me" time? My coworker Mo, who introduced me to the class, encouraged me, and her enthusiasm tends to be totally infectious. Plus, the class is only four sessions, so it's not exactly a huge commitment. It was hard leaving the house, having only seen Alex for about 45 minutes and hearing his desperate shrieks as he stuck his little chubby legs through the railing above the stairs, trying to come with me, screaming "Ma Ma Ma Ma!!" in that heartwrenching, tragic tone. But Tutu, the ultimate working mom, shooed me away and reminded me not to feel guilty. Off I went into the rainy, blustery San Francisco night.

The class was amazingly fun. The teacher is skilled, helpful, completely cool and also a bit silly. My classmates are really friendly, and the store is filled with gorgeous yarns and helpful people. After the first class, during which I realized that it had been almost TWENTY years since I last knit a stitch, I made at least half a hat out of a beautiful yarn in this very Trinny-and-Susanna-approved color: a deep, rich burgundy. It's soft and wonderful, and though I considered starting off by making a "gift" hat for someone in my life, when I saw the lovely yarn I thought, "Screw it, I'm makin' this hat for my bad self!" (It is "me" time, after all.)

Abandon hope, all ye who encounter me this holiday season. Chances are high you will walk away with a wooly hat.

Today, I didn't really exercise per se, but we did walk a few blocks to dinner. (BTN!) Walking home was extra cute because Alex pushed the stroller and we walked on either side of him. We let him set the pace, and he can walk surprisingly fast. It was darling. The only thing missing from the scene was...a wool hat!


Good Workouts for Real Working Moms?

(This post will double as my entry in the kinda-over-already Seven Songs Meme that Anna tagged me for some time ago!)

I have really been struggling lately to get in any sort of real exercise. I just don't have enough time in my day--can't work out during the workday, because I'm trying to get home as early as possible; can't work out before or after work unless it involves Alex, because those are the only times I get to spend with him; can't get in a real workout with Alex, especially in the winter when it's dark after work; can't drag myself out of bed when it's light before work in the morning and I, theoretically, could go for a walk with Alex; can't get motivated when I actually do have free time; and so on.

Today was the nadir. I felt so sedentary and downright unhealthy. I decided it was time for once and for all to get moving, under any circumstances. I got home, turned on the satellite radio channel on DirecTV, and started dancing with Alex. This was fun. Alex has started dancing when music comes on the radio or TV, and it's utterly darling. He really liked dancing with me, especially when I held his two hands. When I started doing squats and jumping with my arms high in the air, Alex got a huge kick out of that, and I really felt the "burn." I did lunges down our long hallway, which Alex also loved. I lifted the baby up high a couple times for an arm workout. In between the actual exercises, I ran in place or did jumping jacks to keep my heart rate elevated. When I was out of breath, I did downward dog or stretches. To cool down, I did some easy crunches, and Alex (though a bit bored with the whole dancing/working out thing by now) seemed to really enjoy crawling on my stomach and trying to give me a water bottle to drink from (which I appreciated).

My initial goal was to stay moving for 10 minutes (don't they always advise to start small? And 10 minutes would be better than 0 minutes). But because of a lucky streak in the music selection on Fred/Lucy (the "alternative" 80s/90s stations), I ended up staying moving for about 20 minutes and really worked up a sweat.

Here were the songs I made it through:

"Save Tonight" by Eagle Eye Cherry
"Love Song" by the Cure, extended mix
"Love Song" by the Cure, album single (I had changed channels)
"Message in a Bottle" by the Police
"Whammy Kiss" by the B-52's
"Kundalini Express" by Love and Rockets
"Twist" by Tones on Tail

I was so happy when "Whammy Kiss" came on, because that's just not a song you expect to hear on any radio station a) more that 500 watts and b) not run by someone you know. It was then that I felt like I could actually get a real workout, have Alex totally involved, and have it even be...gasp...fun.

I am going to try to chronicle my upcoming efforts to get beneficial exercise out in small, realistic ways. Maybe other stressed-out working moms can use the info to help themselves get a-moving.

I'll be back

I have had a few posts brewing but have been sick, traveling, and busy for the entire past month. But maybe I'll break the ice with this post, from SFist, which is a perfect example of why I love their local coverage.

How will the Mini get out?


Manhattan has been invaded!

By me and Alex!

We arrived yesterday safe and sound. The cross-country flight was amazing. I LOVE Virgin America. The check-in and boarding process was really, amazingly easy. (They saw I had a carseat to carry and effectively designated a flight attendant to wait with me carrying it while I was in line to board.) They also managed to clear a row for us in the back, and then they gave us a free meal. With all the positive vibes, it was no wonder Alex slept the first two hours of the flight, enabling me to enjoy Virgin's online entertainment service, RED, which has a very cool music selection. I built a playlist of 30 songs and snoozed as I listened to it until Alex woke up somewhere over Iowa. He was pretty good during the awake portion of the trip, too, with only occasional shrieks and wails. He slept in the cab ride to Manhattan, and then he and Cameron shared a room for the night. (Thanks Cam!)


Fun Quiz

This is me!

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.

The quiz is fun and funny (though really, if there had been an "all of the above" choice on every question, I'd have selected that one...)

Go take it!

Thanks Benj and Jessica for the link....



I haven't been writing lately, for a personal reason. I don't want to say much more, but I guess I wanted to let my few faithful readers know that the silence hasn't just been because I'm too busy or have nothing to say. I've had a lot to say, but I haven't felt like this is the right place to express myself. Every post I write gets colored by this negative influence, and before I know it, I can't publish the post because it becomes inappropriate.

(It's always the best writing that probably shouldn't be published. Alas, I'm not going to go for the cheap thrills, and my posts of late will remain unpublished.)

Anyway, I just felt like making it known that it's not negligence and it's not indifference and it's nothing truly serious, but there is a little ineffable something that's keeping me mute.

And maybe when I'm back to writing snappy, happy essayettes, I'll expound on why "ineffable" is such a fantastic word.

Oh, and there's also this:

Get this thing off me Mommy!
Originally uploaded by generaltsao.


iPhoto Lessons Learned

When your computer starts giving you error messages about how it doesn't have enough memory, DON'T BOOT UP IPHOTO! If there's not enough memory, iPhoto will delete your entire photo library. The photo files, thank god, will still be there, but any modifications you made to the photos in the library or albums or slideshows you may have created will be gone. You'll have to reimport your library folder by painful folder, and if you, oh, happened to have a baby this year like I did, restoring your library will take a long, long time.

Luckily, when this happened to me, I was *only* planning on getting prints made that very day. Prints I've owed people for MONTHS.

I didn't get the prints made. That was the bad news.

The good news was that I actually used this opportunity to back up my photo library, and that's something we should all do. You should do it too. Go buy an external hard drive or find some online service and do it. You'll feel really great afterward knowing that if your hard drive or laptop melts down, you'll have a backup of your important documents.

And if you're expecting prints or a thank you note from me, well...I'm working on it.


Don't Mess With...

...Alex or me, 'cause we're in Texas!!!

We took our first plane trip yesterday, a 2-leg journey with a transfer in San Diego. San Diego looked like a lovely place, and I really wanted to stay there...

...especially when I learned that I had to leave one terminal and pass through security again, even though we were making a domestic transfer on the same airline (Southwest...argh!). As anyone who's traveled with kids knows, going through security is a huge hassle, what with all the paraphernalia and stuff the child has to travel with. Declare the milk in his bottles! Put the carseat through the scanner! Fold up the stroller! Take off the baby's shoes! Wait, huh? Take off the baby's shoes? That one had me very surprised. But I did it, and his shoes never went back on again. I think people thought I was a terrible mother letting Alex run around the airport in bare feet, but it was really my only choice, since holding him made him cry, and so did putting his shoes back on. I used to love traveling, but in the new post-9/11 regime, it's just become decidedly unglamorous.

But Alex did really well! We all survived and made it here happy. We've already eaten puffy tacos and are enjoying visiting the relatives. More to come later...


Working Mom Advice Needed

How do you make time to work out? Before Alex, I used to work out at lunch, but now that I'm always eager to shorten my workday as much as possible, I can't conceive of spending an hour over lunch working out. In the morning, I already barely have time to get dressed, eat breakfast, and spend a little quality time with Alex, and I can't imagine fitting a workout in there, either. After Alex goes to bed, it's pretty late. I'm exhausted, and that's my only time to catch up on personal stuff...and as it is I'm already not clearing my to-do list. To try to squeeze in another to-do during that time period seems like it would just doom me to never catch up. I've tried taking Alex for walks in the morning or right after work, and while that's better than no physical activity, it doesn't give one the same physical satisfaction as a real aerobic workout. I don't know how many working moms actually read this blog, but I'm really dying to know if I stand any chance in hell of getting back into shape. If only exercise were as easy as blogging, I could do one mega-workout at midnight on Sunday and catch up for the whole week prior.

Things I want to remember: Getting climbed on

This is the kind of thing that I think probably gets forgotten amid the hubbub of life through the years, so I want to mark it down while it's still fresh in my memory. (Also, in case anyone reading this is terrified of having children, perhaps this can make somewhat more tangible the small yet significant ways in which the little creatures bring magic into one's life.)

This afternoon, we had a quiet spell. Nick and my mom were napping (having both taken early shifts with Alex when he woke up brimming with energy at 7am, while I got to sleep in). I was in the family room with Alex. He was playing quietly with a variety of toys while I was reading a magazine. Every once in a while, he'd come over to the chair where I was sitting, and just start crawling up onto me. He would climb up the chair, and sort of clamber up to the back of the chair, not letting me get in his way in the slightest. Getting to the top, where he could reach over the back of the chair and sort of bat at the wall behind it, made him so happy. He'd smile and laugh (with his 8 teeth, he has a very cute smile right now) and bat at the wall a bit. Then he'd sort of clamber back down (he's learned to get himself down from chairs, beds, and sofas now--a very valuable skill) and go back to his books, drum, and blocks. He does this early in the morning, too, when I'm sitting in the glider in his room trying desperately to catch a few more winks before facing the fact that Alex is, in no way, going to go back to sleep. He'll climb up and try to grab the curtain behind the glider, with a huge, happy grin and some cute gurgles.

I mean, this is true minutiae, and that's perhaps why I wanted to write about it. I just loved getting climbed over by my little squirmy baby, and I love how such a simple feat causes him such joy.

Sensationalist Journalism in the Chronicle

This week's Real Estate section had me SO annoyed, partly as a homeowner but moreso as a journalist. The cover story had a huge headline, BAD TIMING. The article was about a couple that is being forced to sell a house because of a job relocation, and how screwed they are because it's a bad time to sell. A couple of problems I had with the article:

  • The couple bought for $424,000. They're disappointed that the listing price is $858,000. They bought in 2002. Poor saps... only making about 400 grand in 5 years. What did they expect?
  • The article states that the owners have an "old world" ethic of keeping a home in the family for generations, and it supports this with a sappy quote from the owner about defending his turf. Unfortunately, the article says, the bad job situation in the Bay Area is forcing them to abandon hope and move to Arizona. Except earlier in the article, it states that the owners investigated selling a year ago, but decided to wait. Now they're disappointed the recommended asking price has gone down. If they're so committed to defending their turf, why were they thinking of moving last year?
  • The article says that their change in attitude was caused by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The guy, a pilot, has had all sorts of job troubles because of the troubled travel/airline industries. But remember how they bought in 2002? Yeah, something doesn't add up there...
  • These people bought in a subdivision, and made all sorts of non-traditional modifications to their house. Even though they'll be doubling their money over 5 years, they "barely break even" because of all the money they put into it. Especially because several identical homes without the weird modifications are also for sale in the same 'hood, for less money.

  • Why does this all bug me so much? This article should have had the headline along the lines of "UNWISE REAL ESTATE SPECULATORS GET COMEUPPANCE AS MARKET CORRECTS." From what I could tell, those are the facts of the article. These poor people bought a dime-a-dozen tract house at a time when they lacked job stability; remodelled in a short-sighted manner and with an extravagant budget; and have unrealistic expectations of the profit they should be making on their house, which they didn't really seem to think of as a home but was more of an investment, and an unwise one at that.

    But instead of using this article to truly inform and educate, it's used to support a sensationalist and fear-mongering headline that improperly feeds hype about the real estate apocalypse. I mean, if that's what the Chronicle Real Estate editor believes is happening, fine--it's the editor's job to give readers evidence that SUPPORTS this. But don't take an article that tells a totally different story, give it the wrong, scarier headline, and try to get us to swallow it. It's cynical and misuses the power of the printed word--especially since the Chron editors may know that the "sexy" headline that supposedly proves all the real estate naysayers right will make those naysayers pick up the paper, skip that entire article, and head straight to the (undoubtedly lucrative for the Chron) Open Homes guide because, "Finally," they think, "we can afford a house in the Bay Area because it's such a bad time to sell!" (Which, as they'll then see in the Open Homes guide, is actually still not true.)

    It just bugs me that, in wrongly labelling a true (and badly edited) story, they are in effect telling lies.

    OK, maybe I'm ranting now. It's late and I haven't been editing this post too closely. Good night.

    Brideshead Revisited Revisited

    I'm very excited to hear that they're making a new movie of Brideshead Revisited. I loved this book, and the miniseries starring Jeremy Irons was beautiful, too. Having spent part of my junior year studying at Oxford, I had a special appreciation for the story, which is partially set there. If you haven't read it, it's amazing, especially if you have any Anglophile tendencies. The movie is going to star Emma Thompson and relative unknowns as Charles Ryder and Sebastian. I hope it's good.


    My Baby Boy

    Originally uploaded by generaltsao.

    We celebrated Alex's birthday today. We didn't make a big deal out of it, just inviting over some friends and family members. I did, however, indulge myself by catering the party from Bi-Rite Market. I kept calling it my working mom's "bonus," but it was more of a necessity; there was no way I would have been able to make food for the party without cracking. I also requested that our cleaning lady come on Friday, so that the house would be maximally clean for the event. Other than that, I tried really hard not to overdo preparations and worry. Sure, we took some junk down to the garage and hung some long-neglected pictures on the wall (you wouldn't know we've been in the house almost two years from the largely bare walls). But I really wanted this party to be a fun, relaxed affair and not send me into the tizzy it so easily could have. Paper plates, email invitations, no gifts, minor decorations...it was all pretty low-key.

    And thanks to my great team, the party was AWESOME! My dad brought har gow (dim sum shrimp dumplings), chow mein, and champagne to round out the catered menu of chicken satay, mozzarella & tomato skewers, and spinach and pear salad. My mom supplied flowers, mini pumpkins, and a bunch of art supplies that the kids used to decorate the pumpkins. (I had wanted biodegradable party favors but hadn't had time to shop for any--the pumpkins were perfect. The kids each took home their decorated pumpkins...) Nick was on hand to do my general bidding (which is a lot harder than it sounds). And Alex was amazing. He napped from 11:30 to 1pm, waking up just in time for people to arrive. He really, really enjoyed spending time with his cousins, especially Thomas, whom Alex followed around all afternoon with an obvious reverence.

    He loved his midnight chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. The cake was excellent, but incredibly dense, and the sugar kept him going until he had massive bags under his eyes around 4pm, when people were starting to leave. When I put him in his room, I don't think he knew what hit him. He laughed as I took off his socks and shoes and drew the shades. He was cooing and still giggling as I nursed him briefly and set him in his crib. He hopped right up to standing and smiled at me wildly as I closed the door. I expected to hear wailing, but he was silent for the next two and a half hours.


    Patriot Sunday #1

    Originally uploaded by generaltsao.

    Nick has declared every Sunday during this football season "Patriot Sunday." We've all got New England Patriots (Tom Brady, #12, to be exact) jerseys that we're required to wear during the games. Last year at this time, Alex was still in the womb for the season opener. This year, he watched the first part and slept through the last hour. We had a great time. It helped that the Patriots seem unstoppable this year.

    I can't believe Nick has turned me into a football fan. I actually knew why it was such a big deal for the Patriots to have snagged Randy Moss before I saw Moss catch a couple amazing passes today. Nick and I are even planning to play Madden NFL 08 together. We'll see how that goes; I wouldn't agree to it if I didn't already know that Nick's not all that great at Madden. I just wish he'd let me play the Pats, because they're supposedly hard to beat in the game, but he's not that much of a gentleman. He suggested I play the Colts!

    As I watched Tom Brady play so seemingly effortlessly today, I kept thinking about how he himself has a new baby. His son was born on August 22nd. As he's no longer together with the mother, I wondered how much he's seeing of the little guy, and whether he's sharing in all that incredibly taxing newborn stuff...sleeplessness, confusion, fussiness (on the part of both baby and parent). I remember a year ago how I felt holding my newborn while watching the Patriots lose on Alex's first Sunday at home. Even though I get all teary-eyed thinking about that special, magical time in my life, today was much better--and not just because the Patriots beat the Jets, 38-14. No, their victory was incidental. I think the picture above says it all...

    Flower Thieves, part two

    They've struck again. Our next-door neighbors installed a gorgeous flower box. I'd noticed that the flowers had survived about a week. Then the evil flower thieves struck. I loved the note our neighbor stuck to their gate--so wonderfully pithy.

    The Demon Barber of Fleet Street!

    Tutu and I got season tickets to ACT, and we attended our first play this Saturday, Sweeney Todd. I'm not a huge fan of musicals, so I was a little uncertain that I'd enjoy it, but it turned out to be so gruesome and dark that I think it was a great introduction to Stephen Sondheim. The lyrics were fantastic. I can't wait to check out his other work.

    I really liked the music, all minor keys and discordant. The play's themes were sad and relatable--love, loss, desperation, greed, vengeance. I loved the set, which consisted of a black coffin in the middle that was used alternately as a table, a counter, a coffin, or just a platform on which the actors stood; a bunch of chairs; a row of coat racks, upon which hung several aprons and lab coats; and a large wall of shelves that held a bunch of knick knacks related to the play (the tools that Mrs. Lovett, the piemaker, uses for her nefarious tasks, for example). The entire set and wardrobe used only black, white, red, and the occasional grey or neutral. I really liked the art direction.

    I also enjoyed that the entire cast was on stage throughout the whole play. When someone died, they'd put a blood-stained lab coat on that person to signify their demise. The reason they had to have everyone on stage is the other thing I really liked about the production: The actors did double-duty as the orchestra, playing a variety of instruments on stage as they acted out their parts! I was really impressed that they were able to find actors who sang well, acted, and also happened to play tuba or cello. (I kept wondering if maybe some of them had learned the instruments for the production, in which case I was even more impressed.)

    I guess my only complaints are that not all the actors enunciated well, so I had some trouble understanding entire characters' purposes (Tobias), and I didn't really know why certain of them were there until it became totally obvious (Beadle). I also found the murder scenes, though done extremely subtly, went on too long. It was like, I get the point already! Also, the play was generally depressing.... For instance, I hated when, at the end, they pointed to random people in the audience, questioning whether the person sitting next to you might be a depraved murderer, driven to it by circumstance.

    Tutu and I decided we were going to review all the plays we see this season and assign them review scores based on the EGM scale of 1-10 with .5 increments. My rating for Sweeney Todd: 8.5/10


    Mon Anniversaire

    Birthday at Ame with Sari
    Originally uploaded by generaltsao.

    It was my birthday recently, and my dear friend Sari took me out to dinner at Ame. She didn't even mention to them that it was a special occasion, but they must have heard her wish me a happy birthday upon my arrival because my dessert arrived with this beautifully minimal flourish. My other favorite part of the meal was the stiff lime and liquor libation she'd ordered for me that was on the table awaiting me as I walked in, 30 minutes late. (My cab never showed up and I'd had to hail one after waiting 20 minutes.) Thanks, Sari. You're the best!


    Dog Missing in Mission District (FOUND!)

    Somebody walked off with my mom's dog today while she was picking up a prescription at Walgreen's. This is so tragic and sad... Teddy was a part of our family, and he was Alex's best friend. He was a three-legged rat terrier who loved to eat food that Alex threw on the floor. He liked chasing Poupon, and he was just getting comfortable in his new home here in the Mission.

    We posted these flyers around the neighborhood tonight, as well as filing reports with the police and the SPCA/Animal Care. It's hard not to have hope, even though the homeless guy who watched the whole thing happen told my mom she'd probably never see Teddy again. Without Teddy, the house feels empty even with three adults, a baby, and two cats.

    The homeless guy may understand hopelessness, but it turns out, there was a reason I didn't want to give up: Teddy was turned into the SF Animal Shelter, and since we had reported him missing, they recognized him and called us! He's a little shaken up, but he's home safe and sound! We're so grateful. Alex laughed in his carseat all the way home (Teddy keeps him company in the backseat). We're all feeling very relieved.



    Back in my MTV days, we loved to have what we called "sightings." A sighting was when you saw, say, Iggy Pop in the elevator on your way back from lunch. At 1515 Broadway, the 52-story building in Times Square where MTV is headquartered, sightings most often happened in the elevators, because people spend a lot of time moving from floor to floor and elevator bank to elevator bank.

    Over time, the term "sighting" gained other meanings. For example, if you worked on the 41st floor, and you saw a cute guy from 23 up on 41, that became a sighting. Meeting your friend for lunch at the Lodge (the somewhat infamous Viacom corporate cafeteria, located on 8) could be a sighting, and you would definitely have the opportunity for sightings on your way to and from lunch. Even going out on a Friday, running into a friend at a bar, was a sighting. Seeing anyone out of their "natural" environment was a huge sighting, celebrity or not.

    Well, I had an exciting sighting the other day, but of the distinctly Silicon-Valley-internet-blogosphere-cum-reality kind. Shopping in Trader Joe's (of course), we were checking out. I looked over and saw a familiar face...wait, who...hm...OH! It's Kokochi! That's Tesla's mom!

    The funny thing here is, I'd never actually met either Kokochi (whose real name is Mie), her daughter, or her husband, Dav. But I know them from her blog, which I found once on SFist. This was back when we were both pregnant, and I was very interested in reading about other people having babies in SF. I've really enjoyed reading about their adventures over the past year or so, especially as Tesla is a few months older than Alex, so I get a glimpse of what I can expect next, developmentally and life-wise.

    I introduced myself (and Nick and Alex) a bit hesitantly. But she was completely friendly and mostly unfazed... Of course, she blogged about it too. She wrote in her blog that she had wanted to take a pic, and now I wish she had. First, it would have made our little encounter part of Kokochi, which would have been fun. But also, it would have made it an even more MAJOR sighting!


    Worst Series Finale Ever

    And since I'm catching up, let me mention that the BBC Footballers Wive$ finale was a terrible letdown. I'd been saving it on TiVo until I had time to really focus on it. I thought they would be bringing back lots of old faces and really doing the series justice. Not only did they not do this, they also managed to leave most of the major characters' stories hanging in these depressing, half-baked fizzles that at best could be interpreted as little morality tales. All the characters ended up, as Tutu put it, in "their own personal hells." Um, sorry...the show picked a weird time to suddenly introduce morality. Up until then, it had simply been a silly, over-the-top soap opera. It should have ended that way--with characters going out in luxurious, preposterous fantasy. The downfall of that show was Amber. They should never have let anyone bump Tanya Turner (played so stupendously by Zoe Lucker, whom I want to see more of in something, anything!) off center-stage. That's when the show started to lose it. The last season was pathetic--not even the return of Tanya/Zoe and Joan Collins could save it. There was a brief hint of touching elegy in the finale, when Tanya is reading the tabloid story about "the Curse of Earl's Park," but, man, was that a lazy way to cover the show's history without doing any real writing or production work. I guess they were just putting it out of its misery.

    Internet Silence

    I have had all sorts of posts brewing lately, but my blog was mysteriously locked by Blogger for suspicions of being a spam blog! I can't quite see how they might think my blog was purely for spam purposes. They had it locked for about a week, and I couldn't post until a human being checked it out to determine that it was an innocent blog, wrongly accused. (And someone at Blogger needs to look into their spam-detecting code because this is one false positive I can't quite comprehend.)


    Mass-cara Effect

    The publishing company I work for has a web site that creates a weekly video podcast called The 1UP Show. The editors are featured prominently on the show, talking about games and interviewing developers. I've appeared on the show several times, and I'll be honest that I'm usually pretty obsessive about slathering make-up all over my face before I consider myself ready for my "close-ups." I'm the same way with my photograph that appears monthly in the print magazine. I ask the photographer for take after take after take before I feel comfortable that we've got something usable. Then I beg our Art Director to adjust the color to make my complexion look smooth, my eyes sparkling, my teeth white. (It worked for Faith Hill, right?) The results aren't magnificent, but they make me feel better. I would definitely have called myself "high-maintenance."

    Until recently. They wanted to shoot a segment on an upcoming game called Mass Effect, which I'm pretty knowledgeable about and excited for. I forgot all about it until 15 minutes beforehand, but that's not unusual. I keep a small make-up bag at work just for these occasions, and I usually pop into the bathroom to put my face on--nothing elaborate, just a little color on my lips and cheeks and some eyeliner to keep the sickly pall to a minimum. But this time I was too busy, too tired, and too indifferent to take that extra 5 minutes to do this. I figured, hey, what difference does it make? Plus, I thought, Kathleen (my coworker who produces the show) never puts makeup on for the show and she always looks great! And who watches these things anyway? It's just the Internet--who cares?

    Then I find out that the video was linked to from a popular web site. And it got over a million views in, like, a matter of hours or something. And all the gamers in my life have been coming out of the woodwork to tell me they saw me! (This is the first I've heard from some of them in years....)

    Now, I'm happy that the video did well. But did it have to be the first time I didn't wear make-up?


    World Breastfeeding Week!

    It's approaching the end of World Breastfeeding Week, and Andi from Mama Knows Breast picked my recent post, Business Trips While Breastfeeding, for her contest! She's sending me a copy of her book, Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner's Guide to Breastfeeding. I'm definitely not a beginner anymore, but I'm eager to check it out (and, I hope, pass it along to the next woman I know who's planning on breastfeeding)!

    Also, I thought I'd take this opportunity to mention my Flickr Nursing In Public group in case anyone's visiting from Andi's blog. Join up!


    Alex Update

    Originally uploaded by generaltsao.

    Alex is doing so so so well. He's the brightest, cheeriest little person I've ever been around. This week he had an injury (falling down a stair in his little walker) and his gum was bleeding for a few hours. There's something cutely disconcerting about a little baby smiling and laughing with blood streaming down his mouth. Almost by the time we'd gotten to the ER, his gum had already started to heal, but we went in anyway, panicky new parents that we are. Luckily, the ER at Kaiser isn't one where you have to wait hours and hours (at least not when I've been there).

    He's now got five teeth: three on top and two on the bottom. He's crawling like crazy and plays with Teddy (my mom's dog) constantly. He loves to feed Teddy, though he hasn't quite learned that once you put something in the dog's mouth, it's best not to put it back in your own mouth afterward. I love watching Alex throw Teddy the ball. He only rolls it a couple inches, but he seems to be getting the concept of Fetch. Also, today he waved "bye bye" to Mammie during their video chat.

    We visited my brother on Friday. Alex went in the hot tub for the first time--and that night he slept for 7 hours straight. Then, last night, another 7-hour stretch! I've woken up feeling so refreshed the last two mornings. I think he's only slept that long for two other nights that I can remember. I don't mind getting up with him, as he goes to sleep right after nursing, but sleeping through the night is beautiful and I'm really hoping we'll both do more of it.

    I broke out in a weird rash today, and all I could think was how glad I was that it wasn't Alex who had the rash. That's a mother's love.

    Now I need to go give Carrie some feedback on her birthday plans. You should too!


    Business Trips While Breastfeeding

    [UPDATE] Thank god, someone at the TSA came to their senses. As of August 4, 2007, moms can now travel with unlimited amounts of breast milk whether or not they are traveling with their babies, as long as they declare the milk for inspection at the security checkpoint. The official press release is here. This means some parts of this post are no longer relevant. And for that, I am THRILLED. Anyone traveling after Aug. 4, consider yourself very fortunate. Read on to hear the hell you've just been spared! [/UPDATE]

    I recently took my first business trip since I had Alex. It was supposed to be four days and three nights long, but I came home early because I was mostly done with my on-site work, and the remaining work I had was stuff I could do back home. Being away from Alex wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but I was really, really excited to get back home. Also, I was disappointed to discover that I didn't sleep as well as I had anticipated. I had trouble falling asleep and kept waking up throughout the nights missing my little crying baby.

    I'm writing this for other new moms who might be perusing the Internet for tips on traveling without their babies while trying to maintain milk supply. I know there are tons of tips out there already, but I didn't find them helpful--they were too general and vague. I figured I'd chronicle my trip, so people can see concrete info on how I made this work.

    First off, I had to conquer my guilt over--wait for it--actually wanting to keep up my supply even though my baby is almost 10 months old. Lots of the moms I know with babies around Alex's age are starting to wean their babies now, and we all know that American society is not particularly friendly to breastfeeding in general, and specifically to "extended" breastfeeding of "older" babies. Also, I've heard many stories of moms using trips like this for convenient weaning. They go away for a couple days, then -poof!- their babies have forgotten all about nursing when they get home.

    I just wasn't ready to wean. Call it instinct, call it perfectionism, call it clinginess--I wasn't ready to wean. Pretty much all the authoritative sources recommend breastfeeding for at least one year. Formula seems like a worthy substitute, and I certainly don't judge anyone for using it for any period of time in their babies' lives. But I figure, hey I have the milk now, I worked hard to get breastfeeding established, why not keep a good thing going, even if it requires some extra work? Once I'd conquered that self-doubt, it was on to the logistics.

    First, I had to worry about getting some excess milk ready for while I was gone from the baby. This was much harder than it seemed like it would be. My frozen supply was all used up, and I was already barely pumping enough for Alex in the first place. I took a two-pronged approach. First, we introduced formula for one of his daytime feedings. He really hated the formula at first, but we kept giving it to him, and eventually he drank it as easily as breast milk. Then, I added extra pumping sessions both at work and at home (prior to this, I'd only been pumping once or twice a day, at work). This didn't have immediate results, especially as I was getting all stressed out about not having enough milk (which, as any pumping mom knows, sure doesn't help induce letdown). But I just kept at it, and eventually I came home with more and more milk each day. Doing this for about 10 days (roughly) meant I had pumped about 20 ounces of milk (and I'd calculated that my baby would need about 40 ounces while I was gone). So, I figured that I now had enough supply to feed my baby while I was gone.

    Next, I had to think about my pumping schedule while I was away from the baby. Up to this point, as I mentioned, I'd only pumped once or twice a day at work and nursed Alex while at home--including two or three times throughout the night. Being away from him meant (I thought) that I would be sleeping solidly through the night, so in order to keep my supply up, I'd need to nurse much more during the day to compensate for the night feedings. I calculated that in a normal day at home, I'd nurse Alex 1-2x before work, pump 1-2x at work, nurse him 1-2x in the evening, and then 2-3x at night. So I'd need to pump 5-9x a day while gone.

    Now, IMHO pumping nine times a day while on a working (or non-working, for that matter) trip is utter insanity, no matter how gung-ho about breastfeeding you are. Instead, I thought about my likely schedule each day. I knew I could wake up and pump right away (session #1). Then there would usually be some sort of lunch break, and that would give me time to pump (session #2). Then I figured I'd be able to get back to my hotel before dinner (session #3). Then there would probably be dinner and some socializing. I'd have to leave that early, and skip all the fun parties, so I didn't get home completely late (session #4). Then I'd be able to stay up a couple more hours doing all my pre-bed, post-work stuff like email, etc., and I'd pump again before I went to bed (session #5). Five sessions ought to be enough, I figured, to maintain my supply. So with that proposed schedule in mind, I felt I had a plan.

    The next huge, massively stress-inducing hurdle was figuring out whether to pump and dump, or to try to somehow store and transport the milk back home. I agonized over this. In the old days, it would have been as simple as storing the milk in the hotel minibar, then carrying it on the plane on the trip home in a little cooler. But as we all know, the terrorists have won in so many ways, and one of those is that moms can no longer transport unlimited milk unless they are traveling with the baby (which doesn't make any sense at all for breastfeeding moms, but that is truly another debate for another time). I looked up the official TSA rules, which confirmed that if I was traveling without my baby, my breast milk was no different from mouthwash or nail polish remover, and that I'd be limited to a single quart ziploc bag's worth of containers each containing less than 3 ounces each. (Great! I thought...until I saw that the quart sized ziploc bag is the SMALL one, not the large one I'd optimistically envisioned at first.) Anything exceeding that amount had to be checked.

    What I decided was that I'd bring the small freezer milk bags, fill them each with three ounces, and then bring back as many of them as I could fit into the quart sized ziploc bag. If it turned out that I'd pumped more than I could carry, I would consider checking my milk in my suitcase. For some reason I was worried about this, and I didn't think I would end up doing it, but to be prepared just in case, I brought a small, empty, soft-side cooler collapsed in my bag. Looking back, I should have also brought a bunch of the BIG ziploc bags. These things are generally useful when traveling, but even moreso for a mom carrying all sorts of liquids in all sorts of bags. I knew I was prepared to attempt to transport the "liquid gold" home, but I also reserved the right to dump the milk if I felt like it was all becoming too complicated. My main goal, after all, was to maintain supply, not bring back extra milk. But I just couldn't envision pouring my milk down the drain. That stuff is so damn precious. Still, I told myself it would be OK to dump it if it came to that. And with that, I packed up my supplies, took a few deep breaths, and headed off on my trip.

    For the most part, pumping during the trip happened as I'd anticipated. I had to share a room, and I'd given my roommate a heads-up that I'd need to pump. She was extremely supportive and super-funny about the whole thing, so that helped. There was absolutely no awkwardness, and I appreciated that. Storing milk in the minibar is a total pain, because there's really not enough room in there for extra stuff, but I did it. The hotel's constant hot water supply was really handy for quickly rinsing off my pumping supplies between sessions. (Usually, this is one of the most annoying things about pumping--always having to worry about cleaning everything off all the time.) And there were a couple very stressful moments where I found myself caught in a conference that ran overtime, or on a shuttle bus full of people making last-minute changes of plans that would make it really hard for me to get back to my hotel room to pump in time. (One other wrinkle: I really didn't want to get all in-your-face with my coworkers about my pumping. Maybe I'm a wuss or maybe that's how I survive in a male-dominated and totally immature industry, but I just didn't want to confront people about having to get back to my hotel room on a regular schedule.) It was stressful, and I was late to a few appointments here and there, but I made it work.

    As my trip came to a close, I assessed the situation. I had a little more milk than would fit in the quart ziploc bag. I considered dumping the excess and carrying on the rest, but since I'd brought the cooler, I decided to transport the milk in my checked bag. This is where the big ziploc bags would have come in handy for storing ice that would melt during the trip. I didn't have these. Instead, I just dumped a bunch of ice from the hotel ice machine into the cooler, put in the bags of milk, and dumped a bunch more ice on top. Then I put the whole bag in the big plastic hotel laundry bag, and put it in my suitcase, making sure to take out any paper products that I didn't want to get wet. I also put in a note to TSA security calling out the presence of human breast milk. I don't know what effect this had, but I figured it was best to let them know there were liquids buried in my bag that required careful handling.

    When I got my bag home, I opened it up and, indeed, most of my clothes were rather damp. But the milk bags were all intact, still chilled, and ready to pop into the freezer at home. I grabbed my baby, and within minutes, he was happily nursing (he didn't forget!). I could finally relax.

    I'm really glad I went on my business trip. It made me realize that there is life without Alex. I'm also glad I made the extra effort to keep up my supply. I don't think I needed to bring the milk home--will 20 or 30 ounces really make that much of a difference in Alex's diet for the next few months before he can drink regular milk? Probably not. But I spared myself the experience of having to throw away milk, and it didn't even take a ton of preparation. I'd say the hardest part was making time to pump. Business trips are often jam-packed with events, and I really had to force myself to prioritize pumping over lingering to chat with colleagues after meetings or going to the happy hour. Maybe I missed out on a few networking opportunities, but I have a baby and I can't pretend I don't (nor do I want to!).

    The few things I would change:

  • I wouldn't have worried so much about everything beforehand.
  • I would have brought more ziploc bags.
  • I would have been a little more open with my colleagues, so they'd have known why I kept rushing back to the hotel, just as sort of an awareness-raising campaign. I'll do that next time.

    So if you're taking a business trip and you're breastfeeding, all I can say is, don't worry, pump and dump if you have to, and good for you--it's hard to keep up with all your coworkers who don't have to worry about ziploc bags, ice packs, and minibar crowding, but you can do it!
  • 7.07.2007

    Assorted Stuff

    I'm gearing up for my first trip away from Alex. It's a business trip to Santa Monica for the new E3, and I'm completely freaking out. I'll be gone most of next week. I keep telling myself that I have to go for Alex's sake. Think how upset he'd be in a few years if he found out I skipped out a chance to attend Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft's biggest press conferences and parties of the year; to meet and chat with the makers of the latest (and possibly greatest) video games; to have my own life and career--just so I could hug him a little more. Yes, I think Alex would want me to go! But I'm very nervous about the whole thing. Luckily, I have a huge amount of support from my husband and my mom, which makes it easier.

    Alex continues to grow and change all the time. He's crawling everywhere now, and he's constantly trying to stand. So far he can stand for a few seconds on his own (once he stood for about 10 seconds, but that hasn't been repeated). He's eating a wide variety of foods now, and he finally drank his first bottle of formula this week. We'd introduced it about a week ago, after using up the last of my frozen liquid gold. He hated it at first, but now he's taking it without complaint. He must have sensed a ripple in the Force--the same hour (literally) that I resolutely decided I was going on my business trip (after waffling about it for weeks), I got a call from my mom saying he had drunk the formula for the first time. Being able to give him formula will certainly make everyone's life easier while I'm in LA.

    Having the 4th of July fall on a Wednesday gets two huge thumbs DOWN in my book. The whole rhythm of the week was thrown off... this probably would have been fine but I was so insanely busy at work, I really had trouble adjusting to the day off. We had a nice barbecue at home, though.


    Last weekend we celebrated Emily's 4th birthday. It was great seeing the kids after an extended absence. Emily is growing up so much. She talks all the time. The highlight was when she referred to someone who lived in our house as "Jink" as she was talking about us in the third person. (We think it was an extremely cute combo of Jennie and Nick.) I've always loved listening to that girl gab!

    I got an iPhone. It's amazingly elegant and works so seamlessly. It's definitely a new cell phone experience--one that (mostly) lacks frustration. Alex likes it too.

    Give. Me. The. iPhone.


    No comment, part whatever

    My mom asked me why nobody comments on my blog but her. The only answers I could think of made me feel bad (my writing doesn't connect with people, nobody likes me, etc.). That's one thing I don't like about blogging. I don't do it for the comments, but the lack of comments can be discouraging.

    The main reason I keep this blog going is because it makes me write out things I wouldn't otherwise write, and for a writer, that's important. I've always kept a personal diary, but because it's so personal, there's both total freedom and no accountability. That has a place, but it doesn't really challenge or discipline me as a writer.

    So, even having a small audience here means I write in a more structured and constructive way, and I consider many of my posts to be great writing exercises. I think some of the stuff I've written here ends up being better than stuff I've written for actual writing classes. If not for the small, passive, often lurking audience on my blog, I'd have never written it, because I haven't got a lot of time to take classes anymore.

    Sure, there are other reasons for this blog. Occasional updates for the friends I know read it--these are mostly friends I once saw in everyday life or talked to a lot on the phone, but because of life getting in the way, we aren't in close enough contact anymore. It's also a historical record, because I do love keeping track of things so I can look back and reminisce about what I was thinking at a particular day or time. And when I do get comments, it's fun to see something you've written resonate with people.

    Mostly, though, this blog is for me to keep writing, even when it's little random thoughts like this: Moms are great, because of all the many and sundry ways they support you. Tutu's one of the best. Especially because I think she likes my writing and thinks everyone should be commenting as often as she does. Even if only to be nice.

    But I don't mind--really! This isn't a post fishing for comments. It's exactly what I said above: a reason to keep writing, a little more formally than I would in my journal, and, in fact, it's a perfect example. I started writing it two days ago, but abandoned it twice thinking it wasn't finished. This morning, I finally forced myself to bring it to some sort of completion, as if I had to print it out before I left for writing class. Finish it, even if it's not perfect.

    So comment if you wish, or don't. I will keep writing, which is really what matters most to writers.


    Father's Day outing

    Father's Day outing
    Originally uploaded by generaltsao.

    I drove Nick down to Saratoga this weekend on a surprise outing to go shooting with his friend. I'm not into guns, but this seemed like a really cool Father's Day gift for any guy. I think he enjoyed it.

    Is it totally sexist that I think of this as a "guy" thing? Nick really wanted me to join them, but Alex wasn't allowed on the range. I have to say I was a little relieved to have a very good excuse for not joining in the firearm fest. I think I'll do it someday, but I have to be ready. Guns scare me!


    What Not to Wear Candidate

    Yesterday, as I walked out of the house, I asked both my mom and Nick to assess my outfit. They know I've been having trouble finding clothes that look right lately, clothes that fit both my post-pregnancy body and my new station as a working mom breastfeeding an infant. So perhaps they were inclined to be generous. Both gave me the thumbs-up. Maybe it was an absent-minded thumbs-up, but it was a thumbs-up nonetheless. I moved forward.

    When we were out, I found myself fidgeting and feeling uncomfortable. Even though I'm reaching the 9-months-out point of post-partum, I'm still not at my pre-pregnancy weight, so while certain pre-preg clothes fit, they still don't fit right. The skirt I had on was a perfect example--just a tad too tight in certain places, which made it fall all wrong. After catching sight of myself in one too many mirrors, I told my mom I was getting rid of the skirt when I got home. Even if it started to fit me again, I'd decided it wasn't all that cute to begin with.

    "I think that's a very good idea," she said, perhaps a little too eager to agree with me. I found myself wondering why she was so vehement.

    "What?" I asked.

    "Well, when you asked me this morning if you thought that outfit looked OK, I guess I didn't really look," she admitted. "And then today, when I saw you in the store, I thought you could almost pass for, you know, one of the little people."

    Now, my mom has always done a great job making me see the positive side of being petite (as she's always made sure to call me). In this rare moment of non-sugar-coated honesty, it was all I could do to keep from ripping the skirt off and throwing it away, right then and there in the Ikea parking lot.

    Today, I was extra careful getting dressed. I thought of Trinny and Susannah, lengthening the torso, elooooooongating the legs. I picked out a pair of pre-pregnancy capri pants and a sweater vest-shirt combo I got right before returning to work in December. I slipped on my clogs and headed to the kitchen to make coffee, feeling happy to have found something that looked decent, felt comfortable, and would allow for discreet nursing and easy baby-wrangling.

    Nick was already at the kitchen table.

    "Hi!" he said, enthusiastically. A little too enthusiastically, if you know what I mean. (He could barely contain his laughter.)

    "What's so funny?" I asked.

    "Hi little Dutch boy!" he said.

    "What are you talking about?"

    "Want a little cap? It would go perfectly with your cute little knickers and your clogs!" He was rather pleased with himself. I simply carried on making my coffee. There was really nothing I could say.

    I'm still wearing the ensemble. I'm actually afraid to change into something else. With my track record, I might make the situation worse. If anyone wants to nominate me for What Not to Wear, I promise I won't be offended.


    This weekend: quick hits

    Nick and I went to see Arcade Fire at the Greek Theatre on Friday night. I loved that they have a violin and a viola onstage. Tutu babysat and Alex manipulated her into getting her to pick him up after he'd gone to bed. He did this with Nick's mom as well. It's funny to see him work his charm on the grandmothers. As soon as we get home, he goes right to bed, without an argument. He knows the jig is up.

    Alex started crawling! I swear he was performing for the camera, as I happened to be taking a video as he took his very first steps. He's also started grabbing his spoon as I feed him and he'll try to feed himself, if not very successfully. It's great to watch the zeal with which he tries to aim the spoon into his mouth. Emphasis on "tries."

    We had a majorly full house Saturday morning.
    The plumber and his workmen arrived at 8:30 am to start work installing the sink in our little water closet. Then at 10, the handyman arrived to start patching the holes that the electricians left in the walls. Around 11, Mom and her friend dropped by to meet Alex. Then, our neighbors came by to talk about some house stuff. And while they were here, we had a video chat with Nick's mom, live via Skype from Brooklyn, where she was hanging out with my sis-in-law, her boyfriend, and their friend (who were all playing Big Brain Academy multiplayer on DS--gotta love the wireless multiplayer!). It was one of those "energy" moments when it seems like everything naturally happens at once, like when it's been quiet in your house for hours, then you get a phone call, and right at that moment, you get call waiting. Alex loved all the excitement. I had to remind myself to just let things happen and not worry about perfectly coordinating everything. Sometimes you just can't.

    We went to Berkeley today to hang out with Sari in Rockridge.
    Wow, what a yuppie parent haven that place is. Someone stopped me and said her son had a hemangioma in exactly the same place as Alex. So I got to see what it looked like on her (gorgeous :) son, now four years old. His mom said he'd requested to have it removed, and you could see a small, faint scar. His parents said his was originally much bigger than Alex's. Then she gave me her email and said if I ever had any questions she would be happy to tell me everything she has learned. Pretty cool!

    I took a nap. Most people wouldn't bother writing this down, but I'm still waking up at night with the little babe, so a nap is pretty exciting news, and this nap was officially awesome. Thank you, Nick, for encouraging me to take the nap, and thank you, Alex, for taking your own nap at the time so I could really, legitimately sleep.

    This evening, after watching the second-to-last Sopranos (my money, btw, is on Tony not getting offed next week), I edited the latest EGM Live*. It was really good! Sometimes when we have to tape it during our deadline week, everyone is so exhausted that it's too low-energy. But this week, I know I at least was beyond exhausted, so I was a little loopy, and a little loopiness can be good sometimes.


    Eight Random Things Meme

    Ann tagged me so I'm it. Here are eight random things about me you may or may not know.

    1. I actively look for and sometimes create excuses to go to Ikea.
    2. I saw Four Weddings and a Funeral with a (now ex-)boyfriend, and I always remember that he wondered aloud why Hugh Grant didn't just get together with Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas) because she was "not so bad." I agreed with him at the time, but now I understand why Hugh Grant didn't get together with her. For a while, KST was one of my favorite actresses, especially in the movie A Handful of Dust.
    3. The music for A Handful of Dust was composed by George Fenton, and once at E3 I met a music agent who claimed to know him, and I wrote a message to Mr. Fenton on the back of my business card because the agent promised to give it to him. I think the message said, "I loved your music in A Handful of Dust" or something equally simplistic. (Because I really do love the music in that movie.) I wanted to send him the message because I imagined that he doesn't get many fan letters.
    4. I'm watching another KST movie right now, The English Patient, and my favorite scene is at the end where she's reading [SPOILER] the last words she's written in the diary as she lies there dying. "How long is a day in the dark? Or a week? The fire is gone now.... I'm afraid I waste the light on writing these words. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have entered and swum up like rivers, fears we've hidden in, like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. We're the real countries, not the boundaries drawn on maps, and names of powerful men.... The lamp's gone out, and I'm writing in darkness." I just love the poetry of it.
    5. I loved the latest Pirates of the Caribbean, and even though I snoozed a little bit during some of the slow parts, I don't think that makes it a bad movie at all.
    6. I have buyer's remorse about our Prius because it only averages 36 miles to the gallon. My husband put up that "Yes" decal that Toyota sent out because it wanted people to show off how they'd definitely buy a Prius again. I want to replace it with one that says "No."
    7. I miss the West Wing. I really gave Studio 60 a shot, but that show disappointed on so many levels.
    8. In junior high/high school, I had an extremely cool red Peugeot cruiser. My friends and I rode in skirts, without helmets, and with each other on the handlebars all the time, and we had absolutely no concept of how incredibly dangerous that was.

    I don't think I have eight people to tag, so I'll just tag the two people who might actually carry on the chain. Hello Carrie and Sarah!


    Gotta catch 'em all

    I really worried that when I had a baby, my videogaming days would be numbered, but I'm happy to report that, as always, finding time to play games just depends on finding the right game to play. And nowadays, that game, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit, is the new Pokemon. It's portable, addictive, and perfect for playing in bite-sized chunks. I actually have found that as a mom, I now have a new gaming time slot that I didn't have before: in the car, when I'm sitting waiting with a sleeping Alex while Nick or my mom runs in to do whatever errand we're on. In the past, we probably would have done the errands together, but now, if the baby is sleeping, it makes more sense to do it this way. And that's giving me a lot more time to track down those elusive Pokemon. I want a Chansey!

    By the way, instead of just linking to the Wikipedia entry, I have to quote a little bit of it for those who don't click away, because it's just too funny:

    Chansey is a rare, egg-shaped, pink Pokémon with much fatty tissue along its sides, alongside hairlock-like outgrowths on its head. It is said to bring happiness and luck to whoever catches it (which is ironic considering the fact that Chansey is number 113, though, in Japan, 13 does not have the same significance it has in the United States). It has a pouch on its belly as a marsupial animal would, and in this pouch it always keeps a special egg. These eggs, several of which are laid daily by Chansey, are both nutritious and delicious to the point where they are eagerly consumed even by people who do not have an appetite.

    Those eggs make up Chansey's "Softboiled" attack, which I love. I gotta catch one!


    The past few several many days

    I haven't blogged since April 22. That's almost a month! I'm not sure where the time went, but I'm going to try something new. Here's a little memory from each day between now and as far back as I can remember. (Postscript: OK, I need to get a-blogging more. I feel like these days are just lost! I have a couple notes in my personal diary, but man, not enough.)

    May 14
    Taped a very silly promo of EGM Live* along with another rousing episode. Walked to Dolores Park with Alex in the Ergo. Caught up on Desperate Housewives.

    May 13
    My first mother's day. Had a lovely brunch at Greens Restaurant with the family: Alex, Nick, my mother- and sister-in-law, mom, and dad. Went to church at Most Holy Redeemer with Mom. Alex liked it for about 10 minutes, then fussed throughout. We left early and went home to Tutu's, where Alex and I took a fabulous nap in her super-comfy bed. Played Carcassonne with Tania, Latha, and Nick (I won!). Played Tetris DS in the park (Latha won!)

    May 12
    Had yummy fondue in our new electric fondue pot (totally the way to go). Went to a party in Pacific Heights where they had an indoor swimming pool. Weighed in at WW (up 1.2 pounds. ack!) and went shopping with Mom. Took an awesome nap. Played Scrabble w/Tania, Latha, and Nick (I won!)

    May 11
    Went shopping at the new mall and had a hard time finding anything. Played Scrabble w/the usual suspects (Nick won!). Went to Halo 3 event at Foreign Cinema and went out for a drink afterward at the Medjool roof bar (brrrrrr....beautiful but cold).

    May 10
    Celebrated my mom's birthday at dinner with Alex, my brother, and beautiful niece and nephew. Got my nails done and discovered that busy moms don't have time to get manicures. Pedicures maybe, but not manicures.

    May 9
    Held a fun work meeting at the Moonstar Seafood Buffet. Took Tania to Whole Foods (she'd been begging to go). Made dinner at home.

    May 8
    Tania's arrival from India. Finished shipping the July issue of EGM. Complained about the heat.

    May 7
    Ran around the house getting it ready for Tania's arrival. Bickered grumpily with Nick about all the things we could have gotten ready sooner but put off until the night before.

    May 6
    Had Seanbaby over for a barbecue. At a shish kebab that contained bacon, shrimp, steak, and a bbq chicken wing. Was unable to put the uber-sociable Alex down for a nap.

    May 5
    Ate tacos at La Taqueria. Went to an open house at the big house next door that's now for sale. Had a vegan smoothie at Cafe Gratitude.

    May 4
    Taped another wonderful episode of EGM Live* that included a very funny Pokemon battle.

    May 3
    Managed to get everyone at work to leave early despite being on deadline so they could go to a free screening of Spider-Man 3. Rushed home to see Alex.

    May 2
    Marvelled at Alex's really cute teeth appearing. (Bottom front two)


    Sign #2 you're getting old

    (We all know Sign #1 is wrinkles!)

    Sign #2, however, is that you can get nostalgic for multiple decades of music. It was probably when I was graduating from high school in 1990 that I realized what decade nostalgia is. I probably heard a song by the Cocteau Twins ("Lorelei" definitely does it) or the Psychedelic Furs ("Heaven") or, sheesh, even "Beat it" by Michael Jackson. As I found myself overcome with fondness, bittersweet memories, melancholy, happiness, sweet regrets, and--that favorite nostalgic emotion--a certain je ne sais quoi, I realized that an era had passed.

    Well, Live 105's Resurrection Sunday had a '90s mix recently, and I started feeling really old. See, these songs brought back strong and vivid memories of an era when I was already distinctly an adult, and, clearly, already capable of feeling nostalgic. I was working at MTV and, naturally, many of these songs evoked a palpable (yet still ineffable) je ne sais quoi from that precious time gone by. Layers of nostalgia? Nostalgia within nostalgia? Definitely means you're getting old!

    Here are a few of the songs that did it:

    Foo Fighters "My Hero"
    Smashing Pumpkins "Tonight, Tonight"
    Beck "I'm a Loser"
    Everclear "Santa Monica"

    (Random ME trivia: I've interviewed two out of the four artists mentioned in the '90s list, and one out of the three from my '80s list. Not bad!)


    My Dinner With A(ndre)lex

    Tonight it was just Alex and me at dinner. At first I felt a little lonely, because even though Alex is a great conversationalist, his vocab's a bit limited, and I'd had a tiring day and could have used a little grown-up discourse. But I quickly realized how precious it was, that one-on-one time with my boy. So I put on Nick's Loretta Lynn/Patsy Cline mix cd and serenaded Alex with "Crazy" and "Coal Miner's Daughter" while steaming dumplings and heating up pureed pears. When we sat down, I started feeding Alex using a little baby spoon, but he immediately noticed that I was eating with chopsticks and showed great interest (he loves to "pretend" to eat what we're eating; if I'm drinking from a glass, I'll put it up to his mouth and he'll sort of mock-sip from it--I don't think he knows yet that he's not actually "drinking" from it). I put down the baby spoon and started feeding him with the chopsticks. I even gave him a couple little bites of the dumpling stuffing, since it was mostly vegetables anyway. He loved it! It was a great dinner.

    Before I had a baby, I thought eating dinner regularly at the table was going to be such a struggle, because we'd never had structured dinners before. I knew I wanted to start eating at the table when we had a family because it's so healthy for kids (and adults, for that matter). But I remember even avoiding eating at the table right before Alex was born because I wanted to squeeze in my last few "dinners in front of the TV" before I had to start worrying about being a role model. Now that Alex is around (and eating solids—though we actually started eating together even back when he was only nursing), I find I really love and look forward to our mealtimes. And, as I'm learning, I had completely unnecessarily high expectations of what went into a "family dinner." I've learned that a good family dinner doesn't have to have the whole family in full attendance. It doesn't have to be some great meal with all four food groups (heck, you can get by with one and it still works). It doesn't even have to last all that long. All that matters is that you're sharing a little bit of time together each day.

    What's really amazing is that I can tell that even at 6 months old, Alex already enjoys these times at least as much as I do! And our conversation must have been pretty darn good, because by the end of the meal, I no longer felt the need to blah-blah-blather on about my day at work.


    The Superwoman Problem

    I'm writing instead of balancing my checkbook. This also means I'm writing instead of shopping, because before I gave myself liberty to shop, I decided I wanted to balance my checkbook to make sure the items I thought might actually bring me some satisfaction wouldn't come with a financial-stress surcharge.

    I can sense that lately, I have been in "superwoman" mode: I've been so busy worrying about keeping other people happy that I sorta haven't been doing anything nice for myself. I keep thinking I should schedule a massage, or buy some new shoes, or...actually, those are the only two things I can think of. So tonight, I quite purposefully started to shop. Then I stopped myself and decided I needed to figure out how much money I had to spend. Then I stopped myself further because I thought I should do fun tasks (writing in my blog) before unfun ones (accounting, even though I do find that somewhat relaxing as I think I've noted here before). Then I happened to remember that I have been trying to consume less in general, because I take way too much stuff to the Salvation Army already. And before I knew it, I wasn't shopping anymore, and I also wasn't doing anything nice for myself anymore (unless allowing oneself to blog is doing something nice for oneself, but god I hope it hasn't come to that).

    So now, I am going to balance my checkbook, but only until it stops being relaxing, and then I'm going to schedule a massage, even if I don't know whether I have enough money. And instead of using the tagline that comes to mind, because I'm one crazy overanalytical superwoman, I'd like thank the copy writer who came up with the Loreal ad campaign "because you're worth it." You are brilliant.


    The TIC Lobby

    I was motivated by something I read on another blog, SF TIC, that alerted me to a group that's trying to unify the thousands of TIC owners in San Francisco. So I sent the following email to my supervisor. No it was not perfectly formulated. I didn't even edit or much less copy edit it (which anathema to me, a...gasp...PROFESSIONAL EDITOR, but, seriously, I wanted to make sure it got sent and didn't just sit in my head for a few more years.)

    If this issue matters to you, send an email too!

    Dear Supervisors and Mayor Newsom,

    As the recent editorial in The Examiner pointed out, statutory limitation on condo conversion is a flawed policy. It has little impact on tenant evictions, and is, in essence, a taking of private property.

    I have been a TIC owner since 2005. My group of two middle-class families purchased a building on a bad block in a neighborhood riddled with gun warfare of gang violence. Besides installing lights on our porch, picking up litter, and planting trees on the sidewalk, we're raising families here and befriending our neighbors, trying to make the community safe for middle-class people like us. We'd love to see more San Franciscans follow in our footsteps and take pride in their city by planting trees, picking up litter, and discouraging criminal activity on their individual blocks. It has to start somewhere, doesn't it?

    Where does it start? With the pride of homeownership. San Francisco needs more homeowners. Why continue to penalize those of us who have put so much love and money into our buildings and, in turn, our City neighborhoods? Make it easier for people to buy and own units in San Francisco's characteristic old, multi-unit buildings. It is good for the city!


    April stuff

    Lately I've been busy and whenever I have free time, I am either watching TV, playing videogames, or doing both simultaneously. I have plenty of things to write about, but little energy to write. Writing requires a certain type of focus that I just don't seem to have much of right now. I find myself falling behind even in simple email responses. I hope the situation is temporary.

    Alex is almost 7 months old now and I can't believe it. He's the greatest little person. Tutuhoneygram says he's an optimist. My friend Anna (the one from NYC, if you're keeping track) says he's "in touch with the theatrical side of life." He expresses such delight and joy in the simplest things. The past few day or two, he's started letting out these big sighs. Even the sighs just sound adorable and happy. I take him to Weight Watchers with me (12.4 pounds down!) and he just basically flirts with everybody there by beaming these huge grins across the room.

    We've been doing a lot of stuff lately. Last Saturday, we took him to the (somewhat horrible) Moscow Cat Theatre. He was vaguely interested at first, but he got bored pretty quickly (he must have good taste) and slept through most of it. Later that day, he went to his first "fancy" restaurant and sat in a high chair... (Mmmm...meat on sticks!--absent-minded me forgot the camera...) We actually didn't intend to take him to a "fancy" restaurant; the restaurant we went to had gotten considerably fancier in the year since we were last there. We also went to Sari's Easter brunch, and the big news was that Alex napped off-site, in his car seat in one of the rooms of her (enormous, gorgeous) new house. Later that day, when we visited Michael, Alex napped in Thomas's crib. He's even getting pretty good at napping in his own crib during the day. I guess the kid is just tired!

    Work is going well, but it's hard trying to do everything in fewer hours. I don't have time to run errands during the day or chat on the phone like I used to. Every minute I spend doing something personal is time I could be spending with Alex before or after work, so I tend to just leave that all for later and condense my true "work" into a slightly shorter day. Especially with this podcast thing I'm trying to do on top of my regular job. Argh!

    And I'm really excited to report that our tree didn't die over the winter! We planted a tree this summer with Friends of the Urban Forest, and it's deciduous, so all winter it looked quite bare. We watered it as much as we could, but it was hard to stay motivated when you could hardly tell whether or not it was even alive. That's the beauty of gardening, though. About two weeks ago, we started to see little buds appearing, and now it is full of leaves. I can't wait to watch it grow... which is how I feel about something else in my life!

    This picture isn't that great, but it was taken today, and look how cute that sleeping baby in my lap is! I wanted Nick to take a picture of him in his little snow suit because he's starting to outgrow it and we might not get to dress him in it much longer.


    HD vs. regular TV

    We have a gigantic TV and a high-def channel package, so we can choose to watch a regular version or an HD version when shows are broadcast in both.

    Dancing With the Stars is broadcast in HD. And I'm watching it.

    That I'm watching it is a little weird in itself, but it's not why I'm writing. The weird thing is that I discovered that high-def TV doesn't add 10 lbs the way regular TV does. We were watching Paulina Porizkova's performance on regular TV, and Nick came in and switched over to the HD version. Paulina went from looking positively chubby to the svelte supermodel she is. Nick and I both noticed it and did a double-take.

    I think I'm voting for Leeza Gibbons to be the first eliminated, not because I don't like her (though her Goddess Party montage was certainly memorable) but because I think I like everyone (either the celebs or their perky pro-dance partners) a little better. Leeza and her guy are just a bit bland.


    What I did this weekend

    I'm so tired. I want to write but I have so little energy. I'm really sad the weekend's over. Because I remember that when I blogged every day in November it felt like time was going really slowly, I'm going to put something down here in an effort to try to slow down time and make it all seem a little less fleeting.

    This weekend, I put curtains up in Alex's room. This involved rehanging the curtain rod not once, but twice; making two trips to Lowe's for supplies; and, ultimately, being satisfied with mismatched hardware so as to avoid a third trip to Lowe's and having to take down the curtains a third time.

    This weekend, I ate dinner at Ikea. Not at the nice mid-store cafeteria, but at the mini-mart-esque food stand at the exit. But it's OK. Tutu and I had a nice time and actually got a lot done on the trip.

    This weekend, I went to my tax guy and got scolded for arriving 20 minutes late. I got sent home with a bunch of homework and still have a lot of work to do to get all the required info.

    This weekend, I had a lovely dinner at Rose's Cafe on Union Street (after the meeting with the tax guy). Tutu, Nick, Alex, Teddy, Tuffy, and I all sat outside under a warm heater. We drank wine, ate mozzarella di bufala, polenta, beets, and yummy desserts. I did not count Weight Watchers points.

    This weekend, I fed my 6-month-old mashed bananas, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes. He's so good in every way. He loves to eat!

    This weekend, I watered my plants.

    This weekend, I missed the Amazing Race because my TiVo messed up.

    I did other things, but those were what came to mind. And I leave you with this...


    Working Mother For...

    This little guy:

    I mean, seriously, how cute is that? He loves getting undressed for his nightly bath. Taking off his shirt is a guaranteed smile. I'll put up with a lot of BS in life for this little person.

    Working Mother Against...

    Right now, as a working mother, I am officially against:

    -Daylight savings.
    -Getting home one hour before your baby's bedtime.
    -Feeling constantly behind in every aspect of life.
    -Pumping for 1/2 an hour to yield a single ounce.
    -Feeling stressed about pumping.
    -Knowing that feeling stressed about pumping isn't making pumping any more successful.
    -Getting into a groove at work only to realize you have to go pump unsuccessfully.
    -PG&E's broken bill pay system.
    -Wells Fargo's mysterious monthly charges that continually appear even though they're so not supposed to.
    -Prose blogging (takes too long).
    -Misogynists of any age (youth is not an excuse).
    -People who ride the elevator for one floor.
    -People who call to follow-up on emails.
    -Gap jeans labelled "Long and Lean" that fit me when jeans labelled "Curvy" don't. (Anyone who knows me knows I am the complete opposite of Long and Lean, and until this weekend I have never picked up a pair of Long and Lean Gap jeans because I've figured they wouldn't fit. But the ones that sound like they should fit me don't fit me. Meanwhile these Long and Lean jeans I tried on by accident are very comfortable. No wonder Gap is failing.)
    -But mostly just daylight savings.


    The Pouch

    No, not the Kangaroo Corner adjustable fleece pouch, which sometimes carries my baby. This one carries my cell phone, wallet, lip gloss, keys, and, on certain occasions, DS Lite. You might recognize it as a "fanny pack," and this week it came to into the public eye when I wore it during the taping of my work podcast, EGM Live*, and my colleagues decided to make fun of me for wearing it. Such a "mom" thing, they said.

    I argued with them. This is the most fashion-forward pouch they would ever have the fortune to behold. This is a designer pouch the likes of which their nerdy gamer fashion senses would have no ability to appreciate. This pouch has a mesh pocket designed specifically to hold a cell phone. It has a picture of a baby riding a rainbow on it, for cryin' out loud! It's not a fanny pack--it's a hip pouch, and I mean hip in the, y'know, hip sense! Because I'm a hipster. (Get it? Anyone? Is this what trying too hard sounds like?)

    But deep down, I knew they were right. My Tokidoki for LeSportSac utility belt may be very sleekly designed with the most darling pattern this side of Harajuku, but it's still basically a fanny pack. And that is a mom thing. (Actually, in my family, it's more of a "parent" thing, because both my mom and dad wear them.) So yeah, I've joined the mom ranks, and I've done it proudly. Here's the picture I posted on my work blog:

    That's what my fanny pack looks like, and I wouldn't wear it any other way.

    But I'm staying far, far, FAR away from the mom jeans.


    Muffins Muffins Vignette

    There's a muffin shop right next to my building, and the proprietor is a petite Vietnamese woman with an incredible ability to multitask efficiently. She can prioritize tasks like no one I've ever seen; rarely do you have to wait while she fills lengthy orders. She's really good at getting people who just want OJ or coffee in and out while two others might be waiting for sandwiches, for example. Lots of people come and go without even having to tell her what they want. They walk up to the counter, she picks out their favorite bagel or donut, they pay her, and everyone gets back to business quickly, no nonsense.

    I've been going there for years, and though we don't know each others' names, we chit-chat about this and that while she's making my coffee or sandwich. I know she was in a boat for 9 days when she left Vietnam in the '70s. I know there's a Vietnamese supermarket in the Tenderloin where she says I can get all the ingredients for the awesome spring rolls she makes. If I remember correctly, she hasn't been back to Vietnam since she left. It didn't sound like she wanted to go, either.

    Her shop, which is nothing more than a hole in the wall, seems to contain an entire grocery store. You can get hardboiled eggs and cottage cheese, spaghetti and meatballs or a ham sandwich, bananas, oranges, cheese danishes... Once, as she made my sandwich, she kept offering me stuff to put on it. "Tomato? pickle? pepper?" I wanted it pretty plain. "Not even a little cilantro?" It was one final attempt to add some dignity to my sad turkey sandwich. I took her up on that one, and it made all the difference in the world. She has a sign that used to say "No change without any purchase" that has recently had the word "any" whited out so it sounds a little better. I have wondered who or why she made that edit. Was it one of her customers who suggested it? Or her teenage son who works in her shop during the summers?

    The other day, I was waiting for my order, and I mentioned that I'd had a baby. I brought it up only because I realized I hadn't talked to her about my maternity leave, being pregnant, or having a baby.

    She came out from behind the counter with a big smile and looked me up and down. I realized at this point, and not a minute sooner, that this was the first time either of us had stood side by side without the big refrigerated display case counter that fills most of her little shop between us. Before that, I'd never seen her legs. Throughout nine months of pregnancy, she'd never seen my body below the neck.

    "You were pregnant?" she asked.

    We both had a good laugh.