Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 37: Coco

The love of my life has returned home with my Coco Mademoiselle. He has not read the blog, but remembers me asking before he left. Expressing your desires always beats telepathy. All of a sudden, I feel myself tired inside out. Is it the relief of not having to carry all the load on my shoulders? By the time we return home from the airport, I feel like a sack of potatoes. I should make a T-shirt for such an occasion. It would read: "POTATO = A VEGETABLE THAT CAN'T MOVE, CAN'T THINK, BUT IF IT COULD TALK, WOULD SAY 'CALL ME TOMORROW'"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 36: Impression

One of the good things about growing older is that you have more good friends. Yesterday, my husband emails me about his drinks in Switzerland with a friend of mine who reads my blog - thanks, Brian! Today, I lunch with friends and receive a call from another friend in Beverly Hills who also read my blog - thanks, Jeff! Almost everyday, I get calls or emails from friends commenting on my blog. The funniest was from a college friend who was surprised that I could write. Admittedly, I was not the most studious in college. Back then, my cute looks carried me about 70% of the way. Now, that my looks are not what they used to be, I suppose my other potentials have made their way to the surface.

Speaking of looks, it is ironic that some people don't have the looks that are expected of them. Sarkozy should be 6 ft tall, but he is about a foot shorter. I used to talk to someone all the time who has a great voice and a dashing name to go with it. The first time I saw him, I am ashamed to say I did a double take. In fact, now that I think of it, I recall more than a few incidents like this. This is the reason I don't watch movies of books I read. I form an impression of the characters and hate to see it destroyed. I suppose this is also why people don't see their high school sweethearts twenty years later.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 35: Uncorked

Looking back at my career, I realize that I have been passive agressive in my dealings in times of conflict. In situations where differences of opinion surfaced, I would have out of body experiences where my mouth would say audacious and "uppity" things. Then, rational thoughts about hierarchy and the fear of not having a paycheck would kick in, and I would succumb to the decisions du jour. But, deep down, I would rebel and the double life would commence. This is what my friend calls the "Yes, but..." hypocrisy. I would keep up appearances for a while, hiding my resentment and disagreement well, and then plunge into my "hermit" phase, totally switching off. Finally, as they should, double lives implode. I throw in my towel and start again.

At the Friday event, my friend Dr. Jeannie presents. A total "F" student that I am, this is the fourth time I hear her talk about the topic, and still not get it. But hearing the same thing over and over again has its subtle effects. I find myself trying to be a better person that does not "yes, but" and go "hermit". I am trying to be the "good, good pig" that has a "yes, and" attitude. I have a go at it with my partners, and grade myself "B-" with room for improvement. But, at least I have started to uncork myself, which should result in no longer "bottling up and eventually exploding" (sage words from my daughter Aya).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 34: Equilox?

First thing this morning, I head to yoga. The beautiful Swedish yoga teacher says yesterday was Equilox in the Bay Area, and a half moon no less. She then explains that Equinox is a general average of when night and day are 12 hours each, but depending on where you live, the real 12/12 night/day varies, and the actual day in your region that this happens is called Equilox. Somehow, it sounds wrong, but I still think it is rather cool. Is this physically right that each location has a different Equilox? I think so, but then again, astronomy was never my strong suit. Tonight, I google Equilox, but the word does not exist. I imagine my beautiful Swedish yoga teacher laughing her head off at me with a glass of wine in her hand.

I am invited to a baby shower for friends who are expecting twins. All the baby gifts remind me vaguely about my children when they were babies. I pick my baby up from a sleepover this morning, and her friend's mom looks at her children's baby photos and comments on how she misses that stage, but she was always so tired then to enjoy them. How true that is! I remember nights when I was heavily pregnant with one, and cradling another to sleep, while shedding puddles of tears from exhaustion. I also remember pretending not to hear the babies cry for milk, waiting for my husband to wake up, but usually giving up after 2 minutes. On one particular night, I "accidentally" kicked my husband in my sleep, and was relieved to see action take place. Those were the days of endurance, exhuberance and exhaustion. With the help of time, those days now invoke nostalgia. I hope my friends will love every moment of it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 33: Exhaustion

I wake up at sunrise, thanks to my dear friend who manages on 6 hours of sleep. I look like my kids the morning after a slumber party, only much older. My head weighs a ton. I realize I didn't eat anything last night, and drank too much. I crawl into the steam shower, power myself up with coffee, and walk the hills with Charlie in tow. We clean the house and head out for lunch - by this time, I am so exhausted that all I can think about is a nap. Which is exactly what I do as soon as we get home. I wake up and deal with the revolving doors of kids coming and going. Two of my kids are going to separate sleepovers with friends, while one is having friends over for sleepover. That leaves the baby of the family and me to eat leftovers, while reading cards for each other. The crickets are singing in the warm night air outside. Just about now, I am really looking forward to my husband coming home.

Several friends tell me I should read the book or watch the movie Julie & Julia, as there are parallels that can be drawn with my experience now. I wonder whether my friends draw the parallel in drinking lots of wine, but apparently it has to do with the pains, joys and learnings of starting something new with or without partners. I will have to read the book.

Day 32 ( a day late): Event

A few friends and I are hosting an event at my place this evening. We have asked for payment to cover the cost. I see an interesting psychological change in my mindset. We are the "party family" - guests float in and out of our house all the time. I cook and entertain with ease, since I love the company and pretty much leave it to my friends to feed themselves. But, now that I am charging people for attendance, I feel the pressure to satisfy their expectation and at the same time to stay within budget. I race around cooking, cleaning, and mentally preparing for the event. Needless to say, I did not get to pretty myself up until 2 o'clock, and then, barely. My friends show up at 4 and help set the venue up with remarkable efficiency. I think to myself, this is what friends are for. They do things without having to be asked. They are there when you need them. I serve myself a glass of wine, and start feeling good. People come and seem to be enjoying themselves (or faking it quite well). I top my glass off as I try to make sure that everyone is feeling comfortable. By the time I get to introduce the speaker of the evening, I really don't know what is coming out of my mouth, but my friends are nodding, smiling and even laughing (at me, no doubt). My hired help for the evening (aka my kids) refill glasses, take away plates, and clean up in the kitchen. The event ends, and I find my friends wolfing down leftovers at 10:30. My best friend from business school days, sleeps over. We have a nice girls' chat in bed and then drift off to sleep in total exhaustion.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 31: Shower

I am ashamed to announce that I didn't take a shower today. I didn't mean this to happen. First, I was going to swim a few laps in the morning after things got under control. Then, I was going to go to yoga to meditate and become a better person at the same time (after which, I would have taken a shower). But, things didn't get under control, at all, at all. This morning, paradise was enveloped in fog, and we all woke up late. Camille didn't walk Charlie, so I did. Then my friend in Tokyo who sleeps 4 hours a day, emails me to remind me about an overdue presentation. I have totally forgotten about this. I speak to my husband in Biot (I dare you to find out where this is - it is my PARADISE ULTIMATE) , who has brought yoga to remote areas - and since Maria, our housekeeper has SEEN him, it is safe to assume that he is the "talk" of all of Antibes, Nice, Monaco, Saint Paul, Vence - and before you know it, it's lunch time. I wolf down some protein, fat and carbohydrate.

Then, I jump into my batmobile and drive north to Costco. For a big family with kids who eat more than Bengal tigers, Costco is "it". My batmobile struggles. Eventually, we make it back to paradise. I chat with my friend in Tokyo who slept 3 hours and 59 minutes. As we discuss the art of throwing plate after plate of spaghetti on the wall, my son calls for a ride home from violin. Hampered by the police car, hot on its trail for the ax murderer, I manage to swoop him (my son, not the murderer) up, rush to the market for zucchini and eggplants for my ratatouille, and then check the chicken in the oven, and call the tribe to the table. My son #3 has fallen by the wayside for the spelling bee contest. He did not spell "acetylene = a colorless, poisonous, highly flammable gaseous hydrocarbon" correctly. I also find that Aya's experiment at the creek last night failed as well. Julien kept on talking loudly while throwing pebbles into the water, and the birds flew away. I tackle this blog with "Sweet, Sweet Smile" (the Carpenters) in the background while my two babies sing with me. As you can see, there is no time for a shower. But, if my parents-in-law in Paris are tuning in, I know that my better half will come back with a bottle of Mademoiselle Coco (as in Chanel). Just in case, I take a shower tonight.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 30: Homicide

I live in a pretty tame neighborhood. In tame neighborhoods, there are many hidden vices: drugs, alcoholism, abuse, etc, but murder is not one of those. This morning, I receive an email from the school. There has been a homicide in the neighborhood. I feel for the victim, and at the same time, wonder how our namby pamby police force will deal with it. They are used to catching old ladies who run stop signs, not ax murderers. This evening, I let a police car pass by, as it has its sirens whirling. I see it turn up the street that leads to my house. Oops! I zoom up the hill to find paradise undisturbed. Maxime has passed his spelling bee test first round and is happy. Julien is practicing his violin, and Charlie is on his tummy slurping up his food. As we dine, we talk about the day. Aya mentions she needs to go up and down the hill to the creek (imagine the hills in the Sound of Music) for a school project. The lonely goatherd and the mass murderer transpose themselves onto one another. Julien and Charlie are summoned as knights in shining armor. The three trudge out the door in harmonic protest. I hope the murderer is caught, so that everyone can feel safe again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 29: Friends

This morning at 11:15, my gracious neighbors and I head down for a walk downhill. I have seen Dave on his walks before, and have wondered how he manages to walk as the crow flies. The secret is now revealed. 50 years of living up high on the hills has empowered him with goat-like knowledge of linear deduction. Before we know it, we are sitting at the edge of paradise, overlooking the ocean while sipping our ice tea and lemonades. One of the joys of being an entrepreneur is that I have more time to enjoy the essence of life, such as enjoying the company of great neighbors.

This afternoon, my partners and I re-group for an extremely productive session. As it so happens, we are friends first, business partners secondarily. This brings the stakes higher. While I might be willing to part ways with business partners, I would hate to part ways with friends. As kinks develop, we iron them out as quickly as possible. It requires inordinate portions of compassion, intellect and integrity to do this. Great continuing education for a lifelong student. Afterall, I would much prefer friends celebrating my life when the time comes, than business acquaintances feeling obligated to attend.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 28: Guano

At 9 in the morning, I swim my ritualistic 30 minutes at the local pool while embodying the new me. I work efficiently throughout the morning. My kids are off from school today, and summer is coming to an end. After lunch, I head to the beach with a handful of kids to savor what morsels of summer that remain. I read fortunes for the kids with my newly acquired Tarot cards, and immediately recognize talent in self, while the kids snigger along. The higher beings sympathize as they deposit guano on one of the skeptics. She shows excellent upbringing by refraining from uttering the obvious curse word. From up above, we must all look like targets asking for it.

Asking for it is not a bad thing. Just as many good girls do, I used to think that the good in me would be recognized and rewarded. But I have learned that if you desire recognition and reward, it is best to just ask for it. There is not much harm done by asking. The worst that can happen is that they say "no".

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 27: Embodiment

I am slightly baffled at myself. In this day and age of high unemployment and financial uncertainty, one would think that I would feel anxious about my prospects. Before plunging into entrepreneurship, a voice of rational thinking would tell me that I might be better off with the evil I know, than the evil I don't know. And yet, I yearned for the unknown. Now that I am on my own, I am surprised at how happy I am. It seems to show. I was invited to a wonderful patio dinner party with neighbors. Introvert that I am, I usually need to rally myself to attend these events. Yet, yesterday I enjoyed it immensely. I changed outfits several times, before my exasperated son begs, "Please Mommy, you look fine. Just don't change again." I hitchhike the half block to our neighbors', riding next to my friend who offered me the wine-filled IV bag a while ago (for details, see Day12:Sniff). I speak with many new acquaintances and totally enjoy myself. Somebody even commented on the fact that he feels excitement in the atmosphere around me. As I chat about the things that I am up to, his wife comments on how we should all DREAM ON and have passion in life! I now know that I have embodied my dream.

Day 26: One dollar

Today, the kids and I go to the San Francisco Conservatory. While we try to locate my son's violin teacher, my meter drains minutes. I have no more coins, so I give my daughter a dollar bill to be exchanged so that she can top off the meter. Half an hour later, we emerge from the building to find Aya leaning on the car with the dollar bill still in her hand. Apparently, nobody, including the traffic cop who came to give the car a ticket, had change for her. Luckily for me, Aya had the power to shoo the cop away. She reports that a couple of people told her she should not be begging in front of the building. That should teach her to dress up more regularly. It's interesting what impressions a dollar bill in the hand can provoke.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 25: Convict

My cold is gone. I deposit my son off at school early in the morning for his band practice. 10-year-old boys are very cute. We discuss global warming and single-cell creatures in the car. At school two trumpeteers and Maxime with his larger-than-life trombone walk happily off to practice like three peas in a pod.

I zoom home, speak to Tokyo, write to Singapore, chat with California, and then call the court to 'fess up. The fine for running a stop sign is $261! I go online for another $19.99 to attend traffic school. Did you know that you should not pump the brakes while hydroplaning, if you have an antilock brake? I flunk the final exam by one question the first time, and ace it the second time around. Which reminds me of my naturalization test, which I also aced. A good portion of Americans believe that Jesus Christ was a president. At the end of traffic school, I get a certificate mailed to me, and then an offer for $3 if I get fellow convicts to attend the same traffic school. America, the beautiful! There is a saying in Japanese that goes something like this: Make money from a fall. Americans are great at this. When Madoff was all the rage, the WSJ quoted a former convict who set up a consulting firm to advise white collar convicts on how to get assigned to nice prisons. It's called or something like that.

Today also marks the 21st anniversary of my failed first marriage. I have learned so much about myself since then. Using marriage as an escape hatch never works. It'll come to haunt you eventually. But, from failure, also comes gifts. Without the experience, I would not have my wonderful, exceptionally wise 19-year-old son to love and brag about. Happiness and despair are intertwined. You just have to make sure that happiness comes out the winner.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 24- part 2: Comfort Food

It must be the cold that is getting to my head. I feel the urge to strike a conversation about comfort food. When you were a kid and had a cold, what did your mom or dad or dog feed you to make you feel better? My mom made me rice with boiled eggs and spinach mixed in with rice accompanied by Seven Up, just about the only time I got to drink soda. My friend from Minnesota tells me he got cold pizza with Coke. I can only imagine, but do the Irish get potato, the Belgians moule frites, the Hungarians goulash, and the Koreans bibimbop?

For lunch, I make my mom's recipe and substitute Seven Up with Savignon Blanc. Immediately, I feel so much better. I skip up the stairs, roll into bed with a book in hand, and promptly fall asleep. I wake in the afternoon as my daughter hollers, "Mommy, are you home?" Just for safe measure, I stay in bed for another 30 minutes and then go downstairs. My nose is now almost functioning. I can smell things. I have a friend who smells diseases, and I am pretty sure I am down to "yellow" on her alert system. I wonder if I would have recovered so quickly on cold pizza....

Day 24: OK, one at a time!

Did I tell you that I am trying to launch not one new business, but a handful of new businesses? English is such a visual language. I am throwing a plate of spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
Which makes me quite schizophrenic at times. This morning, I am talking to a friend in Tokyo, when my son comes to me for a ride to the bus stop so his green onion plant doesn't get damaged. I rush back home, load the dishwasher and boil water for my tea, while dragging the vacuum cleaner out, and blowing my nose. The phone rings again. This time, it is my husband calling from Lugano. I chat while responding to emails about my insurance and China, and traveling to Paris and education and rollover IRA and AGHHHHH! "OK", I tell myself. "One at a time."

Most people who meet me think I am a very calm person (which still surprises me). Yesterday, I put the oven on "self-clean" and then forget about it, until the alarm goes off at ear-piercing pitch. I run circles around my house visualizing the sprinkler going off, and then what am I going to do?! Charlie looks puzzled as he follows me around. Finally, I get the thing to stop.

I remember a long time ago, getting a call from a friend who was staying at my house in France. The alarm had gone off - I could hear it in the background as she calls urgently pleading for the code to stop it from shrieking. As I wonder aloud whether the code was this or that, my usually polite friend yells into my left ear from thousands of miles away, "GET YOUR HUSBAND ON THE PHONE!" My basic instinct yesterday was also to get my husband on the phone. But what can he do from Switzerland? I reason through my panic. I boldly step up to the alarm plate, punch in the code (which I remember), and then call the alarm company to tell them it's OK, and please don't set the sprinkler on. I hear my voice verge on hysteria, but I persevere. Such are the adventures you are missing out on, sitting in your cubicles at work as you read this. Next time you see me, I may not look as calm as before, but I'll certainly be stronger.

Day 23: Nose

Whatever three things you listed as answers to my question yesterday, are supposedly the three things that are most important to YOU in life. Cogitate that!

Yesterday morning (I am writing a day late), I woke up with a heavy head, and immediately try to recall how many glasses of wine I had the night before. By 9 in the morning, I realize that this is not a hangover, but a good old cold. All day, I sniffle around. I work on a presentation with a box of tissues next to my keyboard. I look at Charlie, who is now constantly at my side, like a faithful shadow. When he sniffs, his whole nose twitches in the most interesting manner. I figure his nose is an inside out version of human noses. I sure hope I won't have to see him when he has a nose cold.

I once met a nose. A nose is a professional who blends scents together to make perfumes. Noses must be careful not to catch a cold. I once knew a pianist who would not do any housekeeping, so as not to injure to her hands. All the different professions that exist today! I wonder if there is a profession that requires you not to work so as not to overwork your brain.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 22: What happened to your face?

Today was an efficient day. The day started out very well. I had to make it down the hill before the town closed down the only road that leads to civilation for repaving. I swam my laps downhill, went to the library to read about how Wall Street better come to terms with the new reality. After filling my car up and running a few errands that all moms have to run, I hop into a Prius to head to Palo Alto. Six grown women with enough degrees combined to cause indigestion enjoy a fun-filled lunch and then move on for a foot massage, from which we emerge with major bed head and tranquility. On the way back, I continue my philosophical conversation with my soul mate. We debate whether musicians are skilled workers, while painters are intellectuals. Today's ultimate question is: If you knew you would not be here (as in, alive on planet Earth) for long, what are the three things you would wish for your loved ones to have. As I pontificate, I freeze mid-sentence. I lose my train of thought. My friend looks sympathetic in between yawns and getting us killed weaving erratically through traffic. My friend, the gorgeous tells me, "One day I was me, the next day I was middle-aged.". I beg to differ. One day I was me, today I am still me, only less self-conscious.

I arrive home and start cooking my wonder meal for the family- believe it or not, I am actually pretty good at cooking. My son #3 comes to the kitchen to chat with me. All my intellectual conversations and sophistication drain. I feel my heart skip a beat. My baby looks just like Quasimodo! Allegedly, a kid (I KNOW WHO YOU ARE) jumped on Maxime "by accident", at which point, my poor son's right side of the face met the asphalt and voila! I am now all Asura and engulfed in rage. All his siblings file into the dining room and I hear, "What happened to your face?!", one after another. Just for fun, I take a mug shot of him. I am known for my high tolerance for outrageousness. However, I must make it clear that I am a sorceress in training, and there are consequences for pouncing on a sorceress' son.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 21: Fishface

Today's BBC news website reports on how police are cracking down on train gropers in Tokyo, and how two thirds of women have experienced being groped on trains. It sounds funny, until you experience it. When you live in Tokyo and need to ride the train, you develop an intuition for these gropers and learn to move away or shield yourself with a bag. It makes you wonder what social malaise bears these sick, sick people. Well, better late than never. I hope the police catches them all.

I am reading an interesting book on intuition. Female intuition, gut feeling, you name it, I am loaded with it. When I think back to people I have known over the years, my first impression usually turns out right. Despite reasonable and rational thinking to modify first impressions, a good person ends up being good, a strange person ends up being strange, a selfish person ends up being selfish, and a rude person ends up proving to be rude.

Which reminds me of a story called "Rude Rabbit". Rude Rabbit liked a rabbit called Honey Bun. He tells her " Give me a kiss, Honey Bun.", and is promptly dismissed. He calls out to someone over the fence, "Oy, fishface!" The lesson of the story is that Rude Rabbit learns the hard way that he must be polite to be liked. Today, I discover that a neighbor has been very impolite. I see her over the fence as I walk Charlie and later think I should have hollered "OY, FISHFACE!" But since I have been to Rude Rabbit's Rudeness Roadshow, my intuition tells me the compliment will be wasted.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 20:Smell

It has rained two days in a row this weekend. This is highly unusual for the time of the year. As we drive down to the library, my youngest child tells me the damp smell makes him very happy. It reminds him of when he was in first grade, playing in the park right next to our house. It's interesting that Maxime (who is now 10) says this. This morning, I walk the hills with Charlie, and the smell of the wind invokes a vision of a 2-year-old Camille (who is now 11) in her little limegreen coat. The other day, my 19-year-old son commented on the scent I wear. "Right, this is your perfume, isn't it? I rememer it now." Jinsuke lives in Tokyo. I hope he thinks of me fondly when he smells the perfume.

Smell is an interesting sense. It can bring back vivid memories. A little whiff can send you back to heaven or hell. I haven't smelled despair in 16 years now, and hope never to smell it again. It's the will to prevent this smell from returning, that has spurred me on all these years.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day 19: Blackmail

This morning, I wake up with lightning flashing across the sky, and thunder following in big rumbles. The end of summer has arrived in paradise.

The afternoon rolls by, and I go to a yoga class with my daughter. The teacher is sad, as she is told that her class will end due to budget cuts. She tears up, which tells me she really likes teaching (or is she afraid of the financial strain?). Aya and I are not the gushing type. We leave tearless, and in considerable physical pain.

In the evening, my friend stops by with her husband and two adorable babies. My babies, are amused with the little ones. I am bemused at how quickly my children have grown. I remember in detail, the days they were born, each and every one. Which makes me wonder....

My friend who reads natal charts asks me every 15 years about my birth time. Every time, I ask my mother. She doesn't remember, although last time I pressed, she "believes I was born in the morning". I wonder how she cannot remember. Is it because it was too traumatic? Unfortunately, my relationship with my parents is extremely traditional. I don't talk about feelings with them. They are my parents and therefore, it is inappropriate to discuss feelings.

I am the exact opposite with my children. When they hurt my feelings, I cry. When they are inconsiderate, I bash them over the head with a truckload of anger. When they are brilliant, I hope I am the first to tell them so. Afterall, they are the future. They are my passion. And, like it or not, I have a LOT OF INFORMATION about them that they wouldn't want made public.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day 18: The Good, Good Pig

I once read a book called "The Good, Good Pig". The story is about the life and death of a pet pig the size of a small U-Haul, and how he brought happiness to the people around him. Life is ultimately about how happy you are with who (or is it whom) you are and what you do. September 11th always reminds me of this. It could easily have been me in the World Trade Center. It could have been me in the planes. I was scheduled to be on a plane to Tokyo. Instead, I was able to go to school to pick my children up at 3 o'clock that afternoon, something that never happened before. My children were not among those at school who were told their parents were lost. 9/11 was the "reset button" that told me to think about the meaning of life. Life to me is not about doing the largest transaction ever, or being the richest person in the neighborhood. Life is about being happy, and therefore, spreading happiness to people around me. Maybe one day, people will remember me as "The Good, Good Person".

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day 17: 80/20

It is common knowledge that Charlie is one of laziest dogs to have walked the face of the Earth. When he was a puppy, he would not go on walks. He had to be carried around in my children's arms. Now that he is 70 lbs, this is not possible, but he still does not thrive on walks. Many mornings, he will look back at me mournfully as he is led off. Charlie is one of the only dogs known to mankind to eat his food lying down. "Why stand when you can lie down?" summarizes his approach to life. He can be found in the middle of the night, snoring on a leather couch with his head on a pillow. He is the master of doing 80% of the work with 20% of the effort. In the morning, when I rise and open my bedroom door, Charlie is posted right there, faithfully guarding me from wolves. As he performs his first down dog of the day, he is content in the belief that I trust he has saved my life yet again.

Much as I would like to find myself lounging in my sunlit parlor, sipping my flute of mimosa, listening to Chopin and doing close to nothing while raking in millions, this is not yet the case. I have been working on various business ideas with friends from all over the world. My productive work hours have skyrocketed. I have even started sleeping less! This is the biggest sacrifice for me. I don't watch TV. For me, sleep is my entertainment. A well respected medical doctor wrote a book on how the left brain inhibits the right brain from intuitively knowing many things. When I dream, there is no inhibition. I am impressed with my French, my maths, my story plots, my business finesse, and my musical talent. For me to forgo my entertainment is a major sacrifice. I aspire to be like Charlie one day. 80% of the work done with 20% of effort.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 16: Technology

When I graduated from business school five days before giving birth to my now 15-year old son, Google did not exist. Yahoo, Netscape (remember?) did not exist. Youtube wasn't around either, not to mention Facebook and Twitter.

Technology is great when it works, but is as close to hell as I can imagine when it doesn't. This morning, I spend hours - my VOIP phone doesn't work, internet doesn't work - thank goodness for Blackberry, which has never failed me. I struggle with Comcast to no avail. But, I will not let this ruin my day. Today is 09/09/09 - lucky extreme!

I jump into my batmobile and head over the Golden Gate Bridge to see my friend. Trauma is evident, as I move back into the slow lane after spotting a police car, which turns out to be a Subaru-whatever-hatch-back-with-ski-racks-on-top. I curse the driver for generations to come, and immediately feel much better. An academic article says there is proof that cursing while in pain helps. I feel that the same is true with anger.

At 5 o'clock, I find myself in a middle school auditorium, listening to someone preach about techonology and social wellbeing. My daughter is getting a laptop! Such advance, such privilege. This is truly marvelous. My children are fortunate to have such an innovative environment, I muse while reading my emails on my Blackberry. Then the fun starts. I know the drill. I have done this many times before. I tell my daughter to dash to the front of the gym to snatch the laptop and be done with it. Sweet, innocent child - she dashes, but returns to retrieve her mother (who is thinking about deja vu, Chablis and things like that) , at which point, she loses her spot and ends up being the fourth from last to receive her coveted laptop. I wonder why, in this age of technology, we do not have a more efficient system, in which we and our offsprings are not forced to exhibit our basic instincts of competing for who gets there first.

Speaking of getting there first, Mikimoto (as in Mikomoto pearls) has an annual sale for patrons. One of my friends has purchased a barge full of pearls from Mikimoto. Going to the store in Manhattan with her, is the closest I have felt to royalty. The annual BIG sale, to which I have been only once, is all about getting there first. One year, I meet up with warriors from the sale in a wine bar. The warriors display their conquests, exchange war stories, barter goods in good humor, while frightened waiters come to refill our glasses. This is passion in its purest form.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 15: Give to get

This morning, I go to a yoga class with 60 or so of us packed like sardines. I cannot help wondering what these people do for a living. Why are they doing yoga at 9:30 on a productive weekday? Squeezing between two yoga witches, who glare at me for invading their personal space bubble, I smile sweetly and send them auras of love. I use telepathy to convey the secret - you must give to get. They are not telepathic.

I philosophize while twisting myself into interesting shapes. Giving only works if someone is there to receive. I think back to when I was a junior most on a trading desk. At the beginning, I gave into a void. I floundered. I didn't know what I didn't know. Then, one day, I had someone who caught the ball I threw. So much fun! The ball went back and forth for years, until one day, it didn't. This hurt.

But that's life. You can always pick up another ball and start throwing until somebody starts catching it for you. If you don't give, you won't get. "It's the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 14: Pushing the envelope

Yesterday, I wrote that I am perfectly happy being myself. This is true now, but this statement would have been stretching reality not too long ago. At lunch last week, we were debating society and how we are responsible for shaping it. One school of thought was to be open about the difficulties of balancing life and a career, and the more we are open about it, the more we can change the situation for the better. As my friend put it, "Everyone else has a wife that does the laundry. Since I don't have one, I have to do it myself, and I am not going to pretend it's not difficult."

While working my way up the career highway in New York, I had three babies. I was desperate not to be seen as being on the "mommy track". I gained 35% of my normal weight each time and looked like a melon, ate super-sized MacMeals, but pretended nothing was out of the ordinary. I marvel at my colleagues' ability to go with the flow - oh, she's just very, very hungry...

I don't know the right answer for re-shaping society. All I know is that it's not easy either way.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Day 13: Tutankhamun

Everyone knows about King Tut, the boy king. For those that fall into the rare bucket of NOT everyone, "(King Tut, Tut) He lived on the Nile. (King Tut, Tut) He ate a crocodile." Anyway, he is famous because of Howard Carter and his expedition on behalf of Lord Carnavon and the CURSES. Why, you may think, am I rambling about a 16-year-old adolescent that lived and died thousands of year ago? It all has to do with lunch. My younger daughter, Camille, says that Hatshepsut, who was actually a woman pharaoh who reigned 3,500 years or so ago, wore men's clothing and donned a beard to gain respect. Now, that is what I call sexist!

I too, have encountered women who don a masculine persona in the work place, and have never figured out how they manage to reconcile it within themselves. As the beautiful Swedish yoga teacher this morning says, "You must not sell your soul." I for one, am perfectly happy being myself. My shoulder-padded suits from the '80s are now as ancient and gone as Hatty herself.

A long time ago, I worked on a trading floor with 200 men and 10 women - of the women, half were extremely young and beautiful, and the other half were neither, but had wonderful brains. One of my brainy women colleagues forgot her medicine one day and asked whether anyone had Prozac to spare. The number of hands that shot up in the air to offer a tablet was impressive. My yoga session this morning reminded me of this incident.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Day 12: Sniff

Hold it! Don't call the troops yet. I have managed to untangle myself. Many thanks to my wonderful neighbor who offered to come visit the hospital with PLENTY of wine to be put right into my IV bag. Thanks goes also to my father-in-law who has informed me that one traffic ticket is NOTHING, he has over 200. Such over-achievers in my family...

Speaking of over-achievers, I was not one until I turned 13. By the time I finished elementary school, I had been to 6 different schools in 3 different countries. It is safe to assume that I was confused. However, my mother was not one to be distracted by confusion. She made me take half a dozen entrance exams for private middle schools. Given that I barely understood what language the exams were given in, and that I was an extremely laid back kid, it is only reasonable to expect that I flunked them all.
The last one I flunked, my mom got mad at my apparent nonchalance. I guess that's what moms are for. From age 13 to the present 21+, I have been an uber-over-achiever. But, I lay my sword down. Life is too short and sweet to overdo things. As my poetic friend writes, some of us have "wasted our best years working like hell, riding on the career highway without taking the time to look at the landscape along the way." Now, I feel like sniffing the roses while Charlie sniffs at something less agreeable.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 11: Martians

Like Martians, I know you are out there, although I cannot prove it. Thank you for reading my blog!

In between answering to Billy Joel look-alike dumbed-down-twice cops, and paying bills, I have had a wonderful time chatting with friends from all corners of the world. And as the old adage goes, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." Now that I am stripped of all titles and obvious merits to them, the friends that take time out of their busy days to write to me and to call me, and to have lunches and dinners with me, are truly gifts to me.

Now, as a token of appreciation, gratitude and love, I bow to you with my left calf over my head, and my right leg suspended at 90 degrees from my third eye, in a sincere sign of serenity....and, if i don't write tomorrow, please send the cops to check on me. Namaste!

Day 10: Henry Higgins

Like most girls of my generation (i.e. 21-years-old and above), I grew up reading Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty. Now, I find it hard to differentiate between the three fairy tales and their heroines. Why does it remind me of all the perfectly turned out trophy wives in my neighborhood? (Yes, I never said I wasn't spiteful.)

I recently bought a DVD of My Fair Lady. I suppose I have grown. When I was a girl, I was in awe of Henry Higgins, and all that he represented. Now, I find him slightly repelling and rather seedy. My favorite song is no longer "The Rain in Spain Falls Mostly in the Plain." Instead, it is the one that Eliza Dolittle's good-for-nothing father sings - "With a little bit of blooming luck..."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 9: It's Okay

Despite my unannounced rule of not spending the day taking care of the house (for this is a major time pit), I do just that this morning. I find myself scrubbing the kitchen floor because of a comment someone made that it was looking kind of dirty. This is a slippery slope. The other day, my son missed the school bus home from school, and called looking for a ride home. The following day, my daughter calls from the bottom of the hill, saying it's really hot, can you come pick me up. It is so easy to say "Yes." But, I say "No." The life of a mother and wife is very busy. Once you give in to a little bit here, a little bit there, there is no stopping the avalanche. Before you know it, the day will have gone by running little errands for everyone. So, I steel myself. I make a goal of not spending more than a couple of hours a day for the "housewife" chores.

Today, I also splurge on a brand new little black notebook, to record what I do everyday for my new business lines. My little black notebooks have been my partner in crime for years. I sure hope this little black notebook does not end up being form over substance.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 8: Side Effect

This morning, I go for a fun session with three friends. We start off with a whole body massage, and move straight into lunch. All three of my friends are accomplished professionals in various sectors. Listening to them talk about work makes me jealous. Not because I want their jobs, but because of how they describe how they enjoyed their work so much. I am now convinced that I too need to create that dream job for myself. Renewing my vows to find THE dream, I scoop up grocery (for dreams cannot interfere with feeding one's family), and head home. Driving in my wonder car (for that is what it is), I imagine how it would be when I attain that dream job. In a distant corner of my brain, I register the sound of sirens. Sirens... I wonder which poor grandma they caught today. I glance at my rear view mirror. Oh, no! I pull to the curb, and don my innocent little lady look. "Hello. Did I do something wrong?", I say. "Ma'am, you just drove through a stop sign.", says Officer Muscle Brain No Humor. "I did? I am SO sorry. I didn't even notice it." I pour 100% charm into every cell in my body, while secretly wondering why it matters whether I go at 2 miles per hour or zero miles per hour. My efforts are wasted. I now have my first ever traffic ticket. The moral of this story is: life goes on while one dreams. Beware of stop signs. I wonder if this ticket is a valid business expense.