Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 66: Halloween

Halloween in the Bay Area is a little strange. Today boats are sailing in the bay. I find myself in my backyard in my sleeveless shirt having brunch with some friends, while basking in the warm sun. Tonight, the air is still a little warm. Mind you, I am not complaining. It sure beats trick-or-treating while worrying about frost bites.

Mercy did not persevere in the household. This afternoon, I find a mini pumpkin firmly gripped in the jaws of the giant one, while the remaining mini looks on in horror. It is Halloween after all.

With teenagers, there seems to be a 2 year period where they are too big to trick-or-treat. Then, the revert to dressing up and hanging out again. Aya, who is in the 2-year period, agrees to chaperone her younger siblings in their outfits in return for "community service" hours. She takes her pillow case, just in case. Julien, on the other hand, is beyond that, and has gone to "hang out" with his friends in the dark.

Back at home, high up on the hill, where no kids venture for candy, my husband and I sip our cups of tea, and remember the days when we frantically kept head count of our kids on Halloween.

The two pre-teens and Aya call for a ride back up the hill. As I pull into the store parking lot, I see a vampire, a wolf and a teenager checking out their loot on the sidewalk. Turns out Aya made the vampire and wolf say their little sister was at home sick so that people would give extra candy. Cunning.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 65: Kids

The Bay Bridge is still down. Traffic is bad, so I decide to stay in my village as much as possible. But, on the main boulevard, traffic is stalled. The local school K ~ 2nd grade is off to their Halloween parade. I see fairies, and ninjas, witches and oversized Poohs and Tiggers (over-zealous parents) cross the street, all 500 or so of them.... By the time the cars start moving, I am so into the parade, that I don't really want to go.

This afternoon, I help carve a jack-o-lantern complete with a third eye - totally Marin.The original theme was to have a gigantic pumpkin swallow up reluctant tiny pumpkins, but mercy got in the way, and now big and small are smiling next to each other. We roast the pumpkin seeds and munch. The third eye reminds me of this morning's yoga. My yoga teacher probably watched Jane Fonda's aerobics last night. I empathize with the lady who sticks her neck out of the window mid-way and heaves oxygen in and out.

Two of our kids are out and about this evening, and with one in college already, that leaves two at the table. In four years, two more will be off to college and the house will be like this every day. Sad. I wonder if it's harder to be an empty nester if you start off with more kids than average.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 64: Funny

Until 5 minutes ago, I thought I was pretty funny. Now, I change my mind. Julien shows me a blog website called My tummy muscles are stronger now from laughing.

Day 63: Poof

I am writing a day late, because my wise son said something to me last night that was really powerful and worthy of mentioning. I was too tired to get out of bed and write it down. And now, POOF! it's gonzo. Cannot remember even a morsel.

A couple of years ago, I had a great idea. My husband tells me it was his idea, but I cannot recall, which is the beauty of selective memory. I even secured a website called It has expired so go grab it now. Anyway, it was how you could erase negative information about yourself from the internet. I was told it doesn't work. Now, there is a company called reputation something or other that does exactly that.

I realize that tenacity is not my strong suit. I am easily swayed. When I have notions, but someone says "no", I give up quite easily on most things. There are few things that I insist on. Among those few are basic table manners - don't eat with your mouth open, don't hold your fork like a pitchfork, don't start eating before everyone at the table is served , etc. etc. , and treat everyone equally - don't grovel, don't condescend.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 62: Hair

A good friend tells me that I have "LOTS OF GREY HAIR, which makes me look OLD". Another good friend tells me that I have typical old Japanese lady hair. I may need to change the definition of "good friend" on them one day, but I take their comment to heart. I have a theory that one should age gracefully, and not obsess about youth. I like women with well coiffed grey hair. It makes them look wise and elegant. My husband says it makes them look old.

This morning, I drive to Japan town to get a new look. Two and a half hours later, I emerge with seaweed black hair and a "wanna look young" hairdo, which I immediately destroy by re-shaping into old Japanese lady hair. I lunch with a friend who politely says I look great.

Once home, I approach my daughter, Aya, who is still recovering from a bout of tummy bug. "Whoa!", she says. "It looks really black." Upon further interogation on whether that is supposed to indicate good or bad, she says, "Well, you did it. It's not like you have much choice now." I marvel at the power of words. How much more eloquently can one say "bad" without using the word?

The other kids come home, too. Camille says "Whoa, what did you do to your hair?". Julien says "It looks PURPLE, like a rock star." The only one who says it looks nice maybe too often, is Maxime. I remember now the hairdresser saying I could always change the color next time. My husband is wonderful. He comes home and says "It looks great. You look young and cute, just like when I met you." Even though I know this is stretching the truth a little, I am humored into thinking it's not so bad after all.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 62: Cold

Just as I had predicted yesterday, my joints are aching, my head throbbing and my tummy hurting. Three of the four kids stay home sick today. The good news is that this cold appears to work swiftly and then simply moves on. What is also good is that the kids know the drill. It's not like the old days when you had to cuddle them and stay with them, while feeling like death yourself. We each retire to our rooms and sleep. Once in a while, someone would fix something to eat, and then retire again. Overall, it's a very unexciting day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 61: Tank top

How many people spent the day in a tank top today? I bet you there are not many. This is what I love about the Bay Area. While my friends in Japan are suffering from a typhoon, and New York is getting cold and depressing, I am walking around all day in a Calvin Klein tank top (3 for $19) and an $8.97 pair of pants bought at the Gap.

But, the swine flu is active. Half of my kids' class are out sick. I have a couple of kids that have succumbed, too. Seasoned parent that I am, I know it's a matter of time before I get it (although it may just be a stomach bug). Just in case, I infuse my body with alcohol, put ginger in every meal, and drink a lot of fluid.

A long time ago, when we lived in Toronto, I remember not catching a single cold. Rumor has it that it's too cold for the viruses.

Day 60: Rat Race

Thinking back to a few years ago, I was absolutely, totally burnt out. 9/11 had come and gone, I had become a senior executive of sorts in large corporations, and was realizing that hard work and brains alone did not get you any further up the corporate ladder. All of a sudden, there was a glass ceiling, there were politics, there were stakes to compete for.... and what for?

Over the years, our family had grown, our lifestyle had become more elaborate. I was on the treadmill, in the midst of a rat race, the head pig in a three-pig-race, and totally, utterly unhappy.

So, we moved back west for semi-retirement. But once a rat, always a rat. Less than a year had gone by before I was on the treadmill again, albeit a mini-treadmill. I got sucked into the vortex, until I realized how futile it was. Things got easier, I started "letting go", and here I am.


Now, I need to remind myself to stay this way as long as possible.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 59: Multi-tasking

Being at home is actually quite busy. There is always something to improve on the homefront. Today I have the window person, the gate guy, the door people, the appliance gang all converge one after another. It's a good thing I wake up early to mini-meditate, take a shower and head to yoga. While I chat with all these nice people who come to take care of the house, I chop vegetables and prepare another slow-cook dinner.

In between all of this, I work on 3 or 4 projects, and head to the pool for a quick dip. Busy, busy, busy. But all this sure beats sitting in my cubicle, staring at the screen and looking at my navel. When you have the freedom to do what you need to do, and not look like you are busy for the sake of looking like you are busy, life is a lot more satisfying.

I verify that my intuitive training is working. Maxime comes back from 4 nights at camp, and tells me he was sick one day and vomited. I already know this happened, because I had a dream that night that he was feeling bad with a tummy ache. This just proves that you have to try everything out at least once. Don't let your reasoning get in the way. There are many, many things that are unexplained in this world. Just because you cannot explain how it works, doesn't mean it doesn't work. For instance, has anyone explained how love works? We all know it's there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 58: Complication

I have broken through my 10-day lull today! I can feel it. It may have been the fortune cookie, the intuition training, the meditation, the yoga or the wine. Whatever it was, it worked. This morning, I walk down the hills with Camille and climb back up the goat path slower than the last time. I line things up for different businesses, prepare a nice slow-cooking dinner before preparing for lunch, swim a few laps and have some calls with HK and Tokyo, not to mention Palo Alto, San Mateo and Santa Clara. The scales that were clouding my view are gone. I can see clearly again. In the end, we make things much more complicated than they really are.

A perfect example would be a situation like this: Your boss comes by to ask a question. You answer by truthfully saying how glad you are that he asked, because you were just thinking of this. An even more truthful answer would have been to say that you thought he'd never ask, because it is such an obvious thing, and yet you know he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. To have addressed the situation the first way, you will have given your boss false illusion that you think highly of his intellect. By using the latter approach, you make it clear that you think he is lacking in some je ne sais quoi, and that he is way over his head. Things may not bode well in the short term, but you will have done better by moving on earlier in the long term.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 57: Wish

This morning starts with dropping my daughter off at school and heading to yoga with major bed head. I am happy to see that my yoga teacher has equally bad hair, and is too sleepy for contact lenses. By 9:15, we are in a state of peace and calm, as we take a little rest at the end. My funky yoga teacher sings and preaches, "Accept who you are, in the totality. There is nothing left to achieve." I wish.

As I drive back home, I am chased off the street by fire engines rushing from the adjacent village into ours. Two hills away from my house, above the school, a house is ablaze. Helicopters hover above to get an aerial shot. I am thankful that it has rained a lot recently.

Lunch in Sausalito with my friend. As I pull into the parking lot, I see a sign that says the restaurant is closed. As I sit in my car with my hand to my mouth, my friend strolls up to declare conspiracy, as this is the second time I do this. This must be karma. We go to the Chinese joint next door, and have a nice chat. My fortune cookie says, "You will never need to worry about a steady income." I wish.

In the evening, I go for a walk with Charlie in an attempt to dispose of some calories, and try out some new meditation skills. As I walk the open field, I spot a COYOTE in daylight, which I hear is dangerous. Who says nothing happens in the suburbs?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 56: Side effect

I find it easy to ask people for help on others' behalf, but quite hard for myself. Is this universal? Is it because it makes me feel like a good person to ask for others, but it makes me feel selfish when I ask for myself? Someone tells me that humans are the only animals that make things so complex, but I am not so sure of this. Charlie, who is a dog, often sulks and stays away even when he wants a hug.

On a separate topic, I have gained 5 lbs in 56 days. I have analyzed the situation carefully. There are two reasons for this weight gain. The first is that I am not stressed. Stress drains me of appetite, while the lack thereof enhances my desire for food. The second is that I don't move around as much on my feet as I used to, despite covering so much ground compared to before. This afternoon, I walk an hour and a half with friends to remedy the latter issue. It probably does not help that I lunched with another set of friends before. I decide that the lack of stress is a good thing, and I will just have to exercise more.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day 55: Monk

My day starts early today as I participate in a 3-way conference call with Japan and the Middle East on the other line. It is so satisfying when one is in the company of intelligent, well informed people. That is the one thing I enjoy most about international finance. One tends to work with the best and brightest that each culture has to offer. I realize at 3 a.m. that I miss this very much, and feel happy to be included in the scene again. I putter off to bed, and wake up at 7 feeling quite groggy. The rain doesn't help.

Lunch is with a former rug dealer friend, who in his youth, discovered that poverty was over-rated, and turned the situation around. Conversations with him always remind me of a cartoon I used to watch in Japan called Ikkyu-san. Ikkyu was a child monk, who apprentices with the monks and seeks the meaning of life. This also reminds me of the TV series of Kung Fu, where the Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine travels the journey of his soul. My friend talks about transitioning from being a builder to becoming an architect, and how it is best to apprentice with an architect to learn the trade efficiently. I immediately think back to the old days on the desk starting with the rough-on-the-outside-and-mush-inside Dean (who taught me how to check whether something made sense intuitively), and his sidekick Jeff who actually jokingly called me "grasshopper" all the time. Since then, I have had many mini architects to learn from, none of them being complete in their monkhood, but all having snippets of wisdom. Hopefully, I have made progress, and while one never arrives till the end, I aspire to pass as a junior architect in my endeavors.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day 54: Sunday night

It's Sunday night, and I am not dreading going to work tomorrow morning. How many of you can say the same? It is sad how often going to the office means killing your spirits. What makes it this way? Who is to blame? Who is it that sets the tone, and who can change this?

I have worked at companies where I felt that we were all working towards a common goal, and we all pulled together to get there. I have also worked at companies where the stated common goal was not at all the real goal of those who had the most say. When you don't do as you say, those around you can tell. In a family, children are the reflection of their parents. In a company, employees are the reflection of their leaders. When you have bad parents, the children suffer. When you have bad leaders, the employees suffer. Fortunately, employees can change their employers, whereas, the same cannot be said for children and their parents.

Day 53: Cosmopolitan

When I was 20-years-old, I dreamt of being a diplomat. Working for the UN was my dream back then. I took courses from Professor Sadako Ogata, who later became the head of the UNHCR. But then, I thought about it long and hard in the abstract, and figured that I wanted children, and concluded it would be rather difficult to have a husband (because back then, I didn't think I could have children without a husband) who would accompany me on my 3-year stints. So, I gave up before I even tried.

Over the years, I have become friends with some diplomats and marvel at their ability to move from country to country every few years. As a child, I had a similar experience, and find that this has helped me become a flexible person. Some say it's good to have roots, and I have friends who were born, raised and live in one city all their lives. I cannot imagine this myself, but think it may be very nice, too. I find that being cosmopolitan has nothing to do with how many cities one has lived in, or how many languages one speaks. It's all about how accepting one is, and how interested, how curious one is about different people and cultures. Over the years, we have had nannies help us with the kids. Counting the nationalities of the nannies from Asia, Europe, and Africa, my children have been blessed with multitudes of cultures. I am hopeful that these children will be the norm of the future generation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day 52: Zing

My neighbor and friend visits for a drink, but is slightly wary. His image of me as the smooth and calm neighbor is distorted by images from this blog. My former colleague and friend chats with me and says, I am not showing enough of my color, the "sting" and zing that is my trademark. Too little or too much?

I read that some idiotic throwback in Louisiana is refusing to marry mixed race couples, because 'the children will not be accepted in their parents' community'. All I can say is that this one-cell amoeba better check the gene pools of the president of the United States of America, to whom he probably kinda sorta has a dotted line.

We are here on Earth for a limited time together, like it or not. We may as well accept each other and try to enjoy each other's company. Who is this atrocious ape to pass judgment on what is acceptable? Didn't he learn about rules when he took his role in justice? Didn't he take elementary biology that diversity is good, and too much of the same can produce adverse consequences? This king of idiots needs to be spanked a few times and have his brain muscle checked out for the existence of synapsis. Now is this too little or too much?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day 51: French

I took French in college. I remember the skits clearly. Mireille Deschamps bumps into a guy trying to grab the same cab. In NY, this would end in bad language and unspeakable sign language, but in Paris, it ends up being a romance. I forget which, but either Mireille or the guy (let's call him Pierre) says, "J'habite a Place de la Concorde.", and off they go. I cannot recall much more since I was traumatized by my French prof who threatened to throw me out the window for not doing my homework. In fact, I was so traumatized that I cannot recall my third year of French, which my classmates insist I took.

So, it must come as a shock to all who know me that I am actually French. It may surprise all of you who heard my sister's inflight announcement, to learn that she is now also French, and is actually fluent in the language. I, on the other hand, have not progressed much. Every year, I open the same text book in the summer before heading to our summer house in France. Every year, I get to chapter 2. This explains why I am always in the present in French. Today, I need to read some business documents in French, and decide that I should use this sabbatical to master the basics. My French profs and tutors will be proud of me. I drag down a ladder from the garage, and locate my Bescherelle and French/English dictionary. I cannot find my text book. I must drag down a taller ladder later, or fly to France to rescue it from the gekkos.

With a new goal thus set, I drive into San Francisco for two lunches, one at 11:30 and another at 1:30. No wonder my jeans are tighter around my mid-section. I lunch with a total of three friends, a glass of pinot gris and lots of fun. Now, I suppose I should tackle the rest of the business document. As my kids told me a few years ago, they too were once as bad as I am in French, but if I persevere, I may just make it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day 50: Myopia

I am a quarter of the way on my 200-day journey. I feel there are efficiencies that could be improved upon, instead of poking into holes here and there to see if there are worms worth eating. But, that is part of my self-discovery.

I enjoy various interesting encounters, starting with the lifeguard at the local pool. She says the pool was open in the storm yesterday, because their spoilt clientele will complain if they close down. I feel that things are slightly out of wack when people swim at the risk of being hit with a chimney ripped off its roof. What makes us so myopic in our pursuits?

I speak with my friend in NY this morning. My mistake is to open the front door to let the air in before my call. With air, come flies. I am trying to concentrate on the excel spreadsheet on my screen, but the flies are really getting on my nerves. Before long, I find myself with the phone hooked between my chin and shoulder, while swinging the orange fly swatter rigorously with my left arm. I hop around the room killing flies while discussing tax efficiency on the phone, and a leak problem with the plumber who looks at my warily from behind a column. I realize that I, too have been myopic in my pursuit.

My daughters also single-mindedly tell me this morning that THERE IS NO CHOCOLATE, NO BREAD, NO JAM. I even receive text messages reminding me of this. Out of the blue, my daughter tells me she would like to go to Ghana next summer to take care of underprivileged children. I wonder how this idea came to be, and what is wrong with taking care of underprivileged children right here? Besides, the only person I know from Ghana, is a very charming young intelligent women, who cannot be associated with the word "underprivileged". I send my daughter back with an assignment to do more data compilation on the topic of serving the underprivileged. Nevertheless, I come home with 4 lbs of chocolate (a produce of Ghana), 3 loaves of bread, and 4 pots of jam.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 49: Waiting

Today is a great day not to have to drive around much. The skies are dumping cats and dogs, along with gushing winds. The Golden Gate Bridge is still standing although I wonder how it drains the rain water. Sitting at my little desk next to my window, I feel like the captain of a ship sailing on stormy seas. Quite magnificent.

From my comfortable perch high up in the hills, I am starting to get a little antsy. I bought a self-help book called "How to Rule the World from Your Couch", and have been doing the exercises that are supposed to get me to where I want to be, from the comfort of my couch. The goal is to hone my intuition. So far, I have not made much progress with the intuitive powers. Entertaining as it is, the intellectual in me is wondering what I am doing. I telepathize apple to my daughter who receives grapes. I do better with my son, who says apple. Once I master fruits, I may move on to figure out the right business.

The interesting thing about new businesses, is that there is actually a lot of waiting to do. Waiting to hear back from people, waiting to go to the next step. Having done a lot to progress in my career, it feels unproductive not to "do". I suppose that is what makes me anxious today. While I wait, I will practice my intuition. If you feel me poking at your brain, send me an email. Chances are that I am sending you a message about fruits.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day 48: Storm front

There is a storm front hitting us just now. It is the same storm that used to be a typhoon in Japan last week. Growing up in Japan, the typhoon season was always exciting. People would talk about the imminent typhoon and board up their houses, while we would hope that school would close. The day after, you would see roof tiles cracked on the street below with their goblin faces looking straight at you. The same sense of excitement is in the air this evening. The bay looks more active than usual, the plants look as if they are ready to receive all the rain that the skies are willing to give.

Today, I go to school to volunteer as a solar oven cook. I wonder if the event is on, since I see very little of my friend Ra. But then, I re-think. Solar ovens should work in overcast conditions. In fact, my Irish friend explained to me just last week, that solar panels work better when it's not too sunny. I find that I am wrong. So, I head home and detour at the pool for a few laps. As I finish, my husband calls to see if I feel like lunch, which I do. We find free parking and have a nice lunch. Around 2, I decide that the house needs cleaning and spend an hour of aerobics with my faithful vacuum cleaner. The kids trickle home, the winds pick up and we see activity in the skies. All the boats seem to have moored themselves securely. We have brought the outdoor chairs in, but now the rain has stopped, and I finally see blue skies.

I think I might be a primitive form of life. As the blue skies show, I feel my spirits lifting. All the melancholic thoughts are evaporating. I feel that life is full of opportunities again.

Day 47: Lull

It's unfortunate that the skies stay overcast the whole day. In the afternoon, our hot tub is full of 14-year-old girls, but the Blue Angels are only doing lateral movements mostly above San Francisco. I stay near the pool to keep and eye on them, just in case. I feel a lull in my pursuit for a dream job. Is it the arrival of autumn that makes me feel that I wouldn't mind not doing anything for a while? Is it the teenage energy that is making me feel a little long in the tooth? Or is it that I am just quite lazy? I suppose Sundays are meant so that one can let go and just be.

In the evening, we are invited to our neighbors who are in their 70's and very active in their professions. I wonder what it is that keeps them so engaged. Whatever it is, it seems to be working.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 46: Saturday

The day starts with Yoga led by a funky Brit. This is quickly becoming a place for meditation, not unlike churches, mosques, temples, shrines, with the added benefit of some muscular flexibility. I feel calm and centered again. My love and I head home, prepare lunch and then heat up the hot tub. The Blue Angels are performing today. They start off by flying over the house and onto the bay. A few times, they pass nearby, but mostly, they look like dust specks, especially for people too vain to wear glasses when they should. In between losing them and confusing turkey buzzards for them, I train my psychic abilities. I am trying to guess how a certain apartment in Rome looked like in August 2008. I fail miserably. Today, Maxime says I am rather weird. Upon interogation, I find that I am weird, because most people don't try out their dreams, but I try all my dreams. I take this as the ultimate compliment. If there is one thing a parent can teach their children, it is the ability to keep on dreaming. Two hours of sitting in the hot tub, produces raisin-like toes. Just about now, I could use those dead skin nibbling fish that originate from Turkey. I wonder if they sell them at pet shops. They are probably just as good pets as Charlie, who has displayed rare talent in catching flies with his jaws.

In the late afternoon, we fight traffic as we head into the city to retrieve our violinist. This is the first time I see so many people in San Francisco. We find our son, then head to Clement Street to purchase fresh vegetable and other edibles. The Chinese stores are great. They have such variety in vegetable, some that I don't know how to call, but love to eat. We fill the batmobile with 3 big boxes full of food, and head home for dinner. Some trees are starting to color and shed their leaves, giving an autumn-like atmosphere to the neighborhood. A nice lazy Saturday evening.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day 45: Energy

I spend the day at and around Stanford University. It seems that everyone is launching or getting ready to launch a new business. The quiet, laid back, sunny suburban town is actually buzzing with energy. I compare this to New York, where energy is evident in the big city look of the people. How is it that this quiet area of Palo Alto has such energy, but remains so calm?

This is the America that I love. New ideas are tried out, some leading to great success, and others falling by the wayside. The ones that fail are not stigmatized for life, as they would be in other societies. Rather, they wear their failure as a badge of honor, and simply try again. It reminds me of the Little Engine that Could.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 45: Blue Angels

The Blue Angels are doing loops in front of my house over the bay! Meanwhile Berlusconi is angry that he is not granted immunity for all the "interesting things" he is accused of doing, and the 85-year-old son of Brooke Astor is convicted of stealing from his late mom. This world is full of the awesome and the mundane.

I take full advantage of my "retirement", as my son puts it, and go to yoga in the morning, then proceed to engage in an afternoon of cooking a nice coq au vin with a great bottle of cabernet called "Kick Ass". This is going to be a good dinner.

Mornings of hikes and lunches with friends have given me inspiration for yet another business. The strange thing is that the idea came while I was becoming a human tripod on the mat wondering about discussions with friends and myself. Who said you had to be at your desk for great things to happen?

Dinner comes. Good friends, neighbors, and family try my coq au vin, and find it acceptable. Bottles of wine, great desserts, and great conversations carry the evening into the night. Tomorrow is still a weekday - carpe diem!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 44: School mom

This morning, I go to my child's school to volunteer in the vegetable garden. I spend time alone with lettuces, strawberries, swiss chard, basil, rosemary, sunflowers, lemon mint and white bugs that have infested a lemon tree. I volunteered as a gardener because I like gardening. I feel happy working alone in peace with plants and silent animals (worms). Then at lunch, I find out from my friend who is a working mother that I did it all wrong. Today's WSJ says if you have limited time and want to have the most positive impact on your child from your volunteering deed, you should volunteer where the child can see you in action. My kid didn't even see me at school today, but at least the plants are happy.

I don't have a stellar track record when it comes to volunteering for schools. One year, I received a call from a mom looking for a fellow volunteer. I explain to her that much as I would like to help, I have a full time job and four kids under the age of 5. "Oh my god, that's crazy. I will never call to ask you again!" I suppose word got around. For years, I was not harassed about volunteering. When we moved to California, I had to do it all over again. A mom called once to see if I would traffic control in front of the school. It had been a particularly trying day, and I think I might have become momentarily insane. I remember reciting all the horrible things I had to do at work, and then asking if she still wanted me to traffic control. That year, I didn't get any more requests. Once, at a friend's house, I met fellow parents. One lady exclaimed "Oh, you are the mom that doesn't do anything!" Yup, that's me. I have a friend who has four children and is a workaholic. She was even more blunt. "I have more money than I have time. May I write you a check?" People like she and I are the reason that working moms have a bad reputation amongst other moms. As I chat about this with my kids in the car today, my son says, "But you are not a working mom anymore." And that explains why I am going back on Monday to bake bread in a solar oven with 5th graders. At least this time, I will have maximum visibility and high positive impact on my child.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 43: INFP

Self-reflection is what INFPs like me do a lot, if not well. I have spent inordinate amounts of time thinking about myself recently. I am my TV, newspaper, research report. I would have thought I would know myself by now, but I am my own mystery. The other day, I dream of two babies crawling on the floor with a full set of teeth and braces. I remembering thinking in my dream that it was rather unusual for babies to have braces. Extremely mysterious.

Today, I have lunch with another INFP. We do not look at all alike, we did not grow up at all in similar environments, we do not have the same religion. But when she says something, I understand it so well. We express things differently, but there is instant understanding. I have a few friends like this. Years and space can separate us, but when we meet, not a beat has been missed. We pick up where we left off. And then, there are people you see everyday, and you wonder whether it is possible that you experienced a totally different planet. Both are very interesting relationships. It makes you wonder whether there are more than five senses and three dimensions.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 42: Mountain goat

This morning, I take a walk with two moms in the neighborhood. Before heading down to the school bus stop, I think of all sorts of excuses to send along with my kids as to why I cannot make the walk. Since I cannot think of a credible one, I roll down the hill with my kids laughing at me. They board their buses, and now I find myself standing with two extremely fit, attractive women. The walk is not a leisurely walk. It is a full blown hike, the sort that mountain goats like. As I huff and I puff uphill, we chat about various things, although my words are exhaled through gritted teeth. I find that many women around my age are reflecting on their lives. Well educated, professional women who have spent the last decade and a half caring for their family at home are feeling unfulfilled. Women like me who have worked throughout are also feeling that something needs to change. And what do we all do? We write blogs about our experiences! This is very interesting. Women like to share with others- why? And why don't men like to share their thoughts, or do they? There should be an interesting psychology piece that can be written around this theme. Meanwhile, if I can keep this routine of walking the hills once a week, I feel that I may become stronger.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day 41:SWOT

This morning, Charlie chases a hare down our neighbor's back yard. Everyone but Charlie sees the hare sprint back up once Charlie goes down. It hops across the street to another yard to nibble the grass in peace.

I wonder whether it is coincidence that I liken Charlie to a hare yesterday. I wonder if I might be clairvoyant. This afternoon, as I awaken from my Sunday nap, I realize that Tarot cards are really a SWOT (as in Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. It comes as an interesting revelation. Tomorrow, I will ask my lunch date to do a SWOT analysis on me.

I am going to hone my clairvoyance skills by guessing things what may happen tomorrow. If all goes well, I may have a nice parlor with a crystal ball one day.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 40: Hare

On the radio, they were talking about things not to cut back on even in tough times. First on the list was "do not cut your own hair." Second was "do not neglect personal hygiene". Third was to "take care of your health." I have been guilty of the second taboo, but not for economic reasons. Today, I commit the first taboo. Even I know better than to do it to myself. I look up "how to trim a collie", and practice on Charlie. The result is interesting. I don't think I would pass as a professional groomer. He looks good in a hare-like way. In fact, if I put a pair of long ears on him, he would look like an overgrown hare.

I take care of my health by going to my annual check-up this morning. As I cross the Golden Gate Bridge, I hear a white van honking from behind. She is simultaneously waving her hand out of her window at the people in pink walking to fund raise for breast cancer. As I lag behind and follow her, I notice she honks and waves all the way across the bridge. The pink people wave back as they see her approach. What a beautiful way to share a common value. I read a book today about how happiness is good for your health. The radio says stress is bad for many things, one which is weight gain. Today, I make a vow to be happy and not stress, if I can help it. I hope Charlie feels the same.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 39: Full Moon

In Japan, we have a special full moon every year called "Jyugoya"- the 15th night. It falls on August 15 th of the lunar calendar, which is tomorrow night. I suppose the rising moon looks particularly big and bright this time of the year. In Japan, we make an event of this, and gaze at the moon in its full glory with good food and good drinks in hand.

I lunch with a photographer friend who is planning to take photos of the moon in the next few days, at its optimal brilliance. It is truly awesome to think of us on this planet for a short time, enjoying the universe as it presents its beauty. The little misunderstandings, frustrations and pains seem so, so tremendously small in the scheme of things. I imagine all animals (including slugs) pausing in the moonlight to offer a thought of gratitude to the universe.

Day 38: Slugs

I wonder if slugs communicate with each other. Do they talk about their feelings with one another, or do they simply exist while they have enough to eat, and simply cease to exist when they run out of food or time?

I wonder if humans, left to their own, in wilderness, would be the same as slugs. How is it that we become so complex in our emotions, that we discover layers and layers of different feelings? In addition to our emotional complexity, we also add the complexity of good manners. We say things we don't really feel so that we don't hurt someone's feelings (or sometimes, our own feelings). If we were to agree on National Slug Day, would some of our emotional entanglement untangle itself?