Thursday, December 16, 2010


December is a tough month for many. Closing that last deal, taking finals, trips here and there, buying gifts, etc. etc. Take a moment to relax and inhale...better yet, get a wuppa and take it to bed.

You have to love technology. The website was put together by my co-founder and chief marketing officer/chief technology officer aka my son, who is 11-years-old and the future! No wonder we stagnate.

December is the month for parties - one of which I had on my calendar for tonight, but wasn't... My poor neighbor that I had promised to pick up -- harassed by phone calls and then a persistent ringing of doorbells, who kindly informs me the event is Sunday not tonight. Aghhhh!!!

So, I drive home and pop a wuppa into the microwave, and voila!! Wuppa life!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Sometimes I feel that Patience is my middle name. Especially tonight... After a couple of decades of being a mother and a wife, this past year is practically the first where I have not been a working mom. Let me rephrase that. It's the first year that I have worked this hard, and not been paid anything meaningful for the work.

Much as I love my new lifestyle and the brain training that accompanies the process of building something new that is meaningful to me and (dare I say?) the world, it puts me face-to-face with the mundane. In between the cleaning, laundry, cooking, taking care of the kids, and generally attempting to keep my family happy and at peace, I am also an entrepreneur in the making. Just because I have eight arms and a dozen eyes, and bottomless compassion for mankind and the universe, doesn't mean there is no limit to patience. My cooking may not look great tonight, but it actually tastes exponentially better than anything I have seen my better half cook in a long, long time. But a meaningful shrug of the Gallic shoulders and an expressive lift of the eyebrows have set me off. In addition, my rebellion-hormone-filled daughters and their remarks tops it.

So, here I am sitting in front of my PC with my headsets on - signalling to the world that I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE - listening to music that soothes the soul.
My sister would be proud to learn that I am listening to her favorite band.

Patience to the world. Amen.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

11 lbs

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
My 11 lbs turkey was a big success, thanks to a decade of training. The organic turkey was brined in garlic, onion and salt water overnight, then patted dry, stuffed with apples and potatoes and 4 hours later....voila!

(must insert photo here)

The turkey is now gone - nobody had time to complain about leftovers. Despite the fact that my friend, who was born weighing in as much as our turkey (kudos to her mom!), did not participate in eating the bird (early childhood trauma of pet chicken appearing on dinner table), we managed to clean it all out in two meals. One thing for sure - turkey makes you sleepy. I have slept like a baby this long weekend.

Thanks to Lynn who told me about a book called The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain, I now know that my brain is doing exactly what it should be doing at its stage in life. Our brains may not be as quick as younger brains, but they are wiser (unless you cannot outgrow your self-centered self, in which case, you simply turn into an old fool). I take comfort in this knowledge, and vow to be more empathetic to others.

So, this morning, I drive my son to the SF Music Conservatory, and wait in the van for an hour reading up on the Male Brain, which explains a lot of stuff, that I already knew (except I now know they can't help it).

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Economy is Recovering

Today, my gut instinct tells me that we are in recovery mode. This morning, we ran out of milk, and so I decide it's time to go to Costco. After working on a presentation, I take a 30-minute plunge in the local pool, and then drive north. Costco is packed as I have never seen before. I sense that everyone is tired of being penny pinching. They are carefully splurging, which is very different from simply splurging. Even I opt for an organic turkey which costs twice as much as a normal hormone-happy turkey.

As I arrive home and chat with a friend about my experience, she says that is exactly what CNBC as saying: people are tired of being stingy. Let's hope we all lift the tide again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Senior Moment

My friend just became a proud homeowner. She came over to talk it over tonight. One thing leads to another, and soon, we are chatting about many random things. At some point, she says "What the hell was I going to say?". It happens, a lot more often than before. I am happy to share in her senior moment. It's most embarrassing when you are trying to impress someone. Since, neither of us are even dreaming of doing this to each other anymore, we look at each other in silent appreciation of the thought that has been lost forever. It does not deter us though.

We continue on our path of remodeling her house from top to bottom.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The day starts like a typical weekday for me. I awake, and slither my way into the shower stall, emerging semi-human. I make coffee, warm up the milk, shake a little cocoa in, and survey the kitchen for crumbs to be swept.

After checking my email, and downing my cafe mocha, I whirl my vacuum cleaner around, hang the laundry on the clean tech dryer (aka the laundry drying rack), and tackle more emails. This morning, I have a power walk with an acquaintance in town. Charlie knows something is up and gets ready too. We make it down together to the first cross street, where Charlie stalls. This forces me to take him home, hop into my batmobile and speed down to the meeting point. Gorgeous weather and intriguing conversation ensue.

In the afternoon, I head into San Francisco to meet a delightful person to discuss business. My phone rings, which I silence with apologies. Two hours later, I hear my youngest on voice mail asking for a ride home from school since he has his trombone and cannot manage that and his back pack on a bike. I summon help from my spouse, who swoops up the baby who has practically turned into an ice cream. The pain of thinking of the wait in front of school alone.... His siblings are right in their cool critique - why didn't he call papa in the first place? Why did he not think ahead? He spends hours at the library anyway, what's the difference spending it in front of school? HOWEVER, my heart aches and I feel bad as I zoom home to check his pulse. OBVIOUSLY, he lives and is NOT AT ALL traumatized.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Small Claims Court, etc.

In pursuit of justice, I soar into the small claims court this afternoon. Little do people know that earlier this morning, I have trekked to the pediatrician with child in tow to find that he is actually NOT choking to death, and has NO strep germs. Nor do they know that I have been on a call to figure out complex solar finance structures, and figure out what RMBS securitization entails, while cooking a chicken in the oven for lunch.

Charlie is front and center in court - the case should be remembered as Charlie vs Delta Air Lines. The horrible ordeals endured by Charlie and my friends who had to care for him were revealed despite feeble attempts by Delta Air Lines to deflect attention to unrelated issues. I thought of wearing "before" and "after" photos of Charlie on my T-shirt, but other issues prevented me from getting my act together. So, to save the defendant from humiliation, the court has taken the case into "submission" (whatever that means) and the order will be mailed. I can smell victory, but my stomach hurts like crazy. I didn't think I was nervous, but I suppose I was. A whopping $3700 of claims - at one point, the judge asks whether "this is for the dog", to which I reply that the dog is still alive albeit very neurotic. She hastens to clarify that she did not mean it that way, but simply wanted to know if all $3700 was for the dog's travel arrangements, which they unfortunately are.

As I walk in the door to the house, said dog greets me, and immediately climbs up on the sofa and rests his chin on the cushions. Visions of Charlie and Snoopy overlap as I imagine the psychiatrist asking about post-trauma impacts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

2 months

It is exactly 2 months since we came back from the summer in France. My screensaver has photos from the summer. It feels so close yet so far away now, and so much fun (granted, the cleaning, shopping and laundry have faded into the background of memory in a place labeled "trauma"). What is left is the essence - the growing nieces, nephews, kids, and the extensive uncle, aunt, cousins, parents, grandparents in law. The history that we have been through and continue to walk through together... photos are great in capturing the moment.

This week, I have been good. I have cleaned, shopped, and laundered (as I have done for the past couple of decades), and have done my swimming/meditation every day. I now know who comes when to do what at the pool. I have also deactivated from Facebook after being accused twice of stalking my daughter. Now really... who has time for that kind of crap? In addition, it had started to feel like too much information on everyone. I have been told about the virtues of Twitter, but am not convinced enough. Pork ribs and root vegetables for dinner ensure that no cold germs should attack me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


A friend of mine was nice enough to tell me she gets bits and pieces of my life through this blog.

The quest for passion and livelihood continues. The most recent reincarnation is in marrying clean tech with finance. I find myself zooming up and down the 280 highway in pursuit of the perfect combination of good for the Earth and good for the family.

I am happy to learn that the Mill Valley Refuse which services garbage collection in my neighborhood has incorporated composting. I now have a little pot with a lid for my tea bags, coffee grinds, chicken bones and such. Compared to Japan, where we use tea leaves and newspaper strips to sweep up dust, and coffee grinds to deodorize cigarette butts, the US has always been very decadent in its garbage disposal.

After a 30 minute dip in the local pool, I stop by the library to pick up a book to discover my true self. Just like Eat, Pray, Love, the author of this book finds herself in the bathroom praying for help. I find this so typical of women. Why don't we just plunk ourselves in the living room to ask for salvation??? No, we have to go to the least favored chamber of the house to break down. Have we not evolved from the days when we waded out to the fields to give birth to life?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Silicon Valley

I have been zooming up and down the Pacific strip between Tiburon and San Jose. I am now convinced that clean tech is the next Messiah. So, I peddle my ware to get my foot in the door so to speak. During the course of "networking", I meet many, many interesting people, some more interesting than others. What strikes me as very unique and great, is the openness of people in Silicon Valley. In traditional finance, folks don't let others in on what they know. They spread their elbows out wide parallel to the Earth, and deter others from getting in. In Silicon Valley, people seem to know that what comes 'round goes 'round, and are very open about introducing newcomers to their contacts. This is what probably makes Silicon Valley great, despite having no natural advantage to being the innovation capital of the world.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


My HP17BII, which I acquired in 1992 is out of battery. I have been lazy and have not replaced the batteries. So, when my 12-year-old daughter asks me a math question, I open Excel and add a formula: = avg(A1:A6).


My excel does not understand this simple function. And, now I know why. It understands French! I should have typed = Moyenne(A1:A6)... I wonder therefore whether numbers are feminine (which they are not). Maybe, average is feminine, which we are certainly not!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010


We have been back in the Bay Area for exactly 7 days. The difference is striking. Baguettes are close to $3 here, while they are 0.90 euro in France. Cars are big and shiny here, while they are small there. People are very straightforwardly nice here, while they are quirky nice there.

We have decided to go off cheese and wine for a while. The kids say they cannot bear eating the cheese here, when they still have the French cheese lingering on their palates. I thought I should give my liver a break. Tonight, I break down and pour myself a glass. Not bad I say, as the full moon rises over the East Bay and the night settles in. In France, I was afraid I would not think so, but in fact, it is very nice to be back in California. Charlie evidently thinks the same. His appetite is good, and his coat is thick and smooth. Good thing I bought weight control food for him at Costco.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

All you need is love

This morning, we deposit our niece at the train station in Antibes. Two weeks together. I find her unchanged from the first time I saw her 16 years ago - the same sweet child. Normally full of life, she is not feeling well this morning, as she needs to face the real world tomorrow. 23 years older than she is, I feel the same heading back in two days. Life is not easy, but full of love.

As we look for train 6174 car 5, we run the full length of the station twice, only to find that she is in train 6074 car 5 after all. I thank my stars for having supplied me with the required exercise for the day.

It rains all day, and our roof leaks in several spots. For a grand house 50 years old, this is not too bad. We prepare for our departure in our own ways - I face the world with mucho laundry, mucho nap, and mucho wine. Others with mucho violin and mucho computing.

Tomorrow will be full of sun, according to the young lady at the supermarket cashier. I sure hope she is right.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Been there, Done that

Today was a been there done that kind of day. Tomorrow my niece leaves to Paris, and she wants to say she's been to Italy. So do my kids, and so do I. So we take the train to Monaco and connect to Ventimiglia, which is the first stop in Italy where the train of the Principality of Monaco deposits us. Fridays are market days. We descend on the Italian town, and head to Pasta Basta, which we learn is a restauraunt featured in Nice-Matin, and is also featured when you Google Ventimiglia. Anyhow, we ate 6 full plates of pasta, which were all good, and said "Basta" to the place, and strolled off to the market. This summer is very much Roman in fashion. Young and old are wearing Gladiator sandals with Roman tunics and Turkish pants. It feels a little like the '80s with Olivia Newton John and Travolta. The kids bargain in French, Italian, English and Mandarin (as the Chinese have penatrated Italy). I acquire a half kilo of Gorgonzola, which is much appreciated back home. Speaking of home, my mobile phone was destroyed upon the return of Julien from violin camp. It was found in the washing machine the morning after. I forgot to borrow my husband's, and my niece forgot hers as well. None of us remember our house phone number. When we finally return to Antibes, I call my husband's office number in San Francisco, then my sister's in Paris, leaving messages to please get in touch with us. My niece calls her friend in Paris to get our number in Biot as well. In an hour, we are transported home thanks to my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, showing off our Roman outfits and our cheese.

Tonight is rabbit, which turns out coming from Carrefour with the head attached. My sister-in-law turns green in the face, and I summon my husband (her brother) who gleefully attacks the head. I hear him call my name and wisely run the other way. As predicted, he comes with the head of the rabbit attached to a fork, with an entourage consisting of my youngest son and my sister-in-law's vegetarian boyfriend giggling like infants. They spend the next 30 minutes traumatizing all around them with the rabbit head before succumbing to the charm of Gorgonzola. I am convinced that the French are all savage Gaulois, like the Asterix and Obelix cartoon I have studied this summer.

As I wind down, my husband comments that I have spent the day doing things I don't like - riding crowded trains, eating heavy food, and shopping. But I love watching the children having fun doing all this. And so, I feel content tonight.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


My in-laws came and went. It was great fun having my parent-in-laws and my uncle and aunt-in-laws over for the week (or weekend for some). It's always a little bit of an anti-climax when guests leave. The send-off is bitter sweet, the meal preparation lulls for lunch, and the laundry needs to be done, but then there is the quiet again, and one has to face the real world.

Never mind that! There is a bottle of Chardonnay chilled for aperitifs. Two chickens are roasting side by side in the oven, one with miso/ginger and the other with Dijon mustard mayonnaise - an east meets west kind of dinner.

Tonight, we have a quiet household - three girls including my niece who is as sweet as pie, and our 11-year-old baby son. They too are anti-climaxing in their own little rooms, and at the same time gearing up for the next set of guests to arrive. Even Charlie looks a little melancholic. Maxime is vigilant - after giving a sorrowful hug good-bye to his great-uncle and aunt, he turns to me and says, "I am going to try my best to make a good impression on my cousins this weekend!" That's the spirit, I think, as we play a game of mille borne.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I have to think hard to recount what I did for the world today. Oh yes, the bakery. As we head out to our local bakery, I find that there is a moat between my gate and the street above which is placed some steel panels. The domaine here has decided to bury the electric wires underground, despite the ongoing credit crisis and vacationing residents. We venture down our alley that looks somewhat like a safari trek, and get our daily 2 baguettes, 1 bannette and today an epi.

Major cleaning of the house ensues, after which, I do a few laps in the pool. Then, three of us venture out to Antibes to buy some essentials and to pick up my husband's uncle and aunt at 17:03. The steel panels have to be replaced for my little Citroen to cross the threshold. As the worker places the panels with the aid of a tractor, he indicates that I should turn right (leading to the main gate) instead of left leading to the back gate). I nod my thanks and immediately bump into a machine called the "Great Boom" which is being loaded onto a truck. 10 minutes after, we first gear onto the Sahara again, and then down to civilization. The TGV arrives right on time and the five of us now ride home in good humor. All this while, my husband is stuck in front of his PC and phone at home, and continues to do so until dinnertime. My in-laws talk about all the fun they are having in their well-deserved retirement, and I can only hope we can look forward to the same.

Dinner comes and the hunt for bread starts, until finally, I go to the kitchen and return with confirmation that THERE IS NO BREAD! But, we still have wine, which is the solution to ALL PROBLEMS in my dictionary.

As we wind down, we spot a few gekkos that are running up and down the walls, which reminds of my encounter last night. I recount the SPLAT on the floor and then the horror of meeting a gekko in the house. Julien says, oh that's why I heard you screaming last night. Why yes, who wouldn't? My aunt-in-law tells me she likes gekkos since they eat mosquitoes. I hope she is telling the truth, because I recall the gekko slithering under her bed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Parlez vous francais?

There are many free events to entertain the public during the summer in the south of France. Last weekend, we find ourselves in Renoir's garden (where he actually painted) listening to a soprano singer attempting to find relationships between Bach and the Beatles. Parallels are drawn between Lina Lamont (think Singing in the Rain) and tonight's singer. I feel it best to stick to one's core competency after having heard her sing "Something". The setting is superb with ornamental tent lamps scattered around the grounds, and the bay of Cagnes-Sur-Mer below us. As night falls, the Big Dipper can be seen. We take an early navette (mini-bus)down to the municipal parking lot. The driver, like many French drivers, likes speed and acute angles when turning.

Last night, after dinner, we load into our faithful Citroen after extracting Charlie forcefully from the back seat. Destination Cap d'Ail, which neighbors Monaco. There is a "concert orchestre regional de Cannes" performing at the beachfront ampitheater. The flute and harp duo accompanied by the cool evening breeze is pleasant. My husband and children spot an oboeist who looks exactly like my father-in-law (who in fact used to play the oboe extremely well, I hear). Later on, after the intermission, the flutist and the harpist appear in the crowd dressed down in shorts and beach dress with babies in their arms. No wonder they seemed to have rapport in their performance.

This afternoon, the kids are packed off to explore Monaco again while my husband conducts business, leaving me in this big house alone with Charlie for the first time in a while. I wave them off as the gate closes, load the laundry machine with sheets, and pour myself a nice glass of chilled Savignon Blanc. One must not assume that I am a good-for-nothing lush, as already this morning, I have buzzed through the streets and into Carrefour and even to Darty (the Best Buy of France) to purchase food and printer ink cartridges. As I approach the roundabout (which is called a carrefour), I tell myself to take a deep breath and plunge in. It's rather like jumping ropes. You need the intent to be known to all around you, which is easily established by relinquishing you're right foot from the brakes and staring potential entrants down with a firm glare. Very much like having an expensive car that deters others from hitting it, it helps to have a banged up Citroen that tells the world that there is only upside from hereonwards.

Tomorrow, the first of a string of relatives arrive, starting with my favorite uncle & aunt-in-law. I am fortunate enough to actually love all the in-laws that have presented themselves to me over the years. Convenient also is the knowledge that their inter-relationships are NOT MY BUSINESS, and furthermore, when the air gets tense, JE NE PARLE PAS FRANCAIS!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Flip flops

They say "three times is a charm". Today I speed towards Carrefour, which makes it three consecutive days. I buy more "anti-rouille noir brilliant", and a cooked chicken for lunch which my daughter spills into the cart by mistake. Speaking of carts, here they have a smart system where you need to insert a 1 euro coin to unlock a shopping cart. To retrieve the coin, one has to return the cart to the proper cart place. Now, if only the cart drove straight, it would be ideal. ...which is the reason that my 7-year-old flip flops finally break. A young man drives over my right flip flop, ripping the thongs away. "Ah, excusez moi, desole, desole" he says while rushing away.

This afternoon, I pack all the kids and the dog into the car and go to the local vet for Charlie's follow-up visit. As we enter the office, the vet remarks that she sees that the whole family is in attendance. We all nod as one. Charlie's ear infection on the left has cured, but now he has a minor one in his right ear. So we get another tube of infection be-gone. "Say, does this work on humans as well?", I ask. She informs me that it has not been tested. "Ah, but I can try it on someone.", I say as my older son cringes. Every year that Julien has been in Biot, he has never failed to get an ear infection, so sure enough, he has brewed one, right before his scheduled stay at a violin camp somewhere in Provence. Luckily for him, he has some leftover medicine from the spring which he applies in haste.

Back at home, I continue painting the iron rails at the pool side, and realize I have developed tennis elbow of sorts. At times like this, it is convenient to be ambidextrous. The German Shepard nextdoor barks at me while I paint, despite the fact that she has seen me everyday for over a month. Charlie ignores her and explores the terrain. I visualize our new neighbor on the other side having a seizure. Her 15-months-old baby cannot sleep when the dog goes whoa whoa whoa! and the kids laugh in the pool. As I continue painting the rails, I hope she sees that it is indeed the other neighbor's dog that goes whoa whoa whoa...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Goldman Smack

We used to live on a street where there was a dog called Morgan Stanley. The reason I think of this dog is because my son declared tonight at the dinner table that I used to work for Goldman Smack. For the record, I have never worked for said firm. We discuss, how Goldman Smack got into trouble recently, using apples as example. If you have a fruit shop and have an apple on sale, but whisper to your son that we need to get rid of these because they're no good, that becomes a Goldman Smack.

We are becoming more and more savage by the day. My feet are scaled like elephant's. My cultured pooch has condescended to taking spare rib bones to the garden and burying them for snack. We venture out to Carrefour to acquire items on "Soldes". Mid afternoon, I find myself sitting at the poolside in my bikinis which were on "promotion", painting the rails with "anti-rouille noir brilliant" - I think it means "rust-begone and I am going to make you shine like crazy". To avoid overheating, I jump into the pool every so often. At 5 pm, I am told that those who want to see the world, should get ready and hop in the car. Three of us make the cut, and find ourselves at the castle in Cagnes-Sur-Mer. The bay is azur, the medieval town quaint, and the entire experience an exercise of self-restraint. My husband drives around like a maniac, questions me about whether I read properly that the antique market was open today, gets lost and demands to know where we are on the map NOW. I tell myself that if I have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. So, my lips are sealed in a tight grimace, which does not amuse my husband. As we return to home base with said husband at the wheel, I check my neck to see that my head is still there, which fortunately is.

And so, at dinner, we anticipate our relatives' arrival, and our future in general. One thing leads to another, and I hear myself declaring that I was No.1 in maths in Japan for a nanosecond (which is true), and my son looks very surprised. Why, I wonder... He says, I know you are smart Mother, but I have underestimated you. Ha ha ha!, I say. As he asks his little brother what the square root of 4 is, I rattle off a formula sounding like gibberish, only to be reminded that the answer is 2. My baby hollers " you ain't nothing but a hound dog"....

Life in the slow lane again...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ultimate sloth

This morning, I drag the kids off to the beach. They tell me they have no interest in making friends on the beach, as they will never see these people again. As we plunk ourselves down on the overcrowded beach of Juan-les-Pins, the kids wade into the water, and immediately befriend another group of kids, who Ooh! and Aah! that my kids are from California. They want to know if my kids see Brad Pitt often.

On the way back, my older daughter Aya takes the passenger seat. As I calculate the price of gas in my head, and wonder why we paid 45 euro to have the gas meter go from "empty" to "almost empty", I miss the turn back towards home. My younger daughter, Camille, who has always had a sense of direction, informs me of this, whereby I wonder whom I would prefer sitting in the passenger seat - a person with good sense of direction but not willing to consult the map due to tendency to become car sick, or a person with bad sense of direction but with ample willingness to look at the map. Neither being optimal, I feel lucky to have Camille guide us back to Antibes, and promptly promote her to the front seat. Once we hit Antibes, I am a fish in water. I go into the fast lane and make short cuts like a pro. I zoom by the fire station, which is having a "greve", which reminds me of mistakenly dialing them yesterday while meaning to call a 1-800 number in the US. "Ici, le pompier. J'ecoute, Madame." I freeze, and apologize that I have made a mistake. Sorry, sorry. As I shake myself from this trauma, I realize that the gas meter has adjusted itself to "full". For an 18-year-old car, I suppose one has to give it time to adjust.

After a late lunch, I promptly fall asleep on the couch, only to be woken up by the arrival of a cleaning lady candidate, who is better dressed than I am, and who has hands softer than mine. She has recently relocated from Paris, and perhaps has more of a hardworking spirit than the stereotypical French here in the south.

In the evening, I take to the road again with my two sons, and coax a compliment out of the younger one on my driving skills. He says, "Considering you've only been driving for a month here, you drive just as well as Papa, only not as maniacly, if that's a word." We arrive at Carrefour, which I have a hard time pronouncing. This afternoon, after half a dozen attempts to achieve the right pronunciation, I even put my fingers to my daughter's throat to compare vibration which reminds me of Helen Keller. In the parking lot of Carrefour, my younger son proposes that every time I want to say "Carrefour", I should pause and point to one of the kids, who will promptly provide the word for me.

Upon arrival home, my older son declares he is starving, so I put together a quick dinner of quiche lorraine with salad, followed by cheese. My husband and I have a glass of Sauvignon Blanc ( the "c" is silent, for all you Californians who insist on pronouncing it) which has cost me exactly 3 euros. It isn't bad at all. I learn that my husband has achieved his "daily" yoga, on his 35th day in France, and has learned that his heels will not touch the ground in down dog. He invites me to join him tomorrow, and I smile neutrally as I am not at all sure that I would like to find out how stiff I have become.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


You may all be wondering what is up with me. This was supposed to be the journals of an entrepreneur in the making. Instead, here I am in the south of France goofing off. This contradiction is not lost on me, though. Day after day, I sweep the floors, do the laundry, cook meals, go shopping for groceries looking like a madwoman. In fact, it has dawned on me that self-esteem and domestic chores have a negative correlation for me.

July 14th here is like the July 4th in the US. When the sun finally sets in the west, we load into the Citroen and head to Cannes, where the rich and famous mingle with the others. The fireworks are short but very well choreographed, giving hope to all and sundry.

My friend sends an article that says it is important to know when you are doing nothing productive. Sitting at the computer making busy work for yourself instead of goofing off, gives one false illusions of being constructive. This is true. So, today, I embrace the fact that I am not doing much for my entrepreneurial aspirations until we pack up to return home. Instead, I spend the morning painting window frames and doing a few laps in the pool. In the afternoon, I pull out my favorite E.M. Delafield book and play a game of Scrabble with my daughter.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Perhaps I am hard to please. I find Monaco boring, I find Cannes boring as well. My friend, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoys both. I love watching the kids play in the sea, and sitting at the beachfront restaurant, talking to the young waiters who are nice to my son. One spent a year in Australia to learn English, and is going to Canada to get his MBA. It is nice to see young people who are looking beyond their noses to develop a future. The other waiter spent 2 months in the US and tells my son to keep up his French and English, as it will take him a long way. My youngest son explains that his father is French, and his mother (as he indicates me) is Japanese, and he speaks French and English, and "a little bit of Japanese". He is now known in the restaraunt as the "bon homme" who has a bright future ahead of him. The waiter is nice enough to come tell me that he "must tell me that my son is very polite". These are the things that make my day.

I find that I am becoming quite the local in terms of road traffic rules. An old granny tries to cut into my lane to turn left, and I deftly block her from getting in AND manage to make her block the other lane, resulting in her getting the death look from other drivers. Serves her right, I say. Trying to get to la Croisette in Cannes, I end up in le Cannet, but make an illegal U turn in a oneway street, and find my way back to the beach. We plunck ourselves down on the beach and set my friend off to see the town. 4 hours later, we find ourselves on the aforementioned beachfront restaurant.

We weave our way home and find that the rest of my family went on diet and had salad for lunch, which means we get to eat my ratatouille and couscous for dinner, with the hot pepper from last night and marguez. The night is still warm, as I mop the kitchen floor and clean off the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I had several glasses of wine too many last night, resulting in my staying at home today. Meanwhile, my friend, her daughter, and Maxime take the train to Monaco and spend the day visiting the castle, the aquarium, the park and the cafe in front of the casino. Despite my worries about heat strokes and boredom, they come home having enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I listen to their day and thank my lucky stars that I didn't go with them.

Meanwhile, I cook a good zucchini dish for lunch and a nice pot au feu for dinner. Our vegetable intake is high today, and I find satisfaction in this.

As I place my right foot on Charlie's rump and watch the kids swim in the pool below, it feels like paradise. In the house, others are watching Spain score a goal against Germany, and are equally in paradise.

Happiness comes in different forms.

Monday, July 5, 2010


We are all back in the south again. Most of last week, Charlie had a long chair with a parasol on the beach front originally meant for my grandmother-in-law. The waiters gave him pieces of chicken, while at home, my grandmother-in-law fed him fromage blanc with baguettes. So, back home, he is on hunger strike of sorts, refusing his dog food (for now). But, he promptly takes up his duty as guard dog, and posts himself in front of the bedroom door of the youngest child.

My little banged up Citroen stalls at least 6 times at the gate of our house, before we venture to the village post office, proving how quickly one can lose one's knack. My friend who is visiting tells me that Carrefour is all over Beijing now, with three times more people than the one in Antibes, which seems crowded enough. As we weigh our vegetable on the scale, the person behind us tells us there is a camera on the scale that can tell pretty much what the product is, and gives a choice of candidates. The ginger, which we could not find the first go around, comes up as a potential fit this time. As I marvel at the technology, another man tells me not to be tricked, there is really a very small man inside the scale who is figuring out the produce. Having bought up half the store, we return home to many appreciative people who "ooh" and "aah" at the food.

Friday, July 2, 2010


The summer sales have started here in France. Since I had to return to Surcouf for the Windows XP (pronounced "ix-pe") anyway, we ride the metro with our pass Navigo and arrive at Blvd Haussmann. Galeries Lafayette is a zoo, but we manage to find a decent size 40 pair of flats for my daughter as well as some tops that are not too revealing but not too "yesterday" either. My son manages to get a new pair of shoes, too and has a last sniff at his sneakers before throwing them out. My husband who is straight as an arrow, approaches the store attendant in the socks section, to have a look at his socks, before choosing a few pairs for his son. I have discovered that it is an utter myth that women spend "so much time buying shoes". It is difficult to comprehend how different men's belts can be from one another, but we spend 15 minutes gazing at them. As I ride the bus back to my father-in-law's, I feel that I shall deserve every drop of Chablis tonight.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The trauma of Versailles

I now have a French Windows XP OS. My start button says "demarrer" instead of "start". This makes using the computer twice as hard. Everyday, we have been out using the metro. Luckily, we have a Navigo pass which gives us access to unlimited rides during the week. Paris this week has been hit by a heat wave. This afternoon, the temperature has risen to 32 degrees celsius. We have dined with friends and family everyday, and it's certainly nice to catch up, but since most people work in an air-conditioned office during the day, they still look great in the evening. We, on the other hand, have been trekking around Paris in the heat and dust, and arrive slightly disheveled. Kids who used to be shorter than I, are now much taller, and have even joined the work force. Strangely, the only parent that seems to have aged accordingly, is me. I wonder what secret potions these French parents take.
Today, I stay at my in-laws' place to catch up on emails, laundry, and a little tidying up. The kids take the metro to meet up with their friends from last night, my husband and father-in-law take off as well for meetings, and the apartment is quite calm. The sun dries up the laundry in no time. I sit here, wondering about Versailles, and how many housekeepers, gardeners, and cooks it required in its heydays. Even now, who cleans up at the end of the day when all the visitors have gone home? Who manages the staff? After my visit there, I am definitely more in favor of small houses.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Le Feu de St Jean

The 24th of June is apparently the Fire of St Jean every year in Biot. I know this because the posters all have "2010" stickers pasted over the original year that was printed. After dinner, we follow a procession, with small people (making me fit right in) and simple music, and find ourselves in the village ampitheatre. The Portugese dancers (whom we have been following, and who are all actually French) have graced the fire of St Jean in Biot for the last 20 years, and entertain us all with nifty steps and castanets, after the school children sing for us. Then, the fire is lit, and children starting jumping over the fire (for what, we don't know, because the fat lady who explains does not have a microphone, and nobody is listening anyway). Our youngest gets in the line, but doesn't come bouncing out, so I go check. The polite American boy says that all the local children keep cutting in so it's gonna take a while. When he finally jumps, I am back behind stage again equipped to tell the locals to behave, and miss the act completely.

This morning, as we recount the event, I find from my husband that the young hippie man who asked me the dog's name misunderstood Charlie to be "Jiang Lee" (and why not?)... inexplicably, I find myself singing Abba - "and I can dance with you honey, flirt a little maybe, but does your mother know that you're out?" Take it easy...

As I finish off painting the doors, and set the appetizers on the table outside for lunch, I hear the next door neighbor's daughter call out to her mom, "A tout a l'heure" (meaning "See you later, aligator, in a while, crocdile"and remember the day when my daughter made the discovery that "toodle-loo" is this French phrase said fast with an American accent.

Tomorrow, the two babies (being 12 and 11) and dog head to La Croix Val Mer (100 kms to the west) to join their grandmother and great-grandmother for a week, while the rest of us head to Paris.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Deja Vu?

Last night I find myself chatting with Sathish at Microsoft. Very much like Santosh who graced my very first entry here, Sathish is patient. He does not ask why I was stupid enough to delete things that I know nothing about? Instead, he guides me step by step to the point where we determine that I have corrupted my OS(that's operating system for you innocents). It is like the kiss of death. I stumble into bed in despair way past 1 am, and try to forget this cauchemar (I think this is nightmare, judging from the way my family members use this word).

In the morning, I roll out of bed and enjoy the local bakery's pain au raisin with strong coffee, and go check out our immense windows that were scrubbed yesterday. I spend the morning priming, and regret having had the audacity to take on this project.

Lunch is actually quite good, as I prepare a leftover galore menu. Everyone is in good humor after laft night's dinner of sausage and lentil beans offered by other family members.

The kids are packed off to the beach (I hear that it is between Antibes and Cannes), and I get to painting, and attempting CPR on my PC at the same time. My husband, out of the blue, asks if I want to go to the vet NOW... I do, but I have not attired myself in presentable clothes, nor have I applied any signs of civilization to my body. Oh, who cares??! So, we go to the vet, who is a charming lady with 2 kids manning the reception area. We find that Charlie weighs 32 kgs, and has otitis. We also learn that there is a mosquito in the Mediterranean that causes bad diseases to dogs. While the vet is gone to attend to something, my husband hops on the scale and declares that the weight is off by at least 7 kgs. Years of marriage have taught me not to be surprised with such behavior, and I have a hard time suppressing my desire to hop on myself.

Equipped with otitis-begone and mosquito-begone collar, we head to the eagle nest village of Biot to post some letters. The post office is having a greve nationale, which I learn, is a strike. So, we sit at the square with a glass of beer and wine, and water for the dog, for a little downtime. I look at my hands stained with white mat paint (it should have been glossy), wearing essentially PJs, and ponder about quality of life in the slow lane. Here I am, covered with Charlie drool and fur, paint (deeply imbedded in the cracks of my skin), watching moms with babies chat at the fountain, thinking about dinner. Perhaps, this is life in its essence - life, children, food...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Anybody have an extra SQLEVN70.RLL?

This morning, I Skype with Japan and happily delete programs that I rarely use, only to find that I deleted something called SQLEVN70.RLL. Now, my computer looks very strange, and I cannot restore my system to how it looked yesterday. I have found that I still have internet access, and have gone to microsoft for help, but they are experiencing difficulty and cannot help.

My children and I have spent the whole day scraping paint off the huge windows. My hands are sore, I have hardened blisters on my palms, and the freshly cleaned living room is covered with dust again. As compensation for their labor, tomorrow, the kids have been promised an afternoon at the local stone beach, which they apparently prefer to the sand beach. Castorama (which I figure is the Home Depot of France) is quickly becoming my Saks Fifth Avenue. I purchase wood paste, primers, sand paper, paint thinner, paint chipper for the window (which immediately breaks upon usage), and all other very mundane items. I learn that masking tape is called bande de masquage.

Charlie is suffering from left ear irritation, and has learned to dislike the human children ear cleaners that my kids endure. I may have to seek professional advice tomorrow.

Meanwhile, my husband has found that a panel in the kitchen that we had thought was fixed and did not open, actually does open, and contains some bottles of wine! Hallelujah! The cupboard is not only mold-free but gift-laden.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Independence is a stick shift away - I feel liberated knowing that I can drive out to town without depending on my husband. Moroccan lunch prepared by a Japanese-American-French turns out so/so. 3 of my children want to go to the beach, so we hop into the car to the beach in Juan Les Pins and mysteriously end up in Antibes instead. We find the best spot in the parking lot in the shade, only to realize that I left my bag with my purse at home. So, I leave the kids and head back home, pick up the bags and head back to the beach. My kids count 11 languages on the jam packed sand beach of old Antibes. The man with the sugar coated peanuts comes by to offer free samples. Around 5 pm, my daughter says "Well, shall we?" and we do. We pass by the pool supplies shop to buy chlorine, stop by the local grocery to buy essentials, and head back home. I am impressed that the shop keepers speak very good English. Without doubt, they didn't like my French, but still...ask a typical Californian to speak passable French. Impressive!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Stick shift

The news of the day is that I managed to remind myself about how to drive a stick shift car. It only took 10 minutes and a little bit of courage, especially when I was slipping down our steep driveway while burning the engine. My son and I egged each other on until both of us were pretty decent. What's a couple of engine stalls after all? We made it to the local village of Biot, and even managed to park the car in the parking lot without hurting anyone.

The day is spent cutting dead twigs off our jasmine, scraping algae off the pool, shopping for a microphone for my Skype conference tomorrow, buying paint for the walls, buying teak oil for the table outside, and generally rejecting pleas to go to the beach.

Lunch and dinner are prepared by my daughters - lunch is burnt and dinner is good.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


This region is famous for burglars. One year, we had tenants for the summer. Burglars came through the window, and took away the men's trousers first, and then went to work. Little did they know that our tenants valued their cameras more than their appearances. One of the men chased the burglars away in his briefs.

So, today, as we load into our Citroen to venture out to town, we shut down our shutters and wait for our daughter to return from her walk with Charlie. As she puts the dog in the house, I hear a shout from my husband, but it is too late. The key is in the house, and all the humans are outside - we have done a very good job of locking down the house.

15 minutes later, we have found one loop hole in our otherwise watertight security. Having recovered our key, we drive off to Nice in our little banged up car fitted for 5. As we cross police, we shove down the head of the smallest human in the car, and pretend that all is fine.

Old Nice is very much the same as a couple of years ago. We stroll around and take in the sights, the kids throw stones into the Mediterranean, and our youngest who is sage enough to have donned his swim trunks, bounces about in the sea.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


8 days have passed since I arrived in France. Days of scrubbing and cleaning have made my paws rather sore. This afternoon, we load into our Citroen and head to old Antibes (pronounced Aunt-eeb). We tell our children to go oggle others on the beach and stroll through the town. There is a wedding at the city hall, where all I can do is wish them much luck (because for sure, they will need it). As we come back to the beach and plunck ourselves down, we find our neighbors to be British. One raspy voiced female smoking pot (I wouldn't know, but my better half remembers the smell from his days in Buffalo) is talking non-stop and telling a child that wet arm pits are the source of all bad health, imploring the kid to change into dry clothes. Why not stop smoking pot instead, I ask myself, but have better sense than to ask the Brit directly. After many credit cards and bills (the beggar kindly tells me the machine does not take 10 euro bills), I manage to pay the parking lot, and head home. The sideview mirror on the right which was repaired only yesterday starts peeling off, necessitating my right index finger to hold it up the whole way home. Vive la france!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Charlie comes home

We drive to the Nice airport in our little Citroen bought several years ago for 1500 euro. The side view mirror on the right is broken, so it makes getting off the highway very exciting. Spend 2 hours at cargo pick-up, and find that DELTA IS THE MOST INCOMPETENT AND PROCESS ORIENTED AIRLINE when it comes to animals. The cargo folks at Nice airport can attest to this. The man who has a brand new sting ray tatoo which my husband asks to see, says so, so it must be so. So, Charlie comes home and immediately performs a head count of his sheep and takes up the guarding position (back to us, and looking out for wolves). All is well now. How a 76 lbs lump of fur can capture one's heart is beyond me, but he does. The sun comes out, so we take our first dip in the pool and jacuzzi, both which have been rescued from wilderness and restored to its desired state over the course of the past 4 days. The frog who reigned the pool is sulking somewhere else while we venture in.

Today, we clean a few rugs and shampoo Charlie for good measure. My husband, who spent the afternoon at a hedge fund conference in Monte Carlo, reports that all the money is flowing to Asia now.

Dinner is Bouchee a la Reine (roughly translated as a mouthful for a queen) - it's a pastry stuffed with seafood and white cream, and zucchini pasta with garlic and leftover sauce from the pintade. National crisis has hit us as we realize THERE IS NO BREAD for the cheese.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A study on Inter-cultural Comparison

Recently, my life has become a continuation of cleaning. In fact, I have become a bi-coastal house cleaner. For most modern day workers, the computer is probably the favored machine. For me, it has been the vacuum cleaner.

We arrived at our house on the Cote d'Azur, as they say. The coast may be azur, but the house was more grey than anything else. It rained a lot this winter and spring. A big sprawling Provencal mas can produce a lot of dust and grime. So, we have spent most of our waking hours cleaning the grey out. For those aspiring globe trotters, may I inform you that Clorox in the US is Javel in France?
The balance of our hours have been split between cooking all the food one cannot easily find in the US, and communicating with an unfortunate friend who has had the "honor" of getting our dog Charlie onto a plane to France.

In the spirit of getting the bad news over quickly, an errant airline that will remain anonymous - that means you, Delta Airlines!!!, misled us to believe that Charlie could travel as check-in pet, only to deceive us at the last moment at the airport. As the old adage goes, goodwill always gets punished, and our dear friend was summoned from the land of nod at an ungodly 4 AM to receive a stressed out collie from a stressed out family, and had the misfortune of spending the next 5 days of his life dealing with beaurocracy, incompetence and vets until finally loading our grateful Charles in cargo air freight. Needless to say, we are thankful beyond words for having such an optimistic "friend in need".

On the culinary side, the French DNA in our kids keenly honed into the local bakery, which has found business spiking 300%. The Antibes Carrefour supermarket has been graced with our patronage daily as well. We have consumed gallons and tons of "not readily available in the USA" food in the few days we have been here. Just to name a few, merguez(spicy sausage made from lamb) with grated carrot salad, tabouleh, pintade (probably guinea fowl, and definitely a bird judging from the shape) with mustard and creme fraiche sauce, 200 varieties of cheese, petit suisse (similar to yoghurt but "much better" according to the French DNAs), blinis and accompanying spreads.... Our recipe book lists no less than a dozen pintade recipes, aside from several dozen chicken, turkey and pigeon recipes.

As I gaze at the garden conquered by Mother Nature, I am reminded of the gardener popping in at the kitchen window unannounced, and nearly pitching me into hysteria last evening. We had econimized and had him on leave for 7 months, in which timeframe, the garden has turned into a wild environment, aided by the gardener having turned off the water supply. As I watch the gardener and my husband throw arms into the air, and generally gesticulate in exaggerated fashion while the pintade grows overcooked and dry, I anticipate the worst. I pull myself up to full height (which isn't much) and venture out to save the day. A hesitant "Is everything OK?" is met with a passing "Yeah, yeah..." as i beat my retreat hastily. At dinner, I ask whether it was very acrimonious. To my surprise, I learn that the gardener was actually "very nice". The cultural difference kicks in again. Seemingly nice storekeepers can be horribly sullen and entitled, while seemingly agitated and agressive gardeners can be very nice.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I see Melanie, Mike, Marie and ....

In Japanese, there is a saying "ichigo ichie" which means "you have one chance to meet someone (so you'd better make the best of it)". In American colloquialism, this may be something like an "elevator pitch", "silver bullet", or serendipity. Every job I have held, I have been fortunate to have met people that I truly like and admire. If you remember Romper Room, you are middle aged and know what I am talking about. Look through that magic mirror, and think about all those friends you see. That is whom you will remember on your deathbed, not your "big deal" that closed 3 bps tighter than your competitor.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Before you know it..

It's June! As I sit in the local middle school auditorium, listening to my daughter and her classmates perform for the band, I realize how time has passed. The world is getting ready for summer. Vacations, moves, changes...

I too, have a project or two, some in limbo and some more in limbo.
Do I fake it till I make it? Am I making progress?

Saturday, April 24, 2010


The sun rises from the east, blinding me from the left as I type from my perch up on the hill. Charlie comes upstairs and touches his nose to my yoga pants, then takes his position on the rug, facing the world to protect me from big bad wolves.

April has progressed in a flurry of mundane errands that have to be taken care of by someone. I find comfort in the fact that I am actually quite competent in taking care of mundane errands. My husband's grandmother once told me that she would have loved to manage the operations of a hotel - so complex, so demanding in logistics, and so powerful. "I love to boss people around" were her words... Unlike my grandmother-in-law, I don't particularly like to handle logistics. I would prefer to be waited upon by someone else. Life's irony shows its taunting face again.

In an hour, I will need to be in full throttle again, chauffeuring kids here and there, ravaging Costco, cooking lunch, dealing with my extended staff, sneaking a glass of wine periodically, and enjoying the gorgeous weather. For now, the birds are chirping, the sun continues to rise, my cafe au lait with a dash of Nesquik tastes superb, and life is calm. I have learned to enjoy the little things in life.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Back again

By popular demand (3 people to be exact), I am back to writing this blog. 20 years and 3 hours ago, I gave birth to the first of five wonderful people. Back then, in Japan, there was no Epidural, and so I suffered through the night and into the early morning with a difficult delivery. If you have ever tried to squeeze the last out of your tooth paste, or if you have ever tried to suction something out, or pry a stubborn object out of tight quarters with forceps, you will know how hard it was. The child who is now a marvelous young man, came to this world with an elongated head looking quite like a frozen yogurt on a cone. Within 12 hours, he was looking very adorable, and has been ever since.

In any event, I have been pottering around, looking for meaning of life and such...and still looking.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 179 & 180: Dream On

Ski week is over and the kids are back in school. Sunday drizzle is over and it is sunny again today. I participate in a women entrepreneur webinar today and meet other people running interesting businesses. As many were saying, the downturn in the economy has forced many of us to become more creative about how we do business. It's encouraging to see that there is a network out there to help and support us, because it can get lonely. Tomorrow, I have coffee with another entrepreneur in my village. Working alone is both nice and lonesome. We agreed to meet up once in a while for coffee, to create our own watercooler exchange.

On Skype this afternoon, my partners are preparing for a full day of meetings with prospects. It's great to have different talents pull together like this.

And so, here we are at the end of my 180-day transition from a salaried employee to an aspiring entrepreneur. It's been great to know that you have stayed with me through this journey. I hope to see you and catch up with all of you in person soon.
You know where to reach me, and if you don't, post a comment, and I will find you.
Thank you for keeping me company while I dream on.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 177 & 178: Emerson

The JETRO event was fun. Close to 300 people attended the clean tech event. Did you know that 40% of clean tech patents come from Japan? The common theme repeated at the event is that Japan is excellent in the technology side of things, but not in the marketing and business development side of things. This reminds me of business school. The Japanese who have so much knowledge, but very limited means of expressing and sharing this effectively. As I sit next to my classmate from business school,I realize that this is a theme that repeats itself. I remember being wowed at his delivery skills 15 years ago, and realize I am still wowed today. After the first panel session, Scott, raises his hand to ask a question. And how eloquently he does this! He states his name and affiliation, thanks the panelists and JETRO for the event, and then puts in a nice little advertizement for another classmate who has just published a book on solar energy, and proceeds to ask a question. Not an iota of brashness or sleeze. Pure elegance. It's like watching a perfect performance in figure skating at the Olympics.

Friday evening finds me in front of my PC on Skype again. 2 hours into the call, my new pink Blackberry pings me with a text message from Aya. Ah! I have an epiphany. I text her back for a nice chilled glass of wine. Ping! "Ya." Ping! "White?" Camille arrives with a glass of white wine. The tip is a piece of gum. Who needs an intercom, if you can text? Thank you Verizon for unlimited texting.

Saturday morning is for yoga. My husband and I drag our stiff bodies to class, and come out undulating flexibility. There is something to be said about good yoga instructors.

In between all this, I work on a few presentations. I hear commotion in the household as my husband decides to beautify the house all of a sudden. If you have ever read the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters, you will know Professor Emerson, the Father of Curses. My husband never curses, but in all other ways, he is like Emerson. Therefore, I ask my Ramses to close the door,and put earplugs in my ears as I work away.

I have put together a hobby site this week. Check it out if you can. Offer up a fairy story when you feel like it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 175 & 176: Yoga mat

I have a yoga mat right next to my desk, which is right in front of my bed. I try to stretch once in a while to relax my lower back. Sitting in front of the computer all day long tends to make my back hurt. This morning, Charlie decides to plunk himself on the yoga mat to groom himself. He also does a couple of "down dogs" as well as "side dogs" and " I am bored dogs".

To some of you reading this blog in your office cubicles, it may sound like an idyllic setting to work in. Fluffy slippers on my feet, yoga pants, old sweater, no make up, yoga mat and dog. To tell you the truth, it's not bad.

When the fog lifts, I will hop into my batmobile and drive into the city for a JETRO event on green tech. My brand new business cards from vistaprint will come in handy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 174: Fog Horns

Through the night and during the morning, the fog horns blow across the bay. As the sun rises over the East Bay, above the fluffy white fog, I feel like intoning "Ra!"

The kids entertain themselves with activities - walking the hills, peering into their computers, building a fort for their upcoming sleepover, chatting, swimming, going to the library... At the library, I borrow books on leadership, building a business, using the internet for business, etc. All these books that I used to shun as BORING, I now read for clues on how to do it better.

In the afternoon, our daily morning Skype turns into a 3 and a half hour discussion about transactions, strategies, and miscellaneous items. I wonder if this will be the future of businesses. Virtual communication amongst partners with the local touch for clients.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 172 & 173:Ski Week

It's ski week here - a one week break so Californian kids can go to Tahoe, Aspen and Whistler to ski. Rather decadent.

My kids aren't going anywhere, as their parents are too busy working. Instead, the sun is out and we go swimming. Julien, who never takes a day off from school, has a high fever, as if on cue. Poor child. It seems that his body knows when school is off, and only then, does he get sick.

My partners are all working hard, carving away their already short sleep hours. I try to think strategically with the advantage of distance. What is our best strategy? How can I help from this side of the ocean? The first step is really hard for start ups. Once we get in the groove, it should be easier. I am in awe of the power, talent, and tenacity of my partners. One gold medal here, please.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 171: Spring

It is only mid-February, but I greet lunch time in a tank top. This is why I love California. After a light paddle at the pool, we head out to Sausalito for lunch on the waterfront. The place is packed with people turning out to welcome spring.

In Tokyo, my partner is preparing to pitch a client for more business. In Vancouver, the winter Olympics have started. Funny how we live the same day differently.

In between chores, I translate a website into Japanese for my husband. The Japanese version is much shorter than the English, he says. True. The cultural differences between American and Japanese is interesting. A literal translation doesn't sit well in Japanese. What sounds like an assertive description of achievements and accomplishments in American English sounds so self-serving and arrogant in Japanese. This is why Google translation will never replace human translation.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 170:TGIF

Drive the "babies" to school - Freudian slip again, and miss the middle school turn (how can my baby daughter go to middle school?!). Loop around the hill to drop off 1 middle schooler. Drop off 1 elementary schooler with big trombone. Drop off batmobile at dealer for check up. Get a ride from husband, drop him off at office, zoom uphill, pat Charlie, go online for info requested by partner in Japan. Zoom up north in rain to Costco to pacify family ("Mommy, there is NO fruit, NO contact lense solution, NO lunch material, NO meat,NO Nequik, etc."). Screech into parking lot for a nice lunch with friends, stop by Trader Joe's for wine and orchid, unload van, pat Charlie, jump on Skype while sipping wine, ask questions that make people squirm, drink more wine, tumble into kitchen to prepare dinner, drink more wine, chat on Skype, send another email that will cause sensation, drink more wine.... duration 12 hours.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 169: A Dog's Life

My dog is strange. Every morning I wake up, he is outside my bedroom door waiting for me to emerge. As I step out on the landing, he does a "cat cow" and then a pristine "down dog" and "up dog". Then, as I go downstairs to kiss my husband and the kids good morning, he sulks. Finally, when he gets his share of kisses, he looks content.

Charlie happens to be very handsome and good natured, but "working like a dog" to him, means very little. All day long, he sleeps or day dreams next to me. Sometimes, he comes to snuggle up, and give me a hug. He now even puts his paw on my lap to give me a kiss. In a couple of years, I have a feeling he may do the "two kiss" kiss French style, with a scarf around his neck. When I go on Skype to talk to my partners, Charlie joins in and groans.

I find him very cute, but am glad he is a dog. If Charlie were human, he would be in his 40's. He is very hairy, with whiskers around his mouth. He travels from leather couch to leather couch all day and night, leaving hair on the cushions. He never cooks, but is always there when you are enjoying a meal. He complains about his food. He is extremely jealous and possesive. He doesn't work for a living, and expects you to love him. If he were human, he would be absolutely intolerable.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 168: Yuko

The highlight of my day is a visit from a college friend. It is quite frightening to think about how long we have known each other, but it is great to think how much we know about each other, too.

Funnily enough, Yuko is the reason why I find myself in finance today. She went to Columbia, I went to Stanford for business school. She was a year ahead of me. Being quantitative and smart, she landed a job in derivatives on Wall Street. I just wanted an excuse to visit her. So, I signed up for an interview in NY for a summer internship in derivatives. "Just say you love derivatives.", she told me the night before the interview. One thing led to another, and I landed a job in derivatives despite the fact that I am not that quantitative. Now I find myself a veteran in finance.

My first job out of business school, I started when I was 7 months pregnant with what has now become Aya. The first month on the job, I stayed at her apartment on Columbus Circle and had so much fun. On Saturday, she would run to get croissants for us. One day, we walked up and down Madison so much, that I almost delivered Aya 2 months ahead of time.

Throughout my career in NY, we would go for lunch to compare notes, celebrate triumphs, complain about work, and simply have fun. I don't miss New York, but I do miss not being able to see her as often.

Four and a half years back in the Bay Area have restored life in me, but New York doesn't seem as bad just about now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 167: Maslow

I find my spirits restored after chopping vegetables and creating a new dish to go with the miso-marinated salmon tonight. I also re-arrange my orchids old and new and apply new methods to revive them thanks to the folks at the gardening store. I have renewed confidence in the fact that I was meant to be a lady of leisure. Simple things like gardening, cooking and generally making sure my family are well-fed and well taken care of, give me immense pleasure.

Life is interesting in how it twists and turns unexpectedly. I was chatting with someone in her mid-thirties recently. She has an infant and is hoping to have one or two more children. But, it's not easy as a working mother. I recall my mid-thirties. I felt older than I feel now. All bogged down with the physical, financial and emotional pressures of life. My late twenties were similar to that. I suspect it was motherhood and compounded motherhood that brought on pressure, fatigue, and subsequent growth. After dealing with physiological needs, I hope to have advanced to the self-actualization phase in Maslow's terms. But, life gyrates between the physiological and self-actualization needs. I hope to fulfill both.

Day 166: Musings

Recently, two of my friends have secured full time positions and are poised to return to work at large corporations. I am very happy for them, and at the same time, wonder, just a teeny weeny bit whether I shouldn't be looking to do the same.

But, we are making headway at our new enterprise. New contacts and new opportunities present themselves. It's all very exciting and rewarding to see how friends and contacts have reached out to help make things happen.

I know that for now, for me, I need to continue down this path. There may come a time when I think differently, but right now, the thought of returning to a big corporation does not appeal to me, other than the REGULAR PAYCHECK, the BENEFITS and the regular WEEKENDS and the PAID TIME OFF!!!! Just kidding.... It sounds great, don't get me wrong. If only I could have the fun of enterprising and the security of being employed...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 164 & 165: Super Bowl Sunday

The weekends no longer feels like weekends. Work continues with additional things to deal with because everyone is home. Saturday rains and Sunday shines. Julien has a permit, so he drives me around to deal with errands. In the do-it-yourself spirit, we go buy car wash material and wash the batmobile for the first time in months. It feels good to have the "green" wash material and buckets instead of driving into the car wash. I see visitors gathering at our neighbors'. All the wives are tall, slender, with long shiny hair from afar. I secretly regret having chosen to wash the car the very same afternoon in my ragged outfit. But, it's too late. I tell myself that beauty is only skin deep, and that work builds character.

To reward ourselves, Maxime and I drive down in the clean-looking batmobile and go for a dip at the pool. Now, we know why people are gathering. It's Super Bowl Sunday. I suppose we yet have to become American. Here they are - families eating burgers and drinking beer, all watching TV. My husband returns from the gym with local gossip. Super Bowl Sunday has a proven high wife beating frequency in the US. Sad.

Spring is in the air. Some of my kids have allergy. The tree flowers are out - pink and white plum and peach blossoms, and acacias. Soon enough, we'll have the dogwood and cherry blossoms as well. Tonight, as I sit in my tank top and ponder the severe storm on the East Coast, I can only thank my lucky stars.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 163: This Much I Know

It's Friday and I am busy. I clean the house, meet with folks for home maintenance, toss the laundry into the machine, clean the house again, work, meet with more people about the house, jump into the batmobile to go lunch with two very cute younger women whom I used to work with and catch up on their generation, head back to the library to pick up the kids and catch up on reading, head back home for a Skype call, supervise Maxime's math, supervise dinner plans with Aya, have wonderfully entertaining and interesting guests over for dinner, and collapse into bed.

I did it to myself. This much I know.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 162: Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama and PJ

I am beginning to identify with someone under house arrest. My house is big, but I hardly venture out of my office/bedroom. All day long, I face my PC and periodically lift my eyes to look at the Golden Gate Bridge, which happens to be at eye level straight ahead of me. It'll be hard to find a corner office with a better view than mine. My office even comes with a bed!

Getting back to the topic of house arrest, I can see after years of confinement, one could start looking like cave woman. I admire Aung San Suu Kyi for many reasons, but right now, I admire her most for not puttering around home in her PJs all day long. After 14 years of exile, one with weaker willpower might resort to comfort clothes, but not she. Despite a leaky roof (, she always appears to be well dressed and well coiffed. I cannot say that about myself anymore.

Still, the rainfall around school bus time arouses even the hard core cave woman. I jump into my waterproof batmobile and zoom around town scooping up my offsprings, and fitting in grocery shopping at the same time. It shows how much of a recluse I have been. Safeway has a new self-checkout cashier! We try it out and find it easy to use. The only thing I don't know about is dishonesty. There is no way to check whether you have declared everything. Most people are honest, but even at the yoga studio (think His Holiness the Dalai Lama), there are thefts. Safeway is more at risk than the yoga studio, one would think.

Today, I send out an invoice for services (yes!), nudge payment for another invoice and deal with various homebound chores. I Skype with Japan, Ireland and Switzerland. There is a reason why I don't have video on my Skype, though.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 161: Try

As soon as I wake up, I turn on my PC. As soon as the PC starts, Skype calls. And from there, it is an endless stream of work. I have an assignment which is due tomorrow. Other than an errand mid-day and a quick break for lunch, I have been working non-stop. So have my partners. So has my husband. Entrepreneurs have to work like dogs. I now realize the sense of entitlement I had when I was an "employee". Yes, there were politics, there was an un-level playing field, there was hubris, hypocrisy, and a thick glass ceiling, but there was also a salary and benefits.

I am fortunate to have partners who try, try, try and never give up. I am fortunate to have a husband who tries and never gives up. I am fortunate to have kids who see this and learn about the value of trying and not giving up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 160: Spring and Spam

Spring is officially here - flowers bloom year round here, but today I find daffodils, plum blossoms and acacias in full bloom. It is so much easier psychologically to head to the pool.

My new found internet savvy is proving a little tricky. Sorry for those who received a spam update on my company blog today. I'll try not to do it again.

My life is becoming quite average and routine other than technical glitches. Day 180 will be my last entry. 20 more days of chaos for you!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 158 & 159: Rugby and Traction

Sunday, Julien wakes me up before dawn so that I can drive him to the bus that takes him and his friends to Sacramento for a rugby tournament. He makes MVP for his game, but also manages to get a concussion. In the evening, I find myself in the ER. Luckily, he seems OK.

Monday. It's a dry day, sometimes sunny, sometimes overcast. I stay home all day, not stepping out once. After a morning call with my partner in Tokyo, I vacuum clean the house, do 6 loads(!) of laundry, iron some clothes, edit my newsletter, update the website, Skype with my partners in the evening, and cook dinner. This is becoming a routine. It seems like we are gaining some traction. We now talk about real deals and real business, not hypothetical ideas.

I am getting into experimenting with the social network on internet. It's a full time job to connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc. I am curious to see how this parallel universe grows.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 157: Friday again

It's Friday again. I am working on a proposal at 6 am, and on Skype with Tokyo until 10. I call my friend in NY and pitch my company for business, emailing away and dealing with errands for the family in between. Finally, I roll downhill for lunch with my friends who fill me in on their lives. My start-up friend imparts wisdom on how to use Twitter and LinkedIn for business. He also explains that a widget is an API - whereas, he realizes the blank look on our faces, and drops the level a few notches for the audiences' benefit. As my other friend says she envies our adventures, we remind her that she gets a paycheck, which we envy.

I run a few more errands, and sink into the library arm chair waiting for my trombonist to be delivered by the yellow school bus. Back home, Julien, who is caught in the downpour calls for a ride. I say "no" since I have Skype in 2 minutes, then feel bad. So, leaving Maxime in charge, I drive downhill to pick Julien up. As we head back uphill with his friend in tow, Daniel's mom who had also said "no", calls to see where they, as she is waiting for him one street uphill. She and I get an "A" for trying. Mamma lions who push their cubs off the cliff. So much for tough love. Duration 2 minutes. Back home, Maxime has been entertaining my partners on Skype. Another couple hours on Skype strategizing, and all I can do is roll in bed at 9 exhausted.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 155 & 156: Just Ask

I have been socially active these past couple of days. Lunch with a friend/ex-colleague to catch up on activities. She encourages me to stay the course, as there is light at the other end of the tunnel. Evening Skype with partners followed by dinner with friends from Singapore and DC.

This morning, I drive down to San Jose in my batmobile, present to a company, and ask for business. I have decided to "just ask". When I was a worker bee employee, chores fell into my lap without asking and the paycheck would come whether you added value to the world or not. It's a different world out there now. I have decided to just ask. This takes getting used to - I grew up in an environment where outright asking is considered rather uncouth and vulgar. I don't particularly like rejection either. In addition to this, I don't like to impose. But, I believe in the value add that we can provide, I don't have the luxury of dreading "no", and besides, others don't seem to mind that I ask. What a surprise!

So, I come out of the meeting feeling really upbeat. I head off to Palo Alto for lunch with friends, which is always great. Afterwards, I pay homage to my dorm house in Escondido Village (111F to be exact). This is where it all started for me, when I had nothing. In fact, that year in EV was quite trying - classes in a foreign country surrounded by uber smart and aggressive classmates, separation, legal battles. But, somehow I knew I had to do what I had to do, and I knew I would be stronger and happier once the dust settled. It's nice to come push the "reset button" at my personal ground zero once in a while.

To reward myself for getting out there and asking away, I stop by my favorite $25 dollar foot massage place, and feel the tension of the past couple of weeks melting away.

Zooming home at high speed while seeking camoflage among other culprits, I feel the new me. This must be how bamboo shoots feel as they grow one node at a time.

Skype in the evening, followed by leftover galore and a few more "to do's" to do tonight.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 154: Assertion

My partners in Japan are really using their relationships and talent to drum up business. This evening, I look at LinkedIn and see that many of my friends have hundreds of contacts, whereas I have a few dozen linked to me. I decide that it's time to open up to more people, and go through my contact list. So I invite those who are already on LinkedIn. If they are there, I imagine they don't mind being contacted for business unless they strongly dislike me.

Funny how this alone makes me feel like I have established something. When you are a start-up, you can't be shy about asking. They may say "no", but at least you have asked. It's not like the old days where you could sit at your desk and wait for someone to drop an assignment in your lap.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 153: Rainy Monday

The day starts with a midnight call for my partners in Japan. All through the morning and even in the early afternoon, I receive emails. As the night owls go off to sleep finally, another early bird starts chirping. With sleeping habits and the planet being round, we can virtually work 24/7 amongst us.

American schools have so many days off, today being one of them for our district. Since I need to clean the house, I incorporate child labor, and find that, in many ways, it's easier doing it myself. After a lunch of blue cheese alfredo with pasta and sausage, we roll downhill for pool, library, rugby and returning the Fawlty Towers DVD.

In the evening, I am back on Skype with my partners in Japan until they need to head out for a meeting midtown. In the kitchen, Aya has made excellent custard pudding with caramel and strawberries on top. We decide on an abbreviated supper with cheese and bread, artichokes, and the pudding. We all agree that the kids will be popular in college by virtue of their cuisinary talent.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 151 & 152: Errands

This morning, I book tickets for a summer in France. At lunch, Julien says he sure would like to have a real French brie. I sense that food has a lot to do with being French.

My friend in Japan has decided to restrict wine to once a week at home, since she is concerned about the soil contamination that nurtured the grapes. I have many other things to worry about and put soil contamination on the backburner for now.

It rains on and off, but more off than on, this weekend. Grateful. My daughters and I dart off to Costco to load up on food. The whole weekend is a series of errands, and shuttling kids here and there.

We manage to go through our many, many bookcases, and donate bags of books to the library. As I stack books to donate, people come by to make sure I am not giving away their "special books". Books are transfered from the donation pile, to the keep forever pile. The stacks that make it to the library are lucky, too. It's nice to think that somebody will like these books.

Friday, January 22, 2010


That is "thank god it's friday and the sun is out" - I find myself humming "here comes the sun, doo doo do doo" while fixing myself a late breakfast. I hear that my kids "had nothing to eat for breakfast" as "all the bread was gone". Well, forewarned is forearmed. I fix myself some rice!

The rain has left emotional and physical damage. As I drive to pick Maxime up from his camp, I count three sail boats washed up along Tiburon Blvd. Every year, this happens, but I never get to see when the owners come pick them up. It must be pretty heart wrenching to see their pet boat on its keel.

For the first time this week, I go to the pool in the evening. Thanks go to Aya and Maxime. As I hyperventilate about life, they ask me while wolfing down bread (!) if I did anything for myself today. Technically speaking, the fact that I am starting my own business is 100% for myself. However, at times, it doesn't quite feel that way. It's nice that my children show consideration this way. I look back to when I was a child, and realize I never felt that my parents needed time to do something for themselves. It may have been because my parents actually had a life, and spent energy on time for themselves. In any event, it's nice that the kids have grown to an age where they can actually think about me.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 149: Ughh

Still raining here...ughh.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 148: Technology

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring... Thanks to my ear plugs, I snored till the sun came up in the morning. By the time I got downstairs, the two high schoolers were gone to their bus stops in the downpour. Aya came home in the afternoon with her sneakers squishing away. Julien came home from rugby practice looking incredibly dry. Meanwhile, I venture out once when the rain stops to swing by the post office and then to get some bread, and otherwise stay put.

Email is great though - NY, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Singapore, San Jose, Santiago... Amazing how connected I can be. Friends, friends, everywhere. So great, so instant.

Tired of the rain, I book some tickets to the south of France for the summer. Cote d'Azur is beckoning. This reminds me of Google Earth. Once in a while, my kids and I zoom into places we know, just for fun. Google Earth manages to zoom into THE ping pong table the kids play on in France. If Google Earth can do this, I am a little worried about what the CIA, Interpol, KGB, M6, China and Austin Power can do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 147: Take me for granted

Website creation is a lot like knitting. It makes your eyes cross, and your back ache. But I have persevered in updating my website. At sitekreator, John does not compare to Mark, so I figure it out myself, and am very proud about it.

Lunch comes, meaning I make it for myself. Then the insurance broker comes. He is annoyed that he has managed to get himself lost. Not a word of apology for making me spend 15 minutes guiding him out of the maze in Tiburon and safely to my house.

But, that is trivial. The heavens open their floodgates again, and I need to save my kids from certain death from drowning. One by one, I confirm they can get back home, and swerve downhill to scoop up the stray duckling at the library. Funny that she thinks it's quite natural that I should be there looking for her. "Let's go.", she says, without a word of thanks. I now understand what all the other moms say when they talk about being taken for granted.

In the evening, someone calls for my husband. I tell him that I am his wife and can speak to him about the subject. He doesn't seem to understand English. He presses for my husband to call back. Neanderthal. It reminds me of NY. The local fire department calls once in a while asking for "the man of the house". Forget about the "lady of the house" little lady. They want the "man". Apes.

Up north, my youngest duckling is camping with his classmates. The teacher kindly sends updates with upbeat messages about how much fun they are having in the pouring rain.

Day 146: Rain, Rain, Go Away!

When I moved here 4 years ago, I learned that there is a rainy season in the Bay Area. It starts around Halloween and ends around Easter. January and February are peak months. So we find ourselves drenched in rain for the fourth day. Charlie refuses to go outside unless he really needs to, and even so, he looks like he is being led to the guillotine.

It is 7:15 am, but the sun is nowhere to be seen. Downstairs, Maxime is preparing for his 4-day outdoor ed camp. Maybe they can learn how to swim on land there.

Days like this, it's sure nice not to have a job that requires walking outdoors a lot.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 145: Correlation

Last night around 2 am, a loud bang and scurrying feet awaken me. Of course, my husband dons his robe, but makes it to the landing and back to the bed. So, after a while, I (who can not combat with burglars very well) make it downstairs to find Camille filling up her water bottle and pointing to a whole log of pork loin on the kitchen floor. The Pyrex that used to house the pork is also on the floor, as are the carrots and celery that accompanied it. This is how I find myself on all fours scrubbing the floor in the middle of the night. Charlie is in hiding.

This morning, instead of making the 8:30 yoga, I decide to sloth it out. This doesn't quite work out, as I turn on my PC and find email communications throughout the night which result in working on and off through the day. But, at 4 o'clock, I walk down the hill to the pool and do my routine 25 minutes + 20 minutes of shower & sauna, and feel much better. Swimming in the rain is very calming IF you can make it to the pool.

As most people savor the long weekend, it's interesting how it makes little difference to me. The volatility of emotion no longer has correlation to the day of the week.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 144: 12 x 12 = chantilly

12 x 12 = 144. Twelve is full circle in Japan. Twelve squared must be something significant, although I don't know what.

Dinner last night with a total of 14 (includes Charlie) was great fun. Thanks to all the cooking I did yesterday, I don't cook at all today!!! Instead, I spend the entire morning cleaning the house, while my husband mysteriously dissappears. To reward myself, we go out to lunch. At the eye doctor, we find that my daughter who has worn glasses since she was 2-years-old, may no longer need glasses or contact lenses in a very short time. Hallelujah!

In the evening, I am on Skype again for a couple of hours with my partners in Tokyo to strategize. Highly productive.

Dinner is leftovers, but the leftovers are even better than yesterday. It sure feels nice not having to cook for once.

Speaking of which, one summer in France we had over 20 people rotating through our house. We had a chef who would go grocery shopping, and cook lunches and dinners. Those were the days.... The chef consulted with the lady of the house (i.e. me) about the menu, but since I was totally clueless, my mother-in-law would take charge with assistance from my kids. And so it happens that the dessert for one lunch was peach melba. I was pretending to be a dolphin in the pool, when the chef comes to ask if I would permit him to go to town to get some "Chantilly". Caught in the compromising act of imitating a dolphin and having no clue whatsoever of the identity of chantilly, I demand clarification. Pantomime ensues, and I figure there is much motion of the hand in the creation of chantilly. Chantilly appears to be rather copious. I figure it goes with the peach melba. I say, please proceed, as I go back to being a dolphin. At dessert, I finally realize that chantilly is whipped cream. Ever since, I have special affection for chantilly.

I ponder the trajectory of being lady of the house to my current jack of all trades status: scullery maid, janitor, website designer, secretary, analyst, strategist, translator, cook, salesperson. Nostalgia drives me to plan a summer in the south of France again. Here we come, chantilly!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 143: Peeling

You know how snakes peel away their skin when they grow out of their own selves...well, that's how I feel today.

Nothing has happened that you can see physically (unfortunately), but I am not the me that was yesterday. I have taken charge of my destiny turbo-charged today.

At the library, I borrow a book called "Perfect Balance Creat time & space for all parts of your life". I read the first 5 pages and like it. I am also reading (as I am one of those who parallel process reading several books at a time) "The Highly Intuitive Child". I have five of them, and am an outgrowth of one myself. My youngest tells me he feels the pain when someone gets hurt or is teased. It's like a little tug. How well I understand this! My husband, on the other hand, couldn't be more different. It's interesting how we are compatible.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 141 & 142: Unusually long terms musings

30 years from now, I wonder how we are going to look back at 2010. International strifes, natural disasters, monetary policies, etc.

When all my kids are middle-aged, like I am now, I hope we will have figured out a way to be at peace with everything. I doubt this will happen, though. Disparity in living standards, education, philosophies, seem too huge for this to be possible.

I wonder if all the cute innocent babies, have little seeds of vice, greed, and urge of power embedded in them when they are born. Is it nature or nurture?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 140: Cultural Differences

It is interesting how different cultures interpret something that was initially the same thing differently. Take curry, for instance. Indian curry and Thai curry are different, but it's nothing compared to Japanese curry. If you go to a supermarket in Japan, you will find as many curry mixes as you'll find cereal boxes here in the US. Look at cheese. Thanks to my husband, I have become a cheese connoisseur over the years. But look at the US - Swiss, cheddar, lite or normal...

I have hit the wall for websites. My friends here tell me the site looks great, and how did I do it? My friends in Japan shake their heads in dismay. "It's the font and the look.", they say. I take a look at some of the Japanese sites that are internet companies and crinkle my nose. Just as the notion of beauty for women are different, so is the notion of beauty for websites.

Which reminds me of an interesting comment my friends made when I was back in Japan. According to them, a lot of Japanese women who marry non-Japanese men (known as "Gaijin")are often not what the average Japanese would consider attractive. Well, it's good that what is trash for some, can be treasures for others. I feel fortunate that my husband found me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 139: Round and round

I have grown roots to my chair today. My friend in Tokyo sleeps very little, and therefore keeps me company until late morning my time. We trade emails on ideas. Then, I work on website revisions - this is like knitting. My eyes cross, my thoughts converge. I swallow down lunch and race with time. Today, my helper comes to clean the house, and I get kicked out of my bedroom/office mid-afternoon. I go to the post office, the grocery store and then to the pool for a few laps. I feel the need to explain myself. I like swimming and yoga. But, that's not the only reason I swim and go to yoga. Swimming and yoga are cheaper alternatives than Prozac.

I come home, and Skype calls. I chat for an hour. By the time I am done, my meat loaf is smelling good. We dine. The meatloaf that was supposed to last a couple of days, simply dissapears. I have underestimated the power of youth yet again.

As I sit here, emails start flowing again from all my good friends on the other side of the world. The world is round, and I really get it now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 138: Disclaimer

My friends who read this blog have told me that my life sounds idyllic. What you must all keep in mind is that this is a PG13 blog, so blood and sweat are kept intentionally under covers. You should view this blog as any old corporate annual report. Do you know of any company that talks about its glass ceilings, company politics, or lack of adequate internal controls in its annual reports? While the contents of an annual report are true, it is not the whole truth. Just read your own company's report, and you'll see what I mean.

So, while my life may seem like elegant decadence itself - yoga, swimming, meditation, dinners, massages, and general love and happiness - this is the truth, but not the whole truth.

This evening, I chat with my two friends in Tokyo on Skype again. One is very athletic and runs a half marathon once a month. The other abhors any kind of cardiovascular activity. I once took her to yoga - she stomped out half way in utter disgust. Neither of them weighs 100 lbs, so I guess it doesn't matter whether you exercise or not. You are what you eat.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 137: Hope and Fear

Hope and fear, happiness and sadness are intertwined in life. I wake up to see the sun rise over the East Bay and Angel Island - such a beautiful view. Then, Julien comes to remind me of his driving lesson on the HIGHWAY!!! Hope and fear.

My husband and I resort to yoga for happiness where the teacher quotes the Dalai Lama - "Breathe in compassion for yourself, breathe out compassion for others." I double-breathe in compassion for myself.

This evening, I find five 14-year-old girls at home exerting high energy. With a total of 8 children full of energy and hope, how can I not feel exhilarated? Even so, I warn them to speak in whispers and even adopt pantomime after 10 o'clock. I also recommend using the pillow to muffle the sound if they must giggle, for giggle is what girls do well.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 136: Rebound

The day starts out foggy as I drive Maxime to school early with his bigger-than-life trombone, but the sun comes out mid-morning. I have recovered from the doldrums and plough through my "to do's". I speak with a friend in Maryland, who helps me regain perspective even more. In the afternoon, I run errands, and then on impulse, decide to squeeze in a few minutes of swimming. As I rush to swoop up my trombone player, he calls to say he'd like to stay at the library a little, so take it easy. I waddle back into the sauna, and do exactly that.

Back home, I continue with my to do list and feel a lot more energized. I am more assertive. I find new ways to make the business work, and get on the horn to ask for work. In Japan, my partners are working away through the weekend.

The days are getting longer, I realize. After winter comes spring.

This evening, we discover that Camille has grown taller than her older sister. 3 years younger and still growing. No wonder she is tired and has to take a nap. Camille turns to me and asks whether I get tired as I shrink. I hope not.

Day 135: Grow Up

Over time, I have found that many people have difficulty sleeping at night due to anxiety. Happy-go-lucky runs in my genes, and so I hardly ever have this problem. But, it does happen once in a while. As I toss and turn in bed, I remember a friend telling me that you have to love misery to be an entrepreneur. Another friend speaks to me in my sleep, "Well, DARLING HONEY... You know what you have to do."

What I have to do is to snap out of it, and get my rearend in gear again. So, I try. But I am rather lethargic due to lack of sleep. By, 4 in the afternoon, I am on Skype again with my partners in Japan. Our project is progressing and there are lots to be done. They are working full speed. I am embarassed to be wallowing in my puddle of self-pity (I blame part of it on the foggy weather).

At 7, my friends gather here for dinner in honor of an out-of-town classmate. I am not the only one looking tired. We are all trying to figure out the new rules of the game. Instead of complaining "who changed the rules?", I decide to snap out of it. It's great to have friends and family that travel through the journey of growing up alongside you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 134: Peace

Every time I launch my internet, BBC News comes up, and it's Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen & Oman (the "Yeah man", "Oh man" combo), or some other country that is about to blow up. Does it feel like we plug one hole in the world peace balloon, and another one opens up? Is it a futile effort? Are we going to die anyway, so why live?

We shall live! Just because we are going to sleep in bed, doesn't mean we're not going to make our beds in the morning. Just because I am growing older and less beautiful, doesn't mean I'm going to stop brushing my hair and teeth in the morning.

I skipped meditation this morning, so I meditate while swimming. After my Costco run and cooking for dinner while eating my grapefruit, I talk to Charlie about the meaning of life and love. He is in full agreement, as he nods and lifts his paw in a "How!" kind of way.

Julien returns from his first rugby practice with all his bones intact. We feast on curry, and then go back to do what we all can (violin, homework, work, blog and nap) to live our lives to our fullest.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 133: Division

The kids are back in school again. Yes!! Or so I thought. Around lunchtime, it's kind of lonely. Around 2, I go grocery shopping, swing by the pool and then come home to jump on a conference call with my partners in Japan. Meanwhile, Aya comes in with a form for me to sign, Charlie is groaning on the carpet and I feel the need to explain that it is not me. Maxime comes with his homework on division with decimal points. 2 hours later, when I am done with my call, Maxime is in full rage mode. As we prepare dinner together, he has regained confidence and is shaking his hips while moving the decimal points on both the divisor and the dividend to the right with an encouraging "hmm hmm hmm" sound. His father comes home when all is well, and peers at the homework saying "Ahh, division." Apparently, it wasn't his favorite topic either, and his math teacher kept him after school for a couple of hours days on end, trying to reach comprehension. I, on the other hand, never had any problems with division. Look where it has gotten us now. My husband is a rocket scientist with a PhD in mechanical engineering, while I am a blogger. Life is funny.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 132: Yemen

At dinner tonight, I ask where Yemen is anyway. Aya says, it's right next to Oman. Which then turns to the topic of "Jammin', Jammin' in the name of the Lord." Whereas, Julien looks surprised and says "You know Bob Marley!?"

Thanks to my friend Noreen, not only do I know Bob Marley, I actually know how to sing a few songs of his.
When I was off-the-boat-immigrant, Noreen berated me for not knowing what jammin' was all about, and proceeded to teach me the song, at which point some other colleagues joined in. Many long, tedious days and nights on the desk, I would find myself singing a tune from Bob Marley, Mary Poppins, or something equally outlandish and find some similarly "beyond sanity" colleagues sing along.

I learn that one of these colleagues, after regaining youth, has managed to break a few bones skiiing in Vermont on a frozen lake. All I can say is "Ouch!!" and that pride comes before the fall. Just because you used to ski to school in St. Catherine, Ontario, doesn't mean you can ski on a frozen lake, Pat. But, it's good to have that fighting spirit going. I think I have a lot of fighting spirit in me, but my kids laugh and remind me about the hypothetical situation of meeting a mountain lion on the hill. In a moment of weakness, I allegedly told them that I would simply sit down and tell the mountain lion to "just eat me". I am sure that my bones would be easy to crack, and would not be too sharp, either. My physical therapist can attest to this, as she managed to crack a few bones tonight.