Thursday, August 31, 2006

dissed and dismissed

Today a friend used the phrase "the 'Max's wedding' situation". Here's the story, so that we can all start using the phrase.

A couple months ago, in a work meeting with just Max and Yonatan.

Me: Two minutes left. Any last things we should discuss?

Yonatan: No, I'm done. By the way, Max, I got your wedding invitation in the mail. The RSVP is on its way to you. [turns to me expectantly]

Me: Don't look at me. I wasn't invited.

Yonatan: [quick alarmed glance at Max] Oh! Oh... Oh, this is awkward.

Max: [silence]

Me: Well, screw you guys. I was invited to Andrew K's wedding, and neither of you were.

Max: Who's Andrew K?

Me: Engineer on Google Earth.

Max: I don't even know who that is.


Later that afternoon.

Max: I think we should talk to group XYZ again, to see if we want to collaborate with them. I feel bad that the first time we talked to them, I didn't have enough context to evaluate their proposal.

Me: Sure, we can call them again, but there's no need to feel bad about that.

Max: Well...

Me: If you're going to feel bad about anything, it should be about the fact that you didn't invite me to your wedding.

Yonatan: [covers eyes with hand, shaking silently with laughter]


In Seattle six years ago, I dated a guy for a month. It didn't work out, but we stayed friends. Later he moved to Singapore and starred in their reality TV show equivalent of "The Bachelorette".

Tonight I chanced upon a new blog, one of the 100 most frequently-visited blogs on the web. A recent entry describes how the author went to a super-fab party in Singapore, and shows pictures of herself with a bunch of models and celebrities.

One of the pics is her with my friend / ex-date.

Life is weird.


Over dinner at Google tonight, Vanessa and I caught up on the current state of our old friends from Caltech.

W opened up a bar in a rural town in China.
X works at a bookstore in Seattle.
Y is living in Los Angeles and relaxing (i.e. not working).
Z is living in South America and relaxing (i.e. not working).

It is surprising how many of our classmates turned their back on the fields they studied at Caltech. Imagine it: you work passionately throughout your teen years, culminating in four years of rigorous study at Caltech. You put in long hours to get a degree from one of the highest ranked science and engineering universities.

Then you turn your back on it, to pursue a life that takes no advantage of those talents.

As far as I can tell, all these people are very happy.

Three years ago, after Wesley left his software startup, I invited him to consider working for Google. He decided no, and instead moved to China and turned an old building into a bar.

When we exchanged email last year, he said something to the effect of, "Occasionally I have 1% regret over the financial impact of that decision. But I wouldn't trade my current feeling of freedom for any amount of money."


It reminds me of a conversation with Cliff a couple years ago, about the dynamics in relationships.

I said, "The person who cares less has more power."

Cliff said, "No, the person who needs less has more power."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

too soon has thy vigor faded

Today the Bike Doctor came on-site to repair bikes for Googlers. I wheeled my mountain bike across the parking lot to the large white van bearing the "Bike Doctor" emblem.

Microsoft bought this bicycle for me when I interned there, nine years ago. It cost three hundred fifty dollars new, and although it's been almost a decade, in my eyes it still holds the bloom of youth.

Bike Doctor: You'll need a new seat ... new brake line .. The shifters are broken. Brake pads are almost gone. Chain is pretty bad. All in all, it's going to come out to 150 dollars. You might as well spend 250 and get a new bike.

Me: How much would you say my bike is worth right now?

Bike Doctor: Zero to thirty dollars.

Me: Zero? [to Piaw, walking by] Piaw, my bike is worth zero to thirty dollars.

Piaw: [looks bike over] [chirpily] That's about right.


Oh bike, how rough are the ravages of time!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Clarifying a few misunderstandings.

Recently a few erroneous perceptions have come to my attention.

  1. Some people think that I don't want to date Asian guys, just because I wrote a post entitled "Why I Don't Date Asian Men".

    As I stated in the post, I would love to date a Chinese guy. But it has to be a sweet Chinese guy, and therein lies the rub.

    (Incidentally, that post was catalyzed by one particular Asian guy. Who I then dated. Word.)

  2. My ab fetish does not require six-pack abs. The only request is flatness.

    This is great:

    This is too much:

    (Incidentally, I was amused that a Google image search for "male abs" brought up my blog in the second page. Word.)

  3. My friends said this better than I could've today:

    David: Niniane, your dating tagline should be "Hot guys only".

    Nina: [to David] But then guys will think she's superficial.

    David: No, no, I've read her blog post about this. There are other important factors, besides the hotness.

    Nina: Hm.

    David: Niniane, your dating tagline should be "HOTNESS: Necessary but not sufficient".

maybe the guy meant it ... or maybe guys are jerks

Over white wine. Eating French bread with goat cheese and pâté, with Ken and a French exchange graduate-student Annie:

Ken: "My friend Mary is dating that extremely tall French guy from Gail's party."

Me: "Oh, the guy that drove her home that night? Cool."

Ken: "Are French guys really forward? After the second date, he told her that she's the One, and that he wants to spend his life with her. I told her that it's a total line."

Me: "Why?? Maybe he means it!"

Ken: "After the second date?"

Me: "That's pretty fast, but there's still a chance he means it!"

Ken: "I guess I'm just protective of my friends."

Me: "But if you destroy her trust in people, then she'll become a defensive person and that's also bad!"

Annie: "It depends on how he said it."

Me: "Right. Was he trying to get sex out of her?"

Annie: "Yeah, like if he says, 'You are the woman for my life. I've been searching for you all my days. Do you want to have sex?"

Ken: [smiling] "Oh, that doesn't work? Damn it!"

Me: "You need to wait at least five minutes in between the sweet-talk and the sex question."

Ken: "One-one thousand. Two-one thousand..."

end-of-August Sat night in pics

With the statuesquely beautiful Sara:

Warm wishes to the birthday boy:

With Christina and her tattoo:

Pool party at an awesome house with five levels. The kitchen:

Fun Australian girl. Great dress:

Gay love:

Indoor pool, hot tub, and steam room on the first level of the house. I'm taking this pic from the stairs on the second level.

Christina: "We're engineers! This pool scene is Silicon Valley trying to be LA."

cute little exchanges

Me: As you requested, I wrote a blog post about you.

Lu: I am excited and nervous... God bless me.

Me: The American cafe that opened across the street in building 44 is SO GOOD. Corn bisque, handmade ice cream, ... I'm worried I'm going to get fat.

Alipé: Well Niniane, if you'd like, I can give you daily feedback.

At dinner.

Alipé: I noticed girls you're dating don't like it if you tell them that they've gotten fatter.

Me: You don't say.

Alipé: Yeah, they get all miffed. Then I say, "What, would you rather I just silently resented you?"

Me: [laughing]

Yonatan: You could say it in a more lighthearted manner.

Alipé: There's always a grain of truth to jokes though.

Joby: Yeah. You can't really say, "Hey, you're REALLY FAT. Oh ha ha! Just kidding!"

Star Trek inspirational posters.

My faves:

Alas. I've never seen the famed "City on the Edge of Forever", and it's not on YouTube or Google Video.

and the best one, funny because it's true:

The Full Deal.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Goodbye Pluto. Goodbye Earth.

So Pluto is no longer a planet. Fine.

But apparently, the redefinition may hit a little closer to home.

Stern sees problems ahead for the IAU definition.

Under the current wording, Earth does not qualify as a planet because it has not "cleared the neighborhood around its orbit," he said. Objects called near-Earth asteroids orbit the sun at roughly the same from our home star as Earth.

Intern sass, remembered.

Watt reminded me recently of the time that he and Alipé faced off against Henry and me at basketball. Watt sustained a toenail injury during the game, and we went to a nearby Google building to treat it.

We picked up bandages, and then Henry and I went into the microkitchen. When we came back into the corridor, Alipé and Watt were nowhere in sight.

Henry: They must have gone into the bathroom.

Me: Yeah. [pause] [goofily] Which one do you think they went into?

Henry: The women's bathroom. Judging from their performance at basketball.

Me: [laughing] Ha ha! [suddenly] Wait, that's an insult to all women too.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Randall trying to provoke

Dinner with my ex-roommate Yolanda, her boyfriend Randall, and my brother Tom. Randall cooked stewed beef, mashed potatoes (from raw potatoes!), and gravy.

Sipping champagne after dinner.

Randall: Did you two fight growing up? You seem to get along really well.

Tom: Not really. But my sister did give me a fear of heights.

Me: [looking down sheepishly]

Randall: How did that happen?

Tom: I was 3, and my family went to Carlsbad Caverns. My sister pretended she was going to throw me over the railing into the cavern.

Randall: Niniane!

Me: [chagrined] Yeah, it happened.

Randall: So which one of you did better in school?

Me: Tom.

Tom: [simultaneously] Niniane.

Me: He has the higher GPA.

Tom: Stanford has grade inflation though.

Randall: Which one of you does your Mom love more?

Tom: Definitely Niniane.

Me: Yeah, it's me. I think my dad loves Tom more, but his delta is less than my mom's delta.

Randall: Your mom loves you more, even after your recent argument?

Me: Oh! Good point.

Tom: Yeah, you've probably gone down in her mind. It's time for the rise of Tom!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

don't fight the obsession

I'm in the middle of two writing books: On Writing by Stephen King, and The Art of Writing by John Gardiner.

They both make the point that in order to write well, you must read a lot. Tonight I drew up a list of 30 books I want to read. As a child, I went through one 300-page novel every 1-2 days, but now I am 50 times slower.

Growing up, my mother repeated daily to me that reading novels is a waste of time. To parents out there, please don't stop your kids from obsessive reading! You may be suppressing their deep love for literature and ingraining guilt into them over a passion that they cannot control! Take the time you would've spent forcing them to play the piano / violin / cello and let them read instead.

David A. makeover

David A was visiting Cali last month, and his wife Nina asked me to take him shopping and buy him a couple of new outfits.


After #1 (dressy):

After #2 (casual hip):

I hope you like it, Nina.

ah, America

There is a 22-year-old Chinese engineer Lu on my basketball team. He is going to college in China (清华), and here in California for an internship. He wants to learn more about the culture in the States, and I like hearing about how things are in China, so sometimes we talk about the differences.

One day, Lu asked me how people date in America. I gave him a rundown of the typical stages, from meeting to exchanging contact info to dates to relationship.

Me: ... So at some point after you've gone on some dates, you have a talk about whether you're exclusive.

Lu: Oh, in China, it is assumed that if you go out two or three times by yourselves, then you implicitly agree to be exclusive.

Me: Yeah, in the US you usually have to state it explicitly.

Lu: Is that also when you say "I love you" to each other?

Me: No!!!!!! That usually happens much later. Often months later.

Lu: Oh. In China it happens early on. Actually, we say "I love you" in English quickly, but "我爱你” ("I love you" in Chinese) later.

Me: Huh.

Lu: American dating is so much fun! One needn't have too much pressure hanging out and making out. In China the fifth time you date a girl, you'll probably have to ask her to be your girlfriend.

Me: In the US you can just have fuck buddies. If you're into that.

Lu: What is that?

Me: From urbandictionary,

7. a special friend that you fuck.
Example: "would you like to be my fuck buddy?"

Lu: I see.

[ ... much later in the conversation ... ]

Lu: btw in USA is it polite to ask a girl you meet to be your fuck buddy, according to the example sentence in urban dictionary?

House makeover

Dining Area Before:

Dining Area After:

Kitchen Before:

Kitchen After:

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

between two continents

When I was 22, I roomed with a midwestern American girl Mary who was both Mormon and a prolific dater. Coming home was full of surprises. One day I'd open the door to see church elders holding a Bible study in our living room. All the wine bottles would be gone from the kitchen counter. The next week I would walk in to find Mary making out on the living room floor with a guy I'd never seen before. They both stumble up drunkenly, and the guy slurs out an introduction.

Every month Mary would tell me about a different guy, and more often than not, she would breathlessly describe his positive traits. He could be the One ...

I marveled at this, because at that point I had never dated a single person who I thought could be the One, and she was raking through them. At one point it occurred to me that we probably both want someone who shares our background and upbringing. It's just that her pool of potential One's includes most Americans, and mine is some subset of immigrants who are acclimated to the US but also maintain their (preferably Chinese) heritage. I envied her the size of her selection pool.

Sometimes I miss my Chinese side so much. I'm buying sandwich bread in Safeway and I hear a couple talking in the next aisle, comparing canned foods. The man has a Beijing dialect, and I stand there for thirty seconds hearing the timbre of their voices. It comforts.

My friend Lu and I were eating dinner at Google a month ago. It was not long after I met him. I spoke to him in Mandarin, and as the conversation continued, he spoke more and more in Engilsh.

"Aren't you more comfortable in Mandarin?" I asked, since he just left China last year.

"Yes, but I figure you're more comfortable in English," he said.

"I like hearing people speak in Mandarin."

He then immediately used some Chinese idiom that I didn't understand. "See?" he said, "Why do you want to speak in Mandarin when there are going to be these things that you don't understand?"

But he humored me.

I don't fit in to the Chinese world. Any true-bred Chinese person who talks to me for more than one hour will end up telling me that I'm too straightforward. I lack the subtle Chinese-specific social nuances. The innate knowledge that it's okay to say, "You look so much fatter! You must have put on thirty kilograms!" but it is not okay to say, "It's really chilly in your house! Can you turn on the heat?" Or maybe it's all right to say that -- case in point that I don't know.

Drifting between the two continents can sometimes get lonely.

Monday, August 21, 2006


To all those who ridiculed my eating philosophy of "follow your body's signals":

Ha, ha. I am supported by at least one study involving 597 women.

A new study has found that finding the right diet is no match for a new style of eating called “intuitive eating” that is based on feelings of hunger and fullness rather than on emotions or situations. Those who followed intuitive eating principles actually had a slightly lower Body Mass Index than women who did not.

Other researchers have determined that intuitive eating has three components: unconditional permission to eat when hungry and to eat what food you desire; eating for physical rather than emotional reasons; and reliance on internal hunger and fullness cues to determine when and how much to eat.

perhaps * sweet

A news article this morning on Tiger Woods mentioned Joe DiMaggio, so I read his wikipedia entry:

According to biographer Maury Allen, Joe was so alarmed at how Marilyn had returned to her self-destructive ways, falling in with people he felt detrimental to her (including Frank Sinatra and his "Rat Pack"), he quit his job with a military post-exchange supplier on August 1, 1962 to ask her to remarry him. But before he could, she was found dead on August 5, a probable suicide. Devastated, he claimed her body, and arranged her funeral, barring Hollywood's elite. He had a half-dozen red roses delivered 3 times a week to her crypt for the next 20 years. Unlike her other two husbands or other men who knew her intimately (or claimed to), he refused to talk about her publicly or "cash in" on the relationship. He never married again.

Joe was finally taken home on January 19, 1999. His last words, according to Engelberg, were "I'll finally get to see Marilyn."

It's sweet. The reality was probably marred with violent jealousy and making each other miserable. But the essence of the story, when boiled down to eight sentences, is sweet.

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side

Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait

Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more

I can't live, with or without you

-- With or Without You, U2

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Me: "I went with another Googler to a sushi restaurant on Shoreline, and it was amazing. We were there late, 10pm, and they were closing down. We ate, paid, and when we turned to go, we saw that across five tables were black plastic Google boxes. The waiter was filling the boxes with sushi."

Wei-chao: "They make Google's sushi?"

Me: "Yeah, we paid 50 bucks for the sushi we could've eaten for free the next day!"

Wei-chao: "That's not what I was thinking. I was thinking that they make the next day's sushi the night before. That's not very fresh!"


"Niniane, I need to figure out what project to do after my current one. Well, maybe if this one really takes off, I'll go about it more relaxed."

"You already created something hugely successful! Why not relax from that?"

"I want to know that I can do it for something other than this one thing."

"Ah, you want to know that it's repeatable. Not just a fluke."

"Yeah. You know, every billionaire should have to undergo a test where we strip them of their money, connections, and fame, and they have to start from nothing and prove that they can become a billionaire again. Until they've done this two or three times, they shouldn't get our respect."

"Yeah ... they ARE far more impressive if their success is repeatable. For example, you know Warren Buffett would be able to do it."

"Except that he's 70 already."

"Ignoring that. Steve Jobs can do it too -- he basically already did, with Pixar and NeXT. And Oprah can too."

"Martha Stewart?"

"Yeah. But Larry Ellison, probably not."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

it's not really Emily Shaw

Me: [telling Tom about the flak from this post] I wouldn't read the emails now, but ten years ago, definitely.

Tom: Did you mask the identity of the Caltech girl? Because Caltech is a small school and if you put in a lot of details, people will figure out who it is.

Me: Of course I masked.

Tom: Tell me you didn't write "The girl is Emily. Emily ... Shaw. Yes, Emily Shaw was date raped. Emily, if you're out there, I feel for you sister."

Me: [laughing] Come on.

Tom: Then when she googles her own name, the first link will be your blog post. "Emily Shaw date raped". The spellchecker will say "did you mean: niniane feels for you"


Dinner tonight at Google No-Name Cafe with Alipé, Darryl, and my brother Tom.

Afterwards Tom and I sat on couches on the first floor of building 45. He talked to me about learning to drive, and whether to keep working part-time during the school year.


Me: I skipped a cruise on the Bay tonight for interns and their hosts, in order to do more work. Wonder if I should've gone. The water would've been a nice view.

Tom: You could've played shuffleboard.

Me: I bet I didn't know the majority of them. It was probably 95% interns.

Tom: You could've played shuffleboard with people who would let you win.

Me: [laughing]

It's not at all true though. Interns these days are SASSY! Last month:

Joby: .. So this guy avoids me when he sees me. If I'm walking along [draws a dot to denote himself and a straight line coming from it], then he'll go in a big circle to avoid me [draws another dot going in a huge circle around him]

Joby's intern: Is that because you were so fat?


I drove Tom home, and as we said goodbye, we waxed a little sentimental about how great it is to have a sibling.

Tom: ... Because other people will be careful what they do, to avoid ruining the friendship. But we are unruinable.

Me: Yeah. [pause] Knock on wood!!!

Both of us: [knocking own skull several times to avoid jinx]

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

That ain't right

I am deeply disturbed by this user's AOL search history:

It is not normal to cook him breakfast!!

This reminds me of a time in college when I accidentally stumbled across a bunch of emails that another student had printed out. I read all of them, of course. (Don't judge me -- you know you would've done the same when you were seventeen. (If you wouldn't have, then I guess you can judge me.) I wouldn't do it now, but back then, yes.)

(* altering some details below, so that I'm not a complete privacy violator)

First there were some emails between her and her college boyfriend Max. They had a fight over washing dishes. Max decided they would only use disposable plates from then on. Make up, kiss kiss.

She moved to the East Coast to go to graduate school. She started working with a project partner Bob who sent her five frantic emails in an hour during both occasions when she missed their work appointment.

Next was an email between her and Bob's best friend, in which she revealed that Bob raped her. The friend urged her to get help. File a police report, or at least for God's sake, call the rape hotline and talk to them. But she didn't. She decided that she and Bob would talk through it and deal with it as friends.

It breaks my heart when women treat themselves this way. Partly because it makes me remember back to when I was young and didn't know how to stand up for myself.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

all in the family: brother

I took my brother to the Google Picnic on Friday. It was easily the nastiest food I've ever eaten at a Google event. Tom ate six mini-burgers and then had a stomachache.

We ran into Mike, Tom's officemate during his Apple internship last summer:

I invited Tom to Sha-mayn's going-away party in the city that night. We ran into an obstacle in that Tom's only 19 years old, and the event is at a bar. Fortunately, Mike agreed to lend us his ID.

Before the party, Tom and I ate at a chinese restaurant with my parents who are visiting from Vegas, and our cousin who is in Cupertino on business.

Tom: Niniane, can you give me the ID now? I want to start memorizing the info, in case the bouncer quizzes me.

Me: [handing over ID]

Dad: [to Tom] Why do you have your friend's ID?

Me: I'm taking Tom to a bar tonight.

Dad: [in lecturing voice] Okay, don't lose your friend's ID. And don't just put it in your pocket -- you might bend it!

I have to give my parents props for the fact that the only nagging they did over our usage of a fake ID was about bending the corner of the ID.

After dinner, we went to Ichiban next door and I bought GUMMIES!

Me: [cradling my bag of gummies] Tom, last month I bought a bag of gummies and then I lost them. I wrote a poem about it. Would you like to hear it?

Tom: Sure.

Me: [deep breath] Oh gummies, my gummies! [pause] Um.... [long pause]

Tom: You're holding a bag of gummies, so you can't recall the pain that inspired the poem. If I took it and ate it all in front of you right now, then you'd remember the poem for sure.

I drove the two of us to the party at Levende Lounge, one of my favorite spots. We bid goodbye to Sha-mayn, since she'll be working from the Google Beijing office for six months. I will really miss her.

Tom and I stayed over at my San Fran crash pad. We chatted about his upcoming job hunt, his friends, my friends.

Me: Tomorrow you can sleep in. I'm getting my nails done in the morning.

Tom: Okay.

Me: I'm going to do my fingernails in blue, but I don't want to redo my toenails which are red. So they're going to clash.

Tom: No one's going to notice unless they're looking at you from head to toe. And if they've gotten to that point, then you probably don't need to worry.

Ah, the logic.


Saturday afternoon, we ate pizza at the Italian restaurant down the street.

I love Tom.

all in the family: Parents.

An emotionally difficult Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

The crux is that I told my parents that from now on, I am going to leave the room whenever they do one of the following:

1. Fight.
2. Badmouth the other.
3. Make racist remarks.

I told them I may leave for an hour, a day, or five minutes. They are not pleased, to say the least. Neither am I, but this is the decision I chose out of many crappy options.

My wise friend said to me yesterday, "1. Life is short, and 2. you only live once. Don't spend your one short life in situations that make you miserable."

Friday, August 11, 2006

things that are whack

Two horrors I encountered this week which appalled me to my very soul:

1. This gray tiny dog that I saw on Saturday!

2. The Google Summer Picnic is tomorrow. Last month we were asked to RSVP via a web form. Usually I am very impressed by all the Google internal apps, but this time...

The form has 2 radio buttons: one for "I am attending myself" and one for "I'm bringing a guest". I select the second, and then repeatedly encounter an error on submitting.

After two minutes, I finally realized that they wanted me to select BOTH options, since I am attending and bringing a guest.

Horror washed over me.

I emailed the Summer Picnic Committee a long treatise, which centered around the point "RADIO BUTTONS ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE".

They fixed it the next day.

Today I go to pick up my wristband, and I learn that I have to bring a printout of my original confirmation page. That's right -- there is no way to access that page once I closed my browser. There is no confirmation email that I can print. Since I didn't happen to print that page last month, I am screwed.

I called upon my trusty Desktop Search but even it didn't cache the confirmation page.

Good thing none of our other applications are like this.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pie #6

I came into work to find a beautiful Marie Callendar's pie box on my desk. A handwritten post-it note on top, "Congratulation on winning the bet. -- Steve".

It's very like Steve to leave off the "s" in "congratulations" in order to save time. He's the type of person to alias "ls" to "l" in order to save typing.

It was my pie #6 for winning my bug bet with Steve. I assumed that I forfeited the last five pies when I transitioned off the Desktop Search team. But now, two years later, here is another pie.

I sent out email inviting coworkers to come share in the pie, but there were almost no takers.

Unfortunately, today I decided to start a food journal for my personal trainer. Despite all my original insistence of no nutrition advice, I decided to ask her for suggestions on WHAT to eat (but not WHEN to eat -- there is a big difference!). So far, the food journal looks like this:

10:00am - 1 piece of custard pie
10:30am - 1 piece of custard pie
12:15pm - 1 piece of custard pie
1:30pm - sushi roll
4:00pm - 1 piece of custard pie
7:30pm - 3/4 chicken burrito

makes gym-going a whole new ballgame

Tomorrow is my fifth session with Megan, my personal trainer. Time flies during the sessions because we're doing girltalk the entire time. For example:

Me: [quietly, while doing bicep curls] That's XX over there. (person I used to date)

Megan: Which one, which one?

Me: The one that's standing right next to the rack of weights.

Megan: [looking him up and down] ... Wow, that's a bangin' body. [long pause]

Me: You can't date him.

Megan: [at the same time] I'd fuck him.

Me: I know! That's why I had to preempt! You can't!

Megan: Okay, I would never do that to you. [still looking over]


When I first emailed Megan to ask if she'd be my trainer, I specified that my main goals were to gain muscle tone and to have fun, and I didn't want nutrition advice. My words were: "I've found that trying to eat less of a certain food is the surest way to guarantee that I'll end up eating a boatload of that food out of temptation."

She agreed to these conditions, though apparently she wavered when deciding whether to accept me. I'm the only client who she doesn't require to keep a food journal.

Megan: One time a client showed me his food journal, and he had pixie stix for dinner. I told him to get out of my studio.

Me: Uh... I'm really glad you're not looking at my food journal.

Megan said that it's 70% nutrition and 30% exercise, but despite maintaining my eating habits of three desserts per day, I think I notice some improvement. My shoulder seems more toned. Thank you Megan!

During our first session:

Megan: What are your goals? Do you want to lose some percentage of body fat? Lift more weight?

Me: I just want to have fun.

Megan: So ... how would we measure whether we're achieving that goal?

Me: Whether I'm smiling! [pointing at face, which is wearing a big smile] As long as I'm smiling more than 80% of the time during the session, we are achieving the goal.

Megan: [shaking head in disgust]


On Tuesday we did so many shoulder pressses and exercises that when I started to do one-handed plank lifts, my shoulder started trembling, then gave way and I fell onto the mat.

Megan: What the heck was that?

Me: [laughing] I think it's safe to say we worked that muscle to exhaustion.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

another way to see it

(* details changed)

Me: My friend Jessie had three free tickets to a sold-out show for last week. She emailed a few people, including her boyfriend, asking if they wanted to go. Her boyfriend said he had a work meeting, so she found three other friends to go with her. Then her boyfriend called to say his meeting got cancelled and asked for a ticket. She said she already promised them to other people. They got in a big argument and he called her a bitch.

Rand: [nodding]

Me: Guys can be so mean.

Rand: So can bitches.


While driving Tom to SFO airport:

Me: My personal trainer measured my body fat today. I have 22% body fat.

Tom: And I read somewhere that the body is 78% water, so ...

Tom: I dropped off my suitcase at your house on Friday morning. Lugging that suitcase all the way from Cupertino made me really thirsty, so I opened your fridge and found a Naked Juice.

Me: I have a Naked Juice in the fridge?

Tom: Yeah. Well, so I started drinking it, and it was really sour. But I drank half of it anyway. Then I looked at it and realized it was a month past the expiration date.

Me: Doh.

Tom: My stomach hurt for the next hour. I called Dad and he said I should've known better than to drink something from your fridge.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

the opposite of cotton candy

I recently dated a Chinese guy for one week. (See, gentle readers? I do listen to your comments! 中国是伟大的民族!)


He likes to drive, which is compatible with my hatred of driving. Sunday morning he asks, "要不要去吃点心?" ("Would you like to go eat dim sum?") He appears a little startled by my reaction of explosive delight.

We decide to invite Zhong, the one friend that we have in common, but Zhong doesn't answer his cell phone, and we only have his address but not his land line. Googling reverse address lookups yields property reports but no phone numbers. Finally we find a land line report that costs $9.95, but we're too cheap to buy it.

We knock on Zhong's door twenty minutes later, who emerges bleary-eyed to find us grinning on his doorstep.

The dim sum restaurant is running out of food because it's 2:30pm, but the three of us sit and eat anyway. It is the first time the guy I'm dating orders dim sum for me, instead of vice versa. It is a new feeling, and very appreciated.

"So what is going on with you guys?" asks Zhong. (你们两个怎么样?)

"我们两个很好,在喝茶,” ("The two of us are doing good, drinking tea.") says my date, immediately picking up his tea cup to take a sip. Ah, the chinese way of sidestepping questions by pretending not to understand them. How frustrating when used on oneself. How immensely entertaining when used on other people.

"Fine," says Zhong, and then turns to me and asks the same question.

"We're very good, and will be dating for another four days," I say, holding up four fingers.

Later, I'm telling my date a story about my mother. The story goes that my mother has a classmate Fen who is five feet tall and chubby. Others don't consider her beautiful, but she considers herself so and preens often. Fen gave birth to a daughter who is astonishingly cute. One day at a classmate reunion, a few people were gathered around cooing at the daugher, and my mother blurted out, "How can Fen look the way she does, and her husband looks the way he does, but the daughter is so cute?"

Fen nearly busted a kidney. "What do you mean by that? I want you to tell me! What's wrong with the way we look!".

My date listened to my story, smiling, and then said, "怎么收场?" ("How to close on that situation?")

It was such the perfect thing to say, tickling me in the right way because the words were in Mandarin and so cute, and I mentally replayed it in my head three thousand times over the next day.


On the last day.

"Dating a chinese guy has its upsides, I'm realizing. Maybe I should only date chinese guys from now on. ... They'll have you to thank."

"I'm not going to date any more chinese girls, because it can't compare to what we had. I'm only dating Estonian girls from now on."

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Tom called me on Wednesday. "I'm on the Google campus!" he said. "I'm here for the Intern Open House!"

I found him on the patio outside the cafe, and we walked around meeting my coworkers. It's the first time I've seen him in three weeks, since I dropped off his luggage after he got back from the semester in Japan. Spending time with Tom grounds me. It reminds me of what's really important. But he's busy and I don't want to bother him, and he thinks I'm busy and doesn't want to bother me, and so it goes.

Last night I drove him to the airport for a weekend trip to New York. My cell phone rang during the drive, and he handed me my red clutch purse. When we parked and I reached for my purse, it was MIA. We looked under the seats, in the frontseat, backseat...

Finally, Tom said, "Maybe I put it inside your other purse." and zipped open my large black purse. Immediately we saw the glint of red leather.

"Tom!" I giggled, standing next to the car and bending down to look at him through the open car door. "What happened?"

"I was putting the purse away and then I just kept recursing," he said, through laughter.

We sat in the airport lobby for half an hour, chatting about what type of fulltime work he wants to do, whether he would live in San Francisco or the South Bay after graduation.

"Hey, that worker is wearing the same dress as you," he said.

I was in my custom-fitted cheongsam en route to a party in San Fran. I turned to my right, and indeed behind the fast-food chinese counter, the server was wearing a knockoff version.

"Thanks Tom," I said.

It was a very lovely conversation.

One of the top three mistakes of my life was that I didn't call my brother more often when I went away to college. I shouldn't keep making the same mistake.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Get your dance on

The Google Dance is coming up next week.

Last year, the week before the Google Dance, I emailed an engineer Maddox to set up a meeting with a startup CEO in his product space. I'd never met Maddox. I opened up his calendar, picked an empty slot, and created a meeting.

"My product manager can't make it," he emailed back to say.

"That's fine, as long as YOU can," I said, emphasizing that at least one member of their team needed to be present. After sending the email, I realized that it could be constituted as a romantic overture. But too late, already sent.

Then I went through my email, and saw that the Google Dance was coming up the next week. In order to remind myself, I added a meeting to my calendar.

The next day, I was going through my emails when I realized that I had still been in Maddox's calendar when I created the entry. So the calendar program sent him a meeting invite for him and myself to the Google Dance.

I laughed when I saw this. Then I felt great embarrassment. Then I saw the humor in it again and laughed. This cycled a couple more times.

When I showed up the next day for the meeting with the startup CEO, there was a cute blonde girl sitting in Maddox's cube along with him, who he specifically introduced to me as his girlfriend.


There are two guys that I found attractive recently.

One of them made proclamations of being emotionally attached to me. Then he revealed that he and his ex have been talking about reconciling. They're going on a trip together next month, and he was originally determined to be true to her, get her back, and then marry her. Now he wants to ditch her for me. But he waited a while to tell me because he was afraid of my reaction.

The other revealed that he's dating a girl right now, and it's nonexclusive but she would get mad and jealous if another girl came into the picture. Would it be okay, he asks, if he and I snuck around behind her back and didn't tell her?

Oh my God, guys are such two-timers! By the letter of the law, neither case consitutes cheating on their partners, but in spirit both pretty much are.

Have the majority of men turned into bastards while I wasn't looking? Or were my previous samples skewed inaccurately toward kinder-hearted guys?

I am scared.

Party pics.

Friday night dinner at Supper Club. The club is lined with beds, and on the dance floor every thirty minutes roamed people on stilts, people in huge headdresses, acrobats pulling themselves up a rope. Here is a woman getting painted with chocolate:

Instead of eating at a table, you get a bed with pillows and sheets. You eat in bed. My friend Eva flaunting her gorgeousness on our group's bed:

Afterwards, dancing with the beautiful Sara:

Saturday night AsiaSF. There are two natural women and three transsexuals in the picture below.

I was tremendously glad to see Eva and party with the girls. But I was sad too, because partying is like cotton candy -- fun but ultimately leaving you hungry.

Can I please meet a sweet, smart, loyal, Mandarin-speaking guy with good abs? (Cue the 中国是伟大的民族! comments.)