Life

Good Mondays – Traveler’s Notebook

Hello! Today, for a good, cheerful topic, I will talk about my upcoming trip, but more specifically, the travel notebook I bought for this trip. I’ve always wanted to start a traveling journal, an analog record where I can put down all my thoughts on the sights, the food, the whole experience. However, I don’t travel that frequently (not rich enough haha), and I wasn’t that big a stationery fan until recently, right in the middle of the pandemic where I couldn’t go anywhere. So I just put it off.

But no more! I now have a complete “system” of a travel notebook, bought from the aptly named Traveler’s Company. I got the basic starter pack from jetpens.com and also a whole lot of accessories. It’s unnecessary, I know, but right now I have a perfectly tailored notebook for me, with a lined and a blank paper refill, zipper bag, stick-on back pocket, and more. You can definitely go a lot more in depth than me, though – I think it’s perfectly possible to use this notebook as a one-stop traveling wallet/purse if you customize it enough. I’m just going to use it as a journal/scrapbook, though. Mostly because I want it to be relatively light, and also, I already spent quite a bit of money decking this one out. Anymore I’d feel like I’m being too extravagant.

Speaking of journaling, I bought my first customizable multi-pen to pair with the notebook. It’s a Pilot Hi-Tec-C with 4 pen inserts. I love to use different vibrant colors for journals, and a multi-pen would get me many colors in one pen barrel – great for traveling! I tested how it writes on the Midori paper and it flows like a dream! So smooth and also dries quickly. The only downside I read from reviews is that the pen inserts tend to run out of ink quickly because they’re so small. Well, I’m only going to be gone for like 4 days, so I imagine it’ll be enough. On longer trips in the future I’ll be sure to bring back ups (or if I’m going to Japan, I can just buy more there. My next trip to Tokyo will definitely be a giant stationery haul.)

So yeah, for this Good Monday, I’m getting hyped up again about my upcoming trip. So getting ready to get the hell out, you know? I’m going to start packing the small things tomorrow – way too early to pack, but my mom has already started packing like last month, so in comparison I’m the lazy and unprepared one haha. And of course I’ll start writing the whole prep into my traveling journal, because anticipation is part of the journey, too.

Life

Some Small Wins!

So, today I went to the DMV to get my stupid driver’s license re-renewed. It was an ordeal, simply because of bureaucracy. When I made the appointment it was super obtuse on the website as to what I needed to so I kind of had to wing it in line. However, I managed to get it all done with the help of a DMV employee (I thanked him properly of course), and now, I have a temporary license in the car, and my actual license will be here in a few weeks. Hopefully. God.

Also, I actually finished cleaning the pantry yesterday! Believe me it’s been a project I meant to do for a long, long time, and it’s not even that complicated! I just have to go into the pantry and throw out packaged food that’re like two years old because we forgot about them. That’s it. And I just kept putting it off, and off, and off. Well, no more! Because I finally got rid of them yesterday afternoon (two large trashbags’ worth, so not that much but still). I don’t know what the roadblock in my mind was – I’ll just have to chalk it up to me being my undiagnosed ADHD self I suppose. Seriously, it’s so pathetic that I couldn’t get myself to do it when it literally just involved picking up a package, deciding if I still want to keep it, and throwing it away if the answer is no. That. Is. It. Sigh.

Well, the point is that I did it, finally, and I feel so happy, because now I can move onto the next big project, which is going through all of my medical records and sort them. This will involve buying new folders if I deemed what I currently have as inadequate, put things away (whether in folders or in a giant box for old records that we keep in the basement), and then tackle the mountain of old mail and other medical-related things we have stacked under the coffee table. It’s a real ordeal and I’m not expecting to finish it any time soon, but at least I could START, you know?

After we successfully navigated the DMV my s.o. and I had a small celebration haha. We went out to eat (yeah vaccination!) at a cute café. Then we bought some pastries and had ice cream! It’s lucky that he just happened to have a bit of extra time at work, because apparently things are fairly lax at his job on Fridays. I still felt like it was totally worth celebrating, though. Tomorrow we’re going proper shopping at a mall (again yeah vaccination!) to buy Hawaii-trip related things, like swimsuits and beach bags and travel skincare. It’s so nice to feel good for once. I am really looking forward to this weekend, and I hope you have a good one too!

Life

So Many Issues!

Okay, so this trip to Hawaii is super complicated apparently. Mostly due to Covid and the changing restrictions, but also because I am an idiot and suck. But first, let me talk to you about my mom.

Yeah, so you know the whole older generation doesn’t understand technology stereotype? Add to that the immigrant and speaking bad English stereotype, and we got an accurate picture of my mother. She’s not hopeless; she knows how to use a smartphone and can answer email and upload pdfs and pictures and such. But how to navigate a website so she can do all the pre-travel registrations to Hawaii? Yeah, no. (My dad’s even worse than her so he’s of zero help.) So what that meant was me staying on video chat with my five-year-old phone with her for hours, showing her step-by-step where to click and what to put in. My phone’s usually out of battery by the end and running super hot – yeah, guess who’s not upgrading to ios15 when it comes out? And before you ask why don’t I just enter everything myself, I can’t. It’s her email, her vaccine card, her travel itinerary, and also she usually tries to do things herself, and then get stuck, and then call me. Rinse repeat. And so, I also conveniently discovered that I literally cannot work if I get multiple phone calls from my mother throughout the day. Like, she’ll need help and call me, and then I help her for like 20 min. Then I hang up and try to go back to work, and takes like 20 min to get back in work, and then after 10 min she calls again. And it takes me even longer to get back into work mode. Whole work day wasted.

So I’ve decided I will block her when I work. Turn on DO NOT DISTURB, not 100% block her number. I also told her I’m doing this because I need to get work done so I told her if she needs me to do things call me after 9 pm her time. If it’s emergency leave a voicemail. I will periodically check to see if I have calls so I’ll definitely call her back if something happens. So yeah, I don’t want to not answer my mom’s calls but I think this is the best way. I know there are plenty of people who can continue things after a slurry of interruptions. Well, unfortunately I’m not one of those people. Again, the lesson I learned so far is work with reality not wishful thinking. So if reality is block your mom’s number, then that is what it will be.

And now, let me talk about my own fuck up. So my driver’s license expired. I was going to just get a Real ID one, but then the pandemic happened and everything shut down. So it got put on the back burner. Well, I realized my license expired and so I renewed it online. Except I was an idiot and didn’t realize the address was still an old address! Should’ve checked before I sent for a renewal! Sigh. So now I have scheduled a visit to the DMV to get this dumb thing fixed. 100% my fault, and such a stupid time too because it’ll arrive AFTER I leave for Hawaii. At least my passport is still in date (I definitely checked!). It’s like, not that big a deal by itself but with everything going on it’s just a giant pile of stuff to deal with. I seriously need a vacation.

Life

Taking It Easy

Boy, today started much busier than I thought it would. I was going to do all these chores but then my mom called about my trip to Hawaii, and then I had to make dentist appointments for my s.o. (apparently everyone is trying to go to the dentist right now – they’re fully booked for two weeks out!), and man, that took out a small chunk of my afternoon. I’m catching up with what I planned to do, so it’s okay right now, but I am a lot more wired than I had expected to be today. Didn’t even have time to read my book yet.

From past experience I usually run out of steam by today or tomorrow. Like, I have motivation for two or three days and then bam, nothing. If I somehow managed to wrangle some more work after a week, bam, the entire next week is canceled. I tried so hard to not do that but haven’t been successful, so yeah, it sucks. However, now I’m trying this limit what I’m doing per day method, maybe it’s going to work out? I mean technically today is already the 4th straight of me working. And I had an unexpected hectic morning that just added a lot more work on my plate, but I’m here, concentrating on working and blogging still. I’m going to use Headspace and meditate for like 10 min before I start the actual writing part, because right now I am too wired and my mind’s all over the place, but I know I’ll get work done.

Which brings me to the weekend. So we’re meeting a group of friends whom we haven’t seen in over a year, and it’s going to be pretty much a whole afternoon plus dinner ordeal tomorrow. Then on Sunday I have to get haircut so add grocery shopping to it, it’ll be another whole afternoon ordeal. I was planning to work two hours and do chores on the two days (half of what I work on weekdays), but now I’m rethinking the idea. I know I need to schedule in a rest day, and haven’t really thought about when and stuff. Maybe I should just not do any work tomorrow and do two hours on Sunday? Like, the reason I get burnt out is because I keep on living in this “wishful-thinking” schedule, when I need to be on a “reality-based” schedule. Like today, my mom’s call took me by surprise but I adjusted, which is good. I really do need a day per week where I don’t plan anything and just chill. I think I’ll try tomorrow.

I think the reason I keep on failing is that I never considered a lot of day-to-day stuff I do as “work” when they’re taking up the same amount of energy as what I considered “real work”. Now I’m adjusting and so I’m going to try to schedule out my energy usage. It’s like having to refill energy bars in those mobile games haha. I have to recognize when things are depleting it and accept it when they do that, instead of pretending they aren’t and allot energy that I don’t have to things. Anyway, let’s see how tomorrow works out. If the break makes me feel refreshed on Sunday and I keep working, then I’ll call it a success.

Life · Work

Changing How I Tackle Problems

So I talked a bit before of me suspecting I have ADHD. I still haven’t scheduled to see a doctor – I will get one eventually! – but I have been randomly googling books on adult ADHD, namely, if I have ADHD what concrete ways are there to manage it. Well behold, I found such a book! It’s called Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD by Jaclyn Paul. (Not sponsored or anything I literally found this book and bought it after reading the reviews.) It’s very funny and exactly what I’m looking for. So yeah, my suspicion that I have ADHD just increased, and I am thankful that my case doesn’t seem nearly as bad as the author’s. Small mercies.

I haven’t finished reading the book yet, and I didn’t find every strategy she put down helpful, but it did get me seriously thinking about how I need to prioritize my time based on reality, not wishful thinking. Basically, I need to really, really pare down what I can do each day. There are currently a lot of tasks that I consider “oh it’s a small so it doesn’t count as work” except they actually use up my energy, therefore they ARE work, and so me doing a jillion of them makes me too tired to do ACTUAL work. (Buying a new pair of shoes online is work, a “quick” vacuum of just the upstairs is work, calling a doctor’s office is work. They all add up!) Maybe to some folks none of those things I mentioned require any energy, and so they can do all those AND do 8 full hours of real work. Well, kudos for them! I can’t. Anything that’s not like, watching Youtube, or sleeping, is work to me. I have to accept this reality and work with my own brain, which means that, everything is work so I need to prioritize and space them out accordingly. Also, I have a jillion notebooks keeping track of all these non-work tasks, so much that they become very redundant. I sometimes record “do laundry” on three different trackers. (Keeping different trackers to do work, ironically, is also work for me!) So I dropped them and tried to consolidate everything so I only have to write a specific task ONCE. If it’s actual writing related it goes in the ONE writing notebook. If it’s chores it goes into my bullet journal, along with anything else (I used to have skincare things and other goals in a separate notebook, now they’re all in the same bujo). Keep ONE blog (mostly this one haha). Etc. Etc.

It’s the beginning of the month so I’m still sort of in the middle of the setting up stage. So far I’ve limited myself to at most two chores a day, with room for one extra non-chore but necessary thing to do (calling doctor’s office, for example). That. Is. It. No more wasting all my time doing small chores all throughout the day and therefore get nothing creative done because of all the interruptions! I’ve also stopped all my random journaling. One journal entry a day, period. If I update here today, then I won’t be writing literally anywhere else. I tried so hard to journal every day because I think it’s good for me. Well, turns out I just am not equipped to do that, so that’s a pure wishful thinking thing that I need to face reality with. If you have ADHD, or even if you don’t have ADHD but wants to keep your life in better order, I recommend this book. I’ll probably blog about it after I actually finish it. Right now I’m still testing the waters, but it seems to be working.

Life

Hawaii Trip!

I am so excited! Well, I’ve been excited since yesterday – too happy to focus on work, even, which is bad but you know, I don’t really get excited about many things nowadays so let me have that, ok? Anyway, I’m excited because we’re planning a trip to Hawaii with my parents! I haven’t seen them in over a year, and I’ve been worried about them getting Covid this entire time until they got vaccinated. (Speaking of vaccinations, my husband and I are both fully vaccinated as of today so, yay!) My parents’ workplace (they work for the same company) gave them some extra time off because of the whole 2020 shenanigans, so they were like, hey, is there somewhere you guys would like to go together? We have vacation days we have to use by end of June. And so, we all decided – Hawaii!

I’ve been to Hawaii before with my s.o. and in-laws. It was one of the most relaxing time I’ve ever had! The ocean, the food, the scenery, the whole vibe is just awesome. My parents, on the other hand, have never been there. They consider that trip from where they live too strenuous and expensive, which is true. Well what better time to go than now? It’s crazy, though, because apparently the entire US is traveling so hotels are getting booked up left and right. Everyone’s all pent up (as the news program say, “unleashing pent-up demand”) and chomping at the bits to go somewhere, anywhere that’s not their house! We don’t have all the details worked out yet but we’ll get it settled soon. Personally, I’m more excited about spending vacation with my parents than the vacation itself, although Hawaii is very, very nice. I didn’t realize just how much I missed my parents and going outside haha. Never thought I’d say this as an extreme introvert. Just show you how traumatic the whole global pandemic thing is, right? None of us are immune.

Yeah I’m still too excited to do anything productive haha. Before I sign off here I just want to say take care of y’allselves, okay?

Life

Every Time I Break My Own Rules, I Pay!

Yeah, so remember a while ago I said I’m doing a complete media blackout so I don’t spend time on social media? Especially reddit? Yeah I’ve basically kept up with that on my desktop, but I allowed myself to check reddit when I’m done with work or just relaxing at the end of the day. Well, today I broke the rule, because it’s Saturday and I’ve already gone shopping before noon (a rarity because I can’t get up in the mornings), so I figure I’d relax a bit after lunch before I start work. Uh-huh, guess what happened? I totally got depressed because all of reddit is just filled with negativity. All the posts about how women are always discriminated against and will never make more than men in STEM and business fields. How women writers are usually passed over for male writers when it came to traditional publishing. All the excuses that Asians aren’t discriminated against when in fact, we totally are discriminated against just nobody gave a single shit (media didn’t report on it, no one talked about it on social, etc.) until recently, after Asians folks have been spit on, stomped on, stabbed, murdered, and scapegoated by everyone starting at the very, very top.

Of course, these are reddit posts, filled with astroturfing and people venting and all in all, not exactly the most nuanced place to talk about issues. So yeah, if those statements seem a bit absolute well because on reddit it is. But as an Asian-American woman writer being constantly exposed to these posts it’s very, very depressing. Which is why I told myself to stop going on reddit before I work, because it NEVER puts me in the mood to work. It just makes me go “why bother you’re going to fail always because every aspect of yourself is a negative in this culture!” People say surround yourself with positivity. I never bought that, though, but I think it would do well if I stop surrounding myself with negativity, at least. I made this rule for myself for a reason, you know! Like, I know that breaking the rule is bad, but I did it anyway. It’s like an alcoholic knows alcohol is bad for them but they still are driven toward it. I don’t know why I’m driven toward things that hurt me. It’s better if I run the other way, yeah?

Life

Delayed Allergies

Okay, so apparently with the Moderna vaccine, there’re people who’ve had delayed allergic reactions about 8 days after the injection. Shortness of breath, hives, not life threatening but very concerning-looking symptoms. So guess who’s got it? No, not me; my husband did. Well, I had some delayed reactions too but it’s just a recurring sore arm 8 days after the first shot, and some nausea and a single case of bad diarrhea 8 days after the second shot. My husband, however, has developed hives all over his legs. His right thigh is super swollen, and he’s had shortness of breath a couple of days ago. Today is the 10th day after his second shot. Yeah, isn’t it kick ass to be the “less than 20 people out of millions” who’s had this happened to?

He’s alright. He’s no longer experiencing shortness of breath, and he said it’s just swollen but not too horrible like that time when he had the allergic reaction to Dramamine. That rash lasted weeks, and I was reading up and it said the Moderna reactions last an average of 5 days, but could be up to 21 days. I’ve seen pictures and his is not nearly as bad as those ones. So hopefully his will go away after a week. If it gets worse tomorrow maybe I’ll schedule an appointment with our doctor, but I doubt they’ll do anything because, well, it’s obviously Moderna’s fault, and the papers that studied those all said it’s going to go away on it’s own and is not life threatening so, might as well just wait and save the money.

(I’m perfectly fine now, btw, and will be fully vaccinated by tomorrow. Can’t wait.)

Life

Second Vaccination

Well folks, I have now gotten my second dose of Moderna and am on my way to be fully vaccinated. Just in time too, because I heard on the news today that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks indoors and out with a few exceptions (travel, hospitals, etc.) I bet this is a way for the Biden admin to push people to get vaccinated. Of course those never-masker-Q-anon people will not listen anyway, but there are some vaccine-hesitant folks who want life back to normal, and dangling this carrot is a good way for that extra push. I ain’t mad about it; we need as many people getting fully vaccinated as possible. The stragglers are gonna straggle, but if they’re a low percentage then I guess they’ll just eat the cost (of getting very sick while vaccinated folks won’t) if it ever happens. Herd immunity protects everyone regardless, you know.

I didn’t have that many side effects after the second shot. My arm hurt, I had a full-body ache that was controlled with Advil, and also a pretty bad headache that was also controlled with Advil and lots, lots of water. I was also feeling tired the first day after so I spent most of that day in bed watching Youtube (which led me to discover a cute little builder called Before We Leave that I purchased as soon as it came out.) I got better later that night, and it was so weird how it happened. I was feeling pretty bad in the afternoon and just before dinner time suddenly my head cleared. It was like a switch had been flipped, and the pain just eased up and I suddenly felt less foggy. Since it was late I was still tired, so I went to bed early and the next day all that was left was a slight headache and a little bit of tiredness. Now I’m bouncing around like normal haha. Which is good, because my husband got his shot a couple of days after me and I had to take care of him. He was also feeling tired, but no body aches, except his lymph nodes have swelled up. That happened after the first shot, too, and they subsided after a week or so. Different immune system responses, eh?

Ah, you don’t understand how relieved and happy I am that things will go back to normal, mostly. I’m expecting to go into hospital in the future so masks aren’t a thing of the past yet. Plus, I’m Asian, and we wear masks during regular flu season so that’s probably what I’ll do anyway. On the day that my husband got the shot we went to get takeout for lunch, and I actually ate a Somi Somi taiyaki outside! Look, it’s been a long, long time since I ate something in a public setting, ok? It was warm and the ice cream flavors sounded so good (it was a hōjicha/Oreo mix with taro filling.) This felt like that first time I went out and got a takeout sea-salt coffee from an Asian bakery – I did not expect how emotional I got from drinking a coffee that someone else made for me, haha. That was a few months ago, and I can’t wait to resume life as businesses – the ones that survived, that is – reopen. I need a haircut very, very badly.

Books · Life

Good Mondays – Libraries

Today I’m going to talk about my love for public libraries. As a child who grew up poor but loved books, the public library was my sanctuary. My local one when I was growing up was not very big, neither was my school’s, but there was a branch that was literally a five-minute drive from my house (or 15-minute walk if I felt like walking alongside a local highway without sidewalks in ridiculously hot weather – the deep south was not fun). I volunteered at that library during summers and the experience actually gave me the inkling to become a librarian. (Alas, life has taken me down a different path, but I really do wonder what would happen had I stuck with that back then.) I went to college at a different state and the university’s library was awesome. I was definitely one of those weirdos who actually spent time in the library not for cram study but just for reading. They had a lot of Chinese literature and that was my only source of it in the States. What can I say? I love reading. Of anything. Everything. It’s just never not been a part of my life.

So imagine my great joy when I discovered that my local library (a wonderful system here in So Cal) carries digital magazines on Libby! I’ve always subscribed to random magazines, but there’s a limit on how many you can read at one time (and it got pricey). One day I decided to check out the magazine collection (I believe it was a recent addition, or they just started to advertise, because I don’t remember seeing it featured so prominently before), and behold, you could get so many current magazine for absolutely free! Unlimited checkout, the issues are always available (but I believe it’s the current issue only. Not sure how you’re supposed to get back issues), and there are so, so, so many choices. (They don’t have everything, such as literary magazines, but uh, those should be paid for so I agree with that decision.) I’ve always wanted to read Wired but never got around to buying a single issue to try. Well, fret no more, I can now do it for free. There’s also magazines I read religiously every month and I can probably stop all my subscriptions now, but I do feel like I want to support them, especially the smaller publishers, so I’m still debating on that.

So a great big kudos for resources in our local libraries. If you haven’t used your membership you really should give it a go. I believe it’s a great public good, and I’m so, so grateful for its existence, especially during these pandemic times.