Life

Good Mondays – Reunions

Today I want to celebrate all the reunions and gatherings – family, friends, people you haven’t seen in over a year because of the pandemic – that are happening now. I saw my family during my trip to Hawaii, and a few friends came down from Nor Cal to meet up with the rest of us So Cal gang for the first time in a year. I’ve done more social things these past few weeks than I’ve done since 2019, and I think it’s something to be cheerful about. (This is a lot coming from an extreme introvert.) It also coincided with the Fourth of July weekend, so celebrations all around!

The Hawaii trip was very, very relaxing. It was so great seeing my parents. They both got more white hair than I last seen them, and it’s such a stark reminder that they’re indeed growing older every day. It makes me want to visit them more, which also reminds me that I need to call my family in China more, too. They’re doing okay, I guess? My grandma is still hanging on despite being very sick for a very long time, which I consider a miracle. I’m not sure if I would be able to see her though, because right now to go to China as an American citizen is pretty much impossible. With my mom though I hopefully will visit her in half a year or so. Preferably after all the insane airline prices go down (and the South not have a winter Covid outbreak). Family is so important and I did not realize how much I missed them until this very prolonged time of no visitation. Will definitely keep that in mind in the future.

As for my friends, well, everybody’s vaccinated, everybody’s happy to see everybody else, so just drunken parties all around haha. Okay, not really, but we did meet up at a nice bar with a beach view and threw down some cocktails and beers. In August I will be driving up to Nor Cal to attend a friend’s wedding. They were supposed to have it last year in June but, you know, lockdowns and Covid. So they’ve pushed it to August of this year. I imagine it’ll be a small gathering? I’m not sure. Anyways, I now need to buy more clothes because I don’t think I have anymore formal clothes that fit haha. Or lose like 10 lbs in a month and a half, so, I think buying new things is a more feasible endeavor.

So for everyone out there who hasn’t seen family yet, or still couldn’t due to various reasons, I wish you a happy reunion in the future. For everyone already seeing friends, carry on! We deserve some partying as we emerge from this awful year.

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.

Work

Good Mondays – Routine

Hi guys. Today I want to celebrate a small thing called a daily routine. Or just routines in general. I never appreciated how much a set schedule meant until this past year when everything went sideways. A lot of the normal things I took for granted disappeared, and I didn’t realize how much that had actually impacted my psyche until my psyche was way out of sync. Whether it’s skincare, work schedule, or just something slotted to do over the weekend, the fact that I no longer have a routine to follow really mattered. To be truthful I’m still very much struggling to get myself back on track. With my city opening up and my s.o. getting back to steady work, my weekend plans slowly began to solidify once more. So there’s at least one thing that’s righting itself.

I have been noticing on my most productive days I tend to have just the right number of chores and work lined up so I keep myself motivated without overwhelming myself. However, to get that happening I usually need some planning, and if I slack off on that I literally don’t get anything done. It’s like my brain just shuts off after certain hours, and to overcome that I need to “train” it to not shut off, which requires time, practice, and a lot of patience. Sounds like establishing a new routine, huh? You have to do something at this time every single day, and eventually it’ll be an easy habit. Or so they say. In practice I climb on and fall off the wagon in a forever cycle. The best I can hope for is the number of days I’m on the wagon outnumber the ones off.

So I salute to the routine, because it’s probably going to be the one thing that for sure keeps me moving (the other is adamantly NOT check reddit until after all work is done). You need small wins interspersed with long hauls, otherwise you’d eventually wear out. Even if small wins mean “I did laundry today” or “I sent out an email”, they still count!

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.

Life

Good Mondays – Vaccination!

Well, hello everyone. It’s a Monday again and I want to express my gratitude to the fact that I got vaccinated! A week ago, actually, but I didn’t feel the implication sink in until a couple of days later. And now, I am feeling more and more optimistic about the future, at least regarding my immediate life.

I got Moderna from my health provider. So did my husband. So far we only got jabbed once and experienced arm pain. (The second shot is supposed to be a tough one so, I’m certainly not looking forward to that.) I was super thirsty for the first 48 hours after the shot, though, like chugging liters of water kind of extreme thirst. My skin broke out – inflammation all over, I assume – coupled that with maskne and yeah, don’t look at my face right now haha. My husband didn’t feel thirst but he got a slew of cluster pimples. I’ve never heard of a Moderna reaction of cluster pimples before! We think it’s also inflammation related since his skin is super oily. I also found out that a small group of people actually experienced itchiness, swollen injection site, pain, and other irritations 8-14 days after the injection. A sort of delayed reaction – unexplained of course. Well, guess who’s among that small group of people? (Me, it’s me.) The good news is that it’s already getting better. Yesterday my arm was super itchy and swollen, but today it’s less itchy. Still swollen though. My husband also got a really swollen lymph node under his armpit right now. It’s bothering his sleep, but they’re all minor and seems to be temporary. Man, so many different and weird side effects with this mRNA stuff. No wonder people are all iffy about getting vaccinated.

Whatever. Still better than actually getting Covid. With my asthma I probably will die or end up in ICU at least. One of my immunocompromised friend got her two full shots and will be fully protected by midweek. She told me she can’t wait to go grocery shopping again haha. (Being immunocompromised she literally haven’t left her house except to walk her dog since March of last year. She get all her groceries online. No gathering/shopping/doing anything in person.) I can’t wait to go eat in at a restaurant somewhere. We’ve been getting takeout but it’s not the same. It’s crazy how much super mundane stuff we all missed this past 12 months huh? I also want to see a movie in theaters, go to Disneyland, see a live concert (that is probably not going to happen until 2022) and fly across country to see my family (who’re also fully vaccinated). But these are distant goals. Now I just want to go eat out somewhere, preferably with other vaccinated friends.

People, do your part. Get vaccinated so we can all move on as a planet, yo!

Life

Good Mondays – It’s My Birthday!

It’s my birthday today! Yay!!

Because it’s pandemic times, I have absolutely nothing planned for it. No cake, no dining out, no presents, no party. My family sent me text messages saying happy birthday, and say I can buy whatever I want using their credit card. OK, cool, I didn’t really want anything. Usually for birthdays my s.o. and I would go out to a fancy restaurant (like, fancy, as in a set menu with no prices listed kind. We’re both foodies and it’s a good splurge once in a while). He’d buy me some flowers (because we made a deal to not buy uber overpriced flowers during Valentine’s Day and do it on my birthday instead), and we’d custom order a small cake from a nice bakery. But of course this year (and last year) planning went out the window. I’m not even sure the bakery we usually go to is still even in business. We’re certainly not dining in anywhere without vaccinations, and flowers? Too much hassle for no celebration. It’s fine; times are rough so I don’t mind just not doing anything haha. I’m happy just chilling today.

Well, apparently the Earth doesn’t like that, which is why in the wee hour this morning I got woken up twice by earthquakes. The second time it jolted me awake so I screamed really loudly at like 4 in the morning. So I slept terribly because when you get rudely woken up because you’re afraid your house might collapse on your face you kind of don’t get back to sleep for a while. Great. And then my mom called and woke me up to wish me happy birthday but it was too early for me. (In truth it wasn’t, it was 11 am when she called so I should be up, but again, when you get woken up at 4 and then again at 5 am because of earthquakes you kind of need more sleep than usual.) It was lousy. I’m going to need better sleep tonight and hopefully it won’t earthquake again. If I were religious I’d think it’s a sign or something since it was right after Easter.

So I decided that, fuck it, I’m not going to bother working today. I know I also said this yesterday about finally working the full 4 hours, but you know, it’s my birthday and so far it’s been pretty lackluster. So I’m not gonna feel guilty about it and just enjoy the rest of the hours that I’m awake. Pretty crappy to have a Monday birthday already but you know, that’s why I started the Good Mondays series. Mondays suck so I’m going to enjoy every little bit of happiness during it as I can. K.K. Slider sang me a birthday song in Animal Crossing so hey, that’s a pretty good bit eh?

Life

Good Mondays – Nice Weather

Let’s just appreciate a very mundane and small thing today – the weather. Today I’m grateful that the weather is nice. Of course, I live in So Cal, so the weather is always “nice” compared to a lot of places. But the cold front did not leave our area unscathed. It had been relatively cold (40s and 50s) and rained a whole lot. Rain here in the desert is not fun. It causes mudslides, so bad that an entire portion of the PCH has collapsed off the continent, and brings out the oil from the roads so it’s more dangerous to drive. Coupled with the plethora of sports cars with no traction and drivers who lose their collective minds when water falls from the sky, let’s just say whenever it rains your safest bet is just stay the hell home.

But finally, the sun has come out and we’re back in the usual “wintery” temperatures of 60s/50s. It means I can now exercise again. I’ve been putting on weight and it’s mostly because I’ve stopped my walks when it got cold. I would walk during the day, but I usually want to go with my husband (because he will never exercise unless I’m with him. It’s one of those things you just can’t change about a person no matter how hard you try), and he doesn’t feel comfortable walking during the day because there’re too many people outside doing the exact same thing. So we always walk at night, when there’re very few people and we don’t have to wear the heavy duty masks (I wear KN95s when I need to go somewhere surrounded by people, and they’re not the greatest when you try to exercise, so instead I wear cloth masks). However, if it’s rainy or too cold we skip it, and it has been that way for a good few weeks. But now that’s mostly over, I can pick my routine back up, and hopefully lose some weight and get back in shape before I try to attempt IVF again.

So a toast, to the sun, to warm weather, to the oncoming spring. I think we all deserve it after such a harsh three months.

Work

Good Mondays – Break

Today I want to talk about, and appreciate, days off. Yes, it’s another generic one about the overall state of things, but I figure we can talk about the ridiculous amount of stationary I’ve amassed over the past year some other time (they do all bring me joy, each and every one). And I want to talk about forgiving yourself for taking a break, because we all need them, regularly, frequently, and they’re nothing to beat yourself up for.

This is brought on by the Superbowl yesterday. Usually every year we have a small party with a few friends to watch the game, complete with plenty of buffalo wings and beer. Not this year, obviously, but a friend of ours had set up a zoom hangout so we can sort of have a party. It worked alright, and in between getting angry at all the refs being obviously biased we caught up on our respective lives. Afterwards I was too strung up to do any work, so I didn’t, and just relaxed the rest of the day. I was supposed to be working on Sunday – I only allow myself 1 day break between workdays because otherwise I’d lose momentum so it’ll be extra hard to start up again. I spent most of Saturday just playing video games and do a crapload of chores. Sunday I was supposed to devote some time after the Superbowl to work. And I didn’t. And I want to say: that’s okay!

I woke up this morning ready to work. I made myself relax and not worry about the lost productivity from the day before. Superbowl is once a year, and it’s okay to take the day off because of that. It’s okay to take more time off if you’re meeting up with friends after a long time of quarantine, or having just come back from surgery, or your roof fell in from torrential rain and you have to call people to fix it. It’s okay to not get much done because your child is sick, or your mother had a fall, or god forbid someone in your family had caught a bad case of Covid and is in ICU. If you have the choice to not work on bad days, you should take the rest, whether the stress is mental or physical. It will help you in the long run. If you’re forced to work no matter what, then I’m sorry, and I suggest you take at least half an hour to yourself to relax, somehow. It’s important, and we as a society (especially Americans) are just way too focused on working and productivity. Constant production is unsustainable. It’s alright if you need some time to regroup.

So I did not feel bad (or as bad as I would’ve before) that I didn’t work yesterday when I should. I’m definitely back to work today, not feeling burnt out, and that is a whole lot better than trying to focus yesterday and failing and then end up completely losing motivation for the rest of the week. I lost a day and gained another five days of productivity. I think that’s a fair trade.

Life

Good Mondays – General Gratefulness

This is going to be a short one. I don’t have anything specific for today, but I do want to just express my gratitude for everyone fighting in this pandemic. The healthcare workers, the grocery store workers, the people keeping our infrastructures running, the USPS folks (who’re ridiculously overwhelmed right now due to all of our online holiday shopping), the people in the government who are trying and meeting slabs of brick walls from all sides impeding their progress, but still going despite everything, everyone who were actually social distancing and wearing masks and staying home since March, everyone who give a fuck about their fellow human beings and community outside their immediate families and themselves. We’re all stuck here together (well, most of us save the lucky rich few who are sequestered in their mansions with their concierge healthcare), and we’ll still be here in a few months time because vaccine distribution is probably going to be slow and very, very messy. I wish everyone well, and I hope y’all hang in there for just a bit longer.

Life

Good Mondays – A Cup of Coffee

Well hello there! It’s Good Mondays time, because Mondays suck! So, today I want to talk about something that happened a couple of weeks ago actually, and that was that I went out to a bakery, bought some nice pastries, and ordered a cup of Iced Sea Salt Caramel Coffee.

OK, so here’s something y’all gotta understand. Because of my asthma and all the IVF procedures, I’ve basically been housebound since March. We didn’t start ordering takeout until last month, and I rarely venture out anywhere because of the spread. But as the months dragged on and California’s use of masks become more ubiquitous, I feel less stressed about strictly staying home. Where I live people are very diligent about masks, and stores absolutely enforce the rule (or I just don’t visit stores that don’t do it. Also helps that Walmart is like banned within 30 mile radius from the city or something.) So I went out and got groceries and went to farmer’s markets, but I still have not gone into a restaurant that allows indoor dining (I’m not sure there are any right now where I live, actually – outdoor seating only – but still.) I miss going to restaurants. My husband and I are pretty big foodies and part of the draw for us is in the dine-in experience. For a lot of our special occasions we’d save up so we can go to the few Michelin-starred restaurants around the city. So this whole Covid thing took away a large part of our enjoyment of life, and it hurt more than I realized.

Anyway, we went to a bakery when we went shopping for groceries, and I ordered a cup of caramel coffee from there. It was the first beverage made by someone else professional I’ve had since March. I was staring at the cup with the swirl of whipped cream on top and almost burst into tears because it was a sign of normalcy again. Talk about an emotional wreck haha. Not only because of Covid, though, but I also hadn’t been able to have any caffeine for a while due to the whole pregnancy/miscarriage situation. Being able to consume a caffeinated beverage now seemed like a greater deal than it should be. Again, a sign of normalcy, to life before 2020, before the pandemic, and I’m feeling hopeful in 2021 we’ll be able to get back to what was before, somewhat. Meanwhile I will take what I can, and perhaps visit the bakery more often to get more things I missed in the nine months so far of isolation.