Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Recap

One perk of having a personal blog is that scrolling through old posts is much like flipping through a yearbook documenting life's present worries or celebrations. This year I focused primarily on honing my skills at work, but my goal is to make some attempt at a decent work-life balance in 2014. 

Overall, despite life's typical ups and downs, 2013 was a good, memorable year and I hope 2014 will be even better.

Here are my favorite posts this year:
  1. What Duncan taught me: Remembering my most loved pet
  2. Spot me: Corporate Gym review: A self-deprecating review of the Corporate Gym
  3. Work anniversary: Celebrating 1 year with my first job out of college
  4. Leap of faith: On the importance of finding a company that is the right fit for you
  5. Saturday spin: My take on unexpected life moments (and the corollary)

My sister (Amy) and I during her October wedding

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

U.S. Dialect Quiz

Have you taken that New York Times U.S. dialect quiz that's gone viral? As someone whose spent my entire life in Virginia, it's interesting to see that that my top three city matches are clustered in California's Bay Area of all places:

The three most dissimilar cities? Toledo, Detroit and Buffalo:

What are your matches?

Wrong hyperlink

The most festive way to celebrate Christmas Eve is to peel myself out of bed much too early in the morning and get my biscuit into the office for a day of work, no? I was on my second cup of coffee by 10 a.m., and for some reason felt the need to justify it to the software engineer (one I'd never had a conversation with previously -- never to old to make new pals!) who was waiting for the electronic tea kettle beside me. Oddly, I am probably the most charming version of myself when making small talk with strangers at the coffee machine or microwave.

In any case, I am partial to The Washington Post most days and today clicked on what I thought was a link to an Opinion piece about Edward Snowden but instead was directed to a piece about prostitution. I thought I'd misclicked, but it turned out to be an error with the hyperlink:

Merry Christmas, readers :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Who ate my carrots?

Communal refrigerators are like anonymous Internet comments: some people do bad things when they think they can't be implicated. I keep a bag of baby carrots and a container of hummus in the company refrigerator when the need for a 10 a.m. snack arises (I wake up early and so get hungry early, but 10 a.m. feels too early for lunch), and a carton of almond milk to accompany my breakfast cereal.

First, a coworker alerted me when she saw an admin mooch off my almond milk for her morning oatmeal. I felt violated. So, I moved my carton of almond milk into a coworker’s mini fridge, which worked great for a few days. But then I got busy and didn’t have time for the 20-minute pleasantries that must necessarily precede each visit to said mini fridge, and so had to find alternative options for breakfast that didn’t require milk. Eventually, I gave up and moved my carton of almond milk, with some resignation, back to the communal refrigerator to be shared with all at Corporate.

But then I started noticing that my baby carrots were disappearing faster than I was eating them from the bag, which often was rewrapped untidily by the culprit (not very sneaky!). And one day I found that the moocher only left me with a sad tablespoon of hummus from a container that was at least one-third full the last time I opened it. I suppose emptying the container would be too mean?

iMessages with my brother regarding a family trait

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Downton Abbey Personality Quiz

My result:
Anna Smith/Bates!

You are Anna Smith, head housemaid of Downton. You are basically the best employee ever. Competent, practical and tough, you can handle anything life throws at you - whether it’s rude colleagues, secretive romantic partners or surprise dead bodies in the workplace. Your kindness and loyalty are to be admired, and that Bates fellow should really recognize what a catch you are.”

What a relief! I was afraid I'd get Branson :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I picked up my repaired car from the collision repair shop on Wednesday – just in time for Thanksgiving. Looking at the damage immediately following the car accident, I wasn’t entirely certain whether the damage could be repaired or worthwhile given the age of the car (which, though not ancient, is no young chicken). I wonder the same about personal relationships.

At what point is it enough to forgive and (try to) forget? And at what point can you say that your feelings have suffered enough to just walk away without any further attempts at reconciliation? Am I just being silly or stubborn? Should I not have swept everything under the rug for so long to avoid conflict or confrontation?

My mother asked me how the repairs turned out. The new car panels are shiny and unblemished, like nothing had ever happened to it. But the door sounds empty and less hefty when I close it. It feels – and is – different.
College roommates during our July 4 trip to Ocean City this summer

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I can see clearly now

I am part of the unfortunate nearsighted majority. I’ve worn contact lenses since I was in middle school at my mother’s urging (probably because my spectacles did no favors for my then-gangly, dorky exterior). Whereas glasses can be associated with cool, urban hipsters, a bespectacled me more or less resembles a mean librarian.

Though obviously discouraged, I often wear contact lenses for 14 hours a day from within 15 minutes of waking up until I come home at night because I like taking full advantage of my peripheral vision, especially when ascending or descending stairs of any appreciable length. Upon a thorough visual inspection, the optometrist observed that my eyes are “very healthy” and my prescription has decreased for the second year in a row.  Booyah, as Mark Cramer would say.

Making small talk is my instinctive way of allaying the awkwardness of being in a small, dimly lit room with a relative stranger staring into my eyeball. Like a moth to a flame, I often find myself in awkward conversations and situations. Fortunately, all my optometrists have been no more socially adept than I am.

But I will make note of their sage career advice all the same. I have, for example, been advised, while I was still a student, to find a job working for the government, where the hours are more reasonable and flexible. Thus, I’ve found myself working in the private sector staring at a computer screen for the majority of my waking hours, and wearing my contact lenses for much longer than I ought to.

My Words with Friends drawing (circa Summer 2012)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Inside the Beltway (VA) -- Food Recommendations

I've spent most of my life inside the Capitol Beltway, so here is a sampling of recommendations for mostly off-the-beaten-path eateries in the Arlington/Shirlington/Falls Church area.
  1. Dogfish Head Ale House: Their pizza is underrated! And the staffers, though young, are very nice. I used to frequent the place in high school and the pizza is still just as good. I can’t speak to the quality of any other entrĂ©e though ;)
  2. Pastries by Randolph: The makers of the best fruit tart. I think I’ll get one for my birthday this year instead of baking a cake.
  3. Song Que: Best place for bubble tea, but I always get Thai tea because I don’t love bubble tea or tapioca balls. (The milk tea, though, is no bueno!!)
  4. Carlyle: Brunch is dope. Lunch is yum. Dinner is gewd. I dream of the ozzie rolls. One time, I might’ve overwhelmed the waitress with my hangry sarcasm about the lack of ozzie rolls at dinner. Turns out she was in my high-school Spanish 4 class. Small world!
  5. Pho Sate: Good pho is not too hard to come by inside the Beltway, but this is my favorite place. Golden Cow, despite its silly name, comes in at a close second. I took Anna here a few weeks ago for her first pho experience at the ripe ol’ age of 26.
Since I gave you all ideas, can someone please suggest a place that offers decent milk tea in the area?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saturday spin

So, I got into a car accident yesterday. I was making a sharp right turn from Rt. 50 into a shopping center and had to cross a service road running parallel to Rt. 50 to get into the parking lot when a car going in the opposite direction trying to make a left onto the service road didn’t stop in time and crunched my car’s driver’s-side door. He had a stop sign.

That accident doesn’t even crack the top 5 stressful moments in my life. (The other driver and I are 100% OK) Although the accident was scary at the time – especially watching his car hit mine during the half-second collision – there are moments at work, and at times life, that are considerably more tense. That, for me, is telling.

Summer 2013 was undoubtedly the most trying period of my career, and, in retrospect, I am surprised I’d made it to the other side with an ounce of sanity. Trying to keep afloat a hugely ambitious and expensive production amid meltdowns of team members while I was on the verge of buckling under the pressure of all the anxiety-inducing eleventh-hour happenings following the 2 1/2 months of nearly daily beatings to my morale is no walk in the park. Nor is having to defend myself to the powers that be when my well-intentioned decisions are questioned on a visible platform. If I don’t keep it together and defend myself, then goshdarnit, who will? But at least I won the latter argument. 

I pick up my rental car tomorrow. My damaged vehicle will be towed away for repairs some time later this week. Life goes on, and we learn to shed the worries that aren't worth dwelling on.


Also, since I never quite finished the June blogathon (worked picked up and left little time/energy/motivation for anything else), I will carry on where I left off starting today -- this time I'll blog every odd-numbered day for the rest of November!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tide to Go

Tide to Go has saved me many a time since I first discovered it in college, and I keep one of the markers at my work desk for when granola-bar eating goes awry.

Thursday morning was one of those days when I login to the network and find one of the cheeriest possible welcomes: an impromptu morning meeting invitation with the One Who Can Make Even Grown Men Sweat. Those mornings are when I'm the hungriest. So, I ripped open a granola bar and did some concentrated preparation for the meeting, and maybe chatted with a colleague or two from the other side of the cube walls.

And then I looked down to find some micro chocolate-y bits had fallen and melted onto my skirt.


My Tide to Go pen worked its advertised magic in no time (very impressive considering the chocolate stains), but, of course, took a million years to dry on my khaki-colored skirt that invites attention to every drop of moisture on its surface. I needed to pick up some printouts to mark up for the meeting, but I figured I probably wouldn't run into anyone, or if I did, the stains would be dry by the time I get to the printer. Right? Nope.

Three obvious, Tide to Go (but very questionable-looking) moisture spots were still visible from the middle front of my skirt, but I decided that it wasn't worth the fruitless fanning in the printer corner, and walked back to my desk, printouts in hand. On the return journey, I, of course, run into Man Who Notices Everything. By the time I see MWNE, he's already looking at me sideways (by that I mean his head is literally sideways) -- and not because he's curious about my printouts.

Murphy's Law.

On the upside, the meeting went fine, with minimal sweating and no tummy grumbling.

Me dressed up as a pumpkin, as illustrated by Tony Ma

Monday, September 23, 2013

Taking stock

Making: Pie for my coworkers
Drinking: Pumpkin spice lattes no less than three times a week. So what if it’s not quite cold yet? :)
Reading: Bon Appetit magazine for baking ideas
Wanting: Sushi
Looking: Forward to a good week (at least I hope so:)
Playing: Is for weekends
Wasting: Time recouping from a crazy work week
Wishing: Duncan were around to see the remodeled kitchen
Enjoying: My freshly painted toenails
Waiting: For the wedding
Liking: My new umbrella (my last one survived a few good years but inverted for the last time a week ago and broke)
Wondering: Why I didn’t go to yoga this morning.
Loving: The lulling sound of rain outside my bedroom window
Hoping: I’ll have another bunny as charismatic as Dunky one day
Marveling: At my turning 24 soon. Time flies doesn’t it?
Needing: To go to bed soon. Maybe :)
Smelling: A cranberry-scented candle. It stinks!
Wearing: Cozy PJs
Following: Sad Desk Lunches tumblr
Noticing: This is the first weekend in a few weeks I’ve been able to leave my workphone at home without feeling a little guilty
Knowing: I tried
Thinking: How pleased I am by simple, charming emails or messages
Feeling: Relaxed
Bookmarking: Gemma Correll comics and illustrations. 
Opening: A bag of chocolate chips for the aforementioned pie

Giggling: At my brother’s text message

Thuy during our roommate trip to Ocean City