February 28, 2007

Naked or Covered?

Beloved just did a “reveal post” that reminded me of the culture of makeup. She lives in Vermont and wears makeup. When I was in college in western Massachusetts, most women didn’t wear makeup. In fact many women didn’t shave their legs. Doing either of those was yielding to false expectations of male-dominated society. If you had any self-respect at all, you didn’t need makeup (was the rhetoric).

One of my buddies from New England was interested in a woman from Atlanta. His biggest hesitation was that she was a Mary Kay rep and he was concerned she lacked self-confidence because she always wore makeup.

I replied, “Look, in New England if you are in public and wearing makeup, it means you have no self-respect. You’re hiding behind a mask. But the further south you move in the US, the more makeup culture changes. If you leave the house without makeup below Mason-Dixon, then you don’t respect yourself. Living in Baltimore, if I showed up for a client meeting without makeup, it showed I didn’t take myself seriously as a woman.”

I’ve noticed that in Korean culture on the east coast, makeup equals self-respect. Now that I’m on the west coast, the north/south rule seems to still apply. Seattle? No make-up. Bay Area, mixed. LA? Makeup (+ plastic surgery) or die! As a tomboy, my default option is no-makeup. I’d rather happily surprise when I wear makeup than disappoint if I get lazy… Fortunately, here at work, I’m surrounded by Asian women who mostly wear no makeup. Phew!

What do women do where you live? What do you think of makeup? Spawn of Satan? Groovy Fun? Necessary as water for survival?

February 22, 2007

Curious Niece Explores Mt. Tam

On Saturday we left the house at 9:30 sharp! My co-worker gave me the low-down on Dim Sum at Koi Palace. "That place is packed out by 10:30 AM. If you don't want to wait in line for two hours you better get there when they open!"

She was so right. We arrived at ten after ten and there were only five or so tables left open. This was the first time OTRsis had Dim Sum. Jrex and I felt a bit overwhelmed and clueless as various options were displayed. When we made a choice the waitress placed it on the table and then stamped a card that indicated quantity and price. BlondeNiece caught on very quickly. When a waitress would hover near the table, she started to point insistently to the pad on the table.

When we left Koi Palace (and the hordes of people waiting in the parking lot), we headed over the Golden Gate bridge to Marin county. After visiting the Muir Redwoods (less impressive and much more crowded than Big Basin) we drove up Mt. Tamalpais. It's an easy 500 yard hike to the top. BlondeNiece seemed less interested in the view

than in the door to the fire tower.

We played a game where she knocked on the door and I answered in a deep growl, "Who is banging on my door!?"

Then, as she seems to enjoy climbing, she created a wide detour for the panting crowd who had finally reached the top only to have to climb around the determined stair master.

Of course, after so much fun, she managed to sleep MOST of the 2.5 hours it took to get home. When people ask how long it takes to get somewhere here the answer always includes, "Depending on traffic." Of course slow traffic means time for fun photos.

Curious Niece Explores the House

I've always suspected kids don't really need toys. BlondeNiece mostly ignored the ones her parents dragged with them in favor of reorganizing our bookshelves, or exploring the object at hand.

She discovered that our table had a handy climbing platform. The dog seemed a little confused at the invasion of her naps by misplaced feet.

When Jrex saw my precarious stack of phone books and towels he was confused, "Don't I have a book that would work?" I'd forgotten the shelf of medical books in the back room! Well, at least Cancer is good for something.

February 20, 2007


I'm having trouble doing meaningful posts lately. I'm wrestling with a pile of disorderly thoughts and don't yet have words for any of it.

I've found that in relationships, if I have something that really needs to be talked about, I just have nothing to say to the person until we talk it out. Sure, I can do chit-chat, but there's no good middle ground between shallow and "We need to talk". It's kind of like that with the blog. The stuff I'm wrestling with isn't easily summed up in five paragraphs or less.

My sister was here this weekend and was wonderful about trying to ask me questions. She kept apologizing for not asking the same kind of thought-provoking questions I ask her (her description, not mine...). It wasn't her fault she couldn't draw it out of me. I'm not sure what all is there. I just know that anytime I go near the pile, I spend a lot of time crying. It's good to 'get it out', but exhausting. My normal response is to avoid the pile and just hope it will go away somehow. This time, I'm trying to just 'rest' near it. To let it slowly unravel and resolve.

One example of a piece of the pile was that while I was praying for a bunch of things in my life to resolve or 'get better', I came across this verse (this is Jesus talking with his students and he's referring to his upcoming crucifixion): "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name." It was NOT comforting at the time and I've been struggling with the Lord since then. I have a sense that all this struggle and all this frustration is coming ahead of whatever it is the Lord wants to do. Yet I struggle with how to rest when I don't know what's solid. When I don't like many elements of my life, yet seem to be getting 'not yet' as the answer to "When?!!!"

That's just one small piece of thought thread. I have 20 more that tangle into that one and at least 3 or 4 more inter-related knots with their own tangles. I'm not expecting anyone to have an 'answer', just trying to explain why my recent posts have felt a little dry (to me at least).

On a lighter note, once I upload some pictures tomorrow, I'll show you how the weekend went.

February 16, 2007

A new name for an annoying holiday

Jrex and I aren't big on Valentine's Day. I've always thought that if you are in a relationship, it shouldn't be necessary, and if you aren't in one, then it's just a big, annoying reminder. Valentine's evening, I hung out with two friends who are single, one is a guy in his 30's the other a woman in her latter 40's. She told me her son picked her up from work and took her to a movie. When he picked her up he gave her a flower and said, "Happy Single Awareness Day, Mom!"

February 15, 2007

I'm a slacker, what can I say?

Sorry for my lack of posts, as well as little chance to read other people's blogs. Even though the design work is mostly boring, it's quick turnarounds. Plus, having to run off to bike to the train station means I don't have time to write my usual high-art blog entries (ha!).

Lots going on:
-Little Sis (aka OTRsis), hubby and niece are coming this weekend. (The mixup where I borrowed a Pack n Play, toted it home on the train, and called her to see what I should buy at the store--only to find out she wasn't coming LAST weekend is another post.)

-OTRsis wanted to do Dim Sum in Chinatown. I corrected her and told her that she really wants Dim Sum in Daly City, which has THE Chinese restaurant in the area, Koi Palace. We have to leave the house on Saturday at 9:30 am sharp to get there before the lines start. In any case, Chinese New Year seems like a great day to Dim Sum.

-I'm really excited to see my niece! Hope she and the dog get along when they can't get away from each other...

UPDATE: They've arrived safely. The dog and my niece are enjoying each other. In that BlondeNiece reaches out to pat the air when Muttola is lying safely on the floor two feet away from her. It's a mutual love, with Muttola Hoovering underneath Blonde Niece as she feeds herself fistfuls of Cheerios.

February 11, 2007

Kai Bai Bo!

The Korean version of Rock, Paper Scissors involves the added element of violence; making it a version I enjoy much more than the tame American one. Players reach a left hand to grasp their opponents. Sort of a left-handed handshake. With their right hand in a fist, they pound the air in time to the chant: “Kai…Bai…Bo!” On “Bo!” they reveal their choice of flat hand for bo or paper (or cloth), fist for rock or bai, and two fingers extended for kai or scissors. The winner gets to slap their opponent’s hand. The game has a rapid pace: “kai, bai, bo!” slap. “kai, bai, bo” slap.

This morning as two brown eyes peered hopefully over the edge of the bed, as the rain pattered outside the window, Jrex opened bleary eyes, grinned and said, “Kai, Bai, Bo?” I laughed and nodded. We skipped the violence, I mean really, no hitting each other before 10 am right?

Our right hands in fists we pounded, “Kai…bai…bo!” Two scissors.

“Kai…bai…bo!” Two rocks. We both started laughing, “Really, honey, I think we’re taking oneness a little too far here!” I gasped.

“Kai…bai…bo!” Two scissors. More laughter.

“OK. Focus. Once more, with feeling.”

“Kai…bai…bo!” He—bai. Me—bo. “Ha! Have fun, sucka!” (I’m a really good sport)

Here’s a link to a history of the game, which claims it’s mostly Japanese. Clearly the author is a biased reporter who neglects to realize that everything in the world originated in Korea. Just ask my Father-in-law!

February 9, 2007

I'm sure there's a better outlet than this...

Sorry about all the template changes. Clearly I'm taking out my boredom at work on my poor little blog.

My neighbor is moving and this is NOT what I expected to see emerge from his garage

February 8, 2007


One of Rachel’s recent posts reminded me of my years working with troubled kids. For three years between my time as a hairdresser and going to grad school for graphic design, I worked in a residential treatment center.

When I first started, four of my five shifts were with Mrs. CityName. She was a gruff older black woman who’d worked in the cottage for 17 years. For the most part she completely neglected to train me. Her methods of discipline were based on her personality. When she yelled, “You’ve got three seconds to get back up these stairs…1…2…”, kids jumped. If I tried it they laughed and kept going.

In the midst of shifts from hell when she left me alone so she could 'drive to Dunkin Donuts' (i.e. take a cigarette break), she did teach me a key life lesson.

One afternoon, NoRs and I were in a conflict over her taking a time out.

“Yes, you will go in the time out room.”

“No I won’t! Youwha howible pehson and I hate you, bitch!”

“If you won’t go in there, I’ll have to make you.” I threatened as I stood up.

Mrs. CityName finally intervened. “That little girl has you going. You need to stop the power struggle. Just step away.”

“You gotta give the kid a choice," she continued, "Make it between what you want and Hell, but give them a choice.”

She looked across the room and growled, “Time out room for five or your room for fifty.” NoRs stomped into the time out room cursing us the whole way.

I think the thing that bugged me about the whole incident was feeling that by not forcing my will, I was being weak. That little girl just cussed me out and didn’t have consequences for that?! What I had to learn was that anytime I reached a ‘yes you will’ / ‘no I won’t’ stage, I’d cornered both of us into a losing situation. The challenge was (and is) figuring out viable ‘choices’ before getting into the conflict.

February 6, 2007

Great Books

I've been reading two books lately that are shifting my life perspective.

The first one is Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Pathway to Joy. I heard about it in Ireland, bought it right away, and couldn't make myself work through it. Back in December I called a friend in Rochester and asked if she wanted to read it with me. We've talked and prayed together once a week since then (except when my busy-ness or flakiness gets in the way).

Much of modern American Christianity centers around an idea that if God loves me, life circumstances will work out nicely. Obviously, no loving God would ever let his child suffer. Shattered Dreams contends that God's definition of fulfillment, growth and love involves letting lesser dreams (health, prosperity, easy relationships) shatter in order to create a hunger in us for the greater dream of His presence and reality. The author claims that God really does satisfy our longings, but as long as we are content with smaller things, we'll never know that. It's been HARD to wrestle with the author's ideas and my own places of disappointment with God's methods. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting glimpses of Bigness, of Joy and of ways that Who He Is are completely amazing. It's making the Bible come alive in a most satisfactory way. With the American Christian perspective of the Happy Life, the Bible doesn't work. It's too full of things that seem cruel or confusing. But with an understanding of God's relentless passion, it starts to make sense and humble me with it's beauty and integrity.

I guess technically, that means the Bible is the second book, but I've also been reading Velvet Elvis during my work commute. (I figured that busting out a book called Shattered Dreams on the train might make people nervous I would go postal...) The layout of the book was off-putting to the designer in me.

He likes to have one sentence paragraphs.


The whole book is in quick snippets that can get a bit aggravating.

Visually speaking.

Yet he goes into cool random facts about Jewish culture, rabbis, and how Jesus as a Jewish rabbi was addressing all the current hot topics. For instance a rabbi's interpretation for how to apply the law, or Torah, was called a yoke. A disciple would try to take on a rabbi's yoke, to live by those teachings. So when Jesus says, "take my yoke, it's easy and light" he wasn't talking about an oxen analogy. That one has dovetailed into the other in how the Bible holds together. He also blows apart Happy Christianity and talks about having real Hope instead.

What have been your life-altering books? Previously for me they were mostly novels like Narnia, or Francine Rivers books, I'm feeling all grown up reading non-fiction and letting it change me.