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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Buon Anno!

I capped off the year with a couple laps around Green Lake and laughing with FN, stopped by the café that brews my favorite Americano, held my last solo dance party around the house while cleaning, walked another couple miles to burn some energy and get groceries and now I'm watching The West Wing and getting ready to head out for the evening. Nothing says "get pumped" like political witty banter drama television show while the curling iron heats up and the eyeliner dries.  So I thought I'd take some time in between all that to write my last post for the 2013. 

A lot happens in this singular thing we call "a year". This year has been incredible.  Really truly a transformational year that exceeded all my hopes and expectations.  Don't get me wrong….it wasn't without it's hard lessons learned, challenges, lows, loss, and heartbreak, but on a whole, 2013 will go down in the record books as the best year of my life to date. 

Here's my Top 10 Recap of 2013 that added up to a truly amazing year. 

  1. Over the course of 4 summer nights in Rome, I believed in love again. And while I was believing in it I actually fell into it.  It changed me to my core.  Beauty, strength, vulnerability, passion, and romance. 
  2. I spent a lot of time with my sister and nephew, which was really wonderful. Crazy, but wonderful.
  3. I made really great new friends and let go of the toxic and unhealthy ones. Good people
  4. I traveled a lot. Seeing the world is the most invigorating exercise for me. I never feel more alive than when I'm immersed in another culture.  
  5. I made a home that makes me feel safe, happy, at peace, and rejuvenated.
  6. I rode motorcycles.  There isn't a more cathartic experience.
  7. I smoked my first joint. Full stop.
  8. I had a lot of professional milestones which is hugely satisfying after years of working hard and pushing myself.
  9. I was in the best physical shape of my life.  Kicked off the year with a half-marathon and kept going. I've slipped a little these last few months, but I'm back on a training schedule for a March 2014 half in San Diego with the bestie.  
  1. I had a lot of really great fun.  Real fun.  Real let my hair down, bellyache face hurting knee slapping laughing, finding myself smiling while walking for no reason, making out, eating amazing food, drinking incredible drinks, reading great books, pampering, shopping, conversing, and more kind of fun.

I am very excited for next year.  I hope to keep the good mojo momentum going forward in.  More fun, more love, more laughs, more goodness all around.  And less of that crummy stuff.

Here's what I'm thinking for 2014

  • Do hard things
  • Be less afraid
  • Write more
  • See more world
  • Keep getting my shit together
  • Wear pants more (Just kidding. I hate pants. That's not changing.)

I think New Year's should be more of a celebration of independence.  A different kind of independence day if you will.  A letting go of things old and the past, and claiming the present and future. Freeing yourself from what holds you down or back. Let's be free from those things.  Be free from negativity and self-doubt.  Yes, I like that very much. 

So happy Independence Day!  Baci! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Top 10

Ok, when I said I was "back" that may have been a bold face lie.  Things have been just a step below chaos, which is fine, but it leaves little time to write about the comings and goings of this 30-something.

Let's take the top ten highlights from the last two months.

1.) I went to and from Barcelona.  That was amazing.  Real post on this later.

2.)  The family favorites came to town. We made won ton soup and chatted about the family history (see Grandpa Wong's Ok Cafe in Helena,!).

3.) Work wise, it has been officially one year since I started my new role.  The numbers are coming in and when all is said and done our team will have paid out $99.9M and activated $111M.  If that feels like a lot of money, it's because it is.  Good people doing good things.  And the team gave me a standing ovation in our meeting which felt good.  Oh and presents.  That was nice.  

4.) After the busiest of busy seasons,  I found a grey hair.  Singular.  Yeah for Asian genes!

5.) Husky Game - The new stadium is gorgeous. These people know how to tailgate: full bar, heaters, flat screen TV, lasagna, and so much food and so much fun! Rocking the purple and gold!

That man can pour a

6.) Thanksgiving came and went.  Santa carves our turkey every year.  I wore an elastic waistband.  It's the planner in me. Thanksgiving weekend was also a festive time for some crafting, DIY decorating and shopping (see previous post).  Score!

7.) Brunching with friends...and by brunch we've also added some Cupcake Royale for brunch dessert (genius). Twice.  I had to say good bye to them which breaks my heart but they are off on exciting adventures.

8.)  Hosted a meeting for 275 people.  It was exhausting, frustrating, and only further demonstrated my keen degree of control issues.  I'm over it. But the big boss's dad came and he was amazing.  As always.

9.) Went to the Seattle Asian Art Museum for the first time which was very cool.  Especially if you have it mostly to yourself like I did.

10.)  I did an overhaul on my closet(s).  10 pairs of designer jeans - gone, 4 bags to goodwill, 11 pairs of shoes gone, and do my closets look any less stuffed? No.

So you see, I've been busy.  I hope this holiday season allows for time to really write, be creative, decompress, re-balance and reflect on this crazy thing called life.

Been an Awful Good Girl, Santa Baby

In one weekend I finished all my Christmas gift shopping (applause) which left me plenty of time to help Santa cross off a couple things from my wishlist. I've been an awfully good girl this year, so I picked up these gems.  Santa approved.     





Oh, and a little something special for the tree

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Anger Management

I don't consider myself an angry person.  If fact I can probably count on one hand I've truly been angry in my whole life. Actually, I can't point to one specific memory where I remember where I felt true real anger, but that seems impossible so let's just say less than 5 times.  Sure I've been pissed, grouchy, ticked off, annoyed, disappointed, resentful and alike, but these moments are usually fleeting and become comical shortly thereafter.  But on a whole I feel like sustained anger is a waste of energy, and that I really don't believe in.

But today I left work so angry I was visibly shaking.  I just couldn't believe what had happened. And because I fervently believe in not blogging about the details of my job, I won't go into it here.  But I will go in to what I wanted: giant glass/bottle of wine. and a cocktail. and any other form of recreational sedative or release, legal or otherwise.  Instead I had plans to hang out with my friends who don't drink so I brought ice cream to dinner and it almost did the trick. This was probably the healthiest thing I could have done, which that I am grateful for. Plus they have a super smiley 1 year old and what smiling 1 year old doesn't neutralize any anger of the heart?

But when I was alone with my own thoughts again that anger started to resurface and I just can't release it. I am no longer shaking, so that's progress, but I can feel the tension through my jaw, neck and shoulders. 

I've been re-reading Thich Nhat Hanh's writings, particularly the Five Mindfulness Trainings, which is rooted in Buddhist teachings and practices but really focuses on practice being actively present in the current moment as a way to center and ground oneself.  As a way of coping with some of the debilitating and disruptive anxiety I've been having over the last few months, it has really helped me.  This feel like a good time to exercise those teachings and so I'm trying....hard.  

As writing and reading are hugely therapeutic for me, I'm hoping that through this and some reading I can shake this by morning. I have a long run planned for the morning to hopefully expel any remaining tension. 

Wish me luck.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Writer's Block

It's national novel writing month, Which I argue is better than Mo-vember. Don't worry, I'm not participating in either. Homeslice ain't got time for that. 

But I have always wanted to be a writer.  The life of a writer may be a little too recluse, too tortured and removed. Oh, let's not forget too poor. But the romantic notion of being a writer I can identify with. 

The romantic writer in me wants to spend my time writing the next great American novel, sitting in various scenarios around the globe, and write about my adventures and thoughts and people and past. 

I want to spend weeks in snow covered log cabins in hills of Vermont in front of the fire and the aroma of chili stewing on the stove and an apple pie baking. I'm probably wearing plaid and fur slippers in this situation.

Maybe I'll spend a couple months, or years,  sitting in cafés around Rome that over look piazzas, sipping espresso and nervously twiddling a pearl necklace while channeling inspiration to clear a writer's block.  I'll probably be easily distracted watching the beautiful people glide by making up stories of where they are coming from, where they are going, what their hopes and dreams are, and what is on their grocery list.

I picture myself writing  in a cozy pub in Dublin during a thunder storm over a good stout and watching groups of friends laugh and loudly cheers to the good life.  I picture hair tossed up in a messy bun and a big cream-colored sweater, well-worn denim and a pair of boots to keep me warm. 

I want to rent a white washed studio loft in San Francisco with a view of the iconic bridge and watch the fog roll in and out, drinking strong tea and pastry from the local hippy-dippy artisan bakery.  I imagine it feeling like home just a little bit more grown up with more depth.

And that's just the short list.
When it come to authors as heroes, to me they are Jhumpa Lahiri, Betty Smith, Jon Krakauer, Sylvia Plath, Mary Doria Russell, Richard Russo and more.  I soak up their writing like a sponge, lost in their characters, story telling and examination of life. I think  Nora Ephron is the pinnacle of writing perfection.   I recently was introduced to Shane Koyczan who is a writer and spoke word artist and whose GRID Talk is awe-inspiring and drips of truthiness.  As they share their thoughts and emotions and present them in words is the one of the most beautiful things a human can do.  These are with authors whose writings I hold in the highest regard.

So I'm tethered to the reality of my practical nature and confined to the creature of comfort paradigm that wants to have a job that provides a steady income, health insurance, and a 401k. I'll keep spending my weekends watching the rain fall while reading or listening to story slams.  I'll sip on coffee and keep dreaming far off place to see and beautiful spaces to write in.  All the while, I'll be in this corner of the internet dedicated to keeping that dream alive. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's no secret that this is the worst day of the year in my book.  I loathe Halloween.  I do love seeing all the little kiddos at the mercy of their parent's decision making. That's great.  But grown-up Halloween is just a poor excuse to be sexy versions of things that are not ever intended to be sexy.

Also, the following:

1.) My irrational fear of bats is on full watch.
2.) I don't like being scared, or things that are scary, bloody, death-like, zombie-esque, etc.
3.) I don't do costumes/masks. They make me uncomfortable. I don't like not being able to see people's eyes. I'm big on eye me crazy.

But in the spirit of the day I did put on a questionably too-short-for-work orange dress, a white lace peplum top and black blazer and called it festive.  That's the best anyone was going to get from me today.

But here's my creepy story of the day.  Tuesday was National Cat Day. And ever since Tuesday there has been a stray black cat hanging out outside my door.  When I leave at 6:00 am and return and 7:15 am and then leave again at 8:30 am, it's there, meowing and generally creeping me out.  When I get home at night, it's there to greet me. And then throughout the night I hear it meowing, it sounds desperate but what do I know? Being greeted by a creepin' meowing black cat around Halloween is exactly what I need.

And of course the only reasonable explanation is that it is a cat of relationships past that's been cursed to haunt and follow me around.  Because that happens in the movies and thus also in real life.  My past relationships are not unlike stray cats that are in need of food, shelter and nurturing but cannot give the same in return. So it's not like I'm overly shocked here.

So with that, happy halloweeny!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

First Loves

This weekend I found out that my first love, my high school sweetheart, the best best friend I ever had, got engaged.  We haven't spoken in many years.  His girlfriend who he dated after our romantic relationship end, now fiancé, gave him an ultimatum of our friendship or their relationship.  That ultimatum came after a difficult point in their relationship that challenged their trust  and ultimately leading to me help him get her belongs out of their shared home.  In spite of it all, he chose their relationship. To this day I don't understand but it's also not my business to understand. 

He saved my life, twice, for reasons and circumstances I haven't gone into in this space but perhaps will one day.   I still have a place in my heart that is hurt by his choice to let our friendship go so my first reaction to his engagement was shock and disbelief.  Mostly disbelief that he was going to get married before I was.  In all likely circumstances it was a blow to the ego than anything else.  So my second reaction was to go to Trader Joe's and pick up a carton of my new favorite treat - strawberry coconut milk ice cream.  Because if I was going to eat my feelings, I wanted to at least not punish my guts in the process. 

Within about an hour of finding this out, I'd curled up on the couch, queued up a Downton episode and savored not only the bowl of "ice cream", but the amazing life that surrounded me.  What I thought at the moment I found out about his engagement was the idea of that could have been me, that memory that he's the only one that ever got inside my heart of hearts  - knew my demons and downfalls, and loved me all the same.  It briefly ignited that fear that I'd never find someone who I'd be willing to let that deep inside and who could handle all of whatever this hot mess is.  But then I was reminded that what we had is as much history for the history books as the people we were when we were together.  Once I was able to extinguish that fear I found that space to be happy for him. So very happy for him.  

So what's my point? I guess it's let history remain history, keep the faith a finding the person who can get into the heart of hearts, and when in need of comfort make sure you keep an extra carton of your favorite frozen treat in the freezer.  Just in cases.

A couple great high school memories to accompany this post:

Our first homecoming dance, we weren't dating yet but I remember this moment vividly as I was shaking try to put a corsage on him.  I totally botched it.  Mortified. But that night was amazing. I never felt more beautiful.  To this day I still have that dress. 

That's me in leather pants and a sequin tube top for a Las Vegas themed Tolo dance.  We were impossibly young. 

Our last dance senior year.  We thought we had it all figured out.  

Back in Action

When I worked in public accounting there was a thing called busy season.  Now that I work where I'm at right now there is also a thing called busy season that crosses summer and fall.  This busy season is about one thousand times worse than any previous busy season.

So that's where I've been the last few months. Ever since August I've been drowning in work.  Drowning in the night sweats, rattled by the shakes and heart palpitations I'd get.  Sleepless nights, anxiety riddled early mornings, and many evenings fueled by office snacks and the overwhelming fear of failure and disappointment.  I was the epitome of an angst ridden young professional throwing herself into work in order to run from her personal life. 

In my absence, life has still continued. I had a birthday, traveled, dated, mealed with friends, done a lot of shopping, and tried to maintain some resemblance of life, albeit less social and more self-preservation. 

But that time is coming to a close.  I won't do it again like this next year, mark my words.

So this is to announce that I'm back. In the last week, I'm sleeping through the night, eating well(-ish), conquered the night sweats, heart palpitations and shakes.   I'm making time for friends (hi, love you guys!), have a clean house, a mostly full fridge, back at the boot camp schedule, a closet (and then some) of clean clothes, good fiction sitting on my nightstand,  and miraculously a job I still love. 

I hope to write more in the coming months.  Really write. Most recently I'm dreaming of taking a month off and retreat to Tuscany to strictly write and let the creative side of my brain get a good bout of exercise.  I'm still ruminating on this but it certainly within the realm of possibility. 

Good to be back. Alive and living my every day amazing life....  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Conversation of the Day - Hello

Me: Hello.
Nephew: Hello.
Me: Hello.
Nephew: Hello.
Me: Hello.
Nephew: Hello.
Me: Hello.
Nephew: Hello.
Me: Hello.
Nephew: Hello.
Me: Hello.
Nephew: Hello.
Sister: Say "Can you hear me now?"
Nephew: Can you hear me now?
Me: Hello?

It was the best conversation of the day.

Here's a few pics from the visits over the past couple months. He's a real handful but lots of fun.

I get to squeeze him in December!  Hizzah!

(This is obviously not a real post.  Real posts coming. When and if I survive the next 3 weeks. Stay tuned.)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekending Away

I snuck away for the weekend to visit the aunt and uncle before they turn into snowbirds and head south for the winter. It also happened to be my uncle's birthday which we celebrated quite sufficiently. We also cooked hot dogs, had a super fire, drank classy cider and super classy cocktails, I slept through the night, ate at the Gumboot, walked to the bay, shopped for some new threads, played the tambourine, danced a little jig, laughed - all good things to head into an action packed week.

There's no place like home away from home. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

For F*ck Sake

It would take more than clouds to obscure the beauty of her landscape, and more than drizzle to dampen the warmth and good fellowship that makes Seattle the only place in this bad old world that I care to call home. -Graces the wall of the MoHAI

Torrential rain, thunder and lightening have been this week's alarm clock. 
Yesterday I slipped back on the boots, denim and warm gray flouncy oversized sweater.
I made myself a cup of strong tea and cupped it in my hands to warm up.

Fall has arrived here in Seattle and I'm the happiest. 

And of course with the entrance of every fall comes an anniversary of me making an appearance on this earth.  This time of year always feels like the real new year. So I've been doing a lot of reflecting and I've come to the conclusion that I really do think this may have been the best year of my life.  I've learned so very much. I was taught to believe in love again by a whirlwind romance. I worked so very hard and made the next step in my career and since have been allowed to keep growing and be a part of really incredible experiences. I learned a new skill. I am physically stronger and healthier than I've ever been; more comfortable in my own skin, more confident in my body.

I've meet some really great people, forged new friendships, let toxic ones go, and made space to learn to love myself.  I had some of the best laughs, memories, moments that I think I will ever know in my life.  I got to spend a lot of time with my family and really invested in the good friendships that add to life and not drain from it. 

I'm still learning some really hard lessons that I just can't seem to get through my thick skull or fragile heart.  I did really hard things this year and coped with some challenges beyond my control.  I made myself vulnerable and had to lick some serious wounds. But of all these challenges I still found the balance to keep moving forward while still evolving into something good.

I truly believe that this last year I became the next version of who I am suppose to be in the best possible way. I am having the time of my life and even when work is really hard, and life throws curve balls, and I struggle with vision of where I thought I would be versus where I am, there is an unshakable sense of happiness to the core, love at its purest and a sense of self that can only come from and be defined by within.

To cheers to the best year of my life and to the next one to come.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wrong Place

It’s decided, I was born in the right time, wrong place.  I should have been a European.  Specifically, Italian born and raised. Espresso and dessert for breakfast, wine and 2-3 hour lunches,  wine and 4-5 hour dinners. The no problem attitude. A impeccable taste in style. If smoking wasn’t totally unhealthy for you, I would probably be a smoker because I’m a fidgeter and you might as well look cool if you’re going to fidget. 

The leather and the fashion, the history and art, the love of life and living passionately, generously, positively and for each other.  Not for work, status or money but for people and for life.

Oh god the food. The pasta, pizza, gelato, caffe.  That’s all I ate for 3 weeks and I still lost 6 pounds.  Mostly because we walked everywhere, sweat through everything but also because so little of their food is processed that it’s real whole food. 

Maybe this sounds weird but I liked being around people that I looked like.  The dark hair, olive skin, high cheek bones, and childbearing hips. I very clearly personify the Italian body type. 

I’ve been home for 6 weeks now.  I’ve settled back into most of my American ways.  I sit a desk, I’m stressed out to the point where I have shakes and heart palpitations, I work stupid amounts of hours, drive more than I walk, and most upsetting I can feel myself emotionally closing off.  I no longer think about what time it might be in Rome and wonder if he’ll call.  I’m still in love with love but maybe not showing it as much as I had or hoped I would continue to.

However, since being home I have done EXTENSIVE research on Seattle’s best Italian coffee AND Seattle’s best Italian restaurants.   Here’s how they stack up:
Macrina Bakery - great bakery, ok espresso.  I accidentally stop here on the end of my runs.  This is not a new practice.
Le Reve - Incredible (French) bakery, icky espresso

Café Senso Unico - mediocre pastries, but excellent coffee and real Italian barista/shop owner and real Italians talking. It’s where the Italians hang out.   

Caffé Umbria - pretty good French pastries for a local French Pasterie and stellar espresso. They knock it out of the park.  It’s so good I run 3.3 miles here and walk 3.3 miles home afterward. 


Restaurants: I’ve also hit up a couple Italian restaurant but I level-set my expectations knowing full well nothing can compare.  It has yet to.

Agrodolce - A cute little place in Fremont.  We sipped on Rose and dined on delicious plates.  It was good, not quite Italian good. 

The Pink Door - A Seattle institution approaching near real Italian quality food.  This place won major points for having Limoncello from Sorrento (where we had spent a week).  We never paid $8 for in Italy but I couldn't say no.  Oh, the tiramisu wasn't bad.
While eating out isn't sustainable or really that desirable, I've imported a love of caprese salad. For someone who doesn't like tomatoes, I sure can put it away.  It's what I eat about 5/7 nights a week.  I stock up on a good olive or rosemary bread, mozzarella, I've got my own basil plant, roma tomatoes, and some salami just to add to the mix.  Add some quality olives, a glass of pino and I'm the happiest camper.   The key here is quality ingredients.  
Oh, eff it, I'm just moving to Rome.