Category Archives: Musings

Cosmo Rooferford B. Hayes and Conquering Fears*

Cosmo at Work

Getting over my fears, little by little.

Something magical happened this week. I met a dog I felt more than 50% comfortable around and fell completely in love with him. For those who know me, I am a devout “cat person.” I will watch any cat video that comes my way, constantly ask my parents for updates on our family cat, Zoot, and will fervently defend their awesomeness to any doubting “dog person.” Alas, the other C is highly allergic to the creatures, which explains why I am, as my granny has now labelled me, a “traiter to all cats.”

Getting a dog was a huge deal for me. Aside from the commitment that comes with getting a dog, or the awkwardness I display whenever I, the “cat person,” encounter a dog, I had to think long and hard about getting the little dude for other reasons. You know how most people say that snakes, heights, or public speaking are their worst fears? Mine happens to be dogs. That is a really fun fear to have when you happen to live in the most dog-friendly neighborhood in town where dogs of all shapes and sizes run around unleashed. The most scared I have been in the last year was probably when I had to walk by a German Shepherd that was tied up outside a shop by myself.

To make a long story short, many years ago my family got a dog who wound up having some serious behavior problems. He started off sweet then snapped, which led to me winding up in the hospital twice  – once just for an inspection and the other for surgery, an overnight stay, and a finger that will never fully function again. Although I have  continued to love dogs, I just haven’t enjoyed being around them ever since that experience.

People have tried to comfort me or convince me that their dogs wouldn’t ever hurt a fly, while others laughed and said that I “must have done something” to deserve the bites. None of that has mattered because if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that you can’t reason fear away. It takes time and a lot of effort to overcome it. I have read articles my mom has sent me about how to behave around dogs, spent time around friends’ dogs, and sometimes decided not to cross the street when I see a big dog coming towards me. Although all that has helped somewhat, I finally figured that the only way to get over this thing once and for all was to just suck it up and get my own dog, especially since the other C really wanted one.

So the other C and I went to the SF SPCA on Sunday and met Cosmo (formerly “Joe Cool”) and decided to take him home. I could not have asked for a more perfect dog. He is sweet, calm, and well-behaved (not to mention super cute). We’ve only had him a few days and already I feel more, though no where near completely, confident around dogs. It’s taken me a long time to realize that most dogs aren’t really all that interested in me – if there’s another dog around, they’d much rather interact with him or her than a silly old human like me.

It will be a while before I’m ready to play with bigger dogs, but thanks to this little guy I know there is hope for me. I cannot fully explain how wonderful it feels to be comfortable around this little dog or to not immediately freeze when I pass a dog on the sidewalk. So the cheezy moral of the story is, when you’re ready, try to determine what would help you overcome your greatest fear and go for it. It will be hard and may take a long time, but few things will ever be as worth it.

*Okay, I wasn’t actually allowed to call him Rooferford, but we live on Hayes st so I couldn’t resist. All photos by the other C.


It’s all about the race

The more of this semester I get through, the more I’m convinced that law school, or at least the first year, is just one big endurance test, or race. It doesn’t necessarily seem to be about what you know but about who will last the longest. Here is a bit of whimsy from a brain overloaded by contracts.

You start off a little rusty, then you get the hang of things and think you’re going to make it. But then an incline appears out of nowhere and before you know it, you’re out of breath. All of a sudden, you realize this isn’t a simple road race but one filled with obstacles, mudslides, fried computers, and a kajillion twists and unexpected turns. Signs keep telling you that you’re doing great, that you’re almost there, but you find clues and hints here and there to indicate that you’ve still got a long way to go.

You realize that the other runners aren’t necessarily more athletic than you, though some are, but that many are better prepared. Perhaps they’ve figured out what stretches and strengthening exercises they needed to do before this whole thing began. Maybe they began training a long time ago, listened to podcasts, bought the right shoes, or hired a coach. You learn you’re not the worst runner, but you aren’t sure how to keep up with the others who’ve figured this whole game out, or at least act like they have.

So you train, every day. You make sacrifices by forgetting to sleep, to shower, to buy groceries, and remembering to take breaks. When you do sleep, you dream about the race. When you meet with friends, all you can think about is what you should be doing instead. You let it consume you and take over your life. You become part of a fraternal order that is both bound by shared experience and stretched by fierce competition. You’re not sure which of your siblings will give you the wrong directions and which will share their water with you when you’re at your lowest point. Some will remain silent and go it alone – you don’t know what to expect from them. The hardest question to answer is what type of sibling are you? What will you do when decision time comes?

You pause only when your body can’t take it anymore. Or when you realize that there is more to life than just this race. Or, more likely, when you realize that you are simply exhausted and have perhaps exaggerated how bad it really is.

You decide to reengage with friends, family, the outside world. You pick up the news to find out what you’ve missed. You let other people help you and you do your best to thank them.

You smile at the person who is always there for you – who calms you down after every breakdown and moment of panic. None of this would be possible without him and his promise to always smile back. He reminds you that you love the race and assures you that he’ll always be there to welcome you home.

You retie your shoes, focus on the path directly in front, and get back to running.

It’s a part of who you are now.

I’m on a Plane! (or the road home from a long adventure)

Please be warned, despite the title, this post might not be quite so happy.

Did you know that all it takes is a mere 20+ hours of traveling, delays, waiting, and a night spent near JFK airport to earn an upgrade to business class? If you’re lucky, you might even be switched from an airline that doesn’t support WiFi on many flights (such as Continental), to one that does (such as Delta). So here I am, sitting in my comfy seat with a blanket, my feet propped up, a lovely, aerial view of American farmland, rivers, and highways to my left, my laptop neatly placed in front of me, and all the frustrations of the previous day nearly forgotten.

The past 10 days have included moments of frustration, joy, exhaustion, sadness, and relief. It began with a red-eye flight from SFO < EWR, a morning spent in a dated airport hotel, and a reunion with my 80 year-old, Northern Irish grandmother outside customs in Terminal C. The purpose of our meeting in this way, was to accompany each other upwards to Nova Scotia to visit my great aunt and her sister. Aunt Sally lives in a nursing home and suffers from Alzheimers and the loneliness that comes with long-departed relatives and friends, as well as the long distance from her native home. For my grandmother, who we can refer to as "Granny," this was a necessary and much longed-for trip. She feared that if she did not go when she did, that her sister may no longer recognize her or that she (Granny) may not be fit to handle the cross-Atlantic flight. For me, it was an opportunity to meet my great aunt for the second time and to spend time with Granny when she most needed it. In a few days, once I've had the chance to upload all my photos, I'll chronicle our adventure in fuller detail. For now, I just need a place to enter some of the many thoughts and emotions that came with it all. Nova Scotia was hardly the place I remembered it being from the sole journey I had made about 15 years earlier. Instead of finding hearty seafood meals and charming mom and pop shops, we drove through run-down towns and ate microwaved "baked" potatoes. Granny remarked on the absence of shops she remembered and the bizarre drop in population. However, the landscape, with its many rivers, hilltops, and inlets, remained unchanged. We spent our days between our country road motel, neighboring towns, and Aunt Sally's nursing home, Grace Haven. On our first visit, Aunt Sally instantly recognized Granny but had trouble making conversation and resorted to frequently discussing the blue sky and nice green grass. Each day she returned more and more to her old self - making jokes, laughing, informing us of where old friends once had lived, and commenting on how it was high strawberry season. Her mobility levels appeared to coincide with her mental capacity for remembrance and recognition. The more she chatted, the less she complained of her sore legs. Granny's mood also fluctuated with Aunt Sally's behavior, as to be expected. Watching the two sisters reconnect as Granny told her sister stories of when they were children and as Aunt Sally poked fun at Granny for spilling ice cream down her top, was incredibly moving. Realizing that Aunt Sally had slipped back into confusion when she asked when we would take her home, was heartbreaking. As a mostly silent onlooker, I wanted to be able to take this woman I barely knew, yet with whom I share so much, into my arms and tell her that someday we would come to take her home for good. I am still unsure whether Aunt Sally truly understood who I was. She knew me as someone she could trust, but whether she saw me as a relative I suppose I'll never know. The important thing was that she always knew and smiled at her sister. I imagine she's forgotten by now that we were ever over to spend time with her, but I'd like to think that she feels a bit happier and doesn't feel quite so alone. It is easy to adopt a sense of relaxation when promptly prepared meals and endless servings of tea are brought to my small table, 10,000 feet above the ground. Today's situation sharply contrasts with yesterday's feeling of being stranded at the Halifax airport, and then at JFK, the abrupt goodbye shared between Granny and myself, and the sadness of knowing that neither of us will probably ever see Aunt Sally again. Only 2 1/2 hours to go until I reach San Francisco. I just need to be home.

The W Bossy Gene

This stuff really can’t be made up

Let me be the first to admit it- I have failed nablopomo. I was doing okay the first half of November but I have slipped way too many times during the second half for me to be a true participant any longer. Oh well, I’ll still do what I can these next few days and hope that I continue to post at least once a week, which is really what I was aiming for in the first place.

One way I figure I can keep up the blogging is by having certain topics I post about regularly. So far I’ve got my stupidest website posts and hope to continue with the photos of tourist taking photos– but I’ll need to take a few more photos for that to truly work out! I would like to turn Procrastinatory Fridays into something regular, but I’ve kept putting it off for some reason (ouch).

So, here’s something that could potentially turn into a regular blog topic: Silly E-mails from My Mom (I’ve had an inbox folder titled this way before that Shit My Dad Says Twitter account ever showed up). I know she reads my blog from time to time so she will either find this amusing, horrible, or a combination of the two. We’ll just have to wait and see- hopefully she won’t stop sending the e-mails in order to avoid winding up on here. I may also throw in some horrible comments from my dad from time to time (example: he calls the place where they leave my cat over long vacations “Catanamo Bay”-punitentiary worthy, I know).

Today’s feature comes from an e-mail thread my mom’s side of the family (let’s call them the W Family) started a couple months ago that had the subject line, “can’t make this stuff up.” One of my aunts found it amusing that my Grandma and cousin (he’s been living with her during law school) are equally stubborn and do not like being told what to do. This prompted multiple responses from aunts, uncles, and cousins who not only mentioned the “W Family Bossy Gene,” but also provided several examples. There were mentions of power tools, food, “multi-tasking,” and a virtual head nod from my uncle who recently married into the W Family.

But the greatest example of them all was what my mom wrote. Please note that this was the ninth e-mail in the thread and the only thing she had written up until that point.

I may have actually had tears in my eyes when I read this because it was so ridiculous. I responded to the thread and made a bit of fun of her, because that’s what offspring are supposed to do. I’ll just leave it at that, partly because I don’t think I could really add anything else to it and partly because I’m heading into NYC in a couple of minutes!

Parents are probably the silliest types of people.

Reason #8 Bajillion to Love Living in San Francisco

Yup, it’s Saturday again, which means time for a short little post!

Normally by November 13 I would be freezing through my very bones, wondering when I would finally cave and break out the winter coat.

But not this year! Today it was 67 degrees and sunny. What a perfect day to discover Glen Canyon Park, an area filled with eucalyptus trees and beautiful trails a mere 2 minute BART ride from where I live. Pretty flippin’ sweet.


There and Back Again

Recently I’ve managed to catch up with some friends and family I haven’t seen or spoken with in a long time. The usual first statement seems to be along the lines of, “I can never figure out where you are. You’re always in different places!” And, true to form, I suppose I always sort of am. No, I’m not visiting different countries or taking road trips to each corner of the continent. But I have kept myself busy and I’m certain that I’m only going to get busier over the next couple of months.

The highlights:

Drinking whiskey with a few of my male cousins in Pittsburgh after my cousin’s wedding.

Making it to Oregon for the first time to reunite with some Trinity friends. In addition to seeing waterfalls, vineyards, and hazel farms, I saw a real life Delorean.

A journey down Highway 1 with my parents to Carmel. They reminisced over their honeymoon, which followed the same route, and I enjoyed discovering the Carmel Mission.

Watching my friends drive their 60 foot MUNI bus, freshly transformed into the Playapillar, around Burning Man for over a week.

Showing my Dutch friend, who had never been to the US before, the joys of pick-up trucks, Mexican food, skyscrapers, casinos, and Lake Tahoe.

Other things I shall not mention here. 🙂

The lower lights:

Deadly week long sinus infection.

Never ending physical therapy for my shin splints- I suppose this is a good thing but I am ready for it to be done.

Intense study sessions and near panic attacks thanks to the all mighty LSAT.

That is all I’ll say tonight. Hopefully I’ll get this thing back up and running shortly!

Eureka! (The Sentiment, not the Californian City)

First things first, mandatory self-imposed guilt trip: I FAIL at reading. I will do better soon! At least I’ve started reading the Economist again, which should count for something.

Now on to the real blog post.

Back in high school I was the type of kid who enjoyed her surroundings and didn’t worry too much about the future. Some of the other students at my school attended college fairs their freshman year, others spent their weekends at debate tournaments, and I did my best to cope with the fact that I was in freakin’ high school. I played between two to three sports a year, took extra classes and invented tutorials for fun, dabbled in drawing, painting, photography, and improv acting, and- perhaps the most time consuming activity of them all, pined over many a boy, as demonstrated by semi-emo, post-midnight poetry scribbled into my diary.

How anyone at the age of 15 or 16 could possibly know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives was beyond me. I barely knew what I was going to do at the weekend (some things never change). Occasionally my more ambitious friends would pester me with questions about where I wanted to go to college, which would result in my having a minor freakout sesh.

Why hadn’t I cared more about improving my GPA, or joined more clubs, or taken AP lit instead of taking extra electives in Chaucer, Shakespeare, and creative writing (which led to me winning an award senior year in English BTDUBS, bam!), or? Why did other people want to move away from home? Was I really so strange for liking my parents and for knowing that I could obsess over a band and get away with it because I was still a teenager?

The freakouts never lasted long. I’d moved enough times by that point to understand that life’s little bits and pieces pull together eventually, some more easily and quickly than others.

Instead of drawn out plans I tend to have moments. Either I’ll reach a place, read a sentence in a book, or meet someone new and think to myself, “Yes! This is me.” In other words, “Eureka!” There will be much debating prior to the moment, many dilly dallyings and doubts. Perhaps my life could be summarized as the moments and periods of waiting in between.

An example of a moment would be my first experience with Trinity College (Connecticut) where I went for undergrad. During the summer of 2002, My mom and I embarked upon a tour of liberal arts colleges on the East Coast. I still had no idea who I supposedly was (did it matter?) or where I belonged. After one information session after another I quickly determined what I most certainly did not want from a school- a heavy core curriculum? No thanks (isn’t the beauty of liberal arts the ability to choose?). I didn’t want anything to do with Pennsylvania and thought Maine seemed a bit far away from everything. Then we got to Trinity and I had that moment. I fell in love with the campus, imagined myself eating at one of the cafeterias, and wanted to be one of those students lounging on the quad. I figured I could deal with the salmon-colored pants and the pearls as long as I could have an old chapel and a strong history department within a five minute walk from my dorm. As we left I told my mom, “I’m coming back here.” Apparently Trinity felt the same way because I matriculated into the class of 2007.

Do I think I could have been happy at another school? Of course. Did I ever regret the fact that I didn’t do more research about other schools after visiting Trinity or try harder to get in somewhere else? Nope. I never, not even for a second, considered the possibility of transferring. Whenever anyone asks me how I enjoyed it, I always answer that I loved it. These moments of mine are pretty damn incredible.

It had been a while since my last one, but I finally had one tonight. It may involve going back to school again (crap)…and taking the LSATs in October. It’s an idea I’d previously considered but could never commit to. I’d prevented myself from thinking about it since graduating from the LSE because the idea of studying more, and for a long time, is exhausting. But now it’s all I can think about and I plan to hunt it down.

I went to a Trinity careers networking reception this evening and wound up chatting with one of the panel members, who happens to be a partner at a fancy pants law firm in SF. He’d also studied history at Trinity- we’d even had one of the same advisors! Imagine, he experienced one professor at the start of his career and I experienced him on the verge of retirement. He urged me, while insisting that he wasn’t, to think about law and I laughed the thought off instantly. “It’s not for me,” I muttered. Then I went home and realized how wrong that statement was. Maybe it wasn’t for me, once upon a time. There certainly wasn’t anyway I could have handled it after graduating from Trinity. But I’ve since made my way to the (freakin’) LSE and survived. I know I can handle the workloads because I’ve already faced them.

Here are a few reasons this makes sense:

-I get excited about cyber laws and digital copyright.
-I think doing research and writing about it is fun.
-My friends don’t call me “Sassoline” for nothin’- I like to argue.
-Having a background in History of International Relations, Law, and social media, would make me an official badass (international and/or technology law here I come!!).
-I have a pretty sweet memory, which has caused my friends much frustration on numerous occasions.
-I don’t like it when rules aren’t followed properly (i.e. the car MUST be sighted before “shotgun” can be properly claimed).

You may think this is a pretty big decision to have made within a few hours, but remember, once I have a moment I have to give in to its power. The moment never (or rarely) fails. And really, there wasn’t ever so much a question of me not wanting to pursue this but of me not being ready. Now I am.

My Obsession with the Beautiful (and often frustrating) Game

Some people measure their lives in terms of major accomplishments (i.e. graduations, jobs, weddings, births, etc.), but not me. I can pretty much tell you what’s happened in my life based on two things:

1) Where I lived that year AND
2) When/Where the most recent World Cup was held

Okay, number 2 only works from 1994-onwards, but give me a break. Prior to that I only thought of football as the sport smelly boys played. It wasn’t until 1994 or so until I was forced to play it myself!

Year: 1994
Place: USA

This was the first World Cup I watched with excitement. I sort of knew what it was before that, but not really. My parents and I had recently moved from Singapore to Connecticut and we spent the summer visiting different friends around the States. Those jerks (my parents) attended a few different game in Chicago and New Jersey, while I was left alone with a babysitter to check out some of Chicago’s great museums. We also managed to get to Mexico City for a week, during which Mexico won a game. This resulted in avid fans standing on top of VW buses and an endless barrage of horn blowing and flag waving. The spectacle, accompanied by the city’s high elevation, was quite a lot to take in for my 10 year old self.

Year: 1998
Place: France

At this point I was fairly comfortable in my Connecticut home, although I do remember this as the “end of the Connecticut days.” My dad brought me to England for a brief father-daughter trip at some point in June. We watched a few games in Oxford, which was really fun. I later watched the final at home, alone. Those jerks had somehow wheedled their way into the final game, which I got to hear all about later on the phone. For some reason I was happy for the French. I believe this may have had to do with the fact that I studied French in school.

Year: 2002
Place: South Korea

This World Cup was AWESOME! Ireland qualified and did extraordinarily well (for Ireland). I wore my Irish jersey almost every single day and was proud to see that crowds of Irish fans were in attendance at actual games in South Korea. The jerks, who didn’t go to South Korea (thankfully for me), decided we’d go to Dublin instead. For the final game (Brazil vs. Germany) we happened upon a pub filled with Germans and Brazilians…it was a bit tense.

Place: Germany
Year: 2006

THE BEST! I was on summer break, staying with my parents in London and happened to be doing a research internship at the House of Lords. I watched as much football as possible, which included sneakily turning on the TV (while in parliament) to watch it when I probably should have been doing research. I was in a pub on Portobello Road when England lost to Portugal, I made frenemies when I rooted for Argentina against someone else in a pub (I had studied in Buenos Aires the summer before), and heard different neighborhoods erupt with cheers when Spain and Italy won their respective matches. Additionally, one of the jerks (dad), took me to Berlin to see a game. It was Paraguay vs. Sweden. We didn’t need no zuzuvelas, just a crowd of Swedes and a cup filled with beer! “Sveeeerig!” I’ve included pictures from the game above.

Year: 2010
Place: South Africa

This World Cup has been a bit lackluster so far. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I’m living in the US again so I have to wake up at 4am or 7am to watch a large portion of the games (Thank goodness I’m unemployed or I’d never be able to watch those 11:30am games!). Perhaps it has to do with the fact that almost all of the teams SUCK this year (here’s lookin’ at you England!). It’s fun watching the games with friends here but I think I’ll try to go to Europe for the next one. I’m sick of explaining why I care and why I don’t support the US team. Yes if you go to the right bar you’ll find a crowd, or if Mexico happens to win you’ll hear cheering, but it’s just not the same. I’m sad that France is in instead of Ireland. But most of all, I’m sad that I can’t experience this World Cup with the jerks. My dad has now decided that rugby is superior to football so he had no desire to travel to South Africa. Nevertheless, it’s just not the same watching it without them.

Maybe I should have titled this post “Stupid Parents.” That’s enough rambling for now. I’m not even going to mention my love for Wimbledon, which starts next week.

You Can Take the Girl out of Britain but…

You certainly can’t squeeze those last drops of Britishness out of her all at once. No Writing Adventure Group post from me this week, nor book review. Forgive me, I’ve just moved continents. If you’re confused, this should catch you up to speed. There’s not too much point to this entry other than to keep the blogging up since I have a tendency to drift after a while. I’ll have to be especially persistent because I’ll no longer be writing for Londonist, not that I wrote all that much for them over the last few months.

I’ve been back in the States for a whopping 4 or 5 days and my brain is still incredibly confused. It would be hard to find two places more different than London and San Francisco. London is the place of kings and queens, tea, history, finance, double decker buses, twisty streets, queues, and nicely trimmed hedges. San Francisco is the place of America’s rebels and outcasts, hipsters, coffee, grids, burritos, start-ups, eucalyptus, and wild agave. Both cities attract me to them but abandoning one for the other is not the easiest task.

Having primarily grown up in the States, I supposed that adjusting back to American life wouldn’t be too difficult. For the most part it’s not but I’ve gradually realized just how much living in the UK over the last couple of years has affected me. It’s not the big things that get me (is it ever?) but the smaller stuff. Here everyone expects a tip but you’re expected to clear your table at a cafe- in London tips are reserved for certain situations and coffee cups can be left behind for staff to clear up. I was driving through the city yesterday, signaled to switch lanes, and someone actually let me in. That never happened to me in London, although I suppose it didn’t happen much on the East Coast either. The majority of the people I follow on Twitter are UK based so my feed goes almost dead by about 4pm. People in London actually know what the London School of Economics is. No one here is afraid to ask anyone a question and strangers are generally more considerate. Granted I haven’t gone downtown yet this trip, but I haven’t laid eyes on a single tourist (YES!). The roughest thing is hoping people aren’t offended by my fairly dry sense of humor.

It may take a little while, but I think San Francisco will one day feel like home (or at least a part time home. Dolores Park may not hold the same charm as Kensington Gardens but I’ve got the Pacific Ocean a short bike ride away. Being in a laid back city should be good for me. But please, if I ever start writing about saving the earth or not eating meat, send a virtual slap in my direction.

It's Happened Again

Almost 7 years ago I was 18 and just about to graduate from my high school in Dallas. College in Connecticut was a summer away and I was looking forward to wherever life was taking me. For the first time in my life, I was moving away because it was normal- it was what everyone my age (or at least those who’d gone to my school) was supposed to do.

At Thanksgiving, Winter break, and maybe even for a quick weekend, I would return home to my parents, my room, and my cat. Friends and I would rush to our favorite hangout spots and discuss what had changed in our lives and what we were planning to do the next summer. I cannot even describe how happy the thought made me.

By that point in my life I had moved 7 times. That’s three states, two countries (and continents), one apartment, and six houses. Yes I was a bit apprehensive about moving again, but this time it was for me.

How stupid was I to believe that things would be so easy? Once a nomad, always a nomad.

About a week before (or maybe after) my graduation, my father took me to dinner and told me his news. He hated his job. That I knew, but maybe I’d never realized how much. He had been offered a job in London and he was about 99% sure he was going to take it. When would he be going? Oh, probably September, October at the latest. My mom would go over whenever our house in Dallas had sold (which happened to be a year later).

So much for developing any sense of what it’s like to have a geographical home.

Years have gone by and I have, of course, accepted my dad’s decision. Summers were spent doing internships in London instead of catching up with buddies. My resume flourished, my social life dwindled.

I’ve never made the mistake of allowing myself to be so naive as to believe that my parents would remain here forever. But the realization that they’re leaving has caught me yet again.

Here I am, older, (somewhat) more independent, and less than two days from moving away. This is my choice. They can keep the UK, I’ll take the US.

Then tonight, we have dinner. My dad utters the words, “I hope to move back to the US by the end of the year.” This time I’m not bitter, or angry, or horribly sad. This time around I know that my parents’ decision does not signify the end of something like it did in Dallas. London will always be here for me. And not to worry, I will most certainly be back, even if I’ll have to find a new place to stay when I visit (or return to live). I suppose this means I’ll be seeing a bit more of NYC and Colorado in the upcoming years than I had anticipated!