Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Googley and Semi-Grown-Up

Life here at Google is pretty good. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is friendly, the gym is awesome, and (so far) the work is not bad. The two people I support (I am an Administrative Associate) are very nice, and totally helpful--they'd never had an admin before, so we're able to work together to see how we can help each other get acclimated to the situation. Mostly I schedule/arrange/move/cancel meetings, and occasionally I plan small events. Eventually I'll probably be doing some travel arrangements, expense reports and the like, but for now, I'm really easing into it all, which is really great. far so good.

The apartment situation is very exciting. I move in the week I get back from Israel, and I'll most likely be spending a few days painting and getting furniture...ah, so fun! And the apartment is directly across the street from my shuttle stop, so my commute will go from 20 minutes (driving and leaving early to make sure I get parking) to about 1 minute (walking across the street). So cool. And naturally, I've already started bookmarking IKEA furniture and daydreaming about finally having my family heirloom dining room set (table that goes from square 2-4 seater to round/oval 6-10 seater, complete with table pads, linens, and a beautiful matching hutch). My grandma bought it when she graduated from UCLA and married her first husband, and it's just beautiful and really good quality, and I love it. Ah, so good to have it back--I'm assuming it will fit in my new place...fingers crossed!

I have two things to share today: the weirdest shoe accessory EVER, and a movie that looks really good. No, I'm not talking about Harry Potter (though I am upset that it comes out while I'm in Israel!).

Tonight I gave myself the night off--on Sunday night, I made a very organized, ambitious-but-very-manageable, super-efficient packing schedule (since I am moving out this weekend!), and I pre-arranged to not pack/clean anything tonight. It is the boy's birthday, and we're going out with friends to Korean good...and I wanted to not feel pressured or guilty that I wasn't packing in order to fully enjoy the delicious cake I baked and the birthday fun of giving gifts! I love birthdays (except when I turned 20, but that's a different story altogether)! I am doing very well on the packing though. This schedule was the best idea ever. I'm getting a ton done, but in small increments, so it's totally not scary. By this weekend, I'll be totally prepared to move my stuff into the basement of my friend's (well former babysitting client's/people I like's) house!

And another plus, at the benefits fair at work today, I got my body fat percentage calculated, and I am smack-dab in the middle between Average and Above Average. Score.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Recap, and I have an apartment!

It has been far too long since I've written anything, and I promise to provide a full update on my first week at Google (awesome, by the way) soon. I currently have no internet at my apartment, and I can't really blog at work, so there hasn't been a lot of writing time. But I will update. I promise.

The big news, however, is that I got an apartment!!! It was between myself and one other girl (who was a total sneak and, in trying to guarantee the place for herself, volunteered to pay $1100 a month...$50 more than was being asked. What a bitch. Honestly, did she think I would back off because of an extra $50 a month? No way.) and I got it. Hooray! I saw it yesterday, and the landlord called me tonight. I'm very excited. Very. It's really cute, and the best part: it's literally across the street from the Google shuttle stop. Oh yeah, baby.

I feel like such a first apartment all on my own. I have a good job. I am going to Israel in 2 weeks. I'm pretty happy in my personal life. Money is still tight, but it won't be as tight soon. Things are all feeling like they're starting to come together.

Anyway, I just wanted to provide that short update...more to come later. I promise.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Change of Plans, and Look! A Decoy!

So, after a mild breakdown this weekend, at which point I decided to forgo all apartment-hunting plans, which included at least 7 open houses, and to not even call the landlords of the apartments where said open houses were to be held to inform them of my pending absence. This is extraordinarily out of character for me. Normally I would have called and apologetically said I wouldn't be able to make it, while the landlord pretended to know who I was. What happened was this: from a variety of sources (friends of co-workers, random people I found/stalked on Facebook), I learned that the commute to Google from Berkeley, including travel time from an apartment to a shuttle stop, would take me a minimum of 1 hour, 20 minutes--if I live literally across the street from a BART station where the shuttle stops. More likely, it would take me somewhere in the field of 1 hour, 45 minutes. That started to sound less and less fun as my Friday night went on. I realized that I would need to actually test this commute before signing a lease somewhere, and what the heck was I doing looking at apartments in Berkeley before I even knew what the commute was like??? I was a CRAZY, OBSESSIVE, APARTMENT-HUNTING NUT!!! Now, that doesn't really surprise me. Often, when I venture forth on some mission, I plunge into it full-speed ahead, and later regret having put most of my eggs in one basket, as it were. This has happened to me so many times that it's ludicrous that I haven't learned from it by now. I'm hoping this will be The Time I Learn My Lesson. I'm considering it a small gaffe, as I supposedly Learned My Lesson recently, just before embarking on the Live Life One Day At A Time philosophy. Yeah. I'm not so good at that. But I'm trying. Honest.

Anyway, in the spirit of Living Life One Day At A Time, I have decided to FORGO ALL HOUSE-HUNTING. For now. I start work at Google on Monday, and I will be living in my intern housing for a few more weeks (God Bless You, Christopher Jenkins!), and thus will be able to test the commute. See if it really is that horrible. Besides, maybe I'll get magically lucky (as some Googlers are) and I'll be able to do things like work from 8:30-9:30 on the shuttle and then from 4:30-5:30 on my way home. Or something. I literally have NO IDEA what my hours will be like, what my boss will need of me regarding time actually spent in the office, how much work can be done from home, etc. NO CLUE. Yet another reason to test things out for a while. My other option (as I will be moving out of intern housing at the end of the month) is to live with the fabulous Rebecca and Josh (and Keira) in San Carlos. Test out my little commute from that part of town, see what it's like to live over there, etc. I plan to do this for the month of July (when I'm not in Israel), and also for part of August. I also will spend a night or two (or several) with the lovely Emika and her mother in Palo Alto, which is very close to the Googleplex, and thus very convenient for work. I may try the commute from San Francisco as well, if I meet people who live there and love of right now, the city kind of terrifies me as a place to live, but that all might change. I DO NOT KNOW. Ah, the Living Life One Day At A Time. So much uncertainty. And I'm trying really hard to embrace it. Yup.

So, anyway, moral of the story is, I'm going to be floating around for a few months, getting settled at work, getting acquainted with the Peninsula and with that side of the bay in general, testing out the commute from Berkeley, figuring out how to stay close to the people I love over here in the East Bay, and adjusting to an arguably different life altogether. Hopefully then (my goal is by mid to late August), I will have figured out where the heck I want to live and will move there.

Advice? Stories? Laughs?

And Look! A Decoy! Stationary made from elephant poop!!! I've been wanting to share this with you for days and just have not had the time. Check it out. It's awesome. I really wanted to share a picture from their website, but it's all locked to copying and I don't feel like taking the time for a screenshot. I'm not using my screenshots-are-easy Mac. Damn you, work PC. Only 2 more days with you and your slower-than-molasses silliness!

And because no blog post should be without personal finance stuff, here and here are articles about how Frugality = Happiness. Personally, I'm excited for that first real paycheck. Mmmboy!

Saturday, June 9, 2007


Ladies and Gentlemen, SO EXCITING!!! My friends' show, a ridiculously funny and smart "race play" was just written up (and rather favorably, I'd say) in the NY Times! The show has been on tour for a long time, and is finally back in LA! I'm going to try to see it when I'm home next weekend. I haven't seen it since the first performances back in the day at UCLA, but it rocked my world in those first Theaterfest days (ah, I can say I was one of their first production managers. I am so cool), and people literally beat down the doors to see it later at the Northwest Campus Auditorium. It's a fantastic show, truly original and really an important piece of theatre. If you're anywhere near LA, GO SEE IT AT THE IVAR. or check out their website, and see when they're going to be on tour near you!

Without further ado, the NY Times article:
What’s in a Slur? A New Play Searches for Answers
Published: June 9, 2007

LOS ANGELES, June 8 — Lest anyone think that a play with three ethnic slurs in its title is going to dance around the subject of race and the limits of tolerable discourse, be advised that the bombshells are hurled from its opening moments:

An Asian actor, dressed in blue Chinese pajamas, steps onstage chanting rhythmically, “CHINK-chink-chink, CHINK-chink-chink.” He is followed by a Latino actor, in flood pants and a do-rag, chanting the word “Wetback,” who is then followed by a strutting African-American actor in a floor-length red coat and feathered hat, chanting “Nigger,” over and over, in syncopation to the other slurs.

To the uncomfortable laughter of the audience, the Asian actor, Allan Axibal, notes that he has now hurled his slur 270 times.

“Man!” replies the Latino actor, Rafael Agustín, “You always have to overachieve.”

Opening its first major run this week — two months at the Ivar Theater in Hollywood — the comedy, whose three-word title consists simply of those racial slurs, seems remarkably well timed to land in the middle of the national discomfort zone.

In the age of Don Imus and Michael Richards, in light of the renewed scrutiny of hip-hop lyrics and shock-jock blabbermouths, “N*W*C,” as it is called for short, examines the power of timeworn taboos, attempting to deflate them through a frontal, often funny, assault.

The timing, however, is something of a coincidence, since the play has been touring the country for about two years, mainly on college campuses, where the three principal actors and writers — Mr. Agustín, Mr. Axibal and Miles Gregley — have tested and honed their material from Seattle to South Carolina to upstate New York.

They are close friends, former debate team champions who together attended community college and then the University of California, Los Angeles, and who set out to tell the story of race in contemporary America through their own life experiences with intolerance, immigration and integration.

“We said, ‘Let’s write about our own lives,’ ” recalled Mr. Agustín, 26. “We didn’t know if it would be that interesting, but it’s really resonated with people. There’s nothing like winning over an audience in Kentucky who doesn’t want to hear about the immigration debate.”

The result, so far, has been its own social experiment, according to the authors, who find audience members lined up to share their views after performances. At the first show at U.C.L.A., picketers ended up joining the ticket line to see what the play was about. The police told them neo-Nazis had threatened one performance in Olympia, Wash., while the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sent out fliers condemning their use of the ethnic slur against blacks at another one.

Meanwhile, mainstream newspapers and radio stations have refused to take advertisements for the Los Angeles run, because the title is a trifecta no-no.

So why create a play guaranteed to offend all along the racial spectrum? “It’s not the words that are painful, it’s the racism behind them,” said Mr. Axibal, a 25-year-old of Philippine origin, sitting with his two friends at a quiet cafe at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco, where they had flown in to perform at a national conference on race relations.

Mr. Agustín added: “These words substitute for our cultural identity — ‘I guess we’re this’ — and then self-hate starts happening. It wasn’t until I got to college that I started to appreciate my own culture.”

Mr. Axibal said: “If we’ve been called these words, then we have the right to confront them. That’s what the show is about.”

As the play suggests, they have been called those words. But the more painful aspects of racism had to do with the limits the outside world placed on them as talented young men with ambition and imagination who didn’t define themselves by race.

In the case of Mr. Axibal, it was the dejection he felt when told he could never be like Tom Cruise because he was Asian; his mother sympathetically suggested he have “the surgery” to make his eyes look more Caucasian. (“More cauc, less Asian,” he deadpans in the play.)

In the case of Mr. Gregley, 28, who grew up among white kids in Baldwin Park, near Los Angeles, it was the ridicule he endured when he told friends he admired the singer George Michael of Wham! and wanted to be like him. Then, when he was sent to Atlanta for a year at 13, he realized he also had to adjust to fit in among other African-Americans.

“It became: ‘Am I black enough? Am I wearing my pants low enough?’ ” he recalled.

And Mr. Agustín, a high achiever, was an illegal immigrant in this country for 14 years, which kept him from enrolling in the top California universities despite being accepted there. He eventually won a green card, which allowed him to transfer to U.C.L.A.

Oddly, the play originated in the more subtle racism of the entertainment world. When Mr. Agustín was a graduate student at U.C.L.A.’s School of Theater, Film and Television in 2003, he became frustrated when he was rejected repeatedly for leading parts in plays by Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams, directed by other students.

“One director said: ‘You’re fantastic. There’s this Latino play, you should audition for that,’ ” recalled Mr. Agustín, whose father was a doctor in Ecuador who ended up working at Kmart after moving to this country for economic reasons.

Mr. Agustín complained to the faculty — which, he says, reported back that the directors said they envisioned Brad Pitt-Jude Law types in the leading roles. He realized he would have to write something himself to showcase his talent.

He reached out for help from a mentor and former debate coach at Mount San Antonio College, the community college in tiny Walnut, Calif., where Mr. Agustín was a champion debater. The coach, Liesel Reinhart, and her boyfriend, Steven T. Seagle, helped shape the piece and suggested bringing in his former debate teammates, Mr. Axibal and Mr. Gregley.

At the time Mr. Gregley was doing stand-up comedy in his spare time, while Mr. Axibal was doing slam poetry in his. “The three of us sat down together one day and had a simple conversation about how we felt about the state of things,” Mr. Agustín recalled.

Mr. Axibal said: “We started telling each other the things we went through. Even as close friends, these were things that we never knew about each other. We’d all had experiences with these words.”

Over two years of performance in 24 states, “N*W*C” has shifted and evolved with practice and experience. They have added a Michael Richards joke. They have closely watched the immigration debate. They have had a white supremacist tell them their play changed his point of view.

They hope one day to bring the show to Broadway or parts nearby, and to spin it into a television show. Their attempt to write their way into a career has been a success, but it has also become a mission of sorts.

“People say to us: ‘You can’t stop doing this. You have to keep going,’ ” Mr. Gregley said.

Mr. Agustín chimed in: “We think, ‘The N.A.A.C.P. and the neo-Nazis are ticked off at us? We sure are bringing people together.’ ”

Friday, June 8, 2007


A wise Will once said, "The winds of change are blowing." A profound statement, to be sure. Change is everywhere in my life at the moment, and while that is typical of a 23 year old recent college grad, that doesn't mean I won't freak out a little. I don't resist change, and I do get very excited by Big Life Changes (good ones, anyway) like moving to a new city that I love for a job that (I think) will be great, or staying in the same city but moving to a new apartment that (I hope) I will love, or getting a new job that just sounds bigger and better with every phone call.

But there's still that little part of me that hates transition. I love planning, we all know that, but I get anxious when plans fall through. I hate trying to plan in advance when I know something will inevitably come up. That's just me. Thank goodness I have a job, I've signed a contract, and there's no change possible there. Job: Check. I am more than excited (uber-excited? mega-excited? thrilled?) to be starting work at Google (a week from Monday!!!). It's a little crazy though. It's like I'm taking a huge leap into being a grown-up. Suddenly, I'll have a salary, with a bank account holding more money than it has ever seen. I'll have a laptop for work (they actually called to see if I want a Mac or PC. Duh. I'm a Mac lover through and through). I'll have my own apartment, and I'll have a commute (oy). I think the weirdest thing for me is that I'll have a blackberry, which to me is the symbol of Big Grown Up Business Person. What? I don't consider myself technologically backwards or anything, but this is the girl who just got a cell phone that has a camera in it. Like, a few weeks ago. And that was a big, scary decision. Weird, right? I'm going to work at freaking Google, of course I'll have hi-tech stuff. I'm (supposedly) becoming a grown-up; I shouldn't be freaked out about things like upgrading my cell phone to one that can take pictures and video. [note: last night, i wirelessly bluetoothedly sent pictures and video from my phone to my laptop. it was awesome. i probably got more excited than was necessary. definitely.]

The moral of the story: becoming a grown-up is weird, and it'll hit you at random times for seemingly silly reasons, and suddenly you'll feel like you're tricking everyone, like (almost) everyone is "suddenly" treating you like an adult, but you still feel like you're a little kid. If that makes any sense.

I was reading Oh The Places You'll Go to the kids I was babysitting last night, and a few of the lines hit me harder than they had before. I mean, it's Dr. Seuss, right? It's kidstuff. Not really. It's one of the greatest books ever, in my opinion. It definitely means more me now than it did when I was little. It carried a different weight when I graduated from high school. Now, as I start being one of these so-called grown-ups, I find more in this children's book than I did even just a year ago when I graduated from college. I'll post later with my favorite bits and lines and quotes. Ah, Dr. Seuss. More profound than I ever knew.

In apartment news, I looked at some more places...
  1. a way-smaller-than-they-said-it-was studio right down the street, at Telegraph and Stuart. It is above a nail salon, which is kind of cool and kind of strange, and wouldn't have been terrible, at approx. $975 (including all utilities and internet), if it wasn't so itty bitty. And if I could've put a bed in the closet. The closet was this weird, triangular shaped thing, that apparently used to have a murphy bed attached to the door--which rotated 360 degrees. Yeah. It was odd. To get to the back of the closet, you had to go inside the closet and practically close yourself in. I'm a little too claustrophobic to shut myself inside my closet while I'm looking for clothes...and, because the door needed so much circumference to spin around, there wasn't much floorspace in the already-not-so-big closet. The kitchen was kind of odd in layout, but not a definite deterrent. But, the place was just too tiny for picky, "I'll find the perfect place eventually" Kim, so it was a no-go.
  2. a very nice one bedroom in a wonderful location--if you don't have a car. Prime North Berkeley setting, just a few doors down from Chez Panisse, and right behind a Curves (not that I'll need Curves once I'm workin' it out at the Google gym). This neighborhood is safe, has character and lots of cute restaurants and shops, and a farmers market...but unfortunately, parking is a nightmare. I was told there was "easy street parking," but I drove around for 15-20 minutes before finding a spot 3 blocks away, and across a busy street. And this address is apparently right on the border of two permit zones, so if you don't find parking right on your block, it's more difficult to find parking. Stupid parking. So, I said goodbye to the super cute one bedroom for $1075. Sigh.
  3. i was supposed to see another one bedroom hosted by the same open house lady, but when I heard parking was also rough (or $80 a month!) around there, and that the kitchen wasn't so much a room as it was a fridge, sink and stove up against a wall, I decided not to waste my time.
I've got 7 or 8 potential places to look at this weekend...I'm starting to burn out a little. Plus I'm not totally sure about where to pick up the Google shuttle (there may be stops I don't know about), which definitely impacts where I'm going to live. I can't wait until this is over and I've locked down a place. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

JobSearch2007: Complete!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I could not blog yesterday because I was too excited. Yep, I got the job at Google! I should be receiving my FedEx-ed offer letter tomorrow, I've faxed and e-signed my background check info, I sent a nervous email to my future boss about my upcoming 2 week trip to Israel that he did not previously know about, and I've started to seriously get excited. It's been a busy 24 hours. I am also now in ApartmentHunt Mode, though I'm not going to make a whole labeled section just for that. Really. That had crossed my mind. But no, I will just tell you about my apartment hunting as it goes, because really, it's quite fun (for me).

I have looked at 4 places in the last few days, and have another 4 or 5 to view this week.
  1. a very small, but pretty cute 1-bedroom in "lower Rockridge" - this was really more like "upper Oakland," and was at 60th and Telegraph. Not a bad neighborhood by any means, but really just 3 or 4 blocks from where I would ideally like to be. And it was small. And $1100 a month. And small. There was laundry included, and basic utilities as well, but the layout of the place was odd and narrow and rectangular...the living room was just an odd shape. The kitchen was excellent though, and it's not on my "definitely not" list yet.
  2. a small, but sorta cute 1-bedroom in Oakland, at Shattuck and Alcatraz. Definitely not my ideal neighborhood, but at $999 with all utilities included, I had to check it out. The kitchen was WAY too tiny for me (literally barely enough room to open the fridge or oven door), and my suspicions about the neighborhood turned out to be correct. Bars on the windows--no thanks.
  3. a very interesting studio on the North side of the Cal campus, up by LaVal's and Top Dog. Lots of charm, interesting wood detailing, and the kitchen wasn't bad. The walk-in closet wasn't quite big enough to fit a bed though, and I'm pretty firmly set on not having my bed in the main-living-room area. Also, there was a murphy bed that looked really old and not like it worked, and the manager said if it didn't work, they wouldn't fix it because the repairman was too expensive. Not a good sign if you ask me. Too expensive at $1100 a month, and the manager also said the neighbors like to party. I need to live farther from campus.
  4. a nice-ish studio on Dwight, between Dana and Ellsworth. The building is a little funky, but the studio itself was good. There were actually two units in the building, one had a closet that might conceivably fit a bed (score!), but had a shoddy kitchen, and the other had a closet that would be too small, but a nice kitchen. Neither was really worth it to me, though, since they were in the almost $1,000 range.
I'm looking at two more on Thursday, and another two on Saturday...I'm really hoping for one that I'm seeing on Thursday--a one bedroom in a cute area in North Berkeley...we'll see!

Tonight is the Ben Folds concert! Wahoo!

Life is pretty good right now.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Bag. Finally.

Here you go. You can stop holding your breath. Pictures of the bag. Before and After. I still have to add a button (I bought a big, red, star-shaped one. Fun!), but at least I can check this off my list of things to do...enjoy.
front of bag (before)

front of bag (after)

folded bag (before)

folded bag (after)

water bottle for perspective (after)

it looks like it's jumping. awkward.

view from the top (after)

Apologies for the weird formatting. I'm not so great at adding multiple pictures to my posts. Yet.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Oh, A New Blog To Read!

I have a habit of spending lots (too much) time online. It comes from years of working desk jobs wherein I was not expected to do copious amounts of work, or wherein the work that was supposed to take me all day only took a few hours. I have been working these jobs for many, many years. I am working (interning) one of those jobs right now. Upsides: lots of free time to surf the internet, catch up on the NY Times, read blogs, collect recipes and knitting patterns, send e-cards, look for apartments on the ever-addicting Craigslist (whether or not I actually am thinking about moving is irrelevant), chat with other people who are also sitting at their desks with not much to do, etc. Now, you might be thinking, "That sounds like a pretty sweet deal! What the heck are you complaining about?" Ah, my friend, you have not considered the Downsides: boredom. So much boredom. I'm all about spending time online (duh), but after so many hours, there's only so much you can take. So much. So many. Especially if you're in an internship and you're not even really being paid for it. I've actually hit a point where (gasp!) I want more out of my day than internet vegetation! My body and mind crave more than zoning out in front of the computer screen, waiting for a new email to pop into my inbox and scouring the internet for things to keep my brain even vaguely awake. I don't want to become an internet zombie. I try really hard not to regress into the world of videos and celebrity gossip, and I try to read things that will (as much as possible) enrich my mind or contribute to my well-being. See? Progress. I'm making the most of my could-be-wasted time.

The point? The entire reason for this post? I have a new blog to add to my list of things-to-read-at-work-when-I-can't-possibly-read-and-review-another-play: An English Major's Money. I was linked to it from today's Simple Dollar email, and it's (sigh) just-what-I've-been-looking-for-but-haven't-been-actually-looking-for. (sorry--for some reason I'm loving the hyphens today) The English Major is (like me), a recent college grad trying to live frugally and happily while building the foundation for a Good Real Grown-Up Life. While I love The Simple Dollar, its author is just not in the same place (literally and financially) as I am. While only about 5 years older, he lives in (rural, I think) Iowa (where prices are lower and all that), is married with a baby (and one more on the way), and just bought a house. Yeah, not so much with me. His advice is good for "I should know this and remember it in the future" situations, but doesn't always help me in the now--with the exceptions of a few articles on food and free activities. ANYWAY, The English Major has a whole lot of day-to-day type information on how she's attempting to do basically what I'm attempting to do, and her blog is (mostly) personal finance stuff...whereas mine is a mysterious hodgepodge of whatever I think of (hence the Kitchen Sink idea. ah, I am brilliant!). My favorite grouping of posts from TEM has been the posts labeled QuarterLife Crisis. Ah, the QLC, how I love it. I remember when I thought it was a myth; something made up by 20-somethings who just didn't want to grow up, as a sort of joke in response to the midlife crises our parents were going through. As a recent college graduate and 23-year old person, I realize this is just not so. Ladies and Gents, the Quarter-Life Crisis is alive and kicking. In a big way.

So, what now? First off, I'm thinking of revamping my blog. Just a little. Add a few features, maybe reorganize it a little, we'll see. I don't think much will change, actually, but it's something to think about. I want to make some Firm Financial Goals (long-term, medium-term, emergency fund, all that good stuff) once I get the Big Job (offer still pending...keep your fingers crossed for me!), and I want to document my experience so other people (like me, like The English Major) can get and share ideas...if not just to make myself feel better.

For now, I'm going to try to step away from my desk for a bit. There are boxes of old dramaturgical material just begging me to dig through them. What fun. AND I promise, tomorrow I will (finally) upload those pictures of the not-so-new-now knit bag. I've been using it for weeks. I should really show it off.