me with cats

2017 in review

• Played around in the dirt with an excavator

• Tried sensory deprivation tanks

• Rebuilt fermenters at Cleophus Quealy brewery

• Watched the new Twin Peaks

• Our kayak nearly got toppled by a whale and her baby

• Got retweeted by @georgehtakei

• Many nights in the hot tub with a dram of something delicious

• Survived an FDA inspection

• Ran around drunk in bridal dresses

• Only set the pinball table on fire once

• Quit my job, and became a consultant and went back to school full-time

• Learned how to make chocolate from scratch (starting with roasting the raw beans)

• My cactus shot up a 30-foot stalk and then died

• Played with adorable home robots

• Took Mum to see Book of Mormon

• Found three-armed Pucci shirts

• Harvested fresh hops and promptly brewed beer with them

• Saw an eclipse

• That bottle of Bruichladdich Fies Ile we shared in the middle of the Jura Paps with our backs to the horizontal wind and rain

• Accidentally giving Mike McCready from Pearl Jam my friend’s joke

• Drank a lot of beer

• Ed from Barenaked Ladies sang me happy birthday

• Rode in a stunt plane and did all the flips and barrel rolls

• Wrestled in Jello

• Learned a bit about real cameras

• Changed my middle name

• Dressed up the lawn dinosaur

• Learned 3D printing and laser etching

• Hung out with my statistically significant others

• Bought an Apple Watch

• Went rock climbing in Joshua Tree

• Rode a mechanical bull

• Learned a crap-ton about electronics

• Did a real pull-up

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Current mood: Plain baked potato with salt

Fertility battle is still not going well. I'm currently in the Quantum Period following my third IUI. I had a horrific reaction to all the fertility drugs this time around and found myself for about two weeks in a haze of anger and depression. I'm sick of it.

The best way I can think to describe it: so we drive up to a froofy burger joint up in Marin. As I'm looking over the menu, I realize that every item on there may as well be "Plain Baked Potato with Salt". It didn't matter what I picked, it was all meh, and not even worth bothering with a choice. That's apparently what depression feels like to me: plain baked potato with salt.

Hubby wants to try IVF, but I don't know if I can handle it mentally/physically. I'd be satisfied at this point to give up this whole thing, but that might be a decision for after vacations.

A high school friend I haven't talked to in 20 years found me on linkedin, said hey, you're close by, we should get drinks, only to discover we live in the same city, you know, 2000 mi from where we grew up. And it's been like our friendship picked up right where it left off. Completely amazing!

In the meantime, I have decided that it really and truly is time for me to finish my bachelor's degree so the lack of credentials stops being the thing that can hold me back from promotions. Except I want the classes to start NOW RIGHT NOW. Gotta keep the motivation high for at least another 2 years!

It also cracks me up that I'm presenting the keynote "Chemistry of Beer" to the International Society of Pharmacological Engineers. And I don't have a degree.

me with cats

The waxing of the calendar month

It is go time.

I am finding myself at the Stanford Fertility Clinic more and more frequently now. Appointments can be scheduled with dramatic urgency and with no fucks given to anything else resembling plans. I told my Very-German-Boss that I was going through some “medical stuff” which might require me to disappear from the office with little notice; he merely nodded and told me to take care of myself and try not to stress out.

I am trying very hard not to stress out.

I have been spending a lot of time at home, reading or tinkering with hobbies. I am not pushing myself in the gym anymore to achieve N+1 since last time. The cat has been rediscovering my lap in the same way I’m rediscovering Netflix.

I am letting go of grudges. I am not scolding other departments for not doing their part. I am declining meeting invites that I don’t want to attend. I am shrugging more and emailing from home less. I am taking daily walks at the lunch hour with my more patient coworkers.

I am booking a massage to try and counteract the doubled-dose of hormones I have been prescribed.

I am, honestly, very grateful for the attitude of the Stanford doctors: there are no good luck charms, no strange diets, no rituals, nothing that isn’t grounded by a scientific paper or six. In fact, my doctor removed one medication because of something she had seen disproved just last week. Compare this to the Tribal Knowledge of Internet Forums and even my brief flirtation with Acupuncture where I always feel like I’m not doing enough and whenever things go wrong it has been my own fault.

But the flip side of it is that right now there’s nothing much for me to do. All I can do is take my hormones and try not to stress out.

I am trying very hard not to stress out.
me with cats

Goals and Resolutions

Me? I love resolutions. I love stupid long term goals, even if it something like "laugh at the kitties every day" or "fix my credit". I don't beat myself up if I don't make it, and Jan 1st is just convenient as a time to reset everything.

For 2014:
- Worship the awesome women in my life
I had all the best intentions with this, and then my derby wife basically “dumped” me. There were weeks without contact and then suddenly a barrage of emails with things that just didn’t make any sense to me about what was going on. The more I asked for honesty, the stranger the relationship became. So I finally walked away from it, and we haven’t talked since. I can’t believe that a friendship that seemed that close was suddenly ripped away from me like a bad breakup, but I didn’t have the energy after that to go make friends again.

I feel like my mom and I are drifting farther apart these days too. I know she wants me to have a baby more than anything, and since I can’t, there’s not much to talk about these days as our lives are so different now.

- Read more amazing page-turning fiction
Success! I made it through the MaddAddam trilogy, the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared. I still do read a hell of a lot of non-fiction tho wow.

- Savor and be grateful
I definitely savor. I have no hesitation to see the world I live in as a very sensuous place. I eat amazing food, indulge in crazy good beer and whiskey, put the top down on the car and blast great music as I smell the air around me. I love taking walking mediations, and I adore how my body responds to exercise.

Being purposefully grateful was an interesting challenge tho. I tried in November to list something every day, and I got caught up with getting stuck because I wanted it to be RIGHT, to be MEANINGFUL enough. I wanted to save the GOOD ONES for later. Coincidentally, I also was having a very frustrating month on the trying-to-get-preggers front, so that was probably the absolute worst timing to think about how good I really had it. I almost made it through the month ,but abandoned rather than continue my four-days of reluctant catchup at a time. So: needs work.

- Work with my body instead of getting angry at it
Success! I am learning to recognize what could trigger this anger and am learning to avoid and counteract it. I’m feeling much better about what I can do, and this makes me feel strong and able. I treat this body well instead of punishing it. There has been a lot of work on deep-down values and goals that helps, a lot of navel-gazing to interpret, but I think I’m nearly there on The Big Stuff.

- Opt for experiences over material things
Success! Topher now gets me reservations and tickets as my main gifts (Cirque du Soleil! Two nights in the Human Nest!) and my dad and i now trade Groupons, food, and gift certificates for experiences. My mom had an interesting interpretation of “renewable gifts” and got me a bunch of solar-powered stuff, heh.

It’s been interesting tho, since I’ve been doing all this experimentation on my hormones: I can tell when my profile is completely out of whack, because all I want to do is shop. When the trial-and-error with has gone poorly, I end up with two pairs of new shoes and 10 boxes from Amazon show up on the doorstep.

- And -- what the hell -- nail that 200lb deadlift
Success, in fact, due to the pre-coffee mental math, I accidentally lifted 225lb.

So one day in the gym it was really hot, I was deadlifting 190, and since I had no chalk or straps, I started to feel one hand start to slip from the bar. The smart thing would have been to just let go and take the scolding about dropping the weights. Instead, my instinct let me “catch” that side, and that was just enough to tweak the right side of my back for almost a month. Let that be a lesson to you kids. Anyway, it really made me think about outcome goals (i.e., lift a certain number) vs. process goals (get to the gym and lift three days a week), something I’m still chewing on.

Continuing with the theme that it's useless for me to set resolutions like "Drop 20 pounds", here's what's on the plate for 2015:
- Feel as good as I look
- Look as good as I feel
- Focus on producing rather than consuming
- Be the kind of person who has an advanced degree
- Don't start a thing unless I'm willing to see it through

And I think the theme song for my year shall be Fluke’s “Atom Bomb”
me with cats

2014 in review

- Toured IDEO’s workshops
- Attended a SF Bulls Hockey game
- Went for a joy ride in a glider
- Attended a TEDx
- Gave a talk to artists about Dug
- Saw Leon Panetta
- Drank a bunch of Pliny the Younger
- Accidentally deadlifted 225lb
- Rode some bikes
- Brewed some beer
- Scored the World’s Best Bed
- Found out my right tibia is almost 3mm longer than the left
- Got into a pirate ship battle
- Rode motorbikes (barely)
- Hung out with C-ko
- Sipped a whole lot of whiskey
- Slept in a human nest
- Went to Colorado, saw dinosaur tracks, toured Coors
- Got my sleeve tattoo
- Crashed two charity galas in a gold sequin dress
- Played Metallica pinball with Barenaked Ladies
- Watched the cat have a seizure
- Trained the FDA
- Watched some World Cup
- Lost the hearing in my left ear
- Fell in love with a pinball table I couldn’t have
- Switched to all-grain brewing
- Tried aerial silks
- Drank our way through San Diego
- Climbed Half Dome in a Strawberry Shortcake dress
- Played on a slack line and ate cheesecurds in Wisconsin
- Conquered Chicago tourism
- Turned 38 at Cougar Night
- Build a deck for the new hot tub
- Got my first Agent Provacateur outfit
- Got to see Randall Munroe talk about lassoing a NASA robot
- Cataloged yeast and bacteria at beer school
- Tried fighting with German longsword
- Got two cats a home who had been bugging me at work
- Discovered Evernote
- Visited the NASA centrifuge where my mom was tested
- Tried getting acupuncture (meh.)
- Dressed Dug up like a dragon
- Found real kringle in California
- Enjoyed KURIOS by Cirque du Soleil from the second row
- Got to see John Oliver and John Cleese live
- Hosted my mom and step-father over Thanksgiving
- Sold a bunch of Dug T-shirts
- Saw Stevie Wonder live (omg!)
- Got a unicycle for Christmas
me with cats

(no subject)

In a half-assed attempt to simplify my life, I have been reading lots of French style blogs and people obsessed with French style and their repeated use of je ne sais quoi to explain everything. Somewhere in there, I decided I needed a signature scent.

Which is weird, because I sort of have a signature scent already, and that was the old Victoria's Secret Vanilla Lace body spray. When it disappeared from the stores, I relied on eBay. Maybe it was stashed in drawers, garages, whatever, I didn't care, I'd still take it off their dusty hands. It was cool when people could associate me with my scent, but it wasn't so strong that it was like a police siren announcing my presence in a room.

But at some point recently, I decided maybe I didn't want to smell like a 15-year-old teen wearing a 15-year-old liquid anymore. The hunt was on.

There were department stores, and I don't know how those saleswomen could deal with that job. Even announcing that I was looking for my signature scent (because, you know, customer for life) and stating my preferences (heavy on the vanilla, for daytime use so easy on the musk, and not yet old enough for Chanel No 5), it was still a bombardment rather than a curated approach. I left smelling like *that* woman in the office (you know the one).

There were checking online reviews, making lists, cross-referencing. There started to be the problem of discovering that there were multiple versions of one perfume that were hyped for a year and then were lost forever. I tried to exclude those, but it's hard to predict which ones were "classics" and what I'd be hunting for on eBay again when I'm in my 60s. I was trying not to be swayed by awesome bottle designs and names (Um, hello, Alien by Thierry Mugler). I also didn't really want anything that could be purchased at a drug store or "designed" by a pop singer.

I narrowed it down and ordered those little sampler tubes. I remember as a kid in the 80s having dozens of those things, each barely secured by a tiny plastic hook in a gatefold card that had the actual artwork and description of the Real Thing You Should Buy. The nostalgia was overwhelming when I got my new stash. And even though my list of things to try was very specific, of course, I got a ton of other random samples, with more musk and rose than you can shake a hair curler at.

Several samples were vetoed on first smell. Some won the honor of getting spritzed on before work. Eventually I got to "March Madness" style of wearing a different scent on each wrist and deciding at the end of the day which winner progressed to the next bracket.

I was down to the last two: Candy by Prada and Pour Femme by Dolce and Gabbana.

And yesterday morning, while dressing after an intense deadlifting session, I couldn't find my little tube for the day. I tore everything out of my gym bag, tapped shoes to be sure they were empty, swept my locker multiples times (just to be sure), but alas, all I had was the card and a broken heart.

I had my answer for which bottle I had to buy.
me with cats


When traveling around holiday weekends, it usually makes the airfare wickedly cheaper to stay an extra day or so. Now that my mom has moved out of Wisconsin, it was the first time I felt no guilt spending that extra day back in downtown Chicago instead of with family.

I was fascinated by Chicago throughout my few college years, and even quit school to pursue my goals of combining the music industry with the budding web industry. I did pretty well with said goal, even considering I barely made enough money to live on.

I think I spent just under two years actually living and working in Chicago before moving out to San Francisco. So by that math, I've been on the west coast 7 times longer than my residence in the Windy City.

So why did I feel so many ghosts when I was back there for a mere 24 hours? How could I still remember the street names and buildings of those I had dated, point out the grocery stores where I did the most mundane of errands, still keep the L Map in my head like a tattoo? Oh sure, plenty had changed without me: the new Millennium park was amazing with its reflective bean, hipster bars abounded and men with luscious beards tended them, the corn cob buildings were gone, etc. But the ghosts still raised all the hair on my arms when a set of glass doors slid open at the Field Museum and I was transported back to a drunken curiosity when they did the same at 3am.

("We swear," we slurred to the security guard. "We did not think that was going to happen, we just wanted to put our noses on the glass and look at the T-Rex.")

I am glad to have had Topher with me, whose naturally adventurous mindset took me to some new neighborhoods and restaurants, places with no history for me, so that my brain didn't get stuck in the skipping "what ifs" and "what ever happened tos". But even with the size of that city, it was inevitable I'd end up on a recognizable sidewalk, mentally flooded, and dumb.

Maybe I can't ever move back. I'm scared I'd get stuck as my young adult self, hungry for experiences, desperate for respect, always feeling like I was fighting something. Whereas now, home, there is a sense of enlightenment in my being, that I can grow and be content at the same time.

And hey, besides, the weather is better here.
me with cats

(no subject)

Something is wrong with me. All I want to do right now is shop.

Normally, I'm a minimalist kinda person. I mean, sure, most of my stuff is big and loud, but I usually only have ONE of those particular things. This was a big change from my upbringing: my mom loved the thrill of the sales rack, online ordering and ebay, catalogs of all sorts. For instance, she would develop intricate storage systems: this box has all the red and pink lipsticks, this box for oranges and corals, this box for browns and neutrals.

Me? I have two lipsticks. When one runs out, I replace it with the exact same thing. And they're both out of production, so you'd better believe that it's getting harder as time goes on, yet I still manage. (This place and ebay are amazeballs.)

I've even taken to trying the Project333 approach to my closet, with some success.

But right now, OMG, I want mini skirts and shoes and fun yoga mats and more bikinis and hoodies and crazy strappy shirts and fuckoff Kentucky Derby hats and haaaaaaalp.

Please take my credit card away until I figure out what void I'm trying to fill, here.