February 2008 Archives

Wonderful date night

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This past Saturday, Dav organized the most wonderful date night. Part celebration that we were back together after my trip, and part because there was a nice romantic event we wanted to go to. The best aspect for me was that Dav planned it all. He started by giving me 2 choices for dinner. I chose Aziza, which Dav later told me was rated as one of the most romantic restaurants. Indeed...the decor, service, and food were amazing. The food proportions were perfect. The salad we shared as an appetizer was my favorite. Yummy drinks too (which we had as dessert!).

Dav also took me shopping beforehand to get a new outfit to wear for the evening. It was a store that had all sorts of things, including latex dresses. I tried a few that were fantastic, but of such high quality and detail that the price was enough to pay rent, and I'd had a mishap the one time I wore a latex shirt,* so we passed. It was pretty funny to have had Tesla with us running around in that store. The outfit I got was not outrageous and I loved wearing it at the event - anything Dav gets for me makes me 10x happier than what I buy for myself.

So it was a great date - dinner & fun, but most importantly delivered completely by my hot husband. He arranged babysitting too!

Of course, we paid dearly the next early morning when our darlingly baby, who had a full night's rest, was ready for the day at 6:30. Here is a video of that morning...Tesla playing on our bed (on us) as we try to rest, but she has a way of waking us up :) Note her crazy morning hair silhouette.

* the mishap was I wore a simple latex t-shirt once. My first and only time. After a night out with Dav, I came home, and being the inexperienced latex-wearer, I happily hugged my cats. Immediately, a huge gash opened caused by a tiny claw. Duh! Completely unwearable in an instant. Sigh.

Revolution - Good Crew & Hope

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Two revolutions came to my attention recently so I want to share.

First, via OtoRevo (Sound Revolution), there is a cute duo called Good Crew. They participated in a contest on the OtoREvo site run by Columbia and powered by Movable Type where folks submitted their work, and users/fans voted online. Good Crew won! They have a video, and here is mine from when they played in person at the Six Apart party :) They are very cute! And the video is quite hilarious.

Second, is Hope Revolution. It's simple and inspiring, and cute too!

The good stuff

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I'm fully adjusted to being back from Tokyo. Tesla too is back to normal, after a few toddler tantrums that dumbfounded both Dav and I. I chalked it up to a delayed reaction to my absence; like she didn't really notice I was gone since daddy and granny entertained her, but once I came home, she realized I had, gasp, not been 100% for her!

Personally, there's a lot going on. We're leaving for a month off to Buenos Aires soon. I'm catching up from my Japan trip, and wrapping up stuff at work. I'm also committed to various social events that makes my current life a bit hectic.

But, I am taking the time to enjoy being home - with my baby and my husband. They rock. And as much as leaving them is hard, reuniting is sooooooooooooo sweet.

gargle/looming EP

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gargle cd.jpg

As some of you know, when Tesla was in my belly, we called her Gargle, as that was the first nickname we received, given by my dad. [As a side note, I want to link to when Gargle became a "girl"...It's quite weird to think that we had no idea who Tesla would be, and now that she is a full part of our family, she's just so, you know, Tesla!]

To my delight, when I went to Bullets to meet with Mieko, Tatsuo, and Kojo in Tokyo, I found a CD by "gargle" titled "looming EP." Of course, I bought the CD. Turns out it's actually quite nice ambient music.

I love such moments of serendipity. 2 years + later, I bump into this CD. Now those of you who made fun of our nickname "Gargle"? Well, "gargle" plays music!!

Joy, Mieko and Kojo

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The last night in Tokyo, we had a company party. I had about an hour after work until the party, so I ran to meet Joy near her office at Aux Bacchanales. Unfortunately, I pretty much had to cut short her updates to get to the party, but it great seeing Joy since we'd missed each other when she was in SF just a week ago.

Then after the party, I ran off to meet Mieko, Kojo, and Tatsuo, my old NuBalance music group. I hadn't seen them in years. Plus, Kojo-san (who used to DJ as Spacewalker) recently recovered from a major accident, so just to see him smile was amazing.

It means a lot to still have personal connections in Tokyo. And I feel very lucky to have snippets of time with them every so often.

One of the best parts of this trip was having time, finally, to meet up with old friends. Having Tesla the last few times made it impossible to see anyone since I zipped home right after work to be with Tesla. This time, however, I got to meet up, share wonderful meals, and really catch up. Gen is from my old Tokyo moblogging days, and he recently married Mika. A different Mika, worked with me shortly at Six Apart, and we remain friends. I only get to see them in Tokyo, and the timing worked perfectly...so yay!!

お雛様 - Ohinasama

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From Japan, I brought back this wonderful gift from my parents to Tesla. It was a huge box, so I checked it in as luggage and luckily it came through undamaged.

It's Tesla's very own ohinasama for Girl's Day. At first, when my mom told me she wanted to get this for Tesla, I balked because the set is not cheap, and I felt it would be out of place here. But I'm glad my mom convinced me because it does feel special. It's usually set up for around March 3rd, but since we will be away all of March, I decided to put it up immediately so we could enjoy it this year. Obviously Tesla doesn't get it now, but it's so beautiful and I'm happy she will grow up with it. I am proud to be able to show this to friends as part of my culture (although Dav isn't quite sure what to make of it, since the only thing in his mind close to this is as if I were setting up a nativity scene...not at all similar!).

My grandmother sent me my set when we were living in Essex, CT. It was the full-blown 7 level one. I remember loving playing with the dolls and all the detailed dishes and boxes that came with it. But over the years and moving back to Japan, it broke. So my mom wanted to get a new one for T. The new trend - since most houses are small and families want to be practical - is to buy a small set with just the emperor and empress. I do prefer the small size and there are still enough details to make it pretty magnificent.

This was a business trip afterall...

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Lest you think I came to Tokyo just to eat and hang with friends, here are pics from the work part of this trip. Wed ~ Fri were big work days, and I was too busy to post. It usually takes me time to warm up and get into the groove of what I do here, and when I first saw my schedule for Thu (meeting with partner from 10am to 6:30pm, followed by a business dinner) and Friday (all day seminar with customers and general public attendance), I wondered how I'd pull it off. I do interpretation, and got a bit nervous. In reality, however, I have worked with our partner for 4 years now, and enjoy our relationship. And the content of the Friday seminar was familiar by then so I feel things went well overall.

So although it is hard work, these trips leave me energized. I feel I can make a difference and this is one aspect of my job that I love. After 4 years with our partners, we're all in a good spot. Happy partners, great roadmap, and a sense of momentum for 2008.

I've got more pics to post, but that will have to wait until I'm back in SF. I've got to pack so I can head home to see Dav and Tesla. I'm sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo looking forward to that.

Catching up with old friends

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I used to work with Belinda at the IMF, and instantly took a huge liking to her. I love her attitude about everything and she has become a great friend. As I got to know her husband and 2 grown kids, both Dav and I just about fell in love with the whole family. We want raise Tesla exactly like they raised their kids :)

I missed seeing Belinda the last few times here, so before starting my shopping adventure, I went to her house for brunch. I can't believe that from the hours of hanging out in their sunny living room, drinking coffee, eating pancakes, looking at pictures, sharing stories, and updating each other about our lives, I got one single picture ...of the food! Yes, the food was amazing (James is a rockin' chef), but no other pictures? I'm truly embarrassed, but it shows just how relaxed I felt lounging around with them...

My 2nd meal that day was chez Paul and Akiko's. Jet-setter Boris joined too (he's flying to SF now, and we'll have dinner together there). Again, I missed seeing Paul the last few times so wanted to make sure we caught up. He started Tokyo Art Beat. I was particularly delighted to be invited to their newly remodeled flat as I wanted to see their bed enclosed/bookcase. I wasn't disappointed - it's a brilliant design. We had nabe with the most delicious chicken balls ; ) and homemade pear/nut bread.

Paul, Boris, and I met at the First International Moblogging Conference. We had all sorta stumbled across it, yet it turned out that many of those who attended now work in similar circles, and our paths keep crossing. It was one of those gatherings that jump-started a lot. Over dinner, we talked about how much has evolved and changed since then...and how for all of us, 2008 seems like it will be an interesting year of new ideas. I am so happy to have had time with them.

Amazing customer service

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Part of what made my Monday shopping so good was this following experience:

Every time I am in Tokyo, I always try and visit my favorite brand store Kookai because I usually can find at least one thing I want to buy, and there don't seem to be any Kookai stores in the States. There is one store within the Mitsukoshi department store at Ebisu. Last time I was in Tokyo in mid-October, I stopped there between a conference I was at that happened to be next door to Mitsukoshi and dashing home to Tesla. After purchasing a beautiful top for a not so cheap price, I briefly checked out a shoe store, and then left. And when I got home, I didn't have my Kookai purchase. I was sure I left it in a taxi, and gave up hopes of finding it. I was very disappointed.

On Monday, I went back to the place as I always do, and found they are closing! (A new store will open somewhere in Shinjuku in Spring though.) They had very few clothes left but heavily discounted so I got 3 things. As I was paying, I let the sales lady know I was sad to see them go, and also that I came from CA to shop there. She remembered me from last time, and said, "oh yes, and you forgot your last purchase, didn't you?"

I was astounded because a) she remembered me, and b) she knew I lost my purchase. Apparently, I had left it at the shoe store where I was for just a few minutes. Once discovered, she and the shoe store person ran around Mitsukoshi looking for me, but I had left. They tried getting my address from my credit card, but since it's foreign, they couldn't. So they put my shirt in the Lost & Found.

The sales lady kindly called the Lost & Found to see if they still had my shirt which I doubted since it was so long ago. They said they would call my cell phone once retrieved, so I left the store simply happy to know what really happened to my shirt, and that they remembered. That evening I got a call from a Mitsukoshi Customer Service Dept. guy, and he apologized profusely in the way that can be only done in the Japanese language. His tone was as if they had burned down my house. I kept saying it was my fault for forgetting the shirt, but because it had been registered in their Lost & Found yet they couldn't find it, Mitsukoshi wanted to take full responsibility. After explaining how they spent the whole afternoon calling all Kookai stores in Japan in hopes of finding a replacement shirt, it was not possible because it was long out of season. The customer service guy then gently, ever so humbly, wondered if I would be so kind as to accept a reimbursement of the price the shirt. Not only that, he wanted to personally come to my house to apologize and give me the money (this is normal when companies apologize for serious mistakes). In the end, I suggested it would be much easier to simply mail it, and I told him this was the best customer service I'd ever experienced and I absolutely love Mitsukoshi for that.

I'm a life-long customer now!

Yay! It's all good...

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I've done 2 video iSight sessions with daddy and Tesla, and so far so good, Tesla is doing great. Other than a few "mama" calls that were more habit than needy yearning, she's been totally content with daddy-o and granny Marie. On iSight, she smiled, called out to me, and definitely seemed happy seeing me on the computer screen, but wasn't upset that she couldn't touch me or didn't start crying when we said bye-bye. Overall, she's doing just fine...and I couldn't be happier.

iSight is great to have because it allows me to see Tesla giggle and smile. I am now easing into being on my own quite nicely. I had all Monday off to see a few friends and wander around the city to my heart's content. Instead of sprinting to my favorite shops in between work and rushing my parents' to Tesla, I lingered, discovered new stores, and totally enjoyed the city. Plus, it's sale time so I scored with deals. And I fit the clothes! How wonderful to take something from the rack and have it fit perfectly (a very rare experience in the US). I've pretty much stopped wanting to shop in the US unless I really need to, and loathe the experience either because I have Tesla and time is limited with her or it's just too hard to find stuff I like, and malls are utterly boring for me. Combined with not shopping much while I was pregnant and big, my Monday shopping felt like something I hadn't done in years. I am happy to say I accomplished a lot. :)

Michelle kindly gave me Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" book to read which I am loving (it was so nice to have 10 uninterrupted hours to read on the plane). And it is perfect for this trip since in addition to being a regular business trip, this is my first time on my own in a while where I can reflect on "me." I am loving it. Just walking around alone, following my desires, and remembering what it's like to be on my own. Gilbert's book is about her experience doing that, albeit on a more profound level. It's great food-for-thought on this trip.

I can tell I will be super refreshed and will eat up Tesla AND bunny Dav when I get back.

a week apart

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I am about to fly out to Tokyo for work. I will come back next Saturday. I have mixed feelings...it's always refreshing and wonderful to be back "home," but this time I am leaving Tesla with daddy. She has come twice with me on these business trips, but now she's at the age where international travel is not easy.

This will be my first time away from Tesla for more than 12 hours. I will miss her dearly. And I know she looks for me after a long day, calling "maaamaaa" at the front door. Not being able to comfort her will break my heart. But she and daddy are super close and maybe she will adjust fine. And it's about time I re-experience walking around a city as "Mie" and not "mommy." I am looking forward to enjoying my own thoughts!

But I will really really miss her and this is hard.

Being attached to things

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Two things dear to me broke recently.

The cup...I've had since I was 9 years old. I remember exactly where I bought it (Kunitachi). After moving to Japan as a kid, I quickly learned where the "cute" shops were. I used to stop by the local Hello Kitty shop after school, pondering what cute thing I wanted to get. I was mesmerized. I bought that cup because it pleased me so. And because it was one of my own first purchases, it was special. And I've used it ever since. As an adult, it became my cup for brushing my teeth.

Well, the other day it fell and broke. I knew one day it would happen. Dav kindly glued it back together so I can still enjoy it by putting stuff in it. But it is broken.

Even worse is Java Fu. I have never loved a car so much. I've talked to it, and been protective. It symbolizes when I first visited Dav from Japan - and having started our relationship long-distance, every moment together during our short visits is etched in my mind very clearly. Borrowing his car to shop or meet friends in SF was memorable..."wow, here I am visiting the best person in the world, driving around SF in his Java!" And the sounds Java made, how cool it looked with all its geeky, funky stickers, made me fall in love. Java even has a fan.

It's been on decline for years, so much that when I was pregnant, we took a road trip with Java to Mexico expecting to ditch it there. But Java perked up and made it back in a major way even though we broke its back window by accident (and it rained). Later, I backed out wrongly and Java took a hit. We thought of donating Java then but it still drove; you just had to remember to disconnect the battery when parking the car or else it'd go dead. With mommy brain, I kept forgetting that important step enough that I gave up driving Java. When I used our other jeep car, because it felt safer with Tesla, and was hit, Java came to the rescue and provided transportation until we bought our next car. We both dearly wanted Java to have a retirement as a loved art car at Burning Man. However, its suspension no longer allows more than 2 people to ride so it can’t be done. And most recently, the alternator caught on fire when Dav drove it. So...now Java sits on our street, and runs enough so Dav can move it for street cleaning.

It breaks my heart. Dav is going to give Java for donation to NPR, or if it's not even worth that, Java will go to the junkyard soon. I am so sad because Java is a very symbolic car that has such personality, and totally helped us out when we needed it.

So this is for Java and my cup. I will always remember you!

Videos on Kokochiino

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Teetering chair, slipper dance, diaper inspection, and napkin busywork --> at Kokochiino.


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voting day!

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With Tesla on my back.

Potrero Hill fun

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I didn't really notice how family-friendly Potrero Hill is until we had Tesla. We have 3 fun kiddie parks in walking distance, 2 which have indoor gyms full of toys for toddlers, soft flooring for crawling babies, and paint tables for older kids. The gyms get packed on rainy days. I meet other parents at the park, and in general like to hang around as Tesla plays to her heart's delight. I haven't signed up yet, but they have local kiddies classes too.

This is the park on Arkansas street that has a view of the bay.

Below are pictures from a recent rainy day at the Jackson Square gym. Strangely, there were only 2 other kids there; two rambunctious wild boys. When we first entered, Tesla got scared and pretty much crawled up me to be held. Then she decided to ignore them and drove in her favorite car all the while the boys ran around screaming and throwing balls right past her. Man, the parents of those boys were so happy to have a gym where they could let their boys run around!

A Hello from the past

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Way before Kokochi, before I moved to SF to be with Dav, I worked for the International Monetary Fund in Tokyo. It was a small office with about 12 people, half who were hard-core macro-economics folks. I worked there to manage 2 scholarship programs that the I.M.F. ran with funding from the Japanese and Australian governments. The program brought in young government officials from countries transitioning to modern economies, and was established to train these students to help build their countries' economic systems & policies.

I have to say, it was the most amazing job. I got my very own office in Tokyo, pretty much ran the program from start to end during the two years I was there, learned a ton about relationships and a little about how governments work, and I got to travel to places like Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Australia, and Niigata (almost did a trip to Cambodia and Myanmar but SARS broke out). I even had a U.N. passport. Most importanly, I got to meet a phenomenal group of hard-working students. Being able to support them and get to know them was inspiring.

It was during that time that Dav got me hooked on moblogging. But I never told the students that...and always maintained a professional "IMF-ish" face (as best as I could). I wanted to share more about my personal life with these folks, yet didn't.

But yay for blogs and search engines! One of my former students recently found me by chance via Kokochi, and sent me an email. It was a true pleasant surprise from the past, and I'm thrilled. He is currently a Ph.D. student in Prague at the Mathematics and Physics Faculty, Department of Probability and Statistics. Now that makes me proud. From Bobo:

You know today I was looking through web-pages for something (by now I don't remember what was it) and occasionally found out Kokochi. At the first sight I didn't believe that I can see Mie Kennedy. Now I do believe this is you, Ms.Mie.

Thank you , Bobo for reaching out. I look forward to hearing more about your accomplishments. I've been in touch with just a few other former students. I'd love to hear from more...so if any IMF students read this, let me know!

BabyCenter updates

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I found BabyCenter weekly development updates to be fun and useful while pregnant. And I continue to enjoy the updates now that T is a toddler. I'm not the type to read about and compare T to a standardized chart of development, but it's neat to hear about general things that are to be expected, and learn why she is doing certain things.

This week she entered her 19th month. And BabyCenter's blurb is spot on.

New this month: Running out of control This month you're likely to see your toddler continuing to test her locomotion skills. She delights at walking backward, sideways, up and down stairs. And she also wants to run, or at least try to. Her galloping will probably be more enthusiastic than graceful, but that's normal.

She's pretty good at all that. She loves running away from us. Loves to "jump" although she barely gets air and it looks like she's just taking a giant step; we clap with joy and she does it over and over with a huge grin. In terms of skills, she has mastered pulling up her little chair to whatever table or counter to reach up and grab. She can open drawers and take everything out in a matter of seconds. She's learning where things are, and will push her way through my legs when I open the fridge, and she will point at the specific cabinet that has her crackers. She's starting to "put things back" although that does not mean back where they originally were. I've lost a credit card and my bank card twice in a row (they are in the house somewhere...), and we've found Dav's keys in the strangest places. She moves her toys around, so like this morning, I walked into the bathroom and found a giant bunny sitting on the toilet.

She keeps us busy, but it's all quite hilarious!

Snow in Tokyo

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Picture via Eddie.

Brrr. It doesn't snow much in Tokyo, but this year is a bit chilly apparently. I'm slated to go to Tokyo for work in a week. I had sworn I'd never go back to Tokyo in August and February as they are weather-wise the most miserable months. I don't have real winter clothes anymore. I'd use my super warm Burning Man clothes, but obviously that wouldn't be very appropriate : ) It'll be a cold week for me.

What's more on my mind, however, is that I'm leaving Tesla home with daddy. I have never been away from her for more than a day. Tesla loves daddy, and granny will take care of her as usual, so she will have her regular comfort. But still, I'm not sure how it'll be. I'm imagining her yelling, "maaaaamaaaaa" and I'm not there. In reality, I think it's gonna be harder for mama to be away from her baby. On the other hand, I'm very much looking forward to being "free" in Tokyo without having to rush home after work to be with Tesla. I can go out, and I go shopping! Yay!

Firemen - my weakness

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Best lunch ever today! Dav and I met in the neighborhood as we now work a few blocks away from each other. Afterwards, I wanted to get coffee at Philz, so he obliged and walked with me. Just as we entered, 4 firemen walked in too, their truck just outside and them in all their fireman gear. A few of you know that I, uh, have a weak spot for firemen. I've heard this is not rare.

I was sheepish, but after encouragement from Dav, I asked for a photo. They happily accepted (they get such requests a lot, they said) and even let me get in front of their truck. So nice! Just as we lined up, they got a call, and off they zoomed with their sirens and red truck.

I came back to the office grinning : )