My decisions

I’ve had a lot of time recently to think about my life choices. The path I’ve chosen and how I ended up here. The choices I continue to make and the effect they have on the people I share this particular timeline in the cosmos with.

Quite a few people have asked me to explain why I don’t want to have children. Some have even called me selfish. My decision to have or not to have children has nothing to do with anyone except myself and Brian. People don’t seem to believe that we sat down and talked about it at length. More than once. You don’t need to understand why. We have explained it repeatedly, but no matter what we say, it’s never a good enough answer. Well, guess what? This is my life, my journey. Not yours. So you don’t need to understand it. If you have such a problem with it, we don’t need to be friends anymore because that clearly means you don’t care about how I feel.

Never in all my earlier years could I have imagined that making a life decision could have such a polarizing effect on people. There are still people who believe we will change our minds and pop out a kid randomly. No people, we’re not doing that. And please, stop telling me how selfish I am for spending the money and time I would have spent on kids on traveling to awe inspiring places and experiencing all the world has to offer. You made your decision to have kids and I never said a damn thing. I don’t think I’ve ever said anything negative to anyone who has kids, other than please control them when I’m in a nice restaurant. Having a child come up and steal food off your plate as I’m trying to enjoy a romantic night with my husband is just not acceptable in my opinion.

There are those who tell me I’ll be sad and lonely when I’m old. Especially if I’m in a hospital. You know what? Even if you have kids, there’s ZERO guarantee they will actually come visit you. I know my friends will be there if they can be. I plan on getting old with Brian and I’m really not concerned that no one will there when I’m ready to die. That’s definitely not a reason to have kids.

I don’t have the “mother” instinct. I don’t find most kids/toddlers cute. I don’t really know how to act around them. Especially if they are terrorizing. The only thing I really do like is buying baby clothes. Tiny shoes are ADORABLE.🙂

So in the end, your opinion isn’t going to change my mind. It’s made up. I’m happy about it. Please try to be too. Otherwise, I’ll take your kids on an adventure of a lifetime and they’ll ask you for the rest of your life why you don’t do the cool things Aunt Kari does.

Christmas in November????

Alright, I’m going on a rant here, so if you would rather not hear me bitch about how each holiday should have it’s own moment in the sun before we move to the next, please skip this entry.

Brian and I went to Santana Row (henceforth known as Santana Rowboat) on Tuesday for a date night at Rosie McCann’s Irish Pub. We spent 10 minutes driving up the parking structure near Crate & Barrel until we found a spot on the 5th floor. Brian had told me last week that they were doing a Christmas Tree lighting, which I scoffed at, but knew parking would be a disaster. We showed up an hour in advance and were glad we did. SO MANY PEOPLE!!!

Once you’re out of the parking garage, you walk down an alley towards the shops. As we approached there was Christmas music blaring and a sea of people. There to my left was Santa. Fucking SANTA!? It’s November buddy. It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. Maybe you should calm down and come back in 2 weeks.

We walked around the shops for a bit until we found the giant 40ft tree surrounded by girls dressed up in Santa costumes and dancing. Did I also mention the sea of people? Kids running around, parents doing a bad job of parenting, mild chaos everywhere. I was over it in less than 60 seconds. So we headed over the restaurant to see if we could get our table early. Luckily the Christmas crazies don’t eat, so there were plenty of open tables for us to have a beer and a tasty meal.

The servers at Rosie McCann’s were dressed up to. With silly antlers and Santa hats. I realized this is why I don’t go out until December; Christmas starts earlier and earlier every year. Soon it will start in July. You see Christmas stuff in stores the day before Halloween, so why not the day before Independence Day?

Maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy, but I’m really upset that Christmas now starts mid November. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is great, but we don’t need to celebrate it for over a month! I think I know why it’s starting earlier. It’s because we don’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving anymore. It’s not a great day for American history really when you think about how many Native Americans died. So that’s probably why we’re trying to cover up our history with a fat, old, white dude who brings presents for the good kids. (Don’t even get me started on how this has anything to do with Jesus and his birthday)

In the end, I know I can’t have what I want, which is to celebrate one holiday at a time, but I refuse to celebrate Christmas until December. I will put up my decorations like I always have, AFTER Thanksgiving. And no, I don’t want gifts. You know what I want? To spend time with the people I love. It’s not about presents, a silly tree, lights, or anything other than being nice to one another. This is more important than ever in our country right now. I plan on calling my friends and family to let them know how much they mean to me.

Until December, let’s re-focus, shall we? Thanksgiving is next week. Let’s try and remember how lucky we are to be here and thank the Native Americans who helped us survive. Leave the Christmas crap until December, please!?

My thoughts on the state of the world

I struggled a lot on whether or not to write something on the state of the world right now. In the end, I decided writing helps me think and process, so this will ultimately help me.

I know a lot of people are upset. I know a lot of people are happy. Our country is divided, for those of us who voted, 50/50. Yes, I know Hilary won the popular vote, but not by much. Now is not the time to be nit-picky.

I was raised in a family without religion. My dad taught me to question everything, use the scientific method, and always seek out the truth. My mom told me I could be and do anything I wanted. I learned that I should never settle and always strive for better. To be better. To do good. To treat people well. I have always lived my life on these beliefs. I was always nice to everyone. Even the bullies. The people who tried to break me down were sometimes the people I was nicest to. I can’t explain why, but when someone was mean to me, I would try harder to be nice and show compassion.

Fast forward to this week. The thing that upsets me the most is how awful people are. How much hatred there still is. We have been sheltered. Especially here in California. But we are not immune. There are horrible things already happening in San Jose. Now that Trump is our president elect people feel like they can be who they truly are. Racist, sexist, and scary. A student at the San Jose State was attacked for wearing a hijab.

America will never be the “same”. Because of Trump people feel like they can let their ugly out. Trump is scary, but what’s even scarier is that our country is still filled with so much hate. Now they have a voice and power. The answer to this is not just to elect a new president and throw congress out. It’s much harder and will take a lot more time. We have to figure out why people are filled with so much hatred and how to help them find the good.

I have no idea why there is racism or sexism. I see humans. I always have. I always will. What supposedly makes America great is how different we all are. We come from all over. No one is truly American except the Native Americans. Even if you’ve been here for generations. You came from somewhere else. We should be celebrating our differences and learning from each other, not bullying each other and tearing each other down. Just because someone is different doesn’t mean they are bad, it’s means they are different!

Having someone challenge a belief you have means you have to learn something. If you actually listened to them and found out why they felt that way, maybe you could understand them better. Learning = progress. Without it, we’re all just sheeple.

I don’t know what to do now. Spending the next 2 years educating people would be wise. I will be donating money to the causes I believe in. I will be writing to my senators and telling them how I feel. I hope that we can find a way to be nice to each other. I hope we continue to raise our children with the values we claim to be so important. Don’t bully, work hard, be nice to women, don’t be evil. One thing is certain, now that people have the ability to show their true ugly, the America we used to know no longer exists.

 

Work/Life Balance?

Yes, that’s right, I’m going to talk about the big, pink and white polka dotted elephant in the room. Work/Life balance.

I guess it’s a little funny that I’m thinking about this so much on Administrative Professionals Day. The day people are supposed to remember to thank their admins for all the crazy stuff we do.

I’ve talked and worked with many admins over the years. One clear theme seems to always be present; working pretty much constantly. Checking email on your phone, booking travel for an exec on the weekend, staying up to 4am working on presentation for the board of directors, going on “vacation” but still answering emails, stepping out to answer a phone call during a romantic dinner with a partner. The list goes on and on.

And it isn’t just admins. It’s recruiters, bankers, TPMs, teachers, engineers, executives, sales people, PR, marketing. It seems like it’s almost everyone. And everywhere you look, you see people checking their phones, or iwatches. People are engaged, but they’re not really engaged in the world around them. They don’t see things. They take pictures and look at them afterwards trying to remember what it was like to experience something they never actually looked at.

What happened? When did it happen? Why did it happen? And how the hell do we keep it under control? Especially when it begins to effect our health. Not just mental health, but our bodies as well.

I’m not sure if technology is fully to blame here, but it definitely plays a role. It allows us to stay connected. All the time. No matter where we are. Even in Antarctica. Satellite phones and internet were available for a cost. I’m sad to admit, but that was the first time since I gave in and bought a smart phone in 2011 (yes, I waited a LONG time before I gave in) that I disconnected completely. In fact, I don’t have as many pictures as one would think because I took the time to experience what I was doing and actually look at things. I remember what the penguins sounded like because I sat there and listened to them for hours. I can recall the sound of skiing down a mountain in fresh un-tracked powder because I wasn’t recording it. I was living in the moment. I was mentally present.

Once back on land though, I synced my phone immediately and was checking emails, messages, Facebook, etc. Wondering what I missed. Especially for work. I was offline for 13 whole days. The world must have imploded. What did I discover? Nothing. That’s right, absolutely nothing had happened. And if it had, there was nothing I could have done anyways. I was in Antarctica!

Thinking about it now, I know when and where I developed this insistent need to be in constant contact with my job. The company that bought me my first smart phone. I was supporting 6 executives there and they had needs. Busy travel, calendars, errands, and meetings that needed attention on a whim. And so I became available 24 hours a day and I never looked back.

My x husband didn’t seem to care much that I took phone calls any time of day, booked travel on the weekends, and stayed up for 28 hours working on presentations for the board of directors. Sometimes I wish he had said something. Sometimes I wish I had more courage to speak up and say no. Instead it became “the norm” for me. I would go out to lunch with my fellow admins at different companies and it was expected that you would be on your phone the whole time. No one ever said anything and I continued to be on call 24/7. Until one fateful day. I don’t remember much about that day, except it was the first day of my life I actually wished for someone to smash into me in traffic so I could take a break from work. This thought was the beginning of a journey that continues to this day. Finding a way to be good at my job, but also being able to disconnect.

No one seems to disconnect completely anymore. No one. Not the executives, not the engineers, not TPMS, not the bankers, and certainly not the admins. I’m pretty positive, other than analysts and investment bankers, admins are the worst when it comes to disconnecting. We are always on our phones. We check our emails constantly. We check in when we’re “on vacation”. It’s almost like an addiction of sorts. We’re addicted to knowing what’s happening and what needs to get done. Prioritizing, organizing, helping. I’m so guilty of this, but I’m also not extremely proud of it. There are times when it is, in fact, an emergency and a meeting needs to be scheduled for the next day immediately, but most of the time, it can wait until I get into work at 7:30am.

Back in the day before the invent of smart technology, people went home and spent time with their families. They left work at 5 or 6pm and didn’t talk to people until 8am the next morning. Sure, sometimes there was an emergency, but generally speaking, I’m pretty sure everything was ok.

Some people like working all the time. So I’ll shout out to them and say, awesome for you, but that’s not for me. After a bazillion years in the admin role, I’m really over the overtime and the constant checking in. My stress and unhappiness and time spent working has manifested itself in anxiety, eczema, blood pressure, a cyst in my wrist, and re-curring trigger finger (the last two are also caused my incorrect posture and keyboard/mouse setup).

So here I am. I find myself wanting to back out of checking emails constantly, and being able to take real vacation. You know. The one where you go someplace amazing and experience new things… without my phone. I don’t want to constantly be worried about what’s happening at work after I leave. I don’t want to wake up at 2am in a cold sweat hoping everything goes smoothly for some meeting my exec is having the following day. I want to go home and focus on me and my family. My husband, my cats, myself.

But I don’t know that I can without being criticized. So many people seem to think that if you turn off work you’re not doing a good job. I disagree. I think if you have time to recharge, you’ll be able to do a better job when you are actually at work. I know there probably isn’t a job without any overtime, but perhaps there is one that allows me to de-stress more often so my body/mind can go back to it’s equilibrium. Or maybe, just maybe, I can find a better balance in the job I’m currently in.

My boss is pretty adamant about spending time with his family and it does trickle down to his directors/managers. Perhaps I need to take a good, hard look at myself and step back from the attachment I have to always being connected. I’m fairly certain that disconnecting more often will lead to improved work quality as I’ll be able to look at things with more clarity because my brain won’t be overloaded. It’s worth a try because option B is continued health issues and ain’t nobody got time for that.🙂

Drawing to a close – the mighty gyu delivers

As the days in Japan are drawing to close, we spent one final day on the slopes together. We headed back to Kiroro for another epic day of powder skiing thanks to the mighty gyu. The legend of the mighty gyu was started by Jocelyn’s cousin and his mates many many  years ago. They’ve been skiing in this region for over 20 years. Legend has it that if you visit the Gyu bar (the fridge bar) and appease the Gyu by drinking alcohol (double Bailey’s on ice, hot buttered rum, or spiced wine) it will snow. The amount it will snow is positively correlated to the amount of alcohol consumed.

So of course on day one we knew it hadn’t snowed for at least a couple of days, so Jocelyn insisted we head to the Gyu bar (because it has to be the first night of your ski holiday), in order to appease the mighty Gyu. And guess what? It snowed over night. And this continued during our entire holiday. There wasn’t a day when it didn’t snow.

Today was no different. Overnight in Kiroro it snowed 10-12 inches!

 

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Here we are on the chair lift excited about all the snow!

It was amazing today. So much snow!

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During our last run, I needed a break. So I took a short rest in the powder.

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Just unbelievable.

A perfect ending to our time here in Japan. Or at least, for the skiing. The other perfect ending was tonight’s dinner.

Yes my friends, that’s Kobe Waygu beef. Melt in your mouth. Words cannot explain how good it was. The best meat I’ve ever tasted. Ever. Today wins. That is all.

And of course, on our way back, amazing views of Yotei.

Chisenpuri – Backcountry JaPOW!

Today was the day we’ve all been waiting for since the beginning of time. Or at least the time we decided to come to Japan. Backcountry day. Jocelyn, who is the most amazing tour guide in the world, btw… set us up with Daichi San, our backcountry guide. He showed up ahead of schedule at 6:50am and no one was ready, but we still had to decide where we were going. He told us that Mt. Mekunnai mountain had the best conditions, so we loaded up his van and headed out.

We drove for about 45 minutes only to have to turn around because the road was closed.😦 No problem; there was a backup plan. Chisenpuri mountain. An abandoned resort outside of Niseko. Apparently they ran out of money somewhere between 2012-2013 and just left. There’s only one chair lift, but I’m sure it was a super cute resort while it was running. When we showed up it smelled like rotten eggs (AKA sulfur). Hot springs right at the base of the mountain; a friendly reminder that we are, in fact, on a volcano.

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Abandoned chair lift

We put our skins on and headed up with the sun shining.

After about 15 minutes, it started to snow. And then it started to REALLY snow. Layers went back on. It took about an hour to reach the summit (of the chair lift). Took our skins off and skied off into the JaPOW!

It was better than I could have imagined. 6-8 inches. Light, fluffy, marshmellow amazingness! Down we went. Through the trees, off mushroom shaped powder puffs, and into the snowy wonderfulness that was Chisenpuri. Until we reached the random hot springs located halfway up the mountain. Sulfur goodness. Part of me wished we could kick off our skis and have a quick bath.🙂

We hiked back up for another round and another fresh track. 2 more times before stopping at the hot springs for a quick lunch break. Amazing!

 

Falling was no problem as it was soft and fluffy. I had at least one spill when I accidentally went off a small cliff.

Something no one tells you is how solitary back country skiing is. Even though you’re in a group hiking up and skiing down, you don’t really spend any time talking unless you’re stopped. You’re in your own head thinking about whatever happens to be in your mind at that given point. For me, it was a lot of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”. Thinking about what life is really about. Is all this stress I feel most days from my job really worth it? Especially when it’s beginning to manifest itself with various health issues including eczema, anxiety, insomnia, and high blood pressure. I don’t think it is. Life isn’t about work. It’s about experiencing life. People, places, adventures. The problem is these things cost money, so there’s a catch 22. I must work so I can afford these things, but how much work is too much? That’s the question of the hour.

I took many moments to just breathe. Take in the scenery. Watch the snowballs we were causing as we skinning rolling down the mountain. The perfectly white, untouched snow that seemed to go on forever. The snow lightly falling. Nature. It was so incredibly beautiful. DSC04129 After about 5 hours of up and down, we decided to take our final run. It was a little emotional as I thought about having to return to the busy city life of Niseko (which isn’t busy at all).🙂

On our way home, we stopped at an onsen, because that’s what you do when you’re in Japan. Clothes off and into the hot mineral water whilst enjoying beautiful views of the creek running right through it. Sorry no pictures as it’s not allowed, but Jocelyn and I had a relaxing time drinking our Sapporo Classic beers and soaking in the tub.

It was a really amazing day full of fresh snow, great friends, and beauty that I never would have thought. Arigatou gozaimasu Japan!

Kutchan

Yesterday we decided to take a day off and explore Kutchan. Jeremy and I opted to walk and meet Jocelyn and Randy at Kutchan station. 7.8km, or 4.8 miles. We started off and it was cloudy. By the time we reached Niseko (about 10 minutes), it was snowing, but no problem, we had a sidewalk. As the walk continued, however, the sidewalk disappeared and we ended up on the road, which resulted in at least one honk and a couple cars nearly hitting us. It also produced amazing sights, such as this:

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We found a grocery co-op. Very similar to a Walmart. Food, clothes, toys, etc. We also found a casino. First place we have been to where there was smoking. Then we met up with Jocelyn and Randy.

We walked down the main strip and saw some interesting signs and a few tourist shops where I did, in fact, purchase incredibly touristy things.

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After an hour or so, we headed back to Niseko for our massages. Oh yes! At the hotel Alpen, I had a pretty darn decent oil massage for around $70USD. Followed soon thereafter by the best sashimi dinner I’ve ever had. Ever. So tasty. 5 different types of fish. Tuna, flounder, snapper, mackerel, and salmon. OMG! So fresh. So amazing!

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For an “off” day, yesterday was pretty freaking amazing!🙂