avoca-don't you forget about me.

I spent this past weekend with one of the OG besties. So OG in fact that she knew my husband before we even dated. Speaking of my husband, he went backpacking in Yosemite Half Dome with his brosef and brosef’s buds - a real sausage fest.

Day One

This was Tessa’s fourth visit here. Of course, all four times were with me. I am working on a long con to get her to move over here - for the sake of the bay and her curls. After three visits, you’re pretty much all touristed out. So we did the local stuff. Like, found an Avocado Con happening in a tiny food truck area. This was the second annual Avocado Con. The first was an experiment, the second solidified it as a thing. Funnily enough, our first meal at Avocado Con had no avocado. We tried a ramen burger, and it sounds exactly as you’re picturing. The buns were soft ramen. Yes, that happened. With miso flavorings + other goodness, it was a guaranteed good time.

Obviously, we can’t leave without an avocado item - so I brushed off my Texas roots and found fried avocado. Not sure why fried things are such a big deal because it was just fried tempura surrounding a regular avocado.

Next, we drove by the Italian Heritage Festival because like a local, we couldn’t find parking. I know there are plenty of jokes about certain heritage/races showing up to support one another, but in the bay, Y’ALL THE ITALIANS SHOW THE FUCK UP. Every time there is an event down there, it is packed.

We diverted and looked for my most favorite ice cream in the city, Salt & Straw. With how foggy and therefore cold it is in the city, you’d think that we would be more obsessed with coffee over ice cream. I mean, we love our coffee - but ice cream is a thing here. As a local, you are to find your fave and die hard support it. Post ice cream, we did a pit stop at the number one clothing company of my life. My new life goal is to get sponsored by them. I give you, the perfect brand - Vuori. I used to be a fan of Lululemon, but then their shit turned into overpriced trash. Then I tried other cheaper brands and NO. I also tried Athlete, and I’m average on it. But Vuori. Lord, have mercy. Perf. I got Tessa to join the cult with these joggers.

Then, we went to the Museum of 3D Illusions. It was my second time and I must say, I love the hell out of it. It is even better when experienced with someone that will do anything you say LMAO.

You’d think we’d be tired by now, but we walked over to Ghirardelli Square for a little bit of shopping. As usual, we come across a lot of trash when shopping at touristy areas. But sometimes, we find hidden gems. Like, Elizabeth W Redwoods collection. I found this on a random accident in Carmel. The lotion is a whopping $28 so I wavered. I found out it’s made here in SF, so I passed so I can think about how bougie it is to spend that much on a small bottle of lotion. I thought I misremembered the scent, but I came across the same Redwoods lotion and was just floored by how sensual and unisex it is. Wow, I did not mean to write a review for this lotion in the midst of my ode to Tessa - but I’m obsessed. Bonus points that it actually sinks into my skin so I feel it is well worth the money.

Just as I planned, we ended this shopping trip with some alcohol. This was my driest weekend yet because I am the designated driver and two drinks get me sloshed. We each had a cocktail and a dim sum platter as an appetizer. Then, because we like to hop evidently, we left for real dinner - thai. You are not truly experiencing the bay if you do not overindulge in asian cuisine.

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Day Two

We went to wine country lite - Sonoma. You all know Napa with it’s majestic views, bold af wines, and the most expensive tasting “experience” ever. I can’t do Napa without Chris because 1) Chris gets industry discounts and sometimes free tastings and, more importantly, 2) I can’t not drink cabs and will be drunk by the end of the first appointment.

I belong to one wine club, and somehow they are based in Sonoma. They have an adorable garden that members are allowed to sit and split a bottle. We sat and split a bottle of chardonnay. Guys, I drink whites now. The appointment was supposed to be for an easy hour and half, but there was no one at the garden. So, we were there for almost 3 - as lushes do.

I made the mistake of having Chris book a tasting after this bottle split. It is usually fine except I stupidly had steamed mussels for brunch - wtf. This second tasting took it outta me. Cue, tapas and ice cream before we drove back.

After what felt like the longest traffic jam in life, we ended the night with korean fried chicken for dinner because #bayarealiving.

Half Day Three

This was a sad day. I started the day excited because Apple had their conference this day - and I have been selfishly trying to figure out if our war with China will result in me not getting my Apple Watch this year. Then I remembered that Tessa’s flight was at 120pm *tear*. We had a somber brunch - so somber that we didn’t take photos. We played in Paper Source - as basic bitches do - and stopped by the adult version of Claire’s Accessories.

I had to hug her goodbye and keep my shit together because I had a hair appointment soon after.

So many mixed feelings after this visit. I felt like I was “back home” living the good old days where Chris would be out for a work event and we would hang out all weekend. Then I would see the bay and realize that this is not the “old days”. This is my current life. The bay has felt so much like home that I thought I hallucinated my whole Dallas life. But Tessa’s face reminded me that Dallas was real. Then I get moved to tears because I longed for that level of friendship again.

It becomes this mixed bag of “I love it here, I will never leave” combined with “I miss my old life”. It made me think of the harsh truth that is life. You can’t take everyone with you. You make decisions based on what you want to do with your life and who you want in your life. While I miss my old life time and time again, I know that friendship is only one facet. There are others that keep me here.

It still doesn’t erase the pain of being away from my best friends.

Sincerely, Tania

sustainable efforts /// dropps.

I try to live low waste. The trendy hashtag is #zerowaste but that takes too much of my brain power to fully embrace right now. But, you know, I still try to save the planet. You should too – all of you that have children or want children in the future. It’s y’all’s babies that are going to outlive you. So, you’re welcome procreators.

I perused through my trash and found that a big item in my technically-recyclable-but-not-actually-recyclable item is laundry detergent. That and totes-unrecyclable dryer sheets. I don’t know what the normal about of laundry detergent other people go through a month is, but I’m the Laundry Machine Queen. I  wash our bedsheets weekly, towels every three days, comforter every other week, Layla blanket every other week, all the reusable rags used as a way to cut Clorox wipes, and then all workout clothes Chris and I go through – on top of regular life clothes.

It’s a lot.

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Thankfully, Apple + the gov’ment listened in on me griping to myself and gave me an ad for Dropps. It sounded too good to be true but I like to try samples before I troll shitty companies.

Y’all, it’s amaze.

Firstly, it comes in a cardboard box that is fully compostable (hallelujah) and recyclable. The laundry detergent comes in individual, biodegradable, water soluble pods. The pods dissolve into micro-organisms that commonly exist in nature and take roughly a month to fully break down in the ocean/river. The only trash that you have to deal with is the piece of tape that closes the box. #winning

Some people complain it doesn’t work, but I’m thinking that they have old af machines because my husband is smelly af and it works beautifully. When I know something needs extra attention, I put a laundry pod + oxi boost pod together. This is magic. They also prefer washing on cold water as opposed to searing hot – so that also saves energy wasted.

On top of that, they also have dishwashing detergent and regular cleaning solutions for countertops, tile, etc. Dishwashing detergent is perfect. I don’t pre-clean anything and pop that sucker in – BAM. I’m so-so on the cleaning solution. Technically it cleans in that it removes gunk from countertops, but then again, water will also remove gunk from surfaces. I need to test its disinfectant ability. Therefore, the cleaning solution is TBD.

Regarding the dryer sheets, Dropps also has wool balls that you can toss in there. But I don’t know why balls are needed. I pop my comforter in alone to mostly dry and then air dry the rest of the way on top of the bed. You shouldn’t use dryer anything on towels or it’ll reduce its absorbency powers. You also shouldn’t put workout stuff in the dryer because it kills its moisture wicking capabilities. Finally, cotton shrinks in the dryer so that is mostly air dry. So the only thing you need to dry are poly blends - *gag*. If you have polyester clothing then you don’t care about sustainability or your skin so this post is not for you. 

Again, you’re welcome, procreators.

Sincerely, Tania

the beach bum life.

You know how federal rates have dropped recently? 

I swear this relates to the beach.

Anyway, it did. Cue everyone buying all the homes and refinancing. Like, everyone. It affects my life because I work in mortgage lending. It has been so incredibly stressful trying to keep up with everything. There are so many federally regulated dates and rules that can’t be missed, client expectations to manage, and remembering all the steps. On top of this, I am learning underwriting. It’s a lot. On top of that, I felt like my personal life was a mess.

I can talk about this now because my body was somehow able to handle everything. My new measuring stick for stress is that one time I was so overwhelmed, my head started itching all day every day to where I couldn’t sleep. I thought I had lice, but a doc just said I was cray and gave me anti-itch stuff and to calm tf down.

Anyway, my sweet husband noticed my verge of mental breakdown and planned a secret getaway to Kona, Hawaii in July.

We took the 830am flight to Honolulu to transfer to Kona. We have this beautiful hour and a half window during lunchtime, and a 4 minute drive to a baller sushi place from the airport. So we rushed to grab our bags, check it in, and grab an uber to the sushi place. We timed it so, so well guys. We got there as the restaurant opened and finished well before we had to be back. We called the uber and waited. And waited. And waited. He missed the damn exit and it’ll be an additional 8 minutes - so now we’re freaking out. So we called another. He was stuck in traffic. So we walked ahead to meet him. We got him as the flight was about to board. Thankfully, he was pretty quick and dropped us off before boarding time.

We ran to the nearest security check – no TSA. Another one – no TSA. Third one – yes TSA, but the people were complaining about how long they’ve been there. Fourth one – yes TSA and a shorter line. Of course, like a tragic comedy, we were behind a woman with 2 kids and the largest stroller in the world AND a family with a wheelchair that speaks no English. Guys, I was looking online at other flights. Chris had hope and analyzed the situation. He says, “Tania, if we get through this in 10, I’m going to run and I’ll tell them you’re running up so to not close the gate.” 

 I was ready.

We got through and he bolted. He gave me the out to just leisurely jog and meet him when I get there. But I realized he took my bag with my phone and I don’t know where the gate was – LMAO. Are you in tears reading this amount of stress? So I bolted. I kept eye on him and ran after him. Meanwhile, it was a crazy sight for everyone there. Big white guy running with a backpack and my PanAm purse – and then me running after him. I could tell some people were confused and maybe thought I was chasing a guy that stole my bag. To ease society, I started running with a smile on my face and be graceful. I am sure I looked even crazier.

We made it in time. We were even able to get exit rows! But omg were we sweating. And, I was nauseous because I just did a HIIT workout after sushi.

So that was the start of my vacation.

But who gives a fuck because not only was this an impromptu getaway for us, but we were also celebrating my **promotion** - WOOOOTTTTT! 

Day 1

We got there early afternoon and took it easy. Our AirBnB was right next to the ocean. There was a popular tide pool right in front of our balcony where we can feed eels and black crabs. We went to a nearby beach that felt more local-focused and played in the water for half an hour. We grocery shopped for omelet fixings (very important),  gin (even more important), and local papayas (most important). We got dinner to go and chilled the hell out.

Day 2

We drove to Waipio Valley. So we had this Jeep, right? I loved this Jeep. You can only go down the steep mountain with 4-wheel drive, or you must walk it. Somehow, we decided to walk it. When we got down there, we saw a nearby waterfall from afar. Chris found a way to get to the waterfall but things must’ve changed since that secret map and now, because we couldn’t find the proper path. So we pivoted and hit the black sand beach instead. Not sure what was happening that weekend but it felt like it was all locals. We saw a few guys netting for bait, and happy families playing in the little creek that feeds into the ocean. The fish were so joyful, when the tide came in, some came with it wanting to see what was going on at the beach. It was glorious.

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Then, we had to walk back up the mountain. Guys, this was expert level hiking. It was like walking on the stairmaster that never ends. I stopped and lost my spirit a few times, but somehow I made it up, all the while grumpy because it got excessively hot and we haven’t had a real hot meal since 5 hours before. This whole time, an older Asian man and his chubby son were walking up with us. The son looked like he was about to pass out and a few cars offered them a ride - but in true asian fashion, dad declined. Little boy made it and grump walked to their car.

Shortly after, I was sloshed on two caipirinhas and fish tacos.

Day 3

Chris lied to a diving company about our flight. If there are any divers reading, you KNOW that rule about diving and flying. Where if you time it poorly, you will get the bends. You fuck with altitudes and mother nature will put you back in your place. The cure? Spend $20k a person to go into a tank - or die. Chris wanted so badly to see manta rays. I too want to see it, but I would prefer to not die. Our flight was like a solid 16 hours away, but most diving companies won’t take you unless there’s a 24 hour window. i freaked out but I did it, because we found sound math online. But this is not the point of this day. The point is we sat on the bottom of the ocean (only 30+ feet) while manta rays played above us. They gave us flashlights so plankton will hang above us and the rays were not even a foot away from my face. It was incredible.

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On the other side of the coin, it was frightening. Not because of the manta rays. But because you had to be weighed down so that you don’t float off the floor. While in the pit of darkness since this was a night dive. In the cold. With a hose you have to breathe out of. I also had a rental mask so it didn’t fit properly and I had to clear the water out nearly every 5 seconds. I had a true panic attack. I was shaking. I felt stuck. My weights were so heavy I couldn’t move. There was nowhere to go because you can’t leave until it’s over since it’s pitch black below and you can’t get back to the boat alone.

During this amazing show with manta rays, I was forced to learn to control my own thoughts. I didn’t mean to plug hot yoga here but IT’S ALL THANKS TO HOT YOGA. I had practice in ignoring the searing heat and focusing on the poses. I was taught how to feel when your body is in real danger and when it’s just uncomfortable. So yeah, in Hawaii, I learned that I need to add hot yoga back in rotation.  

All in all, this trip was a success. It was incredibly relaxing. I don’t think I’ve been on a domestic vacation that made me forget about work. Until next time, Hawai’i.

Sincerely, Tania


the one.

Remember when you were like 17 and you kept asking people (and Google) how you know when you’re in love? And they always tell you, you’ll know. Infuriating. What kind of a noncommittal answer is that? Then, you knew. And you become the infuriating person that younger generations hate. It’s hard to describe. You don’t want to say “butterflies in your stomach” because this also translates to anxiety for others. Or “you can’t stop thinking about them” because that’s how I am when I’m angry at someone. Or “you can’t imagine life without them” because that is co-dependent as fuck. You just, know.

This works the same about The One. It is a stupid notion to think that there is only one person in the world for you. And that person happens to live in your same country, same state, same city - wtf. Ridic. Chris and I go back and forth on this because The One is an idiotic concept, yet we feel it. Noncommittal answer in the same general vicinity of “you’ll know”.

But it made me think about how people know. And how, a lot of people still don’t know but just follow the timeline.

I once had a friend, who now blocked me because my truth bombs were too real, asked why I married Chris when I didn’t want children. So, I guess she only sees marriage as a way to get children? Is that not a little bit sad to think about? Like, the idea of being in love and wanting to have a life together never occurred to her. It makes me think that love was never really felt. That it’s more about wanting to have children TO love rather than as a product of current love. THAT BUMS ME OUT. It bummed her out too but she later married her second husband so it couldn’t be that much of a bummer.

Then, Chris was asked how he knew I was the one. If someone asked me that, I don’t know if I can answer. It’s phrased in a way that says the end goal is to find The One so you have a measuring stick to review against. Whereas, I started thinking about The One when I found it and was like *insert thinking emoji here*. I mean, how do you know when it’s The One? If the plan was to find the one person to spend forever with, how do you gauge that? And how do you even find anyone? Because if I had an imaginary person to measure against when I was young and didn’t know anything, I would probably never find The One because of the insane standards I set.

So now I know why people marry for more practical reasons like having a partner to grow old with and having children.

Still, that bums me out.

Sincerely, Tania

i am still alive.

I have planned so many things for my blog. I was going to talk about making my own kefir, introduce more plants, show vacation photos (I have flown on like 16 planes since my Utah trip), and show more snippets of my everyday life so that my friends can be updated, and future Tania can peruse when she is old and gray. But every time I start to write something for my blog, I feel put off. I don’t hate the blog, or photography. I just feel like it’s sacred. To this day, I haven’t posted anything about Italy because I feel like that should be my own personal memory. Like sharing it would taint the experience.

Have you guys seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? It’s not particularly good or anything. It’s whimsical travel porn - so I’m into it. There’s a scene where a world renowned photographer decided not to take the photo of an elusive animal because the scene was so great, he wanted to keep it for himself. That’s how I feel about my life.

Last time I blogged, I complained about all of our projects. Well, my projects are still going strong - but there is progress! My front yard is 90% done. Big things are planted but we need to create a planter box for the jasmine I want, and find 4 plants to fill in a pot. Since it is now the end of summer, we might have to finish this next spring lest they die.

We also removed the spa and greenhouse in the back - WOOT! I am most excited/nervous about this. Excited because now there is backyard space. Nervous because we start excavating for the drainage work next week. Hoping the bill does not come to $25k as previously quoted by another company.

During all this, I have been worked to DA BONE in my regular 9-5p. Guys, don’t refinance your home because you might see a mass exodus of bank employees if the government doesn’t calm tf down soon. It’s been a shitshow. I want to complain some more about it except I recently GOT PROMOTED - WOOT! So I might be doing something right.

What else is happening? Oh yes, it is September and I am nowhere near being able to do a pistol squat. I’m also failing at forming true, meaningful friendships. I was initially bummed by this but realized that I had to transfer my energy to doing well at work, working on my home, maintaining my home life, and (obvi) have stellar vacations. We do this a lot, don’t we? Focus on what we failed at instead of shifting to the positives. Like, how I am taking underwriting classes! And - Layla no longer needs $4k worth of surgery to remove a dead skin that bled all over the rug. And - I am rekindling relationships with my sisters. And - after being chunky for 8 months, I am back to normal. And - I cut our trash by half each week. And - I found a cleaning routine that is easily doable every week. And - I have gone a full year without feeling antsy and ready for change. And - no earthquakes in the Bay Area (pray for me). And - no catastrophic fires in the Bay Area (pray for us). And - no pregnancies (pray for the world). Once more and louder for the people in the back — WOOOOOT!

Sincerely, Tania

in a constant state of blue balls.

The Spanish House by the Bay is in a state of disarray.

The bay area was hit with, what they describe as, torrential downpour – and what normal states call “rainy season”. Before I moved, I always hear complaints about California drought. Evidently, I brought the rain with me from Dallas because it rained my first winter here. And it poured my second winter. So idk wtf California was talking about.

Anyway, we are not used to rain. No one. If it starts raining the city while you’re in a car, god bless your soul because you will now die in that car as no one can handle water. Our homes also don’t know what the fuck to do with water.

And here we are.

We have some drainage issues in our little plot of land. Because everyone has water mismanagement issues, it has been the season for contractor gouging. If you are willing to pay the inflated fees, you will also have to wait weeks, if not months, to get them to do work. So we waited it out. It’s finally stopped raining – so much so that there’s another round of fires up north.

Project 1: the yard.

This is a well kept agapanthus plant. Ours did not look this way.

This is a well kept agapanthus plant. Ours did not look this way.

We pulled everything out of the front yard. Everything. Even the insects apparently. There were diseased rose bushes, a damn tree stump, extremely invasive dead roots, and an orgy of agapanthus bush/flowers. It was a hot mess. On top of that, we had a crazy gopher that used our yard as his home.

All that is gone now, because the yard is bare naked.

This was done like months ago, but then we had to wait until the dirt dried up in order to add compost and till the soil. Did you guys know about adding compost and tilling soil? SMH, I didn’t.

Our soil is apparently too basic (lmao) for plants, so we had to bring down the pH level a few notches. So we sacked up and bought something like $300 worth of compost and mixed it all up in our current dirt. This was pounds and pounds of compost. I thought our beds would look silly and overflowing, but the dirt ate it all up. If it weren’t for the smell of the compost, I wouldn’t have known we added anything.

Now, we have to wait until the end of the month for it to settle in before we can plant.  

This is fine. We have a clear timeline for this. We reserve our trees next weekend, and come back for them the weekend after.

This project has a clear projected end time.

Project 2: refinancing.

We locked the house at a crazy rate. The market was psychotic here when we bought. You think we’re silly to buy at a seller’s market. You forget to factor our price range and the amount of broke people in the bay looking for homes in the same range. AND add the lack of available land to build new homes. Every day is a seller’s market. Anyway, we didn’t have time to shop rates. We needed a 3 week close or we wouldn’t have been competitive. So we took what we got, and it’s fucking atrocious. Insult to injury when you realize I work for a bank. SMH.

In order to refinance (and hopefully get cash out to fund the kitchen remodel), we have to:

  1. Plant the yard – cannot complete 100% until we paint the house

  2. Fix the drainage issue – cannot be done until we remove the spa and greenhouse from the back

  3. Patch up some stucco areas – cannot be done until the drainage issue is fixed

  4. Paint the house – cannot be done until we patch up the stucco

 Project 2 now has 4 sub-categories that rely on each other to move forward.

Also, if it starts raining again, everything stops.

Excuse me while I cry.

Sincerely, Tania

meet my plant: maranta lemon-lime prayer

If you follow me via Instagram, I am sorry that you have to witness the pathetic-ness that is my life. It is currently consumed with plants.

I’ve never been much into decorating. Growing up, my most hated chore was dusting. I find that terribly stupid since dust will just settle again the minute you finish. We had a mantle where my parents would place trinkets from travels, and it is the bane of my existence having to dust that bitch. From then on, I have silently followed the cult that is minimalism. It’s difficult, in the most first world way, to decorate minimally. Plus, I never had a home that I knew I would be in more than a year to really start decorating.

But THIS home – as previously stated, I plan to die in this home.

I started looking more into decorating. I still like a clean look, and hate having meaningless trinkets/souvenirs around the house.  Enter: plants. I initially fell in love with the snake plant – low maintenance and grows vertically. But somehow I fell harder for the maranta lemon-lime prayer plant.

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Look at it, it’s such a hot mess. Just splayed all over the edges. Like my hair when air dried, unruly and no structure.

I got this on a whim via Etsy last Thanksgiving. I could not get past how beautiful it is. Since I was a beginner and bought many plants in bulk to fill my home, I didn’t have time to fully pay attention to him. To make matters worse, our winter brought the longest stretch of rain the bay has ever seen. So I didn’t have sunshine to help. Poor thing was dying. In a panic, I started trimming dead leaves and repotted the whole thing. I found the warmest room in the house and made sure it didn’t get hit with direct sunlight – as the leaves get burned that way. The past five months was a battle in just keeping it from not dying. I would even try to feed it – which ended up in burned leaves because the ratio was all wrong. Then one day, I decided to spray it with water. The roots started lifting. So I did it again the next day. And the next. And the next.

Now it’s sprouting babies!

When I first saw these tiny nubs, I actually thought they were little caterpillars. I thought I developed a bug problem. But they are leaf babies!

Guys, he’s happy here!

Proud Mama, Tania

my yearly getaway with my mother-in-law.

I didn’t grow up with the traditional, movie-worthy mother-daughter relationship. We are not the least bit close. She grew up in Indonesia. I grew up in Texas. She was raised around her extended family. I was raised alone as the oldest of four kids. Our entire upbringing is different, and we don’t understand each other at all. My husband is blessed with an incredibly strong headed, independent and supportive mother. Not knowing how to connect with someone who is just trying to love me and include me in their lives and being used to butting heads with my own mother, I did not know how to handle this dynamic. Most of the time, I just stayed quiet and observed.

After three years of marriage, I felt comfortable enough to own up with my mother in law. I am not sure if she saw this as a “finally this girl let’s me in” or a “sweet heavens the ice queen melts” but words cannot express how big of a deal this was to me. My time is my most prized possession. Between a full time job, my marriage, my hobbies, my very important alone time, and my friends, sharing my time is the greatest gift I can give anyone.

We did a duo trip to Chicago last year. We were partly worried about this test trip as we are both devout Introverts. The city was cold, wet and miserable - but I was grateful that we were forced to stay inside and talk to each other. It apparently helped since we made immediate plans for the next year before leaving.

This year, we made it out to the Red Mountain Resort in Utah. 

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I have never stayed in a resort. The closest thing I had to a resort was a cruise, which is still my most terrible vacation ever because I was stuck on a boat surrounded by staff trying to sell me things, junk food, loose children, and rowdy people. But I can get used to an assortment of exercise classes, helpful seminars, healthy meals, and spa on site - sitting right next to Snow Canyon.

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Each day was a race to how much zen I can soak up. We arrived Saturday afternoon to a delicious healthy lunch, stretch-out-your-legs trail hike, barre, and mani/pedi. 

The next day started with a short hike through Snow Canyon. After an accidental tan, we did a foam rolling class before a creepy body treatment involving a vischy shower. I’m sorry to say that I am totes newbie when it comes to spa treatments as I am how-you-say totes cheap-o. I haven’t heard of a vischy shower because body treatments are something I can usually do myself. This was a red clay treatment where they wash you, pat organic, fair-trade red clay danced on by the natives with the tears of direwolves on your person, and proceed to cocoon you on a table in a room that resembles Dexter’s fun-time workspace. Then – GUYS then – she puts a warm towel on my face, presumably because most people love to steam their faces. I am not claustrophobic but it’s a different experience when you’re cocooned in plastic with a warm towel firmly placed on your face, intermittently pushed against for good measure. Then, I get rinsed by a shower with 7 heads. 

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In other circumstances, this story would end in a happy ending. However, it ended up an awkward experience where one half of me was warm with the water while the other half was cold waiting its turn.

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Monday was the last full day at the resort. By this time, I was anxious about going back to work and wanted to make sure I got all the quiet time I can get. Funnily enough, this translated into a morning of exercise. I tried pilates – insert groan here. I always thought pilates was mindless yoga. Because you stretch and hold poses without the inner chakra talk to yoga. But, guys, I learned it was originally meant for boxers to control their core! Who knew?! Thanks to this class, I learned how to hold my head up during sit-ups, v-ups, and general life the right way – after 32 years of living.

I also went to a weight loss seminar that was, thankfully, led by a real MD with full credentials that focuses on fat loss vs. regular weight loss. I learned so much! I am trying to apply this to real life – follow ups on this later. Then, obviously, I ended my day with a facial and massage. In the meantime, I found out Mama Hillin uses La Mer and that I needed to step it up. I haven’t been able to part with my moneys for La Mer, but I found my own skincare system that works best for my skin (so far). In between all this, I was able to sneak in quality hammock reading time. I haven’t been too big on hammocks, because I have lived in cities where it’s so humid, I get damp lying there. But, y’all, I am totes getting a hammock for the backyard.

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Next year’s location is TBD. I am taking suggestions!

Sincerely, Tania

the good old days.

There is a Woody Allen movie called Midnight In Paris that I am obsessed with. Owen Wilson is always playing Owen Wilson, I’m sorry to say, but the rest of the cast is so amazing I kind of forget about the main protagonist. It’s about Paris in the 1920s with names like Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, etc. Since literature was not my strong suit in grade school, what with the whole English second language thing, I could never keep track of the timeline. This whole time, I thought it was just a wonderful fantasy movie of big names. Because there is no way all these greats could be all from the same time period, right? Then I came across a book in my local bookshop in the Ferry Building called The Paris Wife. I don’t know what made me pull it out and read the back, but it showed the same names. It blew my mind learning that those guys really DID hang out together back in the day!

It made me really think about modern life.

While we’re so incredibly lucky to be so connected with affordable travel options, email, and social media I feel kind of sad that we all have to be connected all the time. Modern life is missing necessary mystery, is it not? The circle I mentioned would go to Pamplona to see the bull fights, frequent cafes to meet each other, and write letters. So much was unknown that it made people a bit more interesting. I don’t want to be those people that poops on technology, because I’m a huge fan, but I kind of hate that we all know so much about each other. Like, I know that a friend of mine had gyro for lunch, and another is shopping for a new plant, and another is sipping margaritas in Mexico. I kind of miss the good old days where you learn everything in person. So you meet up for dinner and share all the things that’s happened between now and the last time you saw each other. Having the quiet time in between helps other edit their stories too so you cut a lot of bullshit filler conversations. Doesn’t that make life more interesting? Now I feel like most people are too busy taking photos to have something to show on social media instead of being in the present. Even worse, everyone is so big on transparency and being real that they don’t learn the line between honesty and airing your dirty laundry.

Secondly, I feel a big gap in books in terms of true literature. It doesn’t take much to get published now, so it’s not the lack of options. Remember in grade school when we would read The Great Gatsby, To Kill A Mockingbird, etc? I wonder what authors in our time will jump into literature status to be taught in future schools. Because, I have read a lot of trash. I have fun using my imagination when I read it, but it’s still poorly written. Needless to say The Paris Wife ignited my interest in literature.

Sincerely, Tania

so you think you are ready for marriage.

As I get older and move out of my hometown, I meet many new people. When married women find out you are also married, the conversation changes.  They become bold and share complaints about their husband/life, always in jest but you know the ones that are serious.

Funny how I announced to the world that marriage isn’t for me and I end up being the first married out of my friends. In the dirty south timeline, I married OLD. In west coast timeline, I was a child bride. In both timelines, I have learned that age is just a number. No matter how old you get married, a good 80% of the people I’ve spoken to were not ready to make the jump. It became apparent when I would be asked for advice on how to be more chill, or how to bring things up to their husbands, or if their reaction is appropriate, etc.

I am sure I repaired many a marriage troubles. And I’m happy to help - because I am a firm believer of divorce. More on this later, but the gist: life is too short to stick it out with someone you aren’t 100% invested in.

Society likes to romanticize marriage. Even outside of the wedding, it’s this romantic sharing of life. It can be. But it’s mostly not. I was lucky enough to take the heathen route and half lived with my husband prior to taking the plunge, so we worked out the kinks prior to.

You think you’re ready? Read on.

Do you spend money the same way? This was a duh one for me, but I’ve come to realize it is not the case for everyone. Do you both save? Do you put value on the same things so that ‘splurging’ doesn’t cause a rift? Lots of people make fun when couples have to check in with each other before making large purchases. Single, unmarried folks don’t realize that us married ones promised a life together. We have set plans to be together and have goals on where we want to be. Checking in is a sign of respect. It helps greatly when you value the same things.

What is your life like after the wedding? You’re over here daydreaming about the wedding, planning, scheming. If the wedding happened tomorrow, what is your life like the next day? People get caught up in wedding details. Planning takes time. More importantly, planning distracts you from the humdrum of regular life. You wake up, you go to work, you come back home, you eat dinner, you go to bed, and repeat as directed. Remember that in real life, fun distractions are not the norm.

Look at your partner right now, today. Are you happy with what you’re seeing? Ladies, and potentially some gentlemen, fall in love with the potential. They believe the things the other person says they want to better at, and fall for that pretend person without realizing that’s a completely different person. When you marry someone, you validate him or her as they are. They won’t suddenly turn athletic and get all beefcake. They won’t suddenly become secure and self-assured. What you see is what you get.  If they do change for the better, that’s a happy bonus that probably followed a big lifestyle change – which leads me to my next point.

Are you disciplined enough? Obviously, couples influence one another. After spending so much time together, you’re bound to pick up a few habits. I have yet to see someone level up into better habits. If one person is into lifting weights and the other is a couch potato, more than likely the one lifting weights will ease up, as it’s the easier route. Is this okay with you? I ask because I’ve seen it happen and the one that got influenced down blamed the lazy person for gaining weight when it’s all them.

Do you improve them as a person, and do they improve you? There are those couples (and friends) that stew in hate, complain, or generally be miserable together. I guess if that’s what you’re into, you can be miserable together. Typically, the couples that last (happily, not just in total) help each other be better versions of themselves. Does your partner encourage you to go to cooking classes? Do they help you see the bright side of a terrible event? Are they comfortable calling you out when you’re being a touch too bitchy for your own good? Are you comfortable having someone you love call you out?

Do your roles match up? I once knew a couple where the woman liked to mother, and the man liked to be taken care of. Obviously, this is a perfect match. Your roles in life must match. One of you must be able to take care of the things the other cannot, or just not good at. It can be as simple as one person handling all activities that involve phone calls and field complaints, while the other handles increasing everyone’s credit with timely payments and making sure everyone is alive *ahem*mymarriage*ahem* What do you want out of life? Do you want to be traveling gypsy while he wants to settle down and have kids? This has to match.

Did you fix yourself yet? Don’t look at me like you’re confused. I know all of you have issues. Remember how your father was too busy working so hard to put food on the table so he couldn’t give you the right attention? Did you fix your daddy issues yet? What about you, the one that’s been cheated on multiple times over? Did you drop your insecurity baggage at the door? Or hey you that always hates to be alone for fear of anxiety creeping in? You worked on your self-confidence yet? Because it’s not your partner’s job to make you feel secure – that’s ALL on you. Sure, they’ll help you. But it’s up to you to realize your own shortcomings and help yourself.

Are you ready to be on the same team? This is the HARDEST lesson for every single couple I’ve met to learn. You and your spouse are now a team. It is you two vs. the world. It is not you two + your family + his family vs. the world. It is just you two – and whatever children you might have. The simple lesson is easy: when your family attacks your spouse, you defend your spouse. I know blood ties are important, but when you marry someone, you switched teams. Sorry, your parents did it with you and your other parent. If you can’t handle that, you shouldn’t get married. More importantly though, people forget the details. You do not talk trash about your spouse. Yes, you can complain that your husband is forgetful and your wife keeps nagging on you about hanging the towels. But there are things you should never share with others. You do not talk trash about your spouse to anyone, because the marriage is between you and your partner. You’re on the same damn team. You can talk about how to help them improve whatever it is they’re having trouble with, but you don’t get to put them down in the name of Girl Talk. Full stop.

Is that a lot? I hope so. I learned a lot from being married almost five years, and being with Chris for (smh) 8.5 years – and from listening to every woman on the planet that seems to think I have a face meant for secret keeping.

Sincerely, Tania

too good to be true.

The rain is a piece of work, isn’t it? Almost every weekend since the first of the year has been rained out here in the bay. It’s been that way since I moved west. I keep hearing about the drought crisis, and then I move here and BAM I brought the rain with me from Dallas. The rain has been so bad that we’re having drainage issues - which makes sense given that the area is so used to drought, there is no real structure to move water. This is the current life drama.

I think we’re finally getting a new car soon. We’ve been searching for a fuel efficient SUV for like ever. While I do not drive to work, we do long ass day trips almost every weekend. When it requires an overnight, we’ve had to rent an SUV. We had a brief moment when we wanted a Subaru, then an Alfa Romeo LOLs, then a Jeep, then smh I needed a BMW stat, then back to Subaru. We missed our old Mercedes crossover. I sit inside so calm and soothed, high up off the ground, clean drive, roomy, etc. We keep going back and forth between a luxury SUV or a functional one because of this. A few people suggested the Lexus SUVs, which makes sense. Reliable, I think? I don’t know. I have a hard time paying good money for a Toyota, let alone a Toyota “upgrade”. So here I am huffing and puffing because the new Rav4 makes the most sense. Until I saw this.

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Guys, that’s a Transformer. When it’s quiet in the night, you say a secret prayer and it becomes this.

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True story.

In addition to the car, Chris decided we are totes def buying land in Napa to prep for our retirement life. I was totes def rolling my eyes until he found 5 acres for only $140k on Mount Veeder. I totes def shooed us to visit this past weekend. LOLs it was almost vertical, in the trees, between two creeks. SMH goodbye land dreams. Maybe next time.

Of course, as we drove home, Chris decided to stop by another land listing. It’s more expensive and less land, but the listing mentioned that a 4k square foot home was on it. That’s right. Was. Fires. Ignoring all bad juju, we were drove to see it. It had better open space, but still not enough of a view for us to move forward. Plus, I don’t want a haunted land. I don’t know if anyone died in it (don’t think so), but still don’t want any percentage of being haunted in the future.

All this to say, HELLO AGAIN AND APOLOGIES FOR NOT UPDATING.

Sincerely, Tania

first time returning to dallas.

I returned “home” this past weekend. I say that with quotations because it feels uncomfortable calling it home. I look around and see Dallas and feel that familiar tinge that makes me think of “home” but at the same time feel like an outsider. Everything is familiar: the wide skyline with the reunion tower and triangle building, the flat topography that’s both suffocating and comforting, the bridge that tries so hard to make downtown and south Dallas “happening”, the many gentrified neighborhoods that everyone complains about but also love because that means there are more places to hit. While there are minor changes, everything felt so familiar.

It’s jarring. All my old emotions came back. I felt safe because I know these neighborhoods and have a hard time getting lost. I felt happy because two of my best friends live 5-10 minutes away from my old neighborhood. I felt confident because old landmarks that helped me navigate are still there as my beacon. Why did I move again? My life was so comfortable and secure. I had a tinge of sadness loom over before my heart texted my brain in rescue.

“Tania, do you remember how lonely it was to be physically closer to family but mentally separated? To live alone half the time because Chris’s job took him away? To only have 2 hours in the morning for active things before you’re stuck inside from the heat and humidity? To have one way of getting anywhere, driving? To get looks from Asians and white people alike because of your relationship? To work in a non challenging field because good paying jobs were scarce in the city?”

When I’m in the bay, I long for my friends. When I’m in Dallas, I long for home. I wonder how long until one place becomes my everything. Or maybe that never happens.

I moved from Indonesia when I was 8. While I remember my life in Jakarta, I never felt the same level of comfort. I’ve returned and remember little areas as if I dreamt it, but there’s no real pull. I lived in Dallas for 21 years – all over the metroplex. Do people just slowly forget and move on?

Sincerely, Tania

that time Chris won a tiara.

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You know how the hubs likes to sing? His passion for singing is only rivaled by my passion to have him sing for money. Because, if you’re good at something don’t do it for free, right?

We went to a karaoke competition in the Castro. Are you new to SF neighborhoods? If so, that is the gayborhood - aka the best part of town. It is clean. It is safe. It has manicured lawns. It has freshly painted homes. And it has the best local business puns, like a laundromat called Sit and Spin. And a manicure place called Hand Job. 

It’s my fave because it also has a bougie Indonesian restaurant and a tapas place with killer paella. Yeah, we love this neighborhood. The last Wednesday of the month, a karaoke competition happens. The winner gets $100 - not much, but good motivation/excuse to visit our old haunts. 

We walk in to a semi sparse bar where the host is in drag writing current artists on a spinning wheel. Initially, I panicked because I thought the karaoke contest involves Chris spinning the wheel to choose who to mimic. Names on the wheel include Beyoncé, Arianna Grande, and Madonna. We quietly sat in the corner waiting for things to start, nursing a serviceable Old Fashioned.

Then a man walks up and starts talking to Chris. He points to his wedding band and asks, “I see you have a band. Are you married?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Where is your spouse?”

I sat six inches away shocked that that was questioned. Because who else would he be married to than the girl sitting right next to him? Then I’m like, ah, yes, I am in the wrong crowd.

The man was a bit disappointed to hear he’s married to me. Then quickly recovers and told me how hot my husband is. Realizing that Chris might be a piece of meat, I thought it is in my best interest to not touch him the whole night - keep the mystique up and potentially gain votes. So I kept my hands to myself. 

This is my first time in a gay bar, and it is hella weird to realize that Chris is the star between the two. But I sit back and watch this man randomly work up the courage to kiss Chris’s cheek (after I goaded him to LMAO). My very polite southern gentleman later told me he does not enjoy the feel of beard against his cheek. 

If you haven’t heard Chris sing, you shouldn’t start with him singing Michael Buble. Because it is a panty dropper. Not gonna sugarcoat that. Obviously, I played to the crowd and told him to keep Feeling Good. Obvi, it paid off. He gained many fans, and won the $100 bill. Alongside some Crown. And a tiara. Yep, he won a tiara. Such a proud wife, I am.

Sincerely, Tania

on football.

Today’s thoughts are sponsored by football.

America’s sport, I’m coming for you.

This is the worst sport to watch on TV. They play for a solid minute (if you’re lucky) and then replay the same tackle in different angles for the next ten while talking about their feelings on what they saw. Then they cut to the players chewing on their mouth guards or yelling plays at each other or the coach looking pissed off or the confused souls sitting on the bench. THEN – doritos.

After one minute of playing and 10 minutes of bullshit, we see commercials that paint the perfect picture of those that watch the games. Pizza. Chips. Beer. Actual football happens very little in that 3 hour game.

I die.

But this is not why I hate football.

I hate it because the young men (majority of which are black) are cheered on in a circular stadium where they give each other concussions. What does that remind you of? I’m picturing Roman fights at the Colosseum.

It makes me extra queasy because in any other instance, there is discrimination against black people. But on the football field, when they represent ‘your’ team and your city, they are heralded; on the field when they ‘fight’ with each other for your enjoyment. Then, when they are no good to you anymore, they are forgotten again.

I am always extra sensitive when it comes to racism against black people. I don’t watch a lot of tough black movies because I think, “that can totally be happening right now.” Like Get Out? I haven’t seen, but know the premise and ending. I can see that happening in real life. It might sound extreme to you, but I also think it’s extreme that humans were enslaved because of the color of their skin. Maybe if it were misshapen humans, I can see why they would want to control it – like they do with animals. But real, normal human beings. So I get queasy.

And football makes me queasy. Because the colosseum is all I think about.

But, you know, go cowboys?

Sincerely, Tania

on babies.

We have been talking about babies a lot recently. Believe me, neither one of us have baby fever. What we have is a baby spreadsheet. As a woman, I have an expiration date for that portion of my body. It just so happens to be in the next five years. This past year has been a blur. So for the first time ever, I am making a conscious five year plan. Because apparently babies take 9 months to cook through. So I have to subtract 9 months from my 5 year plan to make this work.

I hesitate to tell anyone in my life I’m thinking about babies because it’s always met with the same positive barrage of questions. Are you pregnant? Are you trying? How many do you want? Just once, I’d like for someone to respond “why do you want one?” I feel like the true test of whether someone is ready is confidently answering why they want one.

To fulfill your life? Yikes, you should probably try to find contentment prior to creating a human.

To make your husband stay? No comment.

Because you’re so full of love you don’t know what to do with it? DING DING DING. 

That’s where I’m at right now. 

Of course, we have stressful and sad moments. But in general, my marriage is strong and we are incredibly happy with each other and our lives. Instead of thinking how stressful it is to pack a kid to take with you to travel, we think how fun it would be to see the world through fresh eyes. Instead of already being annoyed at the thought of arguing with a toddler, we see the potential to raise a truly great human being. So maybe we want a kid.

But it doesn’t mean it’s confirmed.

Because you guys. Kids are expensive. And I am a fan of living within my means. If all Hell breaks loose and we both lost our jobs, we sell the house to pay off all debt and start fresh in a cheaper city. Layla can be left alone at home while we both work. But with a kid? Things change. If we’re both jobless, only one parent can work to make ends meet. The other has to stay with the kid or make enough to afford a sitter. Basically, a comfortable life with a child means we have to maintain our level of income. Which isn’t difficult. I know the chances of both of us getting fired is very slim. But this is why my life never reaches shithole level status. I have a contingency plan.

But a child depends on you.

Yikes.

Sincerely, Tania