Finding your people

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on life and especially life back in Seattle.  As mentioned before, I moved back to Seattle over a year ago and recently started the whole online dating thing to try and meet new people. What I didn’t realize was that this experience would remind me of just how luck I am to have all of my friends in my life and how luck I am to have people who are so supportive of every decision I’ve made so far. That being said, I’ve been having lots of conversations with people about the friends in my life and what we do on a regular basis. Talking about it and thinking about it, I feel like if you had talked to me about it five or six years ago, I probably wouldn’t think that what I do now is really that cool.

I remember when I was younger, I felt the need to be doing the most social things and I felt that I needed to be cool. But that being said, nowadays, what we’re doing is all that I really care about. I don’t care if it’s really that interesting or if it’s that cool because it makes me happy. At this point in time, I’ve seen so many people do things for the ‘gram’ and for posting all over social media which really kind of makes things very different. I feel like things that I’m doing with my friends and family should really just be for me and us to enjoy. It shouldn’t be for other people’s viewing pleasure.  While I may actually post it on social media, it’s less about trying to show I’m cool but rather just showing the fun things that are happening in my life.

When I think about it all, I’ve realized that I’ve found my people. I found the people that I can show up to brunch with to go over the awesome books that we’ve read.  That I can have brunch surrounded by amazing people who love to read as much as I do. I’ve found the people I can sit and watch trashy television with on a regular basis.  I’ve found the people that I can text every awkward moment that happens in my life. The people who appreciate the awkward spellings of my name, the people who I can celebrate every win with. The people who will help me swipe through the online dating profiles. I’ve found the people who will give me so much crap for how terrible my fantasy football team is. The people that I can legitimately cry to without explaining why I’m crying. I have found the people where I can tell them one thing and no questions asked, they will defend me and be supportive.

I feel so honored and lucky to meet so many amazing people in my life. I know that I have a tendency to rant and rave about how awesome my friends are but sometimes, I just feel like I need to put it out there in the universe.  Because sometimes, I just don’t think there’s enough time in the world to call each and every single one of them to tell them how much I adore them.

Station F – Paris

So if you don’t know, I work in the tech industry and specifically with startups. It’s been an awesome experience and I have been able to visit places that I never thought I would be able to ever go in my entire life. The main reason why I was going to Paris for this trip was to visit our team that sits in Paris but also to visit Station F.

If you don’t know, Station F is one of the largest startup spaces in France and it is actually in an old train repair/maintenance building. It is a space for enterprises, startups, accelerators, venture capitalists and other companies to work together to help grow the startup ecosystem in France.  They went through and renovated the building over the last year or so and it is beautiful.

We took the metro over to Station F and met up with our team to get the our of the facility. Luckily, we were going to do our meetings there so I got to work in a really awesome space all day which is better than sitting in an actual office all day.

I would say this space is one of the most impressive coworking spaces I have ever seen.  There’s so much to say about the right interior touches that can make all the difference.  Station F is super open, they’ve made some interesting design choices such as fake shipping containers (maybe they’re real) as conference rooms which actually don’t have tables and chairs but rather beanbags. They have a huge space for events and theater style seating, a coffee shop, fun chairs, lots of light and just overall fun personality and colors everywhere you look.

We did take a meeting in one of the shipping containers and I may or may not have gotten stuck on a beanbag chair.  These things are not good for the old.

We enjoyed a full day of meetings and surprisingly enough, I felt super motivated just by being in that space and being surrounded by all these exciting companies working on changing the world and the future of the tech industry.  Halfway through the day, we made our way out to get lunch at a really delicious meat/butcher/burger place that was absolutely amazing.  I had a little trouble ordering but luckily my teammates helped me out with the ordering since my French is lacking.

After going through our full day of work, we realized that we had stayed way too long in Station F and ended up getting locked in which made for quite the end of day excitement.  When we were able to finally find security to let us out, we decided it was time for dinner and decided to go get Korean food as one does in France…

Wandering Paris at night

When we were done with the Eiffel Tower, we started our trek back to the hotel.  It was decently uneventful but the city on a Sunday night was relatively quiet.  It could have been because it was still the tail-end of the holiday season and there wasn’t anything major going on.  People were probably still out and about celebrating the holidays, it was winter but regardless it was incredibly quiet and serene around the entire city.

At one point, we ended up stumbling along a street of designer stores filled to the brim with crazy window displays and light displays.  It was so beautiful and so bright, felt a little bit like I was still wandering Vegas or NYC.  It was wonderful to see but definitely a little aggressive for a late night trek. We decided to walk along there just to check out all the items that we can never afford, especially considering we were surrounded by stores like Dior and Chanel.

That’s what one thing that has always been interesting to me. The amount of designer stores and labels in Paris that are the coolest things to visit are just so baffling to me. At no point in my life will I ever feel like I want to own something designer because I would be terrified of ruining it. I mean, I am a decently messy person and I drop my food on a regular basis so knowing that I would own something super expensive freaks me out. I appreciate all the people who are able to handle owning expensive things but let’s be honest, I will probably lose it or I will end up destroying it on accident.

When we finally got to the end of that street, we eventually found our way back to our hotel and had to walk by a consulate. I know it sounds strange, but I felt incredibly safe with having the armed guards about three blocks down from our hotel. It was terrifying to walk by them but knowing that if anything were to happen, they were there.  But at the same time, it was really unnerving because it made me feel slightly like there was a target in that area. Luckily, nothing happened and it ended up being a pretty great evening.

We got to the hotel, went our separate ways and I settled in for the night by watching some old school TV shows since everything else was in French.  It was a great start to my first night in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower – 10 years in the making

If you’ve been reading my adventures for awhile now, you know that I first visited Paris in 2008 on my first ever trip to Europe. That trip to Paris was more than just an adventure but an eye opening experience on how much more of the world I needed to see.  I loved that trip, but ended up being relatively unimpressed with Paris. I think that I had it all hyped up in my head that it was going to be the most beautiful place on earth and people would be so wonderfully lovely.  I had all these ideas in my head of what the experience would look like, almost similar to how Carrie felt in Sex and the City when she moved there.  It was nothing like that. That being said, I still enjoyed Paris for what it was and the food was fantastic.

During our trip there, it was super windy and we had one day that we were planning on going to the Eiffel Tower and going to the top to see the entire city. For whatever reason, the weather was terrible and they closed off the decks so we couldn’t go. I remember sitting in the park looking at the Eiffel Tower and wondering what it would have been like to actually take the elevator ride up to the top of such an iconic structure. But there wasn’t ever a really good time for us to go back and I left Paris without going to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

This time, I wanted to make it happen.  It didn’t matter that it was the middle of winter. It didn’t matter that I was wearing about 4 layers of clothing but had left my gloves at home.  It didn’t matter that it was mildly foggy outside. I was going to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and no one was going to stop me. Luckily, Lauren was down to go so after we were done eating, we started our trek toward the Eiffel Tower and bought our tickets.

We waited in the line which was surprisingly busy for late night on a Sunday, then made our way up the stairs and to the elevator.

One of my goals when seeing the Eiffel Tower has been to be there while it is lit up but also to be there when the twinkling happens. I’m sure there’s some special phrase for what it is called but I love calling it twinkling because it sounds magical. As we were going up the elevators, I looked out though the windows and watched the twinkling happened and it was like the inner child in me died of happiness for a brief moment.  Then was revived and I wanted to run around the entire deck just to see the view.

Overall, this was such a great experience and no part of me is disappointed in the experience. I know that it was overly hyped in my head and it managed to meet expectations. The view from the deck was absolutely unbelievable and breathtaking, even at night and with the fog.  There was this romantic feel to the city and a mystery that seemed to surround Paris from that view point. It was by far one of the best ways to start my Paris trip.

When we were done, we made our way down the elevators and started making our way back to our hotel.

Crazy Rich Asians – My perspective

This will probably end up being a bit more of a personal post than I’m used to putting out there but here it goes.

I finally saw Crazy Rich Asians a few days ago.  I actually read the book awhile ago before I knew it was going to become a movie and I wasn’t actually the biggest fan of the book.  It felt like a typical rom-com that you could find anywhere else but it was a quick and easy read so I finished it.  I didn’t think too much about the book following the completion but when I found out there was a movie, I was curious. I wasn’t necessarily excited but I was curious.  Then I heard that it was a predominantly all Asian cast and that’s when everything changed.

As you’re well aware, I grew up in Idaho. I didn’t grow up surrounded by a huge Asian community and I found that I definitely took some of the traits from the people I choose to surround myself with. I didn’t grow up with a huge Asian influence and I eventually found myself walking the line between trying to fit in at school while trying to maintain my Chinese traditions at home. It wasn’t easy but it definitely made me who I am today.  When I applied for college and a few leadership programs, I realized that I definitely learned how to be adaptable to any environment that I am in and am basically a chameleon. But in the sense that I had to do it to fit in wherever I go. But to be honest, I never really belonged. I was always a little to American when I went to Asia and I was always too Asian while I was in America. My food choices, my values, my priorities were always just a little off dependent on where I was.

Seeing Crazy Rich Asians wasn’t necessarily the highlight of my weekend when I went to go see it.  And to be honest, it wasn’t the most impressive of movies to me when it comes to the story line. It felt like any other rom-com that you would see in theaters. But what stood out to me and what made me emotional was the fact that I was watching people who grew up like me. Rachel Chu (the main character) was someone who grew up in America while trying to maintain her Chinese heritage and then didn’t really fit in when she met Nick Young’s family in Singapore.

I very distinctly remember two instances in Asia where it was obvious I didn’t fit. I was discriminated against in Taiwan because I didn’t look full Taiwanese and it was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve experienced.  As someone who could understand what people were saying, there’s not a lot you can do when it’s obvious you don’t fit it.  The second time was when I was in the Singapore airport.  I was super excited to see my friends and yelled in excitement which is more than what you would expect for a standard Asian female since I am exceptionally loud and animated.  I remember feeling like all of the energy had been stripped from me when I realized that the entire airport was staring at me and I was obviously, in their eyes, not from there.

But on the flip side, in the States, I’ve watched my family get made fun of for their accents. I’ve listened to comments about my eyes, my food, my traditions, my overall existence as an Asian. While I’ve found some amazing people to surround myself with, it’s always been obvious I’m a little different.  Even Asians here have made comments about my accent when I speak Chinese or my lack of awareness of certain things.

That being said, here I was sitting in popular movie theater full of people watching actors go through similar experiences as me. And I could relate, I could understand.

In the end, it was amazing to watch a movie that I could actually relate to.  I found characters that I could actually see myself in. I could see the standard struggles of trying to fit in, of listening to the blunt feedback from people, of never really being accepted.  It was emotional for me because it was one of the first movies I could actually relate to from a cultural perspective and it was so emotional but wonderful at the same time.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it.  Even if you hate rom-coms, it’ll provide you a new perspective and it’s a beautifully done movie.  Check it out, let me know what you think!

Wandering the Champs Elysees

After meeting up with Lauren, we made our way out into the city itself and decided to start wandering toward the Champs Elysees.  Given that it had been just over 10 years since I had been in Paris, I felt like I wanted to see Paris with a fresh set of eyes.  Seeing this place as an adult verses seeing it as a kid in college makes it very different. When I was in Paris the first time around, I had hardly any money and we were struggling to figure out where we were going to stay while we in Paris.  My friends and I were running low on funds after three weeks in Italy and the person we were supposed to stay with in Paris was backing out of letting us stay with him.  That trip, we almost booked overnight trains so we could guarantee we had places to sleep for the remainder of our trip.

This time around, I was able to actually focus on the world around me and Paris in general. I didn’t have this lingering dark cloud about where I would be sleeping that night or whether I would be living off of bread and cheese (which is how the last four days of the previous trip had ended).

We took a walk through the Champs Elysees down to the Arc de Triomphe and decided to stop for food at a small cafe.  We got a seat by the window and ordered our dinner.  I decided for the croque de madame for dinner.  I love the croque de madame because that fried egg makes all the world of difference. I’m glad that I had someone with me who could speak French because she was able to help me with the ordering of food and we had a super sassy waiter who was friendly but had a little extra sass. My friend was able to sass him back and it made for a really entertaining experience, plus I think he thought we were entertaining which was great.

After dinner, I got this fancy pistachio cream cake that was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had in my entire life.  The pistachio had been whipped into almost a pudding like texture on this super flakey crust and I pretty much scarfed all of it down without talking.  It was so good, not too sweet and very light.

I would say that one of the best things about that meal, outside of the delicious food in general, was the fact that it was one of the most relaxing meals ever. People take eating so much more seriously there than they do where I am.  I’m so used to eating as quickly as possible without much talking so that I can get back to work. We ended up spending about 2 hours there enjoying some beverages, food and dessert. No one around us was a in rush and it was wonderful.

When we were finally fat and happy, we decided that it was time to go see the Eiffel Tower all lit up.

Charles de Gaulle to Paris

Once I deplaned at the airport, I made my way out to the main area.  I was officially starting the last week of my trip and the work travel portion of my trip which meant that my traveling would change just slightly.

I didn’t do any research coming to Paris so I wasn’t sure if I was able to use Uber and had was approached by a few people telling me that I would get fined if I used an Uber and I had to take a taxi.  Then they tried to get me out to the taxi line and I got uncomfortable.  So instead I told them I wasn’t looking for an Uber and I just walked away and up the stairs only to make my way back downstairs to another exit where I promptly climbed into a taxi.

What’s so fascinating to me about taxi’s is that the drivers know the cities so well.  You give them an address and they are able to decipher exactly where they need to be or at least how to get there within a block or two.  I cannot imagine knowing a city that well. Granted, I might know Seattle that well but purely based off the food places that I love and using them as landmarks. I had booked a relatively new hotel called Amastan Paris that was near the Champs Elysees so we started our long journey into the city center.

My taxi driver was able to find the hotel even though it took a little bit of time but we got there eventually.  I wandered into the hotel and started the check in process. The hotel is one of the more adorable boutique hotels that I’ve been too.  They did a really good job with the decor in the lobby and in the rooms with muted colors and minimalistic lines.  I actually booked this hotel because I had purchased the Amastan x Away special edition carry on a few months earlier and I had this dream of being able to take a photo with my fancy suitcase in the hotel. But since I was traveling for two weeks before, I didn’t want to carry a suitcase around with me the entire time so that dream is still waiting to be realized.

As I walked up to the reception desk, they knew exactly who I was.  While I was checking in, I realized that I was one of two people staying at the hotel that day.  The other person who was staying at Amastan was my coworker who had gotten in the day before. I have to say that the service at the hotel was wonderful.  I don’t know if it is because there were only two of us staying at the hotel, but regardless it was great.  After checking in, they walked me up to my hotel room and showed me how to use some of the amenities.  Since it’s a relatively newer hotel, I’m actually really pleased that they did that because I was get confused with some of the newer technology they put in the hotels.

When I was done settling in, I made my way down the stairs in preparation to meet up with my friend for dinner and some wandering.

Bristol to Paris via Amsterdam

After getting ready, I made my way over to a friends hotel and then we caught a taxi over to the Avon George for the wedding.  It was the most wonderful experience to see my friends get married and do such a great small celebration with them. We also had the most awesome chocolate dessert where it came as a giant hollow ball and then the waiter would pour a hot caramel over the top so that you can could break into the ball.  It was amazing and so incredibly delicious.

The one really cool thing about Avon George is that the ballroom we were hanging out in had this great view of the largest bridge in Bristol.  Unfortunately, they were re-doing some of the outside of the building so there was scaffolding blocking the bridge.  But you could climb out onto the scaffolding to see it and it was beautiful.

As the night went on, it got to a point where I needed to head back to my hotel so that I could repack my life to get ready for the work portion of my trip.  I caught a taxi back and then made my way back to my room.  The next morning, I woke up super early and caught a cab to the Bristol airport (which is decently far from the center of the city). The thing about the Bristol airport is that it is a decent sized airport but they don’t do a very good job of sharing when you need to be at your gate and where your gate is.  I ended up pacing the airport and the eventually hunkering down in front of a board waiting for them to announce my gate for my flight to Amsterdam.

They ended up announcing my flight about 10 minutes before we were supposed to board so I ended up running to my gate and then we were delayed slightly since they announced so late. We finally boarded the plane and then I made my way to Amsterdam. There aren’t any direct flights from Bristol to Paris so I had to make a stop in Amsterdam before I could finally start my work week.

I got to Amsterdam, hung out in the lounge for a bit and then eventually made my way to Paris where I ended up at Charles de Gaulle, my least favorite airport of all time….

Respecting women

Recently, I have started online dating.  I started this because I decided that I wanted to put myself out there, especially given that I’m not new to Seattle and I’ve come back to a community of people I love.  I mean, when you’re surrounded by all these people you’ve known for over 10 years; it’s a lot harder to meet new people (romantically or not) unless of course it’s through work. So I decided to try this out and see how it goes.

Interestingly enough, this also happened to be around the same time that a lot of information has been coming out around people at work regarding women not being respected or treated like they should be.  This includes inappropriate things being said, inappropriate behavior and just overall not respecting women and their roles.

I recently sat on a panel at work for a bunch of middle school and high school females talking about what it’s like to be a woman in a predominantly male industry.  Given that I come from manufacturing and tech, it was an interesting panel to sit and share my experiences with a bunch of girls who are going to be the future. That same week, I had one last meeting with one of my mentees talking about how my perspective on how I got to where I am today and being taken seriously, especially as a non-technical employee and a female.

What I’ve realized is that over the last year, I have become more sure of myself and more confident in fighting the misogyny. I had an experience in 2016 where my manager… MY MANAGER told me that I was going to be removed from a supplier relationship because I couldn’t talk football or relate to the leadership team since I didn’t drink.  It was the hardest thing to hear that because I am not well versed in a sport and because I have mild health issues with alcohol, that was justification for not working with a supplier. My other teammate who was male was never told this and he doesn’t care about football or drinking either.

So now, I am more confident to stand up for myself at work and in relationships.  I recently realized just how much more confident I was after sitting on those panels and then going on a date with someone who questioned my reasoning for not wanting to do something. I understand that it may be difficult for some people to wrap their head around certain things but to question me on whether I want to do something that triggers me, means that the guy put his needs/wants over mine. It wasn’t a matter of trying to understand why I didn’t want to do it or why I have made the decision to not partake but rather the question was “well have you tried it?” and “I mean, do you think you’ll want to later?”

I’ve officially decided that what I want in my life is to feel confident enough to stand up for myself in all situations.  I want to help out as many people as I can learn from my experiences so that they don’t go through the same thing. I hate the idea that sometimes when I travel or walk home at night, I have to take precautions that other people don’t have to take.  It breaks my heart that there are girls growing up today that are automatically learning behaviors to protect themselves from things they shouldn’t have to worry about.  We shouldn’t have to worry about being stared at while walking down the street, we shouldn’t have to worry about being grabbed at or harassed.  And we need to all ban together to support each other.  We need to stop judging each other but rather looking out for each other and being there for each other. With that, today is the start of a new era for me. I will never let fear prevent me from standing up for myself or others.