Monday, January 22, 2007

The Google Chronicles.

I have officially hit my 3 month mark at Google. And with the recent publicity surrounding the internet juggernaut, I figured now would be a good a time as any to write a little something about my company.


Welcome to the Googleplex. This is where I show up every morning, after a 1 hr+ commute and devote a good portion my life to bettering:

There are lots of things to see and do at Google, and even more to eat. Sometimes I get comfortable, and I think I've seen it all, from the Yellow Brick Road to the individual lap pools. But every now and then, I am caught off-guard:

Thoughts that have crossed my mind since working at this post-collegiate paradise include: 'Why isn't the toilet seat heated?' and 'I'm not really feeling this miso-seared halibut, but yesterday's fennel-encrusted cod, however..'. We're spoiled, I know. But they keep us busy with recruiting and meetings and such:

Sometimes I wish work were closer to home:

But all in all, I am a happy camper.

P.S. Don't be evil.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Wrinkle in Time.

Have been meaning to post, but since I have been working 10+ hours a day this week (on top of 2+ hours of commute time) , I will have to keep this random rant a short one.

I missed my shuttle this morning by one minute because of an eyelash. And as the shuttles are one hour apart, I spent the morning writing at the Tully's on Cole, sipping on a drink I didn't really want (but was surprisingly good).

I have my morning routine down to an art form, snoozing and hibernating under the covers until there is exactly ten minutes left on the clock, at which point I leap out of bed, braving the freezing temperatures of our Victorian shaped igloo, mentally dressing while brushing my teeth. This doesn't leave much room for flexibility, however. Today my contacts had a run in with an intruder, and the occular diplomacy required to resolve the situation tacked on a whopping two minutes to my morning regimen - a 20% increase if you want to get technical. And one of these two minutes resulted in my just missing my 6:50 AM shuttle.

I'm tired of pointing fingers, of making my faithful gas-permeable lenses my scapegoat. I have contact-bashed for the past eleven plus years, and really, I should be thankful for the gift of vision. That being said, damn eye lash.


I'll leave you with a couple of drawings from my impromptu sketchcrawl this past weekend:

Humble beginnings.. It v. much bothers me that I can't draw people. There's so much character, style, and expression that I can never seem to capture. Some rough sketches while at It's A Grind (love the free WiFi!) in Nob Hill. Practice makes perfect, I suppose.

And on to cityscapes and random decor. The first is the somewhat improvised view from Montgomery & California outside the notorious 555 building, while sitting in my car parked by a fire hydrant, waiting for a friend. To SF based I-bankers, this view must be torturous, but to a girl who can't get enough of the city, it's a whimsical dream. The second is the counter at Cafe Puccini in North Beach. I was fascinated by all the colors and the cluttered coziness. I think the beauty of sketching is the improvisation. Perceiving and simplifying.. you're creating an alternate universe of sorts - one on your own terms.


Okay, so this wasn't as short as intended, but still stream-of-consciousness. Am so not going to be able to wake up tomorrow. TGIF. Good night.

Monday, January 8, 2007


Words I like:
* vignette
* kitsch
* je ne sais quoi
* creme brulee
* loo
* tintinabulation
* cantankerous
* bullshit
* byzantine
* sisyphus

Words I hate:
* eczema
* trojan
* lizard
* fo shizzle, or any variation thereof, unless uttered by Snoop Dogg
* booty

Words I mildly dislike but could be convinced either way:
* algorithm
* horticulture
* ambidextrous
* prenatal
* provincial

Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Name Game.

In elementary school, your primary objective is to blend in. Any variations - even in spelling - are considered mutations. You discover life beyond the ways of your family, and what you once thought normal subsequently takes on the form of a quirk. Some embrace these differences at an early age, confident and/or indifferent to the thoughts of those around them while others reconcile these differences by quickly sweeping any vestige of irregularity under the rug. I wish I could say I was the former.

As a first born raised by immigrant parents, I wasn't hip to the cultural happenings of the day. There was no one to tell me how to layer my multi-colored tube socks and no older sibling to turn me on to the NKOTB songs currently in radio rotation. While all the other 5th graders were collectively chanting, "Oh my God, Becky, look.." during recess, I was left wondering who exactly was this Becky, and why didn't I know her? It wasn't until middle school that I learned of the curiously-monikered knight named Mix-A-Lot, and due to circumstance beyond my control, I simply wasn't in the know.

It was at this early age that I discovered the pressures of uniformity, even in name. Growing up, there weren't many others who shared my name, and certainly no one who spelled it with a 'k'. Erica's were rare, and Erika's, non-existent. I hated that 'k'. 'K' represented all that was wrong with the world - from Kryptonite to the Ku Klux Klan. I abhored its obtrusiveness, constantly jutting out and disrupting the otherwise smooth flow of my pen when learning to write my name in cursive. I resented that whenever I would scan the racks of 100+ personalized key chains populated with the likes of Emily’s, Emma’s, and Erin’s, all I could see was one glaring omission: Erika. It's not that I was all that particular. Being the ever tolerant nine-year old, Erica or even Ericka would have made suitable replacements.

To be honest, I’ve grown used to misspelling. With a first and last name like mine, it has become the norm. I am often surprised when people do manage to get one of the two correct, and even some of my closest friends still draft emails addressed to Erica. I don’t bat an eye at c’s, though ck’s may or may not raise an eyebrow. And I don’t mind. Really, I don’t. What I do notice, however, is when someone actually gets it right. And on that occasion when I’m greeted with that 'k', I respond with a smile. With college came self-acceptance - weird became unique, while odd became whimsy. And as for that lifelong battle with 'k', I've come to realize that it's not so bad after all.

This Christmas, I received the best present ever - a gift of truly Jantastic proportions. As I unwrapped the twice-wrapped box and peeled away the double layer of festive tissue paper, there it was. A skate, signed by Michelle Kwan, personally written out to one Erika with a 'k'.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Reinvention Tour.

Reinvention. We do it all the time. It’s a response to a desire for something greater, when you stick your head out the window and scream “I’m mad as hell, and I can’t take it anymore!” Spurred by restlessness, the desperation for something new, we rise up, dust ourselves off, assume new identity, and walk on. There are entire industries centered around this notion - fashion and advertising, for example - and there are even those, like Madonna, who are recognized for being its posterchild. Without it, life would be limiting.

Every year, I ceremoniously compose a set of resolutions. These resolutions are pure theatrics, a whimsical display made in high spirits and even higher hopes. Truth be told, I’m not delusional enough to believe I’ll actually keep said resolutions, but one always needs an outlet and a reason to reinvent. There are the mainstays - to exercise more and to not buy books merely to put impressively on shelf. Then there are the ones by proxy, imposed upon you by parents and relatives: namely, to find myself a husband. And all these resolutions, this wishful thinking of self-improvement, contribute to an overarching theme.

I ran into a friend who is studying fashion design in that cultural hub of hubs, New York City. And as we began to talk shop, we came to the very topic of discussion, of how she likes to reinvent herself every season. Last year was ’savage’, but 2007 was surely to be a more Chloe-esque, pink-lipped and chiffon clad lady. As I listened to her chronicle her various incarnations, I got to thinking about my own transformations. From Bridget Jones neuroticism to Sedaris-like self-deprecation, I found I drew more from literary and cinematic influences. 2004 heralded the year of S.S.S. - a Janerika coined term meaning sleek/sexy/sophisticated. Needless to say, the klutzy and clueless twosome fell quite short of the mark, but had a ball along the way. 2005 was marked by a quiet desperation which led to 2006’s resounding theme of escapism, echoed by books such as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and that all time favorite - Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And by the looks of it, 2007 will be about ‘embrace’.

I spent the beginning of last year quietly recovering, recovering from a traumatic incident that occurred on a remote continent in another hemisphere. And in light of this freak occurrence, no longer was I about to tread helplessly, allowing my life to get caught in the rip tides. And so I returned to the States, quit my job, packed up my bags, and moved on up to the Bay area. “Tabula rasa,” I said.

2006 showed me that there is no such thing as a blank slate, but there does exist potential. I left what I knew and reunited with my best friend, met new roommates, found an amazing community, and watched as my God schooled me in the matters of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. And I was in my element. What I found was my future.

One year and myriad broken resolutions later, I usher in another new year, this time among friends and family past. And in this new year, I emerge happy, determined, and ready to embrace the new and shiny things to come.. at least until I assume my next identity.