Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One-Hit Wonders: May 2013 terms inexplicably pulling up this blog...
  • "market capitalization and net asset value" difference
  • jdate "chinese husband"
  • modern love nytimes how long to get answer
  • patoose definition
  • please don't tickle me
  • stump grinding jokes
  • wet and puffy milla
  • what does the story "a handful of dates" suggest about self fulfillment

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

10 Years of The Milla Times

the original homepage
the first post, written 10 years today, read: “blah, blah, blah, testing, testing, testing.” i wrote it a few days before i traveled to London for an internship with radio newscaster the Voice of America. i was a student at USC Annenberg at the time, earning my master’s in journalism. the blog was meant to be part of a bigger website documenting my professional work (pictured above), with the name intending to be an ode to print journalism, not Miller Time. (the writing in all lowercase letters happened because i’m lazy.)

the blog also intended to fulfill a course requirement to document my experience working in London, where i would be staying for six weeks. i figured it would also be a good way to keep family and friends abreast of my time abroad as i planned to do some traveling through Europe with my then-boyfriend, Pablo, after the internship ended. we had been together about three-and-a-half years at that point.

standing on water in Amsterdam (2003)

this was in 2003, a time when blogs were spreading like STDs, as anyone who ever had a thought imagined it was a good idea to share that thought through the tubes of the internet. i was just another one of those people, though i never imagined the thought-sharing would continue for 10 years, or even one, figuring the blog would shut down soon after i returned home. but it kept propelling itself forward, driven by my enjoyment of writing and the egging on of several friends.

it probably would have ceased had it not been for some big news that was captured in my shortest blog entry ever in january 2004, titled The Big News in Six Words: “he cheated. i’m pissed. it’s over.” that kicked off an (arguably) more interesting life for me after the breakup with Pablo, which started with my graduation from USC; then chronicled my first experience with internet dating; my search for full-time employment; a short-lived relationship with my yoga instructor; getting my second dog, Pinko; falling in love with Mo; becoming a homeowner; breaking up with Mo; a big home remodel; getting published in the New York Times; my second experience with internet dating; and various vacations to destinations both domestic and abroad.

sprinkled throughout were posts detailing self-improvement, a few funerals, whining about work and money, annual posts on new year’s resolutions and my birthday, fabulous party pics and conversations with my family. all are searchable in the tags and archives in the right sidebar. to date, i’ve never deleted or rewritten a post, only corrected a few typos, though i’m sure i haven’t found them all. (if you catch a typo, email me about it. seriously.)

30th birthday (2006)

frankly, i’m stunned that i’m sitting here typing out post #476, but i wouldn’t have it any other way. i’m glad the blog happened and i have no intention of ever quitting this exercise in thought-sharing. it’s been one of the highlights of my life, precisely because it has captured so many highlights of my life. it’s better than just having a photo, as here i have not only photos but also internal snapshots of what i was thinking and feeling during those pivotal moments. being able to revisit those places has been a blessing (mostly).

it’s also been a curse, as there are too many posts that annoy the hell out of me. some i can’t read without eye rolls and hands covering my face. those are the ones in which i act like i have it all figured out, where my bravado is out of control and ego is in charge, posts that make me want to throttle myself, where i wonder, “who does this girl think she is?” i imagine i’ll be having the same thoughts in 10 years about posts i’m writing today. and that’s OK.

first photo ever taken on my deck (2008)

i sometimes get asked how i’ve become comfortable sharing so much of myself online. that’s odd for me, because i don’t think i share all that much. only about 10% of my life makes it onto this blog, with the remaining 90% lived privately. trust that there is plenty going on with me right now that i’m not telling you. and what does get shared must pass my standard test in which i ask myself, “would i share this in a room full of my friends?” affirmative answers get posted. (note that i didn’t write a room full of my closest friends, who get more information.)

of course, the internet is not known for being a friendly place, and i’ve been subject to plenty of nasty emails and comments over the years, because sharing your life online means opening yourself up to the judgment of others. that is also OK. i won’t be the type of person who goes on a reality show and then complains about how she was portrayed.

i put myself on display here. i write things that open the door for criticism. yet those same things keep me accountable to myself and others. they force me to think long and hard about them before i hit the Publish button to make sure i understand why i think the way i do. sure, i may change my mind later (and often do), with the blog post acting as a thorny reminder of how wrong i was, but that’s one of the purposes they serve. i need them to learn from, to remind me that i don’t have it all figured out, and to chronicle my evolution as a human being. 

the judgments of strangers are just the cost of doing business. nasty comments always say more about the nature of the internet and the writer than they do about me. they have no impact on my self-esteem because i’ve learned not to give them power. if you are a sensitive person, i recommend having a blog as immersion therapy. it will help you develop a thick skin quickly. the opinions of my close friends and family, however, do impact me. the handful of times i’ve disappointed anyone i care about with what i’ve written here, i’ve listened and tried to repair the damage.

i made some early mistakes about other people’s privacy here, especially when i broke up with Pablo. i was vengeful about his cheating and wrote some nasty things, which he called me on. i’ve learned from that experience and am now much more careful about what i disclose about the men in my life, for my sake and theirs.

oh, the men. no posts garner as much feedback both on and offline than the ones i’ve written about my love life. i am a pretty nosy person, too, so i understand the interest other people have about who’s getting into my pants. i’ve shared as much as i felt comfortable sharing, which is probably a lot less than the whole truth. a girl’s gotta have her secrets.

there have certainly been short-lived relationships and affairs left unchronicled, but they are not any more gripping than anyone else’s short-lived relationships and affairs. in my estimation, my walk through love has been (below?) average, with the typical assorted and sordid joys, heartaches, triumphs, foolishness, missteps, nonsense and unrequited crushes. if i’ve learned anything along the way, it’s that i don’t know anything. being single at 36 is evidence of this.

come on baby, light my fire.
35th birthday (2011)

my own personal high/low lights of the past 10 years include:
  • if there is anything i would urge all of you to read, either again or for the first time, it’s my posts on attending the Landmark Forum (read from the bottom up), an intensive, three-day, self-help seminar that i failed. i’m happy with the way i covered this experience and think the writing does a good job demonstrating my personality and writing style. the Landmark entries often come up in google searches and have generated the greatest amount of emails from strangers, who often share their own spooky experiences with me about their participation in the Forum. 
  • i also receive a lot of emails about the post on Lan Vo, a psychic i once saw when i vacationed in Hawaii. similar to the Landmark emails, people share their own experiences with her. this one comes up a lot in Google hits as well.  
  • the nastiest comment i ever received on a post, which was the only comment i’ve ever deleted, was on this post that discussed my grief over my ex-boyfriend’s murder. it read something to the effect of “i’m surprised you’re capable of feeling anything at all for another person, you selfish little bitch!” (related: i love the internet!) the post included his full name so it came up on google searches and it didn’t seem right for such a comment to appear alongside what was essentially my eulogy for him, as his friends were finding it. this same troll left nasty comments on other posts as well. i eventually blocked her IP address from replying to anything (only block i’ve ever made) and haven’t heard from her since.  
  • about three years ago, i lost the comments from the first seven years of the blog. this happened when the comments provider (Haloscan) i used to rely on prior to enabling Blogger’s comments (which weren’t an option in 2003), went under, taking all its comments with it. if i regret anything in the past 10 years of blogging, it’s that i didn’t save those comments.
  • when i first purchased my house, i submitted an essay about my decision to buy to a since-defunct LA Times real estate blog called LA Land. in short, it was a big disaster that included lots of nasty comments (since lost because of the Haloscan issue noted above). still, it was a great exercise in skin-thickening, and i’m pleased to get the last laugh as none of the commentators’ predictions that i would be in foreclosure have come to pass.
  • i once had my biggest blog fan show up on my doorstep, which sounds way creepier than it actually ended up being. (hi, Juanus in Nebraska!) i think i looked at him as curiously as he looked at me, puzzled to why anyone who didn’t know me personally would read this thing. of course, i’m grateful that there are a few who do, though my web metrics show that most of you are my friends and family in California. yet i also see that i have a regular reader in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and one who works for Saba Software in Redwood City. just know that i’m watching you watching me. not creepy at all, Internet. 
finally, a million thanks to you, dear reader, whoever you be and wherever you are. i couldn’t do this without you. actually, i could but it’s funner because you’re a part of it. special shoutouts to my parents, who’ve allowed me to repost our conversations here at their expense; Mo the architect, who’s reading this in Seattle and was always supportive of my writing, sometimes at his expense; my friends on Facebook, where most of the comments in response to blog posts now appear, making it look like i have no readers whatsoever here; my Haiku Wednesdays family; blogger Heather Armstrong of, who’s been a great inspiration; and, of course, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which made this all possible.

i raise my glass to the next 10 years. i hope you will remain a part of them.

original About Me section (click to enlarge)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013


if you are my friend on Facebook, which i encourage you to be (but send me a note with your friend request if we don’t know each other in real life, otherwise you’ll fall into subscriber category), you may have seen me post a few OKStupid Awards that showcase the best of the worst of my experiences with this internet dating experiment i started earlier this year.

it’s been almost six months since i joined the site, having made a new year’s resolution to get out and date more. in those months, i have received around 300 messages. i don’t know if this is a lot or a little, so the inclusion of the number is not meant as a brag nor a complaint. i’m guessing that in a place as big as Los Angeles for a woman my age, it’s an average amount. to date, i have initiated contact with zero men, replied to maybe 25 who’ve contacted me first, and gone on four dates.

in short, it’s not going very well. i’m not really sure how to make it better, nor am i sure that i want to try. everything about it feels unnatural to me, even though i realize that in today’s day and age, online dating is as ubiquitous as Starbucks. everyone goes there for a fill because it’s convenient despite the fact that the product is shit. i say this with complete awareness that i make up a part of the product.

my friends tell me not to give up. the messages from douche bags and idiots are just the cost of doing business, they say. a friend’s sister-in-law’s manicurist’s hairdresser’s half-cousin’s barber’s plumber met her husband this way, i’ve been told. don’t get discouraged. he’s out there! every bad date brings you a date closer to the good date when you finally meet him. giving up ensures failure. keep at it, keep at it!

before i continue, i want to emphasize that not every single message i’ve received has been ridiculous. i know there are decent guys on these sites, my friends among them, and i don’t think i’m attracting more idiots than the average girl. the overwhelming majority of messages are innocuous — mostly of the “how, hi are you” variety — and from seemingly normal guys.

i have noticed that a good chunk of the messages have been from men who are either an Aries, a creative type or black. i’m good with everything but the Aries, which is known to clash with my sign. i definitely like the creative types, though i prefer ones who are more established than aspiring, and i’m generally open to all races (though closed to most religions). here’s an example of a great opening message to prove that they do actually exist:

when i have replied, the guys usually ask for a date very quickly, which i refuse, saying i’m a slow mover. i do this because a) i am a slow mover with this stuff; and b) if i wait long enough and keep the messages coming, the guy will usually disqualify himself by saying something overly sexual or stupid, which spares me from needing to sit through a bad date only to find out what the internet already knows — that it would never work.

the other scenario that happens quite frequently is that i’ll begin messaging with someone, and it will be going fine, with us doing the resume exchange where we discuss standard details like our hometowns, families and jobs, and then, without reason or warning, i’ll lose total interest in the exchange and quit responding. this generally happens when i sense that they are about to ask for a date.

i know it’s more me than them, but it’s a little them, too. because for me to be moved to action, to spend some of my very limited and always precious free time primping for and then enduring an awkward blind date with a stranger, i need a compelling reason that goes beyond just an opportunity to have a conversation with a new friend. i have old friends i don’t see enough. i’m not looking to add to that pile.

as i’ve noted before, i’m running this operation entirely on instincts and, most of the time, my instincts have told me to just walk away, so i have. but there have been a handful of times when my instincts have said, “what’s the harm of one drink?” admittedly, this usually happens after a long stretch of being holed up at home and working nonstop while eating packaged food and wearing yoga pants covered in dog hair. but if that’s what it takes to make a date happen, who am i to judge? so far, it’s happened four times, none of which resulted in a second date. (good job, instincts!)
  1. the tech guy/writer: this one was a great starter date. i didn’t run out of the bar screaming, so i considered it a success. he was plenty nice and smart, resembled his profile, and we had a decent chat over two drinks. but ultimately there were no sparky sparks so we hugged goodbye and wished each other well.

  2. the former wall street journal reporter (or so he said): obviously, his career was a big draw for me, as was the fact that his witty messages arrived largely free of grammatical errors. i had high hopes for this one, but he showed up smelling like marijuana and mentioned in the first hour that he had been arrested before, noting that “the jail in west hollywood was much nicer than the one in new york.” sigh.

  3. the neuroscientist: leave it to the scientist to manufacture the chemistry. this guy was super smart, funny, cute, engaging and a great listener, and i was certain we would have another date, but, alas, he never called and my one message to him went unanswered. i can’t say it didn’t sting a bit, and i’ll never know why he vanished. my assumption is that other variables were at play at the same time i was (e.g., other girls), but he could have just thought i was ugly. through him, however, i learned a very important lesson about this internet business: not only will i have to sit through lousy dates that go nowhere, but also great dates that go nowhere. awesome!

  4. the smart bodybuilder: this one was the science experiment that burned the lab down. he hit all the check boxes on paper: 6'4", jewish boy from LA, harvard degree, pursued two PhDs, lived in europe, and that bodybuilder thing made me curious. we met at a country club, which should have been my first red flag, but i’m into “trying new things” like a good internet dater, so i didn’t protest. another flag came when he mentioned his daughter for the first time, who was at the club’s daycare and would i like to meet her? this came at the end of the hourlong date, a time in which he never made eye contact with me and basically talked into his meaty shoulder, which convinced me he had Asperger syndrome.

    i declined politely, saying that i didn’t sense a love connection so i would be on my way. when i got home, i looked him up on facebook after hearing his surname at some point during the date and hey now, i had been on a date with a married man. exciting! naturally, i shot off a quick message calling him a “dick.” he wrote back saying his wife knew all about me and that they had had “several long-term, meaningful relationships with girls from Cupid.” this would have been nice to know BEFORE THE DATE. 
i could stay mad about the last one but it’s just too damn good to waste a grudge on. i’m quite happy to have it in my Horror Dating Stories Repertoire. imagine how much duller my complaints about online dating would be if i didn’t have this gem to throw out when the eye rolls started? it’s always been about the story, my whole life.

so where does the story go now? clearly, internet dating is failing me as much as i’m failing it. maybe it could work if i had a better attitude about it, as i know plenty of people who’ve met their partners this way. i’m just not sure that this is how i’m going to meet my partner. 

yet still, my bad attitude and i are desirous of love — that deep, meaningful, cloying type of love with butterflies and rainbows and dilated pupils and a long life spent together making each other alternately miserable and happy. i’ll stop short of saying i deserve it, because we all deserve it. so instead i’ll admit that i want it.

so i did the thing that i’ve done every other time i’ve wanted something in this world: i asked for it.

i sat down and had a long talk with the Powers That Be — be they buddha, allah, einstein, jesus, the universe, moses, dalai lama or bob marley. (to my areligious yet spirtual self, they are all the same anyway.) i commended them on all the funny jokes they’ve been playing on me before kindly asking them to stop already and instead offer me the thing i really want.

i told them that i’d stop, too — stop trying too hard to drive my love life. i’d put away the list and set my natural willfulness aside to make room for whatever is intended for me; i’d throw my hands up in surrender and focus on keeping the faith that life will take care of me in the way it always has before. surprise me,”
i said, knowing that they would anyway. bring me what i really need instead of what i think i want,” i asked, but make it right, make it long-lasting and make me happy.”

i felt better immediately — lighter, freer, less panicked and burdened. i may have even done a happy jig while listening to Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. it may have included jazz hands at one point (but only briefly). this is not to say that my love problem has been solved and i’m currently dating the man of my dreams, as i’m still dating no one right now, but at least i’m not preoccupied by it anymore.

i’ve used this set-it-and-forget-it approach with many other desires in my life, with things as simple as needing to find a parking space to more complex matters such as being published in The New York Times. i figure this everlasting love business is somewhere in the middle.

so now there’s nothing left for me to do but wait for that tall, dark, handsome stranger with soccer thighs to drop out of the sky and onto my doorstep, no doubt wrapped in a big red bow. or maybe he’ll start out as a thumbnail on OKStupid and magically hit all the right notes, prompting a date and a romantic walk on the beach. perhaps it will be someone i already know but haven’t seen in that way before or someone i don’t know who sees me in that way already. or maybe i’ll stay single for a few more years before some scenario i haven’t thought up yet plays itself out.

however it happens, it doesn’t matter. i just need to have faith that it will happen, on its own terms, not mine. and if it never does, i will be sad and disappointed and ultimately OK.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

One-Hit Wonders: April 2013 terms inexplicably pulling up this blog...
  • dating site self summary
  • maya lin oregon
  • adult italy
  • grandfathering on house side setback house
  • my neighbors, my yard noise
  • "head * unflushed toilet"
  • picture of guy falling out of tree