Monday, January 15, 2018

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everyone!

When I lived in Alaska during the 5th grade, I attended Fairview elementary school in Anchorage. I can distinctly remember Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, and the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing," as being a part of my grade's curriculum. We were quizzed on memorizing the speech, and sung the song as a chorus in music class. Learning it in school made it feel no different than any other subject, helping me incorporate it into my life just like the A-B-C's or 1-2-3's. No one in school ever had the slightest thoughts even close to second-guessing what we were being taught, or harbored any reluctance on accepting everything as anything but fact, history, and as a truth we should all aspire to live by as young people. It was taught as a norm and that as a country, something America never intended on going backwards on. Instead, it was simply a foundation to grow and embrace as we all live together side-by-side.

And now as an adult, I don't see how the views of so many diverge from what was taught to generations like myself as a standard of kindness, humanity, and being American. Young people today should still be able to live in a world where I Have a Dream and Lift Every Voice and Sing continue to serve as the beacons of hope and progress they've always been, without all the crazy background noise of the current administration and emboldened racists out there.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"That's me. I'm a simple girl with simple taste. 2-inch thick steaks, french fries, and a big salad."

Said by the character Vicky in the movie There's No Business Like Show Business.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

I hope everyone is having a great new year so far.

I just got back from a work trip from San Francisco this morning and have been sleeping all day. Gosh, there's really nothing like being in your own bed at home. I slept like a log and woke up just now feeling disoriented by the sunlight that had disappeared.

Visiting San Francisco for the first time ever was really fun. I only spent three days in town and didn't have too much time to explore, but was still able to walk around and check out a few things here and there. On my second night, there was even an earthquake. It was past 2am and I was lying in my bed at The Fairmont staring directly into my phone. I heard a sudden banging noise at first and thought another room next to mine was having loud sex. But then I felt the rumbling and shaking and thought oh okay this has to be an earthquake. I can't lie and say there wasn't a quick moment of sheer terror wondering, alright, what do I need to do next in this situation? But thankfully, my boss texted me the moment after with instructions on what to do in case of an emergency. I was totally fine after that.

It's so painfully cold here in New York right now. Like, it hurts to be outside. I was happy staying in today to just cook and lounge around after I got back from the airport. Below are some pictures from the morning when my roommate was getting ready to brave the cold. I knocked out soon after she left.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

"For my mother, Norine Elizabeth Dedeaux,
who loved me before I took my first breath.
Every second of my life, she shows me so."

From the dedication page of Jesmyn Ward's book: Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Staying young at heart means adapting to change and technology (accept the fact that progress is unstoppable and that fighting it goes against what humans are as a species, things will never be the way they were so let that register in order for us to work together on building something everyone can prosper from).

But while I once used to be reluctant in accepting certain technologies, it was more about not letting go of the comforts of familiarity instead of a refusal of development. I've changed though. I can't believe I used to fantasize all the time about life as an adult before the Internet and smartphones. It was me completely romanticizing an era before what I thought got complicated with electronic devices. It's like, no. Just stop. Thinking that way does nothing in using technology to your advantage and future. Technological innovation is not going anywhere and will only continue to grow. It's like, stay young. Participate. At least give it a try. It's there to make things easier so be openminded.

One thing I spend a lot of my online time on now is YouTube. Up until this year, I used to mostly store videos on it or just watch music videos and specific content I would search for. But now I use it to watch so much other stuff. I love videos where I can just sit there and not think about anything serious. I want to be a mindless zombie when I'm home, and my discoveries started when I decided to check out the trending videos on YouTube that are constantly rotating. It was my first step into realizing there's so much other stuff to watch. It's like, why not try some of the bazillion other hours of content out there instead of watching the same shit all the time. It's similar to only going to the same websites all the time. I tend to have a habit of doing that, but I have to tell myself to switch it up every now and then.

YouTube's trending videos helped me stay current with what other people were watching, and then lead me to the magic of stuff like slime videos and eating shows. I especially love mukbangs. It's like I'm sitting there having a meal with them and listening to their conversation. I haven't come across any angry eating shows, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy them. Everyone is usually happy in mukbangs (they're stuffing their faces, it's impossible not to be). The people I watch have to be really upbeat and outgoing though. And I can't stand silence, I need to hear them talk about something. I like that energy of them eating and chatting. It's also nice to have on the background when I'm doing other stuff somewhere.

My new outlook on life isn't solely from binge-watching eating shows. All the new technological conveniences that make being in this world a lot easier than before have to be recognized as transforming. Things like my iPhone X and unearthing the true magic of video through YouTube have brought only happiness into my world. The amount of content on YouTube alone is endless. It's like a celebration of the human spirit and creativity. All of our stories are different, and now we can experience new versions of them. We get to learn so much more about one another in ways that were never possible. I mean thinking about the fact that television used to be dominated by a handful of networks seems like such an archaic way of doing things.

We as the people now decide what we want to watch, upload, and share. And it will never go back to the way it used to be.
And you?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"What if we're the bad guys?"

Said by Angie in the show Orange Is the New Black. Season 5, Episode 13.
"I climbed a mountain,
and I turned around."

From the song Landslide by Fleetwood Mac.

Monday, December 25, 2017

"Sometimes our only choices are between shit and shittier but whatever we end up doing, we gotta own it. Somehow find grace in it."

Said by Gloria in the show Orange Is the New Black. Season 5, Episode 8.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

"Seu amor me pegou."

From the song K.O. by Pabllo Vittar.
It's Friday night, and I'm home alone on the couch with a bottle of wine and stretchy pants.

Life is good.
"Youthquake: A significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people."

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2017.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"In Trump Time, the clock moves backward. The feeling that time itself is reversing might be the most unsettling aspect of a most unsettling year."

From the Up Front essay in the December 2017 issue of Vogue titled: A Wrinkle in Time. Written by Brit Bennett.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A hungry appetite and halal food brings people together.

It's all about that sauce, right? Well, that's one of my go-to reasons for patronizing the same halal cart twice. Crowded corners on the streets of New York offer a vast choice of vendors, but you never know how a truck's white sauce might taste. You could love it, think it's okay, or wonder how something that usually brings so much joy could taste so unrelatable.

At my former job near 6th Ave and the 20's in Manhattan, I used to go to this one certain halal food cart a lot. I'm an avid fan of getting the most bang for my buck during lunch breaks, and a $6 order of a densely packed chicken/lamb combo over rice always just seemed worth it. To know that I'd be filling up whatever I felt lacking in that day with tasty halal food was an instant mood elevator. I just loved the food from this guy's cart, especially his white sauce. I'd always order extra of course, and its taste was a perfect match that transported me to a happy place.

I recently started a new job at a temporary space on Wall Street. It's my first time working this south of Manhattan, and it's been interesting commuting to a different area. The walk from the subway station to my office goes though a lot of halal food carts. All this made me start thinking that I need to try some of these places out to find a new favorite spot. I knew it would be a trial and error thing because a lot of the vendors don't have signs differentiating their cooking styles. I singled out this one truck that was the closest to my office as my first attempt, and approached the cart to get me the hearty lunch I was aching for.

When I glanced up and ordered, the guy in the cart looked directly back at me and we both laughed.

The two of us instantly recognized each other from his cart near my old job and couldn't believe it... I was smiling from ear-to-ear the entire time he was explaining the situation in a foreign language to the elderly gentleman next to him he had hired to run the cart. The guy told me that this cart on Wall Street was the second one he owned after the one on 6th Ave. He usually went back and forth between working the two spots. When I asked him how long he'd been in the business, he told me nine years. I was happy for his success, and even more elated about getting to eat his food all the time again. It's like, wow. I had actually thought about this guy's food and white sauce and wondered how I'd ever be able to eat it at a regular basis again. But problem solved, especially since I can see it from my office window.
Phase to phase.

Monday, December 11, 2017

I was just about to leave my apartment for work this morning, literally grabbing my keys off the kitchen counter when I received a text from my mom. "There's been an explosion at the 42nd Street Subway Station," she wrote in Korean. My initial reaction was a muttering of fuck out loud to no one but myself. I did a quick check of the news to see what happened, and also made sure the subways were still running before I headed to the station. Luckily, there were no reported deaths from the incident and the 3 train was also still in service so I rushed out of my place like usual.

The subway ride to work felt pretty normal. The only change was that it skipped the 42nd Street Times Square stop. Other than that, most of the other commuters seemed unperturbed by it all. I got to work and had a usual day with no issues on my commute back home.

Since getting home before, I've been able to check out the news and learn more about what actually happened this morning. I've also been catching up on yet another chef in the food industry who has been accused of sexual misconduct. It's infuriating on so many levels, but extremely satisfying to see these people be called out for shit they've done. Anyone who abuses their power to take advantage of others, especially in a sexual manner, is just scum. I say yes, let's get all these assholes out of here to make room for people who can do their jobs without sexually harassing people!

It's only Monday, folks. I feel like it's going to be a long week.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Grocery shopping is when Christmas and holiday music sounds the most festive.
"I see your true colors, 
and that's why I love you.
So don't be afraid,
to let them show."

From the song True Colors by Cyndi Lauper.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Do you care now?
Do you know how?"

From the song All Or Nothing by Cher.
"The music's no good without you, baby."

From the song The Music's No Good Without You by Cher. 
"If I could reach the stars,
I'd give them all to you."

From the song If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher.
"This is a song for the lonely, can you hear me tonight?"

From the song Song For the Lonely by Cher.
"If I wanted you to know, I would fucking tell you."

Said by Gabrielle Union in the podcast, Death, Sex & Money. Episode: Gabrielle Union is Fed Up.

Monday, November 27, 2017

"Oh yeah, hey-dog-hey what's up."

From the song Raingurl by Yaeji.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy eating! I hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving weekend so far.

I'm currently home alone right now in Harlem. There's still a bit of daylight coming through the windows so I have all my lights off. It feels really quiet too with almost nothing but silence from the streets. Everything feels nice and still, almost most like there's this cold tint of blue to it.

Moving to Central Harlem a few months ago and living with my friend Jess has really been great so far. We've been friends since junior high school in Queens and grew up not far from each other in Flushing. She would always come over to my house back then and we'd order greasy food and watch bad tv for hours. Even almost two decades later, I guess some things never change.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Michael: You're so beautiful.
Hanna: What are you talking about?"

From the movie The Reader.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why do some people live like IRL doesn't matter anymore?

Thursday, November 02, 2017

*stares into mirror*
"I am happy today. And I am happy everyday, because my happiness is not conditional on any uncontrollable factors in life."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Ssam Bar wasn't just changing its menu. It rewrote the rules by which critically acclaimed restaurants were supposed to operate, stripping away comforts (chairs with backs, sound systems with a 'low' setting) and amenities (reservations, unshared tables), and gambling that everybody would be too stunned by the food to complain."

From the October 31, 2017, New York Times restaurant review: Momofuku Ssam Bar Keeps Evolving Under Singaporean Chef. By Pete Wells.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Seeing a slice of pizza = Wanting a slice of pizza.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"You should text me what you want to text him."

Said by the character Jake in the movie Sleeping with Other People.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"'It is all meaningless,' he says, and she does not know why it would mean anything, or why you would look for meaning in it, and she does not understand why you would want it to be anything other than what it is, or why you would want it to be about you."

From the book My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. Page 126.
I've been cooking a lot more since I moved to my new place. My apartment in general is on the smaller side, but thankfully the kitchen is renovated with new appliances. It even has a window, which makes such a big difference when actually using the space. The last time I lived in New York with a kitchen window was in 2010, so things like natural sunlight and fresh air for ventilation charm me into staying in the room. It's like cooking and being in a kitchen feels pleasant again. 

My cupboards right now are really stocked with lots of different types of sauces. With my schedule being a bit open nowadays, I've taken to shopping for sauces as a new hobby. It feels like the most inexpensive way to get me out of the house sometimes, where I can feel productive while on a budget. I especially like finding things that are on sale, and it gives me a reason to peruse the aisles of far away (but uncharted) grocery stores. In a way, I think of each new sauce discovery as an investment. And it challenges me to create something with it later on. But as of late, pasta has been what I've been eating the most. The Eataly in Flatiron had a big promotion on pasta last month with some brands on sale for only $1, so I stocked up big time. I've gone through a good amount of my supply already, but I still have a shelf bursting with capellini, tortiglioni and chiocciole. 

Besides pasta, I've been cooking a lot of things that are easy to make. Things like roasted vegetables or other simple dishes are usually my go-to. And while it's been great eating like this so far, I woke up today with a real big craving for Korean food. And not anything that'd be served in a restaurant, but the simpler type I would've eaten on the fly at home when younger.

All I wanted was a big bowl of steaming rice to mix with a whole bunch of other Korean ingredients. I guess you can call it a version of bibimbap, but with whatever you want instead. There's nothing saying you need this or that. I was really in the mood for some fried eggs over easy mixed with gochujang, sesame oil, soy sauce, perilla, butter, and kimchi. 

I hadn't been grocery shopping for Korean stuff since I moved to my place in Harlem, and since I had the time to spare, I decided to go to the H Mart in Woodside today for a few basics. The prices would be cheaper there compared to the one on 32nd Street, and it's usually less busier. That location of H Mart is small but runs 24 hours. When I lived in Woodside, I loved dropping by on the way home from the subway to pick up beers and already-made food. It's interestingly also the first H Mart from 1982 that would eventually turn into the global grocery chain it is now.

All this trying to cook more at home had me thinking about the food from when I was a kid. It's like, where did that strong hankering for Korean food come from this morning? And why did it taste so amazing when I finally did eat it? And that's when I realized that my diet as an adult right now is the total opposite from when I was growing up. As a kid, my parents' home cooking of traditional Korean food ranged in all types of proteins and fresh vegetables. Practically everything was bought from the grocery store and cooked at home. But all of the non-Korean food we ate was usually processed. If we didn't buy it from Costco, it was most likely fast food we were eating. And if it wasn't from the drive-thru, we were most likely at a restaurant or ordering some takeout. I mean, sure, we cooked spaghetti at the house every now and then, but that doesn't count. The point is, because it's not as if my family were eating hamburgers and french fries over at someone's else place, the American food we ate in my childhood was never home cooked. And somehow, that script has totally flipped in my life today. I only usually eat Korean food in restaurants now, and find the majority of my home cooked meals to be conventional American dishes.

When I got back to Harlem with my bounty from H Mart earlier today, the first thing I did was wash the rice in the tin of my roommate's rice cooker. It had been so long since I washed rice with my hands like that, feeling the grains as they swam between my fingers. It all felt so cathartic and soothing in a way. After it was cooked and ready, I mixed it with my other ingredients before wolfing down the entire bowl of food. Everything tasted so satisfying with the kimchi and gochujang, and totally hit the spot. It's funny because the large bowl of rice mixed with stuff hit me in such a different way than a large bowl of pasta mixed with stuff ever would, and I had missed the feeling so much.

Monday, October 23, 2017

"I'm like, 'Sho. You. Right.'"

From the song Money by Leikeli47.
"My dreams give me wings."

From the song 2nd Fiddle by Leikeli47.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Been waiting for today,
but I don't know what to say."

From the song Waitin by Kelela.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

"Everything changed,
then changed again."

From the song To Find a Friend by Tom Petty.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Goodbye muffin top, and hello fall jackets!
Chillllllllll ouuuuuuuuuut.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

"'We're too old to think we'll meet again,' Less says."

From the book Less by Andrew Seen Greer. Page 157.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

"When you feel like letting go,
that's when you hold on to me."

From the song Hold On To Me by Hurts.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

I look at the shiny surface of the Garlic Dipping Cup from Domino's, and know it's bad news. But I know I'm still going to eat it all.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Waking up to the news of what's happened in Las Vegas has been an absolute shock... it's complete madness and so hard to understand why this happened and all those lives were lost...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"Leave love in the footprints."

Said by the character Ahmad in the movie Soul Food.

Monday, September 25, 2017

"He's a good guy. He's a really good guy."

Said by Grace in the sitcom Will & Grace. Season 4, Episode 15.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Grace: So you guys are pretty close, huh?
Mipanko: As close as two men can get in 11 minutes."

From the sitcom Will & Grace. Season 3, Episode 2.

Friday, September 22, 2017

It's always so hard to remember how to spell or'dervs.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Check out some fiction I wrote called On The Verge of Happiness. It's a short story, but I consider it more the first chapter of a longer story I want to explore. It's about a guy who works at a restaurant in New York. Inspiration for the story came from my days of working at an East Village restaurant, so I had a lot of fun with it.


On The Verge of Happiness
Written by Tae Yoon
            “No, sir. I apologize.”
            Teo hunched over to show the customer other selections on the wine list. His back strained as the man took extra time reading it, pulling the menu deeper into the table to show his friends.
            “But you had it three weeks ago. Why isn’t it still here? Are people supposed to enjoy something and never expect to have it again?”
            This one’s new, Teo thought.
          He grinned and held steady on his legs as he again expressed his sincerest regrets to ease the situation. When the man was told they had unfortunately just run out the night before, he pointed at a random bottle instead before shooing him away. In actuality, it had been more than four months since the man drunkenly gulped down that wine on a miserable date. Teo knew better than to say anything, though. Customers didn’t dine there because they wanted to hear facts. They were only there to eat great food and have a good time.
            The dimmed restaurant bustled with excitement behind Teo as he entered in the order. The soft light of the screen illuminated his face, with a blaring chorus of a busy Thursday night dining room unfolding all around. Everyone was moving and hustling in some sort of celebration. There was a strong and momentous force created by the collective vigor of chewing, talking, laughing, and imbibing—producing an energy so palpable that even the staff could not stay idle.
            At first glance, the company policy of no uniforms made it hard to differentiate between customers and employees. But then it became clear from watching who was running around and squeezing through spaces that seemed to morph with every table change. Their stride included workplace nuances that repeated all throughout the night like an effortless performance. Used plates held behind one’s back were handed over to a faceless teammate like a baton. The same nightly specials were repeated with easing confidence since the chef always expected it to be the first thing that sells out. Jokes from customers that had been heard countless times before were laughed at with sincerity while thinking about the other four things that needed to be done in their section. The pride they all felt for their jobs was deeply connected to the dedication everyone put forth. And for each customer who walked in those doors, it was that feeling they wanted to be a part of as well.
            “I’m next,” singsonged Em. She used the glare near Teo to read over her order and made sure it was coursed correctly. The true beauty of her face surfaced from the computer glow, completely transforming her to the Em-at-Home or the Em-Out-With-Friends. All of the tables to her back would never have the pleasure of meeting those versions, but Server Em had her own special appeal.
            “Oh my god, I have a funny story to tell you later,” she said. She swung her head and looked over her shoulder. Even though it was extremely busy, Em’s tables were all easy to deal with. She was having a nice shift so far, and it’s always a pleasure to have a good day at work. She fought the urge to touch her hair as she waited for Teo, using one of the few still moments of her night to think about how much money she would be making instead.
            Teo finished up and stepped to the side as he dug into his apron for a wine key.
            “Me too!” he said before scurrying away.
            The wine glasses were the last elements to be gathered as Teo prepped for his table. Each one was carefully inspected under the only decently lit light bulb of the room right above the wine fridge. He wiped a smudge off one and gripped everything in his hands with a firm lightness. Here we go, he thought.
            When Teo got out of work, he walked over with one of his coworkers to their usual spot. Em and some others were already there waiting and most likely drunk and rowdy, soldiering on through the late night with fumes of excitement from hours earlier that were on their last leg.
            “Teo and Johnny are here!” screamed Em. She pumped her beer into the air and used it as an excuse to cheers the lively group, which moments before had been for her song coming on the jukebox.
            Everyone’s pockets were abound with fresh cash, desperate for a hole to burn. Teo joined in on the festivities like they were all seeing each other for the first time that evening, and incorporated himself into the natural rotation of buying a round of shots. The burning in his throat from tequila didn’t hurt as much as the one in his pockets. He sucked on the lime to forget about all the hard work he had put into his shift, and the money he was blowing from it.
            “Here Teo, this one’s on me,” said the bartender as he poured out two shots of bourbon.
            “Ben, I can’t, man. That’ll kill me.”
            Ben gave him a wink and held up a shot glass, alluring Teo to raise his own and clink in camaraderie. The lingering numbness in his throat made this one go down easier. He hated to admit it but Ben had been right. The alcohol felt nice, lubricating him enough to forget about the first shot and happily rejoin the gang.
            Teo marched towards the back of the bar where they had all settled. His arrival somehow gave a sense of completion to this motley crew, sliding in like the final ingredient of a dish now ready to be served. Each one of them complimented the next in variables that either instantly made sense or was always realized later down the line. There were about a dozen of them altogether in a constant flow of revolving conversation. Each added an anecdote here and a laugh there before being pulled or propelled to another. Their effortless merry-go-round of chatter dominated the entire space.
            Nearby tables studied them in curiosity and wondered who this diverse group of likeminded misfits were. Ben constantly fielded questions from customers at the bar about them.
            “They’re a bunch of friends who work together,” he would always respond with a smile. “They’re here all the time.”
            Teo and Em finally had a moment to chat after Johnny loudly proclaimed that he had to pee. He had stopped mid-sentence during his story about a drunken customer and stumbled towards the men’s room.
            “Okay, Em. So, that funny story. Remember that table last night, where that tall guy with his three friends got really drunk? And then he signed his receipt but left his credit card on the table?”
            “Tall guy...” slurred Em as she took another sip of her drink.
            “Yeah, you know! The cute one! They were sitting at Delta-West. He had on that shirt with the funny collar.”
            “Oh, yeah. Tall guy!”
            “Well, Lola worked a double today. And she said he came in during lunch to pick up his card, but ended up staying to eat alone. But then he got so drunk again and forgot it again! Isn’t that hilarious? It’s like, wow, I want to make it in life where I can do that, too.”
            Teo took a moment to ponder how that would be. To go eat at any restaurant he wanted at any time he felt like, that’s when he would know that things are good. This was especially true about having a leisurely lunch on any weekday. If he wanted pasta, he’d go have it. Or if he felt like eating Korean barbecue, he would. I have to make that happen, he thought.
            “So what’s your funny story?” he asked.
            “Funny story?” Em asked perplexed.
            Teo took another sip of his beer and waited for her to remember. He knew it would just take a second.
            “Oh! Funny story. Remember that interview I went on last Monday?”
            “The one you almost missed because you woke up late?” he chuckled.
            “Well, I didn’t wake up late. I was hungover, so I needed to sleep a little more.”
            “Sure. That one. Yeah.”
            Teo tipped the bottom of his pint glass into the air before grabbing Em’s hand. Her drink had been empty for some time and he brought her to the bar to get them both another. As they waited for Ben to finish pouring, Em remembered she was still in the middle of her story.
            “So, that interview. Well, I got the job! I’m moving to Pittsburgh in two months.”
            Teo’s face would have remained frozen in shock if it hadn’t been for Ben.
            “You got a new gig? Congrats, Em! This one’s on me, you guys” said Ben.
            Em smiled with complete jubilation and did a dance on the spot. For now, she hadn’t been planning on telling anyone other than Teo. But hearing her first congratulatory best wishes made the news finally seem real, and she pumped her body down low as Ben cheered on. Teo stayed absolutely still except for his eyes, as they followed her gyrations in disbelief.
            “Yeah. Cheers, Em.” he declared before downing his entire glass.
            Countless drinks later, Teo’s wobble gained strength only when with a cocktail in hand. He was oblivious to his state, and being steered by a voice who sometimes played substitute to his sober self. The kind of teacher who knew they would never have the same roll call twice. Where both curiosities and rages were explored, and choices were made that only left confusion in the morning. He had lost count on the amount of alcohol he’d consumed or the money he’d spent. But he was smiling and laughing and enjoying himself. And in moments like those, there was nothing else that mattered.
            When Teo woke up hours later, he was still drunk. The first thing he noticed was the silence as he darted his eyes around in panic. He was relieved to be in his own bed alone. But when he looked towards his clock, he screamed in alarm and ran for the bathroom. He was late for his lunch shift as the opening server, and knew how much trouble he would be in. This was a serious fuck-up even he was surprised by.
            As manic as he felt, Teo still was able to doze off on the subway ride. When he got to the restaurant, he squeezed by the host, Kristen, and the large group of customers who were clamored around her at the front vestibule. She screamed his name as she looked up from mapping out tables on her clipboard.
            “Oh, I heard about last night,” she giggled. “Damn, dude. Good luck in there!”
            Teo grimaced with a sigh before dashing inside to look for his manager. The same four-letter word repeated over and over in his head as he scanned the busy dining room. All of the servers, bartenders, and busboys were slammed with customers. None of them even had a chance to notice Teo standing there in the middle of it all. Maybe I can just go drop off my stuff and get on the floor without anyone knowing, he thought.
            Teo headed downstairs towards the lockers through the restaurant’s narrow staircase. When he got there, he was incapable of doing anything but standing absolutely still. He could smell last night’s booze coming out of his pores as droplets of sweat slowly dripped off his chin. His stomach gurgled from the jumble of everything inside it fighting to discharge from his body. The sudden nausea and exhaustion he felt had him fantasizing about making drastic changes to his life. He would quit drinking and finally get out of the industry. He would stop going out and get his shit together. He couldn’t remember how many times he had had this epiphany and made these promises to himself. But today was the final straw, he told himself. This is rock bottom, I can’t do this anymore, he thought.
            Teo rested his head on the wall of lockers as he closed his eyes to the world. The dim basement was still except for the silhouette of him doubled over in pain. The strong urge to either cry or get some sleep were equally fighting for his attention and depleted him of energy to think of anything else. Teo wondered how he would get through his double-shifts for the day as the throbbing in his stomach sharpened. Just thinking about having to be on his feet for the next 10 hours was already overwhelming. His thoughts were engrossed with only nightmare work scenarios happening: rude customers, the credit card machine breaking down, or fucking up an order to be reamed out by the kitchen.
            Without hesitation, Teo let out a rank fart that provided his first feeling of relief in the entire day. He sighed in comfort and managed to smirk with his eyes still shut.
            “That is so fucking gross,” said his manager, Lizzette.
            Teo squinted and focused in on Lizzette with his bloodshot eyes. He didn’t know how long she had been standing there with her arms crossed.
            “Oh my god, Lizzette! I’m so sorry. I know! I totally fucked up and let you down. I’m sorry for coming late and messing things up today.”
            “You’re actually early for work today. So go chill out in the office before you start as the closer.”
            Lizzette studied him with pity disguised by disgust. She had always liked Teo and knew he was sincere in his apology. He rarely had incidents like this at work while other employees made it a regular habit of theirs. But she knew dealing with this sort of behavior just came from being a restaurant manager. She had been there before in that same position, just like everyone else she knew. And Teo had lasted almost two years since being hired without a mistake this bad, so she had to give him credit for that.
            The presence of Lizzette put Teo at ease. Her voluminous curly hair in dirty blonde and large doe-like eyes suddenly made him feel better as she lead him towards the small office near the staircase. She unlocked the door in silence and quickly rearranged some chairs and containers to clear out a space in the corner. Items from an old lost-and-found box in the closet were laid out in layers with a generous pile at the very end for a pillow. Teo watched as Lizzette produced this makeshift bed with expertise. He had never seen this before, and had never heard of any of his coworkers talking about it. But this couldn’t be Lizzette’s first time doing this, he thought.
            Teo’s instincts immediately had him collapsing on the heap of strangers’ clothes. His eyes were shut before his body hit the ground. Lizzette watched him curl up in happiness from under the doorway before turning off the lights.
            “By the way, Em switched shifts with you. She came in early this morning to be the opener,” Lizzette said. “I’ll wake you up in an hour for your closing shift. Sweet dreams, Teo.”
            Teo’s entire lunch shift as the closing server went by in slow motion, and it forced him to endure every detail of it on a microscopic level. The way a customer’s nostrils flared when they pursed their lips to decide on their order. Or the amount of energy needed to yell “pick-up!” and dart to the pass in response to the expeditor screaming for help. The entire lunch service felt like an out-of-body experience with Teo’s head in a far away place. He used the little energy he had to simply coast for the next few hours.
            All of his fellow servers and front-of-house colleagues stayed out of Teo’s way and left him alone. Only a handful of them had lasted late until the previous night to witness Teo at peak blackout point. But gossip among restaurant workers traveled fast, especially if they were friends. The multiple group chats that existed within the different social circles among them had been on fire earlier in the morning. Everyone had been glued to their phones, texting one another with gasps and laughs on the various subway lines they took for their commute to the East Village. And when Em showed up to cover Teo’s opening shift, those working on the floor were quick to sneak a moment on their devices to share the news.
            The kitchen and back-of-house staff, however, were on Teo’s case. Most of them knew about what happened through the small tidbits of information a few of the servers had shared, and that Teo had missed his opening shift. They were practically watching him like helpless prey, salivating at the idea of having a reason to give him a hard time.
            And when Teo realized he had forgotten to enter an appetizer for a table’s order, the color drained from his face in fear. He added it into the computer system with his stomach in knots. He knew the kitchen would want to know why the dish hadn’t been entered with the entire meal to be coursed correctly. He also knew that he’d have to tell them he needed the appetizer on the fly, meaning another table would have to wait longer for theirs. This one small error had a cascade of consequences. The kitchen loathed mistakes like this.
            Teo reluctantly headed towards the pass of the open kitchen in the back of the dining room to go explain the situation. Customers all around were happily eating and enjoying themselves, oblivious to the danger Teo was walking into. The sous chef had an entire bird’s eye view of the restaurant, and was already awaiting him with the ticket in hand and grin from ear-to-ear.
            The expeditor always stood at the pass like a gatekeeper between the kitchen and dining room. They were one of the few employees who were a part of both the front-of-house and back-of-house, acting as a liaison for the two different worlds. Together with the sous chef, it was their job to make sure each plate that came out of the kitchen looked beautiful, while commandeering which dishes needed to be taken to which tables. The expediter, Noah, made eye contact with Teo as he slowly trudged along towards him and the sous chef. Knowing what was to come, Noah immediately turned to face the kitchen because he took no pleasure in witnessing Teo’s takedown.
            “Chef, I’m sorry but I forgot to add in the—“
            “Shut up! Stop coming in to work late and all fucked-up, you motherfucker! This is why shit like this happens, dickhead! Stop making mistakes and get your shit together! I don’t give a fuck about any excuses that are about to spill out of your dumbass mouth. You think anyone here gives a shit? You piece of shit motherfucker who can’t even enter in a goddamn order right!”
            Teo stood there as the sous chef continued to berate him without mercy. The entire kitchen staff had stopped what they were doing to merrily look on and snicker. They laughed at his ordeal and took pleasure in the sous chef chewing out someone who wasn’t one of them for once. It was way more pleasurable and entertaining. Teo understood this was how it worked, though. He had expected repercussions for what happened, and tried not to take things from the kitchen personally.
            He managed to survive the rest of the shift without any major issues. Teo recounted the money from his closeout for the third time before handing over his bundle of checks and cash to Lizzette. He was feeling slightly less hungover and more human at this point, and stood at the office door as she double-checked it all. He stared at the corner he had napped in just a few hours earlier, which was back to the way it always was. Lizzette gave him the thumbs-up while still looking down at her work, and said he was free to leave until he started his dinner shift.
            However, Teo did not move. He waited to think of the right words in expressing his gratitude for Lizzette’s help from the morning. It was the least he could do.
            “Lizzette, I just wanted to—“
            “Bye!” she said while still concentrated on her work.
            “But I just wanted to say thank you for—“
            Lizzette put her pen down and looked at Teo for the first time since the morning.
            “Teo, get out of here. Go get some air,” she sternly said.
            Teo bolted to a nearby park a few blocks south on Second Avenue. He plopped himself down on a bench facing an old church and tried doing some people watching. It was a beautiful spring day in the East Village, with hoards of revelers that would normally soak up his attention. But he couldn’t shake off the feelings that still enveloped him from his shift. This novel sensation of being the person everyone at work hated shook him. He felt drained of energy except for what was needed to have a complete breakdown.
            A dog sitting on the bench next to him locked eyes with Teo. It was grey and small with wiry hair, and Teo peered into its soul with envy. I wish I could trade places with you right now, he thought. The dog’s owner was playing a game on their smartphone with the sound blasting, and Teo looked harder into its eyes in hopes of finding the answers to fix his life.
            “Teo, that dog’s not going to tell you about what happened last night,” said a voice from behind.
            Teo turned around to see his coworker Lola holding two iced coffees.
            “Mind if I sit down?” she asked.
            Lola handed Teo his drink before digging through her purse for something.
            “Here,” she said before presenting his cellphone. “I found this on the table last night after you left.”
            Teo stared at it, absolutely frightened to check what was waiting for him. The rhythm of its beating heart pulsated throughout his body and made his hand tense into a clawlike form. He wanted to fly away and drop it into the ocean.
            “Fuck,” he angrily muttered.
            “Don’t worry, I didn’t go through or read anything. But you have a lot of missed calls and text messages.”
            “Fuck,” Teo sighed.
            “So, you want me to tell you what happened?”
            She secretly held back again on giggling as thoughts of what Teo did crossed her mind. Even when she first noticed him just now sitting on the bench while running errands before her dinner shift, she had burst out laughing. In fact, she had laughed so loud and heartily that she was sure Teo had heard her from across the street.
            When Teo lit up the screen of his phone, there were twenty-eight missed calls along with seventy-two unread text messages.
            “Fuck!” he screamed in frustration.
            Lola continued to quietly take sips of her coffee.
            “I charged it for you,” she said as an offering of good news.
            Teo rested his on head on Lola’s shoulder before thanking her.
            “Was it that bad?” he asked staring at nothing.
            “Yeah. It’s pretty bad,” she confessed.
            An hour after Em had made her announcement last night, Teo stopped what everyone was doing and gathered who was left of the crew. It was so late into the night that they were practically the last customers left at the backroom of the bar.
            “Hey! Hey! I have something to say!” he yelled.
            Including Lola, there were six of them sitting with their attention on Teo and Em. A wall of empty booths to their left and their right stood as a strong reminder of how much more livelier and fun the environment had been earlier. Each of them sat there on the edge of passing out. They were ready to go pee one last time before leaving (which used to be a reoccurring suggestion from Teo that that somehow became a way of life for them all), and then it would be time to go take the subway home.
            Lola had been the last to arrive from work that night and had just sat down with a new drink. In her condition, this cocktail was the one that would take her to the point of no return. It’d be the beginning of a second wind and where remembering things could possibly get spotty, which was the realm everyone else was already in.
            “What is it?” she screamed like a jerk before laughing and mouthing I love you.
            “My friend, Em, here. My good, good, friend who’s also my roommate! Well, this girl right here. I have exciting news about her!” he slurred.
            Even in their drunken stupors, the table noticed Em’s look of suspicion as Teo dragged her next to him. He put his arm around her shoulders as his cup dangled from the same hand. Its melted whiskey soda sloshed along inside as he spoke, truly coming close to spilling over only once.
            “Oh my god, Teo!” Em nervously laughed while clearly drunk. “You better stop!”
            “I just want to say congratulations, Em,” he continued.
            With her eyes half closed, Em pushed Teo’s arm off of her. She slowly sat at the edge of the booth seat where Lola was and moaned in happiness because she was finally off her feet. She sat at a slight angle with her back towards everyone, secretly mouthing “let’s go” with force to Teo as he ignored her.
            “Shut up, asshole!” she laughed. “I’m too tired. Let’s just call a car home already. I’ll pay for it.”
            “Everyone!” Teo continued. “Em got a new job and is moving to Pittsburgh!”
            Teo began clapping his hands at a speed that lacked in drumming up excitement about anything. His palms sometimes even missed, which only made Teo laugh and become happier.
            The anger in Em’s reaction came slowly as everyone at the table jolted a little more awake to congratulate her and ask questions
            “Wow, congrats! Where you headed?” asked Rhamon.
            “Is it another restaurant?” asked Mark.
            “That’s so cool, Em! Congrats!” said Lola as she gave her a hug from behind.
            Ian, Julia, and Santiago became full of energy and sat up straight again. It was their suggestion to get another round of celebration drinks that made Teo jump up from excitement.
            “Yes! Great idea! You guys stay here, I’ll get them!”
            The group’s attention turned to Em with a barrage of more questions.
            The fact that they all knew wasn’t what made Em uncomfortable, but she hadn’t planned on telling anyone else at work until her two-week notice. She had specifically told this to Teo earlier in the night, and could feel her sense of betrayal transforming into rage from the alcohol. She kept it together in front of everyone but also entertained the idea of smashing a chair over Teo’s head.
            She had planned for her remaining time in New York to be busy while preparing for the move, but that schedule for herself was now in jeopardy. Em had worked at the restaurant practically the longest out of everyone. This wasn’t because she was the oldest, but because she was one of the first hires. And over the years, she had accumulated a large amount of return favors in the form of covering shifts with the entire front-of-house staff. For Lola alone, Em owed her two dinner shifts and a lunch shift. But anytime Lola had needed help in having her shifts covered, there was always a reason why Em couldn’t. “Sorry, I have a family thing that day,” or “I so wish I could but I just can’t,” she would defensively insist. This is why Em had planned to act like it was a last-minute move. That would make it appear as if she barely had time to work her own normal number of shifts.
            Lola could sense Em’s anger as they waited for Teo to return with drinks. Everyone else was back to talking about a new employee while Em laser beamed holes into the back of Teo’s head. Lola pulled Em close to lean against her and put her arm over her shoulder as if she was hugging her again. She could feel the weight of Em’s upper body next to her and made sure to have a good grip.
            “Teo!” shrieked Em at the top of her lungs.
            Teo turned around from the echo of his name while at the front end of the bar. He gave a thumbs up and yelled, “Be right there! I almost got them!”
            He spun back around to the bar and continued pleading.
            “Come on, man! One last round, I swear, Ben. One, last one. Please. Please, please!”
            “Dude, you’re pretty gone. I can’t.” responded Ben.
            “Yes, you’re right! But everyone else isn’t. It’s just me that’s like this,” he petitioned. “And I’ll give you a crazy tip. Come on, it’s for Em’s new job. Eh? Yeah?”
            Ben finally said yes but refused to serve them tequila.
            “Absolutely no way. You guys are getting Polar Bear shots, and then I’m closing up. You got me?” asked Ben.
            “Yes! Thank you. Thank you, Ben!” Teo responded.
            By the time he returned to the table, nobody even asked what the shots were. They each grabbed one while Lola still held on to Em. Teo stood near the center of the table and lead the toast for everyone sitting down. Em slammed down her shot glass as everyone else thanked Teo for buying the round.
            “Okay, I got to go pee now,” Teo said before turning around.
            The conversation at the table continued as Teo took two steps forward with his back to everyone. He swayed in front of a nearby chair with Em’s open handbag on the seat and proceeded to inch closer towards it. Lola and Em watched it all unfold in slow motion as Teo unzipped his pants and started to urinate directly into the bag.
            While Julia and Santiago immediately pulled out their phones to capture it all, everyone else screamed for Teo to stop. Ben noticed all the commotion from behind the bar in the front area and jumped over the counter to start charging his way. Em couldn’t take it any longer and struggled to escape from Lola’s grip. She freed herself and stood strongly on her left foot as she kicked Teo in the middle of his back with her right. She sent him flying forward to knock out face down onto the floor.
            When they all gathered around Teo’s body, Ben got onto one knee to inspect him at a closer look.
            “Yup, this motherfucker is snoring,” he shrugged.
Live life in Airplane Mode.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In spite of it all,
still inspire.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"All that I've got,
pieces and pages.
Talking a lot,
sorry I'm faded."

From the song Broken Clocks by SZA.
"Go Gina,
Go Gina."

From the song Go Gina by SZA.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Somewhere, it all went wrong.
Just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. But if it's not on the Internet, then it never existed.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Why you bothering me when you know you don't want me?'

From the song Love Galore by SZA.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

"Nobody else will be there."

From the song Nobody Else Will Be There by The Nationals.
Happy Labor Day, America!

It's the unofficial end of summer this weekend. Goodbye hot weather and shorts. And hello to autumn and having to wear real pants again.

The summer went by so quickly. I can't believe I've already been back in town for over a month after spending two months away. Everything seems like a blur since returning. I was couch crashing and moving around the entire time. It was a lot of lugging my shit around, but it was also nice to see friends. Thankfully though, my wandering days are finally over because my friend Jess and I got a place uptown in Harlem. We've been slowly moving our stuff into the apartment and will be all settled in pretty soon. I'm excited to finally have a somewhere to call home again, it feels it's been too long.

I've been dog-sitting Oscar in the Upper West Side for the past few days. It's been great taking him for walks through Central Park and farther north. We took a long stroll through Morningside Park last weekend and that was really nice. There were tons of families and people there barbecuing and enjoying themselves. It smelled so good in the park.

It's Sunday afternoon right now, and I'm ready to head out soon. I've been sitting at Junho's place with the shades open and all of the lights off since waking up. It was raining earlier and is still a bit cloudy, but it's still a nice day. I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!

Saturday, September 02, 2017

"New York isn't New York,
Without you, love."

From the song New York by St. Vincent.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Wow, what's going on in Texas right now is heartbreaking. Much love and good energy to everyone there.