Friday, February 27, 2015

It's amazing how really loving going to work in the morning changes your day.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Porn, it had been said, is a driver of technology.

Pornography has spurred the adoption of most tech innovations of the last generation. It helped hasten the growth of VHS tapes, interactive CDs and DVDs, and pretty much the entire Internet.

From the February 25, 2015 NewYork Times article Strippers Go Undercover on Snapchat, by Nick Bilton.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I haven't been able to fall asleep before 3am for the past few months or so.

Oh sleep, why do you taunt me?

Monday, February 23, 2015

A different approach is all it needed.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Yo, Pasta!

Don't just be kind to others. Be kind to yourself, too.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Even without the help of technology, the world is still small.

I went to Flushing a few weekends ago and took the 7 train there. The last stop of the E train in the city is near my place so taking that to 74th Street Jackson Heights was easy. Afterwards, when I was waiting on the 7 train platform to transfer, I noticed two guys standing not far from me because one of them was really tall. His brown jacket also helped make him memorable for some reason. I eventually continued on with what I was doing and forgot about them completely inside the rumbling 7 as I stood by the door's window to stare out.

It was about four hours later when I was back on the 7 train at Main Street to head home. I like to ride the second subway-car from the front whenever getting off the 74th street stop to go into the city. It's funny because after I exited the 7 and was heading to the staircase, I watched the same two guys from earlier step out of the first car of the subway in front of me. I immediately recognized the tall guy's brown coat and had myself a chuckle. As they were busy talking and not noticing me walking behind them, all I could think to myself were what are the odds.

But coincidences like that seem to pop-up every now and then, and it always reminds me of how connected we all truly are.

When my good friends Jenn and Daniel came to visit me while I was living in Korea years ago, my only English-speaking and American friend in Seoul was Hyunha. 

Hyunha had moved from the Tri-State area and arrived in Seoul after I did. She was living in Korea for the first time with her two daughters, who I was so happy to be able to meet as well. They were in grade school and attending international school to not only be submersed in Korean culture, but also spend quality time with their mom. Hyunha and I had met through a mutual friend from NYC, and we instantly hit it off. We had a lot of fun late nights of just talking and downing bottles of whiskey together as we traded stories and shared parts of our lives. 

It was soon after our first initial meeting in Korea that my friends Jenn and Daniel were coming to visit. Since moving to Seoul, I felt like I hadn't seen them in forever. We had also been roommates during my time in NYC before I left, and so my excitement to see them was boiling over. Their flight was scheduled to arrive at 5am, which left me no choice but to sleep at the airport that night. Back then, the only way to get to Incheon Airport from Seoul by public transportation was through an airport bus. These buses had multiple lines and picked-up from most places in Korea's capital city. The ride took about an hour, and the last buses usually scheduled to arrive at the airport were around midnight. 

When I picked a long bench inside the airport to sleep on, I only noticed maybe one or two other people also doing so. Surprisingly, none of the airport staff bothered us and we were all left alone as if we weren't there. I'm not sure if that night was an aberration, but there were multiple planes from JFK that all landed that night in Seoul around 5am. I got a spot at one of the many passenger arrival gates and watched as people strolled out one-by-one with luggage in tow. At one point as I stood there waiting, I noticed a certain man come out alone. His face immediately put me at alert, and I studied him carefully to be certain that I was thinking of the right person. 

The thing is, Hyunha might have not remembered it, but Korea wasn't the first time we crossed paths. I had seen her before in NYC many years back at a few house parties that our mutual friend threw. I can also recall seeing her with her husband, and he was the same man I had just seen walk out the airport gate alone. Running into him at the airport at that time was a complete shock to me. Because we had just met, I only knew in a general sense that Hyunha's husband at that time was coming into town. I had also just mentioned to her that some close friends from NYC were visiting, so neither of us ever thought there would be any sort of connection. 

I watched closely as he walked off to the side to make a phone call. I waited until after he hung up to approach him and say hi. He of course had no idea who I was because he didn't know my face, but eventually figured out what was going on. Soon after, my friends Jenn and Daniel arrived. When we ended up running into Hyunha's then husband later on, it was near a ticket stand for airport buses. The 3 of us had just learned that there were no buses for another hour and the lines of people waiting for them outside were getting long. That's why we were extremely grateful when he invited us to go with him back to Seoul in his taxi. He was in fact going to the neighborhood right next to where I lived and where my friends were also staying. The funniest part was when we were in the cab ride back and he called Hyunha to tell her what had happened.

A few months later when I eventually ended up leaving Korea (not by choice), I was waiting in the immigration line at Suvarnabhumi Airport to enter Thailand. I was there on a one-way ticket with what I planned to be a two-month stay since that's what my visa allotted. I was alone, on an extremely tight budget, didn't know anything about Thailand, and had no idea what I was going to do after exiting the airport. I remember the immigration area being very large and new. It's hard to recall what the reason was, but all of the stations were empty and the many rows of us in line had to wait for some time. I was fortunate to be first in the line all the way to the left and patiently stood with my immigration card in hand. My feelings anticipating that moment where someone would come and stamp my passport to send me into the unknown of Thailand was something I wasn't sure how to feel about.

That's when I heard a voice from behind me. "So, what kind of writer are you?"

On my immigration form, I wasn't sure how favorable "unemployed clueless loser" under occupation would sound. I was going to Thailand without any idea about anything, so I decided to put down "freelance writer" instead.

I turned around and saw a friendly looking guy. A part of it was funny because I could probably count on one hand the number of times in the past 6 months that I had had a conversation with a stranger in English, let alone an American. I told him I had studied writing in college and had worked in magazine publishing in NYC, on top of writing my own fiction on the side. He told me he was from Utah and worked in communications. He had currently moved to Vietnam for work and lived there with his wife. When he found out I had worked at an epicurean magazine, he mentioned that he had a friend who also worked at one. When he told me who it was, my jaw dropped because it was someone from my old job! This was someone who I not only had the pleasure of working with and getting to know, but also someone I respected immensely because they're such a great person.

The nice guy continued to tell me that when my former colleague went to Vietnam for their honeymoon, they had met up with him and his wife for dinner. This all happened during the time we still worked together at the magazine, and both of the couples had met through a mutual friend. Years later, after I had returned to NYC and was working in the office of a restaurant in TriBeCa, my old colleague came for dinner one night. I stopped in that evening to say hi, and it was was the first time we had both seen each other since I had left for Asia. Seeing them was great, and the amusing thing was that their dinner companion was the mutual friend who had introduced them to the man I met at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Before I left Korea for Thailand, I spent a long period of time being unemployed and looking for work. Since I really needed to earn money, I eventually ended up taking this part-time bartending gig. This was an opportunity that came my way through a friend who had nothing to do with the food industry, it was just a right-place-in-the-right-time situation. The bar I worked at was actually a gay bar in one of Seoul's two major gay districts, Itaewon and Jongno. The area of my workplace, Jongno, was known to be quieter and more subdued than Itaewon, the other major gay neighborhood of the city.

The bar that I worked at happened to be named after this indie American movie with somewhat of a cult following. The film is funny with a sexual storyline and takes place in NYC. Some of the characters are gay, giving the movie a large LGBT fan base. That's the reason why the man who first opened the gay bar named it after the movie, because he was a super fan. When he eventually sold the bar to the owner who would become my boss, the name remained and continued to shine bright in the white sign above its third floor windows.

The gay bar wasn't too big, and my boss was always there. On busy weekend nights, there would be three of us behind the bar, the third being another bartender who worked there full-time. I normally never came out on slower weekdays except for when the full-time worker had a day off. It was an early weekday like that when this fateful encounter happened, and I remember it like yesterday. The bar was completely dead that night until I saw a straight couple open the door to come in and sit at the bar. Now what made them so different and caught my attention was that they weren't Korean, but that they were caucasian.

That might not sound like a big deal, but having two patrons like them casually come for a drink at a random gay bar in Jongno was like seeing two unicorns walk in---it just seemed non-existent. The better news was that not only were they American, but they were also from NYC! Since my boss didn't speak english, whenever anything needed to be communicated to tourists or english speaking non-Koreans, it was my job to attend to them and make conversation if they were sitting at the bar. After the couple sat down and started drinking, I ended up talking with them for hours. She was currently living in China with her boyfriend and working as a university professor at a law school. The two of them had come to Seoul for a short vacation and their hotel for the night was nearby. The fact that they were even staying in a hotel in Jongno was a first for me because even though it's well-known, it's also a very old part of the city with no major hotels, skyscrapers, or hoards of young people partying everywhere. It's known more for having lot of beautiful and traditional houses called hanoks, and being close to the Royal Palace.

When I asked how the two of them ended up choosing this bar to drink at, they said they didn't know where else to go. They had been looking for a place, and decided on us because they saw the name of the bar and not only liked it, but was also intrigued (the bar name also used to be commonly used as a pejorative term in American culture). That night with them ended up being really fun, and conversing with the both of them was a blast. Bartending  at the gay bar was a great experience, but I often had shifts were I just felt frustrated and down about life, not understanding why I was having such a hard time finding a job I really wanted. That's why when they even graciously left me a really nice tip, it totally made my day because normally in Korean culture, tipping is not a norm at all. We exchanged emails and I thanked them again so much for coming in as they left later that night. Meeting them at work had been such a refreshing breath of air for me, and I was so humbled by how nice they were.

Less than five months later, I was living in Thailand and went to the capital of Laos for my first-ever visa run. This was after my first 2-month visa had expired, and I went to Vientiane to acquire a new one at the Thai embassy there. This was the closest and most affordable-to-get-to Thai embassy from Bangkok, and getting there required an overnight bus or train to Nong Khai before crossing over into Laos.

On my first and only day of the trip, I wandered around Vientiane as I waited for my passport and visa to get processed. At one point, I am walking on a street along a big road when I see the same American couple from that night at work in Seoul walking towards me. We immediately say hi, and even took a picture together because we couldn't believe our luck. Out of all of the places to be on the planet at that very moment, we somehow ended up at the same exact spot in Laos together.

Who knows, maybe we will all somehow cross paths again. Fate is a crazy thing.
"If you let me in,
Here's what I'll do.
I'll take care of you."

From the song Take Care by Drake featuring Rihanna.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Oh, what I would give to be swimming somewhere right now in warm and sunny weather.

Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll have a swimming-dream when I finally fall asleep sometime tonight.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"I know you get me,
So I let my walls come down."

From the song Teenage Dream by Katy Perry.
"'And to have in a city of eight-and-a-half million people,' he went on, 'just think of it, to have 11, 12 days without a murder; we had a couple days in there, I think, where we didn't have any shootings or stabbings, either. So, it's just a reflection of just how safe the city has become.'"

From the February 13, 205 New York Times Article, "Breaking a Record, 11 Days Pass in New York City with No Killings." Written by Al Baker.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

This morning when I was waiting at the Park Place subway platform to go to work, I saw a group of young students on a field trip. My guess is that they were in the 4th grade, and they all looked so happy as they excitedly walked in a single file. Seeing them was really a lovely way to start my day today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Friday, February 06, 2015

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

"The name's Cookie. Ask about me."

Said by the character Cookie in the show Empire. Season 1 Episode 5.

Monday, February 02, 2015

"I'm not on that now. I'm on something else."

Said by Amy Sedaris in her 4am tour of Greenwich Village on The Late Show With David Letterman. Air date May 14, 2004.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

It's great that in New York City, good conversation can unexpectedly pop up at any moment.

Last Thursday night, I had gone out to dinner and drinks in the East Village. It was past midnight and the streets looked absolutely beautiful from the heavy snow that was falling and covering everything visible to the eye. I parted ways with my friend after they hopped into a taxi cab on 2nd Avenue first. I caught one for myself soon after, and my nice driver started making conversation with me.

"Are you Chinese?" he asked.

"No, I'm Korean-American," I responded a little buzzed and with a smile.

He then apologized for asking me what he did, and I told him it was fine and not a big deal. Then he began to share with me about all the times he's mistakenly been asked by his customers if he is Indian, and how he always had to tell them no he's from Bangladesh. He described how it sometimes hurt him deep in his soul when people made an assumption with their question. He beat his left chest with an open hand as he told me about how proud he was to be who he was, and where he was from. His wife and children were all still back in his home country, and his description about how much he missed them made me want to tell his family about the great father he was.

After I shut the yellow taxi door while in front of my apartment building, I stood there and watched the car slowly disappear into the snowy night. And I wished him all the best.
"I want to die in the place that I own."

Said by the character Lina in the show Married on FX. Season 1 episode 7.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

It's the weekend!

And I am determined to not stay hibernating inside my apartment the entire time.
"She was damaged, and acknowledged it freely."

From the book Behind the Beautiful Forevers written by Katherine Boo. Page 72.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Comparing the timeline of your life to others is completely useless.
It's all in how it's captured.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"She say I eat all the time. But she always makin' me eat. Then she call me a fat mess. She said the apartment little because of me. Only time she ever leaves is to play her numbers. I feel like I could just sit in the house with her every day, the shades drawn. Watch tv, eat, watch tv, eat again."

Said by the character Precious in the movie Precious.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"When I first started, I was helping with production. Because it was such a small company at that time, everybody had to do everything. Aside from me, there was a production manager, and a woman that cut all the samples by hand. When it came to shipping, even Anna was putting boxes together. After Anna did her first fashion show in fall 1991, the company got much bigger and Anna realized she needed to hire more people. She also realized that she needed somebody to help just her, so in 1992 she made me her assistant."

From the January 22, 2015 article from The Daily Front Row titled The Assistant Files, Vol. 62: Thomas Miller, Anna Sui.

Congrats to you, Thomas!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday night at home.

"Look, Joe. If people thought about all the things that could happen, they'd never do anything."

Said by the character Corporal Joe Allen's father from the movie The Clock.
"Don't forget to thank me, baby. Don't forget to thank your Cookie on this historic occasion." 

Said by the character Cookie on the show Empire. Pilot episode.
It's funny that as I was just contemplating about if I should do this certain thing tomorrow, "A Gentleman's Honor" by Philip Glass starts playing from my music on random. It's like the right choice was so easy to see, but I was being lazy.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The solution to my extreme overthinking problem is to just not think about it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's going to be a good year.
The past week or so has been really cold in NYC. It makes walking the city by foot pretty much impossible, and I long for warm sunny weather.

About a year ago, I got on the subway one evening to go to this bar alone where some friends were throwing a party. Last winter was pretty brutal too in terms of the cold, and I remember this day being particularly miserable as well.

As I gripped a pole and stood in the shaky subway while it pulled out of Union Square, I noticed a friend named Anna Margaret sitting nearby bundled-up in many layers and with a bag of takeout food. We knew each other from working together at a restaurant in the East Village, and I probably hadn't seen her in close to 4 years. I immediately said hi, and it was so great to catch up with her for a bit. Then I told her that if she had no plans, she should come with me to where I was going because the people at the bar throwing the party had also worked at the same restaurant as us, so we all were friends.

That's when she responded with, "Tae, I'm old and cold," and proceeded to tell me about how excited she was go to home with her dinner in hand and stay inside in the comfort of warmth. Now, Anna Margaret is not someone I consider actually old because we're the same age. But when she said that to me, I completely understood what she meant and wished her a good night.

What she said, "old and cold," has really stuck with me since. I find it popping into my head a lot more nowadays. And in this winter's current New York deep freeze, I too feel too damn "old and cold" to do the many things I once really enjoyed.

Below are some pictures from my time living in Bangkok that I never posted. They were all taken while I was on the backseat of a motorcycle-taxi (motosai), and it brings me a little warmth to think about my days in tropical weather when this was the way I traveled around town.

"This is the number one rule for your set,
In order to survive, gotta learn to live with regrets."

From the song Regrets by Jay Z.
This is not my life. It's my story.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Trippy like it's 1968 inside of 80 Wooster Street.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

"Sure, the prices are totally affordable with nothing over $11, but much of the staff here is comprised of Momofuku alumni who bring over a strong sense of professionalism."

From the January 8, 2015 Eater article: Suzume, Dropping Japanese-Hawaiin Flavor Bombs on Williamsburg. Written by Kat Odell.

Yes, so very true!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Thursday, January 01, 2015

"Mario M. Cuomo, the three-term governor of New York who commanded the attention of the country with a compelling public presence, a forceful defense of liberalism and his exhaustive rumination about whether to run for president, died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.

His family confirmed the death, which occurred only hours after Mr. Cuomo's son Andrew M. Cuomo was inaugurated in Manhattan for a second term as governor.

From the January 1, 2015 New York Times article: Mario Cuomo, Governor, Governor's Father and an Eloquent Liberal Beacon, Dies at 82. Written by Adam Nagourney.

That is just incredible.
I'm ready for you, 2015!

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope the upcoming year brings you many laughs and much happiness.

I spent my New Year's Eve at my apartment with my sister. It was just the two of us with her dog and my roommate's dog. Being at home and not outside in the chaos of massive crowds and drunken revelers was exactly what I needed. A busy holiday season of drinking and going out officially had me weary by the time New Year's Eve came around, and the absolute last thing on my mind was being at some busy bar or restaurant.

This past holiday season was a lot of fun though. I got to go out frequently for holiday related stuff, so the time just flew by.

Attending Christmas at my aunt's house in Ridgefield, New Jersey with my relatives was one of the highlights. My grandmother has officially moved to my aunt's house there after living in Alaska for many decades. She had recently come with an aunt and uncle from Anchorage who escorted here, so this past Christmas was extra special for my entire clan that lives in the Tri-State area. It's great to have my grandma so close by now, and I for sure will be trying to go visit her whenever I can. Getting any time with her on Christmas was hard because there were people everywhere with so much going on, but I'm hoping that visiting on weekends will allow me to have a bit more quiet time with her. I still think about when I was living in Seoul a few years ago, and my grandma was in Korea visiting. Because she stayed longer than all of my other relatives who had been visiting with her, I had the privilege of getting my grandma to the airport on the day of her flight back. We rode the airport bus together from Seoul, which was more than an hour away from Incheon International Airport. I stored her luggage and we grabbed seats on the bus that were a few rows behind the bus driver. We chatted about family stuff during the entire ride, and then ate together at the airport one last time. I hadn't seen my grandma for some years at that point, so having been able to spend time with her in Korea was really fantastic. I can still remember seeing her off into security, and feeling sad I'd be far away from her again.

Something I realized this past holiday season is that being around my large and extended family makes me happy. I spent so many years away from my relatives and was trying to figure my life out, that it became easy to think in my head that I was different from all of them and didn't belong. This is of course solely due to my sexuality, and not in part from anything that my relatives have ever done or said to me. I just thought that it was easier for me to exclude myself in order to not give anyone a chance to ask me questions about my love life or other personal topics. And with that, I would be saving all of us any awkwardness where some things might just be better left unsaid. But all of that was so incorrect, and now I can just see how wrong my entire approach was. The thing is, my father and his many brothers are all strong in a certain way that pretty much defines our family. That pressure of living up to the type of men they were really had a large impact on me since I was a kid. I knew I was different, and just never thought that I fit the mold. Being gay---or even any sort of man that deviated from the type of men in my family---was not anything that seemed to cross anyone in my family's minds, except for me. With that insecurity, I just felt like an anomaly as I got older and avoiding holiday gatherings in my 20's became really easy. Whether it was because I had to work or was living far away, I thought me not being there was doing everyone a favor.

A lot of my issues about being around relatives were internal and came from within myself. Back then I just wasn't ready to be around them for a lot of reasons. But man, now, it feels good to  spend time with them again. The biggest lesson I've learned from all of this is that no matter what crazy thoughts I might've came up with to convince myself I was different and would never be accepted by them, those were all in my head. I mean sure, there could be some who end up feeling whatever negative way about me, which is totally fine. But that hasn't happened yet, and I shouldn't have lived my life like it had.

Now, whenever I'm surrounded by my family and relatives, it is undeniable to me that they are my blood, and that we're all so alike. And that they love and accept my as my father's son, a nephew and as a cousin. I do have my own place amongst my large extended family, and nothing can or will ever change that.

Living away and avoiding my family for so long gave me a large period of time to forget a lot of the small details I've always known about them. And returning with a clearer head and feeling like I'm in a much better place has allowed me to once again notice all these details, on top of discovering so many new ones. These moments happen most with my parents. Little light-bulbs will go off in my head when I notice something about them and realize that a good amount of my natural behavior is dead-on with theirs. The same thing goes for all my aunts, uncles and cousins. All of us spent so much of our lives spending time with each other, especially during the holidays (always with the freshest sashimi and lots of alcohol). And it's nice to feel as an adult that many of us and our dynamics have not changed at all. When with them, I find myself having moments where I get completely lost in whatever I'm doing, and I can just be my carefree 13 year-old self again and not have to think about it. There are still parts of me that have never changed, and letting loose with some of my cousins is what helped realize that.

It's a nice feeling, to be able to get lost in things. To be able to only think about one thing and not feel distracted. I can remember a time when I just said and did things in whatever way felt most natural and authentically me. My life always used to be like that at one point, and I only realize that now because I am looking at things from a place that is different. At some point things shifted, and it's shame that has changed me. Shame in so many shapes and forms. Shame that came from ignorance. Shame masked as neurosis. Shame in the form of unnecessary baggage from regrettable decisions in the past. Shame that has also resulted in things I am proud of because it's who I am. Being able to realize all that is has been such a blessing. And that's not to say that shame is the only thing that defines me. That shouldn't be mistaken as things that are completely unrelated. We all have different reactions to things. Sometimes we forget that what feels authentically right to each of us is something only we ourselves can ever understand.

Starting this upcoming year, among many things, working on my shame is definitely something I want to focus on. Things don't happen overnight and that's completely fine. But now that the on button has been pressed, it makes a big difference.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Anytime I put off a task and tell myself I'll do it later or tomorrow, that's when the trouble always begins.
"Nevertheless, I hope that when I die, I will be writing or reading a book at my desk late one snowy night and I will simply put my head down and close my eyes forever. I want that to be the last image of me on this earth."

From the book, I'll Be Right There, by Kyung-Sook Shin. Page 16.

Friday, December 19, 2014

"But the last stop on the Flushing Local line is just the beginning of the Korean strip. It stretches east for about five more miles, following the Long Island Rail Road tracks and Northern Boulevard all the way into Nassau County. There are hundreds of restaurants in Murray Hill, Auburndale, Bayside and Beyond, serving famous Korean dishes and obscure ones: beef barbecue and blood sausage; wheat noodles in deep steaming bowls and arrowroot noodles in chilled broth with ice crystals; tofu casseroles and live octopus; Korean-Chinese restaurants and Korean-French bakeries; beery pubs and studious expresso bars; chicken fried in a shattering crust of rice flour and chicken boiled with ginseng.

The Queens kimchi belt has got to be the least explored, discussed and celebrated of the city's great ethnic food-districts. For variety of dishes and excellence of cooking, the only areas that compete are the Japanese clusters in the East Village and the East 40s or the city's three Chinatowns. Koreatown in the West 30s, which was once strong, doesn't even get on the scoreboard.

'I believe that right now, Queens is the closest you can come to authentic Korean food,' said Hooni Kim, the chef of Danji and Hanjan in Manhattan and a frequent prowler of Northern Boulevard. Unlike the restaurants on 32nd Street in Manhattan, Mr. Kim said, 'the kitchens actually cook for Koreans.' And while there are excellent Korean places in and around Fort Lee, N.J., some of which have sibling branches in Queens, Mr. Kim said the flavors along the Northern Boulevard are closer to what he has tasted on his trips to South Korea.

From the December 16, 2014 New York Times article, In Queens, Kimchi Is Just the Start: Pete Wells Explores Korean Restaurants in Queens, written by Pete Wells.

Fact: Flushing, Queens has the best Korean food in New York City.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Many gay men that I work with see their bodies through the lens of future attainments. By this I mean that they tolerate their current body because they hold the belied that in a few months or years, it will be much improved. 'I need to lose this layer of body fat so my abs will show.' 'When summer comes, I will be in top shape for the beach.' They never actually accept their body as it is in the present moment."

From the book The Velvet Rage, written by Alan Downs PHD. Page 190.
In a work meeting a few weeks ago, the topic of personal blogs and blogging came up. The discussion on the matter was short and a bit random, but the one thing that was determined was that personal blogs have changed a lot in the past few years. And by "changed," meaning people don't update their personal blogs anymore, like ever.

That struck a note with me, because it's absolutely right.

I have been blogging here for quite some time now, and it is true that so many blogs I once enjoyed reading are just neglected now with the majority of them not having been updated for years. It bums me out, but life happens. I'm sure these former bloggers are in a new phase in their life where updating their site is something they no longer have time for, or something that doesn't even cross their mind anymore. Or maybe they've switched platforms and no longer care for Blogspot? Or perhaps their new fiancé or baby takes up much of their time now? Who knows, everyone has their own reasons.

And now I'm trying to think of what my own reasons are for not updating as much as usual. I know for a fact that among many other things, a part of it is laziness. But besides that, I don't really have many other excuses. I guess a part of it also has to do with the fact that I am getting older, and to some extent I feel like I should have my shit together at this age. But I don't feel like I have my shit together---and I'm not sure if that's something I want to always share here for all of my non-existent readers. Having your shit together can mean a lot of things to many people, but for me personally, I don't know if I'm anywhere close to feeling that. But then that also makes me think, will I ever feel like I have my shit together? Probably not. And I don't say that to be pessimistic, but only because I've recently come to a better understanding about my personality and the reasoning behind why I act and think the way I do sometimes. This learning process comes to me in small nuggets, but oh man when I truly do learn something about why my brain automatically thinks this or that, I treasure that information and use it as a tool to become better and happier in whatever way I can.

So about feeling like things are not where I'd like them to be in my life by this age, I know that's not just about accomplishing all of my life's goals. But it's also about realizing that in a lot of ways, I do have my shit together and I have gotten some stuff done.

And that is why I will continue on writing here.

Sometimes I'll read old entries here from years ago, and it feels so satisfying to see how much I've grown and bettered myself since then. But then again I know there's still a lot more work that needs to be done.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

"The Arab Spring, at first glance, didn't seem to have much to do with climate change. But, it does. One of the ways it caused the Arab Spring was through the spike in basic grain prices that happened between 2010 and 2011. When people can't get the basic necessities of life, they riot. There also were these basic economic demands of the rising cost of living, which were linked to the price of imported grain. It's not to reduce the Arab Spring to a matter of climate change, but you could see how that food-price spike was a trigger."

Said by author/journalist, Christian Parenti, on Journey to Planet Earth: Extreme Realities. PBS.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

"'I have to lose weight first,' she said.
'You're just afraid,'"

From the book Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Page 522.
"What the fuck is rong with you?
What the fuck is rong with you?
What the fuck is rong with you?
What the fuck is rong with you?
What the fuck is rong with you?
What the fuck is rong with you?
What the fuck is rong with you?
What the fuck is rong with you?
You're just so fucking rong."

From the song Rong by Royksopp.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

"The pleasure of biting down on this pizza is both physical and auditory. The noise detonates along the jaw and plows right into the inner ear. Every bite sounds and feels like that."

From the December 2, 2014 New York Times Restaurant Review: Danny Meyer's Marta in Nomad, written by Pete Wells.

Monday, December 01, 2014

"There are many reason why Korean fried chicken is such a superbly satisfying eating experience. Fingers aren't spoiled, because the sauce is lightly brushed on, and only after the chicken is cooked. The meat remains juicy, because the bird is cooked at a lower temperature than its American brethren. The chicken is dipped in a very finely ground flour, and, as a result, the shell is paper-thin, almost translucent; it is pierced, not shattered, on first bite. Because the skin and flesh is cooked evenly, the disconcerting layer of fat in between is exorcised. Although Turntable offers a soy-and-garlic sauce, the hot and spicy is the main event, with a slow and subtle burn. A plate of wings with a side of pickled daikon rash is the ideal mix of salty and sour, crunchy and chewy. Human tastebuds are powerless again such a deeply addictive sequence. All there is to do is add soju, and repeat."

From Tables for Two and written by Amelia Lester in the December 8 2014 issue of The New Yorker.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Baby steps...

Things in life take time.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am about to head to Port Authority to take the bus to my relative's place in New Jersey.

I hope everyone has a great holiday with cherished loved ones and lots of great food.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

""I think it's extremely important to forgive. Otherwise it just builds up like toxic waste. There's nothing worse than holding a grudge. Listen, people can do unforgivable things, but you have to let it go and say, 'Look, we're all human beings. We make mistakes.' To hold any kind of resentment is like taking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.'"

Said by Jennifer Aniston in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of Harper's Bazaar.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's not even 5pm and it's already dark as night outside.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

It sucks that with every year of age, it seems to require that number of days for a pimple to go away.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"The polar bear's world is disappearing beneath its feet."

From the PBS show Nature. Season 33 Episode 3.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happiness in the morning is taking a shower and then snuggling back into bed for 15 minutes before getting ready for work.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ache, ache,
For you, you, you, you."

From the song Ache by FKA Twigs.
Sundays are for...

...sleeping-in past noon ...and staying under the covers ...with the lights off and shades drawn forget about everything.
Sometimes, 5am can feel just the same as 11pm to me. I'm not sure what sort of weird internal clock I was born with, but I've come to somewhat fully accept my lifelong sleep issues as a part of who I truly I am. There's no sleeping pill, breathing exercise, diet or routine that has ever been a dependable solution to my insomnia, and so here I am typing.

When I was living abroad in Thailand for years, I often went long periods without the Internet. The connection at my apartment was so outrageously slow and undependable, that I couldn't bear myself to pay for it any longer. I would spend more time trying to get a connection rather than being connected, and so I learned to live without it.

Instead, I would go somewhere in the daytime that had wifi, and download as much stuff on my iPad as possible to use for that night. I never had a television during my 2 years in Bangkok either, so my studio apartment was nice and mellow. I normally just listened to music and read, or sat on my balcony smoking a joint and daydreamed. Then when I discovered the magic of downloadable podcasts, the voice of Terry Gross and so many others often soothed me late into the night. When I first learned about downloadable podcasts, it really did help me so much. I was living in a foreign country alone, had no Internet or TV, no one to talk to, no smartphone, and basically no form of leisurely distraction to help pass the time. Listening to podcasts changed all that, both at home or while I was out. I used to ride the bus everywhere all over the city to get to where I needed, and podcasts got me through countless hours of insane Bangkok traffic. Even to this day, when I listen to Snap Judgement, it totally brings me back to staring out the windows of air conditioner-less buses with so much hustle and bustle happening around me.

Now that I've been back in New York living with a smartphone, I definitely still enjoy listening to podcasts. However, with access to high-speed wifi at home (along with so many other choice distractions), it's hard to get around to it sometimes when I can read the news or re-download an old video purchase from iTunes.

But nevertheless, there's nothing better than listening to a good podcast to fall asleep to---no matter where I am in the world.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"It just seems like, you agree to have a certain personality or something. For no reason---just to make things easier for everyone. But when you think about it, I mean how do you know it's even you?"

Said by the character Angela in the show My So Called Life. Pilot episode.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's nice to be home in comfortable stretchy pants doing absolutely nothing.

While I enjoy going out and having a good meal every now and then, or grabbing a drink at a low-key spot with friends, I'm equally happy sitting on my ass at home. Years of wandering, couch crashing and basically living like a drifter has helped me truly appreciate staying in. I've been watching too much television though, and need to curb that more. But it's so mindless and numbingly distracting and sometimes I just don't want to use my brain.

I recently started working at a new job that I'm really enjoying. After getting laid off 5 years ago from an epicurean magazine, almost every job since has been at a restaurant or bar, so it's really refreshing to transition back to an office gig. Waiting tables and working mostly service-related jobs taught me so much, and now I'm ready to apply all my experience and learned knowledge into this new position. I really feel so humbled to be working with such kind and professional people, and am forever grateful to my bosses for believing in me and taking a chance on me.

While I'm not working at an actual restaurant or bar at this new gig, it is still within the New York City restaurant and bar world. I feel proud to have worked my way through the industry to get where I am now, and I love everything about it. This industry is home to me, and running into old coworkers or acquaintances all the time makes it all that more feel like this is where I belong.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Earlier in the year, my friend Magali took my photos of street dogs in Thailand and made them into 3 separate zines! 

I really do miss just walking around the streets of Bangkok and snapping away at all the countless dogs that roam and live on the streets. Having all these pictures together in the zines is really nice and brings me back to my years of living alone in Thailand.

Thank you to Mags for the wonderful gift.

내 마음을 말할까?"

From the song 프로와 아마추어 by 루라.
I've always been the type of person to hold stuff in, letting things internalize in my head and then eventually rot inside me as my overthinking and analysis covered it with an impenetrable shell. The thing is, this process does not feel good at all. In fact, it can feel quite terrible. These cannonballs of emotion take a heavy toll both physically and emotionally, and because I'm not quite good at expressing myself verbally, putting things into words on paper---or the blinking cursor on a computer---has always been extremely cathartic. To me, writing is the opposite of talking because it's not just about expressing yourself in the moment of now, but having the ability to really think about what I want to say and how I want to say it in order to convey a methodical truth instead of a fleeting emotion. With all of that said, I should be writing a lot more honestly on this blog like I used to. Not an hour goes by in my day where some thoughts I need to express and let out here on my blog pops into my head, but I just let it float away. I should be grabbing these transient thoughts to turn them into something I can write about, but I haven't been doing that for a long time now. A part of it was because I had been looking for a new job, and I didn't want my honesty to be interpreted as a high-enough level of crazy to keep me from getting hired somewhere. But I feel like I did myself a disservice by doing that, because in reality this is who I am and no non-existent job (or anything for that matter) should ever hinder me. All of that behavior is related to my anxiety, and the crazy wheels that start spinning in my head when I feel like I need to predict what the most terrible situation of something could be in order to prepare myself to battle its consequences. If I am comfortable with someone, it's such a relief to just be myself and go with the flow. But I usually don't feel totally comfortable around a lot of people, and of course that's more my problem than theirs. It's like at my last job, my boss would joke that I'm too uptight but in reality all that stems from the fact that I want to accomplish whatever I'm doing in the most efficient and correct way possible because I don't want to deal with the aftermath of fucking up. Anyone who's never met me and is reading this must think I'm an anal nutjob, but I really don't think I am. I just tend to observe and soak things in more, that's all. We can't all be loudmouths who love to talk, right? This past Saturday night I went to a bar in the East Village with some friends and there were two people there who I didn't know very well. But we all just drank boilermakers and talked for hours in the comforts of a leather booth, and I couldn't remember the last time I had felt so free and absolutely at ease in front of people who weren't super close friends. It had been so long since I felt that that the next day, all I could think about was why can't I feel like that all the time? Why can't I just let go and chill out and join in on the conversation? There's a reason why I hate hanging out in large groups and big crowds. Spending time with someone one-on-one just always suited me better, and I like being able to immerse myself in the company that I'm in. Sometimes I just get so used to listening and observing that it's mistakenly perceived as so many other things. In all my travels while I was living alone in Thailand and went on many trips to nearby cities and countries, there was not a single time where I made small talk or had a conversation with a stranger. Not a single time, and I traveled a lot! Actually there was one time in Laos where I kept running into the same old man in the streets of Vientiane and asked to take a picture of him, but that is truly it. I guess what I'm trying to say with all of this is, since I'm not chatty by nature, I should at least be releasing my thoughts into the written word. Or if I'm not going to write as much as I should, I should be out meeting new people and shooting the shit. Just always being along with my thoughts and a joint isn't always going to cut it. Even at 31, I'm still learning how to break out of my shell. It's late in the night and I can't sleep and don't know where I am going with this entry, and that's okay. As long as I'm being unreservedly honest with myself, I think I'll be alright...
"Having walked away, victims of abuse are often left with no place to live and little means of support, and frequently end up homeless. In New York, this has helped drive the shelter population to a record high, with more than a quarter of all families in shelters citing abuse as the cause for their stay, city officials said. And, nationwide, many cities report a similar experience."

From the November 10, 2014 New York Times article, Domestic Violence Drives Up New York Shelter Population as Housing Options Are Scarce, written by Mireya Navarro.