I woke up really early today for some reason. Since moving to my new place a few months ago, I haven't yet gotten shades or blinds for the window in my room. I sort of like being able to fall asleep to the moon at night and waking up to the brightness of the morning sun. And my body seems to have adapted to the natural rhythm as well.
Anyway, it's a gorgeous sunny day here in New York City. I hope everyone has a good one.
It's mid-August and very hot here in New York City. The exposure of any part of flesh provides some relief to the body's rising temperature, or of course there's nothing better than good old-fashioned air conditioning. But perspiring until droplets of sweat are dripping down your chin can bring respite to the summer. It provokes, arouses. Leaves you ready to drop it all for the slightest opportunity of passion. Sometimes, you want to be drenched. To feel open and nimble. Because when winter comes, you'll be too busy shivering.
This word. This word that does so much to mess with our heads. This word that conjures grand stories of epic levels that exist nowhere but in our self-hatred to feel less than. This word that is rooted in good intentions, but can never live up to expectations. This word that makes things seem serendipitous like a romantic comedy, but in reality is on the same level of fiction as The Muppet Babies. This word that is so often used to fill the gaps of something it has no business being a part of.
This word is dangerous. Be wary of it. It destroys. It disrupts. It can steal your joy.
"Patagonia exists somewhere on the spectrum between real and make-believe. It's a place where you can start the day with a glass of fresh-squeezed raspberry juice, just like the cartoon Moomins do in Mooninland, then head out to observe penguins waddling around extraterrestrially in their rookeries, and wind up experiencing a blistering mountaintop sunset that dazes you with the limitlessness of what this world is capable of."
From the story, Patagonia, Land of Giants, in the summer 2016 issue of Saveur. Written by Adam Leith Gollner.
When you're crammed into a packed subway, shoulder-to-shoulder with lungs contributing to the recycling of stale air enveloping all, there's nothing better than a great travel story to transport you far, far away.
I'm really lucky to work just around the corner from the Flatiron location of Eataly. I go there pretty often to grab focaccia for lunch, and had an amusing interaction with the cashier ringing me up today.
"Nice cashier in the focaccia section: Do you work here? You look really familiar?
Me: Funny you say that, but no, I don't. My office is actually a block away, and I can't get enough of your focaccia so I'm here pretty often."
The news has never had the responsibility to make people happy, but it's now reached a serious point of no turning back.
In these current times we live in, there's so much going. Its aftereffects of shock and disbelief come easily for everyone who have never experienced it, or even let alone knew occurences like that existed. Everyday events in America and around the world are now available to document and experience in video and real time, forcing us all to accept its truth and work on finding a solution.
This is probably true for being on the planet at any time in history, but it's an honor being alive right now. I live with the hope of somehow contributing to the world---or even one person's world---to leave an impact while here.
"By Friday afternoon, the full scope of the city's losses was clear: At least two of the slain officers had served overseas in the military, only to die back home in Texas. A third had made his way to Dallas after working at a jail outside Detroit. A fourth was a large man---about 6-foot-5---who had the semblance of a grizzle bear, according to a friend. The fifth was a standout on Dallas's large, modern force: The local police association had named him the "Cops' Cop" for February 2009.
As condolences for the men poured in all day on Friday--from the governor to the secretary general of the United Nations---details of the officers' lives started to emerge. 'We're hurting, our profession is hurting,' said David O. Brown, the Dallas Police Chief."
From the July 9, 2016, New York Times article: 5 Slain Dallas Officers Served Overseas and at Home. Written by Alan Blinder and Alan Feuer.
Lorne Ahrens. Michael Krol. Michael J. Smith. Brent Thompson. Patrick Zamarripa. These are the five officers who were killed in the line of duty in Dallas. Their lives were taken by a man who only saw hatred and violence as a solution. It's just so wrong and infuriating. More death and violence is not what will build empathy and strength in all of us understanding one another.
Rest in peace to these five men. And much respect to all of the law enforcement out there whose daily hard work of serving and protecting all Americans---no matter race, religion, or class--go unrecognized.
"An emotional President Obama declared on Thursday that 'all Americans should be troubled' by fatal police shootings this week of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, saying that they were 'symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.'"
From the July 7, 2016, New York Times article: Shootings of Blacks Symptomatic of Racial Disparities in U.S., Obama Says. Written by Matt Furber and Richard Pérez-Peña.
You can't help but get chills watching the footage of these videos. Everything else around gets silent, and the disbelief in the reality of what's unfolding leaves nothing but shock.
These men did not deserve to die... we need to fix this problem, America.
My heart breaks for their families. My blood boils at the racial injustice. Black Lives Matter.
Queens Boulevard never stops. The street does grow slightly quieter at night, but there's still always a constant stream of cars and people (no matter how intermittent they are). Trucks rattling, emergency sirens blaring, or the occasional drunks howling are just some of the noises that carry over into my new 8th floor place whenever I'm home. And since staring out windows has always been a personal passion of mine, I very much appreciate my bird's eye view of everything. All of it is comforting in a way. I haven't lived near such a lively street since I was by Petchaburi in Bangkok.
I moved out of the Financial District at the end of May, and have been living in Woodside, Queens, since. It was a blast living downtown with my best friend Junho and we have a lifetime of memories to cherish from it. But after two years, we were both also ready for some change. He decided to go uptown to be closer to his hospital, and I chose to come back to my hometown borough of Queens.
I like being in Woodside. I haven't lived in Queens for a good eight years or so, but the adjustment is exactly what I was in need of. I'm happy to report the transition has been smooth with no problems so far. My commute to work is painless, I know my way around the area, and there are tons of good ethnic food spots all within walking distance underneath the 7 Train. Everything just feels natural and like I'm back home in a way. I mean, I'm pretty sure I won't ever live in Flushing again, so Woodside is the closest to home that will do.
Aside from my move, I haven't had much else going on. The summer has been pretty hot so far but I've been enjoying walking around and spending lazy Sundays at Prospect Park with friends. I've been trying to churn out a food story here and there whenever I can, so that's kept me somewhat occupied as well. I also had this idea to write about being chronically single my whole life, and how it feels to still be this way at 33. But then a coworker friend of mine mentioned that it's somewhat cliche to write about being single in New York City. And I realized how right she was.
Well, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far. Be sure to stay hydrated and do absolutely nothing if possible.
"After calling 911 to declare his allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, a gunman here killed 49 people and wounded 53 in a crowded gay nightclub early Sunday, the worst mass shooting slaughter in American history, law enforcement officials said."
From the June 12, 2016, New York Times story: Shooting at Orlando Nightclub Kills 49, Police Say. Written by Lizette Alvarez, Richard Perez-Pena, and Steve Kenny.
Waking up this Sunday morning was routine as ever, and I opened my eyes to check the news on my phone while still in bed. That's when I read about the shooting in Florida, and my pillow was wet with tears before I even lifted my head off of it. I'm not sure what can be said about a tragedy like this, so many more things are felt instead. Sadness. Anger. Despair. Unity. My heart aches for all of those who perished and were injured, and all of their family and loved ones. 49 lives lost. 49 Americans gone. 49 fellow LGBT brothers, sisters, and friends no longer here. Countless lives forever changed. It's all so hard to take in. Thank you to all of the police, medical emergency workers and armed forces who helped bring the gunman down. It's because of you that our country remains as great as it is.
"I've always believed in the power of broke: the less you have, the more creative you get. And (usually) as a result of this, you end up creating way cooler things than if you had millions of dollars and amazing connections to create your masterpiece."
From the May 30, 2016, MUNCHIES story: How I Threw a Party and Made It Into a Career. By Jeremy Fall.
"He believes deeply in focus---clearing away whatever he doesn't need to worry about so he can concentrate on his art---and now has a retinue of helpers. He gets three meals delivered each day, so he doesn't have to think about food; he has a stylist and a nutritionist and a trainer..."
From the May 13, 2016, New York Times article: A ' Hamilton' Star's Story: How Leslie Odom Jr. Became Aaron Burr, Sir.
There's something about getting older, where it's so easy to forget who you were and how you felt at 18.
Everything that's happened since then has shaped and formed these conditions where the things experienced from that time in our lives seems long gone.
But then once again, either when surrounded by extended relatives you love or gabbing late night with a familiar voice from high school, it completely transports you back. And serves as a reminder to always remember where you came from and what will always stay true.
"This is especially fascinating in Midtown Manhattan, where Koreatown is packed tight with restaurants, bars, groceries, hair salons, book and cosmetic stores but where relatively few Koreans actually live. It's a commercial hub without a built-in local clientele, and yet even here, the restaurateurs haven't really gotten into the cooking-for-foreigners game, to reconfiguring their food or style to fit non-Korean customers' tastes. The neighborhood exists because Koreans will travel there to be surrounded by Korean things."
From the May 5, 2016, New York Times story: Kimchi Fried Rice, Korean Comfort Food. Written by Francis Lam.
"But he hated summer in New York. All fat people hated summer in New York: everything was always sticking to everything else, flesh to flesh, flesh to fabric." From the book A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Page 295.
"Why wasn't friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn't it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified. Friendship was witnessing another's slow drip of miseries, and long bouts of boredom, and occasional triumphs. It was feeling honored by the privilege of getting to be present for another person's most dismal moments, and knowing that you could be dismal around him in return."
From the book A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Page 257.
The first four sentences of one of my non-existent short stories:
The dewy air at the top of the mountain felt chilly, but with a touch of softness. The all-day hike had exhausted Harriet and she plopped herself down on a small circle of sparse grass even before she took a moment to appreciate the view. Then almost like a reflex, she shot back up to her feet and began to scream, "I'm here, Finn! I'm here!" as tears and anger poured out of her. She yelled into the luscious green valleys not expecting her message would reach him, but that didn't stop her from trying until she had exhausted everything from within herself.
Sometimes, a simple meal of rice with banchan can be the most satisfying thing ever. And there are many days when I will gladly eat that over anything else.
While New York's Koreatown is filled with lots of great options to eat, my favorite go-to restaurant for authentic Korean food is The Kunjip. No matter what I order, their food is always well made and just tastes really good. I also appreciate that their menu is sensibly priced, especially considering the quality of food that you get. I've always thought their lunch specials are a superb deal too, with the majority of options hovering around $10. Since my office is not too far from 32nd Street, I love being able to pick up stuff from there to-go on a regular basis.
The Kunjip is open 24 hours and has always been popular for its food amongst both hungry families and drunken partiers during late-night hours. For me personally though, it wasn't until they moved this year to a new and larger space across the street onto the other side of 32nd when I became a true regular. This bigger location is two floors and is usually always busy like it was at the original one. But the experience is a lot less claustrophobic, which makes a huge difference to me.
However, some things still haven't changed though. In general, The Kunjip has never been the type of restaurant where you go and have a leisurely dinner with friends for hours. If you are looking to catch up with long lost buddies over Korean food, this is not the place for you. Instead, it's a place where you're given menus while waiting to be seated so you already know what you're ordering before you sit down. It's a place where you might have some beer and soju to enhance the food but not where you're going to get shitfaced. It's a place where you get your food quickly, and can have your check dropped at your table before you've even asked. It's a place where you gather your coats and belongings to leave after you've finished eating instead of lingering about. Basically, the main point of The Kunjip is their good food.
With all that being said, the dining room's speedy pace does not at all equate to bad service. I actually think it's the complete opposite because whatever your need or request is, the staff will always provide it an efficient yet professional manner. And all the workers are friendly with good energy. I mean sure, they will try and get you out the door if you're done, but will never rush you while you're actually eating. That's just the way the restaurant runs.
One thing I've always thought The Kunjip would be particularly nice for is a date or dinner obligation you really want to be over as quickly as possible. So the next time you have to go eat with someone you'd prefer to spend minimum time with, look no further.
Below are a couple of pictures from my dinner there earlier tonight at the peak of dinner service on a Saturday.