Friday, June 23, 2017

"I wanna go somewhere where nobody knows. 
I wanna know somewhere where nobody goes."

From the song Highway Vagabond by Miranda Lambert.

This song is from Miranda Lambert's album, The Weight of These Wings. I love this album. I listen to it constantly. It soothes me. It's go-to music for stress relief. It calms me when I'm feeling like shit. It's completely transporting to a land of serenity and beauty when I feel chaos. The opening song of Runnin' Just in Case feels like the start to a beautiful journey. And the entire album has just the perfect mix of some upbeat songs to get me going as well. Even to have it on in the background while I work out my thoughts makes a world of difference.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

It's Monday afternoon here in Seoul.

My sleep schedule has been really wonky the past few days or so, but I finally got a good night of sleep yesterday and am feeling a bit more clearheaded today.

I ate kalguksu last week at a place in Yeonhui-dong, and it was so good. Kalguksu is a traditional Korean comfort food that's pretty much a noodle soup. The broth can be made with a variety of things such as chicken or seafood, but I ate a version made from beef bones. I really liked it because the hand cut noodles are made from wheat flour, and I could taste the starch from the noodles in the soup. The combination of the thick, milky broth with slight depth from the carby noodles was straight up delicious. I'm still thinking about it even days later. Kalguksu is also traditionally served with fresh kimchi, which is supposed to be eaten within 7 days of being made and isn't fermented. I've actually always loved this type of kimchi my whole life, and preferred it to the regular kind. The entire meal just totally hit the spot.

But what I'm seriously craving right now is a decent haircut. I really need a good fade to feel freshened up and clean.
"Let's go, girls!"

From the song Man! I Feel Like a Woman! by Shania Twain.
"Fattier Pork Is Better Pork."

From the story title of a June 16, 2017, New York Times article. Written by Melissa Clark.
One word at a time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

If your cell phone is charged at 50%, doesn't that mean it's halfway charged or halfway empty?

I would say halfway empty because anything below an 80% battery gives me anxiety.
The one thing I'm not crazy about here in Korea are the typical bathrooms that are found in any common household.

They're modern in every sense of the word and even have electronic bidets that are fancy. But they usually don't have showers or a designated area for it. Instead, there'll be a handheld showerhead that's expected to be used in the middle of the bathroom or in a small corner of the space. Since there's no official shower area, the floor is made of tile that's meant to always get wet. That's the reason why a pair of rubber slippers will always be positioned at the door to help keep your feet dry. But I hate wearing those rubber slippers for some reason. It's a little annoying to put on every time I enter. Plus, I don't like thinking about who's worn them before and what they've done in them with their wet feet and all. At the place where I'm staying, I thankfully don't have to share the bathroom with anyone so I just walk around in it barefoot.
"And my darling, 
I'll be rooting for you."

From the song Rooting For You by London Grammar.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

It's Sunday evening here in Seoul, which also marks a little bit over my first full week in town.

I've spent a lot of my time eating and snacking on different things so far, ranging from street food to serious fine-dining. My favorite though has been the traditional Korean street food you'll find at almost any major subway stop or area. They're basically these tents or the backs of pickup trucks you walk up to and eat at while standing. You simply place an order for 1 serving of ddukbokki, kimbap, blood sausage, battered and deep fried squid/shrimp/vegetables, or fish cakes, and it's served right away. Everything is pretty much already made and ready to eat, but they'll quickly refry anything deep fried so it's nice and hot for you. And a small paper cup of the soup from the fish cakes will also be given for free as your savory beverage to sip on, so don't expect any water. This liquid will either be offfered to you directly, or you'll know it's self-serve by the ladle sticking out from the fish cake broth. Eating like this is great because I can have a feast on the cheap. Plus, it's also convenient for when I'm alone.

I've been particularly eating a lot of blood sausage called soondae, which I often crave in New York and have a small go-to spot in Flushing. But I do also need non-Korean food on a regular basis, so I've eaten great pasta and even the occasional fast food burger here as well. The dining choices are endless in Seoul, which is awesome. Another thing about Korean food culture is that they're absolutely coffee obsessed, so you'll find multiple cafes and Starbucks on any block. I personally avoid caffeine because it makes me feel crazy, but have had the occasional cup since arriving due to social situations. Korean people will meet for coffee at 10pm not for the caffeine, but just because it's an alternative to meeting at a bar in a culture that's so booze dominated. I've told myself no more coffee, though. My body just doesn't react to it well and I always end up feeling extremely wired and manic. The place where I'm staying at doesn't have wifi, so I have to go to cafes often for times I need to get online through my laptop. That's when I'll usually just order a tea to loiter for as along as possible, such as this very moment right now.

I had lunch this past Thursday at Jungsik, which is as fine-dining as you can get in Seoul. All of the food was spectacular, and the sommelier paired everything with some really great wines. A friend also showed me an area called Boseok-gil over the weekend, which means "jewelry road" and is a new neighborhood with a lot of small restaurants and cafes. It hasn't been completely overrun yet, which was a nice change to so many other main hotspots that are always packed with people and major chains. If you're looking to check out an up-and-coming area of Seoul, I definitely recommend it. My friend took me to a small Korean restaurant off Boseok-gil that's popular with young people for its newish, yet traditional, spin on Korean cuisine. It's called Jang Ggoma, and was super good. "Jang" translates to traditional sauces (think gochujang, ssamjang, etc), and "ggoma" means little kid. They don't have a lot of seating though, maybe 4-5 seats at the kitchen on the ground floor and less than 15 seats at a communal table on the second floor. You get to the upper level through a narrow staircase, and the communal table is made up of what used to be the door of a traditional Korean dresser made of beautiful mother-of-pearl. Eating there was such a fun and delicious experience overall.

I've been good with not going out at night or staying out too late because my main priority is getting work done. A lot of my friends and the people I'm working with drink daily until the wee of hours of the early morning, but I haven't done that yet. On the one or two nights I've gone out for a little, I've always tried to make the subway home before it stops running at midnight. But on those occasions, I will admit to ordering some Korean fried chicken near my place for when I do get off the train home a little tipsy. I think of it as my reward for getting back at what locals here would consider a modest hour.

Friday, June 09, 2017

"Your game is tired.
You should retire.
You're about as cute,
as an old coupon, expired."

From the song Swish Swish by Katy Perry.
Alone time is an absolute necessity.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

I had this dream last night, where I was trying to scream into my phone at a company because they had wronged me somehow. I was so livid, which was escalated even more because they had me on hold for over 4 hours. When it was finally my turn to speak to a representative, I choked and couldn't talk. I was trying to yell and shout my frustrations because I was so hurt and angry, but it was as if I had lost my voice. My rage had been boiling and become more intense over the time I waited and I obsessed about exactly what I wanted to say. But it came out as a whisper and at most, I was only able to say a few words. I kept having to try and clear my throat again, yet still, nothing. I actually woke up when I heard my own voice talking out loud.
People only want the good, the shiny, and the sparkling aspects of our lives.

But exactly how much of our day-to-day life actually consists of that? Life is not one, big Instagram filter. And that's what I'm determined to share here on my blog.
It's okay to have a good cry when it's needed... it's better than eating until you hate yourself.

Monday, June 05, 2017

I arrived in Seoul four days ago, and everything has been going great so far. I've already been able to see some family and friends, in addition to eating some good food here and there as well. It feels nice to be back. There's this level of comfort from being here that sort of puts me at ease.

My flight landed at Incheon Airport in the middle of the night, so I had to take a taxi to get into town. My driver was pleasant and we ended up chatting throughout the entire trip. He eventually asked if I was married, and I had to think for a split second about how I wanted to answer the question. I decided it was best to not divulge too much information and get into it, so I responded with a simple no. Then he proceeded to ask why, saying men my age should be married. Next he asked if I like Korean women or American women. I told him it didn't matter and that I was open to anyone. That was followed up with other questions that were just a natural progression of our conversation. What kind of girls had I dated before? What kind of girl do my parents want me to marry? Etc.

Afterwards, I was telling one of my friends about my conversation with the driver and explained that I wasn't looking forward to having this same discussion with elders or strangers over-and-over about marriage during my two months here. Then she offered a solution in how I should respond. She suggested I just say that I was divorced, and she guaranteed the topic of conversation would end right there. I thought it was pretty smart and funny for her to say that. I mean, in general, it's not like I am looking to straight-up lie to people and tell them I'm straight, but it's a different culture here. And I'm not looking to get into anything with people, especially if their questions are just a mindless way to be social and make conversation.

My schedule here has been different everyday, and it will most likely stay that way until I leave. It's amazing how once you leave a routine that you were used to daily for years, it's like your brain already forgot about it all and has moved on. It makes me all the more grateful to have the opportunity to be here.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Dear friends,

Please check out my new homepage at www.taeyoonwriter.com!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What do you do when you see the name of a new popular book that's one word off from the title of a short story you've had in your head for years?

Kick yourself really hard. And move on.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Whenever in need of retail therapy or some instant gratification, I look no further than the "Cookbooks Under $5" section on iBooks. It's updated throughout the week, and there are always cookbooks from major publishing companies and big time chefs/restaurateurs on sale!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Leave it to the kind employees of an Apple Store Genius Bar to give you an ear complex.

Since the days of the original iPod, earphones that usually come with Apple products have never really fit my ears. Their design has always been too awkward for my natural shape, and would fall out or simply never felt right. This lead me to trying lots of different earphones over the years, but about a month ago I decided to give one from Apple a go.

I purchased the Apple-In Ear Headphones that come with silicone tips, which usually always work well for me. I was happy with the new pair, and everything seemed fine. I even noticed how different it felt to go about my day using white earphones from Apple like most of the world---it was like I was finally a part of modern civilization. But then a few weeks later, I began to have issues with the left side. Anytime I attempted to pull the earphone out, the silicone tip would come unattached from the wire, leaving it it sitting in my ear canal. After days of dealing with extracting it out with my fingertips, I decided to go to the Apple store to return them for a new pair.

I've been dog-sitting Oscar for the past few days, so I decided to exchange them at the Apple Store in the Upper West Side. When the nice associate at the Genius Bar began assisting me, I explained how the left side was defective, and I just wanted a new pair. Since the sound quality was still fine, I inquired if my issue was something he saw often, which he responded to as no. I demonstrated how the silicone tip would remain sitting in my ear when I pulled at the wire. But when he tested the same thing on his own ears, the earphones did not have the same issue. After a bit more assessment, he recommended a full refund rather than an exchange. When I pressed him for more info, he said that because of my ear shape, this problem would most likely happen again. And when I explained my history of having ill-matched ears for Apple earphones, the whole thing just made sense. It was then when I realized: Apple products and my ears just aren't meant to be.

I know there are tons of other earphone options for me to try, but I can't say that I wasn't a teeny-tiny bit bummed leaving the store. To come to the conclusion that this relationship will never happen, well, okay Apple, I finally hear you.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

"Just... two people that like warm rolls."

Said by Melvin in the movie As Good As It Gets.
"When he found out I was a writer he gradually began to reveal more personal details. He may have felt that, like therapists and religious leaders, writers had a legitimate right (or duty) to hear people's confessions."

From the short story, An Independent Organ, in the book Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami. Page 91.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Friday, May 05, 2017

"I associate many things with many things."

Said by the character Watson in the movie Desk Set.
Ew.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

At the end of the month, I'll be moving out of my place here in Woodside, Queens. Yes, another year, and another different living situation. I've lost track of the number of times I've moved as an adult---it's too overwhelming to try and even think about.

I guess the good news is that I'm leaving my current living situation for a more positive reason this time. On June 1st, I'll be going to Seoul for two months. I''ll be heading over there to work on a writing project. The entire thing is beyond exciting, and I am so ready to get the fuck out of New York for a bit. I've never been into weekend vacations or traveling for short stints. I've always just preferred longer periods of immersing myself somewhere instead, so I do see my upcoming trip as a much needed blessing that's necessary for my sanity. It's funny because it was seven years ago around this time of year when I decided to drop everything here in New York and head to Korea in order to look for a new job, and basically life. And now years later, I'll be going again but under completely different circumstances. This time isn't totally about running away from everything (okay, maybe just little), but more about carrying my life in the forward direction I really need to go. I'm happy, excited, and know this will help me mentally reset in a way. In general, things in life are good. But I'm in desperate need of some variety---a change from the daily routine that sometimes feels too easy to become complacent with. I needed this, badly. And I am oh, so ready for it.
Your shit sucks.
How do you not get bogged down?

How do you express yourself without focusing on the possibility of it being misunderstood?

How do you react when the negativity catches you off guard?

How do you refrain from destroying MTA property after yet another train delay?

How do you stop at just one?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"The list is an absolute good. The list... is life."

Said by Itzhak Stern in the movie Schindler's List.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I've learned that telling some people about your good news can be just the same as telling them about your problems.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Why does everything in New York seem so much more tolerable after a few drinks?

All the irritating things from earlier in the day, they disappear into the night sky... but I'm sure will materialize again in the morning.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

I guess that uncomfortable feeling means you're doing something right.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Wake up. It's 2000. The new millennium won't be about sexual labels, it'll be about sexual expression."

Said by Samantha in the show Sex In the City. Season 2, Episode 16.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"Why not fly? Why not try?"

From the song Streets of New York (City Life) by Alicia Keyes.

Monday, April 10, 2017

I always make a million promises to myself when I'm full.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Dear friends,

Please check out my most recent write-up for VICE's food channel, MUNCHIES: What Two Decades as a Restaurateur Has Taught Me.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Pasta with a past.
"Sit down. Be humble."

From the song HUMBLE by Kendrick Lamar.
"The ideal poached egg is as beautiful and fleeting as a shooting star---a warm bundle of fluid yolk encased by a barely-set-yet-tenacious white. It feels kind of tragic to have to spear it and set all that yellow sauciness coursing out, but that's what it's all about: rich, yolk soaking into your slice of crusty toast, or coating a pile of roasted veggies, or working its way into a pile of steaming, seasoned sushi rice."

From the story Put An Egg On It in the April issue of Bon Appétit magazine. Written by Chris Morocco and Amiel Stanek.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

That oh-so-familiar smell of urine is the official fragrance of New York City, but the strength measured by the amount sprayed definitely ranges. Sometimes you walk by an area that has just a mist of it, and then others might seem like it was doused by the imitation version. It's easy for that urine smell to enter your body a few times a day though. It can hit when least expected. It'll slip right into your nose without any remorse, which just makes you walk even faster. New Yorkers are known to speed by because they're in a rush, but sometimes it's because they're running away from something, too.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

"Didn't you know by now that you could never truly know another person?"

From the book The Mothers by Brit Bennett. Page 371.

Friday, March 31, 2017

"Have a look in that drawer, and try to keep it that way."

Said by Patsy in the show Absolutely Fabulous. Christmas Special 2002: Gay, Episode 1 Cleanin'. 
Magazines without mastheads discovered on the subway.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

"She's the queen. 
Shade machine."

From the song Call Me Mother by RuPaul.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"Guess who's back in the house,
heels click-clackin' about."

From the song Call Me Mother by RuPaul.
On cold and rainy days like today in New York, it makes me miss my old soi in Bangkok.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"We are all a part... of those who came before."

From the official movie trailer for Disney Pixar's Coco.
"It's about a gay sous chef in San Francisco. He gets bit by a radioactive rat on his shift when he's taking out the trash, and is blessed with powers beyond his wildest dreams. Super, sonic, gay kind of powers."

Said by Dave Chappelle on The Age of Spin: Dave Chapelle Live At the Hollywood Palladium. Collection 2, Episode 1.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This one's always a hard one. Do I watch something with the captions on? Or do I not focus on only the words and try listening instead?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Okay, is there a connection between The Slums of Beverly Hills and Search Party?

I started watching the movie The Slums of Beverly Hills earlier tonight, and now have been watching Search Party afterwards. I'm only a few episodes in, but there's already been a yellow hairdryer and the same exact Anna Karenina quote by Leo Tolstoy. This can't just be a coincidence?

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's the eve of what's supposed to be a huge blizzard here in New York City and the Northeast.

The snow is expected to start coming down around midnight, which is just an hour away. I'm not sure how big this storm is actually going to be, but announcements of school closures and public transportation shutdowns were made earlier in the afternoon today. And if it's already known by then that things need to be closed, I guess it's serious.

I still don't have any curtains or blinds for my window, so I'm looking forward to watching the snow fall and blanket everything.

Stay safe, everyone.
"But nobody ever taught me how to stay."

From the song Runnin' Just In Case by Miranda Lambert.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

"You mean, all this time, we could've been friends?"

Said by Baby Jane Hudson in the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Monday, March 06, 2017

Bedtime memes.
"When I first saw you, I saw love."

From the song You're Still the One by Shania Twain.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Leakers.
It's funny how so many people have colds or get sick at once. It's like you suddenly see and hear them everywhere in the city. Coughs out in public. On the subway. At work. Or even on the other side of the wall.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

An acorn falls from a tree.

Person 1: Oh look, an acorn!
Person 2: I totally just saw that fall.
Person 3: I want it!
Person 4: What is that?
Person 5: I don't like acorns.
Person 6:
Person 7: I'm going to kick it!
Person 8: I have to step on it.
Person 9: What are an acorn's functions any way?
Person 10: I hope that squirrel gets it.
Person 11: Wow there's too many, I'm going to step around.
Person 12: I didn't know this was an acorn tree.
Person 13: I want to feel that crunch.
Person 14: Stupid ass acorns!
Person 15: I wonder if a new tree will grow?
Person 16: I hate acorns!
Person 17: Uhhhhhhhhhh.
Person 18: Step over the dog shit!
Person 19: Oh, I'm going to take that for ______.
Person 20: Will the top just pop off?
Dated.
Jaded.
Obliterated.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

It's a clear sunny day here in New York City. I've been dog-sitting for the past couple of days in the Upper West Side, and will be heading out in a bit for a meeting in Union Square, and then dinner with my friend Judy.

Have a great Sunday!
Sometimes, you just have to turn all the lights on and keep them on.
How is it that something that brings so much joy and happiness, can also bring pain and the feeling of being out of control? Where both curiosity and expectations lead to regretful decisions, and getting pissed at yourself just becomes part of the routine.
You're only as good as your last ____________.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

"'Cause all they'll do is give you bad advice, and that'll ruin your confidence. Confidence is key."

Said by Shante in the movie Two Can Play That Game.