Sunday, March 29, 2020

It's been almost three weeks since I began staying home. I pretty much have rarely ventured out of my place except to get takeout on my block or groceries nearby. I've been able to get on with what I have access to in my area and with delivery, but I really needed to restock on Korean ramen today, along with some other Asian stuff. So my roommate and I decided to actually get some air and walk to the nearest H Mart in the Upper West Side. It was about 35 blocks each way, and we stayed 6 feet apart from each other and anyone else we came across on the sidewalk. When we got to the supermarket, we stood in the line with everyone spaced out 6 feet. Every time a customer exited the doors, the person at the front of the line went in. And when inside, things were fine. I like how the aisles weren't crowded, and I could just get my stuff and leave. I'm not sure when I'll go anywhere that far from my place again, but it was great to go for a nice long walk today. The weather was gray with a slight drizzle at times and I loved every moment of it.

Here are some pics from today's Sunday stroll.








Saturday, March 28, 2020

"You want what now looks like, 
let me give you a taste."

From the song Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa.
Doing the dishes.
Making wishes,
I had that to eat.
Feels so fictitious.
Gotta eat that receipt,
love to lick off the package.
You oughta taste that shit twice,
nothing short of ravage.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020

It's been ordered by the New York Governor that beginning at 8pm tonight, any non-essential workers are expected to stay home. Starting tomorrow, the only people commuting and on the streets will be from certain jobs and industries currently considered essential. The subways will be running and people can go out for food and walks, but people must remain 6-feet apart and social distance. And if you don't have to leave your home, just stay put.

Since last Monday, everything in New York has pretty much shut down. Throughout the week with every passing day, it's been closure after closure. So many different fabrics of society have been impacted, with people losing their jobs and many businesses now just trying to stay afloat.

It's like all of a sudden, life feels very different. Human contact is no longer the foundation to our everyday interactions but the part that we're trying to avoid. This change has altered everything we know.

The bar and restaurant industry was one of the earliest casualties of it all. Seeing what's happened to so many places is absolutely devastating. These small businesses were incubators of community, livelihoods, and culture and there's a shock that comes with them suddenly not being there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It's the first week of all that's new, and it's only Wednesday. Watching every new update in real time is disorienting.
Death to the handshake.
A moment was all it takes.

Monday, March 16, 2020

David Attenborough, please tell us what happens next.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Elected officials are asking people not to go to bars and restaurants for now. Restaurants are voluntarily closing their doors until more is learned about the situation. Social distancing is recommended.

I've left my apartment sparingly since I began working from home on Tuesday. I've been going out about once a day for food on my block, but that's pretty much it. I guess it's been about the past 24 hours or so where the message to just stay home has been made clear, so this is where you'll find me.
Attic.
Addict.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dear 2020,

In January, when I said you were just going to be another basic bitch year, my bad.

Love,
Thawny

Thursday, March 12, 2020

All that could go wrong,
is just a beautiful song.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

"Aquata.
Adrena.
Arista.
Adena.
Adella.
Alana."

From the song Daughters of Triton in movie The Little Mermaid.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Saturday, March 07, 2020

There’s a dire shortage of Purell for racism.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Dead plants,
tight pants.
So much angst,
but give thanks.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Self-care is not scrolling your life away at 1am.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

I made this for you,
show me that gorgeous chew.
이젠,
버틸 수 없다고.

From the song 기억의 습작 by Exhibition.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

"That's my shit, that's my wave.
Do it like that and I'll repay ya.
Don't be scared, I ain't afraid.
Just like that, come my way.

From the song Like That by Doja Cat ft Gucci Mane.
Is that necessary,
couldn't you just wait and see?
They promised the food was coming,
way to seethe.
Being a receptacle for sauce,
is what makes you the boss.
It ain’t none of my business,
except for my sandwich.
Cause the bite you’re taking,
I don’t think you can manage.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

"I hadn’t googled him in forever (I promise)."

From the February 28, 2020, New York Times Opinion piece: My Ex-Boyfriend’s New Girlfriend Is Lady Gaga. By Lindsay Crouse.

This was such a fun read, and I also didn't know that "google" as a verb is lowercased. I see it now though.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Brain off,
just mosh.
Zero thoughts,
oh gosh.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Oh donkatsu and tteokbokki,
where you can you be?
Your friend jjajang is waiting,
I'll show you, come see.
Prepared to be read, bread.
Cause I ain't feeling no threat.
On the subway seeing the action,
satisfaction with all that might, passion.
Give me so funny, so stupid, so many eyes rolling back.

Monday, February 24, 2020

At the stoplight,
don’t press rewind.
All day I think, "okay, why am I thinking this?
"Didn't even notice, no punches left to roll with.
You got to keep me focused, you want it, say so."


From the song Say So by Doja Cat.

I seriously was looking for this song for so long. After hearing it in a million memes, I was like ooh that's catchy. But because I could never really make out the words, whenever I Googled "Gwen Stefani new song," I still could never find it. 

I mean, now I totally know it's not by her. But when the song surprisingly came out just now on my Spotify, I went to look at its name and thought, that's now how you spell Gwen Stefani.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

"TAE, DO YOU WANT TO BE IN MY POETRY CLUB?"

An email with the subject line above was both my invitation and introduction to Thomas Miller's poetry club. 

It arrived in May of 2010, with the body of the email simply containing that week's poem, along with the name of its author and what years they lived. After giving it a read, I responded with an excited yes, saying I'd love to. But I wasn't sure what joining entailed, and if it took place at some sort of gathering or if I'd need to be buying books to prepare. So when I asked Thomas about how to join, my second installment of Thomas Miller's poetry club came with this email subject line: "You don't have to do anything...you just get a poem every week...like this one." 

And until this year, those poems have continued to come. 

I first met Thomas because he worked with my best friend Judy. Thomas and Judy weren't just coworkers who became close friends after years of working together, but they had a genuine friendship and connection. I mean, let's not even talk about them being birthday twins. But because he and Judy were close, I was able to get to know Thomas pretty well throughout the years. 

Thomas was genuinely one of the sweetest people I know. He was kind, and a definite one of a kind. He was loved for his big heart and also known for his unique style. And on top of all that, he was really interesting with tons of knowledge about art and whatever fine cultural events were happening in the city. On almost every day of the week, you could find Thomas out at an exhibit or sitting in the audience of some gorgeous production. Even the last time we hung out one-on-one was to watch ballet at Lincoln Center last year, which was my first time ever doing so. He loved anything that celebrated both the visual and performing arts and once told me he's "obsessed with looking at beautiful things." And this wasn't just for when he was outside his house.

Some years ago, a tough transitional phase of mine had me going through a long period of couch crashing. When Thomas heard about this through Judy, he generously offered to let me stay in his spare bedroom for a few months as I got back on my feet. Thomas had been living in his place since the 80s, so stepping inside his home was a deep immersion in who he was. Practically every inch and corner was decorated with some item. The spare bedroom I slept in was filled with things as well, from eccentricities I couldn't stop staring at to shelves of books and delicate figurines. And because there was no Internet connection in that room, a small analog tv near the bed was what I usually used to break the silence as I admired my surroundings. Being there in his home with all of the things he loved comforted me in a way. I was so used to living out of a suitcase with minimal belongings, and that's why Thomas' place was a great reminder in the serenity that can come from a home with stuff that brings you joy.

Sadly, Thomas passed away last weekend. His funeral was yesterday, and I was grateful to be able to go and say my goodbyes. You can read his obituary here, and also a recent article about him here. And as for Thomas' poetry club, while they became less frequent in the past few years, he had kept up sending out his poems since he first signed me up a decade ago. The final poem Thomas ever sent was on January 5th of this year.

While going through old photos to look for ones with Thomas, I found the following ones below I took at a work dinner of his, Judy's and their colleagues. This night is from exactly ten years ago in February of 2010.

Rest in peace, Thomas. You were a light to many.
Thomas Miller (1958-2020)











"He prolly thinkin' I'm in pain,
but I'm really on game."

From the song B.I.T.C.H. by Megan Thee Stallion.
"I've got a meeting in the ladies room,
I'll be back real soon.

From the song Meeting In The Ladies Room by Klymaxx. 
Turn off television.
Put away phone.
Blast music.
Open laptop.
Don't stop.
Let the prose drop.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

I don’t think I can do this anymore.
Turning 37,
has me asking when?

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Is anyone else watching Nora From Queens?

It's a new scripted comedy based on the life of Awkwafina and her growing up in Queens. I think it's really well made and super entertaining, I like the show a lot. And Awkwafina is straight up hilarious in it.

Her facial expressions and body language make all the writing that much more funnier and she seriously cracks me up. There's also this vulnerability she brings to her character, where Nora seems to just innately want the best for everyone around her. And in each episode, while Nora is trying to figure out her own shit in life, she's actually dealing with a lot of other people who are crazier and more out there than her, yet she really never makes anything about herself. Instead, as she attempts to handle her own stuff, she tries her best to make sure others are going be okay as well.

But what I love most about the show is how it displays layers and dimension to its Asian-American characters in a way that's not solely centered around them being Asian. It's like holy shit, finally! It's so refreshing to watch a show with Asian-American people who are all just living their damn lives like the average Americans that we are. We're just as funny and dysfunctional and as any other group, and it's these types of stories I relate to and want to learn from.

Compared to so many other shows that's ever featured an Asian cast who are always dealing with some sort of circumstance that's related to their race, this show is doing its own thing. Instead of any of the characters having to figure solutions to navigate all these different situations, being Asian simply just factors in to the conventional details of their everyday life. That means eating jook (porridge) for breakfast before heading out of the house or a Chinatown bus being the mode of transportation to get to Atlantic City. I find this highly relatable. I appreciate that the usual, clichéd storylines of an Asian person feeling like an outsider have been transformed into stories that unapologetically lay out the ordinariness of them going about something, first as just a regular person, and then also sometimes as an Asian person in America. Because there is nothing more lazy and played out than having another show with Asian-American characters who only undergo archetypical things like getting good grades, trying to become a doctor or grappling with being an outlier of some sort. Snoresville, for reals. I mean, sure, I guess that exists and is some people's truth. But that doesn't mean it's the only narrative to tell. And that's only like a small part of what defines anyone who actually feels like that---there a zillion other ways a character's story could be told. Previously, so many Asian characters were never allowed to be a full person with a backstory that included things like a messy room or job problems. Hollywood has framed this one-dimensional stereotype for so long and it's just so predictable. All of the people in charge of creating shows need to take some lessons from Nora From Queens because this is how you do it right. And don't get me wrong, none of the characters in the show ever deny their ethnicity, but instead, they're showing how it's just one facet of the many complexities that comprise who they are.

There are other things about the series that make me a fan as well. All of the episode storylines are ridiculous, interesting and just so well executed. I also like a lot of their subtle details that remind me of growing up as an Asian kid in Queens. From the 7 Train to soju bottles, to White Rabbit candy or the New York State Pavilion, it all brings me back. And then there's how Nora assumes some of her friends are living these amazing lives with fancy jobs like "video producer" or "lawyer" because that's what she thought she heard about them. When in reality, that's so far from the truth. I think that aspect really speaks on our current culture with social media making us compare ourselves to these picture-perfect existences that we think others are leading, when nothing is really what it seems.

Getting stoned. Queef talk. Kooky family members. Brokeness. Trying to figure out what it means to be an adult. The list goes on and on, but these are just some of the things you can find yourself laughing about in Nora From Queens.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The game has changed,
nothing remains.
Yet you’re still the same?
That's insane.
Microscopic,
next topic!
Kick that thought,
emptied pockets.

Friday, February 07, 2020

"I'm gonna ride this motherfucker 'til the wheels fall off. Live your life."

Said by Martin Lawrence in his stand-up special Runteldat.
At this point,
it's smarter.
To let go,
bye martyr!
Tweaked.
Tweaker.
Obliques.
Bleaker.
The past few weeks or so.










Can't hear you,
can't see you.
Can't meet you,
won't do.
At sunrise,
be surprised.
Same bullshit,
it's true.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Well if you put it that way...

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

It exists.
Hit or miss,
stay true to your shit.
When running on empty,
stare at that list.
I have tteokbokki fever.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

"There's a certain detachment that sensitive people must maintain to endure the harsh realities of this world."

Said by RuPaul in his audiobook Guru.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Monday, January 27, 2020

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Already forgotten,
to forever stay rotten.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

One-syllable life,
I need my pulse hyped.
Decision to incision,
no sneezing on that vision.
No more crumbs in bed,
dump that thing instead.
Private. Dining. Room.
Unclench, and feel that drench.
Color outside the line,
snap outside the frame.
Stir until it splashes,
rock a clean fade.
Beard.
Weird.
Feared.
Bleared.
Coughing into the pillow,
now everybody say wayo.
I am always watching the same movies on repeat.

...is that because things in my life feel like they’re on repeat too?
I felt a little bit of that.

Monday, January 20, 2020

"If you make a plan, life never works out that way. Look around us. Did these people think, 'Let's all spend the night in a gym?' But look now. Everyone's sleeping on the floor, us included. That's why people shouldn't make plans. With no plan, nothing can go wrong."

Said by the character Park Dong-Ik in the movie Parasite.
"Shin never became a novelist, but he named his first successful business, a company that marketed chewing gum, Lotte after Charlotte, the female character in Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel 'The Sorrows of Young Werther.' Mr. Shin was especially proud of the name Lotte, calling it 'the best choice in my life.'"

From the January 19, 2020 NYT Article: ‘Chewing Gum Tycoon’ of Lotte Group, Shin Kyuk-ho, Dies at 98. By Choe Sang-Hun.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

People know.
People, no!
You know that scene in Beaches when CC Bloom bangs on her radiators with a frying pan so her super turns up the heat?

I think I've thought about her doing that literally every time I lay eyes on a radiator here in NYC. And this has been since I first watched it as a kid.
"Dear CC, we're spending summer at our beach house. It's very peaceful here. I get to ride horses and think a lot."

Said by Hillary in the movie Beaches.
Wash your hands x 100.
We’re not just talking like, next to the dumpster at piggly wiggly?

Say by RuPaul in the podcast RuPaul: What’s the Tee ft. Michelle Visage. Episode 238.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Other fish to fry,
other beans to boil.
Other cabbage to cook,
another thought to toil.
The past few weeks or so.
















Descend.
Defend.
Demand.
Dreamland.
"I'm making spaghetti. You'd better come home soon."

Said by the character Eun Ho on the Netflix Korean drama: Romance Is a Book. Season 1, Episode 11.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Well hello there, 2020.

I know you sound fancy and all, but you're just another year, aren't you? Just the next number in a sequence that we'll use to keep track of all the stuff in the following 12 months? I don't know, I guess there's a bit of futuristic romanticism to your name, like the plot of an old sci-fi movie finally coming to life. But in the same way you're just another basic bitch year.

Or maybe not? That's why I'm trying to think of ways to amp you up a notch to make you better than 2019.

To start, I definitely want to have more fun in 2020, because it feels like I spent way too much time in my head last year. The thing is, 2019 was definitely hard. Life really does work in cycles, because much like exactly ten years ago at the beginning of 2009, where I found myself unemployed after having been laid off from my job, 2019 started off in a similar way.

I had lost my job in November of 2018 after the NYC office I worked at was suddenly closed by our parent company in Europe. Losing that job was fine because the environment I worked in was not good. It was an eye-opening experience of a type of work culture that had my jaw dropping on a regular basis, and one that I never wish to be in again. So when I lost that job, I accepted it as a chapter of my life closing, and told myself I'd be fine, and that a new chapter at a new job would soon be starting. I had been in this situation of being jobless before, so I dusted off the old resume and got to it. But little did I know that the next chapter to come would not be at a job, but instead, a really long stretch of unemployment.

I started my job search in high spirits that month. I was super enthusiastic about all of the places I was applying to, and was just excited about everything. Thinking about the possibilities of where I would end up and how I could contribute to wherever that was kept me energized and eager. But then a full month passed by with nothing. Then two. This was where I found myself at the start of 2019, and I reassured myself by saying okay it's still only been a short time that I've been looking. Plus, it was just the holiday season, so I'll be totally fine and something will happen soon. But then I hit my three month mark of unemployment. And then four. Even with what I thought was a pretty decent work history and resume, I wasn't getting the amount of responses or leads I thought I would.

I would say by the fifth month of earnestly looking and trying so fucking hard with absolutely no results, I hit an emotional low point. I felt so lost. I felt scared about my future. I started to believe that these companies who had no interest in hiring me were right, and that maybe I had no value to offer them, or any company at that matter. While I had been unemployed at other previous stages of my life, something about this one felt different. To begin, it was longer than any of those other times had ever been. And the optimism and whatever-everything-will-work-out attitude I had in my twenties and earlier thirties seemed gone. Instead, everything was replaced by panic and this fear of feeling like I had no control over my life. Five months is a long time to go while still trying to pay all my bills and stay afloat. And going through everything as a single person with no one to really rely on and have as support made everything feel so much more isolating. I began to question everything about my life to an obsession, and all of the choices I had made to get to this point. Is this where I was at 36? All I wanted was a job to wake up and go to. Why did this seem so unattainable?

Month six of being unemployed came and passed. Then month seven. At this point, I had gone on my fair share of interviews. Either I kept missing the mark in some way or there was always some other reason, because none of these places wanted to hire me. But during this time, there was something else I unexpectedly gleaned. It was something I had never really thought about when getting interviewed at jobs before. It was like the opportunity to speak with different people at a wide range of companies had me noticing people's personalities a lot more, and I started to especially pick up on things like if the interviewer seemed sort of miserable. It happened more than once.

The journey of a long job search has a lot of highs and a lot of lows. The lows had some real dark points. I honestly just didn't understand so much of what my reality was at that time, where bitterness hardened up like candy and I often found myself taking big bites out of it. I also wasn't telling everyone I knew that I lost my job and found myself unemployed again, (because it's definitely happened more than once since ten years ago). It was a struggle to pay bills and just get through stuff. I tried to keep busy by pitching food stories here and there but I didn't have much success at that either. The amount of self-reflection I was doing at this point was no joke. I took a long hard look at a lot of things in my life. I mean, I had the time to so why not just go all the way, right? The highs came in a few forms, mostly through just realizing some stuff. Things like, "actually, you know what? I'll aways be okay," or "things aren't so bad." And then there were even those moments where I wasn't sure how I'd get through something. But then I would, and I would be fine. It made me realize I was taking care of business as best I could, so who gives a shit.

Then month eight came and went. But when nine started, it did so with a bang. That's when I applied to a food company with a name that immediately caught my eye, and is when everything changed.

Two years ago at one of my big Yoon family gatherings, with my grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins, something in our usual, large seafood spread caught my eye. It was the salmon sashimi. Its color was so different. It had been a while since we had salmon from Alaska, and I didn't remember it looking like that.

The thing is, my family has deep roots in Alaska, and I grew up eating wild-caught salmon all the time from the 3rd to 7th grade. That's when I used to live there as a kid with my parents and two sisters. I have so many fond memories of eating my grandma's home cooked salmon in Anchorage, and only with my rice because it was that good. I still ate salmon as an adult here in New York, and I guess got so used to the stuff I found here at restaurants that I didn't even think it was different from what I remembered having in Alaska.

But then on that dining room table of my cousin's house, I saw this salmon from Alaska that one of my relatives had sent. It had this deep red color that sparked a whole bunch of something in my head. I didn't understand what about it caught my eye, but I sure did enjoy eating it. Because I couldn't figure out why it made me feel the way I did, it continued to cross my mind every now and then.

On the ninth month of unemployed life, I was able to have my first interview at this food company. This was the place with a name that had me thinking how interesting. It was a video interview with the founder that I took from my living room desk, and I was genuinely excited. When I began to tell him about having lived in Alaska when I was younger, I also told him about my dad and his parents and 5 siblings all moving there in the 70s from South Korea.

In 1975, my great-uncle had a hamburger place in Homer, Alaska. He had emigrated there from Korea years earlier and worked in the fish canneries before eventually opening up his own business. He then sponsored his sister, which is my grandma, and her family, being my grandpa, dad, 5 aunts and uncles, to immigrate to America. Homer is where they all first settled in at to begin their American story. My grandpa and eldest uncle also worked in the fish canneries there for a while. Years later, everyone in the family would eventually move on to build new lives down in Anchorage or in New York City, but Homer holds a special place in my family's history.

When I mentioned Homer to the founder of this company I was applying to during my interview, his response had me shooketh. He proceeded to tell me he was born and raised in Homer, Alaska. Seriously.

To make a long story never end, that auspicious moment was followed by so many other wonderful things, and it all resulted in my finally landing a new job! And from the get-go, something about this one gave me a really good feeling.

The company sells wild-caught and sustainable salmon from Alaska, along with other fish and seafood species that are wild-caught and sustainable from the state. Working here has been great in so many ways, so much so that I don't even think about those nine long months of my tortuous job search. I'm so happy with where I am now that ain't nobody got time to look back like that! Along with the people, one of the greatest things about my company is having a work day that's centered around salmon from Alaska. I mean, I have access to eating it daily, have meetings about it throughout the day, and am pretty much thinking about it all the time! But okay, what's got to be my absolute favorite thing are those days when all I'm doing is writing about it. My job is to write about Alaskan salmon. I could have never imagined this during those hard nine months. Like, wow.

Constantly being around the salmon I had as a kid has brought back so many memories. I remember that its color wasn't orange with marbled lines of fat, but a deep red with a lean texture. I also remember how delicious it is and how much I loved eating it. The difference in flavor compared to any other salmon is just there to me. I see it and can't ever go back to anything else again. And that mystery of thinking about the salmon from my family function two years ago? Well, now that everything's been cleared up, it doesn't even cross my mind.

So 2019 came and went, and so will 2020. And from now on, for any year of my life I ever look back on, I’ll think, yeah I was fine that year.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The current soundtrack of living in NYC includes a lot of coughing and sneezing.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Invisible. An afterthought.

What even am I?

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

I had a perfect train day today. Well, at least half of one on my commute home that is.

I can't even remember when I started calling it this, but I gave the label perfect train day to those odd days when every subway I'd have to take would somehow magically show up the moment I got to the platform. This used to mean it would happen both in the morning and evening in simpler times when I didn't live in my current place and getting to wherever I worked only required taking a single subway line. But since I have to take 3 subway lines to get to my office now, perfect train days seem pretty much impossible. There's no way this could happen to six different trains in a single day of commuting. However, it did happen on my way home. The G, 7 train and D train all pulled into each station the moment I got there and I even managed to snag a seat every time. Sure, I worked a little late today and left my office at 8pm so that was probably why I got seats, but the timing still all matched up! It's been a while since I've had a perfect train day in any shape or form, so it made me pretty happy and was the highlight of my evening. It was a nice little reminder that it does still exist! Yes, exciting stuff going on here, folks.