Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Is a home-cooked meal considered to be of lesser quality than dishes available at a restaurant? Or is the written work on a personal blog all that much different than what's found in published articles or books?

With so many people creating amazing things and content out there in the world, my answer is no. Talent and quality exists in all types of methods, approaches, and corners.

When I wrote my first blog entry here exactly 15 years ago today, my only intention was cathartic release. But now, after what feels like a lifetime later, I've come to appreciate my long collection of thoughts and life phases documented in this open-book journal.

Back in 2006, life remained dominantly analog—and thinking about it now, it was probably the last era ever for that type of existence. Social media and the groundbreaking technology of smartphones had yet to transform everyday life and the online landscape into what it is today. Instead of the Internet feeling extremely crowded like it currently does, it still composed an element of uncharted territory back then. Curiosities could still lead to exciting new unknowns, and the online world was still mostly looked at as a clean slate where we could start our new digital selves. It was a destination where those seeking connection of any type could find it without all of the negative aspects commonly attached to it now. And it was this exact mindset that I created this Blogspot.

Currently in 2021, I'll be honest and say blogging here has come to feel somewhat outdated. What once felt fresh and untraveled now has a part of me thinking that if I don't switch things up soon, I'll begin to really lag behind the times. And I'm not sure if it's because of the quality of my writing or perhaps the fact that it lives on a platform that most people dismiss and don't want to click on in our modern times—but I do want my work to be seen by others, and I'm not sure if this blog is the place where that'll happen. 

However, that's totally okay, because I've learned and benefitted a million times over from having it. Through so many difficult periods in my younger life where I was figuring stuff out, it was my only constant ally that gave me a space to truly be myself with absolutely no judgements. With straight up survival as my only intention, forcing myself to release my emotions here for 15 years pretty much formed the strong foundation I now have that's rooted in a literary way of being. And for that priceless lesson and growth, I will forever be grateful.

At the age of 23, I genuinely used to feel like I lived at a local stop of the subway, and the only thing I saw was the express train of life zooming by to my intended destination without me. I was in such a rush to accomplish the things that I thought I wanted to, but now at my age I totally know better. And upon reflection, none of that was ever for me or mine to have. But damn, now at 38, I am so happy to have gotten to where I have while making all of those local stops. It let me get off at each one and explore what I needed to before hopping back on to keep moving forward, all with a renewed strength and outlook to tackle whatever came next.

To anyone else with a dream, know that there is no expiration date for it. Keep. Fucking. Going. Don't limit yourself to your expectations, because there's so much more in store for you.

Some friends have asked me what I'm going to do with all of the extra time and effort that used to be dedicated to this blog. Well, I haven't figured that out just yet. But, I do know that I plan to put all that bandwidth into another medium or project where I can continue to express myself. 

Until then, thanks for your time. And let's definitely catch up then.

Love,
Tae
Chew twice before scarfing.
Check out my first ever podcast segment linked here

I'm proud that its focus was on a topic that's near and dear to me.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

"We said we wanted a new start. This is it."

Said by Jacob in the movie Minari.
Even though it's the weekend, I've been getting terrible sleep. Since Friday night, I've been falling asleep at a ridiculous late-night hour that feels more like my ideal time to wake up early and start my day on the right foot. I've also been having the weirdest dreams the past few days and opening my eyes to this heaviness and exhaustion.

After waking up today, I lied in bed for a bit not sure of what to do with my thoughts or my day. I used cleaning my room as a reason to get motivated and on my feet, and as I was Swiffering my floor with Natalie Merchant's Tigerlily album playing in the background, my phone rang—it was my good friend Annie calling. 

Annie and I have been close since high school and she's been living in Seattle for a while now. Honestly, at our age, with most people having life partners, kids, and generally, different interests, it's natural that all friendships evolve or fizzle out. And that's totally okay, because as we get busier with more responsibilities, that's just how life works. I could say that outside of my core group of friends, it's inevitable that I've become mutually untethered from most other people I used to know, and now keeping in contact through Instagram likes is more than sufficient. If there's nothing left connecting us or no longer any genuine effort put forth into friendship, people grow apart and move on and there's nothing wrong with that. But that's why I'm so thankful to the forever friends who do check in on me to make sure I'm doing alright. Annie has always been one of those friends, and is one of my dearest pals who genuinely knows me so well (and vice versa). Getting her call today couldn't have come at a better moment. We gabbed for about an hour-and-a-half and she helped me with a lot of the mental blockers and stuff I've been recently trying to process. By the time we hung up, I was feeling much better about everything.

Afterwards, I got some air from a walk and have been vegging at home doing absolutely nothing since.

Now, Sunday is nearing its end and it's time to mentally prepare for my upcoming workweek.

 "Lost in emotion."

From the song Lost In Emotion by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

"It gave me a reason to exist."

Said by Mariah Carey in her audiobook The Meaning of Mariah Carey. Track 3.
Honest mistake.
On his mist ache.
Was asked to wait.
What’s so damn great?
Relax your face.
Stretching is the start to my revolution.

Giant.

I've got less than a week left of blogging here, and I'm okay with that.
Text reading skills are knowing when a question is rhetorical.

Monday, February 22, 2021

That is so funny.
Duck.
Duck.
Goose.
Daughter.
Daughter.
Son.
Pile it.
Pilot.
Pile of shit.

Taken All On the Same Day of September 28, 1994
1. Usual shelf 
2. After showering 
3. Done up with a fake earring put on by my oldest sis

Sunday, February 21, 2021

"But how was I to,
know which way the story'd go?"

From the song Take a Bow by Madonna.

As a kid, I was obsessed with this music video when it first came out.

"Do you mean what you say when there's no one around?"

From the song Take a Bow by Madonna.

"I see you through the smokey air.
Can't you feel the weight of my stare?
You're so close,
but still a world away."

From the song Crazy for You by Madonna.
"Soon we two are,
standing still in time.
If you read my mind,
you'll see—
I'm crazy for you."

From the song Cray for You by Madonna.
"Swaying room,
as the music starts.
Strangers making the most of the dark.
Two by two,
their bodies become one."

From the song Crazy for You by Madonna.
"There's no easy explanation for it."

From the song Love Will Never Do (Without You) by Janet Jackson.
"So don't hold back,
just have a good time."

From the song Escapade by Janet Jackson.
"My mind's tired,
I've worked so hard all week."

From the song Escapade by Janet Jackson.
One of my oldest pop culture memories is watching Janet Jackson's Black Cat music video.

It must've been around 2nd grade, but damn, I still remember watching that music video in complete awe and staring up at the television screen. That mic in her hand and white button-down shirt is forever burned into my brain.
"It's time for us as a people,
to start makin' some changes."

From the song Changes by 2Pac.

I can't count the number of times I've heard this song throughout my life—but damn, at 38, the entirety of its lyrics moves me to tears.

 2212021.

BLAST THE F'N MUSIC.
"Glad to wake up every day without you on my brain."

From the song Unfoolish by Ashanti. 
"I seen you before, baby.
It's a déjà vu, honey.
Don't you know that you remind me?"

From the song You Remind Me by Mary J. Blige.
"See, I'm searching for a real love,
and I don't know where to go."

From the song Real Love by Mary J. Blige.
"So I slowly came to see,
all of the things that you were made of."

From the song Real Love by Mary J. Blige.
Hey algorithm, so are you like single? I'd love to get to know you more.

Apologies for having wanted more from you, 1 zillion percent my fault (seriously).

The other half of my sandwich is in my stomach.

It's like, things are getting better and progression during the pandemic is happening. 

But then, when thinking about the human toll of COVID-19, it's seriously beyond grasping.

"A nation numbed by misery and loss is confronting a number that still has the power to shock: 500,000.

Roughly one year since the first known death by the coronavirus in the United States, an unfathomable toll is nearing — the loss of half a million people.

No other country has counted so many deaths in the pandemic. More Americans have perished from Covid-19 than on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined."

From the February 21, 2021, New York Times story A Ripple Effect of Loss: U.S. Covid Deaths Approach 500,000. Written by Julie Bosman.
I enjoy doing the dishes. 

It's a ritual that includes the use of my hands in a way that feels so different from the rest of my day. I originally mastered my dishwashing technique when I was in the 7th grade and helping out at my family restaurant in Alaska. 

First, I wash the edge of each dish by running the scrub along the entirety of its parameter before then wiping down its middle.
I might've learned the hard way, but thank fucking goodness I still learned it.
"It's time for the percolator."

From the song Percolator (Jamie Jones Vault Mix) by Cajmere.
"Running up that hill."

From the song Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Every morning for the past 38 years, when looking at my reflection in the mirror, it's not just my own face that I see—but also those of my parents, my childhood neighborhood of Flushing, and every Asian-American person who has paved the way in this country before my time.

Yet, even though I am the main character to my own life, so much of American film, tv, and media has perpetually shown anyone with facial features like mine as the outsider, someone whose existence depends entirely on another non-Asian character, or perhaps someone whose story does not deserve to be told at all.

Until recently, for me, this is how much of the Asian American experience has felt like. To wake up everyday and know that I am here as a full person with layers and dimension, yet to never feel fully seen.

Well, with the ongoing anti-Asian hate since the onset of the pandemic, more than ever, I think the world is ready for more Asian-American stories of all kinds.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Every meal is scallions with a side of something.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Poland Spring.
Chapters chronicled here on this blog:
  1. Being 23 and in my last year of college. Interning for a TV company to then be promoted as a newly launching channel's programmer. I eventually left that job to finish my last semester of school. Also, being so closeted that I would quickly change the channel from Logo at a heartbeat if someone walked in my living room.
  2. My goal to work in publishing landing me on the business side of a food magazine. 
  3. Losing my job at said magazine before working front of house jobs. Then feeling burnt-out from working in the NYC food industry and abandoning everything to give it a try in Seoul. While there, I worked as a bartender in one of the city's gay areas while I struggled to find other jobs.
  4. Being told to leave Korea if I didn't enlist in the military by a certain deadline. Then heading to Thailand for what I thought would be a two month trip.
  5. Leaving Thailand after two years and living in Los Angeles for a short period.
  6. Returning to NYC to start over again. 
  7. Starting my freelance writing stuff. Then working in the industry while just trying to figure my shit out.
  8. Going to Seoul for a writing project, only to come back empty handed.
  9. Returning to NYC to start over again.
  10. Trying to figure stuff out again before eventually starting my current gig at the onset of the pandemic.

Happy Valentine's Day!

On this most love af day of the year, I'm spending time with my favorite forever sweetheart. That ultimate f-buddy (that's fried btw) and best hug giver—the one who's always showed up: Food. 

My crime companion.
Vertigo canyon.
Sizzling abandon.
Too juicy to dry run.
Thirst quencher and then some.
Tie it undone.
Glowing inner handsome.
Shaking hard for big ones.
This beat's an incision. 
Made my decision.

Honestly though, I really hope I have someone to spend the day with by this time next year. Even chronically single people deserve a bone or special experience every five years or so.

Friday, February 12, 2021

"You know this boogie is for real."

From the song Canned Heat by Jamiroquai.

I woke up today with this song and that famous movie scene from Napoleon Dynamite stuck in my head.
After nearly 15 years of updating this virtual diary of mine, I've come to realize that blogs aren't meant to be read—they're meant to be written in... or at least that's what I tell myself.

Back in March of 2006, I was still a college student living at home with my parents in Flushing, Queens. I was closeted, depressed, and about to hit the heaviest weight I've been in my life so far. I initially started this blog because I felt extremely isolated with no one to talk to. For many reasons, I had a hard time maintaining any social media accounts back then because something about it just didn't feel like a suitable fit for me. So, this became my exclusive outlet where I could feel like I was contributing to and participating in our world's rapidly growing virtual realm. In the beginning, I kept this blog anonymous in order to be as honest as I could with what I wanted to share. But then I did eventually start telling my friends about it and slowly started to write more personal things, to then start posting photos as well. 

Over time, this blog would remain my only online presence until I started an Instagram account in 2013. But even for Instagram, I've used it mostly as a place to stay in touch with people, and it's not my preferred way of genuinely showing who I truly am. Anything important I've ever had to say in the past decade and a half, this blog is where I shared it. All the struggles and good times I've gone through, this is where I documented it. Throughout the years, I often sought escape from everyday life by immersing myself here on this blog. Even today, from the moment I wake up to when I fall asleep, all I do is think about how and with what content I can post here. I mean, that doesn't mean I've updated as much as I wanted to, but still—it's remained my only constant during so many seasons of instability, uncertainty, and at times, downright fucking terror from not knowing how to process or tackle things. 

To count, this post will be my 3,923rd since I first began. With that sheer volume in mind, it's no surprise that I view this blog as the only place outside of my actual self that even comes close to portraying an accurate reflection of my character and who I am as a person. This blog is my heart, my soul, and the best way for anyone to get to know me. It's my proudest personal accomplishment to date. Reading back on all my entries, I can really see how my writing has evolved and matured over the years. From refusing to capitalize stuff in the beginning, to more recent posts where it feels easier to communicate via rhymes, I appreciate every phase, struggle, and lesson that helped shaped me into the writer I am today. I mean, the countless hours I spent writing and editing in it alone definitely taught me things I could've never learned anywhere else, or from anybody else for that matter. 

After starting this blog, I basically just kept at it because I loved doing it, and still do. Although no one reads this blog, I was always okay with that because I was doing it more for me and my own personal reasons. It's become my only means of expression that's absolutely necessary for my sanity and survival. I never really ever thought about stopping blogging until an unexpected thought hit me a few months ago: This March 3rd will mark its 15th anniversary, and suddenly, that feels like the right time to end it. Fifteen years is a long time to dedicate to one project, and I feel like it's time to move on and put my energy into something else that could possibly see me through for the next 15 years.

This might sound cheesy, but on my way to becoming a writer (or whatever I thought that meant), I actually sort of became one. To me, I always used to think that being a writer meant being a novelist. That's because the career of Haruki Murakami was the only thing I aspired to. But over the years, I've come to expand this definition and my professional goals. And while it took some time for me to sincerely accept it, I too have become a writer. Even to this day, I find it unbelievable that I've accomplished this. All of my close friends know that my dreams of becoming a writer first surfaced in the 5th grade after I read The Diary of Anne Frank. Anne's writing spoke to me and moved me to the core. For the first time ever, I just felt like the I completely understood someone, and this was simply from reading her diary entries. I couldn't get over how awesome it was that written words could do such a thing. Even at that young age, I felt different from everybody else but I didn't understand how or why. And after I read Anne's diary, the life-changing realization that transformed me was: "Holy shit, Anne felt alone and wrote in a diary to make herself feel better. Maybe I could write in a diary to make myself feel better!" And ever since, I've always maintained a diary or journal of some sorts. By high school, I knew the only thing I wanted to do was become a writer. But by the time I started this blog, I had no idea how to even start that journey. 

Back then, I didn't know of any straightforward paths for writers who looked like me. I wasn't aware of any gay Korean-American guys from Queens who had similar dreams like mine, and becoming a writer just seemed like some farfetched idea. However, by some stroke of luck and with the help of this blog, I stuck to my gut and aspirations. And now, after years of working so many random jobs that were unrelated to writing, I have a job where I get to work with words and write/edit all day. I feel like especially now, with so much anti-Asian racism that's become somewhat normalized since the onset of the pandemic, it's more important than ever that Asians continue to show up and do our thing. And I definitely don't plan to stop that anytime soon.

If there's one major lesson blogging for 15 years has taught me, it's that all the good things in life worth striving for are truly a long game. So for anyone out there who is working towards a goal, stick with it and enjoy the ride because that's when all the interesting stuff happens.

On this day that is my 38th birthday and the start of Lunar New Year, I wish everyone a safe and healthy new year, Valentine's Day, and long Presidents Day weekend. And please continue to check out my blog as it will still be updated until March 3rd.

This blog is my first draft. It's my mix tape. I'm just getting started, and I hope to see you along the way.

Wait,
I'm 38...
But let's get this straight,
cuz I'm feeling great.
Nothing to hate.
Happiness mandate.
Piled high plate.
Hips still gyrate.
Yet to culminate.
Blissful state.
Since I just ate.
Never an ingrate.
Let that marinate.
This I dedicate.
To my future date.
Burst the floodgate.
Not going to wait.
Here to motivate.
Let's relate.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

"You had your life focused on something that didn't belong to you, and a path that didn't belong to you. Yes, you did—or you wouldn't be here. You locked in on something that did not belong to you, someone that didn't belong to you. You didn't let go of a yesterday that didn't belong to you."

Said by Caroline Myss on Oprah's Super Soul Conversations Podcast. Episode Broken Open from January 22, 2021

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Monday, February 08, 2021

Sometimes, you just wanna have a few drinks and get sappy while listening to Korean ballads.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

It snowed again today. The snowflakes made for a pretty sight while I was picking up takeout from a few spots in Chinatown.

Children.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Friday, February 05, 2021

"Semmi: It is tradition!
Akeem: It is also tradition that times must, and always do, change, my friend.”

From the movie Coming to America.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Next episode.
Skip down the road.
Your caring showed.
Monetary reload.
Break the code.
Gotta unload.
Gonna explode.
Yawn overflowed.
Partly here.
"You know what?
Baby, we can make it.
You know how I know?
Because I said so."

From the song We Can Make It (Original Mix) by Cajmere, Oliver Dollar, and Dajae.

On a school night?
You're a fool, right?
What you think might bite.
Won't come in sight.

"You're in my system."

From the song You're In My System (Dennis Quin Club Mix) by Kerri Chandler, Jerome Sydenham, and Dennis Quin.
"Deep, deep, 
where the sun don't shine,
is a place that I call home."

From the song Underground Is My Home (Marco Anzalone Remix) by Dennis Ferrer, Tyrone Ellis, and Marco Anzalone.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Loud construction.
What's your function?
Takeout munching.
Hunched over dungeon.
Keep on punching.
Drink in motion.
Gimme that potion.
Soft like lotion.
Don't let go, son.
I've been trying to understand why I still crack up at jokes in tv shows and movies that are fart sounds. It's because farts get funkier and longer with age so it's still relatable.

Can we talk for reals?

Whack ass motherfucker.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

I just came back from a walk and in a single block, I saw someone openly pissing on the street and another person screaming "NO! NO!" for dear life as they were being carted into an ambulance.

“No experience you ever had is wasted. Challenges provide opportunities that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t resist. Resistance only causes more struggle. You can’t win if you’re fighting the truth. Instead, persist in finding—and letting it break you open.”

Said by Oprah in her Super Soul Sunday Conversations Podcast. Episode Broken Open from January 22, 2021