Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thank you, Trader Joe's, because you are the only place in New York City where people can get a bag of frozen brussels sprouts for 99 cents.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

To the glum girl I just saw on the downtown platform of the 4/5/6 train at Union Square, sitting alone on the bench with an extra-large jumbo size bag of potato chips, unabashedly devouring every last morsel as you lifted the bottom corner of the bag to empty its remaining contents into your mouth---you are my hero.
I'm queer.

And here.

So pass the beer.

Then we can cheer.

And eat schmear.

On the pier.

That's near.

A gondolier.

Who is sincere.

And will steer.

Us to an atmosphere.

Where we're.

In the clear.

With no fear.

To just disappear.

And eat lots of pasta!
"She lies and says she's in love with him.
Can't find a better man."

From the song Better Man by Pearl Jam.
heaven restores you in life."

From the song Evil by Interpol.

Monday, September 28, 2015

American passports are valid for a period of ten years before they need to be renewed. As I currently hold my now voided passport that was my only constant companion through my travels in the past decade, flipping through its stamps and visas bring back so many memories.

I recently just got a new passport, and my old one was returned to me through the mail today. It contains more pages than when I was originally issued it nine years ago because it ran out of available space while I was living in Thailand and I had to get some added. It was on one of my usual visa runs to Cambodia when I learned my passport had no more empty pages left. While living in Bangkok, I would often travel alone to Cambodia. This was one of the closest and cheapest ways to technically exit Thailand and acquire a new Thai visa outside of the country. Once I got my visa, I would cross back over in to Thailand to be able to legally live there for another extended amount of time.

It was during a visa run like this at the Cambodian border town of Poipet when to my surprise, I was notified about being denied entry to the country because my passport had run out of room.

For my passport to have no space for new stamps and visas was the last thing on my mind to ever anticipate would go wrong. I couldn't believe I was being refused admittance into Cambodia because of it. It was hard not to momentarily panic right then because I was traveling alone, was on an extremely tight budget, and hadn't had a bank account in years to pull out more non-existent money. I had no back-up plan at all, and absolutely needed to enter Cambodia to obtain that Thai visa. Going back to Bangkok empty handed just wasn't an option, because then I would be forced to leave Thailand, my studio apartment, and entire life there on terms that weren't mine.

Then magically, I was offered a solution to my problem by customs officials---but of course it would come at a price. I was told that the last few pages of passports were usually supposed to be left empty for administrative purposes. Cambodian border agents were not supposed to place visas on this part, however, for a private fee of ฿500 cash, they would be willing to make an exception for me. Thankfully, that was a sum that I could actually afford, and was more than happy to fork it over. Suffice it to say, I was subsequently allowed in to the country and got my Thai visa like I had planned.

After eventually returning to Bangkok, one of the first things I did was to make an appointment at the American Embassy to have more pages added to my passport. I eventually would've had to do so because I traveled a lot more after that trip, but I guess I found out the hard way.

Traveling alone for years like that was actually so much fun, now that I think about it. Sure, it was scary and stressful at times but definitely had an element of adventure. I never had an itinerary or any plans at all. I liked to just go somewhere and figure it out when I arrived. Not having a bank account or credit cards at the time didn't allow me the luxury of booking things in advance, so I would usually go somewhere and just find a hostel or other accommodations by asking around or word of mouth. And everything always worked out somehow. Doing this was never really hard because I prefer to wake up in a new city or country with an open day ahead of me instead of some rigid schedule. Walking around for hours to explore by foot and discover what I want to eat and do on my own never failed me.

Now, with my brand new passport that I will hopefully be using for the next ten years, I'm excited to eventually fill up its pages. I'll be breaking it in with a work trip to Berlin next week, which I'm pretty excited about. I would love to travel again soon to a foreign country for pleasure, but that probably won't be any time soon. But for now, Germany next week will be enough to satiate me until then.
Meet me halfway...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"He spends Sundays the way many writers do, in his own bubble. 'It's hard for others to understand, because you're living in this made-up zone of fantasy, where that seems real to you, and the real real stuff seems odd,' he said."

From the September 25, 2015, New York Time's Sunday Routine article: How Lee Child, Authoer of the Jack Reacher Novels, Spends His Sundays. Written by John Leland.
When I close my eyes to the music of Gershwin, everything in the world feels like it's going to be alright.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

According to the dictionary that comes standard in all Apple computers, there's no synonym for the word SOMETHING.
The lonely seek the lonely.
The lonely find the lonely.
To love you from faraway is so much easier...
"So unhappy.
But safe as could be."

From the song Happy by Leona Lewis.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The focaccia section at Eataly is pure heaven.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The moment when my belt needs to loosened one notch can easily be considered as utter defeat... but damn it feels so good.
"You're asking me, will my love grow?
I don't know."

From the song Something by The Beatles.
I just got to my former college's main campus building to sit and try to get some work done.

With a brown bag of food in one hand, I waited at the front desk in order to be buzzed through as a couple was being tended to in front of me. I'm not sure if they're some student's parents, but they were taking up a lot of time and asking a million questions. That's when the man of the two turned around to look at me before saying to the security guard, "it looks like this guy is here to deliver some food. Why don't you let him in first?"

Some people just have no clue.

Thanks for not wasting another moment of my time though, guy ill-informed.
Drinking too much always has me stuffing my face afterwards.

Stuffing my face leads to not being able to sleep.

Not being able to sleep results in tossing-and-turning for hours.

Tossing-and-turning for hours means my thoughts overtake me.

And it's only Monday night.

Kudos to making good decisions!
The past few weeks or so.

Congratulations, Regina King!

Your Emmy is long overdue. Cheers to you, and a career full of more well-deserved accolades.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Isn't our life one attempt to fill a void after another? I don't know if I'm succeeding or not, but I'm trying hard."

Said by Dan Barber in the Netflix series, Chef's Table. Season 1, Episode 2.
In the shadows of loneliness, creativity flickers.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

"An area that in 1993 attracted 7,000 people annually now draws two million. As such, ramshackle Siem Reap morphed into a whistle-stop resort town. Now the city is so overstuffed that one has to wake up at 4:30am to get to Angkor before the hordes of selfie-stick-wielding tourists infest the place like ants on an anthill."

From the The Departures Guide to Cambodia in the September 2015 issue of Departures. Written by Jessica Flint.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Looking at a picture of pasta that's been beautifully styled and photographed invokes the same emotions as a picturesque sunset.
"'At this point in your life,' she said, 'you have to have as much fun as you can because you don't know what's coming down the road.'"

Said by Ruth Reichl in the September 15, 2015, New York Times article: Ruth Reichl Recharges in the Kitchen. Written by Kim Severson.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The 7 Train's historic subway line extension finally opened today with the debut of the 34 Street-Hudson Yards station.

The 34 Street-Hudson Yards stop officially began transporting passengers at 1pm today, making it the first new subway station in New York City since 1989. It's great that the west side of the city near 11th Avenue and 34th Street that's always usually been desolate of public transportation is now so easily accessible. Instead of having to take a cab or walk long avenue blocks, getting to the Far West Side or the Jacob Javits Center is just a quick subway ride away.

Growing up in Flushing, the 7 Train has always been northeastern Queens' public transportation lifeline into Manhattan and the entire city. Up until today, the first stop of the 7 Train had been Times Square and the last stop was Flushing Main Street. The line isn't long compared to so many other subways, but the back-and-forth shuttling between the two end points were always convenient in getting me to where I needed to go. Plus there are a multitude of stops between Times Square and Flushing Main Street to transfer and get to anywhere within the 5 boroughs. However, now the last stop of the 7 Train is no longer Times Square, but one additional stop west to the 34 Street-Hudson Yards station. I think the line extension is truly a great thing for the city, but waiting today at the Times Square platform to check it out for the first time had me feeling nostalgic.

I basically used to take the 7 Train everyday starting from college to the time when I moved out of my house in Flushing. Since I could get on at Flushing Main Street and take it straight to the last stop of Times Square in order to transfer to another line (and vice-versa when going home), my commute gave me ample time to get stuff done. Napping the entire train ride was always great because I never had to worry about missing my stop. I could just grab a seat while the train sat at Flushing Main Street to depart, and then open my eyes to find myself at the Times Square station. The commute also allowed me to get tons of reading done, whether it was for school or any personal stuff. Sometimes I actually miss having a long continuous subway ride to work for this reason. Of course with the 7 Train being mostly on an elevated track through Queens, staring out the window was always a favorite thing to do as well.

The actual new 34 Street-Hudson Yards station I visited today is quite beautiful and modern. It even had this new-car smell which I'm sure will soon dissipate and be replaced with urine as the station undergoes its very first of infinite Monday morning commutes tomorrow. Another thing I really loved was the escalator ride from the subway platform up to the level of turnstiles, which was extremely long but so cool because the angle at which it went up seemed steeper than usual and gave me a little vertigo.

Below are some pictures of the station I took today. After I rode the 7 Train from Times Square to 34 Street-Hudson Yards, I walked around the area to check out the exterior of the station and the Hudson Yards surrounding it. There's even some new parks that have been built in the area with water fountains and sitting areas that have large Jenga-like blocks for people to play with.

One funny thing to note though is that as I finished walking around Hudson Yards and entered the new station to head back, one of the escalators had already malfunctioned and was quickly being repaired. Even with the $2.4 billion price tag and today being its opening day, this is still the subway in New York City and shit always happens.

"'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life.
Try to make ends meet,
You're a slave to money then you die."

From the song Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

"I don't know.
I get so wrapped up in a world,
where nothing's as it seems."

From the song Prisoner by The Weeknd featuring Lana Del Rey.
It's impossible to walk a single block in New York right now without seeing grown-ass men who are rocking the top-knot hairstyle with the sides of their heads shaved.

This look is a trend that has become completely diluted by the countless guys who think it makes them original and cool, but in reality has categorized them as banal. What's even more funny is I just saw a group of guys where not just one but two of them had the top-knot. Shouldn't there just be 1 per group allowed to designate them as the stylish one? Talk about awkward.
With it being September 11 today, I'd like to take a moment to commemorate all of the lives lost on this tragic anniversary fourteen years ago.

Year after year passes by since 9/11, and it's so easy to forget all of the terrible events that occurred that day. Those who perished, the destruction of New York, and the everyday people all over the country who tried to make sense of what happened---there was so much going on in a world that sometimes seems so far removed from daily existence today.

I've always defined my life in two chapters; before September 11 happened, and after September 11 happened. When the planes struck the Twin Towers that Tuesday morning, I was home in Flushing, Queens. My dad was the only other person in the house at the time, and he woke me up from my stupor to tell me to come to the television because there had been a terrorist attack in New York City. This was also, literally, my first week of starting college in downtown Manhattan. I had just experienced what I now consider probably the best summer of my life, hanging out with my close group of friends on a daily basis as we transitioned from 18-year-old high school graduates as the class of 2001, to the beginning of our adult lives as upcoming college freshman. 

The summer of 2001 was a period in my life that I will forever treasure for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because of the innocence my friends and I had that we so naively never recognized. Those hot months were filled with countless nights of hanging out at each other's houses, loitering in the big municipal parking lot at Flushing's Main Street, going into Manhattan to party at clubs until sunrise, sneaking beer and booze into Karaoke bars, and driving around both day and night in Flushing and Bayside with the radio blasting. This was summertime before smart phones and social media, where we happily lived in our bubble as 18 year olds from Queens.

On that fateful Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001, I didn't want to get out of bed when my dad attempted to wake me up because I had just dyed the front part of my hair blue. I had been planning to hide it for as long as possible because I was terrified of how my dad would react to it. I scrambled to figure out a way to cover it up in my room that morning, and can clearly recall stalling as much as possible. My dad continued to yell at me to get up to watch the tv, and I was relieved when he said nothing about the arbitrary baseball cap on my head as I emerged from my room. And then we saw the footage of the two planes flying into the World Trade Center---and things never really ever seemed the same again. 

After the attack, New York changed overnight in so many ways. But even with all of the loss in the city, there was also this sense of unity that made it feel like we could now endure anything as long as we did it together. We were resilient. We were stronger. We were a country united. We were a city united. 

I currently now live just blocks way from the World Trade Center, and it's like on mornings such as today where I take a moment to pause and fully grasp all that was happening around this neighborhood fourteen years ago. To all of those who died on September 11, today we remember you. To all of the brave American men and women in the military who died fighting for our freedom since then, today we remember you.
It's way past 5am and I have been tossing and turning in bed for many hours.

While the fact that I can't sleep is driving me nuts, a moment of awareness and clarity about something just came to me... and I am so grateful for it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Drinking until I fall asleep is better than any bedtime story.

From the song Alright by Kendrick Lamar.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

"Just keep drinking. It's better than yoga."

Said by the character Abigail in the series Scrotal Recall. Season 1, Episode 4.
Being preoccupied over food all-day is utterly exhausting.