Friday, December 30, 2016

I re-watched Singin' In The Rain earlier before falling into a deep hole of Debbie Reynolds videos on YouTube for another three hours.

And now, I've finally reached a point where I'm ready to let go. Goodbye Debbie. Rest in peace to you and your daughter.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

"It was in New Orleans. I took one look at this thing on stage and said 'This is going to be one of the world's greatest alcoholic-tweakers ever.'"

Said by Lady Bunny at 2016 Toronto Pride. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Run on questions.
"She was the person who admitted that said she was a foodaholic. And that night she had taken some frozen hot dogs buns and poured some maple syrup over them and ate them."

Said by Debbie DeMaio in the podcast Making Oprah. Season 1, Episode 1.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

"You better work."

From the song Supermodel by RuPaul.
"Head to toe, soul player."

From the song 24k Magic by Bruno Mars.
"I think art is a lot more interesting than drugs are and takes you to much deeper levels of interpretation about life."

Said by Carol Dunham in the podcast, Women of the Hour with Lena Dunham. Season 2, Bonus Episode.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

There's an onion in every opinion.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"'Cause tramps like us,
baby we were born to run."

From the song Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The problem is never the end of the story.
"There's a hole in my heart,
I've been hiding."

From the song Hallelujah by Alicia Keys.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"That's why the Lord continues to bless you. Because you have an attitude of gratitude."

Said by Vivica A. Fox on the podcast, RuPaul: What's the Tee?. Episode 54.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

"'Cause life is too short,
to fall in New York."

From the song Pawn It All by Alicia Keys.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Reading the news this morning made me want to eat pasta until I black out. It's still taking time to sink in.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

I watched Moonlight yesterday afternoon, and really liked it.

The story and acting were so moving, and the entirety of the film was completely transporting. Its visual experience was also intense, which on top was heightened by an awesome soundtrack. What the main character goes through felt tough to watch at times because no one should ever endure what he did. And that feeling of helplessness and anger seemed so relatable. To watch him be punished for simply being, the injustice was too much. As a gay man, there were definitely emotions from the main character that felt familiar. Throughout the entire movie, it was just like wow, how do you even create something this amazing? I loved how it engrossed me and made me forgot about everything else in life, except for the rumbling of the nearby subway of course. I watched the movie at Angelika and hadn't been to the theaters in years. The last time I did was actually also at Angelika to watch The Lunchbox, so feeling the train was a funny throwback.

I was thinking again just now about the ending of the movie. It made me realize that my conclusion about it could've been wrong. And that the story of the characters could've lived on in a different way, which made me happy. The film has been in my head since watching. There were so many layers to the story that are still being peeled back.
Everyone's out there getting married and starting families, and I'm just here getting adult braces.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I long,
to belong.
To lend my voice to a song,
sung by a chorus so strong.
Lifted by a bond,
unbreakable to beyond.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Getting new magazines in the mail is the only thing I have to look forward to when coming home.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"I won't worry my life away."

From the song The Remedy (I Won't Worry) by Jason Mraz.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

"But I was, honestly, stunned when you yelled at us from down the block, 'Go back to China!'

I hesitated for a second and then sprinted to confront you. That must have startled you. You pulled out your iPhone in front of the Equinox and threatened to call the cops. It was comical, in retrospect. You might have been charged instead, especially after I walked away and you screamed, 'Go back to your fucking country.'

'I was born in this country!' I yelled back.

It felt silly. But how else to prove I belonged?'"

From the October 9, 2016, New York Times story: An Open Letter to the Woman Who Told My Family to Go Back to China. By Michael Luo.

Of course this sort of shit happened here in New York. As diverse as this city this, these types of ignorant people definitely exist. And growing up here, I've had my fair share of these encounters.

This even just recently happened to my sister and brother-in-law, who live right across the George Washington Bridge in Bergen County, New Jersey. They have a neighbor who harasses people of color in their area. She often screams "Go back to your country!" not only to my brother-in-law, but to neighborhood children who are minorities as well. It's absolutely deplorable.

With different races, ethnicities, religions, and Americans gaining more legal and societal rights in our current times, there will inevitably be those racists who think their own happiness is being negatively affected by it. But another person's growth does not equate to something being stolen from you and your life. There's nothing American about blaming others for your unhappiness.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

"The trio of butter, kimchi, and gochujang produces a ballad so beauitful, you'll want to play it over and over again."

From the column, BA Kitchen, in the November 2016 issue of Bon Appétit

Friday, September 30, 2016

Cool does not pay the bills.
Real friends let you know in advance that they're coming to town.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

I appreciate how sports are in the now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"Start Out Disappointed If at All Possible
If my career had turned out like the fantasy I had of what it was going to be, it would never have made me happy. But I couldn't have know that until it didn't happen. I found success that is so much bigger and deeper and better, and it's because it happened later. If any of what I'm having happen now---the successes---would have happened to me when I was younger, I would have been ruined. Because when you're young, and things come super easily to you, and you have success right out of the gate, you're liable to think that's how it actually works. You start to think you don't need to be fully prepared or committed to have these things meet you."

From the story, Do Not Be Quick to Succeed, in the October 2016 issue of GQ. By Sarah Paulson.
Let the garden grow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This monotony is killing me.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"One day this boy will be fine.
Better watch out now,
that day might be today."

From the song Winston Churchill's Boy by Benjamin Clementine.
As Sunday evening begins, it's nice to finish the weekend off by just hanging in bed.  

I've been on vacation for the past week, so I need to decompress and mentally prepare for Monday morning. My time off was great though, and much needed. It began with the wedding of a good childhood friend, and then a trip out to California to visit other friends who recently had babies.

Natalia and I have been friends since high school, and she moved to San Francisco a few years ago to be with her boyfriend, Mark. The two of them eventually became engaged, and the happy couple got married in New York last Sunday. Natalia and Mark both looked beautiful together at their wedding. Throughout the ceremony, I couldn't take my eyes off the bride's face. I was just so happy for her. Sitting there and witnessing this huge milestone of hers, I couldn't help but reminisce about all of the other big moments in life we had gone through together. I'm so proud of her and wish nothing but the best for her and Mark. 

I saw a lot of old friends I hadn't seen in a while as well, so the wedding's intimate guest list made the reception feel like one the best reunions ever. Fifteen years ago, my friends and I were all just kids from Queens about to start our freshman years of college. And now a decade-and-a-half later, here we all we were, celebrating the wedding of one of our very own with the growing skyline of Manhattan's west side all around. A lot has happened for each of us since our college days when we spent much of our time together. But none of that mattered. Being there with everyone as we laughed, danced, and shared stories, it brought out these emotions that made me feel like we were all back at that age again. It's that feeling of exuberance one has before the reality of adulthood seems to beat it out of you. I had completely forgotten about how it invigorates every cell of the body, drowning out everything that does nothing to contribute to its merriment---where limitless hope in the promise of tomorrow seemed to be the foundation to our days. Later in the night when one of my friends remarked that I had the same giggle from high school, it left me a little stunned. All I could wonder was wow, you still remember my giggle from high school? There's actually someone out there who remembers that about me from so long ago? 

Natalia and Mark's wedding was humbling on so many levels. On top of seeing a good friend get married to their soulmate, it left me feeling a bit stronger about who I am and where I'm from. I needed that reminder. 

The day after the wedding, I flew to Los Angeles to visit my friends Jenn and Daniel. I can't believe it's already been three years since I lived with them and moved back to New York. There's been a lot of change for them since then, mainly in the fact that they have two lovely children now. Their youngest, Isabella, is just over a month old, and their eldest, Bradley, will be three in February. Seeing Jenn and Daniel again and finally meeting their precious kids was such a joy. Staying with them for a week gave me a glimpse into the lives of their growing family, and all the hard work and love they put forth into their daily lives. They're such great parents and I'm so proud of them as well.

This past week was great with lots of glimpses of the past, and it's left me more than ready to forge on in my future.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"I would have Sunday dinner out, always confining my order to pasta and wine. It represented a calm, focused moment before the start of a hectic week. More than that, the meal was an opportunity to distill dining to its essence; something to stick to my ribs, and something to go to my head."

From Food & Wine's October 2016 issue: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. Written by Frank Bruni.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"A powerful explosion caused by what the authorities believe was a homemade bomb injured at least 29 people on a crowded sidewalk in the bustling Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Saturday night, according to authorities, who later found what they described as a second explosive device four blocks away."

From the September 17, 2016, New York Times article: Powerful Blast Injures at Least 29 in Manhattan; Second Device Found. Written by Christopher Mele, Al Baker, and Michael Barbaro.

The reality of our times just feels too real.

Where the bomb went off isn't far from my office. I'm pretty familiar with 23rd Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, especially the north side of it. There's a subway station for the 1 Train near the corner, and used to be where I got off for work before I moved here to Queens. My barbershop, which I just got a haircut from last week, is also on the block.

It was reported that the explosion came out of a dumpster, which wouldn't have happened on too many other streets of Manhattan. Stationary dumpsters sitting in front of buildings aren't a common thing, except for when there's some sort of construction being done there. The dumpster where the blast happened has been there for as far as I can remember. The sidewalk right next to it is covered in scaffolding and men do work there during the daytime. What's worst is that the building is housing for the Associated Blind. I would always see blind residents and their handlers waiting in front of the building to get picked up or being dropped off at it. I hope everyone is okay.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

"In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying. He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity's divine suction or by what awaits him. His arms are by his side, only slightly outriggered. His left leg is bent at the knee, almost casually. His white shirt, or jacket, or frock, is billowing free of his black pants. His black high-tops are still on his feet. In all the other pictures, the people who did what he did---who jumped---appear to be struggling against horrific discrepancies of scale. They are made puny by the backdrop of the towers, which loom like colossi, and then by the event itself. Some of them are shirtless; their shoes fly off as they flail and fall; they look confused, as though trying to swim down the side of a mountain. The man in the picture, by contract, is perfectly vertical, and so is in accord with the lines of the buildings behind him. He splits them, bisects them: Everything to the left of him in the picture is the North Tower; everything to the right, the South. Though oblivious to the geometric balance he has achieved, he is the essential element in the creation of a new flag, a banner composed entirely of steel bars shining in the sun. Some people who look at the picture see stoicism, willpower, a portrait of resignation; others see something else---something discordant and therefore terrible: freedom. There is something almost rebellious in the man's posture, as though once faced with the inevitability of death, he decided to get on with it; as though he were a missile, a spear, bent on attaining his own end. He is, fifteen seconds past 9:41 a.m. EST, the moment the picture is taken, in the clutches of pure physics, accelerating at a rate of thirty-two feet per second squared. He will soon be traveling at upwards of 150 miles per hour, and he is upside down. In the picture, he is frozen; in his life outside the frame, he drops and keeps dropping until he disappears."

From the September 9, 2016, story on The Falling Man. Written by Tom Junod.

Fifteen years... and yet it still feels like yesterday.

Rest in peace to all of those who perished on that tragic day.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

"But don't run, even if it gets tough."

Said by the character Dongtak in the KBS series, The Unusual Family. Episode 88. 

Monday, September 05, 2016

After a really hot summer, it's nice to not have the air conditioning on today.

The breeze spilling in from the windows feels good against the skin, and is so needed.

Friday, September 02, 2016

I love how even during Friday morning rush hour on the 1/2/3 subway platform in Times Square, it's possible to run into an old friend from junior high school.

What an auspicious start to the holiday weekend! Have a great Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

You won't be fat, broke, and single forever.

Monday, August 29, 2016

"The faster we learn to drop our emotional dead weight, the more room we create for something better. I'm talking about everything from stewing about the guy who cut you off in traffic this morning to still refusing to forgive an old friend for an event 20 years ago.

We only have so much bandwidth. We only have so much time. We only have so much energy."

From the August 22, 2016, New York Times article: The Cost of Holding On. By Carl Richards.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

"But breaking into the New York literary world was tougher than he had expected. His short story collection was turned down by 38 literary agents. 'I was writing to impress people, and it turns out that when you do that, you write very unimpressive prose,' he said."

From the August 26, 2016, New York Times story: Nathan Hill Is Compared to John Irving. Irving Compares Him to Dickens. Written by Alexandra Alter.
Running for a cab.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Daily To Do List
-Tomatoes with salt & pepper
-Tres Leches

Monday, August 22, 2016

"In this time of relentlessness and ubiquity, there is no art more potent, or shocking, than the art of disappearance."

From the August 21, 2016, New York Times article: Frank Ocean Ends His Long Silence With a Variety of Works. By Jon Caramanica.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"We'll never be those kids again."

From the song Ivy by Frank Ocean.

Friday, August 19, 2016

"Getting lifted,
never come down."

From the song Lifted by CL.
Good morning and happy Friday!

I woke up really early today for some reason. Since moving to my new place a few months ago, I haven't yet gotten shades or blinds for the window in my room. I sort of like being able to fall asleep to the moon at night and waking up to the brightness of the morning sun. And my body seems to have adapted to the natural rhythm as well.

Anyway, it's a gorgeous sunny day here in New York City. I hope everyone has a good one.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stay busy. That's the solution to so many problems.

But the question is, stay busy how, exactly?
Go team USA!

Friday, August 12, 2016


It's mid-August and very hot here in New York City. The exposure of any part of flesh provides some relief to the body's rising temperature, or of course there's nothing better than good old-fashioned air conditioning. But perspiring until droplets of sweat are dripping down your chin can bring respite to the summer. It provokes, arouses. Leaves you ready to drop it all for the slightest opportunity of passion. Sometimes, you want to be drenched. To feel open and nimble. Because when winter comes, you'll be too busy shivering.
I want a love that will change my life.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Half the dialog in Korean dramas are characters talking to themselves out loud.

Sunday, August 07, 2016


This word. This word that does so much to mess with our heads. This word that conjures grand stories of epic levels that exist nowhere but in our self-hatred to feel less than. This word that is rooted in good intentions, but can never live up to expectations. This word that makes things seem serendipitous like a romantic comedy, but in reality is on the same level of fiction as The Muppet Babies. This word that is so often used to fill the gaps of something it has no business being a part of.

This word is dangerous. Be wary of it. It destroys. It disrupts. It can steal your joy.
Talking about it doesn't work for me. I've got to write about it instead.
"Patagonia exists somewhere on the spectrum between real and make-believe. It's a place where you can start the day with a glass of fresh-squeezed raspberry juice, just like the cartoon Moomins do in Mooninland, then head out to observe penguins waddling around extraterrestrially in their rookeries, and wind up experiencing a blistering mountaintop sunset that dazes you with the limitlessness of what this world is capable of."

From the story, Patagonia, Land of Giants, in the summer 2016 issue of Saveur. Written by Adam Leith Gollner.

When you're crammed into a packed subway, shoulder-to-shoulder with lungs contributing to the recycling of stale air enveloping all, there's nothing better than a great travel story to transport you far, far away.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Thinking about you today, Anne.
Say thank you, and move on.
I'm really lucky to work just around the corner from the Flatiron location of Eataly. I go there pretty often to grab focaccia for lunch, and had an amusing interaction with the cashier ringing me up today.

"Nice cashier in the focaccia section: Do you work here? You look really familiar?
Me: Funny you say that, but no, I don't. My office is actually a block away, and I can't get enough of your focaccia so I'm here pretty often."

It's the little things that make my day.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

"If he's not reading your essays, he's not reading you."

Said by the character Jessa in the HBO series Girls. Season 2, Episode 2.

Monday, July 25, 2016

"Bravery can oftentimes be measured by the act of taking a first step."

From the Letter From the Editor in the August issue of American Vogue. Written by Anna Wintour.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The news has never had the responsibility to make people happy, but it's now reached a serious point of no turning back.

In these current times we live in, there's so much going. Its aftereffects of shock and disbelief come easily for everyone who have never experienced it, or even let alone knew occurences like that existed. Everyday events in America and around the world are now available to document and experience in video and real time, forcing us all to accept its truth and work on finding a solution.

This is probably true for being on the planet at any time in history, but it's an honor being alive right now. I live with the hope of somehow contributing to the world---or even one person's world---to leave an impact while here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I will not take what I can get.
"Have you been to Ssäm bar yet?"

From the book Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. Page 45.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Patterns and patterns and patterns.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A doughnut a day keeps the sadness away.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

"An emotional President Obama declared on Thursday that 'all Americans should be troubled' by fatal police shootings this week of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, saying that they were 'symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.'"

From the July 7, 2016, New York Times article: Shootings of Blacks Symptomatic of Racial Disparities in U.S., Obama Says. Written by Matt Furber and Richard Pérez-Peña.

You can't help but get chills watching the footage of these videos. Everything else around gets silent, and the disbelief in the reality of what's unfolding leaves nothing but shock.

These men did not deserve to die... we need to fix this problem, America.

My heart breaks for their families. My blood boils at the racial injustice. Black Lives Matter.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

When life gives you tomatoes, go buy pizza.
The past few weeks or so.

Queens Boulevard never stops. The street does grow slightly quieter at night, but there's still always a constant stream of cars and people (no matter how intermittent they are). Trucks rattling, emergency sirens blaring, or the occasional drunks howling are just some of the noises that carry over into my new 8th floor place whenever I'm home. And since staring out windows has always been a personal passion of mine, I very much appreciate my bird's eye view of everything. All of it is comforting in a way. I haven't lived near such a lively street since I was by Petchaburi in Bangkok.

I moved out of the Financial District at the end of May, and have been living in Woodside, Queens, since. It was a blast living downtown with my best friend Junho and we have a lifetime of memories to cherish from it. But after two years, we were both also ready for some change. He decided to go uptown to be closer to his hospital, and I chose to come back to my hometown borough of Queens.

I like being in Woodside. I haven't lived in Queens for a good eight years or so, but the adjustment is exactly what I was in need of. I'm happy to report the transition has been smooth with no problems so far. My commute to work is painless, I know my way around the area, and there are tons of good ethnic food spots all within walking distance underneath the 7 Train. Everything just feels natural and like I'm back home in a way. I mean, I'm pretty sure I won't ever live in Flushing again, so Woodside is the closest to home that will do.

Aside from my move, I haven't had much else going on. The summer has been pretty hot so far but I've been enjoying walking around and spending lazy Sundays at Prospect Park with friends. I've been trying to churn out a food story here and there whenever I can, so that's kept me somewhat occupied as well. I also had this idea to write about being chronically single my whole life, and how it feels to still be this way at 33. But then a coworker friend of mine mentioned that it's somewhat cliche to write about being single in New York City. And I realized how right she was.

Well, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far. Be sure to stay hydrated and do absolutely nothing if possible.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Abby: Tell me you know what you're doing.
Carol: I don't. I never did."

From the movie Carol.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I really need to get away for a bit.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Happy Birthday, Anne.

On a day like today, your love and words are needed the most.
"After calling 911 to declare his allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, a gunman here killed 49 people and wounded 53 in a crowded gay nightclub early Sunday, the worst mass shooting slaughter in American history, law enforcement officials said."

From the June 12, 2016, New York Times story: Shooting at Orlando Nightclub Kills 49, Police Say. Written by Lizette Alvarez, Richard Perez-Pena, and Steve Kenny.

Waking up this Sunday morning was routine as ever, and I opened my eyes to check the news on my phone while still in bed. That's when I read about the shooting in Florida, and my pillow was wet with tears before I even lifted my head off of it.

I'm not sure what can be said about a tragedy like this, so many more things are felt instead. Sadness. Anger. Despair. Unity. My heart aches for all of those who perished and were injured, and all of their family and loved ones. 49 lives lost. 49 Americans gone. 49 fellow LGBT brothers, sisters, and friends no longer here. Countless lives forever changed. It's all so hard to take in. 

Thank you to all of the police, medical emergency workers and armed forces who helped bring the gunman down. It's because of you that our country remains as great as it is.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"I've always believed in the power of broke: the less you have, the more creative you get. And (usually) as a result of this, you end up creating way cooler things than if you had millions of dollars and amazing connections to create your masterpiece."

From the May 30, 2016, MUNCHIES story: How I Threw a Party and Made It Into a Career. By Jeremy Fall.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"That's why I always wind up coming back to my diary---I start there and end there because Kitty's always patient."

From the book The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank. Page 157 iBooks version.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"'I need it,' he kept saying. 'I need it. It makes things right.'"

From the book A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Page 411.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

24/7 life.
24/7, appetite.

24/7 strife.
24/7, unsatisfied.
"He believes deeply in focus---clearing away whatever he doesn't need to worry about so he can concentrate on his art---and now has a retinue of helpers. He gets three meals delivered each day, so he doesn't have to think about food; he has a stylist and a nutritionist and a trainer..."

From the May 13, 2016, New York Times article: A ' Hamilton' Star's Story: How Leslie Odom Jr. Became Aaron Burr, Sir.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The older we get, the bigger our foreheads get.

Monday, May 09, 2016

There's something about getting older, where it's so easy to forget who you were and how you felt at 18.

Everything that's happened since then has shaped and formed these conditions where the things experienced from that time in our lives seems long gone.

But then once again, either when surrounded by extended relatives you love or gabbing late night with a familiar voice from high school, it completely transports you back. And serves as a reminder to always remember where you came from and what will always stay true.
"I left a note in the hallway. 
By the time you read it, I'll be far away."

From the song Sorry by Beyoncé.
"You interruptin' my grinding!"

From the song Sorry by Beyoncé.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

"Find your strength in love."

From the song Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.

I love my mom so much. Thank you 엄마, 사랑해!
"But he hated summer in New York. All fat people hated summer in New York: everything was always sticking to everything else, flesh to flesh, flesh to fabric."

From the book A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Page 295.

Friday, May 06, 2016

"Why wasn't friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn't it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified. Friendship was witnessing another's slow drip of miseries, and long bouts of boredom, and occasional triumphs. It was feeling honored by the privilege of getting to be present for another person's most dismal moments, and knowing that you could be dismal around him in return."

From the book A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Page 257.
They just couldn't see passed the bloat.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The first four sentences of one of my non-existent short stories:

The dewy air at the top of the mountain felt chilly, but with a touch of softness. The all-day hike had exhausted Harriet and she plopped herself down on a small circle of sparse grass even before she took a moment to appreciate the view. Then almost like a reflex, she shot back up to her feet and began to scream, "I'm here, Finn! I'm here!" as tears and anger poured out of her. She yelled into the luscious green valleys not expecting her message would reach him, but that didn't stop her from trying until she had exhausted everything from within herself.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Hamburger Navigation.
"I don't know how to talk to you. 
I just know I found myself getting lost with you."

From the song Too Good by Drake featuring Rihanna.
I refuse to be bogged down anymore.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Korean food just really hits the spot for me.

Sometimes, a simple meal of rice with banchan can be the most satisfying thing ever. And there are many days when I will gladly eat that over anything else.

While New York's Koreatown is filled with lots of great options to eat, my favorite go-to restaurant for authentic Korean food is The Kunjip. No matter what I order, their food is always well made and just tastes really good. I also appreciate that their menu is sensibly priced, especially considering the quality of food that you get. I've always thought their lunch specials are a superb deal too, with the majority of options hovering around $10. Since my office is not too far from 32nd Street, I love being able to pick up stuff from there to-go on a regular basis.

The Kunjip is open 24 hours and has always been popular for its food amongst both hungry families and drunken partiers during late-night hours. For me personally though, it wasn't until they moved this year to a new and larger space across the street onto the other side of 32nd when I became a true regular. This bigger location is two floors and is usually always busy like it was at the original one. But the experience is a lot less claustrophobic, which makes a huge difference to me. 

However, some things still haven't changed though. In general, The Kunjip has never been the type of restaurant where you go and have a leisurely dinner with friends for hours. If you are looking to catch up with long lost buddies over Korean food, this is not the place for you. Instead, it's a place where you're given menus while waiting to be seated so you already know what you're ordering before you sit down. It's a place where you might have some beer and soju to enhance the food but not where you're going to get shitfaced. It's a place where you get your food quickly, and can have your check dropped at your table before you've even asked.  It's a place where you gather your coats and belongings to leave after you've finished eating instead of lingering about. Basically, the main point of The Kunjip is their good food. 

With all that being said, the dining room's speedy pace does not at all equate to bad service. I actually think it's the complete opposite because whatever your need or request is, the staff will always provide it an efficient yet professional manner. And all the workers are friendly with good energy. I mean sure, they will try and get you out the door if you're done, but will never rush you while you're actually eating. That's just the way the restaurant runs.

One thing I've always thought The Kunjip would be particularly nice for is a date or dinner obligation you really want to be over as quickly as possible. So the next time you have to go eat with someone you'd prefer to spend minimum time with, look no further.

Below are a couple of pictures from my dinner there earlier tonight at the peak of dinner service on a Saturday.

"You take my love for granted.
I just don't understand it."

From the song Too Good by Drake featuring Rihanna.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Why is there always a police officer posted at the entrance of the Union Square Barnes & Noble? In all my life, I have never not seen the NYPD standing guard there. I guess book theft is an ongoing serious problem?
"And yet---as with so much else---he couldn't help himself."

From the book A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Page 100.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lose yourself.
Lose interest.
The first four sentences of one of my non-existent short stories:

Ben's weekly phone call to his mom eventually became a source of comfort during his first semester of college. Since he was yet to make any friends, he cured his homesickness by spending most of his time on his phone in the largest cafeteria on campus. "'Sheila From the Cafeteria' is the name I've given her, mom," he explained after week three. Ben didn't understand why he was so drawn to this unassuming woman who cleaned up after thankless students, but ached to know everything about her.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The first four sentences of one of my non-existent short stories:

He couldn't help but caress the bump on the back of his lover's head. A fresh haircut made it impossible to resist. Some cultures considered this physical feature as a sign of beauty and masculinity in men, like a Roman Nose. But for him, its strength came from its soft touch.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Pier 46 is one of my favorite spots to lay out at. Even its fake grass/astroturf is a feeling I enjoy against my bare feet.

And when the sun is brightly shining, whatever book I'm reading not only provides a good escape, but also the perfect way to shield my face from a sunburn.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The much anticipated redesign of the $5, $10 and $20 paper notes is so exciting. It's about time we honored and recognized more Americans who have contributed to this country's history.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Don't dread. Feel excited.

All of the anxiety that comes in the unknown should instead be anticipated as wonder.
"Tally: And you've lived all this truth.
Hannah: It didn't feel like very much while it was happening.
Tally: But it is much. And you have so much to say."

From the show Girls. Season 5, Episode 9.
"And what have I done? You know? What have I done with with my life besides get not one but two strains of HPV and gain and lose a total of 33 pounds?"

Said by the character Hannah Horvath in the show Girls. Season 5, Episode 9.

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Add them up, all the pet dogs on the planet, and you get about 250 million.

But there are about a billion dogs on Earth, according to some estimates. The other 750 million don't have flea collars. And they certainly don't have humans who take them for walks and pick up their feces. They are called village dogs, street dogs and free-breeding dogs, among other things, and they haunt the garbage dumps and neighborhoods of most of the world."

From the April 18, 2016, New York Times story: The World Is Full of Dogs Without Collars. Written by James Gorman.

When I first moved to Thailand five years ago, all of the stray dogs that roamed the streets of Bangkok had an instant impact on me. There were just so many of them on almost every street I walked.

While it was heartbreaking to see, thankfully, because Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist culture, these street dogs of Bangkok were not only left alone, but for the most part treated with kindness and compassion.

If you'd like to see some of the street dogs of Bangkok I captured in my years of living there, please check out the following: STREET DOGS OF BANGKOK.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Thank you for the privilege of your time."

Said by Jose Diaz in the April 16, 2016, NBC Nightly News.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Tomorrow's just an excuse away."

From the song Thirty-Three by The Smashing Pumpkins.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"The reason is obvious: We no longer go out. And why would we, when the allure of staying in has reached irresistible proportions?"

From the April 12, 2016, New York Times article: Is Staying In the New Going Out? Written by Molly Young.

Long live staying home in stretchy pants!
"In one of the lively arteries off the Charminar, Laad Bazaar is famed for its glittery glass bangles in every conceivable color and pattern; don't leave the city without at least an armful, either for yourself or as an inexpensive gift."

From the April 7, 2016, New York Times travel story: 36 Hours in Hyderabad, India. Written by Sarah Khan.
but boring.
not absorbing.
Everyday inanity,
is conforming.
To a life,
never agreed on.
For an existence,
mass-producing peons.
That requires,
nothing to cheer on.
Because it's simply known,
you don't have to be on.
Just go about your day,
listening to others.
The world says go,
which leads to popping uppers.
Then late at night,
you utter.
What happened to my dreams?
I thought I had a plan?
Does society see me,
for the man that I am?
Or does it define me now,
as the person I can't stand?
Who struggles with battles,
that take so much to tackle.
But I know I will overcome this sorrow.
Not today though,
perhaps maybe tomorrow.
Or the day after,
when I open my eyes to again start a new chapter.
Because everyday,
when the new page is turned.
The blank slate is waiting,
for the lessons to be learned.
All of the mistakes though,
why do they seem on repeat?
Where consequences disappear,
by pressing down on delete.
It can't be expected,
that a fresh start will always come with the sunrise.
When the commitment to say no,
flunked with the second order of fries.
Help me be strong,
to makes the better choices.
That will uplift my heart,
making the voices.
Not be so mean,
existing only to tear down.
The things that I think make me happy,
this false playground.
Always giving me the instinct,
to bolt and leave town.
And start brand new,
to finally find you.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Saturday, April 09, 2016

"I rock rough and stuff with my Afro Puffs."

From the song Afro Puffs by The Lady of Rage.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

If it's on sale at the supermarket at two for $5, I just can't resist.
Dear Focaccia Section of Eataly,

Why you so good to me?
The older I get, single life is starting to resemble the nineties Mad TV skit "Lowered Expectations" more and more.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

"He does have an excellent contender in the city's roast-chicken sweepstakes, a bird that once pecked and strutted in Pennsylvania. To show off its barnyard bona fides, it is initially presented in its entirety, head tucked in and feet stretched out on top of a smoldering nest of a hay. The first time one of these platters went by, one of my guests looked up and said, 'Do you smell pot?'"

From the April 5, 2016, New York Times Restaurant Review: At Le Turtle, a French New Wave You Can Eat.
Space out.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Sunday, April 03, 2016

"One hundred years ago, mountain water from the Catskills began flowing into the cupped hands of New York City.

Since those days, New Yorkers have come to take their water for granted, boasting that what comes out of the tap is 'the champagne of drinking water.'"

From the April 1, 2016, New York Times article, Why New York City's Waterworks Works. Written by Emily S. Reub.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Different people bring out different things in you, and that's totally okay.
"Take my hand... live while you can."

From the song Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton.
"I've got to use my imagination,
to change the situation."

From the song Hold Down the Block by Nas.
Loving the cover of this week's Food & Travel Issue of The New Yorker.

(I thoroughly enjoyed this week's cover and it took it upon myself to produce these images to post on my blog with my digital subscription to The New Yorker. All rights are reserved by The New Yorker and will be removed upon request)
Making everything seem fine from the outside fixes half the problem.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

"But did that ever make you happy?"

From the song Pin by Grimes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The following essay is in celebration of my blog's 10th anniversary this month.

Not Always Cooking On High Heat by Tae Yoon

The only thing I really knew how to cook as a kid was instant ramen. For Koreans, instant ramen is like our version of fast food in a way. It's convenient, unhealthy, and oh so crave-worthy---which is everything a youngster wants when they're hungry. And whether it was while sleepy-eyed during breakfast or as an afternoon snack, it never ceased to quickly assuage an appetite.

No one really taught me how to make instant ramen when I was younger, but it wasn't difficult to figure out. I would turn the flame on to high heat and then stand there, watching to ensure I'd know the exact moment the water was ready. Then I'd drop in the noodles and flavor packets without wasting even a second of time. After a few minutes when the ramen was cooked, of course the best way to eat it was straight from the pot as soon as the gas was turned off. I would blow furiously into the first heap of noodles dangling from the chopsticks to avoid burning my mouth. And when the last spoonful of soup was devoured, that feeling of satisfaction came not only from my full stomach, but in a way, also how promptly I'd gotten there.

And for much of my life, this wasn't just how I cooked ramen. But basically how I did anything that wasn't good for me.

Drinking until I black out. Eating to the point of feeling physically ill. Smoking weed incessantly to never not be stoned. These three activities have honestly been way too big a part of my life for the past decade. And it's been a long and earnest journey to have a better understanding of why.

Alcohol has always been a big part of my life. The combination of growing up in New York and being Korean-American resulted in the excess of two big drinking cultures ingrained into my everyday norm. Going out to get hammered wasn't just for fun, but a way of being. The first real experience I had with alcohol was with a cousin and his friends at an old club on 32nd Street called News. We were 16-year-old sophomores in high school back then, ordering bottle service of Johnny Walker with fake ids and money we had all carefully saved up. It goes without saying that drinking the whiskey was only done in shots. This fast pace of imbibing felt welcoming and natural. Whoever it was initiating the next round to toss another one back, it was never an issue with me. Even then, I knew what state I wanted to be in, and was determined to get there as fast as possible. And as we all got wasted throughout the night, the rest of the guys focused on scoring phone numbers from girls while I aimed to get more drunk and dance my feelings away.

When college came around, my drinking patterns had already pretty much been set. From that early age, I was proud of the fact that I could handle a lot more alcohol than my friends. But the problem was I didn't know when to stop. Even at my 18th birthday party at a Flushing bar that let in underage drinkers, forcing everyone to clink glasses with only short breaks in between was my right as the birthday boy. Naturally, I ended up getting smashed off beer and soju. And ultimately began barfing into the empty beer pitchers on our table that night while simultaneously farting loudly as my friends looked on with enjoyment.

Being the comically drunken mess was obviously not something I was embarrassed of, because it sort of became my thing. I just liked getting fucked up. Since I was pretty closeted and was never in a relationship, I wasn't ever the one in the group who was dating so-and-so or having romantic drama. I was the guy who liked to have a good time and get wasted instead, deeming me neutral and harmless to others. Sure, I partied fast and hard and blacked out all the time. But I still kept my life together for the most part. Yes, I drank excessively, but so what? It wasn't a big deal. I mean I wasn't bothering anyone with it... except for myself, that is.

When I started this blog ten years ago at the age of twenty-three, this style of drinking was the only thing I knew. While I also slowly came out during this period, I was still always the single guy. And being so made it easy to continue partying this way into my early thirties. But now at the age of thirty-three, it's only within the past year or so that I've become truly exhausted of this pernicious cycle.

This much needed change of perspective is long overdue and a buildup of so many things, especially from a few events that happened in the past couples of years. The first is I lost my iPhone on a night out, and didn't even notice it until the next day. If I factor in the $800+ I paid to replace it, my stupidity from that evening literally cost me over a grand. The next incident happened on a night some friends and I went to a club in Brooklyn to see this big DJ spin. I got really inebriated early before any of my friends did. The DJ's set hadn't started, but I had to leave the club first because I could barely function. As I stumbled out of the venue alone to go crash at my friends' place, I got lost and couldn't find the nearby subway station. After I did eventually get on the G train, I was so drunk that I knocked out on the subway and woke up at the last stop of the train. I'm not even sure how long I was passed out on the G, because my friends who left the club hours after me got back to their apartment long before I should have. I remember opening my eyes at the Church Avenue stop to missed calls and frantic texts from my friends asking where I was. It took all my energy to stay awake in my drunken stupor when the train started moving again so I wouldn't miss my friends' stop. But to think about being trashed and passed out by myself on a Saturday night close to 5am where I was completely incapacitated, I'm just really grateful nothing happened. Another thing I've become acutely aware of during booze-filled sessions are these reoccurring moments where I actually haven't blacked out yet, but know I've had too much to drink. My brain will seem functional, but when I attempt to talk, everything coming out of my mouth makes me sound like a drunken idiot. I'll try to have a conversation or engage with someone, but my sentences emerge slurred and nonsensical. It's like what's happening in my head doesn't match how I'm directing my body, as if I'm no longer in control. All I can think at those moments is, holy shit, I totally sound like that drunk guy who needs to go home. I essentially make bad decisions when I drink, with the worst being that I'll order another.

These episodes are just a few of many that have made me re-evaluate my behavior, and has me fully accepting, "Tae, the party's over."

At this age, my hangovers are unbearable as well. The day after a late night out renders me totally useless. Not remembering how I got home or what dumb shit I said the night before has became more of a mental liability too. The stakes seem be higher now, and I've become hyper conscious about all the wasted time, money, and energy I've dedicated to this hobby. How many more times can I go out and get shitfaced like this? How much longer can I tell myself that I'm still actually having fun?

And it's not just with alcohol that I've been going at full speed with for the last ten years, but my issues with food have never left me. This dysfunctional relationship I've had with food is something I constantly struggle with. Eating provides this mental relief where nothing else matters. It's a goal that's so easily achievable and that I'm good at. Sometimes I just feel like I have to keep eating and eating until there's nothing left, or I'm full to the point of feeling gross. Providing nourishment to my body is the least likely reason I ever eat. Instead, I eat because it keeps my obsessive thoughts preoccupied. I eat because it's fulfilling on so many messed up levels. I eat because I deserve it, god damn it. I eat because sometimes I really don't like myself. But I know this has got to stop, and is something I need to truly gain control of. If I add up all the time spent in the past ten years of me being self-critical about my weight, it would be enough write a self-help book about how to be happy in life.

Smoking weed goes hand-in-hand with my immoderate drinking and eating. I'm the type of person who would rather be stoned all day everyday if possible. Life is straight up more interesting that way. And whether it's walking down the street or grocery shopping, even the most mundane activity transforms into something with layers and dimension. Marijuana has always relaxed me in a way where I stop overthinking everything, and I can just simply be. That feeling of liberation allows me to go about my day and not focus on things that can be emotionally draining. And that fuzzy warmth, I just love it so much. I get out of my head and become social. Why wouldn't I want to feel like that all the time? And that's where the problem lies. I've been toking up regularly since college, and have gone through years of doing it almost daily. But I can't just smoke one bowl. Like Ariel sang in the Little Mermaid, "I want more." And rolling joints nonstop or continuously packing another bowl to keep the party going became my routine.

The consequences of always getting stoned like this didn't hit me until about a year-and-a-half ago. I began to notice that whenever I ate, my food would taste really muted. I would be eating something I love, such as instant ramen, but its flavors I was expecting just weren't there. Then a week later, I would be having the same thing and everything would be fine again. My taste buds hovered on and off like this for some time, until one day they just seemed to disappear altogether. Yes, I could still tell the difference between things like ketchup and mustard, but there would be no discernible characteristics for either. Food literally lost its flavor, and I started eating more off texture, temperature, and appearance. When I finally went to go see an ear, nose and throat doctor, I was truthful about how much weed I smoked. My doctor advised me to stop my habit to see what changes. And lo and behold, my sense of taste fully returned months later.

The past ten years haven't just involved this trinity of bad habits though. There's definitely been way more of an abundance of good. I've been fortunate to have matured and grown into my true self. I've proved to myself who I really am and what I'm capable of. It's been an adventurous trip filled with humbling lessons that have allowed me to make a million mistakes at the same time. But I'm glad to have gotten a lot of them out of my system, and have no regrets about anything.

So much of the unhappiness I used to have back in 2006 dissolved with every subsequent failure I went through, struggle I overcame, and accomplishment I achieved, many of which are chronicled here. The ups and downs of this past decade have always existed over a foundation of growth, and that's what I'm most grateful for. Discovering something new everyday and keeping that nugget of knowledge to use during another high or low in life, that's what it's all about. And one important tip I'll always have at hand for myself is to simply chill out. Life doesn't always have to be lived like I'm cooking on high heat. A drink or two is enough for a fun time. A satisfying meal doesn't have to involve feeling stuffed with regret. A singular joint is plenty in providing the pleasure I'm seeking. And instant ramen can be cooked with patience at a boil and still taste great.

Looking back on the past decade of this blog, I now truly believe that everything in life will always be okay. Because I am the author of my own story, and I choose to write a happy one.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

"I'll make the effort,
love can last forever.

From the song Thirty-Three by the Smashing Pumpkins.
"So I pull my collar up and face the cold,
on my own."

From the song Thirty-Three by the Smashing Pumpkins.

Friday, March 25, 2016

It's been a pretty mild winter in New York City this season. While we did have Winter Storm Jonas, the rest of the time has been tolerable compared to recent years. The past few weeks have been similar to recent months, with the temperature requiring a denim jacket on one day and then a winter coat on the next.

Today was maybe even just a t-shirt kind of day. That's why when I got on subway home after work, stepping into the car's air conditioning for the first time this year was a welcomed surprise. It was a good reminder of the upcoming summer, and all the sunny times to come.
"이름부터 예사롭지 않은 '귀부인'이 드디오 오픈했다."

From the March 15, 2016, Vogue Korea online story: "요즘 화제의, 한남동 귀부인." Written by 윤수현. (LINK)

If you're ever in Seoul, please go check out my friend's new bar in Hannam Dong called Gwibuin!
We hit it off in Thailand...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Three suicide bombers---including two brothers---carried out the attacks on Brussels on Tuesday, the Belgian authorities announced on Wednesday, as they continued to hunt for at least one more assailant. The toll from the assaults stood at 31 dead and 300 injured."

From the March 23, 2016, New York Times article: Brothers Among 3 Brussels Suicide Attackers; Another Assailant is Sought. Written by Alissa J. Rubin, Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura and Aurelien Breeden.

Absolutely terrible.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sometimes, after I write something, it doesn't matter that I might hate everything about it the next day.