18
Apr 17

When you’re minding your own business and …

https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--rEhtzDON--/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/koowzahjxii3akwmuvfr.gif

Happy fucking birthday to me.


01
Apr 17

Los Angeles 2017: Eats and drinks

The only activities that rival visiting museums when I travel is trying new eats and drinks.

Porto’s Bakery and Cafe

On my first day, my brother and I had lunch at this popular Cuban place. And I do mean popular. It was maybe 11:30 when we got there and already a madhouse. However, the line moved quickly.

I had a milanese chicken sandwich, which was very tasty. We also got some pastries and potato balls to go, all of which were awesome.

Grand Central Market

I went to this food court three times. The first was with my brother on a weekday. It wasn’t nearly as crowded as I was expecting. I got a yummy sausage hash from Berlin Currywurst. I didn’t pay attention to the name of the place so I was surprised when the sauce tasted like Japanese curry.

The only thing I didn’t like was the way the guy seemed to try to trick people into getting fries. After I said yes, I realized it was $5 extra and changed my mind. Ditto with the guy behind me.

My brother got pupusas. Again, delicious.

The second time I went to Grand Central Market was with my buds. First we hit G&B Coffee where one friend had a cappuccino, another had a tumeric/ginger macadamia milk, and I had a almond macadamia latte. The milk was tasty but my latte was really good and strong.

Next was Eggslut (which, by the way, arrived in New York just days after we came back). The line was long but not insane. I got the sausage, egg, and cheese, which was amazing, and we shared a delectable biscuit.

My third time at Grand Central Market, we hit G&B Coffee and Eggslut again. I got the same things at both, and this time, since we got there at about 8:30, there was almost no line at Eggslut. My friend got the signature “slut,” a coddled egg on top of what is essentially mashed potatoes. It lived up to the hype.

At home

While eating out is fun, sometimes a home cooked meal hits the spot. So I was really happy when my sister-in-law made a lovely Korean dinner.

Not shown was a flavorful broth, chock full of umami. The next day I scarfed down the rest of the broth, plus most of the salmon.

Salt & Straw

If you’re wondering if I gained weight on this trip, unfortunately I did. Fortunately however I got to try the incredible ice cream from Salt & Straw. I had what they called the cinnamon roll, which pretty much tasted just like one in ice cream form.

Marvin

My mom was kind enough to treat my brother, sister-in-law, and me to a nice dinner. Our choice was this lovely French bistro. For an appetizer we had the jamon tomato toast, and for entrees my brother got the steak while my sister-in-law and I both got the rigatoni with Bolognese sauce. The food was really good but the service was weird. For some reason we had two waitresses. One was nice but the other was snotty. Otherwise, it was a nice dinner.

Normandie Club

After dinner at Marvin, we tried to go to karaoke. But everywhere was too expensive. So we got cocktails at this cool kind of retro bar. I can’t remember exactly what I had, except it had mezcal, tasted good, and got me pretty drunk, especially after the wine at dinner.

Angel City Brewery

While my friends and I were in the Arts District, we stopped here for a beer tasting, but not before trying on some angel wings.

We got a flight, of which I thought I’d have a sip of each, wince, and be done with it. But, surprise, surprise, I liked two of the beers, the ones on the right.

I can’t remember what they were, only that the dark one tasted of coffee and chocolate and the light one was a like a less briny pickle juice. In other words, neither tasted like beer.

Wurstküche

After hitting Angel City and another brewery, we came to this gourmet sausage place. The line went down the street, which told us the place was popular but I was wary about the wait. We took a chance and the line moved pretty quickly. I kept changing my mind. Hot Italian? Filipino maharlika? Straight-up kielbasa? I ended up choosing the chicken sausage with jalapeno and mango, and I didn’t regret it.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

The home of the cruffin, part croissant, part muffin. One of my friends said they usually sell out of the cruffins by noon. We were there around 10 and there were cruffins galore! I got three (for myself, my brother, and sister-in-law since I was going to their place later that day) and a couple of donuts. My brother and I split a cruffin. Not only was it all muffiny and croissanty, there was a delicious filling. It reminded of me that amazing blueberry muffin I had in Barcelona at the Catalonian art museum.

Stout

We spent part of a day in Santa Monica, which was fairly easy to get to. We hopped on an express bus that took about an hour and cost only $2.75.

After battling the wind on the beach, we came here for their early bird special: everything on the menu half off between five and six. I got the Stout Burger “skinny style,” meaning no bun, just greens. The burger and toppings were really good, but the greens were drenched in some kind of lemon dressing, which was way too much for my sensitive teeth. If I ever go back, I won’t do the skinny, or will ask for the dressing on the side.

The Misfit Bar

Next was happy hour. At first we decided against this bar because it was so crowded. We walked a little but then realized the other bars were far away. Plus my friend said the Misfit had “the best happy hour in Santa Monica.” When we returned, a few seats had opened up. I had a cocktail called the Jumping Jack Flash (Old Forester bourbon, Cocchi vermouth, ginger, and mint) which got me good and tipsy.

Beards are still apparently a big thing in Santa Monica and L.A.: all the Misfit bartenders had them, as well as random guys in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, back in New York, I feel like they’ve peaked and are fading out.

Nanbankan

For my last night, my brother and sister-in-law took me to this yakitori place. Like everything I ate in L.A., it was delicious. My favorites were the tsukune, or chicken meatballs, the pork sausage, and the okra.

Want more L.A.? Check out my earlier posts on museums and other random activities.


31
Mar 17

Los Angeles 2017: Little Tokyo, Arts District, Griffith Observatory

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to head out to L.A. for a last minute trip and, although it might be hard to believe, didn’t spend all my time at museums.

Hiking

There was a trail not far from my brother and sister-in-law’s place. It felt good to walk, talk, and be close to nature. We also saw some cute ducks.

Little Tokyo

My friend and I stayed in this part of town, in fact right across the street from the ramen place my brother and sister-in-law went to a few years ago. Our hotel was pretty nice. Not too expensive, simple, and clean.

Our other friend, who is an excellent concierge-on-the-go, mapped out several places we could visit, including Fugetsu-Do, a mochi shop which has been open since 1903; a bakery where I picked up a cheese croissant and coffee roll for breakfast; Daiso, a kind of dollar store, where I got a beauty mask for fun; and the supermarket next door, where I got a blueberry cream cheese sesame bun.

The verdict on all those buns? My favorite was the blueberry cream cheese sesame, second the cheese croissant, and last the coffee bun, which was pretty boring.

Arts District

This was a fun part of town with lots of cool graffiti. A few highlights.

Disney Concert Hall

We came here not for a show but to check out the cool architecture as designed by Frank Gehry:

We went inside and there turned out to be a free audio tour, as narrated by John Lithgow. It was pretty interesting. Disney’s widow was very involved with the design. In the rooftop garden is a sculpture inspired by her love of roses and Delftware.

Griffith Observatory

We rushed out here via Uber about an hour before it closed. But that turned out to be plenty of time. We peeked through a couple of telescopes and saw one star which I can’t remember and the a double star in Orion’s belt. We also had a lovely view of the city. Inside a whole mob of people were waiting for the Tesla coil to do its thing. Later my friend explained there’s a scene in La La Land involving that.

Our Uber driver had warned us it would take a year for us to get another Uber out there to take us home so he generously offered to turn off his app and wait. Not too big of a deal since we only took about half an hour. Either way it was wonderful to have a car waiting for us to take us back to our hotel.

Escape room

It was my first time doing this and I had loads of fun with my brother and sister-in-law. At first I was like, “This is so hard!” and couldn’t figure anything out. But the clues helped. Eventually I was able to figure out a couple of things, one of which I kept wondering, “Is this real? Am I making up this pattern?” But when I finished a key fell out of the thing I had been messing with. I was so excited I jumped up and down. In the end we were able to accomplish the goal — in our case, breaking into a safe to steal diamonds — in time.

Next up: eating and drinking my way through L.A.


30
Mar 17

Los Angeles 2017: Museums

Getty Museum

Early last month I decided to take a last minute trip to L.A. One friend was going for business while another was going for fun. Plus my brother said it was good timing for him and his wife. On top of all that, I managed to find a cheap flight.

As on all my trips, I saw a buttload of museums.

The Broad

A newly opened contemporary art museum and already booked months in advance. But my brother knew about its standby line, in which you show up, wait in line, and hope you can get in.

We got there about half an hour before it opened, and the line already went down the block. However, the museum workers did a good job of letting us know how long the wait would be. They said an hour, and that’s exactly what it was. It also helped that it was beautiful out.

The space and art were fun. Lots of Jeff Koons, Jackson Pollock, and other ones I can’t name. :P I wanted to see the Infinity Mirrored Room, but there was a waiting list. Not only that, there was a line for the list. I would definitely go back.

Japanese American National Museum

I had mentioned wanting to see the George Takei exhibit. Turns out it was walking distance from the Broad so off we went.

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I really enjoyed it. I was surprised to learn it was curated by Jeff Yang. Surprised because you don’t usually see writers curating museum exhibits. That may be part of the reason I liked it. It told a cohesive story, taking highlights from Takei’s life and juxtaposing them against points in American history, from his being interned with his family at age 5, to the racism he faced trying to make it in Hollywood as an Asian American actor, to Star Trek, to coming out, to getting married.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

I always enjoy going to LACMA, especially since my brother is a member and can bring a guest for free. Their special exhibit was Picasso & Rivera, which examines the paintings, etchings, and watercolors from the contemporaries and compared them to the classic works (Greek for Picasso, Mexican for Rivera) that inspired them.

The Getty

My friends and I spent a good three hours here, but I could have stayed for longer. I focused on the special exhibit, Bouchardon, which was fairly interesting, and the garden. I started to look at the Concrete Poetry exhibit, but it wasn’t that exciting to me. Maybe if I had had more time. I felt like looking at some paintings so I went over to that building (which was hard to find for me) and got in some Rembrandt, Dutch still lifes, and French Impressionists.

That’s not all! I did other stuff besides visit museums (if you can believe it). That’s coming up next.


12
Feb 17

AWP 2017, D.C. Style

It’s been a couple of years since I last went to AWP. So I was glad this year to have the opportunity to attend, thanks to one of my freelance clients, and that it was in D.C., a city that’s relatively easy for me to get to and where one of my dear high school friends lives.

Getting there

The day of my departure a snowstorm was scheduled to hit. This got my mother worried, prompting her to call me the night before.

Her: “There’s big snow coming!”
Me: “Yes, but the subway’s only a five minute walk.”
Her: “But you’ll walk in the snow!”
Me: “It’s only five minutes.”
Her: “But you have your suitcase!”
Me: “It’s only five minutes.”
Her: “But! But!”

If I wasn’t worried about traveling in the snow before her call, I certainly was afterward.

But of course getting to the subway in the morning was perfectly fine. I left so early, there was hardly any snow on the ground, and the train wasn’t even delayed. Even lovelier: I had a whole row to myself as I enjoyed my breakfast, worked on my novel, and daydreamed. There was no snow in D.C. although it was quite windy.

The sessions

Since I’ve been to AWP several times, I don’t really get too much out of the sessions. However, there were a few that I liked.

One was about university teachers using multimedia to teach writing while another was about running grassroots literary conferences. There’s one in Lancaster that sounds really cool, but its focus is creative nonfiction while I’m primarily concerned with my novel right now.

The one big session I went to was with Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chimamanda Adichie, as moderated by E. Ethelbert Miller. It was packed. Luckily I got there early. The reading and talk were interesting, especially in this day and age.

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

In between attending sessions and doing work for my client, I had the chance to visit the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which was walking distance to the convention center. (It’s also free so I went twice, catching up on sections I missed the first time.)

Near the front of the National Portrait Gallery is a painting of Donald Trump. It had its own rope and security guard. I asked the guard, “Are you here to make sure no one does anything to that picture?” He just laughed and shook his head like “no comment.” I wanted to take a picture but chickened out.

The portraits part of the museum was a little boring, but upstairs they also had other kinds of American art, including this “Dreamers” exhibit, which was very cool:

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There’s also a beautiful courtyard.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

This museum is attached to the National Portrait Gallery so it was easy to visit (and again, free). It had a wonderful Isamu Noguchi exhibit:

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Where I ate

Needless to say, the convention center food was pretty limited. There were one or two places at the main entrance, and almost always they both had ridiculously long lines. On the convention floor there was a Jamaican stand that had pretty good curry chicken, but at $11, it was overpriced.

Luckily, Chinatown was in walking distance. Twice I ate at ShopHouse (which, sadly, has shuttered its doors). It was Chipotle for southeast Asian food. Literally. It was owned by Chipotle. I thought it was really good. The bowls were tasty and less than $10.

One night I was craving a burger, and got takeout from Fuddruckers. Again, very good. Another night I got delicious koobideh from Grill Kabob. It was overpriced but the place was full of Aghani people so at least it was probably authentic.

Catching up with a friend

My last night I had the chance to have dinner with a good friend from high school. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I last saw her. I kept thinking five or six years but it’s more like 10! Too long. We had a good long chat over Asian food and then a nice walk back to my hotel.

Next year

AWP 2018 will be taking place in Tampa. Party in my hotel room?


17
Jan 17

My daily rituals

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

Enjoying a cup of coffee (or two) is one of my daily rituals.

I’m a creature of habit. I find comfort in having a routine and doing some of the same things every day. I also love having something to look forward to, whether it’s that first cup of coffee in the morning or relaxing after work with Netflix.

Inspired by this Quora question, I thought I’d share my own daily rituals.

Morning

I wake up between four and four-thirty. Even on the weekend. I sleep later if I’m sick or sleep deprived for more than a day. Although I don’t necessarily think getting up and going to bed earlier is better. Being an early bird or a night owl each has its pros and cons.

I (groggily) make coffee. This is the very first thing I do. It wakes me up, and I love how my apartment smells.

I brush my teeth. I’m one of those people who has to brush their teeth before breakfast.

I get back into bed and look at my phone for 5 or 10 minutes. The light from the screen helps me wake up more, and I catch up on the news and messages from night owl friends.

I have my coffee, eat breakfast, and read whatever book I happen to be reading. Breakfast is bread with peanut butter and jam or Nutella or some kind of pastry.

I work on my novel. My minimum is 250 words, either new or extensively revised, during the week, and 500 on the weekends.

I go to the gym. I work out four or five days a week, either running 3 to 5 miles or hitting the elliptical for 40 minutes, followed by strength-building exercises like plank, squats, or free weights; ab work; and stretching. When the weather’s nice, I like to run in Central Park.

I have my second breakfast. This is usually an egg, veggies, and coffee or chai tea.

I do some freelance work. Namely setting up tweets.

After that it depends on if it’s a work day or the weekend, and if it’s a work day, whether it’s an in-the-office or work-from-home day.

Evening

I eat dinner between 5:30 (yup) and 7:30, depending on if I have to go into the office or have plans.

I watch my stories. Usually a short sitcom or two, followed by a longer drama or action show.

I watch something soothing. This is probably not a great habit, but I need to watch something calming before I go to sleep. This means a nonviolent anime or a British cozy mystery like Midsomer Murders. For some reason I find the Japanese language and British accents very relaxing.

I (try) to stop looking at my phone.

I stop answering texts and calls around 8. This is when my phone automatically goes on Do Not Disturb. The only calls that get through are from my parents and brother.

I go to sleep between eight and nine. Yes, like I’m seven.

I know there’s probably room for change and improvement, like incorporating meditation or more social activities, although I do enjoy my rituals the way they are now.

What are your daily rituals?


12
Jan 17

2015 and 2016 in Retrospect

Don’t ask me how but somehow I forgot to do one of my trusty year-end retrospects for 2015. So now coming at you, a two-fer. Here are the highlights of what happened these past two years.

2015

I became obsessed with podcasts. Now in addition to Stuff You Should Know, This American Life, Serial, and Here’s the Thing, I also listen to How Did This Get Made, Stuff You Missed in History Class, Gilmore Guys, The X-Files Philes, and Crimetown.

I went to Seattle to see a college friend. And had an awesome time hiking, eating, and visiting the science fiction museum.

I went to Boston for a Beantown birthday. With a side trip to Maine.

I moved back to New York, then went to Paris a week later. It was insane and exhausting and wonderful.

I got to know New York again. Especially the museums, ramen, and gyms.

I started rewriting my paranormal teen romance. I used NaNoWriMo 2015 as an excuse. More than a year later, I’m still working on it. Sigh. My goal is to have a complete draft by May 1.

I had a Canadian Christmas. Museums, Montreal bagels, and snow. What more could you ask for, eh?

2016

I started off the year with a cruise. And it turned me into a cruise person. What I wouldn’t give for a warm saltwater bath and yummy Greek yogurt chicken salad right now.

I got laid off. This wasn’t something I talked about on my blog because it felt weird. But I was let go early last year. It was a shock (despite all the red flags), but luckily I had savings and a few freelance gigs to tide me over until I got a new job in May. And by the way —

I got a new job. I’m a copywriter at a corporation, which is quite a change from the startup world. But it pays the bills and I’m learning a ton.

I went to Paris again. It was beautiful as always although this time I might have overdosed on cheese.

I went to Boston again. Hiking, a gin and rum distillery, and lots of tasty eats.

I wrote a bunch of articles. I continued (and continue) to write for Mental Floss, WetInk, and Wordnik.

I went to my brother’s wedding in Las Vegas and was extremely happy. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, except I will say that I:

  • Had a fabu dress
  • Gave a kick-ass toast
  • Had lots of fun with family
  • Ate too much
  • Got wasted on one old-fashioned
  • Adore my new sister-in-law

I voted and was extremely disappointed. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions, going from the joy of a wedding to post-election desolation.

I had some friend-filled holidays. Life goes on, right? And that means friends, family, and getting back to work.

What was your 2016 like?


05
Jan 17

NYC Adventures: 2016 Holiday Edition

While last year I went out of town, this holiday season out-of-towners came to me, which meant I got to see some New York sights I’d never seen before, and a few I hadn’t visited in a while.

The United Nations

United Nations

[Photo by Paul VanDerWerf, CC BY 2.0]

I worked near the United Nations for 10 years but never went inside. Last week was my first time. My friend Motoko from Tokyo and her son wanted a tour, and Ellen, my buddy in Boston, was kind enough to arrange it and to, of course, join in on the fun.

You have to go through quite a bit of security before getting inside. No wonder they ask you to get there an hour before your tour time. You check in at one location, wait in line at the main location, then put your stuff through metal detectors and go through a full body scan, just like at the airport. It was so similar, some people were about to take their shoes off.

Once you get inside, it’s worth it. The lobby is beautiful. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures. That’s what I get for not having much memory on my phone.

The tour was interesting, but because I was sleep deprived, I didn’t retain much of it. What I do remember was the guide was credentialed up the wazoo. She spoke three languages (English, Japanese, and Spanish), had a master’s degree in international relations, and was fluent in English despite having come from Japan just two years ago.

She was also nice enough to translate for Motoko’s son, although that wouldn’t have happened if Motoko hadn’t noticed her Japanese name, or if Ellen hadn’t asked her to translate in the first place.

Grand Central Oyster Bar

I’ve been to the Grand Central Oyster Bar a couple of times before, but it’s been several years since my last visit.

The Oyster Bar, Grand Central Terminal, New York City

[Photo by Jazz Guy, CC BY 2.0]

That’s not my picture of the bar although we sat at the bar.

What I love about the place is that it’s a mixed crowd. You have tourists but you also have working stiffs who want to get away from their desks for 40 minutes and enjoy some delicious clam chowder.

Which is what I had. Tasty and filling and only $7.

The Met

Of course I’ve been to the Met a hundred times, but what I’d never seen before was a line that long. How long? It went out the door, down the stairs, and onto the sidewalk. It was a perfect storm of the early afternoon, the holidays and a chilly, steady rain.

Little do the hoi polloi know, there’s a semi-secret side entrance which is a million times less crowded. Another friend showed it to me and Ellen long ago, and it’s the only entrance I’ve used ever since.

Still, that didn’t keep the rest of the museum from being mobbed, especially the Impressionist wing. Our guests lasted half a dozen Monets, Degas, and Seurats before we took refuge in the cafeteria.

Peter Luger Steak House

A great thing about out-of-town visitors, besides the company of course, is that I end up doing things I never would have on my own. Such as dinner at Peter Luger.

If you want an old school New York experience and don’t mind spending a little dough, you’ll love Peter Luger. Perhaps its Brooklyn location has something to do with it, but I felt like everyone — the managers, the waiters, even the other diners — had walked straight out of some movie about NYC.

And the food was good too. We started with sliced tomatoes and onions, which is literally just that. What makes the dish is their sauce, similar to cocktail sauce but not tomato-y. We also got a single (massive) slab of bacon.

Unfortunately by the time our 16 ounce steaks came, I wasn’t that hungry, and could barely make a dent, although I had no problem finishing off our sides of creamed spinach and German fried potatoes, which were similar to hash browns.

It came out to about $80 per person including tax and tip, which may seem steep, but with all the leftovers and the experience itself, it was worth it.

Corner Cafe & Bakery

I’ve been wanting to try this place since I moved into my neighborhood little more than a year ago. New Year’s Eve morning, I finally did, and it didn’t disappoint.

I got the Southern breakfast.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

That’s three eggs, bacon, potatoes, a corn muffin, and fried green tomatoes with remoulade sauce. A delectable way to finish out 2016.

InterContinental Barclay Hotel

Something else I don’t usually do is go out on New Year’s Eve. To me NYE is basically SantaCon without the Santa suits. But this year I found myself out and about, and I have to admit, it was a nice change of pace.

After helping Motoko pick up some provisions for her feverish son, Ellen and I ended up spending a relaxing afternoon at Motoko’s beautiful hotel.

While we charged our phones at the bar, we each got an old fashioned.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

It was very well made, and I got sufficiently tipsy. Plus the bartender was very nice and didn’t make us feel rushed.

I’d definitely return to the InterContinental Barclay bar just to have a drink and hang out.

Times Square on New Year’s Eve

Our relaxing afternoon came to an end when we headed out to meet our friend Aki. She and her boyfriend had a party later and were staying at a hotel for the night. Unfortunately that hotel was right near Times Square.

Getting from Midtown East to Midtown West on New Year’s Eve was like trying to climb over the Berlin Wall. But climb over it we did, mostly due to Ellen’s persistence. Like Aki said, I was about to call it a night when Ellen finally found a cop who let us through the barricades.

The hotel itself was pretty relaxing. We ended up eating discounted happy hour snacks in the lounge instead of trying to find a restaurant. The food hit the spot. Wings, pita and hummus, quesadillas, and a pizza-like flatbread.

At about 8:30 I made Ellen leave. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck in that part of town close to midnight. We walked Aki and her boyfriend partway to their party and grabbed a cab at Columbus Circle. By nine, we were in PJs and watching Orange Is the New Black, my kind of NYE. I was happy that Ellen was so accommodating.

Pure Thai Cookhouse

The next day we headed back to the west side and had our first lunch of 2017. Pure Thai Cookhouse was an Aki find. It was packed but didn’t seem touristy, an excellent combination.

I got the special, a beef dish in a mildly spicy curry paste with a fried egg.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

A yummy start to the new year.

Here’s hoping that every day of 2017 is as delicious.


12
Nov 16

This is my America

Rotten Apple

I don’t even know what to say.

Tuesday morning I was hopeful. Excited. At six a.m., the line already snaked around the block at my local YMCA. People were annoyed at the small room and Rube Goldberg-like process (stand in this line, now that line, now this line), but still hopeful. Still excited.

That night I went to bed early. Exhausted from a cold and my brother’s wonderful wedding in Las Vegas, I turned off the light at eight o’clock. I thought about staying up to watch the election results, but decided it would be too nerve-racking. Besides, I was fairly sure it would be Hillary, although it would be close, because that man absolutely, positively could not become president.

At 4:30 the next morning, I found out I was wrong.

#

In the primaries I voted for Bernie. I wanted the more progressive candidate, the one without the sketchy backroom dealings. But Hillary would do. Girls and women could look up to her. They could believe that with hard work and perseverance, they could be president one day too.

Then, as Trump revealed layer after rotten layer of horribleness, like a bruised apple you discover is actually decayed to the core, she would more than do. She’d have to do.

Because just when I thought he couldn’t get any worse he did.

Build a wall? Can’t get worse.

Ban Muslims? Can’t get worse.

Make fun of disabled people? Can’t get worse.

Disparage a fallen veteran and his parents? Can’t get worse.

Brag about assaulting women? Can’t get worse.

Actually assault women? Can’t get worse.

It got worse. And it’s going to get worse.

One of my favorite podcasters, Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant, posted a thoughtful and moving message. Like him, I hope the Donald’s insane propositions will never come to light. I hope the woman on my bus is right that repealing Obamacare will be extremely difficult since the House needs the supermajority, which they don’t have.

Like Chuck, I’m financially stable. I have a good job. I have health insurance. So I’ll probably be okay.

But it’s not me I’m worried about.

I’m worried about the kids of color being blocked from their lockers in Michigan.

I’m worried about the NYU Muslim students targeted with hostile graffiti.

I’m worried about the students called racial slurs “because Trump is president now.”

I’m worried about the black students at the University of Pennsylvania who received messages with “racial slurs and images of lynchings.”

I’m worried about every single person of color.

I’m worried about every single Muslim.

I’m worried about those brave enough to continue wear their hijabs.

I’m worried that gays will lose the right to marry.

I’m worried that Planned Parenthood will be defunded.

I’m worried about any woman or girl unlucky enough to run across someone like this piece of garbage of a man.

Because now with Trump in the White House, it’s okay to be a horrible human being.

It’s okay to grab a woman by any body part without her permission.

It’s okay to call women pigs, slobs, and dogs.

It’s okay to ban people from a country based on their race or religion.

It’s okay to make fun of the disabled.

It’s okay to not pay your taxes.

It’s okay to have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.

It’s okay to do all those things. In fact it’s more than okay.

Do all those things, and you could be president one day.

#

“Daddy’s over it now.”

My conservative Chinese immigrant parents hate Trump. They think he’s ridiculous and indecent. Not a good representative for the rest of the world. They don’t like Hillary either, but at least she seems like a president. Taiwan has a woman president. Why not America?

Even under Trump, they’ll be okay. They have savings, a house, health insurance (at least for now). Then I reminded my mother of everything Trump has done, how now people will think it’s okay to do those things too.

“Ohhh,” my mother said, realization hitting her. “Ohhh.”

Perhaps she was remembering the bullies in our neighborhood, the ones who called my brother and me “chink” and “ching chong” every day. Who made us afraid, who made us cry. Perhaps she was realizing a bully like that is now our president.

Congratulations, America, you’ve elected the class bully.

You remember the class bully, don’t you? Red-faced, angry, disruptive. Picking fights for no reason. Picking on the most vulnerable.

This is the man who’s leading the country. This is the man who’s supposed to lead and protect.

#

Gutted.

Inconsolable.

Despondent.

The closest feeling I had to Tuesday was on 9/11. Of course that Tuesday was infinitely worse, but the feeling at least was in the same family. Shock, sadness, hopelessness. Helplessness. The feeling of watching disaster fall like a giant wave over the country and knowing there’s nothing you can do.

First we had 9/11, someone tweeted, and now we have 11/9.

But with all of that, there was something else. Love.

As I gazed on the tired faces of my fellow commuters. As I spoke with my friends and coworkers. As my “I Voted” sticker flew out of my wallet, and the lunchroom cashier caught it.

“My sticker,” I said.

She bowed her head.

The same I felt that terrible day when the normally stoic security guard called me “Honey.” When everyone outside New York called, saying, “I love you.”

I was worried then too. About our own safety but also about the Muslim family who owned the convenience store down the block. The teenage boy, normally surly, who literally draped himself in an American flag, telling people who came in to yell at him, “I’m American! I’m American!”

Are you okay? I asked him and his father. Are you all okay?

Will we be okay?

#

Of course the only thing to do about is bullies is to stand up to them. Even if it’s little things, like when my mother stared daggers out the window at the racist kids at our bus stop, when she went up to one one day, grabbed him by the arm, and said, “You leave my kids alone!” Like when brother said, “Fuck you” in school to our worst bully as he passed her in the hallway. Out of her element and without her cronies, she looked afraid, he said.

So now I say fuck you.

Fuck you bullies.

Fuck you racists.

Fuck you anti-Semites.

Fuck you misogynists.

Fuck you homophobes.

Fuck you xenophobes.

Fuck you people in my parents’ town with your pro-Trump and “Hillary for Prison” yard signs. (For real, do you have it so bad? With your big house and manicured lawn, living in an expensive, mostly white New Jersey town? Do you honestly want it to be better for you?)

Fuck you for taking away hope. Fuck you for setting us back. Fuck you for voting on hate.

#

Like that other Tuesday, I’m filled with sadness but again, also love. Love for my friends and family. Love for my fellow New Yorkers. I look on every face I pass and think, I love you. The Latino father speaking Spanish to his two kids. The older Latino couple watching, fascinated, as the half-Asian young man ties up his hair in an elaborate man bun. The young woman in the head scarf working the counter at Le Pain Quotidian. The trio of young white men on the corner, trying to figure out what to do with their Friday night, until one of them says, “Let’s go to Chinatown!”

I can’t leave this place.

I can’t live anywhere else.

This is my America.

#

Like Leslie Knope, I refuse to accept this. He is not my president. This is not my government.

But I’ll carry on. I’ll go to work and pay my bills (and pay my taxes, unlike some people). I’ll look after my parents and reach out to my friends. I’ll run and hike and walk 10 miles on a beautiful fall day in the city. I’ll watch movies and too much TV. I’ll travel.

But I’ll also say something when I see something. I won’t stand by silent. I won’t do nothing. I might learn to punch and kick again since, apparently, as a woman of color living in these here United States, I might need it.

I’ll keep punching and kicking. I’ll keep writing.

I’ll keep having my say.


22
Oct 16

A Boston weekend

Now that I’ve moved back to the east coast, visits to my friend Ellen in Boston are  super-easy. With the excuse of seeing her new place, I hopped on a train last Friday after work and headed north.

Myers + Chang

My first night we went to this sort of nouveau Asian place. The executive chef, Ellen told us, was on Top Chef (and looks startlingly like another chef, albeit fictional).

We had the braised pork belly buns, grilled duck kebabs, wok-charred octopus with grilled corn, sweet and sour brussel sprouts, and another dish I can’t remember. It was all very tasty.

I also had a cocktail, the Fire Monkey Mai Tai.

This ham is turkey

The next morning Aki, who was also there for the weekend, was kind enough to make us French toast. I wanted some protein so Aki fried up some leftover ham Ellen had.

It was delicious. So delicious we wanted seconds. Unfortunately Ellen had no more ham, but Aki had brought some from home. As Ellen and I ate our second batch, one of us commented, “This ham seems dry.” Another one of us said, “This ham tastes like turkey.”

“That’s because this ham is turkey,” Aki told us.

Turned out she was using “ham” as a general descriptor for luncheon meat.

Blue Hills Reservation

The next day we headed out to the Blue Hills Reservation for a hike. We were hoping to see some fall foliage, but the leaves were still pretty green.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

It was also quite warm, making our trek a good workout. Luckily we had banh mi sandwiches from Ba Le Restaurant in Dorchester to give us strength.

Short Path Distillery

What better way to cap off a long hike than with a trip to gin and rum distillery?

Short Path Distillery offered a free tour and a free tasting. The tour was more of a talk — about the history of the place and how the gins and rums are made — but it was still interesting.

That is, except for one drunk guy who kept asking the same questions over and over. After a while even his girlfriend and friends were like, “Dude, shut up.”

The tasting was more fun because free booze. My favorites were a gin infused with star anise and this sweet hibiscus-infused rum. Aki got a bottle of that. I should have too.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

I always crave something salty after drinking so ramen from one of our favorite go-to Boston places hit the spot.

The ramen was yummy as usual. They’ve expanded their menu since I was last there. Now they have these combo dishes, which I got.

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Ramen with an egg and gyoza. I shared the gyoza.

Already looking forward to my next visit!