July 25, 2014

A letter to New York (and the lovely people in it)

Dear New York,

Many have come before me to dedicate their love to you. I couldn't possibly rival their songs, films, art, and poetry about you -- instead, I come to you as someone who has only briefly stepped out onto those streets and tried to keep up with the current of people.

I grew here. California is my home, and will forever be where I grew up. But here -- in this city! This city played backdrop to a significant time in my personal growth. This is where I learned how to be independent and stand up for myself. This is where I came to terms with who I was and my quirks (or, at least, I was able to identify that I had quirks, which is the first step anyway). This is where I made some friends that I hope to have for the rest of my life, and for that, I am eternally thankful.

But even more, this is where I fell in love. And I'll always find the lights, the smell of halal street carts at two in the morning, the man in Washington Square Park with his colored sand, dazzling. I'll remember kisses in front of train entrances, walks along the High Line, and cursing whoever invented the vuvuzela the summer of 2012. I fell in love with friends, the wonderful people I went on adventures with. The dancer, the Hawaiians, all of the damn finance kids, the singer, the artist, the ones who kept me grounded in my faith, the runners, the friends, the family. A lot of people I am thankful for.

It's strange to be leaving. It's strange to not know that I will wake up in the morning and see Manhattan grow larger on my morning commute from Brooklyn. I won't be able to walk all around town and think, "That wasn't so bad." I'll no longer have the convenience of the trains, and my metrocards will get tacked up to the wall as little reminders to come back here someday.

So, New York, this is where I bid you adieu. Though next month would have marked the beginning of our sixth year together, we will have to take a pause. I hope to be back someday to feel like I can have everything that I want in this city, the way that I have felt for the past five years.

But, it's time for me to move on. I've used this city as a crutch for some time now, and it's time for a change. It's scary, but I remember being just as nervous when I first flew here, terrified that I wouldn't be able to adjust to the jarring change of pace. But I did it. And I'll do it again, and again, and again.

So. From brunch to 3am slices of pizza, so long, New York. I'll see you again soon.


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July 22, 2014

Adventures in the Windy City (part one)

I am currently sitting in a coffee shop in Chicago, surrounded by people with laptops and notebooks and iced coffee. I've grown quite fond of this city over the past few days -- and my adventures have taken me all over the L, the buses, and back again.

The first day I arrived, I went to Millennium Park to do as tourists in Chicago do and took photos with the Bean (aka Cloud Gate, the things you learn from Wikipedia). We made our way through sites and sat down in a little outdoor area where I had frozen kefir with fruit. Noms. We walked all around that area and got ourselves nice and hungry for what I had been anticipating the most since booking my trip here: deep dish pizza. 

I don't know about you, but I don't discriminate against any type of pizza (unless it has pineapple on it, because I just don't believe in it). So when my New York crowd advised me not to get too excited about it because it wasn't that great, I went in a little apprehensively to Lou Malnati's...but that hesitance was short lived. Fried cheese. That's how we began dinner..with fried cheese. Then tucking into a ridiculously buttery, delicious, sauce-y slice of deep dish perfection sent me into a food coma.

Well played, Chicago.

The next day, I went to Little Goat Diner as recommended by a friend of mine. Still drooling over the food there. I had a Reuben with kimchi. I still don't know how I didn't think of this..but it was amazing. Corned beef with glorious sauerkraut and kimchi. Still reeling at how beautiful it was.

After dinner we went to bar, and I discovered that Chicago bars have free popcorn and hot dogs. Yes, free popcorn and hot dogs. I was in heaven. Popcorn. Hot dogs. I don't know if anybody understands how amazing that is, and will forever be to me. Happy sigh.

More on my Chicago adventures next time!

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July 17, 2014

Trying not to stress out

The past few weeks have seen me largely stressed out and rather unfortunately moody. I have been trying my best not to get overwhelmed by the idea of moving and feeling like I had to squeeze in so much in a short amount of time. 

I was panicking for a moment. I had reviews going on at work, friends trying to squeeze in time to see me before I leave -- suddenly I had tons of stuff going on and there was no escape from it. The problem? I fed into it. I wanted to be busy, and I wanted to see all of my friends. I wanted to do everything in a short amount of time -- so much so that it was inevitable I would eventually burn out.

Now, there's a growing sense of dread inside of me as the idea of moving back to California is settling in. Suddenly, it feels real and I'm not sure I'm ready for the change quite yet. The lifestyle will be so different than what I've grown accustomed to here in New York. It's mildly frightening. So, to calm myself, I've been looking at pictures I took when I was last home.

We went to the beach a lot when I was home, and I remember feeling so collected and peaceful as I watched the waves creep up the shore and surprise unaware visitors with sudden sweeps of frothy water grabbing at their knees.

There's something very calming about the ocean. In the way that the tides change and the ocean reacts to the elements around it, I have to also be flexible moving forward.

As Meelo would say, "Be the leaf." 

Don't resist, don't think too hard, just go and flex with the change.

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July 14, 2014

Brooklyn adventure and a hot sauce that's packin'

My eyes were closed for this one, in case you're about to make an Asian joke. But man, that hot sauce...well. Let's backtrack a little bit.

This past weekend I went on a little Brooklyn adventure with my friend, Nikhita. We met up at the Brooklyn Flea and hung around for a little bit before realizing that we were starving..so we got some doughnuts (she got toasted coconut; I got lemon poppyseed) and sat down on the hottest asphalt that has ever made contact with my upper thighs.


We ended up going to this very cute place called Martha. I'm not saying that the staff there was amazing, but..no, wait, yes, I am saying that they were amazing. And everything came out quickly! Nikhita got the Korean-inspired sunny egg & pork, while I ordered the pork bao -- and we both got a beer each.

But, let me talk to you about this hot sauce. I don't know why I feel like I need to talk about it because it definitely is not the hottest I've had, but damn, it was spicy. That sauce was packing. My face was tingly afterwards and Nikhita commented that my face was red like I was blushing. 

You just have to go and get the hot sauce and smother your food in it because it is delicious and hot and clears your sinuses. Boom.

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend checking this place out. It's ridiculously cute, has an awesome outdoor area in the back, and the staff is really great. I don't know what else to say other than they were super friendly.

After brunch we headed back to the flea market to browse, but couldn't really find anything that we liked. So I took Nikhita to a little boutique in Park Slope that I adore -- it's like a pop-up Etsy shop and has little dainty jewelry that I am all about these days. My lovely friend even bought me a ring, which is the cutest ever.

Afterwards, we went into the city to take some photos at Warby Parker (oh, yeah, and to get her glasses fixed), then up to Liquiteria to meet up with our friend, Ross. We hung out for a bit, then Ross and I met with one of his friends for dinner. 

We walked the High Line and then headed over to a place called Horchata. Really cute, kind of expensive, but pretty yummy. And free shots! But on our way there, we saw strange numbers in the sky...still not sure what they were for, but we stared at them for a good couple of minutes trying to figure it out. 

Perhaps we'll never know.

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July 10, 2014

Letting go of toxic memories.

The past few weeks have been very strange for me. My mind cycles through phases of wanting to let go of the toxic people in my life -- cutting out friends who make me feel less than, removing the people I don't identify with or don't have anything nice to say about. I always go through this, but when it comes time to cut people out, I shy away and rationalize in my head why I need them as a friend.

In a very sad way, I realized that I don't like a lot of the people I surround myself with. It's a long story, and one that I think may be too personal to post here, but I realized that I kept around negative people because I didn't want to be without. I didn't want to be alone.

There are a lot of reasons for that. Some, I'm sure a lot of people feel. Which is sort of why I'm writing this post... I'm hoping that I'm not the only one who has this strange fear of being alone. (Please reassure me that I'm not crazy!)

But as I'm embarking on this new adventure in my life, continuing the journey elsewhere, I think it's a good time to let go. And that doesn't just mean the people in my life currently who treat me as less than or make me feel anxious. It means letting go of the toxic memories that I've let hover over me. It means letting go of that painful past, of those petty disagreements, that I let affect how I lived my day to day life. I need to be able to breathe and know that I'm going to be okay.

It's difficult. You never want to hurt someone in slowly extracting yourself from their company, and you are never sure if you should vocalize how you feel before you make your move. Personally, I always felt like I was being a mean person in deciding not to talk to someone anymore or to not engage in their negativity. A conversation with my sister made me realize that it's not mean to take care of yourself and to want to be happy. Sometimes, you grow out of the people you once called your friends, and you need to be able to move on from that.

Of course, there is that fear of missing out that is ever-present. There is the fear that if I let go of these people, that I will miss out on so much and I will be lacking somehow. But perhaps it's better to miss out and be happy, than to stick around and feel unsettled.

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July 7, 2014

Skim eats: Brunch - Jane

Let me preemptively apologize for the photo quality here. I didn't bring my camera and was feeling a little shy about taking photos in here..or about asking for my friend to take a photo of me. So. You get some low quality photos today.


Went to brunch yesterday and finally made my way to Jane. Everyone has been telling me about this place for years now, and I thought it was about time I ate there. I made a reservation (do. not. go. for. brunch. without. a. reservation.) earlier in the week and made my way over to this bright little spot. 

We had so much food to eat! They gave us a little bread basket with strawberry butter, and let me tell you, I could talk about that strawberry butter for days. Whose idea was it to make this heavenly concoction? Should it not be illegal to be that good? Drool. We also ordered the blueberry muffins because honestly, our waiter was a seller and he sold us. Damn those warm muffins. Totally not worth $7 in my opinion, but still yummy.

Then, I fed my obsession with poached eggs (why would anybody eat eggs another way?) with the Benedict Johnny, which is a combination of "crispy grits, maple chicken sausage, poached eggs, roasted tomato hollandaise" and a side of delightful crispy potato hash. Oh, and a watermelon cooler because it was before noon and apparently I can't have alcohol before noon. Yums. Lionel got the Benedict Jane, which swapped out the grits and sausage for crab and crawfish cakes, and spinach. 

What did I think? It was good, but I think the hype may be a tad bigger than necessary. The eggs were a little bland, as was the hollandaise. But the crispy grits were perfection, and the potato hash! Can we talk more about the potato hash? Home fries? Whatever they call them. With their fancy ketchup. Yes, please.

Overall, I ate until I couldn't breathe. It was a little expensive, but I'd go back for sure. Maybe minus the muffins. Plus an extra side of home fries to shamelessly stuff into my mouth despite being utterly stuffed.

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