be more intentional.

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I WAS REUNITED WITH MY PUPPY AGAIN!

though, hi, uhm, long time no see, you might need some context.

at the beginning of december, i moved back to brooklyn to start a new job in digital content at a korean skincare e-tailer, and i had to leave my puppy behind. it was an easy transition into nyc life in many ways — or it was an easy transition in every way but one: i. miss. my. dog.

i hate going home to a gom-less apartment, so i spent three weeks avoiding going home. my friend had a cat, and that helped and didn’t — it was nice to have a cuddly friend, but i couldn’t cuddle said cuddly friend because i have cat allergies (which i’m starting to lean into and embrace instead of fighting) — also, oh my god, cat litter smells, and i’ve been put off cats forever because i am just not clean enough to have a cat, to deal with the constant shedding and the litter everywhere. it’s not worth it when i can’t even cuddle the cat or give it scratchies or clean its damn litter without fear of my eyes getting itchy and watery and bloodshot and my sinuses going haywire.

(cat litter triggers my allergies so much more than the damn cat does.)

anyway, so, i miss my clean hypoallergenic puppy who loves to snuggle and pees and poos outside (for the most part), and i miss having his furiously wagging tail greeting me every day, and i miss his warmth and softness when he sprawls out by my leg at night. i miss his sweet little kisses. i miss the goodness that is a dog that loves you, and i miss the goodness that is caring for a dog and letting him know you love him, too.

i love new york city and being back home, but i miss my dog so much, i can’t even count the number of times i thought of giving NYC up and going back to LA because i was sad and lonely and hurting.

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let’s see — 2018.

when i started planning this post last week, i thought i’d do a series of seven lists, each containing seven things. i wasn’t sure what those lists would be about, except for maybe two, so here is the first one.

7 things i’m grateful for from 2018

  1. gom and som — we got gom when i was on the cusp of a dangerous depressive spiral, and gom kept me alive this summer. he was always so cheery to see me, always wanting snuggles, always settling happily in my arms or my lap, and i only made it through the summer because i had to care for him, had to feed him and take him out to go potty and train him. i only made it through because he needed me, though the truth is that i needed him far more than he ever needed me.

  2. moving back home and getting a new job — this happened through such a series of serendipitous events, i’m still kind of stunned. a friend put me in contact with her sister who worked at the company, and i interviewed with freelanced for this company in may, but then they dropped out of contact, so i figured they’d hired someone else, someone already local in new york. as it turns out, i was right, but that person wasn’t the right fit, so i was suddenly offered a job in october, a salary reached, a start date of december set — and, then, at the same time, another friend decided to move out of her brooklyn studio to move in with her boyfriend, so that was that — a job i’m good at in a field i love and a studio i can afford in an area of brooklyn i like — it all really worked out too well.

  3. that memoir workshop through catapult — i didn’t intend to take this workshop; i applied for another one with nicole chung; but, instead, catapult asked if i’d want to take this memoir generator, said that the instructor (christine h. lee) had read my sample and loved it. if i’m being brutally honest, i agreed to take the memoir workshop because i was so totally flattered that christine liked my writing because i’d been reading her memoir and had been amazed at her ability to blend science and memoir, to touch at the heart while also explaining the clinical. i’m so glad i took this workshop, though; not only did it confirm that i have both personal stories to tell and the voice to tell them, but i also had such an awesome, brilliant cohort that has led to some pretty damn stellar friendships.

  4. essay acceptances — the catapult thing also has led to having two essays accepted, two essays i’m working on with editors. that’s both thrilling and absolutely terrifying, but i am SO EXCITED and grateful to be working with these editors as they are both really badass, smart, brilliant asian-american women.

  5. friendships — this has been something i’ve been realizing more and more over the last two-three years, but i am so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. “in my life” doesn’t always mean a physical presence, either; the thing that keeps me on instagram is the community. there are people i’ve known for years now, people who have been with me and stayed with me though the really painful times that were the last few years, and i hope to meet more of these friends in-person this year and am accordingly planning trips to london, chicago, ann arbor, charleston, and DC.

  6. traveling, having the means and curiosity to travel — i’m lucky to be able to travel, and i never take it for granted. in 2018, i went to mexico city for the first time, and my family took a big trip to alaska, and i went back to san francisco and portland. i went to brooklyn twice. i almost made it to austin twice, but the forces in the universe wouldn’t let that happen. in 2019, i hope to do a fair bit of traveling as well, even while working so much, but i’ll be keeping things more local, planning to go up to boston fairly regularly, going to hawaii potentially for my dad’s 60th, making my one big international trip to london this time. and, god damn it, i’m making it to austin this year.

  7. creativity and ambition — there are times when i get down and discouraged and can’t write, and 2018 was a year of massive discouragement and stagnancy, especially with fiction writing. i almost threw away my book; the only reason i didn’t is that i had a new puppy who demanded all my attention, so i couldn’t sit down at my laptop long enough to find all my files and delete them. near the end of the year, though, i started thinking more about this book of stories i’ve been working on for eleven years now, and i kept coming back to a few big changes i wanted to make. and i read ted chiang’s fabulous stories of your life, and the best thing about that book was that it made me miss writing fiction. and then, over the last weekend, i watched all of the haunting of hill house, and that, too, made me miss writing fiction so much.

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look, i’ve gone five photos without my dogs. let’s go back to looking at dogs!

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it’s funny having two puppies because they have personalities of their own. gom and som look so alike (they’re brothers), but they’re so different, their personalities almost totally opposite from each other.

som does everything with a flare for the dramatic, whether it’s changing positions when sleeping or drinking water or chasing after a toy. he plays well by himself, able to amuse himself, and he has a lot of curiosity and a lot of fear at the same time. he used to dislike cuddling, wanting to be on his own, but, recently, he’s taken to demanding snuggles, wanting to be close and held. the funniest/cutest thing about him, though, is his ability to sleep wherever and whenever — it he’s tired, he’s going to sleep; he’s going to find whatever bed is closest or go into his crate; and he is going to sleep.

when he was a little puppy, he’d sprawl out on the floor wherever he was and sleep. we’d have to be careful not to step on him or kick him, which made it kind of a challenge to cook sometimes because, if he happened to get sleepy in the middle of the kitchen floor, well, that’s where he was going to sleep. nowadays, now that he’s four months old, he’ll go find a bed or his crate, but that’s adorable, too, the way he makes a beeline for bed, for sleep, the way he ends up hanging off the bed, his feet maybe hooked over the edge while he sprawls out on the floor.

gom, on the other hand, is more sensitive. he wants to sleep around me or around my parents. if we get up while he’s sleeping, he’ll get up and follow, even if we’re just getting up to use the toilet — he’ll follow and curl up outside the bathroom because he wants to be around his humans, wants to know they’re there.

gom, in general, is more even-keel with less of a flare for the dramatic, but he also has more anxiety. he has a lot of separation anxiety, which i also share, but he’s more sensitive, more emotional, more moody. sometimes, i wonder if it’s because he was left alone in a garage as he was being weaned, and he was the only puppy, no litter mates, and i can’t imagine how scary that must have been, to be a two-month-old puppy taken from his mother and put in a giant, dark garage by himself. whether it’s that or just personality or a combination of both, gom doesn’t like to be alone, will play by himself only if we’re around, much prefers to crawl in my lap and chew on his toys there.

his kisses are sweeter, too, more gentle, while som goes energetically for kisses, licking our faces with vigor. som’s also the one who’s always stealing gom’s bones and toys, and i keep telling gom to be a meaner hyung, to assert his authority and take his bones and toys back, but gom’s a sweetheart and will cry and bark but let som keep chewing and playing away.

god damn, i miss my dogs.

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i’m on a flight back to brooklyn as i type this, and, while it’s nice to be in LA to visit, it always feels like a literal weight is being lifted off my shoulders when i leave — or maybe it’s more accurate to say that there is no better feeling than my plane landing at JFK, the lightness and comfort that fill me because i know i’ve come home again.

that second list then, 7 things i want to do in 2019:

  1. create more and challenge myself creatively — i want to come back to this space and create more content, more book content and food content. i also want to keep building out my food zine, and i want to start editing video finally and start vlogging.

  2. go back to my stupid book — 2018 was a year of letting the book be, and i’m still conflicted over whether or not i’m glad i didn’t end up trashing my book, like i was dead-set on doing in may and june. i think i am glad in ways that gom saved me from that, and i am excited to go back to writing fiction, to these changes i will be making.

  3. travel — i’ll be staying fairly close to new york this year, doing a lot of “micro” trips, but i’m still planning and hoping to make it to london and barcelona. and maybe oaxaca. i want to go to oaxaca so badly.

  4. be kind to myself and take care of myself — my instinct is to work, work, work, to keep creating and doing and going, and it’s been a process being okay with doing nothing. maybe that’s one reason i hate watching TV — i feel like i’m wasting time i could be writing or creating or reading, which is stupid, i know, but weekends like this last one of 2018 when i did nothing but watch the haunting of hill house — that was good, too. sometimes, doing nothing is a gift — and nothing is ever nothing, anyway. TV stimulates the creative brain as much as anything, and inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere as long as you’re keeping your eyes and brain and heart open.

  5. DATE!!!

  6. keep a clean apartment — i am not a dirty person, but i tend to clutter and can get super lazy with cleaning, putting it off instead of cleaning every week. i’m living alone now, though, and, as it turns out, i like cleanliness, and i like clean spaces. my mum is fastidious about cleanliness, and i used to complain about it, but, now, i miss it so much, how clean my parents’ house is, especially now when my studio is a mess, in that in-between phase where someone’s moved out, people have had to come in to paint and fix things, and i’m still not quite moved in yet, living on bare bones furniture while i wait for an ikea delivery and all my crap to arrive from california. i’m trying to keep a clean apartment, though, to stay organized and tidy up every week and not put my laundry off until it absolutely must be done.

  7. practice more gratitude — it is so easy to take shit for granted. one of the things i have in my bullet journal is a gratitude list every month where i write down at least one thing every day i’m grateful for, and, sometimes, that exercise is so hard, but i find that it’s also often so helpful, especially when i’m having a particularly shitty day. does it always work to turn my mood around? no, but i always appreciate the effort, and it’s something i want to keep being more intentional about this year.

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here’s one last photo of gom who wishes y’all a happy 2019. make it be a good one.

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color me this.

here is the lip that started it all.

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there are several stories to be told here, but i suppose let’s start with the simplest. in 2012, flower boy next door aired on TVN. the main character, go dok-mi (park shin-hye), is a recluse who doesn’t leave her apartment unless she has to, working as copywriter and doing everything she can to conserve her resources and keep her bills low. her next-door neighbor (oh jin-rak [kim ji-hoon])  is a webtoon artist, and he has a crush on her, though he never talks to her, leaving an illustration on a post-in on her milk carton every morning. the illustrations, together, make a flipbook, which dok-mi has been accumulating on the wall of her entryway.

their quiet existence is tossed upside down with the arrival of enrique (yoon shi-yoon), a wunderkind game designer who lived in spain and is now moving to seoul. he’s exuberant, outgoing, and friendly, almost too friendly, seemingly with no sense of personal boundaries or personal struggles — he’s young, cute, successful, and life seems to unfold easily for him.

his presence brings noise into dok-mi’s quiet, solitary life, and he draws her out of her shell and out into the world. that, in turn, brings noise into jin-rak’s quiet life, drawing him out and throwing him actively into dok-mi’s life, no longer allowing him to remain as a quiet outsider who cares for her in silence from afar. inevitably, as they get to know each other, they start to learn more about each other and the hurts that have brought them to the quiet lives both dok-mi and jin-rak were trying to live before enrique rolled into their lives.

it’s a fun, poignant drama with a strong cast.

it also features some great lipstick, namely go dok-mi’s “signature” peachy-pinky-orange.


on december 1, i’m moving back to brooklyn and starting a new job. it happened quickly, but it didn’t, my interview with the CEO having happened in may, a freelance project completed, then silence until october. i’m glad for the delay, though, because i don’t know that i’d have been fully ready for the cross-country move then, if i’d have had the confidence for it.

because, yes, despite my desperation to move back, there’s been a lot of fear keeping me in place, which isn’t something i like to admit, that i carry a fair amount of fear with me. i’ve wanted to think of myself as fearless for so many years because i wanted to think of myself as invincible, as capable of being alone and on my own, and somehow that was related. fear would mean i would need people in my life; that, in turn, would mean that i would need to open myself up to people; and that, in its own turn, would mean that i would need to be vulnerable and face the possibility of rejection.

that was the fear that defined me for over a decade, and that’s the fear that fed and reinforced the principle lies i’ve been telling myself for so long — that i’m a misanthrope, an introvert, a solitary soul. as it goes, i am none of those things — i like people, i like engaging with people and being around them, and i dare say — people like being around me, too.


i was never much into makeup as a teenager or as a young adult, and i’m still not, really. i don’t wear makeup every day, and, when i do wear, i stay very minimalist — concealer under my eyes and on my spots, boy brow, mascara, lipstick.

it’s go do-kmi’s lipstick that started it all because i readily admit that i now have a problem when it comes to lipstick. i got into lipstick before i got into any other kind of makeup, and i got into it because i wanted to find this peachy/pinky/orangey shade go dok-mi wears throughout the drama. the closest i got was bobbi brown’s valencia orange, though that was still too dark, too orange, which was still fine because i learned that i can actually wear orange lipstick — it doesn’t make me look sallow.

finding that go dok-mi shade was impossible, though. all the shades i could find that could be a potential match were either too chalky, too pale, too this or too that. if not that, they would wash me out or made me look pallid or something similarly odd and unflattering and weird.

that means that i’ve been looking for this shade for five years now, that this has been on my mind still, even tens of lipsticks later, even as i’ve been amassing a sizable collection of lipsticks mostly along the red or orange spectrum. as i’ve discovered, i like bright lip colors because i like how they brighten my face, especially when i’m exhausted and showing it, and i’ve recently been drawn to dusty pinks. i went bold and got a fabulous gold lipstick. i have a good selection of strong reds. it’s this peach/pinky/orangey shade that’s been eluding me for so many years, even as i’ve kept my eyes open, swatched so many possible shades on my hand, dried out my lips trying different products. five years later, i still haven’t given up, even as the shade has felt more and more nonexistent as one i’ll be able to wear.

enter, then, bite beauty’s lip lab.

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a friend tells me bite’s opened up a lip lab on larchmont, and i ask her the next day if she wants to go. i don’t know that there are two tiers of service — the first lets you personalize a lipstick by choosing from 200+ preexisting shades and selecting a finish and scent. the second lets you customize your own shade, mixing up to three shades, and selecting a finish, scent, and name. i assume that there is only one thing, the second thing, the customizing thing, and i think, wow, it’s so cheap, $55 for a customized shade!

the second tier, though, is $150 for two lipsticks, and it’s not a thing you can split with a friend. it also comes with a lip kit that includes bite’s cherry lip scrub, a mini lip mask, and a lip primer. the artist asks us what we’d like to do, and my friend and i look at each other, hem and haw. i’ve got this very specific color in mind that i’ve been looking for for so long. she’s wanted a coral, has never been able to find one she can wear because her skin tone is more yellow, doesn’t wear orangey hues well. i’m moving back to brooklyn in two weeks for a job that actually utilizes my skills and is in a direction of my long-term career goals, and i’m feeling celebratory.

our artist’s name is samantha, and we’ll spend the next two-and-a-half hours with her. she’ll listen to the shades we have in mind, reach for pots of colors, think up ratios in her head. she’ll notice that my friend’s lips tend to bring a strong pink hue to everything whereas mine are more like blank canvases, wearing colors as they appear. she’ll be patient with us when we ask her if she could make the same shade in a different finish; she’ll be honest and blunt when a particular shade doesn’t work with our skin tones.

i’ll realize for the nth time that i like bright, vivid colors, that i have very strong opinions about colors and little qualms expressing said opinions in nice but blunt ways — and that’s another not insignificant thing i’ve learned about myself this year, that i can trust my taste and my ability to critique and to do it well. i’m a smart reader, and i have an eye for color and design and photography, and i’m better at providing feedback and insight than i used to think i was. more than that, it’s okay to be confident; confidence is not ego — it is not arrogance.

and that, in turn, leads to the biggest thing i’ve been learning these last few years, especially these last two years in LA — it is okay to like myself. it is okay to like what i see in the mirror. it is okay for people to disagree and think otherwise. it is okay if it’s people close to me who disagree.

the unexpected effect of being body shamed is that it has taught me that people’s opinions mean shit because everyone has a bloody opinion. it doesn’t matter if it’s a family member or a stranger on the street or a date — they’ve all got opinions about you, and all those opinions are secondary to the one you have about yourself. and i say that because i’m going to quote stephen chbosky’s the perks of being a wallflower here: “we accept the love we think we deserve.”

i’ve learned that i deserve a lot better, and, more importantly, i’ve learned to expect better and remove myself from people who can’t or won’t deliver.

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i know — that’s all easier said than done, and it’s a constant fight to remind myself of all these lessons learned. healing’s a process, as is personal growth, and it takes time, and, more often than not, it feels like taking one baby step forward and one giant step back. the thing to remember is that, even if you move forward one inch at a time, you’re still moving forward.

that’s essential to remember.

change doesn’t often look like what we’d expect, and neither does growth. i tend to think that an essential part of the healing process is accepting that and learning to be okay with it. you are going to falter and stumble and get triggered and fall into the same habits and negative thinking, and you are going to make the same mistakes. you are going to mess up. you are not perfect, and that is okay because the thing that counts is that you’re trying.

it’s okay to have a moment when you’re yelling at yourself again as long as you have that moment and let it pass. it’s okay to cry. it’s okay to feel like shit every once in a while. it’s okay to feel the same self-loathing washing over you again. it’s okay as long as you recognize, this is a moment. i am going to feel this, process it, and keep going. because that’s the thing — feelings are fleeting, and the bad moments pass. at the same time, yeah, that means that good moments pass, too, but the good moments wouldn’t be good if we didn’t have the bad to contrast them.

and another lesson? just like it’s okay to feel the negative shit, it’s also okay — and essential — to feel the positive. when something good happens, sit with that and exult in it. celebrate the happy. congratulate yourself, and do something nice for yourself. sometimes, that means taking a nap, hugging your dog, going out for a nice meal. it can also be taking an afternoon off to go to the beach, the bookstore, the gym. or something nice can also look like paying a stupid amount of money to spend two-and-a-half hours with your best friend creating two custom lipsticks because you’ll be living on different coasts again and you won’t be able to see each other as often anymore.


if you’re going to pay to get custom lipstick made, you should go for something you can’t find easily in stores. my friend goes for a coral and a dark pinkish brown, something she wouldn’t typically wear. i make my go dok-mi shade and a shiny brick red, and i leave with other colors i’d come back to create, like the first pink-brown samantha makes for my friend — it’s too light on her, on her already pink-hued lips, but, on me, it’s the perfect pink-brown, a shade i’ve been looking for recently.

i figure i’ll keep looking for a pink-brown in stores, see if there’s one that’s readily available, but, if i can’t find it, i’ll come back to bite’s lip lab to create it. i might also come back for a glossy true orange. i also want to create a variation of my go dok-mi shade, make it more orange, less pink, but just as soft and pastel. pastel orange-based shades can be hard for me to find because they look too chalky, too white, too uneven in application.

that’s some time later in the future, a few months down the road. for now, there is this cross-country move to make, a new job to transition into, and an apartment to furnish. i’m planning to bring my dog across in three to six months, so i’ve also got to figure out how to manage that, what to do with my dog if i’m working longer hours, how to make sure the transition is goes smoothly for him. i’m thinking that it’s time for me to stop thinking so transiently, to start investing in pieces, whether they’re furniture or clothes or, even, bags, and to stop living such a disposable life that i can get rid of and pack up every few years.

i’m thinking, i’m moving back home, and it’s time to lay down roots and really make it home.

it’s time to stop running.

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everything is political.

today, dr. christina blasey ford testified about her sexual assault by brett kavanaugh in front of a senate committee — and, well, the whole damn world — and, while it was encouraging and inspiring to see, once again, the courage of a woman to stand up for what she believes is right, even though she knows the system she’s up against is too powerful, it’s been an ugly day and a disappointing one. kavanaugh’s confirmation is an inevitability (or it feels overwhelmingly so), and the sham that was the 2016 election continues to reverberate even now, almost two years later, in this sham of a hearing.

but that’s not what i want to talk about, not right now.

this morning, i went to work and opened twitter and glanced at the news, then i opened instagram and started scrolling through my feed and stories and explore page. now, tonight, with my dog at my feet and crisp night air sifting in through the windows, i feel the need to put down in a post what i said in my instagram stories this morning. (they’ve also been pinned to my profile.)

to put it shortly: food is political. books are political. fashion is political. and, if you’re a public account, whatever your niche, the greater your following, the greater your responsibility to speak up and be clear about what you stand for.

i’ve been open about how my patience for instagram, specifically for influencers on instagram, has been dwindling, and it kind of blew up today as i was going through my feed and my stories and seeing the same old — book hauls, exorbitant product unboxings, fashion parties — and largely silence about the goings-on in DC. maybe there’d be a token post, a screencap with a quote, nothing personal given. maybe there’d be a tiny gesture, just enough to squeak by safely, so the poster could have something to point at to say, look, i’m paying attention! here’s something that’s been circulating on the internet that fits with my brand! i’m not saying that people need to be posting about political and social shit non-stop all the time, but today was particularly jarring, this blatant disconnect between food/books/etc accounts and dr. ford’s testimony and the GOP’s disgusting responses.

it’s also been jarring given that it’s banned books week, and we’ve been seeing plenty of photos of banned books, which makes the silence from prominent bookstagrammers ring even more because those books they’re so keen to show off have often been banned for telling stories of people whose rights are under threat today, whose lives kavanaugh’s confirmation makes even more perilous.

and, yes, i do mean lives, actual, physical, mortal lives, because don’t delude yourself for one goddamn minute that people’s lives aren’t at stake here..

because lest you forget, women die without access to safe abortion. they die because of sexual and domestic violence. they die because their pain is dismissed and ignored because they’re women and women’s pain is diminished, not heard and taken seriously.

queer people die because of violence committed against them, because they have the audacity to exist and love. they die because they’re so bullied, so dehumanized, so isolated that they take their own lives. they die because they’re chased out of their homes, cut out of their families, forced onto the streets with no support system.

people of color die because of racism, because the color of their skin carries prejudice and stereotypes that erase their humanity. they die because they’re denied refuge, even though they came to this country to flee violence and deportation means they will be killed — there is no doubt about that. people of color die doing the work in this country that white people, no matter how desperate, will never deign to do.

these are all things those banned books are about because writers write in response to the shit that goes on in the world. those banned books people are stacking so proudly, so prettily, were written to illuminate something about the world because writers know — books exist in dialogue with the world, because nothing — NOTHING — exists in a vacuum. you cannot separate art from the political because art is political, just like you cannot separate food from the political, not when it is the political that mandates what kind of food is made available and accessible to which groups of people. don’t forget that this country produces enough food to feed all its people and more. it is the political that means so many people, so many children, in this country go hungry.

so don’t give me your excuses, and don’t you dare sit there trying to claim that food isn’t political, that books aren’t political, that you can somehow detach yourself from the political. have the decency and courage to make it clear where you stand because silence is damning and privilege is an ugly thing that reinforces this toxic, patriarchal, classist white society that is meting out incredible amounts of harm to women, POC, queer people, immigrants, people of faiths other than christianity.

when you have a platform, whether it’s to a following of a few thousand or hundreds of thousands or millions, and you refuse to make it clear where you stand, your silence makes you complicit.

color me purple.

PURPLE APRON ALERT!!!

i’ve been following hedley and bennett pretty intensely for a few years now, pretty much since ellen bennett launched the company, and, on february 20, they released this gorgeous purple apron (named “fig”) as part of their new pantry collection. of course, i had to have it, never mind that i have four other aprons (omg, seriously), but it’s! purple! such! a! gorgeous! purple!

i love purple.

this is not a sponsored post.

i really like the material this apron is made of. it’s an 8-oz taiwanese stretch denim that’s been custom-dyed (in 5 different colors), and it’s reversible, which is something i don’t feel much about either way, but you get a darker shade on one side, a brighter one on the other, and, hey, i like options. i don’t typically like stretch fabrics or light (in weight) aprons (my favorite apron is the dusty pink one in my previous post, and it’s double-layered, which makes it heavier), but this taiwanese stretch denim is soft, durable, and comfortable.

i do wish the ampersands had been stitched along the edges, though, and placed closer to the neck strap, but that’s a tiny complaint, and i hope this isn’t the only purple apron h&b designs! i keep dreaming about a brighter, grape-hued apron with cantaloupe straps — and, while we’re talking about colors, one of the funnest things about having followed a company like h&b for so long is that they’ve played a part in helping me embrace my love of color.

because honestly? i didn’t always love color so much. i used to hide from it, rather, because, as they say, black is slimming and bright colors would make my larger body stand out too much — and why would i want to draw so much attention to myself?

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a few weeks ago, i went down a twitter blackhole and spent hours obsessively reading blair braverman’s feed. she’s a musher, which means she races sled dogs, which means her feed is filled with stories of dog-racing adventures and photos of dogs, athletes really, wiry and muscular but no less affectionate and filled with characters of their own.

(her feed is one good thing to come of that annoying thing twitter does of showing you the tweets people you follow have liked.)

i knew that blair had written a memoir, and, after spending days on her twitter feed, i decided to pick up her book, thinking, naturally, that it’d be similar to her twitter feed, happy and lively and full of dogs. a friend warned me in advance, though, that the book is more intense, not quite like her twitter, but i wasn’t sure what to make of that because she didn’t tell me anything beyond that.

she was right, though, and i’m glad to have had the warning — welcome to the goddamn ice cube (ecco, 2016) is not the book you might expect because it’s not about dog-sledding or mushing or surviving in the arctic. rather, it’s a book about being a woman in the world and learning to carry all the burdens of what that entails and to be as you are, who you are, even when fear keeps you awake through the nights.

blair takes us to her youth, to her formative years that led her to dog-sledding, and she grew up a happy child in suburban california, though that isn’t where her family was supposed to be. her mother grew up in oregon, and her father was a new yorker, and their move to the suburbs of northern california was supposed to be a temporary, two-years-max thing that stretched into four that stretched into a decade. there was a year’s stint in norway, blair’s first taste of living in the cold, and, hungry for more, she went back alone to study abroad for a year in high school, though that didn’t necessarily turn out as expected, stuck as she was with a host family with a threatening host father.

there is a danger and unease all women have known since girlhood.

she avoids anything serious from happening, though, but what does that even mean? it’s enough for a girl to be placed in a situation where she feels constant fear, where she’s always on edge, on guard, because she doesn’t know if or when the scales will tip and that thing she can’t name but knows to fear will happen. it’s enough to have to carry that; that, in and of itself, is a serious enough thing to endure.

and maybe that’s where i feel like maybe we get stuck when it comes to conversations about sexual violence, racism, bigotry, that it’s easy to point at people’s obviously terrible actions and say, that’s bad. we need to condemn that. rape is clear (or it should be); physical assault is clear (or it should be); and open discrimination is clear (or it should be) — but we can’t forget about the everyday acts of micro-aggression. we can’t ignore those. we can’t dismiss them and say they’re not serious because, oh, she wasn’t assaulted, oh, he wasn’t hospitalized, oh, they can still get married, don’t be so petty and obsessed with such minuscule details.

because here’s the thing: shitty behavior doesn’t have to, shouldn’t have to, escalate into disgusting acts of human violence to be called out. it’s enough that a grown man thinks it’s acceptable to loom over a girl and cast a shadow into her life. it’s enough that white people think it’s okay to follow black customers around a store. it’s enough that straight people think it’s morally fine for them to turn queer people away, to refuse them marriage licenses and business services, all on the flimsy grounds of “freedom of religion.”

it’s enough because, yeah, maybe you might be inclined to say, oh, they’re not really doing anything, though, but no one starts off with murder. behavior escalates, and a man who is physically abusive is more likely to pick up a gun and commit mass murder — he doesn’t start with mass murder — so, yes, it matters, and micro-aggression is serious enough for us to pay attention and call it out and demand that it stop.


wonder if i’ll ever pair words to photographs in a way that matches? i do, too.


two sundays ago, i made scallion pancakes, and this recipe is from molly yeh’s fabulous molly on the range (rodale, 2016). molly is the only food blogger i read, and i love her — she’s so bright, so sunny, and she loves snow and sprinkles as much as i do.

molly on the range is filled with personal stories, from her experience at camp, at julliard, at home on a farm in north dakota where she lives with her husband (who grows sugar beets and plays the trombone). molly’s recipes are this mish-mash of cultures, taking inspiration from foods passed down from her jewish mother and chinese father and somehow mashing flavors together in ways that work in really cool ways. like scallion challah bread or hawaij in everything — and those are really shitty examples, i know, but you can go read her blog and/or get her book and get a better idea of what i’m trying to say.

these scallion pancakes, though — in recent weeks, all i’ve been craving are grungy italian-american food, indian food, and scallion pancakes. these were pretty good, especially once i’d gotten the hang of rolling them into more circular shapes and rolling them flatter and thinner, but i may play around with mixing APF with rice flour to get more of that glutinous chew i so crave when it comes to scallion pancakes. that said, that’s me being super particular. these were fun and easy to make, and the flavor was excellent, and i’ll definitely make them again.


i find it weird to refer to people here by their first name when i don’t know them, but i’ve called both blair and molly by their first names. i don’t know either of them, though i wish i did, but there’s something about them that makes them feel personable and approachable, like using their last names to refer to them would feel oddly impersonable and, almost, rude.

maybe it’s the way blair tells her story, drawing you in and making herself vulnerable, and she’s a fantastic writer — and an astute one as well. one of my peeves when it comes to memoirs is when authors lack any kind of self-awareness, filling pages with anecdotes that read more like acts of self-indulgence than anything else (it’s one reason i didn’t finish erica garza’s getting off), but welcome to the goddamn ice cube doesn’t fall prey to that, being a memoir, instead, that flows narratively and positions itself within the world at-large. there’s no moralizing, either, no preaching, no ego-driven self-flagellation, and it’s a book filled with warmth, appreciation, and strength, a book about bravery, really, not bravery in the romanticized, inflated way of dramatized heroism, but bravery in the rather banal, everyday ways of simply showing up, being uncomfortable, and learning to say no and to say it again and again when the first ten “no”s go ignored.

it’s about a woman’s life as she’s lived it, as she’s learned to move about the world and find her place and her people within it, and i highly, highly recommend it. i also highly recommend following blair (and her husband!) on twitter. go bask in all the adorable photos of dogs they post and share in their dog-racing adventures.


when chopping scallions, make sure to use a sharp knife. if you use a knife-that-is-not-sharp, you’ll end up with slimy green strings with notches cut into them, not chopped scallions.

when chopping things, also use a proper cutting board. those cheap plastic things are awful and will dull your knives and absorb smells and accumulate bacteria — and i doubt they’re environmentally friendly. invest in wood.

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there’s a passage from rebecca solnit’s the faraway nearby (penguin, 2013) that i go back to every so often. incidentally, it’s the opening passage of the book, and it sets the tone, setting the stage for a book that will feel at once concrete and not, grounded in solnit’s memories while also floating away on the whimsy of stories and story-telling and the fancy story entails.

solnit is a deft, intelligent writer, but she doesn’t lose herself to her smarts. i’m not much a fan of such writers, writers who feel the need to blare their intelligence on the page, writers who try too hard to be clever, to be witty, to be smarter than their readers and let that be known — and, like i said before, intellectualism doesn’t impress me.

(it’s one reason i had issues with maggie nelson’s the argonauts [graywolf, 2016], which i loved in the beginning and loved less and less as the book went on. nelson gets lost in the tangles of whatever it is she’s trying to say, and it all simply made me think, well. i’m sorry for being too dull for you — but, then again, maybe i am dull, or maybe it’s just my impatience for theory flaring up again. maybe it’s my allergy to hype. maybe it’s all of the above.

whatever it is, ultimately, the argonauts has completely faded from my brain.)

solnit is gracious, though, warm and generous, even when she’s being critical. in another writer’s hands, her essay collection, men explain things to me (haymarket, 2014), would have been scathing and bristling, but, in solnit’s, the essays are thoughtful, well-considered, fleshed-out. that isn’t to say she isn’t scathing or that she’s soft in her criticism; solnit doesn’t try to cushion any blows or shy away from the brutal realities of the consequences and realities of patriarchy and toxic masculinity; but she does it all in such measured ways that the truth falls even harder and heavier.

that’s not meant to sound like tone-policing, by the way. sometimes, it’s necessary to shout and scream and snarl.

going back to that aforementioned passage, though:

what’s your story? it’s all in the telling. stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice. to love someone is to put yourself in their place, we say, which is to put yourself in their story, or figure out how to tell yourself their story.

which means that a place is a story, and stories are geography, and empathy is first of all an act of imagination, a storyteller’s art, and then a way of traveling from here to there. what is it like to be the old man silenced by a stroke, the young man facing the executioner, the woman walking across the border, the child on the roller coaster, the person you’ve only read about, or the one next to you in bed?

we tell ourselves stories to live, or to justify taking lives, even our own, by violence or by numbness and the failure to live; tell ourselves stories that save us and stories that are the quicksand in which we thrash and the well in which we drown, stories of justification, of accursedness, of luck and star-crossed love, or versions clad in the cynicism that is at times a very elegant garment. sometimes the story collapses, and it demands that we recognize we’ve been lost, or terrible, or ridiculous, or just stuck; sometimes change arrives like an ambulance or a supply drop. not a few stories are sinking ships, and many of us go down with these ships even when the lifeboats are bobbing all around us. (solnit, 3-4)

i don’t judge people who don’t read; i know reading isn’t something everyone likes to do; and there are plenty of things people like to do that i don’t. i do, however, tend to roll my eyes when people like to act like they’re above stories, like storytelling is something in which only children participate. i can’t help but roll my eyes at people who try to downplay novels, implying that maturing means leaving the novel (and, in connection, fiction) behind and moving onto more “serious” writing like essays and philosophy and biographies (aka non-fiction).

because the problem beneath all that snobbery and faux-intellectualism is this: stories are the foundation of who we are. they provide the foundation of our beliefs, define how we see the world, and directly influence the way we consider other people. they tell us who we are and how we position ourselves in the world. stories are the means through which we conduct our lives.

stories are in everything, and story-telling is the framework on which we build everything. it doesn’t matter whether you’re an artist or an engineer or an attorney; you tell stories for a living, whether it’s through a creative medium, a structure, a legal case. if you’re an accountant, you might work in numbers, but you still look for the stories embedded in financial and income statements because they tell you all about the life and health of a company. if you’re a doctor, bodies tell you stories, and you carry the stories of your patients. if you’re a chef, a coffee roaster, a baker, you take the stories from your life, your farmers and butchers and fishermen, and you turn them into sustenance.

when you go home at the end of the day, kiss your partner, say hello to your children, your flatmate, your parents, you tell them the story of your day.

when you introduce yourself to someone new, you share the story of who you are.

when you see someone, you tell yourself a story of who you think that person is, and you act accordingly.


one thing i’ve been doing less of since 2017 is reading from korean authors. i miss that. i hope to get back to that this year.

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my way of cooking is usually to go into a recipe and kind of just take from it what i want. (my apologies, recipe developers and writers.)

here’s the chicken poulet from kristen kish cooking (clarkson potter, 2017), except it’s just the chicken, no sauce, no gnocchi, and no thyme or rosemary either because i didn’t have either on hand and all my herb plants died. (i have black thumbs.) i also didn’t use the kind of chicken her recipe calls for either because she says to use skin-on, boneless chicken breasts, but i have yet to find skin-on, boneless chicken breasts because i don’t actually have a butcher, just the butcher counter at whole foods (omg i can’t quit whole foods; DAMN YOU, AMAZON), and it’s still just a thing on my list, to learn how to break down a whole chicken.

that’s a lot of words about how i deviated from the recipe …

anyway, so, i used the technique from her recipe, but i used skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, and i added garlic to the pan, and i made adjustments to the cooking time as necessary, and i ended up with really juicy, flavorful chicken breasts and super, super crispy skin.

i never grew up eating chicken skin.

it’s too fattening.


i have a complicated relationship with my body, and i have a complicated relationship with food.

when i see photos of myself, i cringe, seeing the lumpiness in my face, the chub in my arms and fingers, the bulges around my stomach. i see my double chin, the little shelf of fat that squeezes over my bra under my armpits, the paunch around my midriff. i see the pounds i should lose. i see the lunch maybe i shouldn’t have eaten.

i see shame.


the movie that stands out to me most from my adolescence is cool runnings, and i haven’t seen it in almost two decades, so i don’t remember much of it, just the memories associated with watching it. i watched it for the first time at a sleepover with my discipleship group, and that in and of itself was pretty cool, the act of sleeping over at my discipleship leader’s apartment, of lining up in a row in our sleeping bags in her living room at night.

at the time, it felt very grown up.

anyway, the point is — so we watched cool runnings, and the scene that has always stayed with me was when one of the characters is taken into the bathroom by some other dude who asks him, look in the mirror; what do you see?

the guy isn’t sure and rattles off something or another, and the dude says, no. when i look in the mirror, i see power. i see strength. i see … etcetera etcetera etcetera, and this is a terrible summary of this scene, but i think you get the point.

and i think you get where i’m going with this.


i like to believe that we can’t control much in our lives and in our narratives, but we do get to choose how we approach the shit we’re given. we don’t get to choose how people see us or judge us, but we do get to choose how we feel about and judge ourselves.

one of the positive things to come out of a decade-plus of intense body shaming by people i love is that i’ve learned to slough off shame. i’ve learned to embrace myself as who i am and to be okay with people not being okay with who i am. that doesn’t mean i don’t have bad days when i catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and immediately look away, days when i’m wearing something that’s a little too tight and sink into unhappiness and angriness at my inability to lose weight.

and that doesn’t mean it’s been an easy or simple process to get here to this point where i can say, it’s okay; i’m okay, where i can post photos of myself that aren’t just perfectly angled photos of my face, nothing shown from the shoulders down, the selca shot at the perfect angle that makes my face appear narrower, sharper, less lumpy.

that doesn’t mean i have a good, healthy relationship with my body now, either, or with food. i still hate my body most days because it’s not a healthy body, and i still have a complicated relationship with food — but maybe that’s the other positive thing that came out of a decade-plus of intense body shaming. i know that healing takes a shit-ton of time and whole lot of pain and that it, too, is massively complicated. nothing is black-and-white, either-or. nothing is that cleanly, clearly defined.

and that’s okay. that’s okay as long as we’re still trying.


“poulet” means “chicken” in french, so this recipe is really called “chicken chicken.”

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over the the last few weeks, several women have come forward with allegations against sherman alexie, arguably the prominent native-american writer, though that also feels not-so-correct to say because, hello, louise erdrich. 

a week or two ago, alexie released a statement in which he wrote, “there are women telling the truth about my behavior and i have no recollection of physically or verbally threatening anybody or their careers. that would be completely out of character.”

overall, the statement is a pretty shoddy non-apology, one that takes no responsibility for his actions and tries to brush everything under the rug with a standard, i’m sorry if i hurt you, but the thing is — i do believe him when he writes that he has “no recollection of physically or verbally threatening anybody or their careers” — and that’s the problem.

some people like to argue that we’ve become too “PC,” that we’re too sensitive or that we’re overreacting, that, if [insert supposedly innocuous statement or behavior here] is sexual harassment, then where does it end? then men won’t be able to talk to any women, and it’ll be impossible for them to be friendly or to show concern or care because, oh no, women are such snowflakes and they must be so dumb that they can’t parse innocent friendly behavior from dangerous creeper behavior.

which then leads to this asinine idea that the solution is to go back to completely male-dominated spaces.

the problem isn’t that women are dumb and can’t tell the difference between a man being friendly and a man wielding his power (because, believe or not, women can). the problem is that men have no idea about the structural power imbalances in place that inherently benefit them. the problem is that men move about the world totally oblivious to their privilege and the toxicity it unfurls. the problem is that men can’t seem to wrap their brains around consent or accept that, no, they are not entitled to women, whether to women’s attention or time or bodies.

and, so, i do, to a degree, believe alexie when he claims that he doesn’t remember ever explicitly threatening women and their careers because the thing is … he doesn’t have to threaten anyone explicitly. he doesn’t have to grab a woman’s arm or trap her in a corner or say the words, have sex with me, or you’ll never write again. he doesn’t have to menace her or stalk her or spread rumors about her.

all he has to do is make an advance and refuse to walk away when the woman signals no.


men can complain all they want about how they didn’t set up the system and it isn’t fair that they’re lumped together in this mass of shitty human behavior, but, hey, here’s the thing: if you actively benefit from a toxic system (which all men do) (and which all white people, men and women, do) and you do nothing to try to change that system, then, hi, you’re complicit.

no one says it’s easy, and no one says it’s fun. it’s not pleasant confronting your own shittiness, and i’ve got plenty of experience in that area myself. it’s taken me years to dismantle my internalized misogyny; i readily admit that, seven years ago, i was that person who went around disavowing feminism because i was about “humanism” or some bullshit like that. i had to come face-to-face with the racism and prejudice i’d long carried against other POC, and i know — it sucks. it sucks to realize that you’re a shitty human being. it sucks to admit that and reckon with it, but the only other option is to deny it, and denial allows toxicity to fester.

and here’s the thing about power, and here’s where this all comes together: all of this has to do with the stories we tell ourselves about what the world should look like and how power is structured and where we figure ourselves within it all. a man’s entitlement comes from the story he tells himself about a world in which his supposed masculinity is everything and he deserves to get what he wants and, if he doesn’t get it, if he is denied, he has the right to lash out in whatever way he so wants. an abuse victim believes the lies in the stories her abuser tells her, stories that say she deserved what she got, that she provoked him, that no one will believe her. women internalize these stories, too, invest in the narratives of the patriarchy and prop up toxic masculinity, repeat these stories to their daughters and continue the cycle.

colonizers buy into the stories of their greatness, of the supposed inferiority of the Others they colonize, and, sometimes, it’s funny how people inherently recognize how important stories are because the victors go about white-washing history, trying to erase their wrongs and pretend they didn’t exist, plastering pretty wallpaper over the bloodshed and violence and exploitation.

you don’t censor a story unless you’re afraid of it, and you're not afraid of something unless you believe in the power it contains.


chimamanda ngozi adichie gave an entire brilliant tedxtalk about the danger of the one story, so i’ll leave that for her, and i’ll end this ridiculously long post with this: the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies, our identities, are connected to the stories we tell ourselves about power because body shaming is about power — it’s just within the sphere of the private, not the hugely public.

there is systemic power that we’re trapped by, that requires mass movement to change, and then there is personal, individual power, the power we have over ourselves. i worry often that that’s a power girls are taught to give away too easily.

blair talks about this in her book, maybe not in the same terms, but in sharing her experience with her first boyfriend, a man older than she is who thinks he’s entitled to her body, shames her for not finding pleasure in sex with him, isolates her when she finally breaks up with him — and i love the way she writes it here:

for years afterward, dan would maintain that i had changed, gained some new or darker side that was, as he once explained in a letter, ‘without a doubt, not beneficial to who you are.’ i was young, starting college; of course i changed. i changed my clothes, my eating habits; i made new friends, tried yoga, worked as a telemarketer. but the change dan meant was less obvious: the fact that i no longer went limp and let him touch me; the fact that, when forced to choose between the bitter protection he offered and the exhaustive work of shielding myself alone, i knew that i could not be with him. and yet the decision burned. turning down dan — choosing jurisdiction over my own body — felt like choosing exile from the very things in which his approval had granted me legitimacy. what role did i have, really, on the icefield, or even in dogsledding? who had i been there? i didn’t remember. though i couldn’t explain it at the time, leaving dan felt like leaving everything i’d been working toward, all the ways i’d been trying to prove myself. and for a while, that’s exactly what it meant. i left him and i didn’t come back.

the change dan lamented was that i had started to trust myself. but the way i saw it, i had flunked out of the north. (175-6)

luckily, blair learns to trust herself and continues to do so, working through years of doubt and fear and faltering confidence, and the passage above goes to show what i mean about story, how the stories we tell ourselves matter. all it often takes is a small repositioning of ourselves to see a story from a different angle and shift our worldview entirely, and maybe that’s where the real power of story lies, in its ability to change and to change us along with it.

and maybe that’s the one thing that gives me a measure of hope in such a bleak, often terrifying world — that there is a shift in the wind, that women are reclaiming their narratives, that, even in the midst of the destruction the current administration is trying to wreak on marginalized, immigrant, queer communities, even in all that, we are still telling our stories — and, by doing so, slowly, we will shape and grow and change the world.

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get this gorgeous apron for yourself at hedley & bennett. i can personally vouch for their aprons because, erm, i’m a home cook, and i own five of their aprons. i, uh, kind of have a problem …

i love you, egg.

call me the egg lady.

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i’ve been trying to write this post for over two weeks now, and that’s only if we count the time i “officially” sat down to try to write it. i often wish i was a faster writer, one who could work through her thoughts faster, poop out words easier, and i wish i could turn out more blog posts more regularly.

sometimes, i go down the analytics hole, sad at the dropping numbers and lowered engagement because i don’t have the time to generate more posts more regularly, and, sometimes, i go down the same hole when it comes to instagram, too, because i feel like my life has become so routine, so dull, so blah that i’ve got nothing interesting to share. i feel like i’ve become dull and boring — or maybe i’ve just always been dull and boring; it’s simply that life in a more interesting city while freelancing helped mask that.

it’s been a dry few months creatively, more than usual. december was dry, then january was eaten up by payroll tax reports, W2s, 1099s, and february has thus far been consumed by books (the accounting kind) and bank reconciliations and financial statements. i spend my days chasing cents and dollars, feeling the pettiness that is accounting and rolling my eyes at the ugliness of human behavior, CEOs who expense exorbitant amounts on entertainment, shopping, and other such things while paying their employees minimum wage, even their managers, the ones who likely keep their businesses running.

which kind of leads to … i spend a lot of time thinking about money, about consumerism, about economic class. i think about the things that divide us from each other, these notions we invent sometimes of what elevates one people above another, and i think about all the ways i’m guilty of this, too, me and my upper middle class upbringing and my iced lattes and mid-range skincare.

me and my ability to travel to the extent that i do.

me and my constant want for more when i already have more than so many others do.

me and my privilege, my selfishness, my discontent. me and my hypocrisy. me and all my many shortcomings.

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this year, i’ve been thinking about vlogging, which means i’ve been watching a lot of youtube. claire marshall remains my favorite, and i rewatch her videos every so often, even her vlogs, because i find her relatable, interesting, normal. sure, she’s probably earning an income i likely never will, and she lives in an apartment i’d love to have, but she’s still just another human in los angeles who’s working, creating content, living her life.

and she’s a cat lady.

i’ve also recently started watching the frey life non-stop, and it’s great because they vlog daily. mary frey has cystic fibrosis, and, from what i understand, she and her husband started vlogging as a way of documenting their lives when they moved to scotland for peter to pursue grad studies. the vlogs were a means for their friends and family to know what their lives were like, how they were doing, etcetera, and they’ve continued vlogging over the years, recording mary’s life with CF, the daily hours spent trying to clear her lungs, coughing, going to clinic, and monitoring her blood sugar and etcetera etcetera etcetera — and, through it all, through all the pain and health scares and hospitalizations, though all of it, she glows.


last monday, i set up NBC streaming at the office, so we can watch the women’s half-pipe snowboarding finals. i don’t typically have two shits to give about the olympics, but i’ve been following chloe kim, and i want her to win. i want her to get those points and take home the gold. i want her to blow everyone away.

i stop and ask myself if it’s a korean-american thing because she’s korean-american and i’m korean-american, and, yeah, honestly, that’s probably part of it, but the real part is … i like the way she laughs. i like that she’s this tiny korean-american girl with bleached blonde hair who’s got this easy laugh, this grin that takes over her entire face, this joy and exuberance that overflow from her person. she kicks ass at her sport, yes, and she’s been winning medals left and right and setting records, and she’s only seventeen — but, at the end of the day, it’s her love and excitement for her sport that make her glow.

i love that. it makes me root for her even more.


what does it even mean to glow? i’m not talking about happiness or exultation at personal goals reached because, by that definition, chloe kim has no reason but to glow — she’s young and accomplished, and she’s the youngest female gold medalist in her sport. that isn’t what i mean, though, and, regardless, either way, success, prodigy, genius, whatever you want to call it — none of it is any guarantee of someone glowing from within because success, prodigy, genius, whatever you want to call it can be just as toxic as they can be positive.

and, while we’re on this thread, why wouldn’t claire glow? she’s built a successful creative career for herself, creating content and working with brands, and she lives in a gorgeous apartment in DTLA, travels a lot, and is physically fit. 

but, again, it’s not about not having any material wants or living that supposed dream life — to glow is to have an effusive quality that comes through regardless of situation. it’s an inner quality that can’t be forced, though i do believe that we can train ourselves in ways to bring out our inner glow because i do believe that we all have that ability to glow — we smother it, though, with fear, insecurity, a lack of confidence, resentment, cynicism, etcetera.

because you could look at mary frey and say, what does she have to glow about? she lives with cystic fibrosis, and it’s a painful, chronic illness that will likely end her life early. you could say it limits her life, what she can do with it, how she can live. somehow, i doubt she would see it that way, though. her life is her life, and she’s only got the one she has, and she’s going to laugh and carry hope with her and find joy in her life as she’s been given it.

which all made me think that i do struggle a lot with malcontent, with resentment at being stuck in california, in a job i don’t enjoy, but that i think i’m lucky being surrounded by the people i am. both my parents have worked since i was a kid, and i’ve never really ever heard them complain about having to work. my coworkers are all really great people who are ungrudgingly, cheerfully putting in long overtime hours because that’s what the job requires. my supervisor isn’t so unlike me — she’s a pianist, not an accountant, but she’s here, kicking ass at her job because she has two kids and she wanted them to have the chance to grow up here in the states.

and, in many ways, i’m lucky that i’m unattached, that i at least have the freedom to keep pursuing what i want to do, that i am able-bodied enough to do so. i’m lucky that i know where i want to go and what i want to do, that i have the skills and ability to back up those wants and seek out opportunities with confidence. i know what keeps me going, keeps me trying, keeps me writing.

i know what keeps me here.

none of that means it’s easy to keep holding on, though.

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if you’ve been following the news at all, you’ll know that, last wednesday, a teenager brought an AR-15 to his former school and murdered 17 students, injuring 14 more. you’ll know that the students are taking a stand, vocally and widely expressing their outrage that this — a mass shooting — was allowed to happen yet again, making clear that this government has blood on its hands.

you’ll know that the same talking points have been brought up again. conservatives have been trying to argue that guns don’t kill, people do, that maybe so many kids wouldn’t have died had teachers been armed, that SECOND AMENDMENT SECOND AMENDMENT SECOND AMENDMENT. GOP congresspeople copy-pasted their standard thoughts and prayers and went on with their bloodthirsty ways, lacking the decency to say they’d stop taking blood money from the NRA. people all across america and around the world rightfully asked, what the hell is wrong in this country?

you’ll know that, once again, people keep looping back to the mentally ill. they keep saying that there should be more regulations to prevent the mentally ill from getting their hands on guns. there should be more in-depth background checks for mental health. there should be more protections against the mentally ill.

never mind that the “mentally ill,” as they so condescendingly love to say, are more likely to be victims of violence, not perpetrators of it.

never mind that the asshole, misogynistic, violent, angry, entitled mentality that leads to men shooting up schools, theaters, and churches isn’t mental illness. it’s entirely symptomatic of the patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and hate.


it’s easier to pin shit like that on mental illness, though, isn’t it? it somehow makes it more palatable because it allows the belief that a “normal” person wouldn’t do that, a “normal” person wouldn’t retaliate against some perceived ill against him by committing mass murder, a “normal” person just wouldn’t do that, so he must have been mentally ill.

(unless he’s a person of color. then he must be a terrorist.)

it’s easier to think that these men must be mentally ill — he was depressed; he was schizophrenic; he was bipolar. he wasn’t racist, and he wasn’t a misogynist, and he didn’t have a history of domestic abuse. he was “mentally ill,” and, so, we need to protect ourselves, our children, against the “mentally ill.”

this logic and the evasion of -isms that supports it are as laughable as straight people acting like they need to protect themselves and their children from transgender people, so much that it must be against the law for people to use public bathrooms that align with their gender identity. it’s laughable because it’s outrageous; trans people are so much more likely to be victims of violence than to perpetrate violence. they’re so much more likely to be assaulted, physically and sexually, than to assault, and yet our society is so terrified of trans people, which, yes, maybe it’s true — straight people are terrified of trans people, just not in the ways that they claim or tell themselves.

as human beings, we invent reasons to justify our thinking, and these attacks on trans people are no different. straight people aren’t afraid of trans people assaulting them; they’re afraid of having the supposed social mores of this country up-turned and their dominance taken from them. they’re afraid of having their worldviews challenged, of having to step back and examine themselves, their thinking, their beliefs. they’re afraid of the possibility of realizing that they were wrong, that maybe they’re not actually the good, loving people they liked to think they were — they’re bigots to put it bluntly, and their love is conditional and warped with hatred.

i tend to believe that, if you want to see the character of a person, look at how s/he treats other people, people who are different from her/him, whether they’re people of color, queer people, disabled people, the Other in any way. does s/he treat them with respect and dignity? does s/he extend the same generosity and kindness to them as s/he does to people who look and believe and love like s/he does?

or is s/he quick to dehumanize them, to stomp on their rights, to treat them as lesser, as Other, as sub-human? does s/he treat them with disgust and vitriol? does s/he use queerness, transness, blackness, muslim-ness, disabledness, as an insult, as something undesirable that should be sneered at, treated as a joke?

because the you character can be revealed with one simple question: is your love wide enough, deep enough, expansive enough that it covers all people, or is your love so small and so afraid that it places conditions on who is allowed to receive it and closes you off to the ability to extend basic, human generosity?


how did we get here, though? i wanted to write about these three egg dishes and five books i’ve read recently, but, somehow, we’ve ended up here. maybe it’s all related, though — over the last few weeks, i read five books, and the common thread through all of them was, it’s easy to judge.

it’s easy to judge an alcoholic, an adolescent, a drug user. it’s easy to judge an addict, someone who’s dependent on something, on anything, whether it be a substance, another human being, a memory. it’s easy to judge a culture that demands that women spawn and, specifically, that women spawn sons, and it’s easy to judge women for wanting children so badly that they’ll do anything, believe anything, to conceive.

it’s easy to judge a person who doesn’t have the support system or the confidence or the bravery to stand up for herself and say, no, this is who i am, and i am not who you might want me to be. it’s easy to judge a girl, a woman, for selling her body to survive; it’s easy to judge her for closing her eyes, burying her self deep inside, and staying silent as her body is used and abused because that silence is the only way that she can live. it’s easy to judge survivors for the choices they make, for the collateral damage they inevitably, unavoidably leave behind.

it’s easy to judge.

it’s easy to judge women who went through trauma as girls and have carried that in different ways. it’s easy to judge a mother who’s rational and focused, who doesn’t emote or freak out when something happens to her child, who doesn’t react in the ways expected of mothers, of women. it’s easy to judge women who go against the demands of their societies, their cultures, who reject the things that others are so quick to embrace, who stand up for themselves and say, no, this is not acceptable; no, i want more, i want better for my life. it’s easy to judge them when they seem to succumb to those cultural demands, to give in to foolish faith when they’ve been educated, run their own businesses, are their own person.

it’s easy to judge.

it’s easy to judge when we haven’t been in someone’s shoes, and it’s easy to judge even when we have.

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i often feel like i’m being left behind. other people are making advancements in their careers, traveling, taking on new projects, but i’m still here, still stuck in a dead-end place with a dead-end job in a dead-end life. others are getting new jobs, getting raises, getting somewhere, but me — i’m still nowhere, and i’m going nowhere.

i tell myself, keep going. just keep trying, keep creating, keep writing, but, after weeks like these, after hours after hours logged in traffic, in overtime, in an office chasing numbers, i wonder, what’s the point? why bother?

at the same time, i write these words knowing that i will keep trying, keep creating, keep writing, that, on days like these, i’ll go cry in the bathroom, make another cup of coffee, and spin writing projects in the back of my brain while hunting down every single stupid goddamn inconsequential penny.

and then, again, at the same time, too, i write these words knowing that there is always that other Thing that lurks in the shadows of my brain, that Thing that shrinks down to almost nothingness sometimes but sends out a flare every so often to remind me of its existence — there is always the option to stop trying to contain it and bring an end to all this fruitless endeavor.

and, hey, maybe before y’all go around saying this country needs more protection from the “mentally ill,” that there need to be more regulations in place to prevent the “mentally ill” from being able to buy guns and thus prevent them from committing mass murder, here’s the other thing about those of us who live with mental illness: we’re more likely to harm ourselves than to harm other people. i don’t see you wanting to protect us from ourselves, though, because your artificial concerns aren’t about mental illness, are they? you just don’t want to think about how you, too, as a human being carry the possibility of committing an act of heinous violence because you, too, are a human being, and you, too, as such, carry human darkness and the potential for brutality, and you don’t want to think that one reason gun control regulations need to be in place might be to protect everyone else from you.

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does that seem hypocritical then, to say that it’s easy to judge but to proceed to judge evangelicals, the GOP, white people? or is that judgement or an appraisal of people’s actions? because i am not interested in the statements people release or the principles they claim to believe in — faith is easy to proclaim, and “thoughts and prayers” are easy to extend. i am interested in the ways people behave, how they consider and regard other people, the actions they take to demonstrate love and care and concern, not only for the people they know but also, and more importantly, for the people they don’t, the people who are unlike them.

i’m interested in the ways people move about the world, interacting with people, seeing them as people, not as souls to be saved or Others to be subjugated.

the older i get, the less i’m impressed by intellectualism. i frankly couldn’t care less how well-read someone is or how much time someone spends in deep, philosophical thought. i’ve had issues with theory since i was in college, and i continue to do so because i’m not interested in how things exist on the thought plane — i want to bring all that thought and drag it down to the ground so that it can become action, something tangible that creates change, becomes something that counts.

nothing matters if it’s just an idea in your head, and that’s how prejudice rots people from the inside-out, anyway, because you can rationalize anything in your head. you can find all the “evidence” you want to support your viewpoint, and it’s when you step out of all that, when you get out into the world and start seeing other people as fellow human beings, that you start getting in touch with your own humanity.

and so here is this: if you believe something, whatever it is, go out there and challenge that belief. if you believe queer people are monsters and sinners and gross people, go out there and get to know them. if you believe christians are narrow-minded, stupid bigots who use faith as a crutch and an excuse, go out there and talk to them. if you believe that POC are terrifying people prone to violence and crime, go out there and listen to their stories.

because here’s the thing. you’d be surprised to find out how we’re not all that different. it doesn’t matter whether we’re gay or straight, christian or muslim or atheist, asian or black or white, whether we speak english fluently or not, we’re not all that different. the vices we struggle with, the families we work hard to provide for, the challenges we fear — fundamentally, outside of systemic issues, of course, they’re not all that different; none of it adds up to something to be so afraid of that we need to feel like we have to regroup and double up on hatred and bigotry and prejudice, especially because we’re no better than each other. we’re not so much more righteous or good that we have any right to trample on the lives and identities of others and demand that they fit into what we deem “right.”

i always come back to this one passage in the bible, when the pharisees drag a prostitute in front of christ and say she should be stoned for her sins. christ responds, let you among you who has no sin throw the first stone.

not even a pharisee could dare throw that first stone. are you so convinced of your own righteousness that you could?


holy shit, this is not the post i thought i’d write. some other writer might say, okay, we’ll find other photos to go with this post, but, well, i’m not another writer, and i’m keeping these photos. two saturdays ago, i stayed home and didn’t go into the office and made three things from the lucky peach all about eggs (clarkson potter, 2017) book: egg tarts (pg. 24), a tortilla española clásica (pg. 76), and saltie’s scrambled eggs (pg. 107).

EGG TARTS.
the egg tarts were unsurprisingly awesome, and i loved the technique used to make the dough. it’s divided into “oily” and “water” because the former contains all the butter and the latter, well, contains none, and the two are laminated together, resulting in a flaky crust with body that doesn’t just fall apart. the custard was just sweet enough, with just enough vanilla flavor, and, yeah, my crust-to-custard ratio was all wonky because i only have six tartlet pans, but i’m not complaining.

egg tarts are so bomb. i still don’t understand how my brother doesn’t like them, but that just goes to show — we truly are opposites in every way.

TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA CLÁSICA.
i absolutely loved the tortilla española clásica, and it was a lot of fun to make. you poach sliced potatoes and onions in an olive oil/grapeseed oil combination (do this in your cast iron because it is an excellent way to get some seasoning on your pan), and, when the potatoes are soft but not falling apart, you drain them, let them cool, and toss them with some whipped eggs. pour the mixture into a smoking hot pan (with oil), and give the edges a little wiggle with a spatula while it sets.

after a few minutes, cover the whole thing with a giant plate; flip it over, pan and all; and return the pan to the heat, the tortilla sitting on the plate. add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. slide the tortilla onto the pan, so it can cook on the other side. give it a few minutes, not too many, then repeat the flipping gesture. slide the tortilla onto the pan one last time, give it a minute, and flip it again.

let cool. cut into slices. eat with tapatio.

SALTIE'S SOFT-SCRAMBLED EGGS.
my preferred choice for scrambled eggs are soft-scrambled eggs because they’re so creamy, velvety, and rich. this is a different method for scrambling eggs, in that you crack your eggs into your pan and scramble only the whites. when the whites have mostly set, remove the pan from the heat, and then stir your yolks into the whites. it results in scrambled eggs that almost have the texture of hard-boiled eggs, just softer and creamier.

and, oh, the five books i read?

  1. julie buntin, marlena (henry holt, 2017)
  2. kim fu, the lost girls of camp forevermore (HMH, 2018)
  3. ayobami adebayo, stay with me (knopf, 2017)
  4. shobha rao, girls burn brighter (flatiron, forthcoming, 2018)
  5. kim fu, for today i am a boy (HMH, 2014)
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to close, here is this: desperate times call for desperate measures, and i am desperate for a new job, for new work, even if it’s freelance work to do while i work my current full-time job. i’ve got experience editing and drafting all kinds of writing, from legal documents to business valuations to professional emails to marketing blogs to press releases, and i’ve also done a lot of administrative work. i’m looking for anything that involves writing, copyediting, managing social media, and/or creating content, and i can write damn well, take beautiful photographs of food, places, and plant life, and am willing to travel anywhere, not necessarily just to exciting locales because i believe that stories, whether written or visual, exist everywhere.

also, because this is the thing that always seems to catch me: what i lack in experience, i more than make up for in hustle.

so hey, if you or anyone you know is looking for a kickass writer, editor, content creator, let’s chat!