call me the egg lady.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?
- julie buntin, marlena (henry holt, 2017)
- kim fu, the lost girls of camp forevermore (HMH, 2018)
- ayobami adebayo, stay with me (knopf, 2017)
- shobha rao, girls burn brighter (flatiron, forthcoming, 2018)
- kim fu, for today i am a boy (HMH, 2014)
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!