when i badly want to talk to someone, to get to know someone, i never know what to say, so i freeze. i hope, instead, that she will take the initiative, and i get evasive, look aside, run away because, yes, i am outgoing and sociable, but i get painfully shy when it counts. it’s stupid and pathetic, and i hate this about myself, but i am swallowed by fear in these situations, fear that i am interpreting said situations in irrational ways because i want a specific outcome — i want to say, hi, hello, it’s nice to meet you; i want that to lead to a genuine connection — and i am too afraid of an undesirable outcome that i can’t make the first step.
and, so, i freeze.
it’s been two weeks of friends, and there is not a single human in my life i take for granted. i’m in a period of hardship, and maybe the thing about hardship is that it helps clarify things in your head, in your life. then again, there’s the other side of hardship, the nights spent crying, unable to sleep because my anxiety and fear are churning through my body, refusing to let me go and let me rest. there’s the inability shake the ways i feel small and invisible.
but, then, there are people, and, like i said, it’s been two weeks of friends, and i am grateful for them all.
on friday, a college friend comes up from DC to visit, and we go to momofuku’s newest outpost — bar wayo in south street seaport, which has become one bougie, cobble-stoned … something. i don’t know how i feel about it, don’t know that i’d ever really go there if it weren’t for bar wayo, thus continuing my ongoing internal conflict when it comes to the momofuku group and its restaurants. i love the restaurants and their food, but i hate where they’re situated because they follow gentrification and wealth — gross displays of wealth, sometimes, as is the case with hudson yards.
there’s an essay about that somewhere, but it might not be one that comes from my brain. i’ve still got tens of thousands of words i could write about momofuku, but today there is just this: the curry donut at bar wayo is bomb. it has such a satisfyingly crispy exterior and a soft interior that isn’t doughy, and the curry has a nice heat to it, just the right amount of body to prevent mess. it’s not greasy, not heavy, not overbearing but well-balanced and delicious.
i could easily eat 2-3 on my own.
maybe this is mushy and sentimental, but maybe that’s okay. i am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people in my life — for friends who have shown up and continue to show up with support and encouragement. friends who eat, who have paid and continue to pay for meals, for coffee, for snacks. friends who have sent and continue to send coffee funds and dinner funds via venmo, ko-fi, paypal. friends who read the shit i write, who DM and text and email, who fill the spaces of conversation with updates on their lives without expecting me to talk about the frustrations in mine.
i am grateful for friends who come over to hang out so i can clean my apartment, who don’t laugh or make me feel small for my outsized fear of the c-word bugs, who kill said bugs when they emerge. friends who send job listings and recommend me for jobs. friends who witness my stupid crush and how pathetically obvious and dopey i am about it and don’t make me feel small for any of that either.
i hope, one day, i am able to pay all this generosity and kindness forward.
two things i wish momofuku would sell? their salsa seca and the kimchi from kawi.
on monday, i put my instagram on private and delete the app from my phone. it’s been less than 36 hours since, but i’ve already forgotten the reason for that, probably something about mental health, about how instagram compounds the fears that live in my head. i think it had something to do with all the pain that comes from wanting so badly to connect with someone but knowing i will be disappointed because that will not happen — i do not have that kind of luck, that kind of magic.
my main takeaway is that i am incredibly bored without instagram. i’m constantly engaging with people on the app, constantly oversharing my day-to-day on stories, and i miss that instant contact with people, that immediate feedback loop. some might argue that it’s not “real,” these aren’t “real” relationships, but i would vehemently disagree — i value my online friendships deeply, and i seek to bring as many of them into the physical realm that i can.
maybe it’s different for me because i overshare, because i put so much of myself out there. i question the wisdom of that all the time, but i hope that that vulnerability opens up the possibility of reaching someone. i hope that people are able to read the things i share and think, omg, same. i hope that my stupid openness helps someone feel less alone.
i also hope for connection, and i wish always always always that someone might see me and take notice. one of the things social media has done is flattened the field somewhat, created ways of access that simply didn’t exist before, and i also always wish i was better at using social media in such ways. i wish i could reach out and initiate contact.
and, so, yes, that is the main reason i deleted instagram — because i hated myself for not being able to say hello, for wanting so badly just to be seen, for daring to hope in a different outcome. i hated — hate — myself for being so afraid.
what am i afraid of, though? my mother marvels at the things that don’t scare me — i have no fear traveling to a foreign country by myself even if i don’t speak the language. i’m not afraid of scuba diving or potentially jumping out of a plane (i want to go skydiving so badly), and i’m not afraid of driving fast or not having a stable career (though financial stresses make my anxiety so much worse) or dealing with uncertainties. i’m not afraid of change.
i am afraid of money not coming in when i need it. i am afraid of being asked personal questions, and i am afraid of being exposed, of being found out that i am not as smart of as interesting as i would like to be. i am afraid i will never be able to do the thing i love and want to do with my life, the thing i am not afraid to state i would be good at. i am afraid that this is it, that we struggle and flail and hurt, and then we die. i am afraid of being rejected. i am afraid of how much i want, the sheer desperation behind my longing to be seen, to be wanted, to be valued. i am afraid i will never be that person worth betting on.
i am also deathly afraid that someone is going to steal my dog if i leave him tied up outside while i pop into a store. it’s why i’ve never done it, will avoid doing it unless absolutely required.
god damn, i miss my dog. he’s such a good dog, so soft and snuggly and gentle. i miss him so much.
of course, i take my friend to kawi. i haven’t been back in a month, though i’ve thought about kawi pretty consistently, almost every single day maybe because i love the food and i have a crush. having a crush feels like having a crazy brain, one that is unable to parse reality with any kind of rationalism because it seeks, rather, to fit reality around its wishes, its desires, and there’s nothing rational about that.
we get the crab (it’s still available) and the oxtail jjim, and we get the new bingsoo, which is lime and ginger and candied jicama — yes, candied jicama. i feel like i know who my core people are by their reactions to the idea of candied jicama. it’s as great as it sounds. this lime bingsoo is more icy, less intensely flavored than the blueberry version, though that makes sense because it’s lime — it makes you pucker up, is intense as it is.
i am dying for the chef to do her take on a traditional red bean version of the bingsoo at some point. i know it would be laborious because paht is paht and i don’t think for a second that she’d take paht from a can, but, oh my god, can you imagine how delicious her paht-bing-soo would be?!
anyway, so going back to this not-being-on-instagram-for-like-36-hours thing: what did i learn?
nothing, really. i wish i had some kind of enlightenment to share here, but i don’t. i was bored. i missed having my community. i wanted to share dumb shit all the time and felt frustrated because i couldn’t. my day-to-day didn’t feel any richer because i was existing “in the moment” instead of putting everything on-line — in fact, it felt more hollow because i felt more alone.
as i type this up, though, i know that i am lucky. i have a balance in community; the fact that i have a core group of people in new york city is why i will never leave unless i must. i have a warm community of people on the internet, thanks to social media, friendships that circle the globe that i hope to bring into “real” life. this is the thing i would go back to tell that lonely, lonely girl just a few years ago — that, no, you still haven’t hit a day when you’re grateful still to be alive, but you will find yourself surrounded by people who love you and believe in you and will fight to keep you here.
here’s a recap of things i did while not on instagram:
i did a dr. jart sheet mask that creates these bubbles that are supposed to help clear out your pores. if you massage your face with the sheet mask on, it creates more bubbles. like, a lot more bubbles. i don’t know how effective this was at clearing out my pores, but it was fun — i like bubbling sheet masks; they amuse me.
i also spied on my dogs via nest cam, and i ate cup ramyeon that came with a packet of kimchi — like, an actual packet of actual kimchi — with my favorite salad from trader joe’s while finishing kingdom on netflix and thinking that i really need to stop watching TV shows where rich, powerful people do shitty things to keep their wealth and power. it makes me rage.
in the morning, i went to a job interview and showed up in the area 90 minutes early, so i got a waffle from blue bottle. later in the day, i made and ate an entire thing of chapaguri, passed out from the sodium, then walked to the library to reactivate my library card and check out three more YA novels. (i have a long post on YA coming.)
it was a glorious day for a walk. i’m going to go reinstall instagram on my phone now.