Tuesday, September 15, 2009

library closing

i know public libraries throughout the country have been cutting hours or even closing for good, but i only thought that happened in small towns. my sister just informed me today that the philadelphia free/public libraries are closing because of governmental budget issues. it's astounding because this is happening in one of the most historical cities in america. it's not exactly a small city either. it's kind of devastating in terms of what it means for the city, how much financial trouble it must be in. what else will the city by cutting next? it has to be so stressful on a psychological level for the city. they can't just cut their hours; they have to close their doors completely. even tiny towns can group and scrape together to get a collection of books to lend to the public at large for free. i can't fathom living in a community with no public libraries, and it breaks my heart for all philadelphians, especially in this economy when the public needs all the assistance there is. i hope something will happen between now and october 2, when the libraries are due to close, that will prevent this tragedy.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

alone to write

r left for an out-of-town job a couple of weeks ago. while i cherish my time alone, i miss r immensely. a friend, whose boyfriend left town for a few months to finish his degree, came over for brunch today. no one else would have listened to our anguish with the same sympathetic ears.

i made a tofu-based vegan frittata with swiss chard which turned out deliciously. i stole the recipe from a copy of isa chandra moskowitz's vegan brunch at borders. fruit and french-pressed coffee were served on the side. it felt really wonderful to cook for someone.

as a joke, we had planned to commiserate. in actuality, we ended up doing just so. my friend is quite a few years younger than me so their relationship is at a different stage than r and me. they had just started living together and have a good few years to be by themselves before their biological clocks start ticking. r and i are getting really close to settling down and starting to plan a family. in fact, we are in the midst of procuring a loan to purchase a condo in boerum hill, brooklyn. but we miss our respective men just the same.

after we ate and caught up, we met another friend of mine in central park. d and i had discovered crossing the line festival was happening today, and bento boxes made by some of our favorite chefs would be available. unfortunately, the weather was dreary with misting rain, and the distribution of bento boxes was terribly organized. the festival workers were made to wear these food trays, like the ones you'd see the popcorn guy wear at the baseball stands, and walk around the field to pass out the boxes. the notion of free food (or free anything), however, unleashed everyone's primal instinct. people savagely rushed to the workers and extended their hands like the beggars they would normally abhor and shirk from. my friends and i stood in our little huddle, merely hoping the workers would find us as the only civilized human beings left in the crowd and award us with the precious bento box. but as soon as one of them was just steps from reaching us, the other people would immediately surround the poor worker. we ended up with no bento box to taste but managed to enjoy a piece of chocolate (too sweet for my taste although understandably delectable), and as the crowd dispersed, we saw the bento box in all its glory on one of the tables, on display for photographers.

satisfied with a glimpse of what we had missed, we parted ways. i walked downtown along the eastern edge of the park and passed one art museum after another that reminded me of r. first, it was the cooper hewitt where we had our second date, and after the museum that day, we had our first kiss. then, it was the guggenheim where we went over the summer for the 50th anniversary celebratory exhibition of frank lloyd wright's achievements, from within outward, on a pay-as-you-wish afternoon. it had been my first visit to that museum. lastly, i passed the met. we were heading for it, by cutting through central park, on the day r proposed to me. i kept ducking under my umbrella to hide my face as it kept reaching the brink of bursting into tears. i cut across the park at 72nd street and popped into whole foods in the time warner building for a bit of distraction before ending up at home, alone.

i'm a good loner. i enjoy having time to myself. it doesn't take much to keep me away from boredom and nonsense. but ever since r, being alone gets harder and harder each time he takes an out-of-town job. it's not that i need to be around people now. i just need him in my presence. i haven't been sleeping well because of him. it feels strange to sleep in a bed meant for two when only one side is occupied. but he has booked his flight to return to new york for a weekend at the end of this month, which is just a couple of weeks away. i can't wait.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

tragic loss

while at work, one of my supervisor informed me that one of our co-worker's father passed away last night. i was saddened but only later in the day did it hit me. in the afternoon, as a reprieve from the maddening busy day, i checked facebook. someone i know posted something about ronald takaki passing away. only when i saw takaki then did i realize that he might be our co-worker's father. i looked up ronald takaki and saw our co-worker listed as one of the surviving children in an article. then, my memories of ronald takaki slowly resurfaced.

i think he was a keynote speaker at an asian american conference one of my best friends put together in college. either i was taking a course in asian american history that semester or had just finished it in the previous semester. ronald takaki wrote what is considered a bible on asian american history, strangers on a distant shore. as one of our textbooks, i read it cover to cover, probably the only textbook i read so thoroughly. i remember admiring the way he wasn't angry with the establishment but simply laying out the information, not disguising the injustice, and giving dignity to those who endured the tough times. it definitely had an effect on my decision to make a documentary about angel island for my senior thesis. wherever it was i remember him from, he was so jovial and easy-going. he talked about having grown up in hawaii and hanging ten on the waves. i think i stood in line and got his autograph for my book.

having realized this personal connection, my day grew sadder. i am sad that such a monumental figure on an inclusive version of american history has passed away. i am sad for my co-worker, whom i have yet to meet, to lose a father whom i imagine had been fun to grow up with.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


r was back in new york for a weekend trip a couple of weeks ago. he got in on friday night, and i had ordered thai food, at his request, for when he walked in the door. even after having been with him for over a year and a half, it still takes my breath away to see him after a period of separation. we happily ate up the thai take out and went to bed.

the next day, i made german pancake and cooked up sausages from esposito for brunch. esposito is a basic butcher shop and makes the most delicious, flavorful sausages. they are also amazing friendly, just as you would expect a neighborhood butcher shop to be. then, r asked me what i wanted to do that day. i told him that it was really up to him because he was only back for the weekend. but he kept making me make the plans. so i suggested seeing the walker evans and the picture postcard exhibit at the met and that we could walk there by cutting through central park. he agreed but also wanted to head down to the east village afterward to hang out in his old 'hood.

we headed into the park. it was a beautiful day so the park was packed with joggers and pedestrians. we kept to the busy route for a while, but then he started leading me down a more secluded path. i've gotten lost in the park before so i was a little hesitant but then figured i would just blame it on him if we got lost. a little way down the path, all of a sudden, he stepped off the walkway to stand in front of a large rock. he turned to me and said, "come over here." i complied, thinking he just wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and the romantic surrounding to share a kiss. but he simply took me hands into his and asked, "will you marry me?" i was completely taken by surprise, not expecting him to ask for another year or two.

it took me a moment to realize what just happened. i replied, "really?" he nodded. "yes!" then, i sobbed the happiest tears, uncertain if i could stop crying, the second time in my life when i thought i would never stop crying although the other time was tears of grieve. we kept hugging and crying. one jogger aw-ed us as he passed us. i confessed that i had hoped for this moment, and he confessed that he had been thinking about it for a while. he reassured me that he was certain about his proposal, and i reassured him that my "yes" was certain. i also asked if this meant i could change my status on facebook. he laughed and said yes. only later did i realize that he didn't even have a ring on him at the time. i called my sister, my mom, and my father. my mom started crying on the phone so then i started crying again.

after the phone calls, we stopped at the boat house, which we were near, and got drinks to gather ourselves. but as we sat there, we talked about our relationship and our feelings for each other, and i started crying again. my eyelids ended up developing slight rashes the next day from the exposure to the salty tears and cold wind. i sent a text of the news to my dearest friends.

when we finished our drinks, we continued our way to the met. the walker evans exhibit was wonderful and made me fall in love with him as a human being and artist, to see how very simple things inspired him to see the bigger world so beautifully. we had dinner at purnima that evening, indian being r's favorite cuisine. we were blown away by the meal, this having been our first time there.

the next day, we had dimsum for brunch with my dad in chinatown. then, he had to fly back to new orleans late afternoon. unfortunately, his flight was delayed for 6 hours at jfk because of the bad weather conditions. but he made it back safely.

and he was back this weekend for a 3-day weekend. he arrived home friday around 11a, and i had german pancake and sausages in the works for him. that evening, we went to west village to look into a gym membership he had started in the area and then onto dinner at en, a japanese restaurant nearby. it was one of the most wonderful meals, consisting of what i would guess to be japanese comfort food, a heavenly combination of the sea and earth. yesterday, we traveled up to marlboro, ny where r's brother lives. r's brother had suggested that i choose one of their grandmother's rings as my engagement ring. i will post a picture of it after we have it cleaned and resized.

we had to rush back to the city that afternoon for r's interview. it was actually for a position on the project i'm currently working on in the city. of course, he was offered the job at the end of the meeting and arrived home ecstatic. it would be an opportunity to work with people he has admire from early in his career. we decided to celebrate with indian for dinner again, but this time, we ordered delivery from purnima, which was just as delicious as we remembered it.

then, this morning, we had brunch at benny's burritos in east village. the reason r had brought up east village on his last trip home was because he had wanted to propose in tompkins square park. it was one of the places we went to on our first date, and we had spent a lot of time in the area at the beginning of our relationship because it was where he lived at the time. but we have special memories from central park as well, summer concerts and hamlet in the park. besides, he knew he was going to pop the question that weekend and was too anxious to wait until we made it to east village. so after brunch, we walked past tompkins square park and through east village to union square.

he flew back to new orleans this evening, having just called to say he landed safely. so now, i can go to bed and sleep in peace.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


today, while waiting for my flight at the denver airport, i came across the obituary for nicholas hughes in the new york times. he had hung himself. i was surprised to find myself on the verge of tears reading about his life. having grown up surrounded by so much tragedy (his mother, sylvia plath, the famous poet committed suicide, and his stepmother committed murder suicide with his stepsister), it made me wonder if he had ever lived a moment of his life without pain. maybe that was why he was attracted to fishery, having been a fisheries biologist in alaska. creatures so simple and beautiful, not having to endure sadness, an instinctive bond to travel and stay with others in schools, it's poetic to have chosen that field of work and life, a life of being in and near water, the tranquility of nature. he left behind his sister, frieda. i hope she has found or will continue to find something to live for and hold onto it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

afternoon at the post office

the last document finally arrived in the mail today to complete my set of tax materials to send to my accountant. i found it in the mail box at around 3p. so i immediately printed out my other finalized documents and organized what i needed to make copies of. i ran to kinko's down the block. then, i ran down a few more blocks to the post office.

when i arrived, there were two long lines of people, each at least ten deep. i quickly stuffed, labeled, and sealed a priority mail envelope and hopped in one of the lines. i picked the one being served by three open windows than the line for only two open windows. while i waited, i noticed that an elderly gentleman a couple of people ahead of me was extremely chatty. he was mostly commenting on the number of people in the post office today. it was around 4p on a friday so the lines were not a surprise. then, i realized he was talking to the guy with facial piercings in front of him specifically.

it turned out that guy with the piercings had to catch a flight and was getting antsy about the wait. the elderly man, in his eastern european accent, began to ask every person ahead of them in line if they would allow the guy with the piercings to cut in front of them. someone started chuckling as the elderly man was making the small scene. i thought it was very brave and thoughtful of elderly man to make the effort to help a stranger. everyone yielded.

the guy with the piercings received instructions from the postal worker at the window to package item appropriately and set off to do so. the elderly man kept watching over him and pointing out how he needed to put more tape on the box. it was as if he had taken on this stranger on as his own son. the guy with the piercings finally finished sending out his package and thanked the elderly man on his way out. the elderly man, then, took his turn at the window and started to chat up the postal worker at the window.

the guy ahead of me in line noticed that the elderly man was just chatting too. he waited until the elderly man had finished his transaction and impatiently walked up to the window to nudge him out of the way. the elderly man didn't take offense at all; he actually apologized for talking too much as he left.

as i waited my turn and witnessed this commotion, i realized that this post office is one of the few in the city that does not have the bullet-proof glass windows. you can hand the postal worker your package directly, not through a cage. the postal worker who helped me was a little annoyed at first when i did not know the amount of stamps i had place on the envelope. there was a set of first class stamps the post office sold that did not indicate their value so i could not tabulate the stamps. it turned out that i still owed a little bit more. as we tried to figure out how to make up for the difference, whether to add more stamps that i had with me or just pay, i made a comment that i will do which ever was the fastest because the people behind me in line were getting agitated. then, the postal worker actually laughed and said that you can never please those people. it was as if she melted from an icy postal worker into a warm human being. we exchanged a pleasant good bye, and as i left the window, i heard grumblings about the long lines. i want to say to these people, "this is new york on a friday afternoon. of course there will be long lines. everyone is doing their best, and there's nothing you can do. you might as well just make the best of it." but i didn't. i would just sound naive and annoyingly cheerful. so i exited the building and hurried back to my apartment.

Friday, March 13, 2009

last days in nola

i returned to new york a couple of days ago with some pretty delicious last meals from new orleans. we made it to dick and jenny's and were presented with a new spring 2009 menu. it was a great menu, but we felt a little sore that we had missed their previous menu just days before. to think that we could've tried their winter 2008 AND spring 2009 menus! but we sucked it up and ordered their louisiana seafood pie, grilled beef tenderloin, bronzed flounder, and key lime pie. i'm just realizing we started and ended the meal with pies! it guaranteed us a great meal, which it was. all our plates were pretty much cleaned up even though i know you're supposed to leave a bite of food to be polite. but we could not waste even a morsel of food that's so delicious.

it turned out that r had to work the last saturday i was in town. we went to elizabeth's, a local joint, for breakfast. their specialty is poached eggs, which is my favorite. i had it with fried green tomatoes and hash browns. r had the carolina shrimp and grits. one of my eggs were poached hard and the other one soft, which i found a little odd, but the overall meal was good. r's food was really good; the broth in the shrimp and grits made the dish.

later that evening, we ended up forgoing jacque-imo's to join r's work friends to see the watchmen. we were all uncertain what to think of the movie at the end of the viewing. i'd only gotten into about a quarter of the novel a couple of years ago when i had to leave town for a job (actually the job on which i met r) and suspect that the story might be a tough one to translate well on-screen because it's so unconventional. there isn't one character to follow, and the story is so hypothetical, almost as if as a movie, the story became too real to digest whereas it's easier to accept as a graphic novel. we thought the design elements (sets, costumes) were very intriguing though, framed around a world in which nixon was still president in the 80s.

the next morning, r took me to the airport. i came back to new york and started missing r again.