Where are we landing?

I thought I was lucky when I got on the cleared list for standby for an early flight back to New York this afternoon… until we approached the vicinity of LaGuardia Airport and the pilot announces that the weather is too tumultuous to land. Granted, the same thing happened to me yesterday en route to Chicago when we landed in Detroit, but this time, we were headed to Syracuse… and THEN to Buffalo because when we arrived in Syracuse, the storm clouds quickly got there, too. After a very turbulent flight, we landed in Buffalo and stayed there on the plane for over an hour. We eventually got back to New York, just over three hours after the scheduled time. And again, I have no one waiting for me, and no one checking up on me to see if I’m okay.

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to really not have anyone at all that you care about who cares about you. Then, if you were to go missing, either on the streets of your city or on a train or in a plane, what happens then? Who’s your emergency contact to list – no one? Who is supposed to claim your body if you die? I guess in those cases, you just get buried, un-embalmed, in an unmarked grave with an unmarked stone in a barely identifiable cemetery. I wonder what it feels like to be that alone, that lonely.

Weather and mood

It’s just my luck. I made it out to Chicago (after getting my plane diverted to Detroit for weather reasons) and there are thunder storms here. When I get to my hotel room and push aside the curtains in an attempt to see my glorious view of Lake Michigan and the Navy Pier, instead, all I see is mass fog. There goes my idyllic ideas of strolling down to Millennium Park in the early evening to get photos of Bart with the Bean and Buckingham Fountain.

Chris is out in San Francisco, where the temperature in Fahrenheit will hit 90 tomorrow, and I’m in a city I love at one of the worst possible times. He’s happy and relaxed, and I am tense and irritated… and alone. He says he feels like he’s gotten that feeling back about why he loves San Francisco; I am sure it’s because he’s a) not staying at my parents’ place, which is full of tension and negative energy, b) the weather is incredible (and abnormal), and c) he’s visiting all the glamorous parts of the city I never take him to when he comes to visit my family. There’s nothing glamorous about the Richmond District. All the above makes a big difference when you are in a city deciding whether you like it or hate it.

I have no one here to see, so I have dinner by myself at a nearby Italian restaurant at their bar, watching other people converse and congregate. It’s funny how weather can affect one’s mood so much. I just want to go home.

Remembering but not remembering

Chris is in San Francisco for work this week, and he’s having dinner with my parents tonight. Yep, that’s right. He’s having dinner with them without me there. He claimed he was too busy to call them to make arrangements, so I had to facilitate their meeting time and location over the phone. Of course, since my mom doesn’t hear from him throughout the day, she worriedly asks me a number of times, “Are you sure he is coming?” Yes, Mom, he’s coming. I’m not having you drive across town to have you wait for someone who will never show up.

So it will be my mom, dad, and Chris sitting at a table tonight, most likely having pho, banh xeo, and banh cuon of some sort at a Vietnamese place in the Tenderloin. The strangest thing about this dinner happening is that subconsciously, in the back of my mind, I thought, Will Ed be there, too? I obviously remember my brother is not alive anymore, but there are moments I have when I think without really thinking about that, and I wonder if he will be at a certain place or doing a certain thing. Then I quickly remember again and think how ridiculous the thought was.

Anyway, he can’t be having dinner with them tonight because he’s coming with me to Chicago tomorrow. He’s never been to the Windy City before.

Cookie baking

After I spend a few hours last night thinking about the concept of suicide and how it affects people’s lives, Ed comes to me in my dreams. Well, wasn’t that great timing. Go ahead and come when the topic is related to you.

So as usual, I’m home at our cold, miserable house in San Francisco, and I’m standing in front of the bathroom about to get in. Ed seems down and has a sad face. I ask him what’s wrong, and he says he doesn’t know what to do. “I don’t know, Yvonne… I just don’t know what to do.” It’s like what he said to me and how he said to me in the days leading up to his death. I’m at loss for words, but suddenly I smile at him and say, “Want to make cookies? Let’s make cookies together!” I expect him to decline, but instead, his eyes actually light up, and he says, okay! Let’s do it. So we go into the kitchen and start getting all of the ingredients and utensils ready.

I guess you’re at peace, Ed. You finally want to bake with me, and you never liked baking when you were alive. You had all those opportunities to do it with me, and you never wanted to. And now you do.


Tonight, we went to see the off-Broadway musical Heathers, which is based off of the cult classic movie of the same name from the ’80s. The first thing I think about when thinking about how I feel about this production is that I’m so glad I’m no longer an adolescent (and perhaps even happier that I did not have the “normal” high school experience of having bullies, football players and cheerleaders being the “cool cliques,” etc. I hated conforming then. I still hate it now). The second thing I think about is how fragile human beings are, and how tragic it is that so many people have had terrible childhoods that lead them into downward spirals of mental illness and suicidal tendencies.  It’s like we don’t take these people seriously. We just tell them to try harder at school, try harder to “fit in,” try harder to please those around them. Just try harder. If you try harder, you’ll succeed! You feel down today? Perk up and smile!! Maybe it’s more complicated then that, yes?

Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is mentioned during the musical when an accidental death is faked out to be a suicide. Oddly, I read this book when I was just 12 because I had heard from a friend that it had similarities with J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, which I love. Sylvia Plath committed suicide when she was just 30 by closing all the windows and cracks in her kitchen, turning the stove on, and sticking her head into her oven. Her son, who she had with her husband Ted Hughes, also committed suicide at the age of 47 in 2009 by hanging himself. Sylvia Plath has a daughter who is still alive and is a writer and painter. I wonder what it’s like to be someone whose mother and brother have committed suicide.

Actually, I don’t want to know what it’s like.

Surprise pasta making

Tonight, Chris surprised me with a handmade pasta making class at Taste Buds Kitchen, which specializes in fresh, handmade cooking classes and “culinary experiences.” The class was less than 20 people, and we all got grouped into stations organized into three categories – marinara sauce and fettuccine, butternut squash ravioli, and spinach ravioli. Chris and I got placed into the marinara and fettuccine group with another couple. The marinara sauce was pretty straightforward since I’ve made similar versions many times, but the pasta making part was the most exciting. We made it from scratch using just flour, olive oil, salt, and eggs, formed the dough, kneaded, moved it through the pasta machine (a KitchenAid stand mixer attachment), and left it to dry. Then the assistants helped us boil the noodles and ravioli, and we were ready to eat. Nothing compares to freshly made pasta. The texture in your hands and the mouth-feel are a world away from dried, packaged pasta noodles.

So me being me, we went home, and I immediately wanted to look at the prices of the different pasta attachments. Apparently there is no single attachment that can just have a switch flipped to produce different pasta types, like linguine, fettuccine, spaghetti; if you want to create different types, you need to buy additional attachments, which go for around $75-100 each. I personally like the wider noodles the most, as I find it far more satisfying to eat wide strips of papparadelle or fettuccine than thinner spaghetti or angel hair.

I can’t wait until we get a bigger apartment or house so that I can buy my dream KitchenAid stand mixer with all my wide noodle pasta attachments, ice cream attachment, meat grinder attachment, and sausage stuffer kit. 🙂


Mexican food galore

I can’t believe it. I just did a Yelp search for “tacos and tequila” (sudden craving since it’s Thursday and I just want the weekend to come), and I can’t believe how many results show up for the East Village area. Granted, the number increases almost exponentially when you just search for tacos, but this is such a huge change from when I first moved to New York. Taco spots were non-existent, Dos Toros did not yet exist (and I believe it now has four locations, one of which is in Williamsburg). Even nicer places like Anejo and Empellon are opening up, and even tequilerias (mmmm, love). Mexican places in Manhattan are growing, so it looks like I won’t have to trek out to Queens for good tacos or tamales anymore.

Complaining at an establishment

Though many who know me would say I’m very vocal and outspoken, especially when I am displeased, the truth is that I actually feel very awkward and unsettled when it actually comes to confrontation. Nothing makes me feel more squirmish or red-faced than trying to express dissatisfaction and anger with someone. And with a voice like mine, I rarely come off as sounding commanding and aggressive; I usually end up sounding far more mild and girlish than intended. I stayed at the W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta the last several days, and I didn’t really feel like it was up to the same standard as the Ws I have seen and stayed at before. So instead of asking to speak with the manager after I checked out yesterday, I went home last night and wrote the GM an e-mail complaint.

I received a cookie-cutter response to my feedback e-mail and felt pretty pissed this morning, so I sent another e-mail to this non-response and told them that it was ridiculous that they would send me what sounded like an auto-reply that had absolutely no thought, nor any offer of compensation, when I am an SPG member paying a pretty penny for my stay and future stays. So then I got a really apologetic response, plus an offer for bonus points, plus an offer to be handled completely by the GM from the point of my next booking to my departure.

Sometimes, it’s really worth it to suck up my red face and complain.

Thai cuisine

Thai food in New York is almost as ubiquitous as cabs. In pretty much every neighborhood in Manhattan, you can find some cookie cutter Thai place that serves the staples, like pad thai, basil fried rice, tom yum soup, etc. Most of these places, like Spice and Qi, are pretty well priced, especially around lunch. It’s like the cool and affordable Asian food to eat even now. The better Thai places are in Queens, but unless you live in Queens or are someone like me and like to travel for food, you probably don’t care about this.

So I was really confused when I was in Midtown Atlanta for the last three days to find out that what is considered a decent Thai place was going to charge me $15 for shrimp pad thai for lunch… and then charge me an additional $3 because I asked for tofu with it. There are no lunch specials like you would find in San Francisco or New York – the lunch prices are the dinner prices. It was really shocking since pretty much all of the other restaurants I’ve eaten at in Atlanta seemed pretty cheap. And for the record, though the shrimp was cooked well, the pad thai itself was sub-par and on the verge of being flavorless like the Yelp reviews said.

And then Chris made me think about it when he said that Thai food is probably still considered exotic in Atlanta, so the restaurant feels like it can justify its relatively high prices. Like my classmate told me the other night, Korean food right outside of Atlanta is good and cheap, but anywhere else in Atlanta, it’s nearly impossible to find good, authentic Asian food. Southern food and BBQ would probably get tiring after a while.


Today, I spoke with someone who is from South Florida and told me that she finds New York City daunting. It’s so hard for me to relate to this because I grew up in a major city on the West Coast and spent most of my childhood dreaming about how amazing it would be one day to live in the concrete jungle of New York. She said the closest she had gotten to living in New York was Baltimore, where she hated it because cars were constantly getting jacked and broken into “by hoodlums!,” so this is how she imagined New York was. Well, I told her, if she lived in Manhattan, she most likely would not own a car, and Manhattan is so crowded and bustling at all hours of the day and night that it would be hard to break into someone’s car and not be noticed.

We love what we love and know what we know, but I am happy that I do not have this misconception of “big city life.”