I told my mom about a month ago that we planned a trip to South Korea for about nine days, and she didn’t seem very enthused by the idea. She’s never really known anything about Korean culture, nor has she been that interested in it. She thinks Korean food is too spicy and unhealthy (the unhealthy part… huh?), but she does enjoy kimchi, bibimbap, and japchae. She knows I like Korean food, though, so she wasn’t that surprised that we were going.

“Well, have fun,” she said reluctantly. “Don’t forget to e-mail your dad so that we know you’re okay over there. You have to be careful because a lot of Koreans are communists, so if you do something wrong in their country, they may kill you.”

“North Korea is a communist country,” I corrected her. “We’re going to South Korea. We can’t even go to North Korea even if we wanted to.”

“You just don’t know,” she said condescendingly (and erroneously). I could tell she was shaking her head on the other end of the line. “Many Koreans are communists. I’m warning you. I just know. Trust me. They’re just as bad as the Vietnamese.”

It’s always comical when your mom insists she knows more about the entire world than you do even though she can’t even identify any major country on a map if you gave it to her.

Then and now

I’ve been texting Chris a lot while he’s been away to keep him updated on all the apartment searching I’ve been doing in his absence. While I have been running all over this city viewing apartments and dealing with brokers for a potential future home, he’s been in London attending Wimbledon and having English afternoon tea with his pinky sticking out. What a hard life he leads.

He texted today and asked if I was enjoying the search and that it seemed like I was at least sort of liking it. Well, compared to when I first moved to New York (which was hell), I like it a lot more for a number of reasons: 1) Then, I was naive and knew zero about New York real estate (how expensive space truly is here), rental anything (broker fees, what to expect legally, etc.), therefore making me vulnerable to getting ripped off, 2) I made a lot less money then, which meant I was more likely to see terrible apartments in the price range I’d set, 3) I had a roommate then who only had income from Trader Joe’s, which didn’t help point #2, 4) that roommate had really low expectations (today, she lives in a building that doesn’t even have a doorbell), so we just didn’t want the same things.. or know what we wanted period, and 5) when we searched while we lived in our maniac apartment in Elmhurst, we had a landlord who was constantly meddling in our lives, so we were never really that happy about our living situation.

Today, I generally have a good idea of what to expect in terms of space and prices for what general neighborhoods. I don’t have a roommate who has different standards than me (in fact, I don’t have a roommate now; I have a husband). I also am not trying to escape a miserable living situation; our situation is great now, but we just kind of want more space. So all in all, life is a lot different now. I’m also more direct and a bit more of an asshole now, so if I think someone (as in a realtor) is wasting my time, I just leave and say I’m not interested. Before, I would have kept entertaining the idiot’s stupid recommendations.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when I say, “my husband and I…” vs. the then “my roommate and I…”, the former gets far more positive and serious responses than the roommate situation. I already expected that. We’re older, we’re married, we’re established, meaning we’re stable. That’s what they are thinking. They also assume we have more money. We’re not just some dumb 20-something-year-old women flitting around the city aimlessly. The more money, the more money they think we will rent at, which means the bigger the fees they get to collect from these management companies.

I guess being married has its perks I wasn’t really thinking about when I signed the marriage license. 🙂


“Plenty of places to eat nearby”

The search continues. Today during my lunch break, I popped out of my office to see an apartment right on Park Avenue South between 35th and 36th Street — centrally located, walking distance from my office and from Chris’s future office, and on Park Avenue — a yuppie’s dream. Yes, until I entered the building.

The gym, which would be an extra $25/person/month, looked like a cramped room where a bunch of treadmills, Stairmasters, and ellipticals were thrown in haphazardly; little space existed to get between machines, and no stretching area was to be seen. The one-bedroom apartment unit I’d seen in the photos was not what the realtor showed me today; this had about half the counter space. There also wasn’t central air conditioning or even AC units put into place.

“Where are the AC units?” I asked. “This building (which is pretty new) doesn’t have central AC or even units placed?”

The realtor smiles (See the pattern? They always smile when they know the question should have the opposite answer it does). “AC units are not included; they will need to be brought in and installed by the renter.”

Yeah, right. I’m not sticking an AC unit out of this window on the sixth floor. You people should be doing that for me at $3,995/month.

I pointed out to her that the counter space in the kitchen was not the same as the listing I’d responded to. This space was about half, which was not desirable for someone like me who loves to cook.

“But there are so many great restaurants nearby,” she laughed. “Who needs to cook when you have so many good options nearby?”

“I like to cook,” I responded simply. Then, I walked out.

This is why I can’t stand sales people in general. Know your audience, people. If I told you originally that I like to cook, why would you try to talk me out of that and insist all the good restaurants nearby would somehow take away my desire to cook? I may be a young urban professional, but I still like to cook. If you want to sell me something, sell me something I told you I wanted, not something you are trying to push on me quickly to get a commission from the management company.

This woman had no emotional intelligence and insisted she send me an application. Good luck to her.

“Open” kitchen

The search for a new apartment may or may not go on, but this week, it’s definitely on. I have so many appointments lined up all the way until we leave for our trip this Friday. I’ve done three days of hunting and I already want to stop. Searching for an apartment in this city is the worst.

You know it’s really bad when you tell the real estate agent that you’d love an open kitchen, and what she ends up showing you, supposedly at a name-brand, reputable building in the low 60s on the Upper East Side, is a kitchen… that is situated RIGHT NEXT TO THE BEDROOM. I already have to close the living room door when I cook now. With the kitchen literally right next to the bedroom, it would be like roasting a chicken in bed. Who wants that?

People settle for the craziest crap in this city. Why do we settle for this?! Why?

Penthouse apartment

Today, I visited an open house three blocks from our apartment of a penthouse for rent on the 11th floor of a luxury building. In this case, “luxury building” just means it’s a newer building with a doorman; there was no gym, pool, or lounge area to speak of. In fact, there wasn’t even a lobby with a sitting area like you usually see when you go into these ridiculously priced buildings. The apartment was going for $4800/month for a one bedroom, not-quite-one-bath (shower only; no bath tub) and boasted a huge wrap around terrace. When I stepped foot inside, I realized the terrace was the only bragg-able feature.

The living room was a living room/kitchen; the kitchen was a single wall with a deep sink… and only two burners on the half stove. The refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher are hidden inside cabinetry for the all-white look the apartment was going for. “Where is the oven?” I asked the realtor. “Is that hidden, too?”

“No, there’s no oven,” he said smiling. “Just a stove and a small microwave oven right up here.”

That’s not a microwave oven. That was just a regular microwave. What is this guy, a total moron? Does he think a two-burner stove and no oven is real? This is worse than the crappy East Village apartments my former roommate and I looked at back in 2008 that had college-dorm-sized refrigerators. At least those places were cheaper and meant to be cheap; this is a penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side, and it has NO OVEN AND ONLY TWO BURNERS?

The terrace space was huge, though, and had views of downtown Manhattan. The terrace space was probably bigger than the interior of the apartment itself; perhaps even two to three times as large. What a stupid apartment. Whoever rents this place will be a rich idiot.

“Chicken” garlic scape pesto quinoa rotelli

Chris had his first home-cooked meal for days at home today — my “chicken” garlic scape pesto quinoa rotelli. He already wasn’t that happy when he found out the rotelli was made out quinoa instead of wheat, but then he came across another surprise: the fact that the “chicken” in the pasta was actually not chicken, but Beyond Meat soy and plant-based protein cut into cubes.

“This pesto is very good…. The pasta is good,” he said as he chewed. “But why does this taste so healthy…? This is chicken…? Is this meat….?! Babe…..” He eyed me suspiciously as my face broke into a big smile.

So much for trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my husband’s life. I was going to tell him afterwards if he couldn’t tell himself…

Presents from Paris

Chris came back from his week-long trip to France and surprised me with Jean-Ives Bordier butter, the famous butter churned in the Brittany region of France that is known for extremely high butter fat (well, all of France is known for that), grass-fed cow cream (resulting in yellower butter), and inventive flavorings. Last October when we went, I packed gallon-size ziplock bags and foil in anticipation of purchasing these special butters and bringing them back home, and it was so worth it. When we tasted these on bread, it was life-changing; the quality of the butter was unmistakable, and the taste could not be compared to anything I’d had here before. This time, Chris brought back five different flavors: smoked salt, which I’d loved and bought the first time, citrus olive oil, seaweed (or algae), espelette chili, and buckwheat. It will be a challenge to figure out how to use each of these, but I suppose the first step would be just to taste them on good bread. The buckwheat butter is especially strange, as the only thing I could think of doing with it would be to top it on pancakes or spread it on muffins.

Travel question

At a team lunch this week, I told my team mates that Chris and I would be leaving for South Korea late next week, and they all seemed to have this semi-puzzled look on their face, and they asked, “What are you going to be doing there?”

The funny thing about this question is that this never gets asked if you are going to some place like France, Italy, London, L.A., or some place that Westerners consider a hot spot. Even last year when we went to Japan, no one asked me what I’d be doing there; it was just assumed that I’d have an amazing time given Japan’s global reputation.

Why are we going to Korea? Because we like Korean food, want to explore Korean culture, and simply because we just like exploring new cities and countries around the world. I told my friend about my thoughts around this, and he said he got a similar reaction when he told friends and colleagues he was going to India the two times he went. He said everyone just assumed it was for work because why else would he want to visit a country like India?

Maybe I really am a culture snob, but I really just don’t like questions like that when they are aimed at certain places in the world.

Gay pride bake sale

This week, my company is doing a gay pride bake sale, and all proceeds will go to a non profit that supports underprivileged, at-risk LGBT youth. I baked chocolate chip cookies for the bake sale, and this afternoon, I helped man the table in our building lobby to help the cause.

The bake sale is pretty generous: for a $5 donation, you can pretty much take anything you want and as much as you want. We tell this to everyone who comes to the table, and when we told one woman, she was a bit outlandish and said, “Five dollars? That’s a lot of money to ask! I was just going to give a dollar. Forget this!” and left in a huff to the elevator.

A $5 donation, especially when you can take as many baked goods as you please, doesn’t seem like that much to me, especially when you know that 100 percent of the proceeds are going to a good cause. It’s not like we’re charging $5 per cookie.


My mom keeps insisting that I should come home this December. She wants me to spend the whole month at home, “or at least two weeks like you used to,” she said today. She said it would be just like going to Australia and working remotely, except it would be even easier in San Francisco since I have an office I could work out of there.

“Just like going to Australia?” I don’t think so.

“You’ve already gone there for the last four years,” she continued. I could tell she was trying to control her voice and not yell at me. “It’s just not fair. You haven’t come home in December for four years now. Chris can still go there. You can just come here. You have to make it equal between us.”

Well, it seems like I leave and go to Australia for four weeks, but I really only spend about two weeks with Chris’s family. For five days to a week, we’ll usually take a side trip somewhere else, and for the final week, last year we went to Hong Kong. I came home to San Francisco for a week in January and will likely be going for another week in September this year. So, isn’t that two weeks with my family vs. two weeks with his family — sort of?

My family doesn’t even celebrate Christmas, and Chris’s birthday is Christmas day. Why would Chris want to spend his birthday and Christmas with my miserable family? And why would I want to forsake Christmas?


While writing this post, I received the sad news that my cousin’s wife’s dad suddenly passed away. He had been driving in his car along the road when he wasn’t feeling well, so he pulled over and turned the engine off. A sheriff found him hours later and had to break the window open to find out he was gone. He was 72. They are awaiting an autopsy to find out exactly what happened to him.

So the reality check here: why would I want to forsake Christmas? Maybe I should be spending more time with my parents. Who knows what will happen to them today or tomorrow or next year. How devastating it must have been for my cousin’s wife’s sister to get the call from the sheriff. But if I really believed that, then I would just move back to San Francisco and see them every single day. And I wouldn’t be happy. No matter what happens, I’ll always have a conflicting relationship with my parents. Chances are, it would be far worse if we were closer in geography than farther apart. The fighting and the anger and delusions — none of that is healthy or productive. But maybe, like one of my friends said, maybe one day I may find myself missing fighting with my mom. Maybe? Who knows. All I know now is that I can’t be happy or sane being at home for over a week at a time. It’s just life.