Cousin lack of love

I was on the phone with my mother the other day, and she let me know that my aunt told her that my cousin in Brooklyn just got laid off. That’s sad news, I responded, but I’m sure he’ll find a new job soon if he looks hard enough. She then added he was given six months’ severance paid at 100%. Okay, I said, if I felt sorry for him at all, all of that has now quickly dissipated. Who gets six months 100% paid severance after getting laid off?

She suggested I call him “to comfort him,” and I balked and told her the idea was ridiculous. When the entire country was in a recession in early 2009 when I got laid off and stayed unemployed for almost three months, where was my cousin to “comfort” me? He never called once, and at the wedding of his brother that I flew to attend, he barely said one word to me because he was angry I told him to stop complaining so much. That was a cue to him to stop calling or reaching out to me at all.

I told her I don’t want to spend any time on my ungrateful cousins or my psychotic aunt anymore. No more unneeded family dysfunction; the wedding was the end of the “optional” contact. The most I’m willing to tolerate at this point is just the dysfunction of my parents, and even that, I can only take in small doses.

New York pizza

A few weeks ago, we had a two-day long sales conference here in our New York offices when one of our sales leads, who is vegetarian, decided to order all breakfasts and lunches for the two days to be vegetarian and/or vegan. Granted, this made a lot of the team angry, and some revolted by not eating the food and either bringing their own or even going out to grab a slice of pizza. We had team members fly in from LA, San Francisco, and Chicago, and the ones from California were especially eager to get their New York pizza fix.

I asked one of them which pizza place he got his slice from, and he said he had no idea; it was just some random corner place two blocks away. “It doesn’t really matter to me,” he said as he took another big bite of his pie slice. “All the pizza here is better than the pizza we have in LA. You guys have no idea! You just take it for granted living here!”

Hm. Well, I do think there is good pizza to be had in California, especially now that foodie culture has invaded pretty much every major city, but it is true that we probably do take it for granted living here. It’s like with every great thing you have convenient access to; you don’t really know what you have until you don’t have it anymore. I guess that justifies Chris and I having pizza for dinner two weeks in a row, the second being tonight.

SoulCycle therapy

One of my colleagues is friends with someone who works at SoulCycle, so she was able to snag our company two free weeks of SoulCycle classes. This was actually really good timing for me because I’ve been wanting to try SoulCycle for months now, but I just couldn’t deal with forking over $34 for a single class (plus $3 for the special spinning shoe rental) when I pay about $65 per month for a full unlimited month’s worth of gym membership (which includes full equipment access, all classes that also has spinning, and full locker rooms, showers, and amenities).

I went after work today to a 6:30pm session on the Upper East Side, and it was kind of everything I expected it to be. The front desk staff was a little uppity when I told them it was my first time. They offered to sell me a $2 bottle of water (no thanks), and when I asked where the locker rooms were, the worker said they had lockers, but no actual room (it’s just a hall with lockers), so if I wanted to change, I needed to use a stall in the restroom. They gave me the awkward spinning shoes that I’d need to clip into my bike (I asked if someone would show me.. I’m clueless), and then I went off to get changed.

The class itself is high intensity, very motivational, and now I can see why some people actually cry during class. We all have our insecurities, things we are trying to hide about ourselves that we’re ashamed of and want to change, and things that we are striving to achieve. This class has an instructor that will chant and yell you through all of these things, about letting go of the negative things in life that drag you down and pushing you to get closer to achieving your goals — for spinning and for life. There are times in the class where she will ask you to close your eyes and visualize escaping all the bad and running closer to the good; it can definitely be an emotional experience. And when I was cycling and trying to escape the negative, I thought about my negative relatives and all the stupid things they’ve done to me that I want to move on from. It’s almost like therapy in an exercise class. I suppose that would be worth paying $34 per class for.

I left class drenched, sweaty, and feeling sore in some good places. I wouldn’t necessarily call it the most effective total body workout, but it was certainly a workout. I never learned how to un-clip my shoes because they told the newbies to leave them on the pedals, though. I’m not sure if I will be back, but it was definitely the most intense evening I’ve had all week this week.

Zucchini “noodles” need to die

Living in a city full of very privileged people, I always hear a lot of judgment when it comes to foods that are “good” and “bad” for you, or even products and ingredients in bodycare that supposedly aren’t good for you. I know I am a judgmental person (and you probably are, too, whether you realize it or not), but one thing I never, ever do is judge what people are eating to their face — ever, unless I have something positive to say. I’m very aware of how food shaming can be hurtful because judging what someone is eating to their face is like judging their weight to their face. No one wants that.

I heard someone in the office saying a few months ago how toxic sodium fluoride is (yes, that active ingredient in most of your toothpastes that prevents cavities and plaque? Yeah, that). All breads, rices, and grains seem to be getting a bad rap because they are so full of carbs (it’s as though we’ve all forgotten that meat and fruit and vegetables also have carbs, too?). Someone recently said to me, and I had to try really, really hard to bite my tongue, “I just feel like a vegetable is always going to be healthier than a grain,” when letting me know proudly that she doesn’t have any bread, rice, or grain of any sort in her entire apartment. High protein grains like sprouted wheat and quinoa are on the holy grail list of what are “power” foods. And then there are these stupid things being done where people want to try to fake wheat and rice by making things like zucchini “noodles” and cauliflower “rice”… and then they complain that these things just aren’t as satisfying, or the result isn’t the same as having real spaghetti or real rice. Have they thought that maybe they aren’t the same because… they are not the same thing?!

I’m happy to do things like try raw kale chopped up in salads, green juices, quinoa in my porridge, or test out squash or sweet potato flour occasionally in a baking recipe, but I don’t think I can ever accept the demonization of things like wheat flour, rice, grains, or even fat. We’d all be a lot healthier and happier if we just ate a little bit of everything in moderation and stopped making it seem like carbs or fat will be the death of us. The constant neuroses that I am surrounded by in this city around “good” and “bad” foods will annoy me to no end.

Nepalese nail worker

The wedding is officially over, especially now that I am getting my wedding manicure removed. I went to get my gel taken off my finger nails tonight, and a very young Nepalese worker was assigned to me. She couldn’t have been any older than 28. She told me that she moved to New York from Nepal about three years ago with her sister, and all her family, friends, and even boyfriend were still there. She hadn’t been home since she left, and she had no idea when she’d go back because it’s so expensive to fly. She said she talks to her boyfriend on the phone every morning before work, six days a week. “It’s hard, but we make it work,” she sighed. “I just don’t know when I will see him again.”

The cynic in me wondered if he was true to her and if he were cheating on her. How do we deal with long-distance relationships when there is no end to the long distance in sight in the future, especially in a case like this? I gave her a big tip and said I hoped to see her again soon, and good luck with her boyfriend. She’s going to need it.

Rush hour in Manhattan

I was walking up to Grand Central from my office after work, avoiding the 33rd street stop on the 6 to get on at 42nd and Grand Central, when I stopped at a red light and observed all these other commuters rushing to get home. Everyone is doing their own thing, on their phones, talking or texting, hurriedly rushing to get somewhere after work. Amidst all the noise, I thought about how anonymous you can really be in this city. There are so many people here that if you died, no one would really care that much. You’d probably be forgotten.

I looked on at the usual homeless guys who stand or sit around near Grand Central Station as they said the same things over and over again to people passing them by, hoping to get a few extra coins for their food or drugs or whatever it was that sustained them day to day. No one really pays them much attention. No one pays the people who walk around them on the street very much attention. And it made me feel so sad. I’ve been in this city for almost eight years now, yet I really haven’t made that many good friends here. I guess I am a lucky person in that I actually met my now-husband here; it’s hard to be single in a city like this that presents so many options and almost encourages a short attention span. New York is a really easy city to be lonely in.

Slow cooker fake “magic”

The more I think about my slow cooker, the more sad I am about the magic that it once promised. The more I read recipes that sound very promising for this slow cooker, the more I realize that a whole lot of prep work needs to be done for the most optimally tasting dishes to come out of this six-quart monstrosity. It’s not one of those “dump everything in and watch the magic happen” type of pots as people like to think of them. I’m sure you could do that, but you’d be pretty disappointed in the result.

Today for dinner, I made chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker, but I had to do quite a bit of preparation first. I had to trim all the fat off the chicken thighs and cut them into bite-sized pieces; mince garlic and ginger and dice an onion to then saute with spices and tomato paste; marinate the chicken in yogurt and spices, and also roast tomatoes. I did most of this yesterday to speed up the prep time today, but it was still a good deal of work. It’s no wonder people just resort to delivery and eating out; this takes a lot of time to get a really good home-cooked meal out of a slow cooker.

Running into old colleagues

Tonight, Chris and I attended a film screening that was selected to be part of the Tribeca Film Festival. The collection of short films, Pressure Points, included one short film that my good friend co-produced called Shooting an Elephant based on a George Orwell short story.

My friend invited a number of friends to the event, including a couple of my old colleagues who also attended. I hadn’t seen one of them since he left my old company in the fall of 2012, and of course since then, I’d also left, and my life had taken a different course. A lot happens in three and a half years. Since then, I had gotten engaged and married and left the company we were both at together, and he had changed jobs several times and now has decided to pursue occupational therapy as a career. Right before he left the company, he had eloped with his long-time girlfriend from college, and they had purchased an apartment together. Well, I guess their marriage was short lived, as I discovered tonight that they had broken up and sold that apartment.

We’ve been Friends on Facebook this whole time, but I had no idea about his marriage ending. It’s not always fun to make public difficult life choices on social media channels. When people say that they want to keep up with their acquaintances’ lives via social media, this is an area that we can’t always count on getting updates for.

Poke craze in New York

I feel like as I’ve gotten older, I can’t keep up with all the new hip food trends and restaurant openings like I used to. Instead, I’m finding out about them from my younger colleagues, who are anywhere from three to seven years younger. One of the latest crazes is poke, or raw fish served with rice, quinoa, or in the form of a burrito/wrap, which came by the way of Hawaii and/or California. Poke Works is near my office, and so one of them suggested we go next week. The “sushiritto” thing I learned about from Chris when he was on a work trip to San Francisco. I hate that he found out about a San Francisco food trend before me.

I wanted to see what the hype was about, so after looking it up on Yelp, after work today, I walked over to see if I could potentially get it for dinner tonight. As soon as I got to the place, I was appalled to find out that there was not only a massive line inside the shop, but there was even a roped off area in front where people were queuing up. In total, there were at least 30 people in line, and it was not even 6pm yet on a Thursday. I couldn’t deal with the line, so I left and went home, dejected.

I refuse to wait in a line unless I absolutely have to. Damn trends.

Google Maps in Korea?

After becoming acquainted late in life (I believe it was in late high school) to Korean food, I’m finally going to Korea this summer. I’m sure some people will label it our honeymoon, but Chris and I are just labeling it a trip to Korea. When we’re traveling internationally, we usually rely on Google Maps to get us around by foot and were confused when we tried to map several places at once in Seoul and kept getting our requests rejected. In addition, only driving directions were given; we couldn’t change the transport method to walking, which was odd. After further investigation, we found out that South Korea doesn’t allow full use of Google Maps, and when mapping, it will only give two points on the map and show driving directions… so no walking directions. This really didn’t make sense. So we did some more searches and found that Koreans in Korea use Naver to map directions, and it supposedly has Korean and English. Well, I downloaded Naver onto my phone to fruitlessly find that English was nowhere on it.. I even Google translated how to say English in Korean, and I still couldn’t find those characters.

In the end, Chris discovered that Bing Maps works quite well for Korea, and it’s pretty fast, too. I don’t think I’d ever been more excited about Bing in my life. Who would have thought that Bing would have saved the day (or our Korea trip)?