The most conflict-driven dream I’ve had in the last 3.5 months

Since I became more regular about daily meditation since end of December, my dreams, in Chris’s words, have become “boring.” Nothing exciting or even remotely annoying seems to happen in them. They are a far cry from the dreams I used to have, where I was usually yelling at or beating someone who was frustrating me.

However, a couple days ago, I had the most conflict-driven dream I’ve had since mid-December. I was at the Great America amusement park in Santa Clara, California, getting bored and wanting to go home. I had arrived by a charter bus that had set times it would take me back to San Francisco, and I realized that the next bus going back was just in 15 minutes, so I picked up my bag and started walking over to the bus. However, on my way there, I passed by a bakery store front with a familiar name: Bushwick Hot Bread. It’s actually the name of an Aussie-run home-delivery baked goods side gig that an Australian chef at Eleven Madison Park started during the pandemic when she could no longer work in the restaurant. Chris found out about her and started ordering her baked goods, ranging from lamingtons to sausage rolls, late last year, and we have both been loving her stuff. In addition to that, we also interact with her regularly on Instagram, and we follow each other.

Anyway, so I knew I had to run in to buy some baked goodies. I ran in to pick up a few things, and instead of ringing me up, the Aussie workers there just wanted to chat me up. I insisted I had to leave because I had a bus to catch, but they totally ignored what I said, instead carrying on conversation as though I had not expressed any urgency in leaving. I was left debating whether I should wait to get my items totaled up or just leave without the baked goods…. but I REALLY wanted the baked goods….

Well, that’s my subconscious “conflict” now – to have or not to have Aussie treats.

Appreciation and affection

If there is one thing that my friend who is staying with us is, she’s extremely affectionate. She never hesitates to express her appreciation for you as a friend or a person in her life. She’s eager to hug, kiss, pick you up, nuzzle you, do anything to show she adores you. It’s one of the biggest reasons I love and appreciate her so much. She always expresses how thankful she is for the tiniest things you do for her, even if you just gave her a sticker that reminded you of her that you got for free at work. She’s the last person in the world I know who would take anyone for granted.

I’ve been cooking for all of us since she’s been staying with us for the last week, and while I don’t think I’ve made anything particularly out of the ordinary or laborious for me, she’s clearly been loving all of it. Every time I cook, she expresses how tasty things are and lets me know what she especially likes or finds addictive. She obsessed over the simple pea shoot stir fry I made. Even the crispy scallions that I made for the mushroom scallion oil noodles was something she marveled and went nuts over. It always feels nice to see how much people relish my cooking. I’m actually going to miss cooking for her and seeing her reactions once she eventually finds her own place. I really don’t mind her staying with us. If anything, I really enjoy the extra company and socializing. It’s been over a year of being locked down in this apartment, so it’s nice to have someone else around regularly here.

Transfer day: at long last.

Well, today was the big day. I had my frozen embryo transfer around midday. I kept checking my phone this morning to make sure the clinic didn’t call me… because if they did, it would have been bad news. Two percent of embryos do not survive the thaw. Luckily, mine was okay.

When I checked in upon arrival at the clinic, the front desk assistant (my favorite) was there. She asked me what music I wanted played during the procedure. I thought I misheard her. “Did you just ask me what music I want played?” I asked her, confused. She smiled and confirmed I heard right. I told her I wanted Lady Gaga playing, so she went to set that up for me. That’s a nice touch.

While waiting to be called in, my favorite sonographer came out to greet and hug me. “Yvonne! GOOD LUCK TODAY! I’m rooting for you!” she said, embracing me. “I’m praying for you. You will do great.” I got a little teary eyed when she said this. I didn’t realize how much pent up emotion I had in myself until she said this to me. There are some really good humans who work at this clinic. She is one of them.

They make you come in with a semi-full bladder for this procedure, which happens in the operating room. The semi-full bladder helps them better visualize where to best place the embryo along the uterine lining. And of course, the doctor was running late with another patient. I was not super thrilled, lying on the table with my feet up in stir-ups. They even made me change into an operating room gown, booties, and a hair net given it’s a sterile environment. The room has a tiny window with a curtain that opens up into the embryology lab, where they hand over the embryo in a vial to the doctor to insert.

When the doctor finally arrived after the nurse buzzed him multiple times, I was pretty much ready to pee all over him (remember how I said above that there are some really good humans who work at this clinic? This doctor may or may not be on that list). Luckily for him and me, I have some level of self respect and did not pee on him, as I was able to hold it all in despite his being 25 minutes late. However, if I had peed on him, he definitely would have deserved it. During the procedure, they show you the embryo on the screen before they insert it. They even give you a picture of the embryo as a little souvenir of the event.

Once the transfer was complete, I rested for about five minutes on the table before getting dressed, checking out, and leaving. I also said a little prayer to myself, hoping this would be the very last time I’d leave the operating room here.

I went home, finished the work day, made and ate dinner, and rested and read in the evening. They told me to do nothing strenuous, no exercise other than walking, and no heavy lifting for today. I felt some little twinges and what felt like tightness or pressure down there throughout the day. I hope that’s a good sign of implantation. I can only hope now for the best.

In nine days, I return to the clinic for my b-HCG, progesterone, and TSH tests. The b-HCG is the test that detects the pregnancy hormone in your blood. Pleeeeease be positive.

Dreadful, rainy day

After two days of warmth and sun, the city decided to not be so nice to us and give us overcast, fog, and rain today. That was okay by me since I was mostly planning to do vegetable prep and cooking, but my friend had to go back to her apartment and collect some items, plus talk with her estranged boyfriend. I knew it would be sad. And it was confirmed when she came back and looked like she had multiple mosquito bites all over both of her eyes.

They were finally able to talk through things calmly, and he admitted that he didn’t always see things from her perspective and definitely could have expressed appreciation for her more. But the sad thing is… it’s kind of too late. It is always unfortunate when it takes extreme measures for someone to finally listen to the other person. They’re officially on a break, but from my opinion, if she chooses to get back with him, she’s just caving in once again. He had better be kissing her feet and literally treating her to every possible thing on earth she wants if they get back together.

Croffle House and Korean BBQ in Murray Hill, Queens

We went exploring another neighborhood during our Saturday food crawl today. This time, we were exploring Murray Hill and Flushing. Murray Hill/Flushing has a pretty sizable Korean area or Koreatown that tends to get forgotten because of the Main Street Flushing Chinatown area being so compact and massive. The biggest issue with the Korean area, if you are traveling on foot, is that it’s quite spread out, kind of like the way it is in Koreatown in Los Angeles. It’s almost like there’s an expectation you are coming with a car. Chris found a really delicious Korean barbecue spot that we started our semblance of a crawl (it wasn’t a true crawl; starting at a Korean BBQ place already means you will have TOO MUCH FOOD!), and at this spot, I couldn’t believe how generous they were. The banchan variety was quite eclectic, plus they gave us not just the delicious Korean steamed egg custard I love, but also a mini tofu soup that was super flavorful and toothsome. Maybe it was because of COVID, but they didn’t let us cook our own food, and instead one of the workers grilled all our meat for us. Of course, we didn’t finish, so we had a little doggy back to bring back with us.

On our way to the BBQ spot, we noticed Croffle House, which makes a hybrid of a croissant and waffle, which is becoming very popular. Despite a waffle + croissant mash up sounds quite rich, this place somehow managed to make it quite light and airy. It wasn’t too sweet, either, with the cream just subtly sweet with some fruit on top. I probably could have eaten two of them on my own.

We probably need to spend more time exploring and eating in this area. It just felt so much more homely and quaint in this Korean area, not to mention the portions were huge and the banchan variety crazy. These are the benefits of eating Korean food outside of Manhattan, in areas like Queens and New Jersey.

Omakase for the first time in forever.

It was super warm today, a real 80 F day in New York City, so we knew we wanted to dine outside today. We decided to go to Sushi Nonaka, a Japanese restaurant that opened right before the pandemic began on the Upper West Side. They offer two types of omakase menus and also outdoor garden dining, which I thought would be good given COVID-19 still penetrating our lives.

While it was a bit windy, it felt soooo nice to finally eat sushi and hand rolls again, to have a tasting menu after over a year. The time almost went too quickly because instead of serving one piece at a time, the restaurant decided to group three pieces at a time. If I had no self control, and if they offered a la carte pieces, I could have easily eaten 10-15 more pieces of handrolls and raw fish. But, no, we exercised some self control and declined to order more (that also helped the wallet). But we did get the hoji-cha panna cotta, which was an incredible end to what felt like a real dining experience — the first real dining experience out since before the pandemic. It’s so crazy that over a year has passed since this all began.

5-year wedding anniversary

Today marks five years since our wedding. We technically got together as a couple in January 2012, which is the anniversary that Chris says counts more. That has a lot of validity, but the wedding anniversary still “counts” to me. We don’t really do anything to “celebrate” it, as in we do not exchange gifts or go out to a fancy meal for this anniversary. In fact, if I remember correctly, for our first wedding anniversary, we just got halal food that cost $6 per box from the famous 53rd and 6th Avenue cart. Yum, chicken/lamb and rice, although they have since gotten rid of the lamb as an option because they said it’s too expensive.

It’s made me sad to hear all the stories that my friend’s been sharing when she felt unappreciated, unheard, and unseen by her boyfriend of 10 years. One of the recurring issues seems to be when she’s been in a bridal party at a wedding or performing dance at a wedding, and because of her involvement, she misses some of the drinks or canapes during cocktail hour. While she’s scrambling around, she’s hoping her partner would have saved her some food or at least a drink, but wedding after wedding (and there have been at least 3 or 4, including my own) where she has performed or been in a bridal party, he’s failed to deliver. Even after the first or second time when she’s asked him to do it next time, he would make excuses, get defensive, and say he “had no place to put it!” She would try to brush it off, but after so many times of it happening, she realized that he didn’t even want to try to do something she wanted.

I thought about the one time I was in a bridal party and how Chris saved me food and drinks during cocktail hour while I was busy taking bridal party photos. I had at least one of each canape on a plate ready to be eaten. And when I got into bed this evening, I told him I loved him and appreciated him always saving me food.

“Huh? Ythi, you’re going nuts… talking to your friend and thinking about your own situation,” he mumbles sleepily in his half-asleep stupor.

Well, appreciation also needs to be stated…

Home cooked meals

Tonight for dinner, I made lime leaf sambal broiled salmon, roasted broccoli, heirloom carrots, and quinoa for the three of us. My friend supplied the broccoli; she’s offered to be our FreshDirect while she stays with us, which I’m happy to take advantage of. We sat in our lounge room and ate together, and while eating and relishing the food, she said that it suddenly dawned on her that she couldn’t remember the last time anyone had made her food before yesterday when she came over (aside from ordering at a restaurant, obviously).

“Was the last time someone made me food…. you? It was probably you!!” she exclaimed. She paused between bites. “It feels nice to be taken care of.”

I patted her back and glanced back at her contemplatively. She’s right. It is nice to feel like someone is taking care of you, whether that person is doing your laundry, getting your groceries, making you dinner, or doing all the repairs around the house that you hate doing. And it’s really sad when it feels like no one, even your own partner, has done anything even remotely to take care of you at all, and you’re the one who has done every imaginable form of “taking care of” him.

New roommate

On a Zoom catchup with friends the other night, I was talking about my cooking and baking, and how since the city had begun opening up in June that I started sharing baked goods with our building staff again. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with them before then… given we had no idea how contagious COVID-19 was and whether it could be transmitted through food. But since then, they’ve been happy to accept my baked goods and eat whatever I make. I also made a comment, saying that I wish I had more people to cook for. Before the pandemic, I used to have friends com over and eat food I’d make, and well, that’s clearly come to an end. No more using friends as guinea pigs for test dishes. It’s just Chris now.

Well, I guess got what I wanted…just not exactly how I thought. My good friend is in the process of breaking up with her boyfriend, so she is staying with us temporarily until she finds her own place. Tonight, I made her a cheesy chutney toastie sandwich with the olive bread I picked up from Le Fournil Bakery in East Village. And well, now that I have another mouth to cook for, I can make more food. 🙂 Chris also cannot walk around the apartment in his underwear anymore, but hey, it’s give and take.

The lamington face off

I discovered the joys of what a lamington were quite late. Chris had waxed on and on and on about how delicious these fluffy blocks of vanilla sponge cake, coated in chocolate and rolled in dried coconut flakes were. The best ones, he explained, are filled with a nice jam, usually raspberry, and some are even filled with jam AND cream. You could get basic ones from Cole’s or another grocery store, but the best ones always came from local bakeries in Australia.

Unfortunately, the very first one I had was at a Pie Face in Melbourne. It was not filled with anything. It just seemed like a big slice of vanilla cake coated in chocolate and coconut, which really was not that exciting to me. It was just vanilla sponge inside – what’s the big deal? I didn’t get the hype and immediately wrote the experience off.

But then, Chris discovered Bushwick Hot Bread, owned by an Aussie chef who works at Eleven Madison Park. Given the pandemic, she’s out of work, so she’s started a side hustle preparing Aussie treats and delivering them on Sundays. He ordered her lamingtons, and it was love at first bite: it was super moist, almost to the point where it felt like it was SOAKED in liquid, and the jam on the inside was fruity and delicious. I loved everything about it. We have since ordered many more, in addition to her other baked goods, as well, and none have disappointed.

Then, I noticed while at Super Moon Bakehouse this past Friday that they had their own rendition of a lamington that was filled with jam AND cream, double the size of Bushwick Hot Bread’s. So I bought one and brought it home to compare side by side. The vanilla sponge was good, but nowhere as moist as Bushwick’s. And the cream layer was almost triple the amount of the jam to the point where it overpowered the jam! In many bites, I could not even taste the jam. One glance at the innards after I cut into it, and the Australian in Chris went nuts. “No, I can tell it’s not as good because the ratio of cream to jam is completely off!” he exclaimed.

We all have strong opinions on something, and when it comes to Aussie treats, Chris lets it all out. Bushwick Hot Bread won easily.