Doctor’s visit and “health maintenance”

I had my annual physical today with the doctor I enjoyed seeing for years, but had to stop given a change in health insurance. Now that I was back, we talked about all the usual things, plus life in the time of COVID-19. I told her that I was experiencing tightness and pains in my hands, and she confirmed that it was likely mild carpal tunnel symptoms, but suggested that seeing a physical therapist at this time may be too much given that usually physical therapy “is meant for people with far worser injuries than yours.” I don’t know – that didn’t really sit well with me. Far worser injuries – really? I really do not think we should all be fully out of use of our hands or on our death beds before we get physical treatments or exercises prescribed to us; aren’t we supposed to be taking care of our bodies every day instead of waiting until everything breaks? I thought this was supposed to be about health maintenance?

She suggested I start with a wrist split on one hand and see if it helped with morning numbness, and go from there. If it got better, I’d likely just continue with my exercises and wrist splints, but if it got worse, she’d refer me to a physical therapist. The odd part came when she suggested she draw blood to check if I had any early onset rheumatoid arthritis “just in case.” Arthritis for me – at age 34?????

Our medical system is so sad and broken. I was terrified just hearing this.

Trendy Vietnamese food in Bushwick

During our food crawl in Bushwick yesterday, we ate at two trendy, fusion Vietnamese spots and a taco spot. The first Vietnamese spot we ate at was Lucy’s, which was known for modern iterations on pho and banh mi. We ordered a brisket banh mi to share, and it was definitely an experience. While we visited District Saigon in Astoria about a month ago and were blown away by their smoked brisket pho, this banh mi was a bit more of a departure from the traditional banh mi in that the brisket had really little to no Vietnamese flavor at all; it really tasted like good Texan-style brisket stuffed into a French bread roll. The bread roll reminded me more of the bread used for po boy sandwiches, and the hint of the banh mi really was in the raw vegetable and mayonnaise fillings inside.

The second Vietnamese spot we visited was Bunker, which was also on my Yelp list. Everything was very sweet, from the cocktail we shared to the bowl of plain pho broth. I think it’s likely a regional difference since the owners may originally be from Southern Vietnam, and so they like their broths sweeter, but it was just too sweet for me. The aroma and flavor were good, but I think I prefer the northern style pho broth more since it’s more smokey and intensely savory. I did love the decor at Bunker, with all its wall murals and plants everywhere. The outdoor seating was really perfect for the outdoor dining setup during this pandemic; they really have the ideal situation already!

Bushwick street art

Twelve years ago when I first moved to New York and was looking for apartments, my then roommate and I went to see one Bushwick apartment. The apartment was bare bones, the building looked like it could have collapsed in the next week, and the owner was pretty much covered from neck to toes in tattoos. I didn’t really care about the tattoos, but my aunt insisted on coming to view the apartments with us, and she was absolutely terrified about everything. It didn’t help that the entire area was covered in graffiti and litter everywhere, not to mention all the people hanging out on the street and blaring their music like it was a Saturday… except it was a weekday. My roommate didn’t love the area or the apartment then, either, and so we passed on it. Just four years later, she ended up moving to Bushwick with her boyfriend, and the area had started changing. Today, most of that graffiti and litter has disappeared in favor of endless constantly changing street art, hipster cafes and bars, and delicious Asian restaurants that couldn’t afford the Manhattan rent.

We walked through the neighborhood and took videos and photos of all the street art. Unfortunately, everyone seems to want to make fun of Trump, so there were many iterations of his face and body everywhere. But there were also political messages, too, ranging from climate change, the upcoming election, #blacklivesmatter, and wearing a mask. Sadly, yes: it’s become political whether you wear a mask or not, just as I predicted back in the spring. This is our country. At least the art is good, though.

9/11 anniversary

Although we’ve been living in this building now for over 3 years, every other 9/11, we’d never really thought to go up to our roof to see the 9/11 anniversary lights above the World Trade Center that shines up into the sky. Every year, I see posts about remembering 9/11, the lives that were lost, the lives that are still with us but are changed forever. Because I hadn’t lived here at the time of 9/11, nor did I know many people directly who were affected, it felt very far removed from me. Even as a resident here after I moved, I still didn’t feel that connected to it. But for some reason, this year, the social media posts actually made me feel something. I read lots of heartfelt posts from people who were in New York, who had family who were in New York and were scared for them when they couldn’t get in contact. It really tugged at me and made me wonder how terrifying it would have been had I known anyone there at the time or had been here.

I started thinking about the people who worked at the twin towers who died, and the ones who had offsite meetings that day that were supposed to be in the building who survived. I thought about all the phone calls urgently made to those who worked in the towers that were never received because it was too late. It’s a depressing thought. In some ways, it reminds me of the night when I knew Ed was missing, and I tried calling his cell phone number multiple times even though I logically knew he had disconnected it months before. Those feelings of helplessness — you never really quite move on from it.

So much of our lives are not in our control, and that in itself is a terrifying thing. I always meet people who seem so confident, so sure of themselves and their life plans… but what if it doesn’t quite go their way? What if they get diagnosed with stage four cancer and die in a year? What if their spouse gets a sudden heart attack at age 40 and dies? What happens to your plans then? Life can change in just an instant. And there’s nothing really to console you then at all. You just have to hope for the best.

New job, another reset.

After months of looking and a few months of intense job search and interviewing, I finally have concluded my job search with three offers on the table, and today, I finally accepted an offer with a company whose mission I can actually get behind — in real life, not just for myself to make money. Looking back, I never really thought that in year 12 of my career that I’d be on company #5, but things rarely turn out how you hope or expect them to. In a day and age where pensions are a thing of the past and loyalty to a company only gets you screwed, I guess it makes sense that I’ve never been at any single company longer than just over four years. I wish I could have stayed longer at the current company, but… that just wasn’t in the cards.

It’s funny. I’ve just left the best company I’ve ever worked at of my working career, but in many ways, it was probably also the worst — the dichotomy there is a little perturbing, but when I think about it more deeply, it makes sense. I had a love/hate relationship with this place. I met so many high-integrity, good humans there who I still keep in touch with and consider friends. But I also encountered a handful of the most toxic, school-time drama individuals that made me remember how terrible gossip can be in middle school. There is rarely good without the bad in life. But I think I’ve taken what I can from this place and hope to continue picking away at my naïveté so that I can be practical and do what is right for me and my general morals.

Life goes on, and lucky for me, I don’t have to take those toxic people with me in my steps forward. Life is pretty good right now, and I feel very lucky and privileged to be in the position I am in today.

TikTok videos

Filming with a mirrorless camera on a tripod can be really annoying for many reasons. You always have to have the right setting on both your camera and the tripod, be at the right angle if your camera is not wide angle enough, and then on top of that, once you hit “record,” the camera actually zooms IN, so there’s no way to check to see if the view is correct until you’ve actually pressed “record.” Filming with the phone is so much easier and less maintenance. What you see is exactly what you get; no surprises. So when I started filming quick TikTok cooking videos in the last week, it felt almost like instant gratification. All I needed was a tripod for my phone, and I was all set.

I’m still getting used to the TikTok app. I feel very old for saying that it took some learning, and I’m still learning as I go, but I can see how and why it’s even more addictive than Instagram; the videos are all videos, so they are very interactive and they really pull you in. This is what the next generation is all about, huh?

Forest Hills food crawl

We went back to Queens for the second time this weekend yesterday, this time to the Forest Hills/Rego Park area. We did a mini food crawl, which included spicy silken tofu and fish fillets, meat-filled samsas, lamb kebabs, and crab-and-pork Xiao long bao/soup dumplings. Eating in Queens is always such a delight; so many options but not enough time or room in our bellies to eat everything.

When I look back, I’m always so happy and grateful that I spent my first four years living in Elmhurst. While it was certainly not a trendy or hot neighborhood to live in by anyone’s definition, it made me more aware of all the different neighborhoods and food destinations across Queens, and that’s only fueled my desire to keep going back to old favorites and discover new goodies. THIS BOROUGH IS THE BEST and TASTIEST.

The best professional network

I think of all the things I am grateful for in the professional world, the biggest thing is definitely the network I’ve become acquainted with in the last 3.5 years. Even if we had never even met because certain people had left the company before I even joined, people have been so friendly and eager to help others with job referrals, introductions, and even helping to search for new roles when I’ve been looking. It’s been lots of feelings of warm and fuzzy over the last couple of months; people are so eager to help in any way they can, even total strangers. And of the ex-colleagues I know and have worked with, they’ve been even more willing to do extra things for me, whether that means acting as job references, making introductions to hiring managers or higher-level management on teams I might be interested in joining, or just having conversations with me so that I can have a sounding board about what I want to do next.

I feel extremely lucky and privileged to know such good, talented, genuine people who want to help in whatever way they can. In many ways, it cancels out a lot of the bad experiences and the few bad and toxic individuals I’ve met over the last few years. Life definitely has been treating me well as of late.

Meetup with friends during COVID-19

A good friend I’d made through work and I decided to finally get together since January, before the pandemic began in New York, today with our respective husbands. It was funny when we first met; we weren’t sure if we should be hugging, elbow tapping, or shoe tapping to greet each other. But that’s the thing during a global pandemic where everyone is concerned about germs and hygiene: I guess handshaking and/or kissing is probably the least hygienic greeting, followed by hugs. Maybe the Asian greeting of showing hands together and doing a little bow was really the best idea all along, conveying both warmth and respect at the same time.

We had never met each others’ husbands before, so it was interesting to watch the two get along pretty well and bond over travel, airlines and hotels, airline and hotel status, and so on. Another area that stood out was when my friend’s husband summarized all Chinese vegetables (very relevant given the experience with the white woman and her daughter at outdoor seating yesterday) as “all the choys!” Until that moment, I’d never heard a more perfect summation of Asian vegetables ever before. As soon as those words came out of his mouth, I knew… I liked this guy.

Massage and dinner in Chinatown

One of the indulgences that Chris loves the most is having a massage. He could probably just get his back rubbed all day, and he’d be a happy baby. Since massage spas have been allowed to open up during the pandemic, Chris jumped at the chance to get a massage at his favorite spot in Chinatown. Usually when we do this, we also plan to eat in Chinatown, and I make sure to stock up on all my favorite Asian produce and ingredients while down there.

While I understand that it’s for everyone’s safety, the one precaution we are required to take while getting a massage is to wear a mask. The first time we did this, my mask didn’t really allow for much breathing space for my nose, so I felt stifled the whole time and had to keep taking deep breaths. Since then, I’ve expanded my mask collection so that I have ones that are roomier around my nostrils, so I was able to relax a bit more this time around.

We indulged in suckling pig and roast duck, along with Gai lan vegetables for dinner. As we sat outside in the spacious outdoor seating area of Wu’s Wonton King, a white woman with her daughter sat behind us. As she was ordering, she added at the end that she’d “like some Chinese vegetables, too.” The server looked at her and said, “Many Chinese vegetables… you want Chinese broccoli? Bok choy? Pea shoots?”

The woman turned to look at our table and pointed at our plate of garlicky gai lan, “That Chinese vegetable!” she exclaimed. We briefly made eye contact and she winked at me and smiled.