No plus-one

I went out to Forest Hills today to attend a friend’s housewarming party/baby shower. Since Chris is traveling internationally, I went on my own. And I’d never really felt more unattached than when I showed up at this party, where literally everyone, with the exception of the host’s two single friends, his mother, and his grandmother, were all paired up. I’m generally a social and outgoing person, but at this party, pretty much no one wanted to talk to me because everyone seemed to be glued at the hip to their plus-one/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife. The people who ended up talking to me were 1) the host obviously and 2) the two single male friends who came. One of the friends was familiar to me since I met him the last time I came to this friend’s house for a dinner, and so he ended up latching onto me, for better or for worse. We clearly had very little in common, so it was a nice break when the second male friend arrived and could change up the conversation topics. I got asked a few times where my husband was… not because anyone knew Chris, but because they saw the wedding band/engagement rings on my left hand. Go figure that everyone is going to want to size me up to some degree.

I don’t really think about being married that often in a social context because…. I suppose I’ve never really had to think about it. Chris and I are not the couple who attends an event and cannot be separated. In fact, we tend to break off pretty often, and sometimes it seems like he’s just more social when I am not there. But I could tell that the host’s friend who latched onto me was very cognizant of being single in a party where pretty much everyone was paired off. And I’m sure it made him feel self-conscious and perhaps even made him question his self-worth.

We don’t really live in a society that’s progressive enough to not judge people who are single by their early- to mid-30s sadly. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. But we live in a judgmental world. Just because someone is dating someone or married to someone doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s a better person or more “put together” than someone who is not paired off. I don’t think I will live to see the day when this is not a measure we have to hold ourselves against.

Dad’s worries

My dad is not the kind of person who shows his emotions. He’s the stereotypical Asian male, the one who is usually stoic, sticks with the facts and the tasks at hand and never tries to enter the realm of feelings and inner thoughts.

I sent him this article from the New York Times about a successful woman who experienced her own stroke quite young, the same article I wrote about last week. I said to him over email, hey, sometimes, even when you think you are healthy and are doing the right thing, things happen, and you need to treat them with urgency.

He replied back with something along the lines of, “Luke Perry’s situation was probably more complicated than that. He was likely on drugs!”

I responded, eh. Should we really be that quick to assume drugs were responsible for this? I’m not fully sure?

My dad’s last response to me on this via email: Even if you think you are healthy because you’re eating relatively healthily and exercising regularly, if you work in an office full of politics and have a stressful work life, then you aren’t healthy!

I stared at that short and sweet email for a while. He’s basically saying to me… that that is my life. That’s probably Chris’s life.

Then, I thought about all those times my dad has always said that working for someone else is always going to be terrible because you are at the beck and call of someone else. You are constantly serving someone else and not yourself, that the best way to live is to work for oneself because you can run your life the way you want it and don’t have to answer to anyone.

Before I left to go back to New York on this last trip home, he said, “Remember to take care of yourself,” with a stern voice. My dad worries about me. I know he does because my mom always tells me that he wonders if I am getting enough sleep or am stressed out from work… because they know I would never tell them if it was bad.

My dad is right, though. Working for someone else really does suck… especially when you have officially gotten recognized for being a top performer and are not rewarded proportionally for it.

No favors here

It’s a small world we live in, but this small world certainly has a lot of people… a lot who are smart, and even more who are dumber than dumb. The worst people, to me, are the ones who feel entitled to whatever they get or want.

I had a pretty sour end to the last company I was employed at. To this day, I only actively keep in touch and spend time with one person from there. Everyone else… I truly could care less about. But when I left, only a very small handful of people reached out to me to be cordial. Outside of those people, I really could care less. So it was amusing to me when one of the people who totally ignored me when I left sent me a message that started with “Hi friend!”, then asking me how I like my current company because she’s considering applying (she’s still at said last shitty company), and would appreciate a referral.

Wow. Really?

I deleted it and will not respond, but if I did, this is what I would have said: “If you think you are going to get any favors from me when you never reached out to me and ignored me upon my departure, you can keep dreaming, you entitled loser.”

What goes around comes around. If you are kind to me, I will likely remember it forever and go out of my way for you. But if you aren’t…. you can expect absolutely nothing from me. Ever.

Eclairs baking class

I left the apartment at 9:45 this morning for my short walk over to Sur La Table, where I booked an eclairs pastry class with the generous cooking class gift card a friend gifted me for my birthday. Apparently, I was the last person to show up with just five minutes to spare before 10 o’clock. I grabbed my name tag, my apron, and sat down.

I glanced across the entire group of about 12 students. I was one of two people of color in the entire group. Everyone else was white. The other person of color was an eager beaver young black woman, probably no older than myself, who was ready to buy every major baking supply the place had. Her enthusiasm actually made me more excited and made me feel like I should buy more, for better or for worse on my wallet.

Unless the class is an Asian-themed class, like the Vietnamese cooking class Chris gifted me in January, it’s almost inevitable that cooking classes’ clientele are mostly a bunch of white people. I am usually one of the rare few who “adds diversity.” As someone who likes to cook, most of the time, with the exception of the croissant baking class, I usually do try to make these things when I come home. I like experimenting in the kitchen, but I get that many people who take cooking classes just want the experience that one time and will never have the intention of making those dishes ever again on their own. I suppose that is okay. But how do we create cooking classes that attract a more diverse audience? Are cooking schools and stores like Sur La Table even thinking about questions like that, or are they really just in it to make money on whoever is will to pay their $50-200-per-class fees? At the end of the day, we live in a capitalist society, so maybe they really don’t care as long as people can pay up.

But… that makes me so sad. The world is so not equal at all. “Learning” was not made to be equal.

evolution of Flushing

My friend, a former colleague and his friend, and I went to Flushing today for a food crawl in hopes of discovering new and interesting foods. The one thing that hasn’t changed in New York for me is the constant discovery of new, interesting dishes across the different regions of China represented in Flushing. It feels like every single time I go back to Flushing, as I am going into basement food stalls or the new and shiny food malls of New World Food Court or New York Food Court (as it’s generically called along Roosevelt Avenue), I’m discovering yet another region or city’s cuisine I’ve never heard of, but is just as delicious or more delicious than the dishes I have been acquainted with. Today, the three of us visited six different spots to grab food, and all were delicious. I got to have my beloved Happy Lemon salted cheese green tea with lychee jelly and introduced it to both of them.. and they loved it, even despite the initial skepticism of “salted cheese with tea — what?!” I realized the best way to sell this concept: “If you like salted caramel, then you will like salted cheese with tea.” This ended up working, and one of them was tempted to get a second drink. I even found a stall that served very similar fish and chive dumplings to Shandong Mama in Melbourne, so I will definitely be going back there. But the most surprising thing we ate today was Luo si fen, which is a pork bone and river snail soup with mixian (Yunnan) style slippery rice noodles, beef, pickled bamboo, and vegetables. The broth was sour, salty, hot and numbing like the Sichuanese peppercorns. It was kind of addictive. Even though we kept scooping through the soup to find snails, there were none. I read later that in this soup, the snails actually don’t get served; they’re merely there to “flavor” the broth. But if you think about it… do snails really have any real flavor on their own..? Regardless of that, it was definitely a highlight of the food crawl today.

Being in Flushing today and eating all the super cheap, delicious food reminded me yet again of how much I love this neighborhood and really should spend more time discovering new things there. There’s always a delicious, cheap find around the corner there. When you think of all the expensive and “just okay” meals in Manhattan, it’s really such a small price to pay to trek out to Flushing and have such a good experience there every single time.

when technology fails

I originally started my Friday thinking it would be a catch-up day: I could log all my meetings of the week, have a few external meetings, two internal, and pretty much be done for the day by 4:30 and try to leave early to cook the planned butter chickpeas (the vegan version of “butter chicken”) in my Instant Pot tonight. Unfortunately, that did not happen, as more meetings appeared on my calendar, more tasks I forgot to take care of had to be dealt with, and then, the worst part of the day: my Gmail just failed.

I was working on an important email in “draft” form for about an hour, and I had promised someone internally I would get this back to her by end of day today. By around 2pm, I was pretty much finished with it and still had it in draft form, but I wanted to read it over before finally hitting “Send.” Well, 5pm comes by, and when I check my draft folder… the email is in its original state it was in this morning, as in, all it had was the title and two questions I needed to answer in the body.

I almost had a melt down. I stared at my draft folder in disbelief. I hit “Refresh” probably about 10 times to no avail. It wouldn’t update. For a good minute, all I could think was… “Oh my god. Fucking hell.”

And this was all because of a bug with a Gmail plug-in I need to use for work, an issue that is still pending and far from being resolved.

I ended up leaving at 7. This week seriously could not have been more full of angst, and it certainly ended with even more angst.

“Happy” hour after work

Our new chief revenue officer is in town visiting from San Francisco, so he invited us all to happy hour at a nearby spot after work.

What is frustrating when members of our executive team come out to New York is that the same types of congregations tend to happen: people on the “leadership” team tend to all gather around each other, sharing inside jokes and discussions around matters that the rest of us not only are not aware of but are never looped into, so if we tried to insert ourselves, we’d have no idea what the heck we are listening to and whether we even should be standing there. Then, there’s pretty much everyone else. And everyone else tries to make small talk with the leaders who are visiting, but it really just remains that: temporary small talk until they get uncomfortable or bored or both, and then the conversation ends, resulting in their moving on to the more familiar (and lower level) people in the office who they can have comfortable, everyday conversation with. Sameness attracts sameness, and sameness breeds sameness… unless someone at the top actually makes a thoughtful effort to counter it. And, well, that is clearly not happening.

I dislike this. The whole point of having a leader host a happy hour is so that he can get to know the remote employees better, but this rarely is the case. It ends up just being another event where everyone spends time with who is familiar or of a similar level or position, and the company ends up paying for all our drinks because it’s a social work event. This really needs to change.

Cooking classes and expectations for food

A year ago, a good friend of mine generously gifted me a Sur la Table cooking class. I was eyeing a Middle Eastern cooking class, but it never worked out with my schedule. So I decided that in the next two weeks, I’d finally use the gift card to schedule a cooking class, and I ended up booking an eclairs baking class with them. As I’m reading the expectations of the class, one line really irked me: “You will enjoy a generous taste of every dish.”

To me, if I am going to shell out $50-150 for a cooking class, I would like to think that I’d get an actual sit-down meal if it’s a full lunch or dinner menu we are preparing, or if it’s a baking class, that I’d get to have many treats to take home. The other baking classes I’ve taken, which have included macarons and croissants, had me taking home over 15-20 macarons and over a dozen croissants to share with Chris and friends.

I’m interested to see how they are defining a “generous taste” of each dish when we are talking about eclairs here. I hope I’m not too disappointed.


This afternoon, I met my mentee for chai to catch up, as I realize that I hadn’t even seen her since the end of last year. In between getting sick twice (which is so embarrassing) in two months and my work travel, I just haven’t been able to make it happen.

After we caught up for an hour and she left to go to her therapy appointment, I sat a bit at the cafe and reflected on my own experience as a teen. I never had someone I could officially call a mentor, but I had two former teachers who in retrospect, I realize I did see as mentors. They were the people in my life who were always so positive, asking me questions about my life and where I was headed, and never in a judgmental way. Their positivity was like a model to me about how I wanted to view my own life and growth. Aside from both being very positive despite frustrating circumstances in their own personal and professional lives, the other thing they both had in common was that they were both constantly learning and seeking new knowledge, always seeking intellectual stimulation.

I think about this every time after I meet with my mentee. I’m not always sure what value I am providing, and I am constantly second guessing whether I am truly helping her. But what I strive to do every time I meet her is to validate her feelings, make her feel heard, and help her see the hope and possibilities of the future. I encourage her to seek new knowledge, to read and be aware of current events and politics, to contribute to society. It’s not always easy for her to do those things, but I can see that she is trying.

One thing I finally got her to do was to wake up at a regular time every single day. She used to sleep until 1 or 2 and essentially waste half her daylight hours. She’d even skip class. But now, she’s consistently waking up between 8-8:30 each morning. It’s small steps that ultimately become big ones. She is definitely going somewhere.

Pregnant at Whole Foods

I met with a customer today for coffee and monkey bread at City Bakery, a still-trendy bakery here in Manhattan where ladies who brunch still come for their nibbles, $4 cookies and monkey bread, and fancy lattes and cappuccinos. As we sat and caught up, I presented her with a baby gift for her soon-to-arrive baby boy due in just two weeks’ time. She works in the fashion industry and is always incredibly well put together, all the way down to her accessories. She’s the kind of woman who always looks like she barely even tries to look as fashionable as she does; it just seems to come naturally to her. Some of us, like myself, actually have to try.

She told me that she’s been lucky in that she’s had a relatively easy pregnancy, especially after the first trimester, when she felt nauseated all the time. But since then, she’s really enjoyed the entire experience. “Everyone is just constantly willing to give up their seat for me, help me with my bags or anything I’m carrying, or make space for me!” she exclaimed. Even at Whole Foods, if you’re pregnant or pushing around a stroller, apparently you can bypass the line and get rung up right away, she learned and shared with me. She said she’s really going to miss all these pregnancy perks after she’s given birth.

I never even though about that when I think about the concept of being pregnant. But part of me felt a little cynical in that, would I get the same preferential/deferential treatment that she gets as a relatively attractive, tall, slim white woman who is visibly pregnant? White women in general will always get treated better than any women of color. It’s a frustrating question to contemplate in my reality.