Air purifier

Because we spend about 90 percent of our time at home now due to the pandemic and working from home, I suggested to Chris a few months ago that we get an air purifier. Not only is it supposed to help with air quality (this thing goes NUTS when I have the gas stove on!!), but it’s also supposed to help with dust management. Now that we are here all the time, constantly shedding skin and hair cells every second, the dust buildup in this apartment has been atrocious. I was maniacally dusting the glass coffee table at least once a week since the beginning of the pandemic, and it was driving me crazy!

He was pretty convinced it wouldn’t do much, but it’s safe to say that after monitoring this air purifier for about a month now, I’ve only had to sponge off the coffee table once. Dusting it once every month vs. once every week is a small enough win for me to think this is worth it. Now, too bad this lack of dust didn’t also extend into the hallway, bathroom, and bedroom…

Massage indulgence

Today, we explored and wandered through Lower Manhattan and ended with a massage in Chinatown. This whole week, while my elbows have been flaring up, I actually started some new exercises at the gym to keep things interesting at the same time. My back has been more tense, and my arms have this weird soreness. I have no idea whether all this is connected to my exercises or my arm/hand condition, but either way, it’s been frustrating and confusing.

The good news is that after my massage, my back and neck did feel quite better, so now we can rule out any injuries and just chalk that up to tension, stress, and perhaps some need to just physically relax. The more annoying thing to think about is: how long are my hands and arms going to have pain and flare-ups? Is this just my new normal that I have to deal with? Or is there really a permanent fix for all this?

When you think you are getting better, and then you aren’t.

When I started seeing my physical therapist about a month ago, I was actually already starting to feel better. I stopped doing a lot of the activities that were causing me pain, like texting with my thumbs, and started doing a lot more stretches and exercises to help improve the mobility and strength of my fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, and arms in general. So when my PT added on new exercises, I could definitely feel an improved strength and mobility, as now I can actually open jars and carry a full mug with just one hand again thankfully, so I thought, oh hey, maybe I won’t have to go to PT anymore!

Well, that all came crashing down this week when I decided to stupidly start using my phone and texting the way I previously did again, along with who the heck knows what else, but my elbows started flaring up. So I told my PT this, and I told him which positions and actions made me feel the pain and burning sensations, and he tentatively concluded that I may have mild cubital tunnel syndrome. Cubital tunnel what?

This is an injury that happens more commonly now with smartphones. Someone holds the phone in front of her with her arms and elbows close to her body. That position, combined with the typing action of the fingers, pushes a nerve the wrong way around your elbow, causing the burning and the pain. My PT said he has two other patients who are in their 20s, so younger than me, with far, far worse symptoms. They can’t even lift their arms over their heads.

So now, along with exercises and stretching, I have to do “nerve gliding” exercises to encourage my nerve to move back into its rightful place… away from my elbow.

Yep. The smartphone will be part of all our demises. Forget the computer and your attempt at ergonomic desk setup. It’s time to blame that evil iPhone now and our terrible addiction to it.

Heat during work

Once upon a time, when I worked at an office, I never really thought much about having the heater or the air conditioner on because the building where I was working or the office manager would take care of those details for me. Now that my “office” is permanently my living room for the forever future, I actually have to think about these things now. And when you turn on the heat or the AC in your apartment, you also have to pay for it, which means that your bill goes up.

Chris tries to hold out as long as possible before turning on the heat most years because he sees it as “caving in” to the inevitable truth that winter has arrived. Yet, between not turning the heat on and turning it on, in between, he will take out his space heater… and point it in his direction. That means it’s going in the opposite direction of where I am sitting, which means… I get no heat. That means I have to either wear more layers or throw on a blanket. Granted, I generally do wear a hoodie or cardigan around the apartment most fall days, but still… what about my heat?

“You can have the heat!” he says defensively, when I make this comment. Mmmmm hmmmm, sure I can…

TikTok Christmas escape

What’s really annoying about this time of year this specific year is that normally, while the city would be getting much colder, we’d have a European Thanksgiving trip to look forward to, and then a few weeks after that, a summer Christmas in Australia along with a side trip somewhere else inevitably warm and fun in Asia. This year, we have absolutely nothing to look forward to. I have barely taken off any real days off from work this year outside of the first few of the year while in Indonesia, plus the holidays I’ve been given. It’s just been work, work, work in some annoying form or the other. When I’m not doing paid work, I’m working on YmF videos, filming, photographing, editing, posting, promoting. There hasn’t really been much of a “relax” period this year at all. This really sucks.

The only times I seem to be able to zone out are when I ‘escape’ onto Tiktok and waste too many minutes scrolling through people’s Christmas TikTok videos, taking me through New York and other decked out cities anticipating Christmas. New York may look merry and bright, as does London and any other city that gets bedazzled for this time of year, but the mood is definitely sadder and more depressing.

Fordham Heights

Today, we did our weekly stroll into a new neighborhood, and this week, Chris decided on Fordham Heights in The Bronx. While we went to a number of spots and ate a variety of different cuisines (Ghanian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Italian), probably the most delicious and notable for me was visiting 188 Cuchifritos, which apparently has been around since at least the 1980s and has at least two or three locations in upper Manhattan. It has an endless variety of Puerto Rican and Dominican foods and snacks, and one of the two we chose there was the pork tamale (much fattier and juicer than the Mexican tamales I am used to!), plus the alcapurrias, which is a fried snack that has a mashed yucca/green plantain shell that is deep fried, stuffed with a curried, slightly spicy minced beef and onion filling. It was love at first bite; I just loved every single aspect of this delicious pointed, fried snack. I even suggested to Chris that we get four more of them to bring home because of how delicious they were, but he lightly reminded me that we were not even near the end of our self-guided food walking tour.

Alcapurrias – this is my new Puerto Rican obsession.

Thai eating continues

Chris enjoyed the Thai minced turkey stir-fry I made this week, so much that for our weekly delivery, he ordered from one of our local favorites, Pure Thai Cookhouse. While many restaurants have closed that we used to frequent, such as LaSalle Dumpling Room two blocks away from us (they still have a location open in Harlem), Pure Thai Cookhouse is still going strong with its usual menu and specials, and our other regular spot, Rice and Beans, has re-opened with new management and a new name — Nelore Grill. The menu is still the same thankfully, and we also found that since the chef is the same, the food is also, thank goodness, still the same and super delicious!

This pandemic has been really rough, particularly on small businesses, and so we’ve been happy to see that some are still continuing to go strong… and feed us. 🙂

Hot Thai Kitchen inspiration

Thai food is likely one of my all-time favorite cuisines in the world. For me, it really has the best of everything: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, umami, and extremely complex. All the different herbs and fresh ingredients put together with different shrimp and fish-based pastes make for one explosion of flavor in the mouth after the other. Unless you just do not like flavor, Thai food is just one of the most delicious and complex cuisines in the world.

Unfortunately, here in the U.S., where we’ve basically taken complex and high-skill cuisines such as Chinese and Thai and “sweetified” them — that is to say, loaded them with so much sugar that we just expect iterations of their dishes to be sweet and sickly, a lot of people have no idea how multi-layered and deep Thai or Chinese flavors can be. They just haven’t been exposed to it because the people want and/or expect sweet, so the Thai business owners will often cater to those tastes and make their dishes sweeter. I mean, it *is* a business, right, and they need to make money to pay their bills and survive, so why not give the people what they want?

I’ve learned so much from Pai from Hot Thai Kitchen via her YouTube channel on the complexities of Thai cooking and how to make a lot of these favorite dishes at home with authentic flavors, a few shortcuts, and her recommended techniques. One of the things I’ve recently gotten excited about were her recommended Maesri Thai curry spice pastes. They are readily available and really tasty. She offers her doctored version of these pastes just by adding a few additional ingredients to make them more well rounded and “Thai,” and suggests uses for them other than making curries and stews. One of her suggestions, which I just did today, was to use the paste as just that – a spice paste to flavor minced meat and vegetables in a stir fry. I used some ground turkey I got from Costco, threw in a bunch of greens, chilies, and kaffir lime leaves, and ended it all with a squeeze of lime, and it was likely one of the fastest, most satisfying dishes I’ve made in a while.

Quick and easy Thai cooking is possible, like many other cuisines, as long as you have certain ingredients on hand!

Hello, Biden and Harris!

Two days ago, on Saturday morning, we were sitting on our couch and suddenly heard screaming, clapping, and pots clanging outside our window. Within minutes, we got news alerts on our phones saying that Biden had won Pennsylvania, ultimately securing him the 10 additional electoral votes he needed to win the presidential election. I could not believe it. I mean, I could, but I was numb on Election Day, pissed the day after that the race was so close, and increasingly getting angrier and angrier to see that even MORE people had cast ballots for Trump than in 2016… he’s at about 71 million votes now. But none of that matters since he’s not going to be in the White House come January, 20, 2021. Joe and Jill Biden are moving in, and hopefully, they will help heal this country and bring a bit more normalcy and less drama into the White House and this country.

We went out and celebrated across Columbus Circle, Times Square, Union Square, and Washington Square Park. I’d never quite seen New York City this way; the people were out with signs, instruments, making noise, singing and cheering like never before. It was like for once this entire year, we’ve finally had some good news.

Yet President Dipshit is making false claims about voter fraud constantly and refusing to concede, and his 71 million supporters will be on his side because of this continued malinformation. I’m genuinely concerned about what will happen if he really does fail to concede and his idiot Republican colleagues continue to back up his false claims, and what his tens of millions of voters will do to continue the malinformation that Trump made the “new normal” since even before he took office.

This country… truly is a mess.

And still, we wait.

Yesterday, other than a quick news briefing over my NPR Up First podcast and a few NYT news alerts on my phone, I refused to look at news at all. No constantly checking CNN or NPR or the New York Times; definitely NO looking at Fox News or any insane right-wing malformation center the way I did the day of the presidential election in 2016. Nope. I was not going to repeat all those awful, paranoid, anxious actions I did four years ago. This time, I was going to sit and wait until this was really final.

Well, I woke up this morning hoping to get an update one way or another, crossing my fingers that the election was swaying in Biden-Harris’s direction. I had a gut feeling this would be a very close election; I refused to listen to all the idiots on the left in their own bubbles, insisting that many Trump supporters would have come to their senses, particularly given the awful way he has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. And as of this morning, when I immediately went to check my NYT and BBC apps… it’s looking painfully close; so close that I can taste the anger and bitterness in my mouth.

This is not a referendum on Trump. Nope. This is a referendum on the American people. This is exactly how stupid we are that we have made every excuse in the book for Trump, from his blatant sexism, racism, xenophobia, all the way to his total disregard, lack of care, and empathy for all of those who have suffered and/or died directly and indirectly from COVID-19.

I’m pissed today. I just feel so, so fed up with this entire country.