Friday, November 30, 2012

The sentence that drives me nuts.

"My ex is crazy."

How many times have you heard that?  I feel like I hear it all the time.  Usually, it comes from a guy.  My ex, she's crazy.  It flows from the tongue.  There goes my crazy ex. 

I just want to clear something up.  Obviously, there are crazy people out there.  But when someone says that, what I always want to say is this: don't you mean that she made you feel crazy?  That you look back to those last few months when you were fighting, when you hurt each other on purpose, when you were trying to repair a mess that you knew was already irreparable, and you just feel crazy?  Chances are, your ex isn't mentally ill.  She might be imperfect, she might be extremely confused.  She might be manipulative, bitchy, really depressed.  She might be crazy for leaving you.  But she isn't the bag lady on the subway who pulls a red plastic stiletto heel out of her purse, along with some serrated butter knives.  Unless, maybe, that is her...shit...

ok, phew. I'm glad we cleared that up. 

(photo from Goddamnit I'm Mad)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to make fries that taste like the real deal

For the holidays this past weekend, my brother and I made Steak Frites (steak and fries).  While he grilled outside, I followed a recipe for baked fries that Smitten Kitchen swears tastes like the real deal.  You know, like the salty, crisp, parsley-sprinkled fries you get at a french bistro. 

There are a few extra steps involved, but let me tell you, it is so worth it. 

First, get yukon gold potatoes.  Cut them up into matchsticks (3/8 inch, something like that).  Throw them in a pot, cover them with cold water, bring to a boil, then let it simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on your baking sheet. Pop it into the oven for about four minutes, to preheat.  Strain the potatoes carefully, blot them dry, and spread them out on the baking sheet, adding another drizzle of olive oil, and a generous shake of salt and pepper.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, tossing the tray a few times in between.  They should be golden brown and sizzling.  Finally, sprinkle them with chopped parley. 

I also made a dip by mixing mayo, sriracha, a few dashes Worcestershire sauce, and a small splash vinegar. 

These are divine.  As my mom says, the food must be good, because no one's talking.

(My brother and I)

(top photo by The Talking Kitchen; not the exact same recipe, but the fries look similar)

How many friends do you need?

I need 3, I've decided, because that's how many I have right now.  At least, in close proximity to me. 

Two of them are guys, and they enjoy making fires and drinking Cranberry-lime seltzer.  They like to dance, and together we have a good time.  The third is Dana.  She has two young boys, has never worn mom jeans, and cooks like a pro.  We'll drink wine together, and gossip.

This is my social life right now.  My college friend Sasha would be appalled.  She lives through her friendships.  At school, she would get handwritten notes in the mail everyday, the envelopes covered in inky flowers.  She sent and received care packages regularly.  She penciled Skype dates into her Moleskine planner.  She is one of those friends who finds that book you were talking about that one day in February and sends it, wrapped in Newspaper, to your home address. 

I am no such friend.  I love my friends, I really do (hi, everyone!).  But I escaped my college graduation early because I couldn't handle all the goodbyes--the friendships, the closeness, all saturated onto the 100 yards of grass on which we all stood, shielding the sun from our eyes with our graduation caps.

I remember that my psychology class freshman year of college addressed extroversion vs. introversion. We filled out surveys.  Our professor said that we should all have a strong hunch already, an idea of which one we thought we were.  My peers nodded knowingly.  Apparently they did, but I had no idea. I'm outgoing, I thought.  Social, chatty.  But sometimes I hate parties.  I find myself in bathrooms, breathing deeply out of relief, peering at face creams, wondering how long I can stay in there without raising suspicion that I'm emptying my bowels.  I seek comfort in myself more than others, I realized, filling out the survey.  It resulted in introversion.  Me, introverted.  Perhaps that explains why 3 friends suits me perfectly right now.  I just don't think it's as simple as that.  (of course, it never is).

How many friends make you happy? Three? Twenty? Or just one?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The other day I spoke to a close friend of mine who said she deleted her Facebook account, and since then her self-esteem has gone way up. 

I've heard this before, haven't you? Facebook seems to have become a weird trap for people's insecurities, a place to exude a false sense of happiness and control, to prove to others that your life is worth stalking.  To me, weight seems to be at the forefront.  If you've remained skinny after high school, you've got admirers.  If you lost ten pounds before your wedding, chances are a dozen or so people are waiting, eagerly, greedily, for the weight to creep back on.  But what about the 10 pound weight gain that came from someone falling in love and eating too many pancakes in bed?  Chances are, you don't see an extra layer of fat and think, good for her! I'm glad she's happy. 

It's hard not to fall victim to stalking.  It's feels kind of indulgent, like dipping into a hot bath with a tabloid magazine.  It passes time when you're waiting for a flight or having lunch at your desk.  You can follow people's sudden wardrobe makeovers, the birth of their babies, the end of their marriage, without them having the slightest idea.

Another friend of mine who's never even had a Facebook account told me he decided against one because he feels it won't contribute positively to his life.  This makes perfect sense.  He's wise about his time management. He also doesn't care that his chemistry partner from high school ate a steak burrito for breakfast this morning.  But I care! I swear, I do!  I like to see people living.  I like to see babies being born.  I like the person who writes too many statuses about how much they hate laundry, and the person who clearly has an anger problem.  I like the awkward selfies, the occasional stumble onto some form of a cute youtube puppy video.  It's a place for people to abandon the walls they hold up throughout the day, and what occurs then, on my news feed, is something I like.  It's messy, inconsistent, and too personal, like life, really.

All I need to work on is moderation...

P.S. This is so funny.

(Gemma Correll is behind the funny doodle)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Joan Didion's daily routine

I just read Joan Didion's memoir, Blue Nights, about the death of her daughter, Quintana.  It's not a light read, but I admire her writing, which is clear, unfussy, and honest.  Sometimes her sentences go on for a page, yet somehow you can follow every word, and I always imagine her speaking, reclined on a couch, waving a cigarette around in one hand, clutching a strong drink in the other. 

So I was curious, when my mom sent me quotes of of what famous writers have to say about their daily work routine, what she has to say:

"I need an hour alone before dinner, with a drink, to go over what I've done that day. I can't do it late in the afternoon because I'm too close to it. Also, the drink helps. It removes me from the pages…When I'm really working I don't like to go out or have anybody to dinner, because then I lose the hour. If I don't have the hour, and start the next day with just some bad pages and nowhere to go, I'm in low spirits. Another thing I need to do, when I'm near the end of the book, is sleep in the same room with it…Somehow the book doesn't leave you when you're asleep right next to it."

Writers really do figure out their routine and then they stick to it. That hour at night to go over her writing is so important to her that she doesn't ever have dinner guests!  I barely have any routine.  I need my laptop, some desk space, and my hair out of my face.  A drink does sound nice though….

My writers out there, do you have a routine? Or are you like me? 

photo and quote via Brain Pickings

Why I can't imagine getting married.

When I was seventeen I fantasized about my wedding. My bouquet will be wild flowers, I thought.  There will be Christmas lights strung up and our wedding rings will be simple gold.  The groom, of course, will be my tall, British, freckled high school boyfriend.  I had this idea in my head for years.  I couldn't imagine life going any other way.  (It did).

Now I can't imagine getting married.  I left NYC because it felt crowded.  Because more than anything, I longed to be alone.  Every morning I have coffee by myself.  I prop my legs up on the chair next to me and read a book.  I do weird little stretches and I frequently peer out of the window like a nosy widow, checking up on the neighborhood. 

I love it.  I can't imagine sharing my space with someone else.  I can't imagine cooking dinner, rubbing each others necks, planning our weekends together. (yuck!)

It surprises me how different I feel, how foreign that all seems.  I have embraced being single in a way, and now I fantasize about a life with a dog, my writing, and a window facing the ocean.

(photo taken by the talented Julian Goldstein)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Perfect Carbonara silky, salty, warm, a little smoky from the bacon.  With a glass of wine, a simple salad, and good, crusty bread, there's really nothing better.  I've been craving it recently, and since it's easy to make (and cheap!), I asked my beloved sister-in-law to compile a little visual--spaghetti alla carbonara broken down to its perfect anatomy. 

This is how my parents always cooked it.  Put on your pasta water, cook some bacon in a skillet, throw in a clove or two of minced garlic, beat 3 eggs with some grated parmesan in your pasta bowl, then combine everything once the pasta is al dante, the bacon crisp, and the eggs close to room temperature.  Toss vigorously, top with some parsley and fresh grated black pepper.

Have a great weekend, everyone. And eat some pasta, will you?

pasta tossing photo via dirty bitch.
(and thanks, Jackie, for your help!) 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Internet Diet, Week One

There is no internet at my house.  Being on an internet diet is similar to being on a diet diet.  The mornings are easiest because you're distracted by the newness of the day-- there's coffee, bed making, a bit of reading, a bit of stretching...  I don't crave the internet similar to the way I don't particularly crave hot wings with my morning cup of jo.

Mid day, I'm still okay.  I get to catch up with the internet at a cafe.  Facebook, email, Pinterest, Thought Catalog, this blog…and a warm raisin scone.  All cravings satisfied. 

It's at night when things become a little difficult.  A bat circles the house, collected bugs.  I keep catching it in the corner of my eye, a little black smudge, flying clumsily past the window. The heat clinks in the house, a squirrel prepares its nest somewhere in the roof of the house.  I wander the upstairs, straightening up a little to distract myself.  I fluff my pillows in preparation for bed.  (I've never done this before my internet diet), I pad around in my slippers and notice that I can hear myself breathing.

This is when the craving returns.  Powerful, potent, completely real.  I crave the internet, just like I crave a big bowl of mac&cheese, smothered with sriracha.  I can't even steal my neighbors internet;  one is called "EAT ME" and the other is called "DRINK ME" and they're both locked.  Once in awhile, I'll open up my laptop and just stare at the little lock symbol and wonder what the passwords could be.  It's got to be something like dickhead but I haven't figured it out yet…..

Eventually, the craving subsides.

Recently, I've noticed something strange has happened.  I've begun to feel differently about the internet.  I'm starting to resent it a little.  I became addicted to it, completely reliant on it, without me even really knowing it.  Is it fair for me to blame it, and the generation I'm in?  I feel like we've all been passengers, riding along.  To fight against it would be like trying to run fast in water.  And yet, without it, I feel like I've stepped off of a speeding train, and am now I'm drifting on my back along a current, relaxed like the woman in that painting.

(However, this is hilarious)

image via It's About Time

Monday, November 12, 2012

Four famous men that don't age well (and one that does)


 Back in the day, John Travolta was so sexy with his butt chin and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.  

But now?

It's like his face got stretched and he always has this uncomfortably intense expression.


Nicholas Cage. I never really thought he was gorgeous, but there was a time when he was kind of appealing with his constant nose flaring and fatherly look of concern. 

But now?

Don't you just feel awkward looking at that photo? And he's always wearing eyeliner, or something.


This one is the most unfortunate.  Those eyes, that eager, innocent smile, the way he said Rose! in Titanic.

And now....

I don't know.  It's not so bad.  It just sort of seems like he drinks a lot of whiskey, and has had his heart broken too many times.


How cute was Toby Maguire as sensitive, sweet, blue eyed Spiderman?  He's not even that old, but now........

It's unfortunate.  He got highlights and adopted side bangs and wow, how unsexy is he now.

But of course, this one......

Ages as beautifully as a sweet, full bodied bottle of wine, or the best, fanciest cheese.  Those tattoos, the scruff, the accent...oh David, you will never look bad.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dating 101

I'm starting to realize that dating is weird.  No one ever really tells you this.  People say it's tricky, it's messy, it's hard, but they never tell you that it's weird. 

I'm not used to it.  In college, "dating" meant a couple lukewarm cranberry-vodkas in a dorm room, followed by fumbling around on some unwashed bed sheets.  There's no need for follow up because in a few hours you're standing next to each other on the egg line.

But dating in New York. In your 20's.  Is a little different.  Until recently, I pictured it like some Ashton Kutcher chick flick: glamorous, easy, sexy.  Maybe I just pictured it like Ashton Kutcher. 

It isn't at all like Ashton Kutcher.  There are long, drawn out conversations about music preference, about siblings, about summer jobs.  There is that inevitable moment of stiffness when the bill comes, and that awkward goodbye hug where you've both turned your heads away from each other so you're virtually just pressing chests.

Then there are good dates, the ones where your heart is thumping as you approach the restaurant.  There's good wine, good pasta, flirty banter.  There's a long, heady kiss on the sidewalk.  It's these good dates that make dating weird.  It's the follow up date, equally as good, that makes it even weirder.  It's the text message with all those smiley faces (are they seriously that happy?)  Or the text messages with the lack of smiley faces (could they be disinterested?).  It's the slippery sliding feeling of falling for someone, and losing control.  Not to mention that while you're trying to figure this all out, you're also supposed to remain cool, casual, and unaffected. Ideally, you strike a golden balance.  You're vulnerable but guarded, adventurous yet stable.  You carefully display your personality at its best, and you even share a few of your weaknesses.  You've put your heart out on the table, but you're in standby mode, ready to snatch it back. 

As my roommate, Emma used to say, WHAT THE WHAT?
Is this not a little confusing, people?

P.s. Another interesting article about modern dating here.

photo via Max Wanger

Monday, November 5, 2012

Half & Half

The one comment I get, being half Japanese, that bugs me more than any other comment....

More than, "Are you chinese?"

More than, "So are you really good at painting your own nails?"


My thought?

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Some days I feel like my own road block. 

It starts with a small surge of inspiration.  Usually it's from a line in a book I'm reading, but these days it can be from anything.  From watching an old couple, hunched against the wind, walking up a hill.  Or from a young woman on the subway, staring blankly at a text message on her iPhone.  The other day, it was from a blue balloon I spotted drifting slowly in the sky.  The surge of inspiration always feels the same, has always felt the same.  I get it every time I feel the need to write. It's like a mosquito's high pitched buzz, except that it's inside me somewhere. I haven't quite placed where exactly--maybe in my nose, between my eyes, or even in my stomach.  Write, Joy, write, it says, all nasally. 

The next logical thing to do with this inspiration, with this sudden motivation, is to do something about it.  Except that…first, before I do that something, I realize I'm hungry, and that I should make something to eat.  And that requires going on Pinterest to look at some food porn for inspiration.  Avocado toast. Yumm.  But now that I'm done eating, my hands smell like garlic, so I should wash them.  You know what, I should just take a shower.  It's time.  I also MUST listen to this Tegan & Sara song that's been stuck in my head…twelve times.
And of course I have to do my make up. The Starbucks on my corner really does require that I look my best.

I also really need to instagram my marble loaf at Starbucks.

By the time I'm actually sitting down in front of my computer, the motivation I felt four hours before is long gone, lifted and disappeared, like a thunderstorm. 

Recently I'm starting to realize that I can't really blame my lack of productivity on these distractions.  After all, isn't life One Big Distraction?  Isn't growing up a distraction? Getting your heart broken? Having a baby? Losing a parent? Getting a divorce? Are these not all incredibly distracting things?

The distraction is me.  It is my 22 year old, semi- anxious, semi-ADD, semi-afraid-of-failure self.  It's a need to fill a void, the second that void opens.  It happens every day.  Walking the two blocks home from the subway, I have to blow my ears out with Foster the People.  Eating a snack, I have to watch Youtube videos.  Why is it that I'm so uncomfortable with my own company?  I think I'm fairly decent company, and yet, the second I un-squash myself from my various numbing activities, I fear the lightness that follows, the inspiration which feels like a beam of light expanding through two heavy clouds.  Something about it just kind of scares me. 

And yet, today, I did what I set out to do: I walked my ass to Starbucks and sat down to write.  I didn't think too much about it.  And that, right now, is enough.