lately (12.11.18)

This post contains affiliate links, because I like money, but I s2g I wrote this post before adding the affiliate links and the monetization does not affect my opinions.

OKAY, PALS!!! Let’s set the scene.

I’m… crouched(?) on the floor of my bedroom (kind of in catloaf form but with sphinx arms; it’s very cute and sexy of me) blasting a playlist of EXO’s slow songs with my Frostbeard Rainy Day Reads candle burning atop my dresser.

The main development since my last life update is that I’ve gone whole-ass into K-Pop fandom, specifically the EXO fandom. I am now an EXO-L/Eri. (You can witness my thirsty descent over on Tumblr, assuming I haven’t been banned for reblogging this screencap of Sehun and Chanyeol from the “We Young” music video, which was flagged, possibly because Sehun is wearing a suit that’s too close to his skintone. 🙄)

I’ve casually enjoyed K-Pop since high school, and I started getting into specific K-Pop groups around 2013 (namely SHINee and EXO, to the extent that I learned the members’ names and picked out specific songs (and faces) I liked), but it wasn’t until recently that I became obsessed.

It started when I was scrolling through this post by Tracy at fanserviced-b and decided to watch the “Love Me Right” music video. Incredibly, I’d already seen and enjoyed the “Call Me Baby” MV, which was released just 2 months prior to “Love Me Right” and which is also a visual stunner and a big ol’ bop, and I’d seen and reblogged “Love Me Right” pics and GIFs (#sad defeated asian boys in athletic wear), but somehow I never actually watched the music video itself.

And then I did.

And it was just… shot after shot after shot of practically everything I find aesthetically pleasing on men. Tailored suits! Above-the-knee shorts! T-shirts tucked into tight jeans! Exposed legs and ankles! Men in pink! Suspenders! Floppy hair! Beautiful faces in ugly glasses! Sports uniforms feat. shoulder pads! Dirt smeared on their faces!

It was overwhelming. It was like the first time I watched the “Growl” MV and lost my goddamn mind over SO many dancing boys looking like hooligans in dress code-violating school uniforms. (Please keep in mind I first watched this five years ago, when I was five years younger. I was and still am younger than EXO’s oldest member.)

The difference was that this time, when I lost my mind over an EXO music video, it was mere days before their comeback single, “Tempo”, was released, which was simply too much good content for my small decrepit body to handle in such swift succession.

“Tempo” involves leather jackets, ripped skinny jeans, military-inspired jackets, decorative chains, and Kai in a DISTRESSED CROPPED SWEATER, SUSPENDERS, AND LEATHER SKINNIES, and yet! It was a mere ten seconds of Baekhyun in an unbearably smoldery smoky eye singing and dancing (from 3:08 – 3:18, see the clipped video below) that BROKE ME!!!

So now I’m here, awaiting packages from AliExpress, for an unlicensed cropped EXO hoodie with cat ears, and Snapfish, for 25 glossy 4×6 photos made from HQ images I found online of Baekhyun, Sehun, Chanyeol, and Kai.

(For the record, I was briefly interested in BTS in 2015 when they were mostly still going by Bangtan Boys, but while I like their music and dancing from an artistic perspective (not to mention this A+ cover of the Biebz’s “Mistletoe” c/o @keisha_pl), I’ve always preferred EXO’s musical aesthetic, which leans more pop/R&B. I also prefer their vocal line (here’s a cover of the Biebz’s “Boyfriend” by D.O., who may just have the smoothest voice in current K-Pop) as well as their faces (I am deeply biased for many reasons, but the biggest one is that Baekhyun has really pretty hands and looks absolutely unreal in makeup), but both groups have their charms. For example, BTS has a stronger rap line (EXO’s is solid and has good technique like pretty much all artists under SM Entertainment, but BTS’s rap line is really good) and is waaay more “knowable” in terms of social media and general media presence, thanks to Big Hit’s marketing. Anyway, they’re both great, but EXO came into my life first.)

But slipping down a fandom hole isn’t the only thing I’ve done lately. Since my last life update, I…

  • had various nose and throat problems for about a month and a half. I legit only started being able to breathe through my nose again around Thanksgiving. The smoke from the Camp Fire certainly didn’t help, but my boyfriend had surprised me with a Coway air purifier a week or two prior, since I’m allergic to the cat with whom we live, and it’s helped a lot. Now I’m just dealing with what seems like neverending post-nasal drip.
  • read some books and fanfiction that I will detail in a follow-up post
  • watched some movies and television that I will detail in a follow-up post
  • cooked some new things. Sometimes I enjoy cooking, but mostly I just cook out of necessity. Weeknights are especially tiring (or at least they were when I was working 9 to 5 with an hour-long commute each way), so I’m always curious what other people cook during the workweek. I’m aware of meal prepping as a concept, but throw in food allergies, specific nutritional diets, and a bit of environmentalism, and the appetizing options narrow significantly. Anyway, here’s some of the stuff I’ve made recently:

crispy oven baked honey garlic tofu (i am a food blog) - roast eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish (smitten kitchen) - crispy fried eggs (smitten kitchen) - spicy vegan jackfruit tacos (minimalist baker)

Left to right, top to bottom:

Crispy oven-baked honey garlic tofu, using this recipe from I am a Food Blog. I tried making this like 5 times in a row and I’ve decided that medium-firm tofu works best, as long as you press out almost all of the moisture. I also foolishly used aluminum foil instead of parchment paper at first, which just made the tofu stick to the pan. IMO, this is a really tasty way to make tofu, but it takes a while to cook, and it gets chewy unless you eat it right away. (Did I overdo it on the green onion? The answer is no.)

Roasted eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish, using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve only eaten this with rice, not the suggested couscous, but the flavors are strong (and delicious!!!), so it’s a good idea to serve this with a plain starch. This is hella good, but it involves a lot of cutting.

Crispy fried eggs, using this recipe/guide from Smitten Kitchen. I don’t know how you can make this without a splatter guard, because it’s VERY dramatic, but these are fantastic over fried rice or with chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

Barbecue jackfruit taco filling, using this recipe from Minimalist Baker. I made this exactly once, and it took SO long to prepare the jackfruit that I will never do it again. Does it looks arrestingly similar to meat and have an appealing texture and tangy flavor? Yes. Is it worth the ridiculous amount of time it takes to deseed and cut/shred the canned jackfruit? No. Plus, jackfruit isn’t a good source of protein, so while I’ll gladly eat jackfruit tacos at a restaurant, I don’t think it’s worth having to prepare both the jackfruit and a protein (e.g. beans) for a nutritious vegetarian meal.

Read more…

this is progress.

This post contains affiliate links, because I like money, but I s2g I wrote this post before adding the affiliate links and the monetization does not affect my opinions.

airplane safety placard infant water flotation device lifevest

a pictorial dumpling recipe

Henlo, friends.

I’m writing this post with my feet propped up on a chair at the dining room table while I wait for the Chinese herbal tea simmering in the kitchen to reach its full potency. My runny nose and I are working our way through a box of tissues, the cat is using the living room as her personal racetrack while she yells continuously (a Big Mood™), and my partner is perched on the Korean War-era military footlocker trunk we use as a coffee table, playing Grand Theft Auto V.

Last week I was in New York City for only the second time in my life, tagging along on my boyfriend’s business trip. It was equal parts enthralling and exhausting to wander around Manhattan by myself, and by the fourth day, I was completely wiped out, partially because I’d spent the entire day prior wandering the Met until my soul was replenished and my feet were blistered, but mostly because my partner was working normal business hours, and it was damn tiring to be out and about and always watching my own stuff, my own drinks, my own back, always aware of how much time was left until sunset when I should stop being visibly alone in public. I admire women who travel solo. I don’t know how they do it.

But even though I spent the latter half of the trip Netflix-and-despairing in our hotel room (mainlining Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and short circuiting over the steaming pile of shit that is Brett Kavanaugh), I loved NYC in a way I haven’t ever loved anywhere but San Francisco – in a way that made me feel like I’d enjoy living there.

anal street - canal street subway - new york city mta

(insert “nyc i’m in you” joke)

(wow that was an unintended triple(?) entendre)

Granted, I haven’t traveled all that much, so there are probably plenty of diverse cities with solid public transportation systems that I’d enjoy spending my prime childbearing years in. London seems promising, for one.

But I don’t think I’d ever actually go through with it, not for anything less than the death of the people I love most and a disgustingly lucrative job. I am far too comfortable and too content and too scared to leave San Francisco any time soon.

And beyond the thicket of fear that is the prospect of uprooting my life here, of moving far enough away from my mom and my family and friends that the number of times I can expect to see them before they or I die dwindles from the hundreds into the dozens, is the insidious thought that I wouldn’t be able to survive in New York City unless I were working a high-paying tech job.

Then again, I don’t think I can survive in San Francisco unless I’m working a high-paying tech job either.

It’s too black and white to be true, the idea that I have to either have a tech job or die. (After all, why not both?)

But it feels true. I know it’s just a story I tell myself out of habit, and I’m working on finding a new angle, but it’s like every time I try to look at it directly, it goes blurry around the edges and I can’t hold it in my mind.

Every few days (or hours), I regret quitting my six-figure tech job, but I’m trying to remind myself how unequivocally awful it was to work at my previous company. Reading the wall of one-star reviews (including my own) on their Glassdoor page helps. So does repeating the words of men I’ve worked with – words like “I’m sorry” and “As I’ve heard more of the stuff that you had to deal with, I’m more and more surprised you stayed as long as you did.”

I can’t yet see a way forward that doesn’t involve either forcing myself into another tech job, or dying. I’m trying to remind myself that my emotions make sense. That my response was a reasonable one, and that if I don’t or can’t work in tech again, I’ll still be okay, somehow. That it’s possible I’ll recover my original enthusiasm for web development, given enough time and room to breathe. And that until then, my most important task is trying to not feel guilty or useless or like a waste of space. Or a human leech. Or a liability.

I’m trying, and sometimes it doesn’t work particularly well. (Especially not lately. It feels immorally self-indulgent to be contemplating my career when this country is hurtling back into the 1800s and this planet is hurtling toward total catastrophe.)

So to help myself, here’s a partial list of things I’ve done over the past month-ish that have made me feel like a productive human:

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