June 2nd 2013
34oz bottle of Valentina Hot Sauce
$1.99 at Associated Market, Park Slope, Brooklyn
The setting: March 10, 2012, shortly after my 24th birthday. In either a complete lapse of judgement or ultimate gift to the hot sauce heads of P. Slope, next-door Associated Market grocer slaps a $2 price tag on monster bottles of put-it-on-everything-delicious Valentina hot sauce. It would take a year to finish amidst generous daily usage. (Folks wised up, offer is no longer available. Bottles pictured are 1/3 of the size.)
3 Cup Pyrex Lunch Container
$9.99 on Amazon
It doesn’t matter what food options your office is surrounded by (in DUMBO that equates to not many), all work week lunch options will eventually lose their tasty glimmer. The way I see it, if you have to eat it every day you will inevitably result to grabbing “the usual” overpriced spinach salad or expensing Seamless.com sushi on the reg as survival food. In February, I spent an exorbitant amount of time identifying the optimal sized (good meal portion + appropriate flat shape for work bag packing) microwave-safe, dedicated lunch container. Ever since, my go-to Pyrex has helped me continually cook, save money, and even lose weight. Oh hell yes.
Tooth Brush + Mini Toothpaste for Office Desk
$Whatever at Bridge Fresh in DUMBO, Brooklyn
Never underestimate the usefulness of emergency teeth brushing utensils stashed at your desk. That one day a year you realize that you forgot your morning brush 10 minutes before the big meeting, you will thank me.
Handpulled Noodles with Minced Pork Sauce + Pan Fried Dumplings
$6.50 total (before tip) at Lam Zhou, Chinatown, NYC
They recently moved the noodle-slapping/hand-pulling out of customer view, but I forgive them. When I first ate at Lam Zhou on a friend’s recommendation, they had a C health rating and were damn delicious. All that’s changed is their fresh health code B-status. Do yourself a favor, hop off the East Broadway F stop and find this spot. The guy who takes your order may not smile at you like he does for me, but the noodle texture is a beautiful thing and their dumplings (which you will douse generously in the magical four: Vinegar, light soy sauce, chili oil and Sriracha. Repeat that to yourself.) are out of bounds. I’ve had a number of great meals in great company here. Tip ‘em well.
6 Hour Bike Rental
$10 at Greenbikes in Barcelona, Spain
The highlight of a week in Barcelona con mi madre. Copped a sweet beach cruiser (with lock included!) from a Santa Cruz to Barcelona transplant in the Gothic Quarter. So ensued a perfect 80 degree half day of pedaling along the Barceloneta beach, diving into cold water in my underwear, and grabbing a burger + Orange Fanta with my feet in the sand. Unforgettable.
May 19th 2013
Until the beginning of this year, I didn’t read books. When envisioning the quintessential 21st century gentleman, amidst the brogue boots and well sculpted scruff, I’m convinced the man reads. He’s read classics, he reads regularly, hell he’s read his favorites multiple times because every go-over he “learns something new.”
My mother is a voracious bookworm, tearing through a couple crime novels on the weekend, working her way through every free book the Kindle library has to offer. You’d think the genes might have been passed on, but my unfortunate personal truth was that as of January I hadn’t read a book recreationally (excluding Harry Potter) in nearly five years.
I read a handful of classic novels in high school and college as part of English requirements but at the end of the day, me-time reading was a hobby that never stuck. But when 2013 came around, my fear of the “What’s your favorite book?” question came to a head. My feed of blogs and long-reads were beginning to bore and spending enough time around a few habitual readers moved me to take on the embarrassing lack of books in my life.
Five months in, I’m proud to say I’ve finished seven books and enjoying numero eight. It’s admittedly a funny mix of fiction and nonfiction, following my fickle interests of the month.
Here’s the lot:
Shape of Design by Frank Chimero
A short read by a fellow studiomate. Loved his anecdote on putting a little extra “love” into your work.
Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Best-seller by last month’s CreativeMornings/NYC speaker. A whip-smart dude, helped me make a few business decisions as of late.
Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds by Ping Fu
The remarkable life story of another NYC speaker.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
A Second-Life like world, language viruses, futuristic pizza delivery. My brother raved about this scifi classic ten years ago.
The Hunger Games TRILOGY by Suzanne Collins
Born to Run by Christopher Mcdougall
Didn’t exactly inspire me to run a 100mi ultramarathon, but close.
Currently reading – Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir by Eddie Huang
Food, hip hop, Asian culture. What more can I ask for?
They might not all be gentleman-worthy American classics, but I’m damn proud to say I’ve read these books. Here’s to new stories in the new year.
May 13th 2013
A few weeks ago, my mother announced to the family that she was nominated for Employee Of The Year at her hospital. My initial thought was, “Whoa mom, that’s a pretty big deal.” From past conversations I knew her hospital was one of the top in the state, maybe even the country. And though there was no guarantee she’d be one of the final 25 selected for the title, having her name bubble up among the some 6,000 employees was already a substantial accomplishment.
She asked if I would fly in to be her young, hunky escort at the awards banquet. So last week I trekked from LGA to DIA to catch the event. After working from home (and by working I mean alternating between staring at my inbox and the refrigerator), my mother and I got dolled up and sauntered over to the Marriott Ballroom for an evening of red wine and healthcare industry inside jokes.
The senior management took turns describing accomplishments and recanting stories as they announced each of the official winners. After two hours of some seriously heart-warming tales and 24 recipients had walked the stage, a voice from the microphone started “The last selection for Employee Of The Year definitely knows her charts and graphs. Please welcome our final winner tonight…”
My mother’s name boomed over the loud speakers. Number 25 of 25.
There’s something disconnected about trying to comprehend your parents’ professional lives. Maybe it’s because I always saw the after work, non 9-5 versions of them. It’s difficult just to imagine how they operate in their work. What are they known for among their coworkers? How do they act during meetings? How do they deal with stressful situations?
My mom handles infection control, that means preventing disease spread in the hospital, prepping epidemic readiness plans, doing the hand-hygiene-WHO-CDC-decontamination-Purell-stuff. Hearing her managers describe my mother’s work, her quick thinking, her cool head under pressure was nothing short of humbling. It also was a little like attending a friend’s dance performance or hearing a buddy’s band play, that awe of seeing someone do something you’ve only heard them talk about. Though watching my mom walk the stage wasn’t exactly like seeing someone perform, just the context gave me a bit of a better grasp of “her thing.” This was her zone.
I helped my mother boot up Excel and Powerpoint for the first time years ago. When she went back to school for her Master’s Program, I was a bratty high-schooler. I showed her how to launch programs on her PC, navigate Windows Explorer, and eventually build presentations and plot graphs. I didn’t think much of it back then, and my hormone-induced snappy demeanor didn’t make it any easier for her. But thinking back, I’m glad I could play a tiny role in helping her make an impact today.
Mother’s day was on Sunday, which is merely an appropriate coincidence. But since it’s timely, Happy Mother’s Day and congratulations, Mom. You’re doing great work.
I’m proud to be your son.
April 29th 2013
If you asked me to describe my dream Saturday, I’d immediately tell you that after breakfast tacos it’s all spent exploring.
Any type of exploring is fine. High fives if you’re out in the world, seeing new things, and boosting your Vitamin D. But personally, when I think exploration, I’m not envisioning a trip to that one Chicken & Rice cart and back. I’m not talking about hopping in a cab en route to one of those places that Thought Catalog says you have to check out in your twenties.
My best days in New York have undoubtedly been the ones that started without a list of places to go. Whether we set off in the morning or in the evening, I wandered in good company. And without fail I found myself in quaint shops, on new islands, in beautiful parks, and amidst impromptu dance parties. When you skip the plan, you remove the pressure of judging how “worthwhile” an experience was.
If you want my opinion, I say explore without the maps.
I say explore until your hands feel fat because you just started walking and never asked where to.
Explore with friends who vow not to look at their phones.
Explore new shops, streets, alleyways, and neighborhoods.
Explore by foot and don’t forget to look up.
Explore until you stumble upon that obscure barn museum of Civil War miniatures.
Explore with a confidence that eventually you’ll find your way back and until then anything is fair game.
Explore where you’re sheepishly checking if doors are *actually* locked and until you find yourself trying to explain in broken Spanish that you wanted all of that food plus the Chicharrones.
Explore by saying yes more than no.
Explore with people who are always game.
Explore until you’re lost and then celebrate because that was always the intention.