Friday, July 29, 2016


I wanted to write about creativity and such, but after a tough week - physically and then emotionally - I’ve had my mind on other things and it’s left me feeling rather torn. Torn because I keep coming up against measures of success that indicate, to me anyway, that I’m failing, but then there’s still an underlying current of fight inside. Even though I’ve been home with a stomach bug all week long, it wasn’t until I tried to tackle yet another batch of medical bills that I was so sick to my stomach I burst into tears. Money earned instantly disappears to get debts paid off. And they just keep coming in, every day, from all around. Cancer treatment. Imaging. Therapy. Psychiatrists. Just when I had finally paid off surgery and radiation from three years ago, I had to land in the hospital and start another trail of bills. This in addition to paying hundreds upon hundreds for health insurance “coverage” that doesn’t cover very much and charity care that clearly believes I have more money than I actually do.

After hanging up on the attorney now handling my medical case after throwing another $600 into the hole, I buried my face in my knees and lost hope. I work and work to create the kind of life I’d like for myself, but then I look around and wonder, what’s the point? I’m not rich enough for that luxury. I’m not even rich enough to get sick.


This blog goes back so far that I’ve taken to clicking through the relevant stories at the bottom of these posts. It’s like a tiny time capsule for me because I’ve forgotten so much of what I’ve written over the past nine years. Some of those earlier thoughts feel so foreign and immature, but I have to remind myself that I was 25 when I started sharing my life online. “A quarter of a century,” I’d say as if that were anywhere near old enough to know anything.

Last night, I stumbled upon two things that are so close to how I’ve been feeling lately. First, the post “Up in the Air” from August 2011. My life was in flux at the time. I was just given notice that I would be losing my full-time job at the end of that month and wasn’t sure if I should continue with plans for a trip I’d dreamt about for so long. I was struggling with the shock that came with the news as well as disappointment and anger over being so dispensable (I’d also been laid off just two years prior). Did I want to keep hacking through the traditional route working for one company in an office or did I want to break away from that? Could I make it as a freelancer and write about the things I cared about rather doing whatever it took to earn a paycheck? Should I finally start that stationery company I’d been talking about for years?

It’s easier to do what is expected, the norm. Land a job with benefits, climb the ladder, and hope they don’t fire you. Rent an apartment, buy a home. Get married, have kids. Eat, sleep, work, repeat. It’s not because they’re inherently easier to achieve, no. They take a lot effort and motivation, but there are also countless roadmaps to follow and so many mile markers along the way if you want to see how you measure up against others. How long have you been at this job? Does your employer match your 401k? How many vacation days do you get? How big is your home? How long have you two been together? When do the kids graduate from school?

You know you will fit in because most people will have been where you are and they will be more than happy to share with you their similar story of struggle or triumph. To me, it’s felt slightly harder to do something different. Not only because it feels riskier and less stable, but because the urge to compare my trajectory to others' is still there.

I never did go back to an office job. Since that second lay-off in 2011, I’ve worked remotely taking on jobs, going full-time with contracts, then back to part-time, losing jobs, freelancing for others, launching a company, in and out of projects, working from home, abroad, the park, a coffeeshop. The constant churn of ideas is relentless as is this never-ending need to figure out, “What’s next?” What if I don’t know what my next should be?

After I finished my sobfest, I let myself get lost in Vimeo films where I found Adrift. It’s a time-lapse of fog rolling over the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s simple, with beautiful sweeping views of the landscape at dawn, and it stuck with me. Sometimes I feel like I’m not tethered to much of my own. Wayward, in transit, “still figuring it out.” Or rather hazy, and sometimes consumed by it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Museum of Ice Cream?! Yes, Please!

I don’t know why somebody didn’t think of this before, but a Museum of Ice Cream is popping up in New York City through August. Located right by the Whitney Art Museum and the Gansevoort Street entrance to the High Line park, this ice cream playground will feature a pool of fake rainbow sprinkles to dive into, edible balloons, an ice scream scooper seesaw, ice cream sandwich swings, and other fun interactive art for visitors to experience. And with each ticket, attendees will be treated to a scoop of the week created by a selection of heavy hitters in the NYC ice cream world that includes Black Tap, OddFellows Ice Cream Co., and others.

Bad news: Tickets for the museum’s entire run is now sold out.

Good news: Complimentary admission and ice cream will be offered on opening day July 29 from 11am to 3pm. It’s first come, first served so get there early because it’s the only time you’ll get a taste of this cool treat if you haven’t snagged a ticket already.

Speaking of ice cream, this summer I’ve been indulging on a childhood favorite again: Häagen Dazs vanilla-milk chocolate-almond bars. It’s clearly a sign of the times that I’m now more than satisfied with the mini snack size of these bars (read: I’m getting old), but they still hit the spot during this wretched humidity NYC has been experiencing. I was, and still am, also a huge fan of Häagen Dazs’ mango sorbet, which was great because I grew up to prefer sorbets and didn’t feel too deprived when I developed lactose intolerance in my twenties. This love only grew stronger after traveling to Italy and experiencing legit passion fruit gelato. YUM.

I’m pretty discerning when it comes to what deserves a Lactaid pill and what gets a pass from me, but I’ve had my eye on Black Tap’s monstrous milkshake concoctions for a few months now and a trip to the SoHo burger and beer joint needs to happen ASAP. I mean check out the photos and tell me your mouth isn’t watering at the sight of those desert towers?! That Cookie Milkshake has my name all over it, and I don’t even like cookies. I shall report back once I’ve devoured one of those heavily creations. That is if I don't slip right into a diabetic coma when I'm done.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Why Is It So Hard to Part with Our Possessions?

For the past two weeks, I've been trying to declutter my house. Actually no, I'm trying to do something a bit more drastic than that. What I'm really aiming for is to completely minimize my life by unloading as much of my material possessions as possible so that it'll be easier for me to be more mobile. When I needed to find a new home last year, I almost chose a tiny studio apartment because the larger spaces I was viewing were out of my price range. While the idea of giving up hosting opportunities made me sad, a part of me was looking forward to getting rid of crap I'd accumulated over the years. I don't consider myself a hoarder, but I have my piles of things I've been too sentimental to part ways with. Things like old school papers, art projects, every letter my friends and I have sent to each other, craft supplies, all my childhood diaries, etc. Mind you, these are things I only look through once every couple of years, but every time I do, I'm so grateful I still have them.

When I eventually signed a lease for a one-bedroom apartment, everything came with me and here I am a year later, looking around wondering what's the point of all this stuff I've acquired. It feels more like a home when I fill a place with my things, but I know I don't need most of it. I know this because I can't remember the last time I ever touched that book I thought I'd be all the better for having read. Clothes in my closet still have tags, waiting for the day I can fill it out just right. Do I need 50 pairs of underwear? No. And what about all those tops when my actual rotation only consists of about 10 choices? I'll amass art supplies to nurture whatever hobby I've taken up for the season and then add them to the growing collection when I move on to something else. I've heard a tip that suggests if you haven't touched, used, or worn it in the past year, chuck it. Only when I tried to do that, it was much harder than I thought it would be. I went into the mission thinking it'll be a piece of cake. How much could it possibly mean to me if I've never cared to use it? I even had visions of being able to fit all the things most important to me in this world in one suitcase. I could up and leave whenever I pleased completely unburdened by my earthly possessions! Huzzah!

Yeah, okay, lady.

What really ended up happening was I started picking through my clothes and telling myself, "Oh! But so-and-so gave this to you and you tailored it and everything. Surely, this will be the summer you wear it?" Or "But if you throw this out, one day you'll end up wanting to wear something just like this and then look, you'll have to spend time and money to find it all over again. You don't want to be wasteful now do you? Do you??"


Eventually I ended up hacking my clothes pile at least in half if not more, but I'm still not satisfied. I can do better. If I'm struggling with parting with an item, I'll ask myself, "What's more important to you? Keeping this in your life or living abroad?"

But then wanting to part ways with clothes, books, and furniture isn't even the biggest challenge. It's actually going through the task of getting them out of my house. So far, I've participated in a neighborhood flea market that was a total bust unless we go by the number of plastic hangers I managed to sell to one lady. I've started listing books on eBay just to learn how the site works and Craigslist is currently housing my ads for furniture and household items. I'll probably hate myself once I get rid of the storage before I've sold the things I stored inside them, but I just want to plow through. My goal is to spend the next couple of months unloading as much as possible...and then move on.

I've only been in this current apartment for a year, and while the beginning was a rough start that made me reconsider my decision every night for three months, eventually I settled into it and started feeling a bit more comfortable in this new space. Inside, I created a colorful little haven in the hopes of separating me from its crappy surroundings and management. I didn't have a housewarming party until six months into my lease, that's how long it took for me to want to invite friends over. Now, it's as if we're right back to June/July 2015 and I just can't handle the endless string of maintenance issues that go unfixed. This isn't home, this is Chateau Shithole. And while last year I was much too stubborn to call it quits so soon after moving in (and how badly I wanted to move on from my last situation), this time I'm throwing my hands up and saying you win, apartment 1J. It was fine attempt on my part., but now I want out.

Have you tried to minimize your life? How'd you go about getting rid of your things? Donate? Sell? I'll probably do a combo of those, but would love any suggestions you might have before I say screw it and leave it all in a pile on the street.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Animation Block Party Will Satisfy Your Cartoon Cravings

If you love animated films and live in or near New York City, you'll want to check out the 13th annual Animation Block Party. Discover new movies for the young and young-at-heart, creations both local and from abroad, student films, and experimental projects. Then reminisce about your childhood with a look into old animated ads (you know, back when they were almost as good as the shows we were watching) and beloved classics like the Pink Panther, Cowboy Bebop, and the Transformers. Screenings during the four-day event will mainly take place at BAMcinématek in Brooklyn, but there will also be a free outdoor screening at Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan to kick off this year's festival July 28. Cartoon lovers can then gather with other like-minded souls at after-parties taking place Friday and Saturday nights.

For more info, visit or grab this week's issue of Time Out New York with my article on this year's screenings.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Koala Goes on a Cruise

A couple months ago, I mentioned that my friend had begun crocheting cute little animals as part of her daily project for the year. When I saw that she had put a Winnie-the-Pooh up in her Etsy shop, I immediately jumped on it. (Pooh Bear was my absolute favorite character growing up.) Then I saw her little koala and I adopted it for Alex due to an inside joke we developed early on after watching this YouTube video on our first date. She'd named him Toby, by the way.

When we planned for our cruise, Alex had a funny idea. Why don't we bring Toby along and take photos of him "having fun" on this trip? And so I present to you Toby's travel photo album...

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Cruise to the Bahamas + Miami Beach

I’ve never taken a cruise before so when my two friends asked if anyone would like to join them on their trip to the Bahamas, I strongly considered going with them. I asked my friends to see if anybody else wanted to come along, but no one seemed interested. I hesitated because I was also trying to save money, but eventually decided that it might be a good escape.

Alex and I were only a month or two into our relationship when I proposed the idea of him coming with me. It was crazy to go off on this romantic trip to the Bahamas with a man I’d just met, but our courtship up until then had been speedy and crazy already and it still felt good. As nervous as I was about committing to a trip months down the line - I had to take a few inhalations before we booked the cruise and flights - I really wanted to experience this adventure with him. Meanwhile, he didn’t hesitate to say yes when I asked. In fact, he suggested that we add a leg to the trip since we’re both freelancers who can work from anywhere. Didn’t have to ask me twice. We decided to stick around Florida for four more days after the three-night cruise returned to Port Canaveral in Orlando.

I always knew a cruise ship would be huge, but damn. Carnival Magic has fifteen floors of cabin rooms, restaurants, clubs, bars, a waterpark, ropes course, pools, spa and fitness know, in case you want to work off all that food you were eating. And there was so much to eat. You could nosh 24/7 if you wanted to - and there was a good chunk of the population that did - and the amount of choices were beyond comprehension. Breakfast was a variety of eggs, grilled deliciousness, pancakes, waffles, sausages, bacon, fruits and veggies, cereals, breads, potatoes, etc. and etc. When lunchtime came around, platters of sandwiches, salads, hamburgers, soups, sautéed veggies, pasta, desserts appeared. I mean I could go on and on. A self-serve soft-serve ice cream machine was always on hand. It was right next to a burrito bar and a Guy Fieri hamburger joint, which was pretty damn good, I have to say. I just wish they weren’t so damn stingy with the fries. Everything else they give you heaps of, but fries?!

Any who, the main dining area was buffet style: grab a plate and fill up as many times as you’d like. At the “fancier” sit-down restaurants on board, we were seated at a table and waited on by a server. Alex and I aren’t big eaters and seconds were needed at our dinner outings, but the waiters would let us know that the same gluttonous rules applied there. Once, we told our waiter that wouldn’t be having dessert because we didn’t want to be late meeting our friends for drinks afterwards. He looked flabbergasted. Another, told us to just order one of everything on the menu when we couldn’t decide on what treat to share. It’s been three months since we went on that trip and I still wonder why we didn’t feel like stuffing our faces more often. It was, after all, completely paid for by our booking. The whole situation just seemed so excessive.

The cruise made a day-long stop in Nassau on its second day and Alex and I disembarked early for our Bahamian adventure. We didn’t feel like shelling out even more money for this trips so when the masses lined up for their tours at the port or hopped on a taxi to head to the beach, he and I walked two miles along the island’s coast. Downtown Nassau, which contains the wharf where cruise ships dock, was gritty and quiet on that Thursday morning. It almost reminded me of the city center in the Dominican Republic if it were completely devoid of the maddening traffic and crowds. It was good to see this side of Nassau and notice how the landscape changed as we walked closer to the resorts.

With no real plans or route to get to a free public beach, Alex and I decided to crash Atlantis Paradise Island Resort. We could spot the sprawling high-rise hotel in the distance as we crossed over the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge onto Paradise Island. And beyond that, turquoise sea.

The key was to act like we belonged there. Don’t look lost or confused. Hide your wrists so security can’t note that our guest bands are missing. Chat. Laugh!

That last part wasn’t too hard to manage considering how silly we felt creeping around this resort as if we were staying there. As much as I craved a dip in any of its swimming pools, we couldn’t risk getting found out. When Alex glimpsed a sign pointing towards an aquarium of some sort, we decided to check it out instead of the rope bridge and lazy river we were initially heading towards. We suddenly found ourselves inside a clear tunnel surrounded by marine life swimming around us and above our heads. It was all worth it if only for the fright on Alex’s face when he turned and found a giant sawfish swooping up over him.

We would’ve called that a win for the day, but we decided to push our luck even further and headed towards the resort’s beaches. Dodging security while walking along the shore was a breeze, but we probably needn’t have worried much because we kept spotting the blue towels from fellow cruise mates sunning on Paradise Beach. By this point, we’d already been walking for several hours without sitting down to rest. I really wanted to drop dead on the beach and relax, but Alex wanted to keep plowing through the sand to find a better spot. I was tired, but I’m so glad we continued our search because past that first beach and at the very end of Cove Beach, we found the white sand beach and beautiful waters we’d caught a glimpse of from the bridge earlier in the day. Best part: we practically had the whole stretch to ourselves. There was one other couple nearby, but the sea was all ours.

The water was so clear and calm, you could see schools of little fishes trying to nibble at our legs, which was freaky as f so ran the hell out of there. Eventually we ventured back into the shark-infested waters to splash around and show off my swimming skills. Guys, after three months of swimming lessons, all I can manage to do is swim backwards. What the hell?! I laughed so hard that day, diving under the water, trying to propel myself somehow, hearing Alex laughing up above, and then jumping up for air and launching myself at him for teasing me during such a vulnerable time. He was right though, I couldn’t swim to save my life, but at least he was determined to teach me how.

The whole time I kept thinking, Jesus, this is probably the most romantic trip I’ve ever taken. Waking up each morning to the sound of waves crashing up against the boat. Clinging to his neck and kissing him while we took a dip in the sea. Relaxing on the deck and watching the sunset in front of us as we left the Bahamas. Getting dressed up for dinner. Dancing. Late-night strolls around the ship when no one was around (all those people and it often felt like we were the only two on the boat). Leaning over the railings to the watch the ship’s wake and the moon lighting a path through the Atlantic Ocean. Hours after we first set foot on the ship, we attended a spa tour and entered for their raffle giveaways. Now guess who won their $200 grand prize? According to the others, my face went into shock when I heard them call out our cabin room number followed by my name. Alex had never had a spa treatment before so I instantly booked an hour-long couples massage for the following morning. That was so lovely…

I couldn’t pass by Orlando without visiting a dear cousin I don’t get to see nearly enough. The visit was much too short, but the three of us had a fun time goofing around, exploring downtown Orlando during an Earth Day festival and catching up while watching TV and discussing the merits and pitfalls of online dating.

Alex and I left for Miami Beach the following morning and aside from a stressful rental car experience, I have to say our first road trip was a success and we both walked away unscathed. I was really anxious leading up to it because of past history, but he was so calm and collected even when both our phones were glitching with directions, that it helped ease my worries that we’d find ourselves into a huge argument in the car.

The next three days were spent going to the beach day and night (our Airbnb apartment was right across the street). The ocean was much choppier here, but I was able to make some progress on my swimming technique, and a sandbar allowed us to trek far into the water without going in too deep.

We’d start our day with lunch at corner restaurant Sazón so I could get my fill of Cuban food and Alex could satisfy his coffee addiction with a café con leche so good he was sad to leave Miami and it behind. One night, he drove us into South Beach for dinner and our usual moonlit stroll to sit on the beach and chat. Sometimes we’d just sit there in silence, probably lost in our own thoughts, but happy to have each other’s quiet company.

You can learn a lot from traveling with a partner, including how they handle stressful situations, running around from one activity to another in a foreign setting, socializing with strangers, and, most importantly, seeing your face for days on end. Those cabins on the cruise ship were bigger than I expected, but still very cozy, and we didn’t get on each other’s nerves. We respected one another’s need to slow down for some “me” time during the trip and compromise came easily because we wanted to make sure we were both having a good trip. If someone felt off, feelings were quickly validated, a discussion ensued, and we were able to kiss and move on with the day. My anxieties over whether this adventure was “too much too soon” subsided and I tried to leave behind feelings about the past or concerns about the future by being mindful about where I was at the moment - having the time of my life and getting in so much sunshine and beach time. And it was a cherry on top to get to know my partner better during all of this and share a new experience with him.

How have your past trip with partners gone? And have you ever taken a cruise? This was my first and I think next time around I'd like to spend more time at a destination. This one was much too short!

Friday, July 15, 2016


I've had Ruth B's song "Lost Boy" stuck in my head on and off for the past couple of weeks and it's one of those tunes I don't mind looping through over and over.

"There was a time when I was alone
Nowhere to go and no place to call home
My only friend was the man in the moon
And even sometimes he would go away, too..."

What songs are you listening to these days?