Monthly Archives: October 2004

that city up north

thanks to my buddy Warren, Boston has been a relevant city in my life the past three years. as a freshman in college, i found myself in Boston whenever an urge to get away from New York came over me. my first experience of Boston came a few weeks after 9/11 when two of my friends and I went up to MIT and boarded a cruise boat to attend a semiformal thrown by Warren’s chinese student club. later that year, head and jeff joined me on a “road trip” as we drove to Boston to hang out with Rich and Anita, MIT cats that we met through Warren who were kind enough to host us. my summer before sophomore year, i went up yet again, this time with graceface and reggie, and we spent several days with Warren including a night in a huge home of a lawyer who was away on vacation, thanks to Warren’s frat connections. since then, I have been in Boston two more times, once with Hsin as we took a winter break trip, and once last year during spring break with Nigi as we visited Warren and Novi (at Harvard) and also found ourselves throwing money away at Mohegan.

Boston, for me, is a very unique town in that it’s not quite as grand and magnificent as New York or pretty and interesting as San Francisco nor is does it feel as monumental and important as Washington DC – and yet, the town gives off a distinct aura that is tough to capture with words. i think of cold weather, Ally McBeal, a true college town, Red Sox / sports-crazed, rude white people, and very very limited offering of quality Korean food. driving along the Charles River, it’s been a sweet treat for my memory to recall the different faces of Boston – the icy frosted waters during the winter, the cool glistening blue amid the not-too-impressive skyline in the summer, and clear reflections of the colorful foliage in the autumn – there is a puritanical austerity to the environment and yet it feels cozy and very down-to-earth.

i write of Boston because tomorrow, i will be embarking on my 6th trip to Boston. while the number may still be relatively low, i feel as if this trip will mark the end of my college experience away from Columbia. as a senior, Boston (and to a degree, Dartmouth), has been the getaway spot of choice. perhaps i will visit once more before the school year ends, but to know that this trip may be one of the last conjures up sentimental thoughts and makes me aware of how fast the times have gone. was it only yesterday that i tasted the late-night delights of Quan’s Kitchen or walked the streets of Harvard Square stopping by at Au Bon Pain for a chicken grilled sandwich?

the mean streets of Boston, see you tomorrow.

if life was to be reclaimed

a plateau of very subtle emotions – sometimes a little depressing and sometimes a bit happy – has characterized a great deal of my experiences in the past year. as i perfect the art of dismissive nonchalance – not so much as in a lack of enthusiasm but as in a lack of emotional investment – i feel as if i have been floating through the various landscapes and going through the motions. do i get nostalgic still? surely, but i feel as if that is something i can protect myself more effectively from as well. gone are the days when it would literally hurt the stomach, or “heart” in romantic terms, to think about the lost opportunities or the screw ups. nowadays, life just waltzes by and i am often just sitting down. and i don’t think it is a situation unique to my own circumstances – when i watch films such as lost in translation or garden state, the celebration and specific framing of indifference and detachedness from the surrounding world is something that my peers seem to identify with as well. perhaps we are all looking to be sedated and shielded from emotional excesses. after all, it does sound like the “cool” thing to do.

but i cannot help looking inwards and criticizing a certain degeneration of my personal ways. in reality, i am probably not any lazier than i was as a first year student. however, the idea that i am probably not any more productive or driven as i once used to be disappoints me. there was a time when i knew how to regiment life more effectively, and while i was probably not as “happy,” it certainly pleases me nowadays to look upon such a glorious time. but perhaps such productive times are a mythical creation of my mind. were i to recreate and relive such memories, will i be able to convince myself that i am back on the right track? how about those PK Mission: Impossible lists that i used to write up in high school? get a 96+ average on all english tests, score perfect on all history tests, run for 100 yards each game, write 3 articles, etc. – such was the life i lived, a life with some sort of standard, albeit very practical to the degree of being shallow. do i dare try something similar this late in the game? have i become too comfortable with this life of “who cares?”

Operation Reclaim Life [yes, very corny]

1. Sleep more – lack of sleep leads to extention of unproductive moments as well as unnecessary emotional backlashes that include excessively self-defeating infatuation, loss of self-esteem, and whining. Recommend increasing sleeping hours from 4 to 6 each night.

2. Exercise more – lifting increases patience, or so i read in a fitness magazine once. having a fit body boosts self-confidence and also maintains health. try mandatory gym time at least 3 times a week.

3. Read more – quit being lazy and get those 80-100 pages in each night, no excuses. be able to digest dense material and really be curious to know more.

4. Write more – better pkblog entries, better life documentation, and more creative insight. cannot risk becoming completely uninteresting. already boring enough.

5. More money – embrace the Gekko creed of “greed is good” and work ass off to make money. “whoever says that money is the root of all evil doesn’t have any. look at the fucking smile on my face.” haha, movie quotes aside (can you guess where that’s from?), money is a great way to measure productivity and self-worth (because metrics such as ‘popularity’, ‘coolness’, or ‘nice’ are so subjective and transient). this means getting websites done on time, pressing for payments, and actually being a real business man.

there are some other areas i should probably think about, but as with any proclamations of self-improvement, this one will have obstacles – namely, the incumbent lifestyle of free-flowing actions that include drinking beer at 3am on a weekday to chill out, watching NFL Primetime at 2am before the day an important assignment is due, or having a long-winded conversation with a friend on AIM at 4 or 5am when class starts at 9am. college allows for such behavior, but perhaps it is time to cut down and focus my energies at increasing my personal value. the beauty of it all is that only i will be able to judge myself properly, but whether or not i will remain true to my intentions still hangs in the balance.

fine dining

Min invited me to dinner as a guest to one of her PR firm’s clients pn Sautrday. It was a brand new – very trendy – Japanese restaurant called Ono (13th st. and 9th ave in the Meatpacking district), and we were treated to a Friends & Family tasting. The food was preselected, but we were allowed to view the menu just for kicks. We started off with two sets of appetizers – first, a salmon avacado roll with a piece of king crab on it as well as a sate mini-kabab with grilled salmon and mushrooms; next, sake steamed clams with scallions – a bit salty but deliciously pungent – together with two big slabs of tuna “ribs” cooked just like a well-prepared piece of medium rare beef, perhaps the best part of that night’s meal. the entree was called “surf and turf” and it consisted of a decent sized piece of kobe beef – tasted almost exactly like the way my grandma prepares big beef chunks at home – and on the same plate was a gigantic piece of king crab leg enough for two people. What supplemented our dinner very nicely was the wine – we started off with the chardonnay because it goes well with Asian foods but then once the beef came out, we had to switch to the shiraz, which was a luxury I had never experienced before – that is, switching from white to red wine mid-meal. The dessert offering escapes my memory, but I do remember one being a ginger-type pastry with a butter pound cake and baked, diced apples on top with a ginger-flavored scoop of ice cream and the other was a “chocolate miso” which was a fairly dry cone-shaped chocolate cake with a fudge-type filling towards the bottom accompanied by a scoop of sesame-flavored ice cream and some triangular shaped light pudding pieces. I exploited the free offer even more by asking for a cup of cappuccino. Min and I asked for a little tour around the outdoor patio – although a bit cold outside – and we got to see the beautiful cafe/bar setup as well as the cabana booths and a very large raised area with a bunch of tables for private parties. Indoors, we were shown the intimately-lit upstairs area where the seating reminded me of the black sofas in Lerner except a bit more appropriate for dining. The atmosphere and the decor looked absolutely beautiful. The bathroom had a very pretty shaped urinal and there is a communal handwashing area outside the men and women’s restrooms with an attendant waiting to squeeze soap, turn on water, turn off water, and hand you a towel. We each left $10 for tip, but still felt like the free meal was an unbelievable deal. And it was very cool that Min knew the background of the restaurant with her firm having worked with this famous “Jeffrey” restauranteur who also owns the controversial Rocco’s and the spectacular China Grill. I must say – as a college student in New York City, I do feel fortunate – and thank you very much Min – that I am privvy to such a unique and exciting experience. Hence, it becomes of record.