Category Archives: pkprops

positive remarks about people in my life

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.

a moment to breathe

it was too humid outside, and i didn’t feel like i would make a difference to anyone by being present for graduation, so i spent most of the day in my room. in just a year, i, too, will be in a baby blue gown with the matching cap and marching in uncomfortable late-may heat to receive my degree. but i guess i need to stop thinking abut myself for a sec and just express some sentimentality.

i’m going to miss the 2004 class and i hope i can retain some of the valuable friendships i’ve made over the past three years. congrats to all – mung, sungmin, danny oppa, barnard honeys cici/tammy/horf/karissa, karl, paul and his entire suite, and some others who made my college experience worthwhile.

sometimes i wish i knew some seniors better so i could’ve partaken in the gift-giving and the mass huggings, but i guess i never did a good enough job of maintaining whatever connection was made with them or perhaps i never really became the kind of friend who does such things. i’m lazy when it comes to taking friendships to the next level, and i guess today is a good day to regret and feel kinda sad about it before i forget and move on. someone was right when she told me i am uncomfortable with myself.

i guess there has to be a point when too much is drawn to the ego-center – when it’s all about how I’m feeling, what I want, or what matters to me. in the sense that nothing matters after i die, i guess putting my immediate interests/thoughts/desires ahead of everything is not such an absurd thing, but in terms of social connections and building lasting personal relationships, it’s self-defeating and actually masochistic to be so self-absorbed. or maybe it’s how i am not as discreet about it. maybe i should just hide it.

congrats to the class of 2004!

the long lasting fruition of a summer initiative

when i think back on last summer, i’m always quick to remember it as a summer of great personal accomplishments, from making a great deal of money through website designs and the successful experience as commissioner of the hoching basketball association. one thing i realized today, however, was that i was the beneficiary of a summer accomplishment that did not belong to me, but instead, to my friend and mentor, jay mung.

i first met jay at butler when i was a freshman. novi introduced me to mung, who seemed like any other passive asian american engineer except his distinctive semi-grunge style of dress. as a sophomore, i saw the chinese students club thrive under his leadership. i still did not know him too well and only occasionally exchanged words during late nights at butler.

when summer rolled around, i happened to check his profile on AIM one day and saw that he had a link to something called ‘Weekenders.’ it was a text-based website, with no design whatsoever, that listed various low-cost or free activities around the city. this, of course, was entirely of mung’s creation. the Weekenders program offered people who happened to stay at Columbia over the summer or people who lived in the area to meet up and attend events which ranged from a new york philharmonics concert to lunch at nobu’s during restaurant week. i began talking to mung on AIM and asked him about his Weekenders while i shared stories about my basketball league. when shakespeare in the park made its run, i decided to give Weekenders a try and told jay that i would join him and whoever else would be coming that day.

the shakespeare in the park experience was thoroughly pleasant. waiting on line early in the morning for the tickets allowed me to meet min, who i would soon find out was also to be an RA at Wien Hall, and it also gave me an opportunity to hang out with a different crowd, sipping on cheap red wine in self-assembly clear plastic wine cups and throwing the frisbee around. henry v starring leiv schriber was more entertaining than expected, and i came away satisfied with the new york freebie.

the presence of my friend andy also helped me to have a memorable time, allowing me to dispense my new york / shakespeare knowledge to a willing listener throughout the day. what made the day complete was mung’s offer to drive us home after the play in his white stick-shift honda accord coupe. not only did it save us another uncomfortable sleeping night at brian’s room, it allowed me to see the sheer selflessness that it takes to really earn one’s respect and to be called a leader. mung, who lived an hour away from edison in cedar grove, dropped off his friend jenny, also from cedar grove, because of her parents’ request that she be home asap, and then proceeded to drive me and andy to edison before driving back home to cedar grove. i wondered if i would’ve been able to do the same thing.

i’ve heard and used the compound term “community-building” countless times this past year, especially in my involvement with KSA and in my failed bid for CCSC e-board. i’ve often gotten sick of the term because of the political nature of being in the position to “build” community or to “bring people together” where attendance figures and budget reports overshadow the human connections that are supposed to be made. but i guess i’ve tapped, somewhat unconsciously, into my experience of the summer and from the lessons i learned from mung – that beyond selfish motives, such as attaining power or recognition, a genuine love for just getting to know people and sharing with them should be the driving engine for community-building.

i’ll be staying in the city this summer, and while mung will be traveling around the world and getting set to work at his consulting job, perhaps i should continue the Weekenders program and give this ad hoc community building effort a try. thanks for the inspiration and the valuable lessons, mung.