Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SNOW! .... Rain, Rain ... and Rain

I'm exhausted!

My sister came to Albuquerque (she flew into the teeny-tiny airport) last Wednesday night. We went immediately to the delicious but rather ghetto Frontier so that I could throw her head-first into New Mexican cuisine (carne adovada burrito and green chile stew).

Because I had to work, she pretty much stayed in my apartment, watching random movies on my DVR and getting some work done. On Thursday night, we went to Sadie's, another great New Mexican place that is not, perhaps, the classiest. (Their website is just horrible.) More delicious carne adovada, plus the sister's first taste of sopaipillas, a very New Mexican thing to eat.

When we left Sadie's, the rather pounding rain had turned into beautiful, fluffy, lovely, delicious snow!

It was beautiful! And also very cold and wet, which no one ever tells you about, annoyingly. We had a very "white Christmas" moment, listening to Christmas music in the cozy-warm car while driving cautiously through the flurry.

No one ever mentions how quiet snow is, either. Rain comes down pretty loudly, banging into the car with a rattle, making its presence known. Snow lands gently and hugs the car with nary a sound, making it seem happy and fun. I loved it!

Of course, no snow lasts forever. There was a tiny little flurry in the morning, but it had pretty much melted away. I couldn't even call into work and skip out due to a snow day. I was dejected.

I got out of work on Friday at about 9:00 or so, late enough that it was already frigid and pitch black outside. No snowflakes in sight. I was exhausted from the working and the stressing (Fridays feel like the last chance to get things done, last chance to squeeze everything in).

My sister (who had flown out to road trip with me) and I had decided that in order to surprise our parents, we would get to LA on Saturday night, Sunday morning at the latest. It's a rough drive in the winter, because the usual route I take (the 40) is about 3 - 4 hours shorter than the longer but warmer (i.e. less frozen) route that I took this time (the 10).

We drove south for a few hours on Friday night, arriving around 2:00 a.m. in Las Cruces. I was wiped out, but still didn't sleep until 4:00 or so. (Checking in was an insanely long ordeal- people that work night shifts need to be better prepared for things to happen.)

The next morning saw us checking out around 10:00 and heading west. It got warmer and warmer and warmer, eventually hitting the high 60's! I was delighted and confused, all at once. It was nice to not shiver, but it was odd to actually feel hot. I had to wear sunglasses for the first time in ages.

Since we'd already had a white Christmas in the snow, we stopped in Tucson and had a hot Christmas with tamales, a traditional Christmas food in Mexico and some South American countries. We stopped by the Tucson Tamale Company, where the tamales were stupendous, the salsa delicious, and the sides a little lackluster. I had a Santa Fe (pork, green chile sauce, and cheese) and a JoJo (very spicy, apparently, with chipotle beef, jalapeno masa, and cheese). I expected to really love the JoJo, since I love spicy, but I actually liked the Santa Fe much more. It was porky, with a really nice green chile, and melted, delicious cheese.

I want another tamale now. I shouldn't have written about them.

So we got the east coast snowy Christmas out of the way, the southwest tamale Christmas done, complete with hot weather, and headed to our Korean church Christmas.

As soon as we got into California, the rain began. The unending, pounding rain. What is going on here?? It's been raining non-stop the entire time I've been home, and I don't appreciate or know how to deal with this amount of water.

We had our Korean church Christmas on Sunday, regardless of the rain, and it was a rousing success. I feel sufficiently full of holiday cheer now (though I went Christmas shopping yesterday and my goodwill toward mankind vanished).

Last night (this whole week, actually) is baking night at Chez Sister, a.k.a. Chez Butter, and I helped with a couple types of cookies after my exhausting shopping expeditions. I rolled, filled, and washed dishes, then fell into bed so tired that I didn't even need to read for a while to try to get sleepy. It was delightful.

Woke up to more rain. Sigh.

I am so ready for the rain and the working to be over. I don't mind rain as much when I don't have to work, and I can observe it while cozy at home. Working until Thursday, then off to my parents' where they and my sister's bunnies are holed up, so we can all eat and drink and be merry until we're puking up sparkles.



Thursday, December 16, 2010


It snowed for hours here after raining all day. I have never been in such a heavy snowfall before! The snowflakes were exactly that- large, light flakes that landed gently on everything, including eyelashes and clothes. A white Christmas!


The Furies

Granted, I am not a character from Greek mythology. I do not have two sisters with whom I terrorize men. I do not have snakes in my hair. I am not able to turn men into stone (a skill that I really would use quite frequently).

However, I am reminded lately about how furious I am capable of becoming.

I am infuriated by so many things currently. Some of the people I see daily are making me feel homicidal, on an hourly basis. The passive-aggressiveness that is so prevalent, the finger-pointing and the sly comments ... it's all got me on edge. If you're going to be accusatory, just DO IT. That way, I can face it, point out why you're wrong, and move on with my life.

When I stress out like this, I tend to clench my teeth while I sleep. I wake up with my jaws aching, which is not a good start to the day.

I don't know how to lessen this feeling, this anxiety. It started raining late last night and is still raining now, the longest I have ever seen rain in this city. That's making me feel a little better. Something about rain, cleansing and cathartic, soothes me. (The white noise that I use sometimes when I can't fall asleep is a rainy Amazon jungle.)

I cannot wait to change my life again. Move somewhere new, with new people. I think this might be a new addiction, and one that I don't care to try and control.

I'm eyeballing Vancouver and London. Rainy cities, true, but also full of culture and very, very different from Albuquerque or LA. Hmm...


Friday, December 10, 2010

Green Lantern Trailer

The trailer's been out for a while now, but I haven't been paying all that much attention. Here it is in all its glory:

Nothing's really done yet. Trailers are generally created quite early in the process, so don't judge too harshly. It's just an idea of what the movie will be.

I would think that there will be another trailer at some point, closer to the release date (June 17, 2011) that will be more indicative of what the real movie will look like.

It's really cold here lately and I've been working pretty consistently 10-hour days, so I'm tired almost constantly. Add to that an inability to sleep (I can't fall asleep until 2 a..m. most nights), and I'm basically a walking zombie.

Plus, co-workers are annoying me and I don't want to just rant on and on. That's not healthy, nor do I want to spend any more time thinking about them than I already do.

I can't wait for Christmas break. If only it started sooner!


Monday, December 06, 2010

Lorelei Lee

I prefer Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell is divine and I always root for brunettes over blondes), but Marilyn Monroe, as Lorelei, has the best line in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes":

"I want you to find happiness and stop having fun."

That feels true sometimes, oddly enough. I am crazily homesick and can't wait to go back. I miss the most unexpected people and want to see them, hug them, talk to them, laugh with them.

For now, I count the days and try to focus on work, watching random movies and craving my mother's kimchi in the meantime.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010


It's unreasonably cold in Albuquerque.

I've grown up in California my entire life (other than the first three years of my life, in Korea, which I don't remember, so those years don't count) so "cold" to me is anything below 60 degrees.

It barely gets up into the 30's here during the day lately. That's not cold, that's frigid!

Added to this weather problem that I'm having is also an insomnia that's suddenly decided to re-manifest itself. I have random bouts of sleeplessness, generally for a few months at a time, and this time, it's pretty bad. I can't sleep until at least 2:00, sometimes as late as 4:00, and then I have to get up and get to work at 9:00 (... or so).

It's been a crap winter, to say the least. So I should at least get some dessert out of it, right?

During a sleepless night two nights ago, I checked out my supplies and then decided I should make brownies. I didn't have the wherewithal to put together a whole cake, and brownies are much easier. So I did.

Cocoa powder (unsweetened- I like Ghiradelli's, it's very chocolate-y without that bitterness that chocolate sometimes has).
Eggs, of course. These are local eggs from a local organic farm, which are not (surprisingly) any more expensive than "regular" eggs.
Disaronno, because I don't have vanilla extract. I can't believe I don't have vanilla extract at home, but there you have it.

A stick and a half (!) of butter. Unsalted, of course. I used a two quart pot and it worked out just fine. I never went over medium-low heat.

Flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, dumped into an eight-cup Pyrex.

Whisk, whisk, whisk. I tried to whisk out all the lumps in the flour and cocoa powder ... but couldn't really be bothered to get too gung-ho about it.

Eggs with a (generous) splash of Disaronno. Because I'm at 5,000+ feet altitude in a very, very dry environment, I can go crazy with the liquids and it doesn't really matter. In fact, the brownies would probably have been overly dry had I not added a little too much of the Disaronno.

The butter was almost completely melted when I dumped the sugar in (I went a little shy on the sugar, because I like dense, rich, not-too-sweet brownies, none of those crazy sweet things that pass as brownies).

Stir, stir, stir. Bamboo spoon from my mother.

Smooth and melty butter with sugar. Yummmm. I did actually make sure there were no conspicuous bits of sugar left, because sugar becomes quite grainy, I feel. It only took a couple minutes- I just stirred occasionally while measuring out the dry ingredients and whisking them.

Adding the dry ingredients and stirring.

All the dry ingredients go in, and it looks like it's a powdery mess. It kind of is, and overly-enthusiastic stirring will result in chocolate-y brown puffs of cocoa and flour. I tried to stir gently and lovingly.

All stirred together. It ends up looking quite dry and sad.

I missed photographing a step here- the eggs and Disaronno get whisked together and then dumped into the pot, after taking the pot off the heat. Then the contents of said pot get stirred together until combined. It was late at night and I was kind of just snapping lazy photos with my phone. Eh.

Poured the (very thick) batter into a pan lined with foil. I used the waxed paper wrappers of the butter to lightly grease just the corners of the pan, since bunched-up foil can get a little clingy. It's just a teeny amount of butter, but I think it helps.

Into the oven for 20 or so minutes, then out it comes to cool. I cooled for a long time just because I forgot about the brownies while I was off doing other things.

I got 28 brownies out of this recipe. I think the next time I make them, I will try it with brown sugar (as in the original recipe) and try to remember to buy vanilla extract (though the Disaronno added a very nice, very subtle little hint of something- maybe I'll add both). I think I might try adding some form of nuts, too. Probably walnuts, chopped into biggish pieces.

A good, really easy recipe for brownies that doesn't require too much clean-up (a huge must in my book- I hate scrubbing and washing for ages after an experiment in the kitchen).

Everyday Brownies
adapted from Nigella Lawson

1  1/2 sticks of butter (12 tablespoons)
1  1/2 cups of sugar (I probably used about 1  1/3 cups)
1  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1  cup all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1  tablespoon Disaronno

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a medium-sized saucepan.

Once the butter is melted, stir in the sugar and blend.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and pinch of salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the saucepan. When mixed (this will be a very dry mixture and not wholly blended at this stage), remove from the heat.

In a bowl or jug, whisk the eggs with the Disaronno and then mix into the brownie mixture in the pan.

Stir in chopped chocolate or nuts at this point, then quickly pour and scrape into a foil-lined baking tin, spreading the mixture out evenly.

Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes (I would start checking at 15 minutes).

The brownies should look set, dark, and dry on top, but a toothpick or skewer should come out gungy. Set the pan on a rack to cool before cutting into 16 pieces (Nigella's suggestion, I would suggest smaller pieces) and dust with confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar, which I didn't have and I didn't miss).

Make-ahead note: The brownies can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an air-tight container. Will keep for a total of five days (or, if you leave then in an air-tight container in the fridge, much longer).

Freezing note: The brownies can be frozen for up to 3 months in an air-tight container, layered with parchment. Thaw overnight in a cool place (the fridge, I assume).

Really, honestly, very good brownies. And easy enough to make anytime, provided you have a few ingredients, which most people do have just lying about.

The brownies didn't cure my insomnia, but they are a great dessert. Very, very chocolate-y without being overly heavy or rich. And really good with a small scoop of frozen Cool-Whip on top (yes, I like my Cool-Whip frozen until it's rock hard).

Now if only I can sleep.....


Friday, November 26, 2010

Shiver Me Timbers

Albuquerque is not messing around, even during a long Thanksgiving weekend:


Monday, November 22, 2010

What I Love, #6

I love Ivory soap.

I don't particularly think it's the best soap- it doesn't create many suds, it doesn't get rid of anything oil-based, and it's very mild. It has a pleasant scent, I suppose, but as a soap, it doesn't have the qualities that I really appreciate (chemicals that will scour everything off of me).

However, I will always love Ivory soap because it reminds me of my maternal grandmother, who passed away rather unexpectedly a few years ago. She was the perfect epitome of a grandmother- jolly, always had candy, made copious amounts of food, and had a laugh that could carry for what seemed like miles.

Being Asian, my grandmother was very wrinkle-free, save for her laugh lines that creased around her eyes. She had smooth, chubby cheeks that bounced when she chortled, eyes that became half-moons when she smiled.

Grams (what my sister and I call her when we speak about her in English) looked like a cartoon character- she had a roly-poly middle that tapered into fragile wrists and ankles. She had the smallest little feet, and always picked her way delicately across rooms. She always had a distinct smell, as everybody does, but when I suddenly catch a whiff of something that reminds me of her, I am always instantly brought to tears.

I miss my grandmother terribly- though she and my mother were really nothing alike (my mother looks like a female clone of her father, and they have the same personality, to boot), she raised my mommy. There is something to that link. I think in the love, stress, pressure, protectiveness, and nurturing that she delivered to my mother, she also delivered to me, but without the stress or pressure. That's what grandparents are, to me- unconditional love, as from a parent to a child, but without the worries and the scolding.

I needed to buy soap (I need bar soap in my house at all times, as well as body wash) and while I was wandering around Target, I came across Ivory soap. The little cakes are not what I remember- they used to be smoother, didn't they? with nicely beveled edges?- but the smell is the same. I will forever remember my grandmother telling my mother (nagging, really) that we, her granddaughters, should use Ivory soap to wash our faces. This was when we were in Korea, the year between my fifth and sixth grades. I won't ever forget using Ivory soap in her house, in that strange bathroom (I wasn't used to Korean bathrooms at the time).

Though I didn't live in the same country as her and I only saw her infrequently, at best, I am so glad that even something as mundane as soap can instantly remind me of my grandmother.


Monday, November 08, 2010

What I Love, #5

Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.
Part 4.

I really love the smell of autumn. I didn't know this, but that crisp, almost singeing, chilly smell that I associate with winter (in California) is really autumn, a season that I am not well acquainted with.

There are these trees on my street here in Albuquerque that were vibrantly green and turned suddenly, violently yellow. Seemingly overnight. I took these pictures with my phone on my way to work one morning, because I was so surprised by their change.
I love those pictures that everyone's used to seeing of the east coast, and their delicious fall colors. Central Park, with its trees all red, orange, and yellow. But I'm not used to seeing it in real life.

The horribly sad thing, of course, is that the trees are shedding their leaves really quickly. Every morning now, the street looks as though it is lined in a golden carpet. While very pretty, it makes the trees look sad and abandoned, like they've shivered all their leaves off.

Every morning now, I am very cold. I get out of bed already cold and bundle up before I step outside, but no amount of clothing has worked so far- I'm always cold when I get to work. The only thing I like about this cold is the smell of autumn, whatever that consists of. It smells kind of like burning wood, a little like warm spices, maybe just a bit like dew-damp dirt under icy blades of grass.

I love that smell.

I'm sure going to miss it when it stays freezing cold outside and I won't be able to smell anything!


Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Below. Freezing. -_-


Monday, November 01, 2010


I've been rather reluctant to call Albuquerque "home." It doesn't really feel like home. I don't know shortcuts (not that anyone needs shortcuts in this town), I don't have favorite restaurants or bars, I don't know all that many people here.

It doesn't feel like home, is what I'm saying. When I say "home," I'm talking about LA. I still do that- "oh, the best place to get a drink at home? What kind of drink?" or "I can't wait to go home for Christmas" or "I wish I could go home for Thanksgiving."

Though I dearly treasure my co-workers (some more than others), they haven't really felt like friends that I could be silly with, that I could do nutty things with. This is mostly due to the fact that I am completely different from them- most of them are boys, I'm a girl. All of them are artists, I'm in production. It's like the universe's way of segregating us, and we keep to our caste lines quite subconsciously, without thinking about it.

This past weekend was a turning point in how comfortable I feel with my co-workers (some of them), as Halloween brings out the best, the worst, and the silliest in people. A group of us (the younger (kind of) single ones) met up at one guy's house, since he lives in walking distance of all the downtown bars and such.

The assembled characters:
- the Devil (me, in a black three-piece suit, red blouse, and devil horns)
- Burt Reynolds (not really, he was a cop from some Beastie Boys video, but I called him Burt Reynolds because of the awesome 'stache)
- Kato (without the Green Hornet)
- Marty McFly from "Back to the Future" (I thought he was a lumberjack because I don't instantly get 80's references)
- a ladybug (the only other girl that started the night with us, in a rather typical girl costume)
- the Canadian flag (I am not even kidding, I painted his head, which he had shaved into a mohawk)
- Zorro (halfhearted, with hat and mustache but regular clothes otherwise)
- photographer (normal clothes but had a giant DSLR)
- a few people that didn't dress up at all (okay, so I barely dressed up, but still, at least I had the horns).

Hilarity definitely ensued, along with hijinks and excessive shouting. I wish I had taken pictures, but the guy dressed up as Photographer had an enormous DSLR, so I didn't feel the need to try to commemorate the night.

I really felt comfortable, for the first time in Albuquerque, with a group of people. They felt like friends (most of them) and I was happy to be with them. It didn't feel like a chore. For as much as I go out, I usually find it tiring and a bit like work- I have to project fun! confidence! interest! and it can be exhausting. It wasn't like that, this fine Hallowe'en. I just ... let myself be silly, ran about downtown with all the other celebrators, and ended the night in someone's kitchen, cooking while we all made fun of each other.

Maybe I do like this town after all. I didn't know it would ever happen, but I think the first couple chinks in my armor have become decidedly large cracks. We'll see what happens and who manages to get in through my (generally) walled-up self.

On a completely different note, my sister is coming! I'm so excited. She'll be here in December, a few days before I go back home for the holidays. I'll show her around Albuquerque, then we'll get in my car and drive home.

After a couple weeks at home, gorging myself on my mother's (excellent) Christmas and New Year's feasts, we'll drive back to Albuquerque and she'll fly back to LA. It's going to be great! Cold, but great. Hooray!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Project X

Worst. Project. Runway. EVER.

This show is going the way of America's Next Top Model- off my season pass list on my DVR.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Random things:

● I cannot stop thinking about last week's "Project Runway," when Michael Costello lost what was left of his mind on TV. Seriously, it's just a TV show. There is a time and a place for histrionics, generally involving death or severe illness. NOT because of a TV show.

● I am a stupid person, because while I am currently paying an obscenely tiny amount of money for rent, I went to go look at a (brand! new!) loft right near work today. I was just curious. Or that was my excuse. I saw two places, both of them the same size as my current apartment but about 55% more expensive. Yes, 55%, yet still only 1/3 of the price of my apartment in LA was (back when I lived alone). Weighing the pros and cons ... the new loft is literally a block and a half from work, which I LOVE. But it's also in downtown. Above a bar. Do I want to live over a bar, soundproofed loft or no? (One of my co-workers thinks it would be like I started living in a sitcom.) Hmm. It has an awesome gym, but also has a tanning room, which slightly creeps me out- why do condos need a tanning room? What to do, what to do?

● Albuquerque is FREEZING. I get up in the morning (not early, I am not a morning person) and it's below 40 degrees. Hovering around freezing. I hate turning on the heater because it's even drier now in the cold than it was during the heat of the summer (when we at least had pretty frequent monsoons). A co-worker told me that he wakes up with nosebleeds, it's so dry and cold. Gross.

● I made kimchi jjigae on Sunday night with the (horror of horrors) LAST of my kimchi. Yes, the kimchi that my mother brought me (three large jars) when she and my father were last here, a couple months ago. Yes, that is some old kimchi. But old and delicious kimchi is still delicious kimchi. It had become so overripe that I had to make jjigae. It's really a very delicious jjigae, but I'm very, very sad that my kimchi will be completely gone when I'm done eating this jjigae. Sigh.

● There is a co-worker of mine who says "truth" a lot, in a dry, sarcastic way, and for some reason, it cracks me up every time. "That was not really a very good sandwich." "TRUTH." "This bar has a lot of weirdos in it." "TRUTH."

● I am dreaming about where I want to move after this movie is over. London sounds so lovely, and I really love that city. I hear Vancouver is beautiful and a wonderful place to live. I'd like to see Sydney, and if it was just for a year, I could tolerate the summer ... I think. Singapore probably has weather that I'd hate, but it sounds fun. Korea, of course, is always on the list. I want to live there for at least a little while sometime in my life. For some reason, LA's not really on the list. I'm excited about where life will take me.

Back to work I go.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Project Run-Away

I swear, if Gretchen wins this season of "Project Runway," I am going to boycott that show.

Whenever I start to get busier at work (60 hour weeks are in full effect), the only TV that I keep up with are reality shows or competition shows. I do not enjoy finding out the results of something via the internet or by idle water-cooler talk. I want to watch it and know it.

These days, the only show that I watch the night it airs is "Project Runway." This season's been pretty crap. A lot of needless drama, a 90-minute run time ... annoying. Just really annoying.

I attribute a lot of this to the move from Bravo to Lifetime. Lifetime is about hokey movie-of-the-weeks, isn't it? That's how I always thought of it. That, plus re-runs of "Will and Grace." (I am a sucker for that show, Karen Walker is my favorite.) Not the place for a show like "Project Runway," which had such a high standard set over at Bravo (a.k.a. the channel with more money).

ANYWAY. I don't like the contestants much this season. A lot of them were like cartoon characters, only more irritating. Michael Costello, Gretchen Jones, Ivy Higa, Valerie Mayen, AJ whatever-your-last-name-is, all trite, annoying people that I did not much enjoy watching. I understand how editing works, but they can't edit it if you don't provide it. Case in point, Andy South. I love him. He never came across as anything other than kind of quiet and really young because he never said all the obnoxious things that everyone else did.

The contestants that I did like are Andy South, Mondo Guerro, April Johnson, and Sarah Trost. At least two of them (my favorites) are in. If Mondo doesn't win, something is very wrong.

Plus, is it my imagination, or are the judges totally unhinged this season? I know Nina's pregnant, but she seems grouchier than usual. Heidi seems like she's off in her own little world. Michael's Michael, and I adore him, even when he's being catty.

Oh, "Project Runway," I devote at least 40 minutes to you every week. Please end on a good note so I won't be pissed about all the time I've wasted. Sigh.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Culinary Monotony

Albuquerque is firmly entrenched in autumn now. Go outside, and it screams "AUTUMN!" at the top of its lungs.

Just a month ago, it was 90 degrees by this time of day. Today, it's hovering around 70 and very much thinking about whether it would like to dip into the 60's. When I get home from work, around 9:00 at night, it's in the 50's, with the temperature dropping lower and lower every day.

In conclusion, for this thin-skinned California-raised wuss, it's COLD!

Last month was about keeping cool- eating cucumbers, salads, iced beverages with actual ice cubes. This month is about soups, stews, a rice cooker that always has rice, and hot toddies. I switched to long-sleeves pajamas, wool socks, and even had to throw on an extra blanket.

Don't get me wrong, I love this weather. I like cardigans and jackets and scarves. I like closed-toed shoes (excuses not to get pedicures!) and fuzzy hats and gloves. But this cold weather here comes with an insane dryness. I thought the lack of humidity was bad before, but it is exponentially bad now. Granted, I have very sensitive skin, but I'm currently using night cream as my twice-a-day moisturizer because it's the only thing that prevents my face from chapping and then peeling (which has happened four times (!) in the past two weeks).

The thing that worries me is that Albuquerque has four seasons. We are not in the coldest season yet and I've already broken out all my outerwear. Is there anything more moisturizing than night cream? This does not bode well for me when, in a month, the temperatures drop below freezing at night. (My co-workers mock me every time I wear a scarf, because they all think it's not even cold yet. They're running about in flip-flops still.)

Plus, cold weather is much more evocative of Korean food to me. I miss the hearty, sweat-inducing winter warm-up Korean food that I grew up on. 김치찌개 and 설렁탕 most of all, but everyday soups, too, like 미역국 (my favorite!) and 된장 국 (one of my dad's favorites). A good soup with some hot rice and a few sheets of salted make the cold less biting.

Here in the land of green chile, there's good food to be had. Enchiladas, carne adovada, plenty of green and/or red chile ... but nothing that feels as substantial or as hot (temperature-wise) as Korean food. Honestly, I don't know if it's the tongue-scalding temperature or what, but Korean soups and stews feel like they pack a much bigger punch to wintry weather.

My parents are currently in Korea, and I miss them. They should be back tomorrow. Even though I cannot see their faces, just to hear their voices will feel good.

My sister is off on a business trip tomorrow- it seems appropriate. We're a globe-trotting family that now finds it hard to spend any amount of time together.

Work, of course, is busy. I have no time to think. So I'm pushing off my existential crisis until this movie's over.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Burnt Roast

Sums up work kind of perfectly, this coffee pot. Saw it in the kitchen as I was leaving.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

John Lennon's 70th

I love the Beatles.

(In all honesty, my favorite Beatle is George.)

I was introduced to the Beatles by my father. The first album I ever listened to was "Please Please Me," full of frothy, early-Beatles pop songs. People can say what they will, I still know the words to every single song and love them all.

Because of the way I was introduced to the band, I have a special place in my cold, dark little heart for the mushroom-hair-cuts, sharp little 60's suits, and skinny ties that the Beatles sported in their early career. I love the bubble-gum pop, the cheesy lyrics, and even the funny little dance moves they had. The more experimental music and shaggy hair are also great, but don't remind me of being nine years old. Nostalgia usually wins, in my book.

I think a lot of people are celebrating and mourning today, because had he survived, John Lennon would have turned 70 today.

I don't know where he would have done in life, but I do know that he died too early. So wherever he is, happy birthday!

(The Lennon of my childhood.)


Friday, October 08, 2010


I'm sure it's quite apparent that I've been bogged down at work lately. I've been working on Saturdays, checking in on Sundays, and still trying to live a somewhat normal life, which has been hard. Generally, the first thing to go is sleep. I haven't slept much in the past few weeks, and the delirium finally hit me around Tuesday or Wednesday. I've been in a haze, pretty much fighting to get my brain into work and functioning.

Trying to force a sleepy brain into productiveness is terrible- it's like herding a group of kittens. Kittens that are half hyena and half Tasmanian devil.

Despite my complete lack of brain cells, I had to post today because of these:

(images from designspartan)

Aren't these just amazing? They look like nubbly little pencil bits, the pencils that are just thrown about, picked up when needed, abused, and treated badly. Dalton Ghetti has managed to transform these afterthoughts into beautiful, delicate, lovely little things.

I really appreciate and love art like this.

My parents are now both in Korea, and though I already live far away from them, I somehow miss them more now that they are thousands of miles away, rather than merely hundreds.

I am fighting to get over this bout of melancholy and back into some semblance of contentment. It's a losing battle, so far. At least this means that I have nowhere to go but up... I think?


Thursday, September 30, 2010


When there's a sudden panic about certain things at work that starts at 7:30 p.m....

When my mother has gone to Korea and I cannot whine to her...

When I cannot sleep for more than 6 hours in a row for weeks on end...

When a co-worker decides to be the most annoying person I've ever had the misfortune to meet...

When I cannot find a person to cut my hair in this town without Asians...

When my face decides that, though I am 28, it wants to break out...

When my entire life seems to be about work...

When I feel like I left everything behind in LA, which I still call "home"...

When I miss people so much that I am overcome when I see their faces in pictures...

... It is time for a drink. Or eight.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Period Pieces

I am absolutely convinced that "Mad Men" is going to bring on a flood of period pieces in television. It's going to be a shame, because I don't see how they could have the same type of authenticity.

"Life on Mars," a remake of the British show, was not very well received here in the States. I think part of the problem was that it was a gimmick (man is traveling back in time, to the horribly styled 70's) and part of it was that it was kind of boring. Granted, I only watched about half an episode, but it didn't hold my interest. I'll watch the pilot or second episode of any new show, but I don't stick around unless the show keeps me entertained. (That is not a difficult pre-requisite- I watch some crap shows.)

"Boardwalk Empire" is only two episodes in, but proving pretty interesting. I feel like the swinging 20's are overdone, and the show is slamming home the 20's point rather bit heavy-handedly. But still, it shows a lot of promise. And it's Steve Buscemi, he's fascinating to watch. (Michael Pitt, not so much. He's annoying, and his "acting"  hasn't improved since "The Dreamers.") It's got me cautiously optimistic and hopeful that Michael Pitt's character dies soon (not likely). Kelly MacDonald is amazing, as usual, and her story arc in the first episode was surprising but nice to see, moving along at a very quick pace.

I think "Boardwalk Empire" has set itself up to be endlessly compared to that other HBO show, "The Sopranos," because of all the mobsters. It's an ancestor to Tony and Carmela, based more in actual history (casting Stephen Graham as Al Capone was inspired! I'm not so sure about their Lucky Luciano casting, but we'll see). The production value is through the roof, which always helps. HBO's got the money to throw around, and I think that's what really helps in making the environment feel authentic and real.

The last period piece that I really enjoyed from start to finish (on TV) was "Deadwood," another HBO show. That show was funny, irreverent, and truly interesting. It wasn't accurate, I know, but I still consider a period piece because it was a western (another over-done genre). I loved the cast, the script (profanity and all), and the production design. I was not please when they canceled the show, though I could only imagine how difficult that behemoth must have been to produce.

My current favorite period drama is "Mad Men." I'm so glad it came around, because not only does it take place in an era that I'm fascinated by, it's really well done. So subtly written and not overly dramatic. It deals with serious issues, like women's suffrage, racism, alcoholism, nepotism, adultery ... all kinds of nasty themes that should be difficult to watch. It's not difficult to watch, it's beautifully done and, while very attractively designed, somehow seems real.

It's on AMC, so of course, it feels like a smaller show that the HBO giants. There aren't a lot of wide shots outdoors in the city, because they don't have the money to dress an entire city block in 60's attire. I think it works for the show, though- it feels intimate and lived-in, and almost confined to these specific places.

A lot of people find the show really slow, and I did, too, when I first started watching. Isn't life pretty slow, though? And in that era, when people didn't say what they really felt, life must have felt even slower. It's the moments, the sidelong glances, the quiet minutes while a character isn't doing anything at all. I can see why people say that nothing happens on the show, but things do happen- just not at a rhythm that we're used to, particularly given the breakneck plots of modern shows (any cop show, for example).

I find that the show makes me think, after I watch it. Why would Roger do that? What is going on with Don that he is trying that? How messed up is Betty? When is Joan just going to give in to change? There aren't many shows that literally make me think a few days post-watching. I love that about this show.

(Kind of spoiler-ish ahead.)

The eighth episode ("The Summer Man") of this season (the fourth) had a couple of lines that stuck with me. It aired two weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it, which is either a sign that my brain has ceased to function and all I can think about it TV, or that was quite the thought-provoking script.

Don, who has suddenly decided to start keeping journal (uncharacteristic), said "We're flawed because we want so much more. We're ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had."

Jon Hamm isn't my favorite actor. People fawn over him in this role as Don Draper, but I much prefer John Slattery as Roger Sterling, who plays his role with panache and humor. Don Draper's just ... boring. He's not as magnetic as he should be, with minions so prepared to follow him to the ends of the earth. I wouldn't follow him to the end of the street. He internalizes everything, I get that, but ... meh. That quote was so oddly introspective, it made me afraid that he's going to kill himself.

Our girl Joan (along with Roger, my favorites) has been feuding with Joey, who is under Peggy's jurisdiction. (Joey is adorable, but very 2010- he doesn't really fit in with the rest of the cast, in appearance or performance.) Joan finally loses it when Joey decides to draw a crude picture of her and tape it up to the window between her office and the creative pow-wow room. She skewers all of the creative boys to the wall, towering over them and looking each in the eye by turn:

“I can’t wait until next year when all of you are in Vietnam. You will be pining for the day when someone was trying to make your life easier. And when you’re over there, in the jungle, and they’re shooting at you, remember- you’re not dying for me. Because I never liked you.”

Her delivery is quiet, her tone pretty moderated. She doesn't go into hysterics, that Mrs. Harris. That's one of the traits I love most about this character- she doesn't freak out or faint, she doesn't need a man to rescue her. She's matter-of-fact and, though old-fashioned, she has her way of doing things that works for her. I bet she's a great office manager.

It took me forever to write this post because work's been nuts. I'm exhausted. Today, my eyes are swollen, I'm sniffly, and I've got probably another 10 or 11 hours of work ahead of me. Sigh. Back to the grind I go...


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Little Sister!

Today is my little sister's birthday! Happy birthday, little nutbrown!!

She is just over a year younger than me. At times, that difference feels like a decade. At other times, that difference feels like three minutes, like we are twins.

These are her adorable bunnies, of course. Her babies that she spoils to death. Gouda, the boy, is the brown and white one. Brie, the girl, is a wee little thing. I have not met her yet. (They're fighting over a popsicle stick in the photo above, sent to me by my sister). Gouda was a tiny little cuddle when last I held him, so I imagine that Brie is just a wisp of a thing, the size of a cotton ball.

I am often reminded of my sister, usually for completely inane things:
LypSyl, our favorite lip balm. (I love this stuff. LOVE.) We both have rather biggish lips in relation to the sizes of our mouths, with thin skin, so we chap quite easily. It's been a life-long struggle to find a lip balm that we genuinely love, and I think this is it. Such a silly thing, and one that can only be shared with someone that knows me better than anyone else.
Shiseido Hydro-Liquid Foundation compact. I left mine with her, because it worked much better for her than for me. Every time I see a refill being sold or one of those compacts, I think of her.
Swedish Fish! We both really only like the red ones- one of the few things we agree on, flavor-wise. We're great in restaurants together because we like the opposite foods. I hate mushrooms, she loves them. She doesn't really eat red meat, I'm a total carnivore. I don't eat olives, she can eat a ton of them. She doesn't like cooked carrots, I don't mind them. Swedish Fish, we definitely agree on. Thanks goodness they sell boxes of red-only Swedish fish!

My family's birthdays are over, for this year. Shopping online for them, thinking about them, it has just kept making me miss them. I have so many long workdays ahead of me, without even the benefit of seeing my family every weekend. It's a discouraging thought.

Anyway! Despite the fact that I have not seen my family for a long time, I know that they had great birthdays. That's what family does- support each other and make sure each has a wonderful birthday, no matter how far away they might be.

I told everyone at work it was your birthday, leetle spreeg, and they all wish you a happy one. Especially Paul McCartney!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy 추석!

Today, September 22, is 추석 (pronounced choo-suk, usually spelled Chuseok).

Happy Chuseok!

We didn't really celebrate Chuseok in my family. I mean, we did in the ways that mattered- basically, we ate this type of glutinous rice cake (떡, pronounced ddeok or tteok) called 송편 (song-pyun or song-pyeon).

My sister and I have always loved tteok, because we're weird that way, but I have to say, of all the varieties of tteok in the world, song-pyeon is definitely in my top three. 

We usually had it just like the photo above, with white, green, and pink. I could never taste a difference between the pink and white, but the green ones were slightly grassy, a little chewier, and delicious with a sweet red bean paste filling. I preferred the white and pink ones with a sweetened sesame seed filling, which pairs better with the softer tteok exterior.

I really miss tteok. It can be found here in Albuquerque, but it's usually just the type used for tteok soup (eaten during New Year) or tteokbokki (eaten anytime). I miss fresh tteok, made in places by ornery old Korean women, stores that only sell tteok and kimbap, a weird but delicious combination. I miss Korean food in general, but most of what I crave, I can make for myself. Tteok is something I've made once in my life, under the careful supervision of my mother. Maybe I'll have to try it again, under the not-as-careful supervision of myself. We'll see if that pans out.

Anyway-- Chuseok is sort of the harvest festival, which is more symbolic than literal in modern times. There are games to play, people to see, dead family members to visit and pay respect to. I have none of that here, and I've realized that it's during these times, when I am completely used to spending a day with my family, that I really, truly miss home.

Work has been mind-numbingly hectic lately, so I don't have (too) much time to dwell upon my homesickness. Still, I think of people at the oddest times- I saw this lip balm that my sister and I use, but in a new flavor (honey berry!) with SPF, and I wanted to turn to her to talk about it. I saw a clump of cacti on the side of the road downtown that were flowering with bright blooms, and I wanted to tell my mother to go look at them. I saw a big ol' skunk crossing the road, and I wanted to joke with my father about roadkill (we used to talk about eating roadkill, because we're weird- canned armadillos, pickled rattlesnake, etc.- the skunk wasn't roadkill, he was fine). I miss joking with my sister that she shouldn't eat injeolmi (인절미, a type of tteok dusted with the powder of beans or sesame) because the elderly and the young choke on the powder.

It's those small moments, the insignificant personal things, that are like tiny paper cuts. Especially on days when I feel more Korean than American, because there aren't any Koreans that I'm close to in this here town.

I don't think it's helping any that it's pouring down rain here and has been for a couple hours now. The city is reflecting my mood. Thanks, Albuquerque.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, 아빠!

Saturday was my dad's birthday.

Happy birthday, 아빠!

Like all men in South Korea, my dad had to go to the army for two years. This is him, obviously ignoring the rules (as usual). He still looks almost exactly like this, albeit with a few extra pounds and a couple more gray hairs.

I really miss my family. What with my mother's birthday a couple weeks ago, my father's birthday this past weekend, and my sister's birthday this week, I'm really feeling every single one of the 850 miles separating us.

I am crossing my fingers that I will be able to go back home sometime soon (perhaps near Thanksgiving) so I can cuddle with the brainless cat, feed the greedy Gouda some cilantro, and finally meet wee Brie.

I can't wait.


Saturday, September 18, 2010


Literally just saw a skunk (first skunk I've ever seen in the wild (sort of wild) in person!) crossing the street in downtown Albuquerque.

He was huge, the size of a large, fat, domesticated cat!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Work Family

I have never worked in a "normal" office, that mythical place where some people seem to go at 9:00 in the morning, emerging like clockwork at 6:00, leaving their work at their desks as they happily traverse, still in daylight, to their homes.

I've had rather tantalizing tastes of that world. Generally, when I first start working on a new movie, there is a brief period of time when I work eight hours a day. I come in, I go to lunch, I go home. I am able to make lunch plans, I am able to go to happy hour, I can promise to be at dinners and actually be there.

It's a blissful time, made all the better by the knowledge that it never lasts. I think on this project, I had a grace period of two, maybe three weeks. That's pretty short, as these things go, and I didn't take full advantage of that time because I was new to Albuquerque and just trying to get my bearings.

Now that I have my bearings (I'm finally getting the hang of this ridiculous quadrant system- every street ends with "NW" or "SE" or whatever, which initially was annoying and redundant, in my opinion), work has picked up quite a bit.

Working a lot always results in at least one thing happening: truly getting to know co-workers. Working on a film with someone is like going through an alien invasion with them. You end up either loving them, hating them, or not remembering them. I'm always sad when I don't remember someone (someone sent me an e-mail the other day, and I cannot for the life of me recall what he looks like), and I'm annoyed when I hate someone (because it means that I will automatically veto any future projects if I'm aware that they will be there), but the worst, possibly, might be loving someone. After surviving the alien invasion, leaving that person is like breaking up or divorcing.

Here's where my family currently stands, about a third of the way through this particular alien invasion:

Moms (alternate between love and fear):
I have two moms, one a producer (my boss) and one the manager here in Albuquerque. They are both nice, though the LA mom can be really tough and rather frightening. I've worked with her before, though, so it's fine. And Albuquerque mom is very nice, though I don't interact with her very often.

Dad (frustrating):
Our head creative. He can be rather adolescent and has a very inappropriate sense of humor, which is hilarious and annoying in turns. He's good at his job and we get along really well, so I do enjoy working with him. He's more approachable than any other person I've ever worked with in this capacity, though I think most of it is a reflection on me and how I've changed, rather than the personalities of the people I've worked with.

We (the production staff) do call them "Mom and Dad," mostly jokingly.

Husbands (simultaneously love and hate, am exasperated and amused):
I have several of them. As someone in production, having a supervisor does not mean that they are my boss, per se, because they don't tell me exactly what to do. Instead, a supervisor is someone I need to support, have answers for, follow up with, and assist. In an alien invasion, he would be the general, I would be the lieutenant. In production, we call each other "work husband" and "work wife."

As I started quite early on this particular movie, I have four husbands. It used to be five, but one of them left me. So rude. The remaining husbands are quite nice.

Older Brother (love):
I've known him for probably around five years. Great guy, though he bottles up his emotions too much. That makes him a bit passive-aggressive, though it's nothing that's out of control. He's funny and a good drinking buddy. I'm the obnoxious younger one, and he allows me to be as crazy as I want to be. A good friend, though it should be obvious that since we've been friends for a while, I'm totally biased towards him.

Aunt Bertha (leaning towards hate, love only outside of work):
The woman that I work with that drives me bonkers. She seems to miss e-mails, chimes into conversations that don't really pertain to her, and generally seems to be having a jolly old time while the rest of us are slaving away. She's really frustrating me lately, I think because she has no 눈치 (noon-chi, which means she doesn't have any awareness of the people around her- oblivious and rather obtuse) and it doesn't bother her at all that others are obviously annoyed and/or put upon. She's proving to me that ignorance is bliss. There's always one in every group.

The Boys (retarded but lovable):
The assorted artists. Goofy, silly, funny, exasperating, facetious, idiotic, the group is, for the most part, a motley crew of ridiculous boys. I imagine that seeing them daily is what it would have been like to grow up with a giant group of little brothers. I do love them, quirks and all.

Cousin Enid (love, with lots of sighing):
Cousin Enid is that one cousin that wants everyone to do things her way- play hopscotch like this, not like that. She's a perfectly lovely person to hang out with, but can get insecure and inscrutable, going into funks that seem unwarranted. As a formerly over-sensitive girl, I can say that I know what that was like. But it doesn't make it easier to deal with.

There are lots of other miscellaneous people, but I'm reserving judgment until I know them better. Our crew is only half of what it will become, so there are many newbies still to come. I hope none of them drive me crazy, as some of the existing folks do.

In the meantime, I'm off to go look at bluescreen plates until my eyes pop.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The time has come on "Green Lantern"- that time when I start talking about how much I work.

It's not too bad right now. Ten hour days, sometimes eleven. A few hours on the weekends. Easing into the hellish hours that I see in my future...

Since my brain is sometime crispy from the work-related overthinking, I'm blogging via pictures. Click for the big versions:


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mad Ads

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about the way I perceive gender roles. This still holds true. I am still sexist, and I still don't agree completely with the Korean way of thinking or with the American way of thinking.

That having been said, I found these blatantly piggish and inappropriate advertisements to be hilarious:

Because when I get married, all I'll want for Christmas are kitchen supplies! A new toaster? Honey, how did you know? And I'll manipulate my husband by crying if he doesn't get me an electric beater.
This one, in my opinion, is even worse. First of all, the Dormeyer ad looked like it was from the 50's. This one is from the 60's, 70's, or maybe even the 80's, going off what the "modern" couple looks like. I don't even get a choice- my perfect husband is, apparently, going to get me a stand mixer so that I can take my perfectly manicured self to the kitchen and cook for him.
Appalling, unintentionally hysterical. First of all, do husbands really care about how fresh their coffee is? Especially back in the days of black and white print ads? And second of all, I would not and will not look that put together whilst doing my housewifely duties.

No thanks, I'd rather not bet my sweet Telex operator that the monstrosity sitting there is a computer. It looks like a giant caveman word processor, and she looks like a go-go dancer that switched from her acrylic-heeled go-go boots to sensible office shoes just before her shift started.
Blatantly wrong. She's doing meth just to get herself through all her chores, but she decided to call it "Pep" vitamins.
Actually ... it is. Why would you kill someone over a postage meter? Were men really that impatient?
Ew. I don't quite know why this would ever work. The smoke ... smells ... delicious? Gross.
Actually, Sue Ellen, women can open most jars and bottles! They only fake it when they want to appear delicate and ladylike, the total opposite of that Rosie the Riveter gal. Matching the lipstick to the ketchup was a nice touch.
Even doctors were foolish back in the day. There was a scene in "Mad Men" pretty recently of Joan at her gynecologist's office. The doctor concludes his exam and then picks up a cigarette. Smoking, in front of a woman that is trying to get pregnant. Oh, the 60's!
Maybe this is why we have baby teeth. So they can rot out of our heads because we drink carbonated, artificially sweetened beverages before eating solid food.
The fact that babies were a selling point for two brands of soda? Completely ridiculous. I do enjoy that this advertisement has "The Soda Pop Board of America" on it. It sounds like a fake company with a fun name. People should say "soda pop" more often.
Oh, Santa! Another "Mad Men" reference- in the first or second episode this season, Roger Sterling dressed up as Santa at the company Christmas party and gave out beribboned cartons of Lucky Strike.

Obviously, all these ads made me think immediately of "Mad Men." Similar era, same business, same eerily inappropriate yet somehow still charmingly kitschy and retro charm. The show's been kicking things into a rather crazy place, what with rampant alcoholism, nasty divorces, and secretive office affairs. I actually find that the more realistic portrayal (as opposed to the saccharine-sweet type that's more common) makes the show fascinating and intriguing.

I wonder what the kids that aren't yet born will think of our ads? Our movies? Our point of view? They'll mock us, for sure, but I'm curious to find out what the mockery will be for.

At least, for now, I'm happy to be the generation in disbelief over our predecessors.