Even with the 90% humidity and the relentless throngs of tourists - NY, I love you so so bad.
5/17/2014. My first race.
5am: My alarm goes off. Human beings were not designed to be awake at this hour.
5:15am: My brain finally beings to shake away the grogginess. I start to wonder if I’m missing anything for the race. As I take a seat on the subway, I look over to the only other person in the train and he’s wearing a race bib. I’m about to confirm with him that all we need is our bib to run, but like i said, human beings were not designed to be awake at this hour. I let him sit in peace.
5:35am: I get off the R train to transfer to the 2 which will take me all the way down to the start line in Brooklyn.
There are over a hundred people waiting at the station. Looking around, I only see runners. We are the only crazy people here.
5:40am: I’ve never been this packed in a subway car before. There are like 800 people in each train. Every stop more people try to squeeze in. If someone farts, I’m going to punch them right in the throat.
As I walk up to starting line, I’m getting pumped! There are people EVERYWHERE! There are some people that look like they’ve been running their entire lives all decked out in high-tech gear. And then I see some ajushi’s wearing cargo shorts and some shoes I swear I saw at costco. This is the melting pot of runners.
6:30am: I drop off my stuff at the baggage stations and situate myself in the front of my corral. I made a mistake by registering with a 10min mile time. To ensure that runners start with others at their same pace, they stagger us. I’m standing around ppl who are the slowest 20% of the participants.
7:15am: My pre-run jitters are starting to dissipate. I’m starting to grow a little restless, and Jimin is alternating between taking selfies and having a mental breakdown about not finishing the race. Gota FOCUSS.
7:45am: The race begins!
7:50am: Signing up with a 10-min-mile time was a HUGEE mistake. I’m literally stiff-arming people, weaving around, running off the course, and jumping over cars to keep my pace.
7:52am: I scoff at the people stopping at the first drink stop. Comon bros! It’s only been one mile!
7:53am: Dammit. I’m thirsty.
8:15am: I’ve run about 4 miles now and I’m kinda-sorta starting to get tired. WTFREAK! I realize that I’ve barely finished 30% of the race. Uhoh. I’m screwed. Luckily there’s a rest stop and they’re serving “Endurance Formula” Gatorade. I drink a cup and I feel instantly energized. Did they put Deer Antler Spray in this?
8:20am: We’re running on the freeway! I biked on the freeway once in SD during a Critical Mass event. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I don’t know what it is, but not being in a car on the freeway is a pretty amazing thing.
8:30am: I told myself that I would audio record how I felt throughout the race, so I could document it later. I pull out my iPhone and start my first voice recording. I can barely get words out since I’m already short of breath. I sound like a woman trying to explain her feelings while giving birth. I get a few weird looks from people around me. I stiff arm them and run ahead.
8:46am: I finally reach the 8 mile mark. I’m getting my second wind and both my legs are basically numb. I’m starting to get super hungry and finally I see one table at a rest stop with gu. We were only supposed to grab one and go. I grabbed 7. #thuglife
9:28am: 13th MILE! And we’re finally at the coney island boardwalk. The last time I was here was with my family before I had moved to NY. My baby brother heard of this restaurant on the Food Network called Coney Island Burger or something. So he dragged us out there, but when we looked it up, the actual restaurant ended up being in Baltimore. #thanksbro
9:30am: I sprint to the finish line. Success. I grab my medal and head down to the parking lot. As soon as I sit down, I spaz out as I cramp up in 4 places.
Bucketlist: Half Marathon - CHECK.
Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.
The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you should be richer.Paul Graham (http://paulgraham.com/cities.html)
When I first decided to buy a DSLR in highschool, I saved up for months before finally having enough to buy a camera. And before I finally pulled the trigger, I spent weeks researching every minute detail. I googled “best entry DSLR” and pored over the first 50 links. I compared and contrasted every camera under $1000. And after reading multiple blog posts, reviews, and forum threads on each individual model, I decided on the exact set up I wanted.
But, it didn’t end there. I spent another couple days studying up on which site or store would have the best price & customer service. And after weeks of OCD-level analysis, I received a package from BH photo containing one freshly minted Canon XTI and a beautiful 50mm 1.8 lens. It was glorious.
I’ve noticed I do this lengthy research process with any big purchase. I find that I actually enjoy doing it too. I guess it’s kinda like when girls enjoy getting ready for a party just as much as the party itself?
Anyway, I just spent the past week or so doing the same thing with investing some of my savings. Initially, I was just going to put a little money in a retirement account. I was just looking out for 65-year-old Andrew, since I don’t want to be eating dog food after social security dries up in the next 30 years. But after doing a little research into what company to open an IRA with, I got sucked in and spent hours reading everything about mutual funds, ETFs, John Bogle’s life story and investment strategies, and the general health of the economy. After doing my own research this week, I opened a ROTH IRA and a taxable brokerage account and started to put my money in various places. I had a pretty good feeling that I knew what I was doing.
But then at church today, I had a few conversations with some guys who are uber smart and work in finance. And basically our talks brought me back to square one. Actually more like to square -3.
I really hope one of my kids turns out to become a professional athlete. #theKoreanLebronJames #nikeplzsignhim
I get a few requests every year for a list of things to see/eat/drink in NYC. I decided to keep it on record and I even spent $10 getting this stupid domain so people could find it easily. #callmeagoodsamaritan
WHAT TO EAT
1. Ippudo Pork Buns
If I could eat one thing in NY before leaving forever, it would be the almighty Ippudo Pork Bun. When I first stumbled upon this hole-in-the-wall restaurant, I walked in and had my first taste of claustrophobia. There is a 30 sq foot waiting area packed with 900 angry new yorkers trying to stay away from the wintry cold. Don’t let this faze you. Hold strong.
The moment you bite into that fluffy spongy bun, everything else will be forgotten. When the glaze on that perfectly cooked pork belly turns into a million flavor crystals that dances over your taste buds, all your pain will be forever gone.
note#1 - the ramen is whatevs.
note#2 - to avoid that long wait for a table, you can order pork buns at the bar with no wait. However, you can’t order ramen at the bar (it doesn’t matter tho - see note#1).
2. Joe’s Shanghai Soup Dumplings
I don’t care that you think din tai fung is better. I don’t care that you think it’s uncomfortable that we have to sit with another party at the same table. I don’t care that it’s cash only. I don’t care that they probably recycle the left-over oranges they leave for dessert. These magical pockets of magical-ness are one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten in my life. Plus, 8 dumplings for 5 dollars? Where do I sign up?
note - you also need to get the scallion pancakes, which is pan fried scallion-infused dough that you dip in this sweet ginger soy sauce. #money
3. Nyonya Roti Canai
I’ve never had malaysian food before moving to NY. I would best describe it as the perfect intersection between thai and indian food. My favorite dish is called Roti Canai. It’s kinda like a crepe, except it’s more thin, crispy, and chewy - all at the same time. You rip off a piece and you dip it in this special curry sauce. If you don’t know, now you KNOW.
4. Chicken and Rice at 53rd st and 6th ave
You’ve probably seen this food instagrammed 100 times by now. And 84 of those times were probably from me. I know they made some boot-leg version of this in LA. Don’t be fooled. And I know sometimes us New Yorkers are too lazy to track down the “real” chicken and rice cart, so we almost consider settling for some random street meat cart near times square. Don’t be fooled. Just like you would be embarrassed to get caught rocking a fake louis purse, don’t mess with that fake chicken and rice stuff.
"I put too much white sauce" -said no one ever.
"I put too much hot sauce" - said every visitor from LA on their first try.
5. Levain Cookie
This is the best cookie on this planet. You think your friend or your mom has the best cookie recipe ever? GTFO. Don’t get it twisted. These giant mounds of dough, butter, sugar, and chocolate are one of the best things you will ever eat in your entire life. They’re crispy and flaky on the outside and level 15 decadent and warm on the inside.
note: each cookie weights like one pound. Don’t try to eat more than 3 in one sitting. trust me.
6. Mamoun’s Shawarma/Falafel/Hummus Sandwich
When I was poor and starving during my boot-strapped startup days. I literally ate Mamoun’s everyday for lunch. Back then I could only afford the $2.50 falafel sandwich (the struggle was real). But now whenever I stop by Mamoun’s (which is still like once a week), I indulge in the Behemoth aka 3 proteins aka Shawarma, Falafel, and Hummus all stuffed inside a humble pita pocket.
note: beware of the hot sauce.
7. Lombardi’s Pizza
Classic New York Pizza. Yes - it is probably overhyped. Yes - the lines probably don’t justify the taste. But if you’re visiting or if you happen to come here when the line isn’t over an hour, you should stop in. The clam pie is excellent.
8. Shake Shack’s Shack Stack
Take a crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses. And place this fried concoction on top of a perfectly medium-rare burger and gently envelope this ungodly meat/cheese/mushroom combo in the world’s softest potato bun. Ladies and Gentlemen, you have the Shack Stack.
9. Bangia Spicy Glazed Fried Chicken
Honestly this place doesn’t even have the best fried chicken. I would probably rate Turntable’s chicken higher, objectively. But Bangia has a special place in my heart. For like a good 3 months, every weekend night would somehow end up in K-town. And we would always cap off the night with pitchers of ice-cold blue moon, fried chicken, and geh-rahn jjim (steamed egg). That’s as good as any trifecta’s gonna get.
10. Tasting Menu at Le Bernardin
Fine dining in NY is probably one of the greatest in the world. If you’ve never experienced a legit tasting menu, you should save up three month’s salary and try it at least once. You don’t need to go to Le Bernardin, specifically. But if you’re going to be shelling out $300-500 on one meal, you should probably do some research before going. This will be a life changing experience. Everything from the quality and freshness of each ingredient, to the service and knowledge of each restaurant staff member will blow you away. Experiencing a tasting menu at a 3-Michelin star restaurant will be the closest any of us will feel to being royalty.
note- read about my experience at Le Bernardin here: http://andrewparkphotography.tumblr.com/post/54306897790/tasting-menu
Walk this way, Eka Sharashidze
(via conniebunnie)this isn't happiness.
During my freshmen year at UCSD there were stories circulating around about a kid named Amos Kim. Supposedly this Amos character decided that staying in college for 4 years was a waste of time. So during his sophomore year, he took 3 times the amount of classes that a typical student takes. He was enrolled in so many classes, that it was literally impossible for him to attend all his lectures. But he studied on his own, finished school with a 3.8 GPA, scored in the top percentile on his LSATs, and was accepted into Columbia Law School at the tender age of 18 (he also skipped grades before coming to college).
The cherry on top was that he actually rejected the offer for law school because he wasn’t sure if that was the path in life he was supposed to take (later he ended up getting into Yale Law School, so no biggie). Naturally when I spotted him at our college library, I wasted no time and sat right across from where he was studying.
“Hi. You’re Amos, right? Dude, I heard about you… What are you reading? Wanna be friends?”
I’m pretty certain 97.5% of people, would have gotten right up, called the police, and filed a restraining order on me. But he laughed it off and we actually started to become friends after that fateful day at Geisel.
My sophomore year after I was wrongfully accused of cheating on a test, Amos spent like 40 hours structuring an argument for my defense. It included a photo exhibit and everythang. And then he had to do it for me all over again…when my computer’s hard drive crashed that year. Long story short, I was expected to have a 3-4% of chance of winning my case and I was en route to be suspended for a year, but with Amos’s work, I destroyed my professor and all her accusations. (She actually walked out of the hearing before it was over. #lawyered)
For this, I owed him my life. And then he took my life from me (and a little piece of my soul) when he tricked me into turning down my job offer in LA and moving to New York to join his startup after I graduated college. #evenstevens.
But in all seriousness, you’re a good person and one of my closest friends. We’ve been friends for 7 years and roommates/co-founders/business-partners/basically-a-married-couple for pretty much my entire young adult life. It’s been an adventure moving to new cities every 9 months and building everything from a failed “hang-out” app to a freaking burrito delivery service. And you’re the only consistent person I use as a sounding board whenever I’m having a crisis. I’m not good at words of affirmation, so here’s like 1000 all at once. love you bro<3.
When you took us to Barona’s for the first time my freshmen year and I got addicted to blackjack after I won like $80. #nicehair
Bookface Brainstorm Sesh in our bougie apt in New Haven
Playing ball with the homies at the CAGE.
Our ghetto apartment in west village. We literally had 3 grown-ass guys sleeping in a closet. I slept on that mattress that I had to slide out every night.
Your favorite. Orangina. And our only table in the apt, which was like 2 feet wide.
Upgrade to woodside. But it still looked like a missionary’s quarters.
When we were too poor to buy a dining table.
That one summer where you tried to eat as much as me. e.x. We ordered our own large pizzas. Then you gained 20 lbs and stopped.
I guess everyone was poor this year. The economy was tough.
When youngsubee aka youngsubah was our foodchute mascot.
Our $300 nightlight we never got to use.
Illegal science experiments at walmart.
When we found a jonoh on sale at costco. Only $10.
When we tricked him to fly out to visit us, only for him to be our intern.
The homies came to help us film our Dash Video. Laura Byun’s favorite video.
When I got to put Yale on my resume.
I’m pretty sure the next POTUS was in your graduating class. #yalelawschool
Having our own car in the city was the best.
I guess when you need to sleep, you need to sleep.
Happy Bday Dawg.
What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me … is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.
It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. - Ira Glass
Up until about 4th grade, my favorite part of school was reading books. All my teachers had mini-libraries set up in a corner of the room and for a small portion of the day we had “reading time”, where we could choose any book we wanted and read in peace. Now that I think about it, that was probably a ploy for our teachers to kill 30 minutes of the day to do a crossword puzzle instead of teaching us fractions.
I remember tearing through every volume of the Berenstain Bears, Animorphs, Calvin&Hobbes, Encyclopedia Brown, countless Roald Dahl books, the Phantom Tollbooth, and the Wayside School series (the same author as Holes). But around the end of my elementary school career, our teachers dropped this laissez-faire approach to reading and started strong-arming us into reading specific books AND forcing us to write book reports. I felt like I was under the North Korean regime. I was stuck in an environment where I wasn’t even given the simple freedom to choose the books I wanted to read? After many failed attempts to run away (I was a chubby kid and running more than 2 minutes = #strugglecity), I gave in and wrote these uninspired book reports. This was the first domino tipped that eventually led to the demise of my recreational reading.
It wasn’t until after I graduated college that I started to pick up books again. These are some of the books I read this past year that I really enjoyed (special shoutout to the kindle versions of “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” and “The Defining Decade”). I’m a sucker for biographies & non-fiction, so if you are too, holler at me with some recommendations.
I’ve neglected this stupid blog, so I decided to write something. Bobby Hundreds instagrammed a picture just like this a few weeks back, so I straight jacked him. Anyway I really wanna build a website soon. So if you guys have any cool ideas for a website lemme know now, or I’m just gona build my own personal website filled with my photos, blogposts, and videos. So unless you want more of my ish bombarded on the interwebs, let me know if you have any ideaz.
Tonight was my first time flying with completely clear skies. I had a window seat so I got to see the lights for a good number of cities. I was pretty impressed with what I had seen so far. Then our captain announced we were descending into NewYorkCity. New York Freaking City.
In Hye Kim / my Mom’s mom / 93yearsold
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my dad’s parents. But I also spent some time with my mom’s mom who lived with my cousins in Chino Hills. She wasn’t very mobile and she had like 6 kids and 20 grandchildren living in socal so I never really got to interact with her. Also my lack of korean skillz was another impediment to really connecting with my grandma.
But I do remember running to her room whenever we went to my cousins house and she would have this big jar of korean candy next to her desk. She would sneak me a couple, I would stuff my face and run back downstairs to play nintendo 64 with my cousins.
I also remember that she would call me into her room, because she was always knitting me something. Socks, a vest, a circular seat cushion. She made any and all crocheting dreams into reality. She would make me try it on, exam it from different angles, and then after a 30 minute session of super smash brothers, she would call me back up and I would have a perfectly fitting pair of gloves, a french beret, and wool socks - perfect for the 75 degree socal winters.
Last year, after a few unfortunate accidents, my aunts and uncles decided it was best to move my grandma to a long-term care facility where she could be under the care of trained staff 24/7.
When I came home this summer for my sisters graduation, I stopped by to see my grandma. I hadn’t seen her in like 8 months, so my mom asked if she remembered who I was.
-“Of course, that’s your oldest son…”
After some going back and forth about what I’m doing in NY and how my Grandma is holding up, my mom jokes, “Mom, do you want Dongwon-ee to give you an allowance? He’s making money now. You need some cash?”
My grandma looked up at me and gingerly lifted her hands up - “Yes… I want money”
My mom: “What would you use it for?”
with the saddest eyes my grandma said: “….To help people who have less than me…”
And then my heart broke into 6,500 pieces. In the weakest, most painful and vulnerable time in her life, that was what was weighing on her heart.
Yesterday morning (10/16/13), my grandma passed away. When I found out, I called my mom thinking she would be inconsolable. But when she picked up, her voice seemed calm and in peace. My mom just said, “Grandma had a perfect movie-style ending to her life” - All my mom’s siblings got together in my grandma’s room, and they sang hymns and lifted up prayers together until my grandma gave her last breath in her sleep.
Love you halmunee.
My mom was very adamant that she raise her kids in a wholesome environment. A big part of this was filtering the media that my siblings and I consumed. Pretty much if it had: swearing (my mom considered, “stupid” and “shut-up” to be curse words), guns, fighting, yelling, stealing, or promiscuously-dressed woman - it was out of the question.
So for the first 12 years of my life the only videos we had at home were:
1. The Sound of Music
2. Dunston checks in
3. Every disney movie except Little Mermaid cause Ariel’s hair and outfit made her look like a streetwalker.
4. 3 Ninjas - I managed to sneak this into our collection somehow.
My dad literally bought us every disney movie that was released from 1992 till 2001. (I still remember the first one he brought home was Aladdin.) Sometimes I would go over to my grandparents house or to another relatives house and a lot of times they didn’t have any suitable movies to play for the kids. Everyone knows the best way to babysit 5 children is to play an animated film. So they would go to the nearest store and buy whatever looked to be entertaining.
And for some reason, they would always buy the Sing-Along-Songs videos instead of the actual movie.
These things are literally the worst. At first they had me fooled. Familiar disney font, the name checked out, and the front cover showed the characters everyone knew and loved. But when we eagerly stuffed the cassette into the VHS player, it would look something like this:
And the kids would be all excited, cause we thought, “Hey! after this stupid song is over, the real movie will begin!”
But it never stopped. We kept waiting wide-eyed, but the song would just lead into another song….and another song. And we were were all on the edge of our seats waiting for story to unfold, but Disney and the video selection at my grandma’s local grocery store failed us.
When the credits began to roll, we knew we were shammed again. Those disney tricksters slap on Peter Pan on the cover of a VHS and we all thought we were gonna get a story of Captain Hook and the Lost Boys, but instead we just got 3 different renditions of “The Second Star to the Right”.