October might be the 10th month but it feels like the 11th hour. The scramble to figure out holiday plans. The final weeks and days before the election. The countdown to the end of this tumultuous year.
It’s getting darker earlier. The air is fully crisp autumn. Summer still seems like it was just yesterday so it’s strange to think we’re fully in another season. Ok, maybe that’s because I’m used to summers lasting until at least mid-December. But the brisk air I like. Having to turn on my lights by 5pm, not so much.
The cooler weather meant perfect weather for walking around and exploring the city by foot. I walked. A lot. On a lot of streets I’ve never walked on, making it a point to visit new neighborhoods (not that that’s saying much, pretty much every neighborhood is new to me). Even as the temperature hovers around my ideal temperature (aka 70 degrees), I could feel the clock ticking. So this is what autumn feels like. A time bomb where you can’t ever fully enjoy it because it comes with the looming shadow of winter.
Not that winter matters if we’re stuck inside. It might even be nicer.
But still, autumn is something to be embraced and cherished while it lasts.
SOURCES OF COMFORT
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about comfort. The things that you turn to in anxious, uncomfortable times. The sounds and flavors and smells and sights that release some dopamine in to get you through the day, or put you to sleep after a stressful day. The things that are reliably there, easy to access, and offer quick relief to get your brain into a better place.
For me, I default to these favorites, and lately I’ve been tuning into familiar sounds and giving in to familiar flavors more often.
I guess a part of it is homesickness. Or rather, some potent combination of homesickness, nostalgia and FOMO for the everyday rhythm of Taiwan. So even if I can’t smell and taste the food, the simple comfort I get from the sounds of jumbled up Taiwanese and Mandarin works wonders after a long day, and the cheerful street banter that reminds you that there is a place in the world where things are ok. The thing is, I don’t even really watch it. I just throw it on YouTube on my second screen (aka my second laptop) and do something else on my first laptop. It’s just the perfect background noise as I wish myself away.
shoutout to Netflix for always delivering what I need when I need it. The new episodes of Chef Show and Great British Bake Off couldn’t have come at a better time. Nothing like the wholesome af British banter of amateur bakers and the ultimate friendship goals of Roy Choi and Jon Favreau to make me smile. Also Tartine. We love . Oh man, we miss Tartine.
literally just like plain noodles. Ok fine not actually plain. Specifically, I suppose, scallion and shallot oil noodles. Simple favorite from childhood to now. Something that I’d always look forward to after school from my mom, but also something I always order at hole in wall noodle shops in Taiwan. It doesn’t need to be fancy to be fulfilling, and I can never say no to noodles.
for me, so long as I have a stash of Taiwanese oolong tea in the house, comfort is just a minute away (or however long it takes for water to boil). While my mornings usually start with coffee, I tend to switch over to tea by 11am and just keep going at it until bed time. Good thing I have enough tea to last me at least another year.
A lifetime and a job ago, I used to regularly ditch work for a quick circle around MUJI. It’s my happy place. The smell of it. The neutral aesthetics. Even the weird music is oddly comforting. Now that we’re home, I keep my MUJI essential oil (currently using the “Refresh” scent) and no-name diffuser within arms reach at my desk, so I can pretend to be at MUJI with the click of a button.
as someone who usually drinks coffee black, it’s kind of strange how much comfort I glean from sugary holiday drinks. I think it’s something about the seasonal atmosphere, the warm drink and brisk air, the fact that it tastes like dessert – like a treat on a chilly day. So idk maybe sometimes I will be that girl walking around with a #PSL in hand. I don’t even like pumpkin or pumpkin spices. But here we are.
Can a place be my favorite if I’ve only been there once?
Rule of Thirds is a relatively new restaurant in the warehouse-y area of Greenpoint. And it’s beautiful. It has a beautifully curated aesthetic (even their fold-y outdoor chairs are somehow aesthetic), plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and a Japanese-y menu that works any time of the day. I basically want to move in.
// NEW SKILL: LAMINATING PASTRY DOUGH
I mean, realistically it was only a matter of time before we reached this point of seriously entertaining a fantasy of working in a bakery. Sometimes I look at @prettycarbs and think I can pull off a fake social media version of it.
But jokes aside, it’s more fun to get kneading in a professional bakery setting, which is exactly what we did at Partybus Bakeshop. This little bakery is in Chinatown/LES and barely opened before the pandemic hit the city (and hit it hard). Back in the spring, they were selling vouchers for future baking classes, so I figured why not. Fast forward to October and they opened up new classes (each one limited to 4 people to maintain COVID restrictions), including a viennoiserie class. Three hours and a lot of folding later, we each left with a dozen fresh baked pastries and enough dough to make another batch for the next time. Surprisingly less difficult than expected (although, it helps to have each step of the way supervised by the pros). Time consuming for sure (they had some ready made dough for us to cut, fill and bake as we waiting for our dough to proof). But like, I have proof of concept to sell my mom the idea to let me quit my job and open a bakery. Jk (kind of).
Anyways, if you’re in the city, I highly recommend checking out their classes, or at least stopping by for some ready-baked goods.
Ah seasons. What a novel concept. The leaves are starting to turn and the temperatures have truly dropped (how is it in the 30s already?!). My PTO is expiring so I’ve started to take random days off here and there, and taking advantage of the moderate temperatures to walk around the city and just see a little more of it while I can. Given the few activities available these days, I’m thankful to live in a city where even walking around can be entertainment.
Also, for the record California will always > New York in my mind until New York forces companies to pay out PTO. Full stop. Also, with the election, c’mon. California may have its issues but at least its secretary of state is doing a better job of getting people to vote.
// UNEXPECTED JOY: HAIR SALON
There are some people who are good about getting their hair trimmed regularly, having a good relationship with their hairdresser, always changing up their style and taking care of their hair. I am not one of these people. I get my hair cut once, maybe twice a year. I chop it off to shoulder length and then just let it grow out (my hair grows pretty slowly so even after a year it’s maybe like 4 inches longer lol).
I usually get my hair cut in Taiwan (for half the price you can get twice the quality). This year, obviously that didn’t happen. And the last time I was in Taiwan (and therefore the last time I did anything to my hair) was in October 2019. And not that I’m going anywhere or doing anything but I felt it was time to at least feel a little more human and ironically participate in a very normal thing to do (though not normal for me). So I went to a hair salon.
It was a little weird, of course. Only two people and two stylists in the salon at a time (granted, it was a small one – though highly recommended by coworkers and bloggers and just 2 blocks away from my apartment). Temperature check upon entering and then of course masks on the whole time (though he did ask me to take it off to check how it looked by my chin). And all in all, it was a lovely experience. An activity that is so quotidien, and yet brightened up my mood significantly (which is saying something considering it was pouring rain and extremely windy that day).
Anyways, if you’re looking for someone good at cutting Asian hair, or looking to get a digital perm, highly recommend Takeo at Room Salon in Williamsburg.
Or rather, recently binged. Because that’s kind of where I am these days. Throw on a show, have it on all day. Think about it for the next few days. Start a new show.