a brief note for today.

celebrate your small victories, and keep going.

this is going to be short and brief; i mostly just wanted to come on here and write a few words to help with the anxiety and stress i find consuming me. i’m scared shitless. i have no guesses as to what the outcome of today’s US election will be, and i’m afraid of what will happen after, regardless of the results. i don’t particularly care what the cheeto will do because we know what he’ll do if he loses, but i do care about how republicans will support his grabs for power, how democrats will capitulate in the name of fucking civility, how the news media will normalize whatever the cheeto does. i’m afraid of the violence racists and white supremacists will incite in his stupid name.

i don’t want to get too deep in the overtly political, though, not today. there will be time to come later when we talk about this. today, though, is election day in the US, and i’m sure many of you are like me — anxious, scared, and angry, but also hopeful and encouraged by the turnout so far, all while hoping, desperately, that people have voted the right way, that people will continue being invested in the democratic process and holding our government accountable in the years to come, regardless of who’s in the white house. i’m sure many of us are trying not to check twitter obsessively, phone or text banking last minute if possible, hugging our dogs and cats and loved ones close.

i’m not going to sit here and spout false optimism (that bullshit of “we survived four years; we can survive four more” is such privileged garbage) or try to spoon-feed anyone hope. i don’t have any hope — or, more accurately, i barely have enough hope to sustain myself, to keep myself holding on to a life i frankly don’t even want to live. it’s weird being a queer woman of color with a depressed, suicidal brain in a year like this where we’ve seen violence against asian americans skyrocket, marriage equality come under threat with this new [unqualified, illegitimate] supreme court justice, and white supremacy upheld and protected by this ghoulish government and police departments across the country.

but i didn’t mean to come on here and mull over this shit. we know this shit. many of us live in fear of all this (or variations thereof) every day. you don’t need to be reminded of it now.

instead, i want to say that i am currently in los angeles at my parents’ again, that i tested negative for covid over the weekend, that my dogs are soft and snuggly and warm. they like to lick my face and curl up against me at night, and, all last week, they kept farting, these silent stink-bombs of farts that came out of nowhere with zero warning. the younger one still wants everything his older brother has — his favorite pillow, a new toy, a car ride, attention, his human’s lap — and he’s also still scared of everything — the tiny dog across the street, the cyclists down the block, the giant inflatable halloween cat on a neighbor’s lawn. the older one is still gentle and needy; he’s still mine, my child, the one i raised from puppydom.

in california, the sky is vast, and the light magical and relentless. i’m glad to be back in my parents’ kitchen, which is filled with light and space, unlike my terrible kitchen in brooklyn, which i try to avoid as much as i can. persimmons are coming into season; i have two new jars of chili crunch; and, over the weekend, i filed a draft of an essay for an anthology i’m going to be in, one that explores sex and the single girl. i have a lot of writing i’m working on, though i’m stalled on this book proposal.

julia turshen’s small victories is one of my favorite cookbooks, the one i recommend to everyone, no matter their familiarity with cooking, and i find myself thinking of that a lot these days. her premise with the book is essentially to break cooking down into doable tasks (each is a “small victory”) that accumulate and build on each other to help cooks build more confidence in the kitchen. i find that very idea applicable these days when everything feels mind-numbingly overwhelming and, frankly, terrifying.

and, so, these days, i try to find pleasure in the small things — the warmth of my dog as he curls up against me, a bowl of grits (made of grits and not mulched-up popcorn — i’m sorry if you understand my reference), this salsa seca brittle from majordomo that is sweet and salty with a hit of spicy. i weigh out my dough for flour tortillas on my scale, getting each ball a precise 40 grams, and i give my dogs baths myself, washing and drying one then washing and drying the other. i donate money when i can and text-bank asian americans. i try to write. i worry about my crush who has vanished off social media, and i am grateful for friends who show up.

some of these maybe feel like nothing, but small victories, right? small comforts, small successes — they all add up to something.

on a side note, i hate when people disappear off social media, especially now in the time of covid. it makes me worry because, shit, what if it’s covid, they’re okay, right, they’re off being busy with life things or just trying to spend time off social media, but they’re okay, right?!?

do we want a little food talk? here’s a little food talk because this, too, is a small comfort.

the first thing i ate at majordomo in january 2018 was their salsa seca with fried butterball potatoes, and it was our table’s favorite dish that night. in this salsa seca rendition, the peanuts came in their shells, and we were confused, wondering if we were meant to eat the peanuts whole, shell and all (could you eat peanut shells?), or if we were supposed to shell the peanuts and make a mess. in the end, i believe we left most of the peanuts intact and uneaten.

a few months later, i went back to majordomo, and we ate the salsa seca with fried oxtail. the peanuts were shelled that time. last year, momofuku brought their salsa seca to bar wayo in new york city, where they were served with fried squid and shrimp chips. i wised up and started taking my leftover salsa seca home to eat with rice, spam, and a fried egg, mixing everything up with a drizzle of sesame oil.

now, majordomo has this salsa seca brittle on their pre-order and takeaway/delivery menus, and i am obsessed, even though i still wish they’d just sell their salsa seca in giant containers. this brittle, though, is the perfect snack — not too intensely sweet (for a brittle), not too hard on the teeth, lots of layers of flavor and savoriness with nice pops of salt throughout — and i’ve been stress-eating this since i picked up three bags this past weekend.

momofuku has been conducting a mini-campaign on instagram to encourage people to vote. they’re giving their employees paid voting leave to vote, volunteer as poll workers, and more, and their restaurants are closed today. i’ve seen other restaurants close doors today as well, which i’m assuming is to allow employees time to vote and volunteer, but i hope that also means that time is paid. it’s atrocious that election day isn’t a national holiday in this damn country, but, then again, there’s a lot that’s atrocious about how elections are done here. electoral college, anyone?

anyway.

i hope you are all as well as can be. i hope my next substack, which will be about korean american cooking in nyc, will arrive in better circumstances. please don’t spend tonight glued to election results trickling in across the country, especially if you’re in the east coast, and do something to care for yourself and those you love instead. regardless of who ends up in the white house, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

this is a free substack, and it will remain so for the near future. these substacks do, however, take a tremendous amount of time to plan, write, and edit (and re-write), so, if you like what you’ve read and would maybe like to contribute a cup of coffee, here are my ko-fi and venmo!