hi, hello, i am still here. i meant to write sooner, but here we are, three months into 2021. it’s also been three months since my last substack. i didn’t mean to stay away for so long.
i wanted to write something that would dazzle, but i haven’t been able to find the words and didn’t want to send something out that would just be filler. i’ve been busy working on writing that will hopefully make its way into the world at one point, and i did recently launch a column at catapult titled “from a k-pop fan, with love,” where i’ll be writing about my k-pop obsessions past and present. this is something i’ve wanted to do for years but never thought i would because where would the interest be? who would care to read about k-pop? especially when my k-pop of interest isn’t BTS or blackpink but the k-pop of the early aughts, the 2000s, and early 2010s?
as the writer esmé weijun wang has taught me, though, lean into your obsessions.
in february, my first column (which is being edited by the fantastic nicole chung) was published, and i wrote about h.o.t., the boy band that has indelibly had the most influence on my life. if it weren’t for h.o.t., i wonder if i would be here today, tapping out these words on my phone, if i would have been able to give myself the permission to break free from the conservative christian thinking i’d been raised under. of course, when i was a pre-adolescent in the throes of fandom, i didn’t think of it as granting myself permission; i didn’t think of my obsession in any kind of reflective, profound way — back then, all i knew is that i loved h.o.t., like, i loved h.o.t.; my existence would be so bleak and meaningless without h.o.t.; if i could, i would cross the fucking pacific for them and camp out in front of their dorm and follow them wherever they went. they were truly my all.
i spent almost two full months on that essay, chewing it over in my head, making my way into a draft, rewriting it, then rewriting that. i listened to a lot of h.o.t., watched their reunion episodes on infinite challenge, youtubed music videos, performances, variety show clips. i rewatched reply 1997, a korean drama in which the main character is a bbasooni, a tony fan like i was. it was comforting and sweet to be able to reminisce on my adolescence while trying to articulate why it was that h.o.t. meant so much to me and how they shaped my life — to put it shortly, fandom gave me the means to imagine a world outside of the church, to break out of the future prescribed to me, to learn to tell stories and let my imagination run free.
fandom taught me to write.
the second column is coming out next week, and it will be about IU, disordered eating, and body dysmorphia. i’ve written about body shaming before and its effects on my dating/sex life (or, really, the lack thereof), but i haven’t really written about body shaming or disordered eating in this way before. i’m so grateful to be working with nicole on this; she is not only a sharp editor but also a kind human, with whom i feel safe to dive into these deeply personal places.
so, yes, i’ve been writing. i spent most of december and january writing and rewriting this h.o.t. essay, then much of february writing the forthcoming IU essay. i’ve also been working on a taylor swift essay, rewriting a review, which is now out on submission, and trying to find time to work on my damn book proposal. i started a writing workshop, inspired by matthew salesses’ craft in the real world, a phenomenal book i shared about on instagram here and here and here, which i link to because i think craft is a vital book that should be read by writers and readers and any creative storytellers. i’ve been working a temp job because i need to make money, and i’ve also been looking for a full-time job, which, in and of itself, is kind of a full-time job.
and, in the midst of all this, i’ve been cooking and doing a lot of dishes, and i’ve also been punch-needling these egg coasters. i guess i’ve been keeping busy, not because i’m a wildly productive person who’s got her shit together but because, if i stop moving, i’ll fall apart.
one of the reasons i haven’t been here is that my brain has not been in a good space these last three months, and i didn’t want to come here and rant and whine, so i stayed away because i wasn’t sure what i could say. what did i have to share on this space when i wasn’t dining anywhere, when i was staying put in my apartment except to walk in the park during a snowstorm or go to the grocery store or make a weekly trek into the city for korean groceries, takeout, and blue bottle’s iced muscovado sugar latte? what did i have to write about when i was just listening to a ton of taylor swift and old school k-pop while punch-needling egg coasters semi-obsessively?
to be honest, i still don’t know what to say here. maybe i’m tapped from all the other writing, or maybe it’s that it’s been nine weeks since i ate anything momofuku, and that, in and of itself, feels strange. (i did get wings from fuku in february, which i guess is technically momofuku, but still.) other than when momofuku was closed in the early months of covid-19, this is the longest i’ve gone without eating momofuku since late 2018.
it feels weird.
i wish i had something deep to say about that, but i don’t. it’s just been another thing i’ve been mulling over, like what does it mean to love a restaurant? what are the limits of hospitality? how do you engage with a brand? what meaning does it have to get emotionally attached to an entity that isn’t human but is run by the human? i have a lot of questions but no answers, not really.
but, so, anyway, i meant to write sooner, and, when i kept pushing back this substack, i hoped to dazzle, to impress, but, now, i just want to check in, say hello, see how you all are doing. i know things continue to be difficult, especially here in the u.s. where our leaders continue to make puzzling decisions and the vaccine rollout has been a mess. we’re coming up on one year of lockdown, and it’s mind-numbingly frustrating that we are still in the same place, still under lockdown, while we watch friends in other countries go about their daily lives with more leisure.
i wish there was a way i could inject a little light into everything, but, for today, all i’ve got are these photos of punch-needling egg coasters. i have never been much of a crafter, but this has been soothing and comforting, giving me something to do with my hands as i mull over writing problems and grapple with personal pains, insecurities that, in and of themselves, feel stupid and small. i started punch-needling egg coasters for friends, but now i’m punch-needling just because, so i plan to sell a few eggs in a week or so if you’re interested in purchasing one — i’ll be releasing more information via instagram soon. right now, i’m waiting for more yarn to arrive, yarn that should have arrived last week but is currently lost somewhere in the united states.
anyway, this is enough rambling from me for now. i promise i’ll be back sooner than later with something more substantial — i want to talk about atoboy.