Surviving Sandy

Over a week ago, I wrote about what a nice "No Subway Weekend" I had, not knowing that New York would shortly thereafter experience what it would be like to have absolutely no subway service for days on end as Superstorm Sandy delivered her promised wrath.
Sandy blew through the tristate area on Monday and was every bit as powerful as promised, causing devastating flooding throughout downtown Manhattan and Hoboken, and heartbreaking destruction throughout the Jersey Shore. Lower Manhattan, where I lived less than a year ago, is still without power, and a lot of people I know from the area have had to evacuate from their homes.

I am among the fortunate ones who live on higher ground and experienced, at worst, a short loss of cable TV and Internet. As someone who has lived through my share of extreme flooding and days of blackouts and water shortage in Manila, I know that I was extremely lucky to be minimally affected by this storm, and for that I am truly grateful.

Brooklyn Heights pulled through Sandy relatively unscathed, save for a fallen tree here and there. Over here, it's business as usual. While waiting for a friend outside an apartment with a downed tree in front, I was shocked to see one resident duck under the tree to go out for a jog and another pull out a bike to go for a ride. Restaurants and bars were open and packed with people last night, and I woke up to the sound of kids in my building laughing and playing tag. Knowing that the situation is dire elsewhere in the city, I am thanking my lucky stars.
Since my friends who needed to evacuate could not be enticed to Brooklyn even with offers of hot caramel macchiatos, I've had to look for other ways to help! This really helpful post on the Wall Street Journal lists a few different ways, if you would like to help in whatever way you can. The quickest way, for now, is to make a donation to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999. You can also send an email to to enlist as a volunteer.

I hope, with all my heart, that everything goes back to normal soon. In the meantime, I pray that all of you are warm and safe, wherever you are.

The No-Subway Weekend

I have a love-hate relationship with the New York subway system. On one hand, I do love how it allows me to reach numerous pockets of the city with just a swipe of a subway card. But on the other hand, it has the potential to hand me the most cringe-worthy moments of the day, whether its witnessing the vermin ducking through tracks or coming upon highly suspect smears of foul-looking substances on its surfaces.

Last weekend, I gave myself the gift of a break from the (figurative and, unfortunately at times, also literal) subway rat race. It was a small adjustment that made my weekend that much better. Instead of slogging to Chinatown on the F, I walked over on the Manhattan Bridge—a method of "transportation" that got me there in the same amount of time but with far more gorgeous views and extra calories burned, to boot (which translates to more soup dumplings guiltlessly consumed—definite win!).

I've spent most of the past few weeks working through lunch so all I've seen of the "outside world" during daylight is the little expanse between my apartment and the subway, and skyscraper-crowded Midtown Manhattan. It came as a bit of surprise to me that while I was chained to my desk, Fall had settled in and the leaves had turned into brilliant reds and oranges. I seriously need to get out more.
In my dogged determination not to travel too far out of Brooklyn, I managed to convince everyone to come to me instead. It wasn't really difficult as the idea of indulging in delicious artisanal grub while soaking in the beautiful views of the Brooklyn waterfront pretty much sells itself. But if Smorgasburg decided to reward me in the form of Yuji Ramen's uni mazemen, I wouldn't be opposed. That bowl of goodness haunts me on a daily basis, I swear.

Now that we're back to the daily grind and enduring subway delays "because of train traffic ahead of us", the no subway weekend seems an even happier memory. Try it out before winter is upon us! 

Smorgasburg Sundays

How does one make Smorgasburg better? Bring it within walking distance to my apartment and keep my belly happy every Sunday until mid-November, that's how!

Since this wonderful food fair set up shop in Brooklyn Bridge Park's Tobacco Warehouse, it has brought lovely doses of sunshine and good eats to my Sundays. I'd be hard-pressed to think of anything better to do with my Sunday morning than rolling out of bed, taking a leisurely walk featuring stunning views of Manhattan and two of its loveliest bridges, and medicating the inevitable Saturday night hangover with a beef brisket sandwich/thick slabs of maple bacon/uni mazemen/deep fried anchovies/*insert other drool-inducing-specimen-of-goodness-here*.
There are some truly delectable eats in this picturesque food fair, my friends, and after a few visits, I've grown partial to more than a few. Mighty Quinn's beef brisket sandwich haunts my foodie dreams constantly: those delectable slices of beef meat with a perfectly charred crust and tender pinkish center topped with crunchy slaw and onions, and all tucked into almost comically small pieces of bread that are more useful for shoveling pieces of meat into your mouth than actually holding the sammie together. I can't decide which plate of food is more indulgent: the fresh and deliciously briny oysters from the Brooklyn Oyster Party or the thick chunks of sweet, salty, lusciously fatty maple bacon from Landhaus. And boy, do I have big plans for those crispy deep fried anchovies at Bon Chovie. One of these days, they're gonna come home with me to be noshed on, Filipino-style: with some steaming white rice, patis-spiked tomatoes, and spicy Pinakurat suka! It will be glorious, I tell you. Glorious.
I am also jonesing to come back for Yuji Ramen's uni mazeman. Mazeman is a brothless ramen, which is apparently quite the in thing in Tokyo at the moment. It's no wonder because it is refreshing, bursting with intense umami flavor, and plain old delicious. Proof: I don't have a picture of it because we slurped it down as soon as the bowl changed hands. But just so you know what goes into it, here's a picture of a magical bowl of uni goodness being made. Oh yes. Come to Mama ...

Smorgasburg will keep churning out the good stuff in Dumbo until November 18, and I intend to stalk those stalls as much as humanly possible. I can only imagine the terrible withdrawal that will come when Smorgasburg closes down for the season ... but until then, I'll take what I can get!

For more information on Smorgasburg Sundays, click here.


This made me smile (and feel a tiny bit homesick) first thing on a Monday morning. This new ad from the Philippine Tourism board is chockfull of everything that makes my Motherland really special. I'm coming back for a visit next year but seeing this is already making me antsy for the beautiful beaches, delicious food, and unfailingly sunny disposition of my peeps. If this doesn't make you want to explore the Philippines, I don't know what will! 

They don't exaggerate. It really is more fun in the Philippines! Come see it for yourselves; you won't regret it.

Sometimes, I can really be full of sh*t

The mind can be a powerful thing.

I'm living proof that "faking it til you make it" can actually work most of the time. With my powers of delusion, I've talked myself into doing a lot of things that quite honestly I didn't truly believe I could pull off. Did I know that I wouldn't have a claustrophobic meltdown when I set out to spelunk a few pitch black caves for four hours? No. But I did know that passing up the chance at something really amazing was a regret I couldn't live with, so I jumped in nevertheless and if I failed, at least I knew unequivocally that it couldn't be done—and that, I can live with. Thankfully, for this adventure and a few others, it turned out that I could—I faked it, and yes I did actually make it. Times like that, I was glad that I was full of sh*t.

Other times, though, my prowess for bullsh*t works against me. For the past few months, I've been slacking off on running and thought it was justified because I felt a bit of pain in my feet. Never mind that whatever discomfort I felt had more to do with my penchant for wearing ballet flats with zero arch support than actual running. But last weekend, I finally had to face the music. The half marathon that I had signed up for with a bunch of friends had finally rolled around and I couldn't bullsh*t my way out of it without getting bombarded.

"You've already paid for it. You can always run-walk-run if you have a hard time."
"You did a full marathon! All those miles on those legs—you can do this."
"You were fine in Brooklyn. You'll be fine this time."
"Come on, you'll get a pretty medal! You know you want it."

Still, I was so indecisive that when my alarm woke me at 5:30am on Sunday, the first thing I did was check the weather. Please, show me rain, I thought desperately, wanting an easy out. No such luck. Wearily, I pinned the race bib to my shirt and put on those neglected running shoes (I also made sure to put my insurance card inside my running pouch in case I had to be peeled off the pavement somewhere in Staten Island). As the ferry pulled away from Whitehall, I watched a beautiful sunrise come up over Brooklyn. No turning back now.
I was petrified when the race began, not having run any long distances since the Brooklyn Half Marathon. But as mile after mile passed and I found myself running and holding my usual 10-minute mile pace, I started to inwardly berate myself.

"You are so full of sh*t! I can't believe how many runs you talked yourself out of when you're perfectly capable of running all these miles!"

Somehow, I made it past that finish line—and did it in my second best time to date, phantom injuries notwithstanding. Oh the lies I tell myself, I thought sheepishly when I woke up the next day feeling pretty darn good—a bit tired and stiff maybe, but nothing remotely approaching an injury.

I hope this lesson sticks—not only because I will eventually hurt myself if I keep running races improperly trained, but because I could have improved my life even a little bit had I not bullsh*tted myself into complacency. I could've made a new personal record. I could've been faster and stronger. I could've been better.

Mind over matter. But please, always for the better.