Best of Brooklyn: Summer at Smorgasburg

Summer has finally arrived and what better place to spend with a special someone than NYC?!!!
Tis’ the season for Smorgasburg, the most incredible and convenient summer food experience at cheap prices with maximal gluttinous impact.  Spanning the streets in a hipster part of town known as Brooklyn, Smorgasburg has its weekend food experience divided between Williamsburg on Saturdays and Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays, featuring popular bites and treats from around the world.

My sister and I hit off our Sunday morning with a walk across the scenic Brooklyn Bridge.  An added bonus on the way back from a burning hot day:  a painful 1st degree burn and equally hideous, uneven tan that will be with me until the dead of winter.  No hot summer fashion for me this year =(

On our merry way to Brooklyn!

On our merry way to Brooklyn!

Sister and I made it to the other side @Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sister and I made it to the other side @Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sweaty and hot, we trudged on to fill our hungry tummies with the best street food NYC has to offer, along with a gorgeous view of the East River and Lower Manhattan.  Welcome to my journey through Smorgasburg!

Teriyaki balls with shrimp!

Teriyaki balls with shrimp!

Mimi and Coco, Japanese Street Food, NY Style:  Featuring, TERIYAKI BALLS.  These cute bite-sized dough balls are filled with your choice of jumbo shrimp, juicy sausage, chewy cheese or organic potato, topped with teriyaki sauce, light mayo and crunchy corn flakes and almond slices.  The teriyaki sauce is on the salty side, so be prepared to have something cold (perhaps a slushy… see below!).  The chewiness of the dough and fulfilling texture from the inside out is unbeatable!

Visit their scrumptious website here:

Kelvin Natural Slush Co.:  Need a fun-tastic refresher after a salty treat?  Need a memory booster of a childhood summer favorite?  The former lawyers behind Kelvin Natural Slush Co. created a genius slushy concoction of natural fruit and flavors.  To a base flavor of Spicy Ginger, Tangy Citrus or Green & Black Tea, you add all natural pureed fruit of your choosing (acai, apricot, blueberry, blackberry, black orange, cherry, cranberry, lycee, mango, papaya, pink guava, pear, raspberry, strawberry, white peach).

Nutritious, delicious and coolicious!  Beats your average 7-Eleven summer slush, anyday.

Check out the best slush:

The best cooldown:  Citrus with mango, Arnold Palmer with white peach

The best cooldown: Citrus with mango, Arnold Palmer with white peach

Mango coconut sticky rice with Thai iced tea

Mango coconut sticky rice with Thai iced tea

Bamboo Bites“Sticky rice snacks made for sweet people.”  Amen to that tagline! Highly recommend the sticky rice snacks, served to you in a cute and long bamboo.  But if you’re in a more savory mood, there are options in that gustatory department.

Get sticky:

Alchemy Creamery:

Chocolate chai ice cream with cookie crumbs ... not a personal chocolate fan

Chocolate chai ice cream with cookie crumbs … not a personal chocolate fan

Their specialty is dairy free ice cream, but let’s be honest, ice cream is meant to be fattening and creamy.  I was not impressed with the offerings that day, let alone the taste. One disappointment of the day =(

Ice cream:


Drumroll… the culmination of a hot, sunny and sweaty Saturday:

Ramen Burger!

My sister and I got lucky with the line in the early afternoon before it had the chance to explode out of control.  We were not leaving Smorgasburg without taking pictures and tasting this famous burger.

A gloriously hyped-up burger since it’s release a couple years ago, and a definite must-try if you’re in Manhattan.  Thank you Chef Keizo Shimamoto for your genius burger creation.  With grilled ramen noodle patties as the buns and a scrumptious layering of angus beef, arugula, scallion and secret shoyu sauce, the burger is a classic fusion of American and Japanese essence.

And yes, grease and juice got all over my clothing and handbag, and neglected it all until the completion of my burger.

Check out this spin on Ramen:

Happy and hungry girls

Happy and hungry girls


Just My Luck … With Graduations

If I am a black cloud in something, that something is graduation.  My gloomy graduation history dates back to 2006.  What are the chances that every landmark graduation ceremony in my education process elicits tears from the sky?  Count them, thrice – high school, undergraduate (Baccalaureate AND Commencement) and last week, medical school.

High School Days

Out of all my career graduations, this was the least I cared about; hence, I was the most okay with nearly missing it.  At that time, I was a girl of few needs:  1) go to an Ivy League college, or somewhere close enough to a prestigious brand, 2) be valedictorian, or settle for salutatorian and 3) get off Long Island.  I fulfilled about 1½ points on that list.  I was most bummed that I did not graduate in the top 2 of my class to attain the lofty title of valedictorian or salutatorian (I was ranked #3, with no Olympic bronze medal recognition for that achievement).  The gunner in me then forever held a grudge against the high school that cheated me of my accomplishments, especially since I clean-swept all the senior awards with the highest, nearly perfect grades in all my classes.  Connetquot was unfortunately still on a “quality points system” that year, as opposed to the more mainstream “weighted average system.”  I still remember Connetquot as the school that essentially dinged a student for trying to be well rounded by playing in the orchestra (a lowly level 4 course), while another student with less stellar grades who was able to take more advanced classes received more points and ranked higher.  It was also the school that held me back from taking more Advanced Placement (AP) classes early enough to count more before college applications went out.  Except for a few special teachers who nurtured my potential and vision for success, there was nothing memorable about the high school that tethered my wings to a wall.

Now you have a basic understanding of my residual bitterness and how I could careless about graduating high school?  Maybe I did not get into my top choice of colleges (Cornell) and yet, I was happy and looking forward to life and school in the city (NYU).  Let’s not forget, I was bouncing off Long Island after 18 years of suburban, if not rural, life.

Excellence My Ends

Excellence My Ends

The morning of graduation was cloudy, humid and rainy.  I looked out the window and heard the pitter-patter of rain … and rolled back to sleep.  I assumed the graduation ceremony was cancelled due to inclement weather.  Nope, it was on.  In haste, I rinsed my curls and threw on my white cap and gown and ran in 4-inch heels.  I was not the only idiot who thought there was no graduation, seeing girls and guys getting dropped off and running into the school.  And here were the beginnings of my tardy tendencies.

I rushed to find my spot on line, somewhere amongst the honor society gang.  Because I was late, I also lost the spot I had on stage, one I personally requested and squeezed from the principal to make something worthwhile out of being #3.

The graduation could not have been more of a drag. The only family spectator was my father; my mother and sister did not come, given how rushed the morning was.  My hair was frizzing from the humidity.  I was nervously looking up at the sky, believing it would shower at any moment’s strike.  What was I proud of?  Getting through with perfect grades and off the island?  My school failed me and perfect grades did not get me on stage where I belonged.  In a deviant way, I was glad that it was dark and gloomy, for I believed the heavens above saw it befitting to make the day miserable for Connetquot and it’s Class of 2006 Graduates.

Wow, I still sound bitter 8 years later …

NYU Memories

The little chunk of campus I experienced

The little chunk of campus I experienced

Every May in honor of NYU graduates, the Empire State Building lights up Violet!

Every May in honor of NYU graduates, the Empire State Building lights up Violet!

College epitomized my glory years.  It was a fresh environment with a much more intellectual and social crowd.  I was happier, the butterfly that emerged from a tight, suffocating cocoon and spread its wings to fly and discover the world.  Come on, I was going to school in the middle of Manhattan!!!  I had no campus, but that did not matter, because my fun-filled campus was uniquely all of NYC.  These were the years I spent finding myself, exploring the city, reconnecting with my Asian heritage and making awesome friends to last a lifetime.

Four years bounced by, and now I was part of NYU College of Arts & Science, Class of 2010.  My Baccalaureate Ceremony took place at the famous Radio City Music Hall.  Center stage and Magna Cum Laude.

While the ceremony was indoors, outside it was again, dreary and gray. There were a few sprinkles, but not significant enough to ruin my wonderful graduation day.


Commencement was a different situation, that fateful Wednesday in May at Yankee Stadium.  It was cold and horribly wet and more like May showers.  Ponchos and caps were passed out for barely enough coverage.  I was freezing in my violet gown that did nothing for insulation.  There I sat, for the next few hours, under a bright yellow umbrella ready to break or fly away, listening to Alec Baldwin and other VIP people give speeches about inspiration and success.  Where was the sunshine I so anticipated for my huge and memorable college graduation?  Apparently, it was playing hide-and-seek in the ultimate hiding spot and refusing to budge.

Okay, it was pretty cool to graduate at Yankee Stadium

Okay, it was pretty cool to graduate at Yankee Stadium

All the special people get FULL coverage from Mother Nature's wrath

All the special people get FULL coverage from Mother Nature’s wrath

President Sexton, meet Dr. Alec Baldwin, crowned Doc of Fine Arts in 2010

President Sexton, meet Dr. Alec Baldwin, crowned Doc of Fine Arts in 2010

What you giggly about Alec?

What you giggly about Alec?

Here are my previous blog entries back in May 2010:

End of a very Violet Era, Part 1

End of a very Violet Era, Part 2

Those days were less okay for rain to ruin, but I had another 4 years to gain graduation redemption, with medical school.

Freshly Minted MD

Fat chance.

The forecast for my medical school graduation on Thursday May 22, 2014 was just as glum as my luck with the last two cycles of graduation.  The morning started off bleak, but relatively dry.  Just as my fellow soon-to-be doctors assembled for the Class of 2014 photograph outside by the campus fountain, the droplets of rain started to pitter-patter.  Perfect timing.

At least the ceremony took place in the Staller Center for the Performing Arts, with a stable enough roof for coverage.

Fat chance again.  We had just finished the hooding process on stage, the ceremonial initiation into Doctordom.  Then something epically unprecedented happened:  the fire alarm went off in the middle of the Hippocratic Oath.  It did not cease to stop, in case it was a false alarm, so we all had to evacuate.  Into pouring rain.  Perfect timing, again.

On top of my day of unfortunate occurrences, my dear sister missed my graduation.  She rushed to take all her finals in order to catch a flight out from California in time for my once-in-a-lifetime graduation from medical school.  Except en route, unprecedented and unseasonal weather in Denver derailed her flight (and many other travelers with important, but less so, itineraries) into New York and in time for my special day.  Inclement weather in the form of wild tornadoes and shooting hailstorms was rarely seen in Denver, except on that one fateful Wednesday.  I was bummed my sister could not make it to my graduation, the one person who has put up with my shenanigans all these years, like stressing out and taking a marathon of final exams back to back just come home in time for me.  After the chaos that comes with flight cancellations and angry mobs of travelers, it took her a grand total of 24 hours and hopping through 5 cities before she touched down safely.  Now I’m beginning to wonder, would I just be a bad luck charm for her graduation next year?


Ray of Sunshine Despite being a black cloud given my dark history of graduations, finally a sliver of sunshine peeks through the gray clouds. My education has taken a grand total of 20 years (if you count kindergarten), but it has not stopped there.  Learning is a lifelong endeavor, an ever-changing process.  It has been an uphill trek, with each step building a foundation for the next higher step.

Elementary school was defined by the basics of the alphabet and arithmetic.  For me, it was also learning English as a second language.  If I put a brown paper bag over my head and spoke, I would sound like any young white girl off the streets.  You would not guess I was in ESL for 3 years.

The large chunk of time defined by middle and high school was all about mastering the SATs and AP exams to get into the best university personally possible.  Those were my hard-working, gunner days.

From college onwards, there was a gradual decline in my gunner ways.  I still worked my butt off for good grades, but I valued my youth and social life more.  There, I built a nice liberal arts foundation and fulfilled rigorous premedical requirements, and took too much time for retail therapy and bubble tea and culinary excursions.

And now, the last 4 years have been defined as my medical enlightenment saga, where the real beginnings develop for a young doctor-in-training.  From burying my brain in books and medical lingo to falling asleep in lectures almost on a daily basis to roaming the wards and chasing after residents who think you’re a pestilent ghost, medical school have nurtured fine memories.  I graduated at the tender age of 25; I have learned so much, and yet so little.  Just as there’s always wiggle room for dessert, there’s also room for personal and academic development.

Thank you to my family and friends for their love and support.  I have made some wonderful, intelligent, compassionate and talented friends who I am glad to call my dear physician colleagues.  Together, we will be friends to last a lifetime, forever connected by our beginnings at Stony Brook Medicine as we journey forward on a magic carpet ride into the world of medicine.

Haha, my Mama's donning a white coat!

Haha, my Mama’s donning a white coat!

Proud Mama and Papa at Graduation Din Din

Proud Mama and Papa at Graduation Din Din

(Gray) Graduation Day!!!

(Gray) Graduation Day!!!

Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister ... Take 2

Sister, Sister … Take 2

WORLD, prepare for some awesomely bad ass doctors coming your way! 

Congratulations to all 129 Graduates of Stony Brook School of Medicine, Class of 2014!!!

At the end of the alphabet, where the cool kids are

At the end of the alphabet, where the cool kids are


Still at the end of the alphabet

Still at the end of the alphabet

The obligatory, Connie Yu MD graduation selfie

The obligatory, Connie Yu MD graduation selfie

The Final Countdown

The Match, one of the most memorable moments of medical school and training.  A week filled with anticipation, agony and anxiety.  Beginning this past summer, applications for residency were prepared and sent to various programs around the country.  Interviews occurred from earliest in mid-October to the end of January.  For me, I had a very extensive and arduous interview trail, spanning that entire season.

Oddly enough, applying for residency is like searching and interviewing for a first job, except for a few minor deviations when it comes to the complicated world of medicine.

  1. So you go on 10 – 15 interviews for whatever specialty you choose.  You generate a rank list and so does every program.  Yes, you rank your potential employers.
  2. A computer determines your fate.  Yes, a computer takes nearly 30,000 lists by applicants plus lists by each program, multiplied by >30 specialties.  Applicants are essentially “matched” to one program based on their respective lists.  Prospective doctors are at the mercy of a technological beast, how mysterious right?
  3. There is no such thing as multiple job offers.  You will never know what program liked (or hated) you.  On February 26, the rank lists were finalized and sucked into a black hole.  Pixie dust and magic occurs soon after for 2 weeks … until March 17.

Did I Match? … Monday was a big day, where I learned whether or not I matched to a program.  At exactly 12:00PM (well, a little earlier than that on my phone), the big email came…

It's a Match!!!

It’s a Match!!!

Phew! What a relief!  The most optimistic four words I have ever been excited over!  Not that I doubted I was going to match, but I can’t help being a neurotic medical student!  Sunday night was the first night in nearly 25 years of my life I was an insomniac.  The catecholamines and endorphins on fire throughout my body kept me up and awake until 3AM.  Even unconsciously, I’ve been stressing about the Match.  This past weekend with my friends on a mini-hiking trip, I was talking in my sleep, asking “Hey, are you nervous?” So my friend responds, “About what?”  And I say, still asleep and with absolutely no recollection of this event, “About the Match of course!”  Clearly, I’ve been experiencing some turbulence deep down in my unconscious.

Luckily, I do not have to go through this week’s infamously named the Scramble, which has since changed to the Post-Match Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP).  This is where applicants who did not match search, apply and hopefully accept an open, unfilled spot in available specialties.  For those who do unfortunately, it’s highly stressful to try and nail a residency spot in 4 days time.


What is bound to happen when you have thousands of medical students anxiously and impatiently awaiting their fate that has already been determined as of Monday?  Let’s see, we have brains and beauty, manual dexterity and technological sass … something is bound to happen.  And it did.

On Monday night, someone on Student Doctor Net forum posted a trick to seeing where people matched.  By going on the National Residency Match Program (NRMP) homepage, right clicking on the page and viewing the page source, there would have been fate, revealed.  Many students got wind of this underhanded trick, courtesy of poor programming and glitch in the system.  Maybe except Stony Brook, because our entire class is either taking a sub-internship or taking a course called Transition into Residency.  I was busy studying for a midterm the following day!  Well, I was distracted and perusing the SDN forum in Emergency Medicine to see what stupid drama was unfolding, which meant I was totally in the wrong forum!

I guess it was meant to be.  I enjoy surprises.  I look forward to the glorious moment I will be sharing with my friends, family and faculty come Friday.  Even if I had that choice, I would not want such a precious moment destroyed by curiosity, impatience and technology.  Match Day is a climactic time representing my hard work and accomplishments since kindergarten.  I have come so far since coloring in the lines and raising (and killing) a baby caterpillar.  Tomorrow will be an amazing day and I cannot wait to see where I will be for the next 3 or 4 years!


The Next Mr. Right

It was mid-October and I found this message in my OKC inbox:

      Hi, I’m Jimmy,
I’m new to NYC and OKC. I am easy going. I like movies, dinners, traveling, music, shows, and many other things. I would like to get to know you. I am seeking someone to hang out with, go on date nights, and just take it easy. I would love for me to get to know you better and vice versa. If you are interested, hit me back.

One week later, my response:

Hey you,
I’m Choo Choo. Well, I’m not new to NY, and yes, new to OKC… This was more like a curiosity and see what the hype is lol… What are you in NY for, and how do you like it?

From there, we hit it off, virtually.  Like an exothermic reaction.

okcupid-logoAnd yes, I was on a messaging spree with several guys at a time.  No real harm in playful chatting, right?  This multitasking game of finding friendship and love is a thrilling ride.  The key is to strike a balance and be efficient.  It’s a skill that suits me for Emergency Medicine, similarly a continuous and simultaneous game of meeting patients, obtaining histories and records, figuring out what’s wrong and what to do next, talking to more people, and simply getting things done.  I also happen to have a short attention span with tendencies toward ADHD, so I fit snugly into both the OKC and Emergency Medicine world.

Quickly enough, by mid-November, he was like, “Cool, hey wanna meet up sometime?”

We started the back-and-forth fun and flirty texting game.  Right after things fizzled out with Kevo, I picked things up with this new guy.  What was special about this new guy?

To start off, he’s a Brooklynite working on his plastic surgery residency at a major city hospital.  Again, there was that immediate bond by default of our respective paths in medicine.  I could relate to his life as a surgeon, after barely surviving 2 months of rolling into the hospital at 5AM and enduring retractor duties.  And I’m sure he could relate to my current status as a 4th year medical student with interviews, travels and … freedom!  And like every other guy on the Internet trying to win a girl’s heart, he was super enthusiastic for Asian food and coffee, both of which are the bane of my physical existence.

However, here’s an interesting situation. I mentioned this guy to two of my good friends, both of whom had essentially the same response:  “Hmmmmm, noo00OO00oo” and “Ooohhh, that’s dangerous territory” [shakes head side to side].  Historically, surgeons have this tough-guy, ass-hole persona.  Little pleases them and more pisses them in the face.  When they’re happy or mad, their mouths dispense brusque profanities like a child playing with a Pez toy.  When they get moody in the operating room, do take cover.  The last thing you want to do is incur their wrath or become the object of their projected displeasure.

So I was forewarned about potentially dating a surgeon, let alone a plastic surgeon. Unexplainable, yet understandable. I was curious about this guy who so captured me with his charm and enthusiasm, how could I resist? I was atop an emotional high, mixed with anxiety and anticipation, even more so than the last one. And the lure of a plastic surgeon, the doctors often delineated as tall, smart, handsome and charismatic, an all-around lady’s man. I must admit, I’m a victim to such men; easy to like, or even fall in love, but also easy to fall down hard and break into pieces.


heart latte  It was Wednesday, November 13:

     Me: “I’ll actually be in Manhattan for interview stuff this week!”

     Jim: “I am around =) Let me take you out.”

Man, this guy was fast.  Happy face and all.  A coffee date was set for that Sunday.

In the meantime, he sent me his picture one day out of the blue.  I had no idea it was him, so I freaked out.  The balding man in scrubs smiling and sitting casually at the cafeteria table … was HIM.  At least he had the decency to update me on his current appearance, which only meant his profile picture on OKC was a dramatic blast from the past.  On OKC, he looked like a happy boy at a party, probably high given the cloudiness of the picture; in the new picture, he was still happy and somewhat young, but clearly a resident who has become victim to sleepless nights and endless days.  I say “aged” judging by the receding hairline and premature balding pattern.

Yes, even Prince William is not immune to the biological tick

Yes, even Prince William is not immune to the biological tick

The aftershock of the surprise lasted briefly.  I was not going to let appearance dictate the beginnings with a guy, as his personality was shining through.  During that week, he’d initiate the morning texts, asking what I was up to and how my day was going.

For a surgery resident, man did he have time to text!  Which goes to prove, if a guy is sincerely and seriously interested in a girl, he’d text and talk, in typhoon and turmoil, no matter how busy the workday gets, even in the hospital.  Seriously, doctors text all the time.  I’ve seen it … and done it myself.


The big Sunday afternoon, November 17:  Before my social gathering out in Manhattan, Jimmy and I grabbed coffee in Park Slope.  The anticipation escalated the entire train ride into Brooklyn and I was practically popping with nerves as I waited at the street corner.  There were 4 possible corners to meet this guy.  The weather was also not helping, gray clouds looming ominously overhead.

Gloomy NYCThen I got his text.  I looked up and there he was, across the street on the other side.  We crossed paths and walked to a nearby coffee shop.  Based on first impressions, he was not bad at all.  He was definitely more put-together than the last weirdo, dressed in a black shirt and pants topped with a dark blazer.  Nice, a guy with simple style.

Sitting together in a cozy little corner by the front window, we talked in ease and breeze.  Here was a cool, hip and chill Asian guy who has trotted the world.  An ethnic Vietnamese, he lived in Hong Kong for part of his childhood, then moved to the middle of nowhere in Ohio, until medical school where he transplanted to San Francisco, California, and eventually to Brooklyn now by default of his career calling.

Fun times for kids ... and budding surgeons!

Fun times for kids … and budding surgeons!

We hit it off, more so in person.  It was a much more smooth and casual meeting.  Of course we had to bring medicine somewhere into our conversation, given it was the initial glue and catalyst to our budding connection.  I was super interested in how he chose to become a surgeon.  It was a laugh hearing about the horror stories of his residency interviews, like playing Operation while sweating balls and getting pimped on tough questions.  Despite living the burdensome life of a surgery resident, he was still enjoying his life, like making the time to meet me.

Unfortunately, duty called.  The afternoon had to be cut short.  He was on-call, requiring him to be nearby in case stuff hits the fan, and he had to tend to some work at the hospital.  And I had to tend to my social business back out in Manhattan.  At the subway station prior to parting ways, he gave me a solid hug and said, “Well it was nice meeting you today.  I guess we’ll text?” [fingers twiddling in texting fashion].

What did I like about him?  Well, someone in medicine is always a plus.  Then there’s the ambient air of comfort, the initial connection and the subsequent conversation flow.

I was most attracted to his bad boy persona. He fit the party boy profile, based on his stories throughout college and medical school of boozing and “baking.” After spending time in California, what more do you expect? Man, did I find him gravitating. He had this charisma and humor, a particular ease in smooth talking and layering the mood and just being real and open.

Bad BoyWhat was not so hot?  I know better than to judge a guy by his looks and height, but sometimes the difference is tangible. This guy was small and short, perhaps skinnier than I am, if not the same height.  As stated in my previous post, I have particular checkpoints in relation to physical features.  However, if the personality clicks, I would be willing to move ahead to the next step.

I followed up with him that evening on my way to Manhattan:

     Me:     “Nice meeting ya today, thanks a bunch for the coffee time!”

     Him:    “It was nice meeting you too, I’m surprised an awesome girl like you is on the market :)“

Awwwwwww … I was flying on clouds that night.  Darn the dark, cumulonimbus clouds.  Still, I was bouncing in bliss.

Floating in Clouds

Finding Mr. Wrong

Remember my previous post with my first OK Cupid man, Kevo?

Well, this blog post should be titled:  7 Ways For a “Date” To Hit Southbound  

  1. Style your attire:  First impressions DO matter. Sporting a brand name outfit from head to toe is one thing (maybe even earning a few brownie points in my lookbook), but dressing like a haggardly hobo is a flat-out disappointment.  Just as a simple guy expects a girl to look nice and natural on the first encounter, a simple girl also expects the guy to make an effort on the fashion front.
Oh the suspense!

Oh the suspense!

I was in Newark for a residency interview, so my attire was business-fancy.  Here I was after a long interview day, ready to meet my first online man.  Even when I dressed down my bright green blouse with a pair of black straight-leg pants, I still looked at the very least … presentable.

I was both excited and nervous, getting ready to meet a stranger for the first time, despite getting to know each other only after a month.  Will he like me?  Will I like him?  Will I live up to his expectations, physically and personally?  Am I too bright and dressy?  Darn, does my breath smell like tomato sauce and garlic from the Italian lunch buffet?

There I sat at the run-down hospital lobby, my mind racing with scenarios on what to say and do and the anxiety building up like a towering game of Jenga.

“Hey … Connie?” speaks a young lad.  I looked up to find him standing there.


Jenga fail and fall

Jenga fail and fall

Someone pulls out that ill-fated piece and the Jenga tower implodes. Oh the numbing feeling of defeat … and disappointment.  This guy was utterly unimpressionable:  plain white tee over an old, washed-out pair of blue jeans with a red windbreaker and dirty white sneakers.  His hair was unkempt.  His face was popping pimples.  Not as fresh-faced as I imagined.

Plus, he was shamingly skinnier compared to my physique; I am neither Hong Kong beauty Angelababy nor Little Miss Piggy, but I felt the difference.  He missed the mark he made with his profile picture and statistics, even the video images.  Indeed, the camera and Internet do wonders for a person’s height and features.

Let’s be real, it’s hard not to judge a person based on appearance.  Physical attraction matters and is what triggers the initial connection and contact; it’s a hit or a miss, and this was a miss.  Of course, I was not going to let physicality be the end-all-be-all; he had opportunities to let his personality shine.





2.  Take care of your car:  Personal hygiene is reflected in the most minor acts and belongings, including your prized vehicle.  I have minimal expectations for what a guy drives to shuttle me around the neighborhood, but the hypersensitive OCD-side of me shivers to strange smells and stains.

So yes, there was an old car/old man smell that tickled my olfactory cells.  He drove a pretty battered dark green sedan from the Stone Age.  Seriously, who still drives a car with a cassette player anymore?  Well, this guy.

What did we listen to as he drove me through a tour of the ghetto?  None other than Korean pop, something we bonded over from the beginning.  Except, the cutesy squeals of Girls Generation was less than high definition.

Green Corvette versus ...

Green Corvette versus …

... Old Green Car still alive from the 1980s

… Old Green Car still alive from the 1980s

  1. Dine together, not solo, even if it’s frozen yogurt: We made it to Maplewood, his neck of the woods, safely. Whew!  No bullets, knives or machetes came for my blood.
... Barely Any That Night

… Barely Any That Night

He suggested his favorite pizza hotspot, Arturo’s.  Before the pizza place opened at 5pm, we went to eat frozen yogurt nearby.  He was ahead of me, while I took my time deciding my flavor and toppings.  He got his yogurt, paid and sat down at a table … and started eating.  I was not even done filling my cup and paying!!

Come on dude, no girl left behind!!!

  1. Dining etiquette, pretty please:  Even if you and I are casually chatting at a frozen yogurt joint, please guys, be mindful of dinner table manners.  That should include chewing with your mouth closed and not sitting back in your chair, arms folded behind your head, one leg up over the other.  It makes you appear sloppy and unimpressive, like you do not care about yourself or me.
  1. Deep in the cheap:  I’ll give him props for taking the lead to find an authentic, fancy and pleasant Italian restaurant,  Arturo'sArturo’s Osteria & Pizzeria, and explore his favorite pizza dishes.  One large pie was split between the Margherita (very popular selection with handmade mozzarella, tomato sauce, Oregon sea salt, fresh basil and EVOO from California baby) and the Montagna (tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella, parmigiano, arugula and smoked prosciutto).

Needless to say, the pizza was truly phenomenal, particularly the Montagna with the perfectly sliced and flavored prosciutto.  I have the guts to say that Grimaldi’s Pizzeria has a competitor.

MontagnaI was not hungry, given I was still well satiated from the vibrant pasta lunch and I had just gobbled down a cup of frozen yogurt covered in fruits and mochi.  I ate two slices, one of each specialty kind. Let me rave about it again for a brief moment before I get fired up for the next paragraph.  Visit Arturo’s, with locations in NYC as well, and prepare for a trip to heaven with the Montagna.

Now back to the regularly scheduled blog post:  At dinner’s end, there was a third of the pie left. He asked me, “Wanna take the rest home?” Out of courtesy, I responded, “Oh no no, you take it home.  Share some with your parents for dinner or something!”

Without hesitation, he took it all.  Add to that, I offered to split the tab with him (again, out of courtesy) and ended up paying $12 for a couple slices of pizza.  And he was perfectly okay with this picture … not even so much as a gentlemanly, “No no girl, I got it.”  So I was not even that hungry, ate two slices of pizza and split the bill with him … while he took practically the whole pie back home.  How ridiculous is this picture?

  1. Again, no girl left behindDude, what are you doing, racing me?  At the beginning and near the end of the night, this guy was always 5 steps ahead of me, from the hospital to the medical school side and parking lot to the restaurant and train station.  What happened to walking side-by-side, getting to know the girl like an equal?  Must he make me sweat to play catch-up?  Why yes he did, otherwise I wouldn’t be complaining about power walking that eventfully cold night.

The night was downhill from the first moment’s glance.  After leaving the restaurant, I insisted I can make it to the train station right behind the place just fine.  He was nice enough to say he’ll walk me to the station, despite being consistently 5 steps in front of me on that walk.

  1. Shrug the hug:  At this point, I wanted the night to end and go home to my apartment on Long Island.  I had a long trip ahead of me from Jersey.  I wanted to be out and away from this guy.

The farewell could not have been more awkward.  He opened his arms, weak and wide, feet planted there at the platform, with minimal eye contact and looking off into the pitch-black distance, and waited for me to fall into his embrace.  Even then, it was not the warm and commanding embrace; instead, it was wimpy, yet wooden.  Wimpy because his arms created a flabby hold and wooden because his body was stiff, his feet cemented in place.  An epic awkward hug …

Manatee hug —————————————————————

One week after that epic encounter, we were supposed to meet up to have lunch at Wafel’s and Dinge’s and see a WongFu show at Columbia University.  It was prematurely planned in October, before we met.  The thought of meeting him again made me cringe.  Needless to say, after my interview at Mount Sinai that Saturday, I was ready to cancel and peace on this guy.  And he sounded pretty okay with it too, judging from his nonchalance via texting.

Finding Mr. Right

In October, I met Kevo on OKC, short for the popular NYC dating website OK Cupid.  He was the first “normal” guy I responded to, and I message very selectively. Soon enough, an “online relationship” began to blossom.  The connection was almost immediate.  To start off, we were both Asian American kids with a rekindled appreciation for our Asian food, culture and language.  Apparently, we both enjoyed karaoke jams to Asian songs.  Who goes to karaoke to sing Chinese songs anymore?  Well, he and I still do!  As an added bonus, we were both medical students!  He was planning to do family medicine and I was applying for emergency medicine.  Personally, there is little else more comforting than to find companionship with someone in your field.  Some people want partners who are far away from medicine, so when they come home, couples can unwind and talk about other stuff.  Medicine is taxing on the mind and body, yet exhilarating to experience.  To find someone with the same background and fund of knowledge to share my experiences with is liberating and relaxing.

Scaredy cat when it comes to online dating?

Scaredy cat when it comes to online dating?

For nearly a month, we talked by text, Google chat and even video chat.  Not like I had anything to hide, but the concept of remotely chatting by virtual means was foreign and strange, especially for the first time. It reminded me of the MTV show Catfish, where shady strangers in these “online relationships” try to hide for months to years, always with an excuse and never the time.  Check the show out, it’s shocking, yet entertaining.  You’ll understand why I (and perhaps you) tread cautiously on the World Wide Web.

Twice, we video chatted at nighttime, but not without technical difficulties on Skype or Google Hangout.  Hey, at least I made the effort!  A few instances I got nervous during the call and my camera would drift to my forehead. He’d say, “Uh, could you move your camera down a little? I only see your forehead now?”

I found him decent-looking and fresh-faced.  He seemed like an honest, smart and nice guy, your typical Asian with boyish features and characteristics, even playful.  One time we were talking about our love for WongFu productions, the Asian American trio based in California who make videos poking fun and sending positive messages about the Asian American culture.  He took his Toon Spencer plush toy and played with it, putting it on his head.  That was also his profile picture, him with the Spencer bear atop his head.


What a cutie bear!  Meet Spencer!

What a cutie bear! Meet Spencer!

I liked Kevo and there was nothing to strike me as odd about this lad.  I’m sure I struck him as more odd, given that I told him how I’m a blubbering, bawling fool when it comes to sappy Asian love songs, music videos, dramas and movies.  He must think I’m a histrionic, emotional wreck with chronic wet-eye syndrome and tissues within arms reach to last a lifetime.

Tell me you will not cry a waterfall after watching “童話/Tong Hua” (Fairy Tale) by 光良 Guang Liang.  This was memorably the first Chinese song I ever listened to back in 2008, and what jumpstarted my iTunes playlist, Asian Addiction.

Tell me you will not feel a pang to your heart (and eyes) when you watch this love song, “Because I’m a Girl” by the 90s’ Korean girl group, Kiss.

Tell me you will not need a tissue with this Chinese classic, “老鼠愛大米/Lao Shu Ai Da Mi” (Mouse Loves Rice) by 王啟文 Wang Qi Wen.  This song has been so popular, it has been remade twice since the original release, one by 香香 (Xiang Xiang) and Cantonese duo, Twins.

And lastly, but not the least, Hins Cheung, Hong Kong’s prince of ballads. We went off on a long discussion about his music and videos. I just started listening to his music, thanks to Spotify. Now, thanks to Kevo, I was on a marathon of his sappy music videos and performances.

Up Next:  A surprise for you … and me!

The Dating Diaries

Welcome to my new series, Conchibi’s Dating Diaries, a new blog column entertaining you with my personal adventures in the world of online dating.  Life as a single Asian girl in medical school gets rather monotonous and boring.  Seriously, studying all the time in coffee shops or libraries and roaming the hospital floors like a friendly ghost … how is a girl living such a depressingly nerdy life to find her Prince Charming, especially when there is an ocean of eligibly hunky bachelors in a distant land called NYC?

Curiosity struck the cat.  I never imagined myself diving into the stream of modern love hopefuls, but I did.  Call it a spontaneous move, a purposeful accident.  While on the interview trail for residency programs, why not make a few detours and enjoy some dates?  Interviewing and dating run parallel routes.  Finding the perfect fit job is a long-term commitment and requires looking and acting your sharpest.  And on emergency medicine residency interviews, it’s like speed-dating for 3 hours, if not longer.  Likewise, dating is about finding Mr. Right.  Whether it’s a nighttime stroll or candlelight dinner, the mutual Q&A is like an interview process, with moderately high stakes because first impressions count and the chemistry lab is brewing; hopefully, the night is a success and a second date ensues.

I am young, but the years are rapidly ticking by.  I’ve recently passed the quarter-century mark, luckily unscathed by a major crisis!  I am also your average Asian girl:  petite, modest, caring and fun, with a deep appreciation for food, flavor and fashion.  Of course, I must be fierce too, given I was raised by a Tiger Mom who whipped me into the multi-talented, straight-A doctor I will soon become.  That’s just a snippet of my personality posted to the virtual world.  If you get far enough to meet me in person over coffee or dinner, I will entertain you with my boring upbringing on Long Island to my crazy uprooting to Manhattan as well as my humor, antics, complaints, interests and earthly travels.

Before we venture forward, let’s begin with a picture of my ideal man, Dr. McDreamy.  As you read through my blogs, take note of how far off I have been in successfully nailing my dream man.

McDreamy1. He’s a doctor:  I’m going to be a doctor, so it’s only natural I’ll find myself a doctor hubby, right?  Smart, educated, professional, well-dressed, healthy and dashingly fit… a stunningly perfect species of men.

2. He’s tall, dark and handsome:  I think this cliched statement speaks for itself.  Any lady would agree to this.  I need to look up to my man, not down.  And I like an air of mystery from the shadows.

3. He’s Asian:  Preferably Korean, but can be Taiwanese, Chinese or Japanese too.  Korean guys have the perfect physique:  tall, fit, light-skinned.  It’s also an added plus they dance well, know how to dress like it’s Fashion Week anyday, and smile devilishly like it’s their weapon.

I feel like I connect better with a guy from a similar traditional and cultural background.  It’s a case-by-case assessment, so not all white guys are out of the picture.  But after watching Seeking Asian Female and perusing, my perspective of white guys on the Internet are unfavorably and horrifically skewed.

Seeking Asian Female

From his MV, "愛錯" (Wrongly Loved)... look at the irresistible muscle meat

From his MV, “愛錯” (Wrongly Loved)… look at the irresistible muscle meat

4. He’s got muscles of mass destruction:  Who wants to be hugged by skinny chicken wings?

The closest man who fits my ideal (and I’m speaking on behalf of the entire continent of Asia) is Taiwanese singer-songwriter, actor and producer, Wang Lee Hom 王力宏.  A musical genius (he plays the piano, violin, guitar, drums and… THE ERHU) with a weakness for romance and knack for creativity, art and languages.  This guy was set to pursue medicine at Ivy League schools, but chose to attend the liberal arts school, Williams College, to pursue music and Asian studies.  Soon enough, he learned Mandarin, found and lost love, made it back to his motherland of Taiwan and became an international popstar, melting the hearts of millions of Asian chicks around the world.

Yes, it's Lee Hom again... the epitome of a Hot Asian Guy

Yes, it’s Lee Hom again… the epitome of a Hot Asian Guy