“All along we’re going to feel some numbness. Oxymoron of our lives. Getting fed up by that hunger; supersize we’ve found inside. He won’t know what’s real or numbness. Catching up and climbing high. Speaking like a hug of thunder, lit up by the lights of dusk outside.”
“Nauthiz is a sudden demand which overwhelms one’s stores and savings. Nauthiz indicates a time to retrain, relearn and plan effectively in order to get what is wanted from a particular situation. Nauthiz is a rune of ‘wanting’, and it is generally a negative rune since it describes a ‘lack’ of something.”
The rune cannot be reversed.
I turned 34 on Tuesday, at 9:19 am.
I wasn’t too sure how my birthday would be celebrated, but if I had it my way, it’d be spent ordering a pizza, playing Persona 5, and potentially making dog videos. Of course, my friends had something else in mind:
At the stroke of midnight on April 25th, my roommate came out of her room and presented to me a slice of birthday cake from Butter & Scotch; a great start, in my opinion. The next day at work, my officemates took me out to lunch at Totto Ramen and were gracious enough to pay for my meal.
As I was slurping down my spicy ramen and drinking half a beer I shared with my supervisor, I kept on getting an unrecognized call from a New York City area code. At first, I thought it was a robo-call (who else has been getting a lot of these lately?), but as I we walked back to our office, I answered it after the 5th attempt: it was a delivery guy from Domino’s. It was hard to understand him at first, and the order initially took me by surprise; I thought it was a mistake. I then realized it was probably Brett Harmon delivering a pizza from his vacation in Hanoi. He confirmed it after sending me a text on a phone number with a bajillion numbers and a “+” sign. It was indeed a surprise pizza attack.
Immediately after work, I met up with Gino at his office. He said he was going to take me out to dinner, but refused to tell me where — yet another surprise. After he put on a classy suit, he lead me out into the rain and onto a train heading uptown. We got off 34th street, passed through Macy’s to avoid the rain, and dragged me to Keen’s Steakhouse: one of the oldest restaurants in NYC and voted one of the top ten steakhouses in the city.
After two glasses of wine, and 45 minutes surpassing our 7:15pm reservation, we were seated in “The Moose Room,” a semi-private dining area whose walls were adorned with century-old photos and a giant moose head. The entire ceiling was covered with fishermen pipes. Seated next to us at adjoining tables were European tourists in fanny packs and what looked like an unmarried couple from Asia who kept on ordering steak and lobster and more steak and more complimentary bread.
Gino took care of the order entirely, so I can’t recall what exactly we had: it was just a slab of steak — perhaps the tenderest, juiciest steak I’ve ever had — french fries, and cauliflower. We ordered an entire bottle of wine and ate like men.
For dessert, he let me choose. I decided to get a Lady M dark chocolate cake, thinking it was one of that restaurant’s famous layered-crepe cake. Now I’ve never seen Gino eat chocolate, so it came as a surprise to see him eat a few bites. I figured that since he was pretty much paying for the entire meal, he’s entitled to eat things he normally doesn’t eat.
After Gino paid the check (still no clue how much it cost), we walked towards the exit and passed Christian Bale. He was a lot shorter than I had imagined and sort of scrawny, so I guess it’s true that the camera adds two inches and 10 pounds. Perhaps he was physically transforming himself for a new role; who knows?
We walked 4 blocks north, in the rain, to The Skylark — a swanky cocktail bar atop a skyscraper overlooking the entire city. I’ve been there before, but with the rainclouds obscuring the even taller buildings, the view looked amazing. The clouds just seemed to devour anything over 20 stories.
Two martinis later, and we called it a night.
All in all, it was a good birthday: small and relatively low-key in the sense that it wasn’t a boozy rager. It made me feel like I can gracefully transition into my mid-3o’s, to an adult. So to quote Blink-182, “Well, I guess this is growing up.”
I went to the first preview day of the Queens Night Market, a ticketed affair that showcases food and retail vendors at the New York Hall of Science. For $5, one can taste all sorts of Asian, South American, and Eastern European foods before it’s open to the public — for free — later in the spring.
All the food and drinks cost under $6, so a twenty can take you a long way here. Nonetheless, waiting in line for a single food vendor can be up to 20 minutes, plus an additional 15 minutes for your food to be prepared. I recall waiting in line to get a pork bun, only to wait for my number to get called once it was prepared; I ended up going to another food line and the ATM in the meantime.
It’s all worth it though, as the worldly, street-style cuisine is unique; finding Japanese octopus balls, Chilean Arepas, or Urkanian perogies in one, localized area is hard to find — even in any neighborhood in New York.
Here’s what I had:
Cbao’s Korean-Style Bulogi Bun: the meat was so juicy, and they loaded it with spring onions. The rice bun is much larger than any bun I’ve ever had, so at $5 it was a deal.
Lahi’s Filipino Lumpia: ground pork and garlic and onions in a fried eggroll wrapper. It’s very reminiscent of what I can cook.
Yes, the atmosphere was a little hectic, and the place was completely packed by 7:30pm (it opened at 6). I particularly didn’t like the music; it reminded me of a local county fair. Still, the food was awesome, and if you don’t mind waiting a lot and standing while eating, I highly recommend getting there early.
Here are more photos:
Because of a clerical error where my social security number and birthdate didn’t match, I wasn’t able to e-file my taxes this year. You’d think that this would be an easy fix, but when you go through government channels, it’s obvious that a simple office typo of a “25” looking like a “26” is a bureaucratic nightmare:
- After attempting several times to e-file, I get an email from H&R Block that the IRS has rejected my federal taxes (but not my state return). As I mentioned, on a federal level my SSN and/or birthdate were filed incorrectly. Normally, I’d be happy with sending my state return online, and my federal return by mail; I’d get my state refund sooner, and I’d pay my federal taxes by check. Unfortunately, New York State is saying I had to e-file both my federal and state returns conjointly.
- H&R tells me to contact the IRS.
- I search through 5 years of emails looking for the pin number the IRS gave me to log into their site.
- The IRS website says they can’t fix my SSN/birthday online.
- I call the IRS during work. After being on hold for one hour, the IRS tells me to call the Social Security Office.
- I call the Social Security Office during work the next day. After 45 minutes on hold, the Social Security Office won’t confirm or fix my birthdate or Social Security Number. They tell me that I need to bring my physical birth certificate to a Social Security Office in person.
- I call my dad who I would think has my birth certificate. He does not. I have to get a replacement birth certificate.
- I wanted to get my birth certificate from my hospital in Chicago, but they closed it down and turned it into condos.
- I pay 50 dollars to the Cook County Clerk’s office to send me my birth certificate to New York City.
- One week later, 4 days before my taxes are due, I receive my birth certificate.
- Yesterday, I use my lunch break to go to the Social Security Office closest to my office. I have my birth certificate, original social security card, W2’s, a passport, and a driver’s license — anything and everything I would need. However, the front desk tells me I need to go to the Brooklyn branch in order to correct my SSN/birthday. They don’t do corrections in this Social Security Office. Unfortunately, I learn, all of New York City’s Social Security Office hours are from 7am to 4pm (during weekday work hours).
- I leave work early to go back home to Brooklyn, to that particular Social Security Office. I get a waiting-line number and remain seated for two hours to be called.
- Everyone is waiting, and I notice one agent arguing with a French woman since I arrived. People’s numbers are called and they come and go, and I’m starting to think I’m next with this particular agent.
- My number is never called, and the entire social security office clears out after 4:45pm. The French woman leaves. Completely alone in the waiting room, I go to the agent’s window and I exclaim that my number was never called. She says come back in the morning, “We’re closed.”
I didn’t explode or yell or anything. Instead, I immediately bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked furiously. Luckily, I planned this would happen and sent my taxes out by the mail; I just won’t expect my state return for a few months, and I know my bank account will take an immediate hit for my federal taxes. Still, the sheer idea that I can’t get my tax return sooner because of a clerical error is frustrating, but nonetheless a minor inconvenience till next tax season. What’s more frustrating, however, is this goddamn bureaucracy to fix this error and the time and money I’ve wasted.