Sunday, May 14, 2017

The 1up Arcade Bar

This weekend I promised myself, again, that I wouldn't work overtime on Saturday. I kept my promise. We had a leisurely breakfast and went shopping. I bought some yarn and a loom that I had been eyeing for over a year. When I was in the Pacific Northwest last year, I picked up some sticks from the forest on the mountain where I grew up. I've been wanting to make a wall hanging to hang from them ever since. We picked up some local beer on our way home and hung out in our apartment with our windows open to the green trees and the sun streaming in. I drank beer and watched weaving videos.

We were still recovering from the excitement of our Friday evening apartment visit. It went really well and we think we'll rent an apartment from this real estate company. The apartment we saw was a studio with a dining room and a huge bathroom. The dining room was painted a light robin's egg blue and the bathroom had large black and white diamond tiles. There was an alcove where a Murphy bed used to be. There is a shared outdoor space where we could garden and barbecue. The best thing is that it's within our budget. The walk is also 15 minutes closer to work. When we were headed back to our car, the owner started telling us about another apartment he had that we would love. It's a one bedroom on the same street. It's a little more expensive, but still close enough to our budget that we could make it work. I had already fallen in love with the studio's decor, but I couldn't pass up on an actual bedroom and more space. This other apartment also has shared outdoor space where we could throw the ball for Kiki. We're going to see it on Monday.

After lounging around the house for most of Saturday afternoon, we walked over to Illegal Pete's with Kiki to meet some friends. I love that we can take Kiki there to visit with them. We made samgyeopsal (Korean bacon) for dinner, so we just sat and chatted as they ate. From there, we walked over to The 1up on Colfax. Brian and I had driven past this bar many times, but we've never gone in before. I was excited to finally go and find out what it was like inside. We met a third couple there, more friends who also taught in Korea. At first I was hesitant to try out any games. The only game I have ever been good at is Doctor Mario. I don't like playing games that I can't win and I was very good at winning Doctor Mario as a child. It came easy to me, but it was enough of a challenge to be fun and exciting. I realize that that's not really the point of playing games, but I lose interest in most games quickly.

After playing a few rounds of Skee-Ball, I was hooked and determined to try more. When we first arrived, I told Brian that I only wanted to play one game and I'd be good for the night. We ended up running around and trying all sorts of different games. I even played a few that I was terrible at and wouldn't mind trying again. After Skee-Ball, my second favorite was Ms. Pac-Man. I also enjoyed Pac-Man Battle Royale, which was played with three friends who you were competing against. It was the most fun I have had out in a long time. Running around exploring games and finding your friends from time to time is a great way to spend a Saturday night. We went home tired and satisfied. Although we could see ourselves spending way too much money at this place--the quarters do add up--we were excited to realize that the apartment we might move into is only a five-minute walk away.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Korean Grocery Store

Cravings for Korean food, and for Korea itself, have been coming back with intensity lately. It happened when we lived in Denver for only four months, and now after a year, it's happening again. I dreamt that I was there two nights in a row. The dreams were strange and vivid where people who weren't supposed to be there were there, and worlds collided. I woke up half planning to make a mad dash back to Korea and to study Korean in secret until we left so that I could have time to convince Brian that it was the right choice to make. 

Alas, here we stay in Colorado. We will have to make do with thickly sliced Korean bacon dipped in spicy sauces and wrapped in lettuce; iced buckwheat noodle soup; seaweed bits to sprinkle over kimchi fried rice; a big jar of kimchi; two different types of ramyeon; yogurt soda; and ice cream wrapped in a cone that is shaped like a fish with a layer of red bean syrup on top. It's strange to call somewhere home for so long and to know that you may never go back there again. It's strange to find solace in a grocery store. It's strange to be "home" but for that word to have lost its meaning over time. In an attempt to let go of the past and fully immerse myself in the present, I look forward to planning our first camping trip in Colorado this summer. That samgyeopsal will taste divine cooked over the open flame, after all.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pho Le in Aurora

The cafe at H-Mart in Aurora was still closed for remodeling when we went grocery shopping today. I hope they open again soon, but there is a fantastic pho restaurant just across the parking lot that makes up for not being able to fulfill our Korean food cravings. One of my co-workers told me that it has the best pho in the Denver area. I have had pho maybe once or twice before, so I don't have much to compare it to, but it was definitely very tasty. I've been missing out on so much! The broth and the noodles were delicious. They bring your soup out with a little tray of bean sprouts, lime, basil, and peppers. The basil and lime add a lot of good flavor to your soup. The beef was a little bland--I would order just noodles or maybe pork next time.

The restaurant itself has a good vibe. It's a bit like a diner. I find the colors and the light calming. There was a neat wall feature with bamboo plants that went well with the black, white, and green color scheme. We came in-between lunch and dinner, so we nearly had the place to ourselves. Toward the end of our meal, the early dinner crowd started to arrive. I wonder if it gets busy during peak restaurant times. Even though it's just about 15 minutes away from where we live in City Park West, the area seems far away and completely different from our neighborhood. I would gladly drive to Aurora anytime for some pho, bubble tea, or Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

First Friday Exhaustion

Yesterday was First Friday, a day when galleries are open later than usual and entrance is always free. We went to the Art District on Santa Fe to see a friend's co-worker perform in the back of a candle shop. They had an amazing ceiling with a skylight and an enormous plant hanging down. I enjoyed the music and wished that it went on longer. Her set was cut short by a performance piece that was also happening in the same space. It looked interesting, but I hadn't eaten dinner yet, so we left before they began and went in search of a food truck. We braved the crowd and had meatball pasties outside a brewery. It was fantastic seeing friends and having a chat, but suffering from exhaustion and allergies, the noise of the crowd was starting to get to me. We decided to walk over to another neighborhood and find a quiet bar where we could chat and catch up. We found a nice, comfortable bar and spent a bit of time there before I could barely keep my eyes open. After working 50 hours in 5 days, 10:30 pm starts to feel a lot like 2:30 am used to feel.

I'm looking forward to the next First Friday, though I have not been impressed with the art the two times I've gone so far. However, I was tired both times I went, and I would like to give it another chance. Last summer, I expected so much more from art in Denver. I was shocked by the low quality of art that I saw in one of the most popular and well-known art districts. I thought that it would be better. It didn't help that I worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and was used to seeing high-quality art on a daily basis. Despite being disappointed by a few art excursions, I still want to seek out and find all of the best places to see good art in Denver. The one gallery that I know I can depend on for this is called RedLine, and it lives in the RiNo Art District. It seems as though the Art District on Sante Fe is more focused on the party and less focused on the art. Fair enough, I'll probably go back sometime when I'm less tired and enjoy a nice evening of festive sidewalk frolicking and delicious food truck pasties. But the next time I'm looking to enjoy intriguing and visually pleasing art, I will be headed to RedLine and asking for their recommendations on the best places to see good art in Denver.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Working Overtime & Chada Thai

Today is Thursday, and I have worked 40 hours this week so far. I started a new position a few weeks ago, and I am currently working both my old and my new job. The replacement for my old job is starting on Monday--I couldn't be more thrilled to have some help. It's great to get the opportunity to work overtime; however, I'd also like a few full weekends off in a row, and I'd like to be able to take some time off this summer to go camping. Brian and I have been doing our best to make meals at home this week, but we were so tired that we decided to take a break from cooking and go to Chada Thai down the street. It's the sweetest little restaurant on 17th and Race in City Park West. Like many of our favorite places in Denver, it has a lovely patio.

The best thing about Chada Thai's patio is that it's a dog-friendly patio. Kiki loves sitting with us whenever we venture outside of our tiny attic apartment. Speaking of our minuscule abode, we've officially started apartment hunting with just under two months left on our lease. We rent our current studio with a loft for an unheard of $650 a month. We're trying to find something that isn't much more expensive, but it's a very hard thing to find in Denver. For most people we know here, $1200 a month is not a high price to pay for an apartment, but I would love to pay off my student loans sooner rather than later. We're also willing to live in a studio or a small 1 bedroom apartment, which many people are not willing to do. One thing I love about saving on rent is that sometimes you just have to get out of your space and spend time hanging out in your neighborhood. Tonight, it was exactly what we both needed. It felt much better than just going from home to work and back again. I will be sad to leave this neighborhood, but if we find the right apartment in an equally good neighborhood, we won't be able to pass up having a bit more room and a sleeping area that doesn't induce claustrophobia on the hottest nights of summer.

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