Author: Joseph Hernandez

Dispatch | 11.17.19

Raise your hand if you’re tired. That seems to be the current collective, universal state of things. Tiredness knows no creed, no political party, no religion. Tiredness is in the water, it runs to our marrow. And it shows no signs of abating. As the world turns increasingly dark — from here in the U.S. to abroad (see Turkey, Hong Kong, Bolivia etc. etc. et al) — it’s hard to find relief from the news cycle. The impeachment hearings are must-see TV and social media is constantly alight; who even knows where we stand on Brexit? Hilarious memes and astrology posts bidding us to look into ourselves and the stars are barely a balm, but there’s so much tiredness to overcome. And then there’s the domestic front! The dishes pile up, a mountain of laundry is never quite tackled, and my research/writing/pitching to-do lists get longer. I know it’s something of a cliche, but “adulting” is so much. The reality is, there are some days I can’t bring myself out of bed, but please allow …

Tree-lined paths in Brooklyn, New York; Columbus,Ohio, other places

We Should All Be Forest Bathing

Lately, I’ve spent many weekend mornings wandering passed towering steel tracks and shuttered auto shops on the way to Highland Park. Situated on the border of Queens and Brooklyn, Google Maps reveals its a large island of green surrounded by cemeteries of all kinds. Jewish, Christian, non-denominational. It’s not quite an escape from the city — the sounds of the Jackie Robinson expressway and nearby church bells commingle with those of the birds, insects, and wind in the trees — but walking the leaf-strewn paths allows me to ponder and process the current state of things. Wiki tells me that Highland Park is one of the tallest points in Brooklyn (makes sense, given the name), but more importantly, it’s a verdant escape from its humming urban surroundings. For me, it’s the perfect place to practice the art and science of forest bathing. What is forest bathing? I first heard about “forest bathing,” or shinrin-yoku in Japanese, from a podcast Hurry Slowly a couple of years ago. The idea is that by disconnecting from modern life …

Signs of Life Well-Lived in Columbus, Ohio

There’s a particular genre of food writing that I just love, that always gets me right in the feels: Odes to grocery stores. But not just regular, American-style supermarkets, with glaring lights, wide aisles and wild shoppers. Definitely not places Whole Foods, or Fairway, or Wegman’s, or even the Jewel-Oscos or Associateds of the world. I’m talking about international stores, once dubbed “ethnic,” a word which has since (thankfully) fallen out of favor. Whether they’re a one-off mom-and-pop shop in a suburban strip mall, or they’re part of a larger chain — H-Mart, Seafood City, Patel Brothers — the presence of an international-focused supermarket in a community tells me so much about a place. Who lives there, what kind of food nourishes that community, the families and lives of a region, even how time and place have shaped that city or town’s economies. On Saturdays, my family went to 99 Ranch Market in City of Industry, or Greenhills in Diamond Bar — both about 45 and 30 minutes, respectively, from our home in Orange County. …

Man in library with white, wave-like shelves.

WTF is Stock & Flow: On creating a daily blogging practice

So I kinda decided, arbitrarily, to blog everyday. I’m in a new life season — see last post — which means I’ve been more or less trying on new hats and seeing what fits; daily blogging feels like a worthy exercise to blow away some mental cobwebs. I haven’t blogged regularly in, well, ever. For the last decade, give or take a couple of months, I’ve always written or edited for another publication, so personal blogging just felt indulgent. Unnecessary. Now I question that mindset: What if I had also been producing my own work all along? Where would I be as a writer? Oh, I was always writing for myself, sure. Snippets of a journal entry here, a longer Facebook update or a tweet or a longer-than-advised Instagram caption. The quick dopamine hit of “publishing” that “content” was enough to keep me away from here, my platform (or whatever this website is). And then, last week or so, I came across author-illustrator Austin Kleon’s blog post about daily blogging, where he cites Robin Sloan’s …

Dispatch | 11.10.18

This week has felt like a decade. Between the midterm elections (I worked election night in the newsroom), yet another mass shooting, RBG breaking some ribs and near-continuous attacks on the free press, I’ve been high-key anxious all week. There’s been some light, though: I finally got to write and publish a story about a question that’s been bugging me for ages, and got two cakes out of it, to boot. Alas, the photos accompanying the story are the last taken by my beloved camera before its internal sensors shattered. Besides work, I’ve been trying to stay afloat and manage my anxiety by staying off social media as much as possible, cooking at home and keeping things tidy (my favorite form of procrastination). Non-Recipe Cleaning out my fridge last week, I realized how much stuff we still had. I hate waste, so instead of ordering take out, I put together a big ol’ salad. Just as well, since I’ve been trying to work out more and curb my junk eating (hi, Halloween), but damn, do …

Finding center

I’m not a gym person and I hate joining groups, but for the first time since moving back to Chicago (when I was at my heaviest, 250 lbs.), I’ve plateaued. With that in mind, I finally motivated myself to do something I’ve always wanted to do but was scared to: Signed up for a hip hop dance class, where I’ll hopefully twerk off the 15 pounds to get me back to an arbitrary number I’ve dangled like a carrot for myself.   At my heaviest, my breathing was shallow and I felt awful, all of the time. I barely moved my body outside of walking to and from public transportation, while eating at all hours of the day, not to mention drinking casually because wine was always around. Surprisingly, in moving back, I dropped nearly 20 pounds in what I now believe was stress weight from living in NYC, from commuting 5 hours a day, from daily drinking 7 cups of coffee laden with sugar, from drinking wine on the Metro North train home because …