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  • Lynn Kim Do

    Lynn Kim Do

    there's nothing to hide and no one to hide from, especially yourself

    Acupuncture can be intimidating for many reasons. For one, the needles. The MANY needles. I have never met anyone in my life who have said, “OH MY LAWD! Needles are my FAVORITE THING. Ever. EVER! I just love them so much.” So, I don’t think I’m alone in this sentiment that needles freak me out. I mean, when I was 12 and very overdue with my immunity shots, I convinced myself that if I made my doctor laugh really hard, he would decide not to prick me with needles and inject whatever fluid my school deemed valuable to my existence. Moral of the story there was that humor doesn’t fix everything. But it definitely made us both laugh through the experience, even if they were nervous ones. My next experience with needles were tattoos. My fear of needles was collapsed by my higher belief in body art. And the permanency is real so, yeah, if my artist had already started, then god damn, she better finish!

    So here I was at Rest Acupuncture, talking Yukiko’s ear off (my nervous defense mechanism kicking in) and I asking a bunch of questions. In retrospect and highlight and in current conscious thought, I shouldn’t have been nervous! Acupuncture has been around longer than modern medicine and probably penicillin (don’t quote me on that!). I have met people who swears by it. It’s holistic! No GMO. Hella organic. No substance. All good vibes. I am such a believer in preventative care and self love, which means that I will try almost anything at least once that promises a balanced body and mind. And ANYTHING to reduce anxiety. After all, New York City breeds it. The road of success is the only road I’m walking on. And success doesn’t come stress-free.

    Okay, let’s back to the acupuncture room. Yukiko took her time with our initial consulting, easing my mind, catering the process to my needs and concerns. There are four Rest Acupuncture prepackaged options her clients may choose from. They’re like bento boxes (but acupuncture style). I told her that I’ve been having digestive issues, nightmares, stress from moving, and then added “I just want to connect my mind and my body.” Yukiko in her wise form suggested that we do the “Calm” option, “the most pokiest one.” I low-keyed panic but I knew that whatever it is, it can’t be worse than my five hour tattoo. AND I knew I would walk out of this feeling like a BRAND NEW WOMAN. I followed this saint into a bed of my choice in an open yet inviting space. The minimal space filled with the freshest oxygen courtesy of the prettiest plants felt like everything my apartment should be but isn’t. Yukiko dabbed a small alcohol wipe in all the areas she planned to poke, put a bit of pressure on the spot, and the quickly pricked me with the sterilized (and one-time-use only) needle. The first one on my foot was totally FELT. It wasn’t intolerable though. The rest felt easy. The ones on my arms, chest, and face felt like nothing. My body felt heavy and sunk into the bed. “Enjoy your nap,” she said. And just for context, I do not nap. I can not do it. I envy those who do but I am not built that way. So to be completely honest, the mix of this new experience, the needles, the nap, I had some anxiety at first. And then I reminded myself to give in to the experience. To let go. Wow, I am so glad I did because I quickly fell asleep. 40 minutes go by and I am gently woken up by Yukiko’s voice. She advised me not to drink alcohol or do anything too active after because it can undo the work we just did. I left that studio feeling like I was floating. I have never been so chill. And I am not “chill”. The best way I can describe it was that I very much felt in the moment in every moment. I wasn’t thinking about my day earlier, what I was going to do next, or the day after. I was just existing. That night, I slept so peacefully and the next morning, I still felt incredibly chill. I barely recognized myself because of this just loose and relaxed feeling. I never wanted this feeling to go away. But then I walked into a stressful meeting and yeah…it left me.

    So I’ll be back to Rest very soon. I suggest everyone and anyone to try it. There’s nothing like getting to know yourself, your mind and body connection, and receive some benefits like acupuncture.

    I came back a second time because I am a firm believer that the first and second time are usually drastically different. A month or two had gone by and I was in dire need of Yukiko. I possibly created an illogical correlation to being the best and zen version of myself to Yukiko but it was wonderful to see her. I was so excited to be in her presence and tell her my problems, all the internal and physical manifestations. We did a more personal session because of the high levels of anxiety I had and stress prior to the visit. The pokes felt less "pokey" because I think I became a bit familiar with the sensation. I sunk right into the bed upon her magical touches. I did feel paranoia at first, just like the first time, but I think that comes with my personality. I then told me self to trust the process and let go. I fell asleep and woke up gently feeling alert and well-rested. I realized that the 30 min that I felt asleep felt like 3 hours. I took the extra 15 minutes to meditate and process some lingering thoughts in my mind. I made many wonderful ideas and self-realization during the last 15 minutes. Yukiko took me out of my own head at the end of the process and I felt absolutely wonderful. And floaty. And stressed-free. Yukiko told me that many people just nap through it, others find their best ideas through it.

    131 Norfolk Street
    New York, NY 10002

    Images by Lynn Kim Do & Kim Geronimo
    . March 28, 2018 .
    . March 20, 2018 .

    Being back in New York City is like breathing into your lover’s sweater when his arms are tightly wound around you. It’s dark purple butterflies fluttering around your internal illuminance. It’s cold pizza with even colder french fries at 4am after too many IPAs. It’s where I lay my heavy head weighted in 80 pounds worth of dreams increasing exponentially at every given second. It’s where my cacti name Carlos and my banana tree name Zahir lives, my poor babies. I know they miss mommy. It’s where I’ve began a hundred books and never reached the back cover.

    And while I way away, home had no problems reminding me how beautiful he is. He whispers in my ear thousands and thousands of miles away to tell me how the buildings sparkled extra hard in the skyline last night. And tonight, I get to see it. In person.

    I’m back.

    Designed these lace up beauties - Halsey shoes - with Shoes Of Prey. Use "lynnkimdo" for a discount. 

    Images by Kim Geronimo
    Gingham Jacket - Bella Dahl, Denim Frayed Jeans - Wearall, Beret - BB Dakota, Custom Halsey Booties - Shoes Of Prey

    . March 16, 2018 .

    I can argue that Vietnam has one of the best food scene. And you can't beat the cost. The only thing is, it can be difficult navigating the vast variety of dishes and where to get them. I am here to help (as much as I can)!

    What to Eat:
    1. Pho (duh!) - The north and the south has very different taste in pho. I suggest trying it in both regions. The south has a more complex flavor while the north is more simple. Beef (Bo) or Chicken (Ga), you can't go wrong. It is a common breakfast dish.
    2. Banh Cuon - One of my favorite dishes. They are wide rolled rice sheets filled with pork, mushrooms, and pure deliciousness.
    3. Bun Bo Hue - Spicy noodle soup with chunks of beef. I can eat this every day of my life. The noodles are similar to udon.
    4. Cha Ca - Grilled fish with rice noodles and also one of the most pleasant surprises I had in Vietnam. I've never had this before and I think it about it every day since. This is a truly Northern Vietnamese dish.
    5. Banh Cua - It's a thick udon dish with thick broth made with tons of crab bits. My god, I'm drooling while I'm thinking about this.
    6. Banh Coc - This is my mother's favorite dish and I had this for the very first time during this trip. Their mini turmeric cakes with shrimp and sliced pork. They very similar to banh xeo (the larger older brother of this dish). Wrap it in some fresh herbs and never come back from true bliss.
    7. Can Chua - It is a sweet and sour similar to tom yum but NOT. If there's an option, I always choose Can Chua Ca which is the version with fish. This dish should not be eaten alone. Think family style with at least one vegetable dish and one meat dish.
    8. Rau Muong Xao Toi - Also known as Water Spinach Sautéed in Garlic. I use to eat this dish 3 times a week growing up. So underrated, so simple, so good.
    9. Thit Kho Trung - A meat dish that I also grew up with. My mom use to make a huge pot of this caramelized thick slices of pork and egg dish and we would eat it for an entire week. Trust me, you'll thank me.
    10. Che - This is our dessert. There are so many kinds of che. My favorite are the three color one (very rainbow-like) or the banana. I suggest you just close your eyes and pick one. You can't go wrong.

    What to Drink:
    1. Beers - Every region in Vietnam seems to have their own beer. Bets part: it will cost you less than a dollar. I've tried Ha Long Beer, Saigon Beer, and Hanoi Beer. How to order? Simple! Just ask for a "Beer" because that's literally what they also call it.
    2. Nuoc Mia - Sugar cane juice! This is my mother's favorite. I think she drank this every day in Vietnam. It's super refreshing. It's also fun to watch because they take a giant sugar cane pole and pop it in the crusher to extract the juice.
    3. Cafe Sua Da - Or Vietnamese Ice Coffee. I mean, need I say more? Slow filtered coffee dripping in a large helping of condensed milk. Add ice. And viola! Golden deliciousness.
    4. Cafe Trung - Egg Coffee. Sounds weird, right? I was hesitant, too. But when in Hanoi, amirite? It's a Hanoi exclusive experience and I actually liked it. It taste like a cross between a flan and a cappuccino. It also probably has a ton of protein because of the egg. A girl can hope!
    5. Sinh To - Sinh To translates to smoothie. Vietnamese people love their smoothies. I would say skip the smoothies you can have at home an opt for something more interesting like an Avocado Smoothie or Durian Smoothie.

    1. The best restaurants aren't necessarily fancy ones. Some of the best food we had were makeshift restaurants off the side of the street. If you see a ton of Vietnamese people eating there, it's a good sign.
    2. Before you do eat especially at a makeshift spot on the side of the street, ask for a menu. I say this because you want to see a price. If they don't have a menu, then ask how much. They can rip you off if you've eaten already and uncharge you.
    3. Tipping isn't part of their culture. But why the hell not if you loved the food or the service or their passion? They take great pride in their food since it's how they make their living. Leave at least 10,000 VND which is equivalent to about 50 cents if you want to show your appreciation.
    4. Foody App is helpful. It's the FourSquare or their local Yelp but I found it semi-helpful. Remember that this app is made for locals so it's great for finding out places but when I see a pizza joint with higher ratings than a Pho place, I understand that the mindset and purpose of their food journey is different than ours which is to experience Vietnamese food specifically. I also just found the Google Maps app helpful when I looked for places near me. I just type in what I want to eat or drink - "bar" "cafe" "pho".

    Images by Lynn Kim Do & Kristy Do

    . March 13, 2018 .

    This is my third time in Vietnam. My first time was when I was 8 years old, the next time was when I was 23 years old. And now as a 26 year old. And somehow, they have all felt so incredibly different. And I don’t mean “different” in cityscapes, development, and economic display in Vietnam. That’s a given. I mean, I become different. I think Vietnam has always been a huge metaphorical benchmark in my life. When I was 8 years old, I distinctively remember being pulled away from my mother’s arm by my father to head back home to New Jersey (my mother and brothers were going to spend an extra week in Vietnam and I was cuckholded by the American education system aka I could only miss 14 days of school so was returning home early with my father) and she said, “Do not let anyone at home bully you.” That phrase alone holds many context. Before that moment, Lynn Do was a pushover. I was always bullied by my cousins. I always did what I was told. I barely spoke up or spoke at all. I held in my tears at any given moment. I swallowed the bullying and belittling just so I could be apart of the play circle, to fit in, to belong. But after that moment in the airport, I remember my mother’s voice, her curly locks pulled to the back of her head, the warm humidity in the air. And somehow, something inside me just changed, like a switch had went off. And after that moment, Lynn Do began a journey that led me to become the person that I am now — assertive, opinionated, a self-proclaimed bitch. The next time I went to Vietnam, I was an adult. I came to Vietnam with a huge internal purpose that I dared not share with anyone including my mother. I wanted to speak to my grandmother, the only living relative of my father’s, on a sensitive topic. I needed to understand why my father is the way that he is. Why he could fuel an unhealthy gambling addiction with very little regard to his family? Why he had the worst track record on reliability and stability? Why he couldn’t show me love like other father’s I’ve seen around me growing up. I remember sitting in front of my grandma on a plastic stool. I remember choosing my words wisely, navigating through the language barrier and communicating to my grandma with the little Vietnamese that I knew, without hesitation to not come off offensive or letting on to my purpose. And my grandma whether she knew it to nor brought tremendous insight. My father is a man stunted by his harsh childhood and nonexistent stability or display, let alone connection, with “love” as I know it. And I was able to work on my path of forgiveness.

    This time, Vietnam showed me my people. I have only seen my people through America’s eyes. Through American upbringing. I don’t know Vietnamese. I’ve only known Vietnamese Americans. This time, I went up north to Hanoi. The “American South” to Vietnam. The Texas or North Carolina, if you will. I wanted to experience Vietnam in a new understanding from the ones I had before. I can’t deny that I don’t have true Vietnamese insight. I can only see it through voyeuristic eyes, half in, half out. And what have I learned? In my stillness back home in New York City, I realize I’m still putting together all the knowledge and wisdom attained in this trip together. Sorting through visuals, faces, smiles, laughter, taste, and smell. But what I have put together is that Vietnam is a country that is resilient in it’s unpredictability, in it’s chaos, in it’s adaptability. I think these characteristics run rapidly through every Vietnamese’s vein. I see it in the grandmother selling oranges on the street. Or the Minnesota born Vietnamese American who decided to uplift his life to move to Vietnam and pursue his dreams at Public Relations (I met him at a bar in Hanoi). I see it in my mother and her 26 years dedicated to raising 3 children practically alone in a world who called her a foreigner all while having fun. I see it in myself recently trying to not only ideate but create something out of nothing.

    I love my motherland. I love the people, culture, and land that shaped my ancestors and my mother. I appreciate all the nuances — good and bad. Because it ultimately is the reason why we are so badass.

    Images by Lynn Kim Do & Kristy Do