Thursday, October 17, 2013

Up All Night

I'm doing that thing again. You know, the one where I intend to go to sleep early so I can rise early and have a fresh, productive day, but instead find my finger pads violently crushing the keyboard so I can transpose thoughts into words.

It's late and it's been six months since I last posted here. I almost thought I was done writing about what she knew was true - I guess there are more truths to be had though. I wanted to come back with a bang - with something profound, deep, beautiful, moving, funny, entrancing. Instead, it's just me. It's just my night owl self who worked out too late to let the energy subside before bedtime. Me, the one who doesn't actually institute bedtime at all. What happens, happens.

I haven't sat down to actively reflect and write in quite some time. I've been busy on my other blog going to shows and writing about them, wearing clothes and taking pictures of them. So I've been reflecting on events and occurrences instead of the things that literally keep me up at night - love, the future, death, travel, literature, health, goals.

I've also been doing this really cool thing at night - playing geography games on my iPad. I can recognize most countries by territorial outline or flag, look at a picture of a landmark and place it on a world map...I can even say all of the states in alphabetical order while pointing to them on a map. This is what I spend my time on. And then I think about traveling to all of those places and how there is so much world, so little time. I just remind myself I'll get there one day.

That is all. Time to play a game until I fall asleep to dream about something inexplicably odd, like having a business meeting in my old Woodbury house while I fold laundry and watch TV. Or Bruce Willis hijacking my car only to total it for fun.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Five Years Time

Disclaimer: this was meant to be posted in mid-January, the 5-year mark of my departure from everything I knew.

Second disclaimer: Photos are not actually anywhere in HK, but were taken on travels during my time abroad.

The day was cold and biting, the night before bittersweet and tear-stained. I regretfully left the side of my sister and brother-in-law to pass through the cold, metal gateway to an escape from my life.

I had a difficult year behind me, the self I had known disintegrated before becoming viable again. I needed an escape: new scenery, new people, new adventures. A naive, 20-year-old with waning confidence and a nervous demeanor, I boarded an airplane with two acquaintances who would eventually grow to be my best friends. 

To get through the 14-hour flight, we started conversations and played games. David and I poured over the pages of his puzzle book, competing to find differences between two seemingly identical photos. After bouts of being entertained, bored, anxious, excited, restless, sleepy and sad, we finally touched down on the foreign land we were to call home for the next five months. Hello, Hong Kong.

David, Jeff and I made the mistake of not learning the name of our university in Chinese. We scrambled for any address, logo, document we could find that would bear any sort of clue to where we needed to be. Weary and drained, we finally were able to communicate our needs and were promptly packed into the boxy red taxi en route to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

I had been in the city before, but had little memory of just how massive and daunting it was. The millions of people sardined into high-rises were a spectacle; the rolling hills, surrounding water and striking cityscape all juxtaposed to form one, beautiful, chaotic reality.

4am is no time to get lost in translation, much less check into your residence with hefty eyelids. I managed to forget the sequence of communications, but in the end, we barrelled up to the 2nd and 4th floors to our respective rooms. I dropped off my suitcase, then descended to see Jeff and David again. We woke Jeff's roommate, Jake, and he stayed coherent enough to make introductions and chat. I love to look back on the first time I met someone - the impressions, reservations, excitement all eventually trade themselves in for familiarity, memories, inside jokes and a deep connection. 
Angkor, Cambodia

After tiring ourselves out once again, our sleep-deprived bodies stumbled to bed. Not expecting the historical cold front in a tropical land, I had little with which to sleep. I snuggled with my travel pillow, a towel and a hoodie the first lonely night and eagerly awaited a feeling of rest and a looming trip to Ikea with the boys.

Fast-forward to five years later, and I'm sitting in my bed in Minnesota, longingly remembering all of the shopping trips, dim sum and sushi dates, ditching class, practicing yoga in Times Square, bottle service, Engrish, Ebeneezer's, and trips to Shenzhen, Macau, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Xi'An and Beijing. What has stuck with me the most is the confidence I gained from living on my own in a foreign country and the amazing, driven, intricate people I have met.

Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I strongly encourage it for anyone who has the opportunity. If I could go back, I'd do it again and again. 

Sapa, Vietnam
Here's to you: Jeff, David, Rahul, Jake, Sebastian, Michael, Arne, Kevin, Jeremy, Eva, Jocelyn, Davina, Kristen, Frances, Juliet, Alex, Dan, Jennifer, Laura, Lisa and the whole lot. 

I miss you and am so glad to have met you!

Monday, January 21, 2013

30 Before 30

I turn 26 today; a step closer to 30, to 40, to 50, to whichever age I reach. I often feel like my foot is smashing the accelerator pedal and there is no letting up. I am flying past exits that I want to explore in anticipation of a greater destination. 

Despite my fear of growing older, I have decided to embrace each birthday and celebrate it. I hear adults say that birthdays don't matter after a certain age, that they're nothing special. But they are. Birthdays indicate you have lived another year. You have escaped every possible threat to your life, you have persevered for 365 more days, you have made it to today.

I want to create a meaningful life full of creativity, joy, excitement, adventure, beauty, inspiration and achievement. I have daily goals and a life bucket list, but not so much of the in-between. And so, the in-between. 
1. Run the Twin Cities 10-mile race
2. Practice yoga regularly
3. Get (and use) cross-country skis
4. Try stand up paddleboarding
5. Attempt a new exercise class

6. Finish my study abroad scrapbooks
7. Catch up on my concert scrapbook
8. Complete a SmashBook for a full year
9. Paint a large canvas
10. Learn how to sew

11. Take a photography class or seriously learn on my own
12. Redesign my blog
13. Guest blog for someone
14. Meet other bloggers in person
15. Attend NY Fashion Week

16. Get a keyboard or piano and play it again
17. Become proficient in Vietnamese
18. Hone my ability to ice skate backwards
19. Practice writing in different styles (fiction, poetry, etc).
20. Cook a new recipe once a month

21. Travel to Ireland, Scotland and England
22. Cross off 10 of the 30 stadiums of my MLB Stadium Tour (6 down)
23. Visit 25 of the 50 states (21 down)
24. Experience Christmas in New York
25. Act like a tourist in Minneapolis

Image via
26. Overhaul my closet and sell/donate items
27. Maintain a nearly-empty vehicle (get rid of the junk in the trunk)
28. Banish the physical clutter that carries over to mental clutter
29. Sort through inboxes so they are manageable
30. Print photos and backup digital versions

I'll do my best to post my progress. What would be on your list of mid-range goals?