Thursday, December 25, 2014

an exercise in appreciation

Since it's uncharacteristically warm this Christmas on the east, I'm taking a bubble bath after my soulcycle class and dreaming of walking through snowy fields of whiteness. 

As my elbows and toes raisin in this tub, I'm penning this on my iPhone. Tonight we will probably do a low key dinner and catch a Christmas movie. We've stopped giving gifts a long time ago at my request. At the risk of sounding cliche, my entire existence is filled with so many gifts big and small. I cherish every memory. I'm trying so hard to remember every moment. We've lived so much, seen, felt and have done so much. Today I'm just grateful to have been given so much from friends and strangers alike:

• the strangers who housed & fed me in Nicaragua

• the bon vivants who have become travel companions and inspirations 

• the friends who keep me young and grounded, sticking by me despite my flaws

• the lover. Oh lover. Not enough words. This man who would do anything for me without asking anything in return. Unconditionally. 

• the aloof parentals who show love in their own silly little ways. Who gave up so much and continue to. 

• everything that's made me who I am today. Love accumulates. Don't let hate.

• the endless encouragement from people who think I'm worth encouraging. 

• the new friends I've met this year. I can't believe this still happens. I hope we continue on this path. 

Wealth comes in many forms. Only the lucky ones realize this. Don't let quantity fool you. Quality has a bigger return on investment :) 


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

i never loved california

peace + quiet. hello old friend.

It's been a very long time since I've had some time to just graze away beneath my sheets. The past two years have been filled with so many busy moments, terminals and gates, take offs and shaky landings, rushed goodbyes, papers after papers and endless team meetings with people I tend to despise. I know as an adult I'm supposed to be able to get along with just about everyone having honed on my social skills over the years, and I do. But that doesn't mean I have to like everyone. I learned at an early stage that I struggle between misanthropy and gregariousness. You just have to embrace the person that you are and stop guilting yourself into having to like something or to be a certain way. You are you. Before this turns into a Dr. Seuss imitation, let's move on shall we...

So I slept in until 11 today, missing all my gym classes. Then I did something luxurious that I have not done in a long time: I added new music to my collection. The last time I did this was at the beginning of this year in January. In between I resorted to generic pop hits from Taylor Swift and One Direction (please don't judge me).

During my break, my goal is to binge on Korean dramas (Healer & Pinocchio) and lose weight with sleep and good intentions (it is possible). In exactly six days, I move across the country to beautiful San Francisco. This will be the fifth move in my short lifetime. The first on the west coast, and the third location in the United States. And it certainly won't be the last move I make.

Thinking back on all the places that I have lived, I realized that I was so in lust with each and every enigmatic location that each one ended up breaking my heart in the process. I've fallen out of love with New York and Shanghai. I've fallen out of love with Vietnam. I know the fault lies with me and my expectations as does my inevitable disillusionment with each city. The charms still exist in each one, but it was my fault for going in thinking each one will love me back, for idealizing.

San Francisco was a different story. I never loved it. I was never interested in it. I didn't want to love California because everyone loved California. I went for a wedding and we took a wrong turn and ended up on the Bay Bridge. I caught a glimpse of Coit Tower to my left as I sat high above the waters. Something tugged at me. I felt a lump in my throat and my heart sank. Our car could have dropped into the waters and I would have never taken my eyes off that majestic sight. That was all it took.

A few years later here we are in the summer interims living in view of Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, and walking distance from Lombard Street. Too much good luck. Too much of a beautiful thing. And it was all ours. Sometimes you luck out enough to realize that you may never have it this good again for as long as you live. So I took it all in while I could. I strolled languidly to yoga two blocks away on Hyde. I bought fresh tomatoes from the bodega down the street, and we held hands as we dined in our neighborhood sushi spot. On weekends we enjoyed music at outdoor festivals. We drank until everything blurred. We drunkenly fought on New Years over the steep steps outside our place. Idyllic. Unintentional.

When I would return to the east coast, California stayed on my skin. As the tan faded, friends kept calling. Reminding me I had a place out west.

And that was how I came to love California.

Merry Christmas Eve. May you fall in love with something new this year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The years get shorter as we get older

A very wise person recently told me why the years seem to pass by so much faster as we age. Remember when you were seven and a year took forever to end? Summer break would take forever to arrive and some winters felt like the winter of our lives. Well the answer as to why we feel this displacement isn't revolutionary. If we look at the sum of our years lived at the age of 7, one year is actually 14% of our young life. By 25 one year becomes only 4%. The years aren't getting shorter. Your perception of time is dimishing and with it time seems to move faster. 

As I type this entry there are about 22 days left to this glorious year. And how glorious it has been. In such a short span I have managed to fit in Coachella, Nicaragua, Montreal, Toronto, Paris and Disney World. But these are just destinations that anyone with the luxury of time, ambition or a disposable income can achieve. What really counts then?

The mistakes you've made counts (may they not be the same ones as last year's) and the lessons you've learned. The ties that you've severed and the new and old ones that continue to strengthen themselves despite your cynicism about how hard it is to make long-lasting friends at this age. 

This whole year, the past four years actually, have been a non-stop race with my own expectations to try to outdo myself, to rank tops, to silently prove that I am good enough for myself. These have been hectic days. Brutal and sometimes unkind. And the world just refuses to stop spinning no matter how many times I beg for it to just stop. To give me some rest. Please just let me nap for five years (in a kryogenic state or frozen so I do not age).

The truth is, and I am inspired by Steve Jobs here, the crazy ones never stop even if they want to. It's just not in our nature to let opportunities slip by, the little nuts and bolts constantly churning inside our heads. We have this gravitational pull that continually catapults us forward to new terrain, to constantly test and disprove everything we thought we once knew to be true. 

Who we are today is not who we are last year. Next year I will be even stronger. Even more loving and maybe even more jaded. We go through cycles of stress and discomfort and contentment. But the real change only happens when we are at our breaking point. That's when the magic happens. 

As this year comes to an end I would like to wish all my loyal readers (all 2 of you) to never shrink from your own strength. To test what you are made of. To go after your breaking point. I want you to learn how much more you are made of and surprise yourself in your discoveries. I know I have. 



Ps. Don't be afraid to drop the people who add no value to your ever diminishing time. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Paris, to forget your troubles

Traveling in general makes one forget their woes, but Paris especially. Especially when you are staying right by Ave. Montaigne and a skip from Rue Honore with a 360 degree view of the city with the Eiffel Tower within sight. I don't know how birthdays are to be happy after the 21st year, but the Lover managed to do it and found this gorgeous place on airbnb. The best part was when I returned to learn that the company loved my photo so much they posted it on their Instagram. 

I arrived home with a bit of a heavy heart. This was around the time my grandfather passed away but I felt his presence in Paris, at Pere LaChaise. I feel his presence all the time. 

Loss never leaves you. You just learn to live with the pain. You move on, but you never truly heal. I keep reminding myself how lucky I have been to have experienced such love in my life. 

This was all back in September. Since September I have been keeping busy. Working and school and then more traveling adventures in between. I should update more (I say this in every post).