Monday, December 30, 2013

12 in 2014: The Master List

My life motto, on my planner. Artwork by Yoshitomo Nara. 

Well, Dear Reader, after much deliberation, agonizing, and drinking copious amounts of coffee, I have come up with my 12 New Year's Resolutions. 

It was much harder than I thought it would be. As a person with clinical anxiety, I have generally have that classic background narrative of criticism and doubt running throughout my day. Given that I find about 40 things to improve about myself everyday, I thought 12 in a year would be a simple task. Ha.

Friday, December 27, 2013

12 in 2014

New Year's Eve is almost upon us. It's the time of the year where, in the afterglow of the holidays, anything seems possible! And since, everything is possible, why not pick something it? A resolution is born, ready to be honored through 12 months of hard work! Right?

See? Gaudy, boastful success could be just around the corner! 

Well, maybe. If you're lucky. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

6 Months, 30 Thoughts

Ah, travel!

It happened. I have officially reached the halfway point of my time in China. Looking back, I am astonished. Where did the time go? On the one hand, it seems like the blink of an eye. On the other hand, I've been here for at least 20 years, right?!

To celebrate this benchmark, I've decided to make a list of some of the things I've learned since arriving in China. Additionally, some of the things are beliefs and practices I had previously that have served me well here. Hopefully some of the things on this list will be elaborated upon in their own posts.  They are lessons about travel, about China, about people, and about myself. I hope those of you with your own lists will be kind enough to share them with me!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


I was always one of the kids who loved school. Even when I got bad grades, didn't have friends, and had low self-confidence, I loved school. I took pride in being a good student who paid attention, did her homework, and asked questions. This attitude no doubt came from my parents. My father is a college professor in the sciences. My mother is a writer. Both are wonderfully creative, nurturing, intelligent people who can make the everyday into a fantastic wonder to be learned from. 

I have always taken that attitude to heart, so school, even when difficult, was something I enjoyed. 

Until it wasn't.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


What is good art? I came across a poll recently that asked “Is quality in art subjective?” to which an overwhelming (71%, or 42,655/60,463 at the time or writing) number of artists responded yes. For those of you, like me, who need a refresher on the difference between subjective and objective, the Oxford Dictionary of American English defines subjective as “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.” 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Neighbor Girl

The other day, I stood outside in the frigid cold, waiting for our dinner to be delivered. A young girl, dressed completely in purple fleece, came running out of our apartment building and then stopped dead when she saw me. Then, she ran up to me.

"Hello!" she said, as she observed me in the way children do. Openly curious. What a strange person.

"Hello!" I smiled. The instincts I developed while teaching English kicked in.

"How are you?" I said slowly and clearly. The girl looked fearlessly into my eyes. In China, it is considered rude to make continued eye contact.

"我听不懂" I don't understand, she replies.

"你不会说英语吗?" You can't speak English? She shakes her head.

"没关系" That's alright, never mind!

We stare at the the trees in the planter in the courtyard. She asks another question. I don't understand and she repeats herself.

"我听不懂" It is my turn to not understand. I search for something else to say. I am pitiful at small talk, even with small children. And here, in this city, all the Chinese I've learned evaporates, leaving me with only the most basic of things to say.

I ask her if she lives here, gesturing to the building she just ran out of. She gives a sort of yes. I live here, I say. She looks at me a moment longer, then runs away a few yards, looks at me, and continues on, sneakers pounding the cement.

I wonder, if many years down the road, she will remember the odd foreigner she met outside her house. I wonder if she has met hundreds like me, or just one.