7 things I wish I had known before starting Remote Year (#100dayslater)

It’s been over 100 of the best days of my life. Here’s 7 things I wish I had known on Day 1:

#7 NO it’s not that easy to ship stuff home. 

Congrats on being accepted and committing to the most life-changing journey of your life! After the honeymoon phase wears off and the reality sets in that you have to pack your whole life away into a 30 kg or less checked bag and 7 kg carry-on, you may begin to panic.

OwnAllTheThings

In order to combat the feelings of separation anxiety, you will tell yourself that “you can always send it home later.” You will attend Pre-Remote Year info sessions that will nonchalantly state that it’s normal to ditch stuff along the way #NBD #LIES.

Here’s the reality:

  • It’s expensive to ship stuff home. In Vietnam, a fellow remote paid $200 to ship 2 kg home – that’s like 4 pairs of jeans. Other land-locked countries can be even more expensive!
  • It’s expensive to not ship stuff home. International airlines will charge absurd overweight baggage fees per kg.  Anywhere from $40 to $125 one-way is pretty standard for an extra 20 kg; However, some airlines are pay per kilogram overage. On one travel day, Qantas charged us $30 per kilogram, and I was 10 kg over the limit. Luckily I was traveling with the group and another remote took my extra carry-on for me. Trade beers for baggage fees!
  • It’s really annoying to ship stuff home. Finding a reputable post office and trying to converse with someone who doesn’t speak English is a pain in the a**.
  • The separation anxiety is way worse shipping stuff from a foreign country than leaving it at home. It’s rare to find package tracking in foreign countries, and you’re constantly stressed your bag will get stuck at customs or lost like the Titanic.

The Net Net: Leave it at home, you can always have someone bring it later.

#6 Backpack or Rolling Carry-on? – Not as controversial as Boxers or Briefs.

The million dollar question: Do they really weigh your carry-on?

The answer: The odds are far far higher that they will if you have a rolling carry-on than one that you carry.

I have seen “backpackers” with 20 kgs or more stuffed into a backpack and most airlines won’t even bat an eyelash. If your rolling carry-on looks like it could weigh more than 7 kgs, 9 times out of 10 they will exploit that and make you weigh it.

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Sent home from Australia

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Last Travel Day Backpack – Shoe be everywhere

The Net Net: If you can’t beat them, join them.

#5 They sell shit you don’t need everywhere in the world…until they don’t.

I stocked up on all the wrong things. 99% of things you can buy in the US can also be bought in most developed cities around the world (including tampons for all you ladies out there wondering!).

Here are some items that are much trickier (at least in Asia):

  • Sea Salt Spray – Shout out to Zoe Weiner and all those curly haired girls (Carin, Kathrin, and Kara – I see you) that would give away their first born to have some in their life. Straightening your hair in 100 degree heat and tropical humidity is futile; however, keep in mind there’s not really a market for this product as Asian women have straight hair.
  • Foundation for darker complexions – Asians are obsessed with being as fair skinned as possible so if you have a tricky shade to buy for stock up! You may have to adjust to a darker shade because you will get a lot of sun here.
  • Shoe sizes greater than 7 – This is another Asian quirk. It’s really hard to find larger shoes sizes even in department stores and malls.
  • Latisse (and other niche products) – There’s a lot a fake stuff in Asia so if you’re paranoid that the products you are buying might be counterfeit, you should just bring extra!
  • Proprietary Charging Cords (such as for Fitbits or Cameras etc.) – Just because they sell the brand doesn’t mean they sell the accessories a la carte. If you can’t live without it, you will likely end up re-buying the whole product.

FindingNemo

The Net Net: If it is something you use every day, bring an extra – you won’t regret it.

#4 The shoe game is hard. Dirt & packing space are not your friend.

Paved sidewalks are a luxury in Asia and if you’re headed to anywhere worth visiting – odd are you will be getting dirty!

The struggle becomes – look cute in sandals and ruin them or look so-so in tennis shoes. Well now you don’t have to choose!

When you only have room in your luggage for 4 pairs – Here are my footwear favorites:

  • The perfect all-weather bootie: Jeffrey Campbell Hunt the Plains Boot in Navy Suede! I get so many complements on these. They go great with dresses, shorts, skirts, and pants and are super easy to keep clean.

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  • The Strappy Strong Statement Sandal (The SSSS): I ended up breaking down and up picking up a pair of Birkenstocks my first week in KL because my cute dainty strappy sandals were getting wrecked by all the dirt and construction. If the hippy vibe isn’t your thing, a thicker strapped gladiator sandal is the way to go! Bonus points for if they slip on and off. It gets surprisingly annoying taking the 2 mins to put your shoes on after visiting a temple, entering a guests home, or going through airport security.

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@michellewimmer – Is that you looking fly as always?

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@allisonbrookeahr – Templing Shoe Game is alway #OnPoint

  • The going out in the day or night shoe: For when your tired of wearing flip flops to the clurrrb, but would like to be able to get use out of them during the day too. These I am currently on the hunt for, but @stylepalate has nailed it! The Dusty Tan color is key for keeping them in good shape after a night of drinking, and the heel height is perfect for day or night. Hers look something like this

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  • Lastly, a pair of tennis shoes you love – Being active is an integral part of traveling. Taking care of your body through physical exercise is key when ingesting copious amounts of cheap, delicious food and dealing with the mental stresses of being abroad. I ended up ditching my old uncomfortable pair of running shoes in my second month in Vietnam for these Adidas Pureboost Xpose shoes, and it was the best decision I’ve made so far on the trip!

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The Net Net: It is possible to travel and look fly while doing it.

#3 You are never home in the “Base City” and will constantly question whether it’s cheaper to go rogue.

Traveling on Remote Year is a beast unlike any other you’ve ever experienced. It’s not normal by any means. “Side-tripping” is the art of planning 3 to 7 day – weekday or weekend trips to other cities near your home base. All while maintaining your day job!

To give you a feel for how insane your schedule gets – Here’s what I’ve been up to so far (sidetrips bolded) –

Month 1 (Kuala Lumpur): Las Vegas > Hong Kong (Layover) > Kuala Lumpur > Penang > Kuala Lumpur > Bali > Kuala Lumpur > Tokyo > Kuala Lumpur > HCMC

Month 2 (HCMC): HCMC > Hoi An > HCMC > Hanoi / Ha Long Bay > HCMC > Phnom Penh

Month 3 (Phnom Penh): Phnom Penh > Kuala Lumpur (Layover) > Sydney > Melbourne > Bangkok (Layover) > Phnom Penh > Siem Riep > Phnom Penh > Otres Beach (Sihanoukville) > Phnom Penh > Hong Kong > Phnom Penh > Bangkok

Remote Year got me like –

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A few people have left the program to do things at their own pace and that’s totally understandable. Others are planning on opting out for a month or two in Europe to be able to explore on their own terms as well.

The Net Net: You will be tempted to find cheaper options to fund your side-trip habits (such as…)

#2 The couples discount isn’t just for couples.

Once upon a time (after a reputable Cambodian spa experience)…

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With the couple’s discount you still get the flight, workspace, and events covered, the only difference is that you share a bedroom. It’s pretty low risk – there are couches in every accommodation, and it’s rare to have 80% occupancy because everyone (including yourself) will be gone on side-trips. I won’t even see my roommate this month because we’re out of town on separate days. Greg and I were the first ones to take advantage of the couples discount, but now several other remote “couples” have followed suit.

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…Or Don’t…

The Net Net: $400 a month goes a long way for side-trips.

#1 Remote Year works really hard to make sure you have a kick-ass experience.

They tell you they will cover:

  • Accommodations
  • Workspace with Fast Internet
  • Travel between cities

However, Remote Year has gone so much above and beyond that:

  • City Managers – 2 to 3 locals that are staffed by Remote Year to help answer our questions and take us around town. They have been immensely helpful in recommending where to eat, shop, spa, how to travel to other cities, etc. and have made transitioning to a new city each month so much easier.
  • Track events – 9 to 12 local curated events (day-trips, meals with locals, cooking classes, museum visits, wine/food tours, ziplining, sunset cruises etc.) all FREE and included in the price of your monthly $2000 (or $1600) fee. These have been awesome in getting us ingrained with the local people and experiencing authentic (non-touristy) aspects of the city that we are in.
  • Seamless Travel – It is so nice that they take care of transportation to and from the airport on big air-conditioned buses and help us through the logistics of travel day such as SIM cards and General Visa advice. Big props on making traveling with tons of luggage seamless and enjoyable. Also, if you give them advance notice, their travel team can re-arrange your travel day to and from a different city and cover the equivalent costs.
  • Free Food – Our Program Leaders are the best. They organize Midnight Breakfasts twice a month for night-shifters, Never Know Never Try food events to expose us to “exotic” local delicacies, and provide meals at City Preview/Town Halls/Junctions, and other Remote Year sanctioned events.
  • Swanky Accommodations and Workspaces – If you want to learn more about where we live or work, head over to my friend and fellow Remote Sasha’s blog where she covers these in detail.

The Net Net: You may be able to do it cheaper by yourself, but traveling with Remote Year and the #Tramily is so much more fun.

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It all started with The Epic Bali Weekend

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Mixed with Classy nights with my KubLadies @ Dinner En Blanc – HCMC, Vietnam

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When we roll, we roll deep @ Rooftop Bar – HCMC, Vietnam

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And we hold onto those memories in our

#StopThisVeganShit

In case you don’t know, I just arrived in my 4th month on Remote Year in Bangkok, Thailand. When we transition to a new city, Remote Year hosts what is called a City Preview. It is an opportunity for us to learn some basics about the new city that we are in for the month (key phrases in the local language, where to grocery shop, laundry situation, etc.), meet the new city managers, and hear feedback from experience surveys that we fill out at the end of each month that help Remote Year improve the program for future classes.

Feedback from Cambodia:

“It was a very heavy month, but through having to face difficult topics like genocide and corruption, I learned a lot about myself and grew immensely as a result.”

“I learned how it feels to walk down the street and feel unsafe.”

“Pretty much unanimous – We hate all you KubVegans. #StopThisVeganShit.”

In case you don’t know (again! – because I’ve got some serious Carmen San Diego going on in my life right now), I have enrolled in my friend and fellow Remote – Kara Mosesso’s 4 Week Plant-Based Lifestyle challenge. This wave started on April 17 and finishes on May 15  and is a quick start to test drive a plant based lifestyle. Kara provides daily tips and interesting facts that have been super informative in dispelling all the myths that are out there regarding what is and isn’t good for our bodies. I’m a pretty big health freak and consider myself highly informed, but have been reading her emails daily because a lot of her content is even new to me.

Back to this Vegan Shit. Or rather Vegan Shift.

Why? There have been a lot “supporting” reasons for this change such as being grossed out by seeing chickens with broken legs in the market and then served on a plate for dinner, watching a fellow remote crunch through the bones and feathers of a boiled duck embryo, and oh that thing they call physical health. These are all good reasons, but the real reason I went Vegan is –

It’s fun to prove YOURSELF wrong.

I grew up in Texas surrounded by Barbeque, lost 25 lbs in college following a “healthy” low carb diet, and am the poster child for vampire-ism. #CarnivousAF.

“I couldn’t possibly give up meat and eggs and dairy for 30 days. No chocolate, No cheese, I’d rather die. I’m going to get fat eating noodles and starchy carbs for every meal. And WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN? How will I sustain working out without getting enough protein at my meals. What kind of sadist bans wine? Oh wait, you can drink wine as a Vegan? Okay maybe…”

I don’t give AF if you decide to be Vegan. In fact, nothing I could say here can change the deep-rooted personal beliefs that define who you are and how you live your life.

My only request is that you ask yourself – What do I believe in? Which beliefs are pushing me towards a more authentic life? And which beliefs are SELF-LIMITING?

In case you don’t know (Part 3), I now travel with 60 people on the regular. No one on this trip started out as a “travel blogger” but it’s the coveted Golden Snitch. It’s been interesting to see how different people perceive their worth and approach reaching their goals.

A) I am a travel blogger! I love to travel and write about my adventures on Remote Year.

B) I love to travel and write travel related blog posts. I am hoping that someone pays me to do this someday.

C) It’s my dream to be a travel blogger, but why would anyone pay me to travel and write?

Who do you think is going to make it in the end (A, B, or C)? In my experience, the key belief that differentiates people that do epic shit and people that stay stagnant is the former holds an indestructible belief that Life. Can. Be. Anything. You. Want. It. To. Be!

TRY IT. It’s fun to prove YOURSELF wrong. #Unstoppable.

Wait. This post isn’t about how I feel being Vegan or the results of this little experiment? Nope – I’m only two weeks in and will have to report back to you later 😉 .

For now, I will leave you to drool at #VeganFoodPorn.

VeganFood

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Yes, Veganism is contagious.

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Farewell Chicago

Home.

My mind seeks to define it, my body craves to touch it, my heart yearns to feel it.

Being unable to succeed in any of these facets as of late –

We are all hurting a little inside.

If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me.

So in my effort to begin facing these emotions, I have written this post.

To discover,

how Home could mean something unexpected

and being Home-less (physically, emotionally, spiritually) could even be delightful

I keep returning to this.

Home is … a place where something flourishes.

I’ve been trying to understand why I’ve felt captivated to take this journey leaving behind by all definitions a very successful and incredible life in Chicago.

Irrespective of going abroad, I knew it was time to say goodbye to this fantastic city and all the luxuries and friends that I have been spoiled to be surrounded by.

I want to say thank you for making Chicago a place where I flourished these past 8 years.

Without your love, I wouldn’t be the confident, strong, fearless, and scrutinizing woman that I am today.

The type of woman that lives life with a magnifying glass, ticking clock, and hand grenade.

The type of woman that decides on a whim to give up everything that made up Home in her little-big mind because the music kept playing louder and louder –

to the tune of

Otis Redding – Cigarettes & Coffee,

“It’s early in the morning
About a quarter till three
I’m sittin’ here talkin’ with my baby
Over cigarettes and coffee, now
And to tell you that
Darling I’ve been so satisfied
Honey since I met you
Baby since I met you, ooh”

but the lyrics began fading into the sad, slow melody

“And whole my heart cries out
Love at last I’ve found you, ooh now
And honey won’t you let me
Just be my whole life around you…”

and one day, she didn’t hear a love song back.

March to the beat of your own heart – drummer girl.

Find a new way to flourish and home will follow.

Farewell, my old flame – may you rest in sweet peace.

 

 

Hello Remote Year

 

Hello Remote Year,

Darling, I cannot wait to meet you in person. I’ve heard so many fantastic things about you. Us – this adventure we are about to embark on will be once we can tell for generations to our kids and their kids. Grandma was like Dora the Explorer and traveled all around the world! As adorable and strikingly accurate as that likely will be, I’d prefer to referred to with the mystique of Carmen San Diego if you please.

I still can’t get over how we met. Driving to a Black Violin concert in the Chicago Burbs on a Sunday with Madam Katz. She inquired about how I was liking my recent transition at work. I told her I love my new role – as a Consultant de Salesforce – but hated how I never traveled to far away kingdoms anymore.

“You should consider Remote Year – look into it.”

Marvelous. Why not turn my biggest complaint about my job into my greatest asset?

So I applied for your services and waited with bated breath.

Well technically, I stalked you.

So fondly, I remember. Your first communication you sent me – an autoresponder email saying an admissions advisor would review my initial inquiry and send an invite to apply and interview if I qualified.

autoresponder

Eye spy with my little eye…that you are collecting my information in Salesforce. Maybe, I can convince you to choose me as one of the lucky 75 people out of 300K inquiries if I say I can help you streamline your recruitment, admissions, service, and reporting processes on the platform.

Will I hear back from you again? How do I catch your attention?

The next day you send me a newsletter from your Welcome Campaign – The Remote Life.

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I inspect the email further (literally) and discover that you use MailChimp to send out your marketing communications – makes sense, you are a startup my darling and MailChimp is less feature rich, but less expensive generally. If I were you, I would be using lead scoring to track and score my every move – my email opens, my reads, my link clicks etc. You don’t want to admit your watching me too, but you have over 10K new inquiries a day and only 5 admissions officers (from my LinkedIn research), and you need some automated way to prioritize your leads. I make sure to read every email you send me and click every link on every email. It’s a long shot, but darling I need you see me above all the other stars in the universe.

8 days later an admissions advisor reaches out to me to invite me to apply and set up an interview.

The application is 5 questions long – what you would expect if you were serious about pursuing a long-term relationship with someone.

  1. What do you do for a living?
  2. What is your experience with remote work?
  3. What do you want to get out of the experience?
  4. Why Remote Year?
  5. Another typical question – my memory escapes me

I use Calendly to search for an open time for me to speak to my interviewer. She is currently in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The only open slots are 6 am and 11 pm – welcome to time zone differences. I’m much more stunning under moonlight (i.e. I don’t do mornings) so I choose the later time slot.

So long story short – I knew you would pick me. Here’s the thing about interviews that most people ignore –

People DESPERATELY want to say yes. You just have to give them a reason to.

I am framing my story around your needs. As an admissions advisor, you have a certain quota that you are responsible for filling, and you are likely incentivized monetarily to recruit people that will retain with the program. You interview 12 people a day based on a written application that gives you some indication of fit, but the in-person interview can make or break a candidate in 5 minutes. You literally scan over the online application 2 mins before the interview and barely read it (something you accidentally admit) – looking more for indications of tremendous intent to purchase or red flags. In a good week, you spend 30 hours interviewing and have 8 applicants that are conditionally accepted and in the end only 1 that ends up depositing for the program. It’s called a Funnel and Conversion Rates. That’s usually how these things work.

All you want is to find someone like me. I am your ideal candidate.

  • I have been with my company for 4 years and have deep trust and support with the leadership of my practice. They know I will do great work and be focused wherever I am located.
  • I have extensive experience being on the road. I understand what it’s like living out of a suitcase and being around other people all the time.
  • I make a very steady income so my risk of attrition is much lower.
  • My lease is up at the end of January and you happen to have a program starting February.
  • I’m decently funny and entertaining. If you were stranded in an airport with me for 3 days, we could make a fun game out of raiding the bars for wine and whiskey and rationing it appropriately.

And sure enough – 7 days later – you get down on one knee and say Meina –

“Will you accept my conditional offer of acceptance into Remote Year Kublai?”

“Ugh what does conditional mean? (Love is not conditional!)”

“You’ll need King Huron’s approval.” That is a tale for our next letter.

In the mean time, I relish our engagement and dream about our honeymoon schedule:

February – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
March – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
April – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
May – Bangkok, Thailand
June – Belgrade, Serbia
July – Lisbon, Portugal
August – Prague, Czech Republic
September – Sofia, Bulgaria
October – Buenos Aires, Argentina
November – Córdoba, Argentina
December – Santiago, Chile
Jan – Lima, Peru

 

XOXO,

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Fire & Freedom – A Preface to Hello Remote Year

I woke up at 4 am to a burning fire outside my apartment, and I’m not speaking metaphorically about “the end of an era”, but literally to a huge mass of flames burning 10 ft from my window.

I had fallen asleep abruptly – in a swim suit top and bottoms – which I had ordered in preparation for my year long trip abroad with Remote Year starting in early February.

“How awkward, I’m going to die in a swimsuit before I get to do this trip. Hmm I should probably put on clothing…or call the police…or just call the front desk in case the fire department is already on it’s way. Man, I’m a goner if our building goes up in flames in Kuala Lumpur.” – the insane ramblings of a sane person in the wee hours of the morning.

I call the front desk, and Terrence begins to laugh –

“Oh they are filming a movie and the fire department is already here and everything.”

I perched outside my window and watched the flames grow until finally the fire department began to extinguish them. The flames fought back and continued to spread. I had faith that the fire department had the situation under control; however, mesmerized I couldn’t fall asleep until I was assured that the fire was truly dead.

In the morning, I am informed that the fire was not staged, but a freak accident.

The Universe speaks in strange ways.

“Today is the day you are are going to make me face music that I am leaving this life I’ve built in Chicago – all the places and people. The memories can come, but it’s time for me to go? Did you really need to set a movie trailer on fire to tell me that?”

When your wrong, the Universe isn’t afraid to speak up and let you know you f***ed up.

I paid a visit to the Chicago Art Institute for the FIRST time today to cross it off my Chicago Bucket List with two friends.

While eyeing a Magritte painting which provoked the question, “Why two noses?,” I get a text from someone I had being seeing for 4 months. I told him I was leaving 2 months in, but we continued to see each other in a no strings attached kind of way. After all, how does one start something serious when they know the end is in sight?

He says that he isn’t going to say goodbye to me because “I should know that he’s met someone else.”

“Why two noses? Why not two faces? Isn’t that more appropriate? Why do I care? I’m leaving and everything else is irrelevant.”

Sigh. Ending things in a Surrealist exhibit at an art museum is a little overwhelming.

My friend consoled me.

“Let’s go to the tiny rooms. It’s my favorite spot in the museum, and it will cheer you up.”

Turns out – Wes Anderson is a huge fan of the tiny rooms, and he also happens to be the favorite director of he-who-cannot-be-named. I feel sick to my stomach.

We leave to go to a bar and just talk… drink…digest…cool down and come back to reality.

We were always incompatible. I knew it from day one, but I ignored it.

Universe –

“You lit a trailer on fire today to tell me that I’ve been playing with fire all along. That I’ve been lighting matches for fun, mesmerized watching embers flicker ignite and recede, over and over, and it’s time to call it quits before I get burned. It’s a stretch, but point taken.”

I believe strongly in the interconnected nature of physical and spiritual coincidences that are in fact more related than we care to admit; as well as, the flow of destruction and creation in the Universe. With the death of one life ushers in room for another.

My heart is ready for a new adventure – RemoteYear – here I come 🙂 .

Lessons in Authenticity

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Ten.

He pauses the movie right before Dmitri – played by Adrian Brody – runs down the staircase to his desk and realizes that Gustave has stolen the painting (Boy with Apple) from his home.

“Wait, I can’t believe I’ve never noticed that before,” he rewinds the movie. “It’s a Gustav Klimt painting just sitting on the floor of the room.”

He’s seen the movie at least 15 times, but with all Wes Anderson movies, there is always a new methodical detail to be discovered – so he explains to me.

“The Life Aquatic is my favorite Wes Anderson movie. Have you seen it?” he asks.

I cringe because I know where this line of questioning is going, but I respond anyways – “No I haven’t.”

Eight.

“What about the Royal Tenenbaums, Darjeeling Limited, Mr. Fantastic Fox?”

I’ve been living under a rock – and not a cool graffiti covered rock.

“Nope”.

Five.

As the movie progresses, I’m sucked into the past – reflecting on memories growing up in a conservative Asian household. My mom always wanted to go to the movies. My dad would grossly disapprove and accuse her of wanting to get lost in the fantasy of film to escape reality. I would side with my dad – “Movies are a waste of time and money.”

As time progresses my relationship with film becomes even more distant. Between studying, being a student-athlete, working out, obsessively planning all my meals, and sleeping – I find myself unable to nurture any creative intake or output – It’s not that I don’t have time, rather I am tuning the machine and 2 hour movies give me anxiety because they are a departure from my daily “schedule”.

I graduate and am set loose into the real world – full of new people to meet and new places to go. Why watch movies when you can go out and live it? – becomes my moto – what I say to help myself sleep at night knowing that I am being ignorant.

We date. Elementary. Sherlock. Movie Nights. We break up. I stop watching all TV shows and movies for a year because all it does is remind me of the time we spent together and that makes me want to vomit because you were a terrible human being and I was a terrible person for not standing up for myself – you broke up with me after I found out you cheated on me.

We are dating. You are Art and Art is You. When you ask me if I’ve seen a movie or heard a song – I feel my heart burst into a million pieces because what I hear you asking me is “Are we compatible?”

….

We finish the movie and he asks me if I liked it.

“Yes, that was great.” I reply.

“That’s it?” he responds in disbelief.

The truth is I do love it. Yet I feel like in your eyes I am…

Zero.

(and not the heroine in the film played by Tony Revolori)

I comment on liking the song he’s playing. It’s Version by Fugazi. The sexy, dark undertones are familiar and remind me of the Deftones. I am looking for a dying ember to reconnect us.

He steps into the bathroom to take a shower – but peaks out to respond –

“Here’s what I don’t understand. You do seem to truly LIKE all these things. HOW DO YOU NOT ACTIVELY SEEK IT OUT?”

I am struck that I have a severe character flaw.

I craft all these meanings and inject emotions into situations that don’t belong and are ultimately self-limiting.

  1. I don’t watch movies because that’s what friends or people who are dating do. A movie cannot be watched alone.
  2. I don’t know how to ride a bike – because if I did I couldn’t use it as an icebreaker to judge a guys character. Specifically, the person I’m meant to be with is supposed to volunteer to teach me.
  3. I don’t want to travel abroad before I’m 30 because I have an uber-romanticized view of what traveling the world means. Being in love, hiking up mountains, drinking wine in a Tuscan villas, with that one special person.
  4. I don’t want to travel abroad before I’m 30 because I’ve worked so hard to be slightly ahead of the curve that I’d be devastated to lose momentum.

I’m disgusted by of all of it. Do these sentiments truly reflect who I am or who I am trying to become? Absolutely not and the buck stops here.

So then I get to thinking about – What would it mean to be more authentic? How would I change my actions and beliefs so that who I am and who I want to be are one in the same? Not identical, but evolving forward.

And to be clear. Evolving for me and not for someone else. Changing because it’s unacceptable not take the wheel and do what you love.

I’m being harsh on myself. I’m a pretty damn gutsy broad, and I’m taking a lot of steps in the right direction – completely switched service lines at work, leaving Chicago in 6 weeks. Headed abroad for a year or to San Francisco.

Sometimes we are so blinded by the big steps that we are taking that we forget the small ones add up. Taking care of your health, absorbing culture, or taking 5 mins to ask your Uber driver about his or her story.

All-in-all. Good to be reminded that there’s always room for a little more change.

Always be searching, learning, and pushing forward.

Best,

Meina Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Colombe in the Day

A cold, but sunny day. The curious sunlight peaked through the pure white linens into a room that had only felt passionate storms for three days and nights. The warm, cozy room had provided shelter and comfort while Mother Nature was busy shedding her tears. The eclipsed sun seduced its admirer with an irresistible smile, and the girl found herself rising from her bed to meet him at the ledge of the window.

“Come out young girl and see where this clear day can take you.”

The harsh reality of the winter day slapped her face as she stepped into the exposed air. Her fingers turned numb and her face became rosy flush. She smiled back at the ignorant breeze and glided through the cobblestone streets looking for a robust cup of coffee to match her cheery demeanor.

La Colombe – the Dove – perched on a peaceful corner on the outskirts of the hustle and bustle of the labored town square. The coffee shop held a famed existence in town. It served as a watering hole for tired birds who flocked from all walks of life looking to fuel their storied existence.

The girl stepped through the doorway and was embraced by the perfume of roasted espresso beans. A long, solid oak bench supported a series of small oval table tops and stumpy chairs. The bench, fixated to the wall and supporting beams, reminded its patrons that the secrets hidden in each private nest were inseparable from that which held up the rest of humanity. In the innocence of daybreak, the space was empty as most of the city’s workers were either snuggled in their homely routines or busy out and about making an earnest living.

The smile of the sun had charmed the girl to depart from her norm and live on the edge – “a Macchiato – double please”. A creamy, deep brown elixir was poured into a miniature cardboard cup and set on the counter. The girl wrapped her frozen fingers around the tiny radius of the cup and revived sensation through whatever slight heat she could absorb. Her needy fingers felt jealous as the cup was raised to her lips and her body eagerly shot back the ale.

Like a rocket ship, the bittersweet liquid jolted her heart, mind, and soul into outer space.

Let’s switch places, young girl. You be my sun, and I’ll be your moon. We can be in imperfect harmony dancing around this magical Earth. Every two weeks, like clockwork, our paths will align – as Mother Nature sees fit – you will be my most precious shining sun and  I – as the waning moon – will be full again.”

My sweet thing – You – were born with two left feet, and I was born hot and near-sighted. The passionate rhythm beating through our hearts can guide us when celestial mechanics are not in our favor. However, the reality of our creation cannot be avoided. When the blue moon rises again two weeks later, like clockwork, our fated tilt will force you to block me from the rest of humanity. Some days I think that I’d prefer if Mother Nature choose to cry – so then the world did not know what beauty was hidden behind the closed doors of the human eye – but I quickly realize my logic is crooked and tainted with blasphemy – the voice of all the lonely stars in the universe who feel wronged by what they do not understand, and the chemistry they cannot experience within their own souls.”

sun

Til’ death do us part, and the stars choose to bloom in another more perfect universe.

The girl awoke in panic to soaked white linens upon her bed. She peeked at her bedside clock – 8:05 a.m. She felt immediate relief as her crucial hour and examination was not until mid-morning. Although her mind felt frazzled by her dream, she couldn’t help but notice that her body held an extra dose of euphoric, almost cosmic energy to conquer the day…