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New Project

August 10th, 2013 Comments off

I’ve got a new project brewing…

Click on the call widget to the right to tell me a story.

 

 

 

 

 

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Impermanence

July 11th, 2012 1 comment

[im-pur-muh-nuhnt] — n Synonyms: fleeting, temporary, ephemeral, evanescent (dictionary.com)

Throughout my life, I’ve been reminded, in gentle and harsh ways, of the impermanence of space and time as we pass through it in our life journeys – possessions, friends, family, school, jobs, homes, and even scientific knowledge. [I still fondly regard Pluto as a planet of our solar system. There are nine planets. Even the little metal plates on the lawn at Griffith Park agree with me.]

I could relay thousands of bytes worth of my own stories and experience with impermanence but many of my friends already know about them. Instead, I’ll provide two examples of embracing change (welcoming impermanence) that I’ve adopted this past year.

First, in living spaces. I have surprised even myself in how quickly I have adapted to new living arrangements every few months. I’ve maintained a nomadic lifestyle this past year, at first while backpacking across Eurasia and then when I was back in the U.S. for work. I’ve moved from the Culver City area to Long Beach to Pasadena, traveling to Phoenix, AZ every month for work. I’ve had a couch or floor to sleep on through the graciousness of friends which has allowed me to save money to build my motor home – yet another impermanent living space. Once the motor home, I’m looking forward to having the flexibility of sleeping anywhere I can park and watch the stars (through the escape hatch being built above the bed area) and waking up to see the sunrise from different views in L.A. Anyone know of a good place to park for the night with an uninhibited view of the downtown L.A. skyline?

Second, in work. Why have I not been willing to settle down into an apartment or home in L.A.? Mostly because I haven’t found the place where I’d want to work. In the past, I found my living space first and then looked for work that would allow me to commute from there. My outlook on work this past year has changed such that I’ve become a bit of a “job snob”, only willing to accept work at small or medium-sized companies that more directly build things that benefit the environment or society, like a socially responsible organization. I’m not willing to sacrifice my values simply to support a lifestyle that centers around creating a stockpile of personal possessions that are of little use to other people. I’m willing to stay in an impermanent living environment in order to keep my work options flexible. I don’t feel like I’m alone in this thinking and the willingness to move for the right job. Actually, a good friend of mine is actually banking his career on the belief that there are people out there looking for the perfect job and who just need a way to find it. His company is currently matching technical job-seekers so, unfortunately, I still have to do my own searching for the right socially-responsible company that could use a project manager in non-software companies. Although I’m encouraged that more companies are understanding the desire of employees to “do good”, it is still very hard to find a company that sells itself on these merits. I’ve found that the only way I can find out how much a company supports volunteering, or how efficient a non-profit is in being good, is by getting into that job interview and asking the persons who work there direct questions like, “Do you have Green IT initiatives and what are they? If the product you are creating is not directly helping the environment, how are you replacing the resources that you are using?” I have not always received candid or even understanding responses to questions like these at a job interview. Do you know of a company that sells itself based on its ability to give to society or the environment well?

Day 30: Questioning

May 14th, 2011 4 comments

I’ve been fortunate to not have to spend too much time by myself and with only my own thoughts but it is bound to happen that I start questioning what I’m doing out here – 16,000 miles and 30 days after starting this journey. What have I learned? What have I done? What’s next?

I’ve learned that the majority of people are good – they inherently want to communicate and connect with other human beings. Language does not have to be a barrier. At one point, I connected with someone in sign language and all I had to sign was “thank you” and I could see the spark in her eyes and a smile. I’ve learned that people find reasons to love where they are, their city/town, but things can always be improved. I’ve learned that many Russians are fascinated by mysticism, many Mongolians value their freedom but adhere to strange customs, many Chinese like to eat and talk about food, and everyone appreciates art.

I’ve shared many meals and drinks with new friends. I’ve shown my pictures of my family and friends and where I’ve been and surprised quite a few people by my diverse ethnic background. I’ve had very deep conversations about religion, spirituality, love, and science. I’ve learned a little bit of Russian and completely failed at picking up Mongolian or Mandarin. I’ve made new friendships that I hope will last the rest of my life.

I’ve been letting my feelings dictate when it’s time to move on. I don’t need to know why I’m meeting the people that I have or going to the places that I’ve seen but I realize that each relationship is special and I try to leave each one with a mutual sense of learning and growth. I’m currently trying to figure out how to give an 11-year-old a basic appreciation for mathematics in 3 days. I think then it will be time for me to leave Dalian. In return, I’ve been inspired with ideas for creating an open, colorful living space and have been given a new appreciation for wine.

I can’t say that I miss home because there really isn’t a home there for me to go back to. But I do miss the consistency and comfort of my friends and having a routine. I am getting tired of seeing my own face in my photos and would like my friends to send me some of theirs. What’s going on in your lives these days?

My journey is far from over and although I am meeting many new people, I don’t want to lose touch with where I’ve come from or been.

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What do you love about your town?

May 7th, 2011 3 comments

What are 3 things you like about your city or town? What is 1 thing you don’t like?

Listen to a growing collection of audio clips from travellers I meet.

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Trip Preparation

March 14th, 2011 Comments off

Trip Preparation

I had a lot of time to think about making a world trip. I wanted to make sure that I took time to think about my trigger decision for making it. I had plenty of time to decide that it was silly and that I should just move on with my life as it is but the more I thought about, the more I could justify why I need to go. I’ll actually be starting my journey 342 days after having decided to do it.

I kind of wish that I had spent that many days preparing for the trip because I now have 30 days until my flight to Russia and I feel completely unprepared. With no visas in hand, no idea where I’m going to stay in Russia, Mongolia, or parts of China, and a lot of unfinished business here in L.A., I am feeling the pressure of the impending deadline. I can’t sleep or I sleep too much. I have no appetite. I want to drink. I even had a clove cigarette after more than 8 years of not smoking (I couldn’t finish it in one sitting though – talk about a high!). On top of that, my desire to to do new things has gone into overdrive. I joined couchsurfing.org, hosted 4 people so far, went on a few community events organized by couchsurfers to meet them, and even learned some very basic Russian from one of them. I’ve been on a mission to try out new burger joints in the L.A. area and have organized several outings with a growing group of friends to eat burgers. I’ve tried out Scottish country dancing classes and have gone to several contra dances (which is incredible fun). I joined a motorcycle meet-up group with the intention of going on more rides before I left (that didn’t work out as I planned – a story for another day). I had a giveaway party to give my stuff away to friends (it’s so much better to have things used instead of sitting in storage, uselessly gathering dust). I tried to start a blog but I’ve successfully procrastinated that for months (until now). At work, I picked up an extra project or two that were out of my regular team’s jurisdiction and have spent quite a bit of overtime on them.

And somehow 2010 has turned into 2011 and it’s going to be spring, and soon, summer. I had an excuse not to go to Russia in the winter but even that procrastination excuse is vanishing as the weather gets warmer each day.

So what goes into preparing for a trip across the largest land mass on Earth?

Geotag Icon Show on map

Where do you start?
Which direction do you go?
Where do you stop?
Where and who do you stay with when you stop?
How can you pay for it?
What’s the exchange rate?
Where are the ATMs that you can use?
What bills do you have to pay while you’re away and how do you pay them?
What do you take with you?
How the heck do you fit all the stuff you want to take with you in a backpack?
Do they make compact towels?
Do they make small/light cameras with DSLR capabilities?
What kind of baggage do you need?
What do you need for emergencies?
What kind of stuff can you take on a plane without checking baggage?
What kind of space do they have on a train for baggage?
What kind of streets exist where I’m going (I don’t care what anyone says but roller bags do not work on cobblestone)?
What’s the weather going to be like where/when you’re going?
What do you with all the stuff you don’t take?
Who do you/can you go with?
Do you need insurance?
What can you do to prepare for medical issues and vaccinations?
Do you keep paying for insurance on your vehicles while you’re away?
What do you sell?
What do you keep?
Where do you keep it?
It’s voting time again!? How do you vote while overseas?
Have you done your taxes?
How should you change your finances to best take advantage of not earning anything for several months?
Where do you put your pets?
When do you tell your boss at work?

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Triggers

March 14th, 2011 5 comments

To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Every significant change in my life has been triggered by something. It’s often unplanned, unwanted, and painful to live through but it has usually been out of my hands so all I could do is figure out the best way to deal with it and move on. The other big changes in my life were triggered by decisions that I made spontaneously but have never regretted. My family has been displaced by two wars and I came to college in the U.S. based on a random suggestion from a classmate in high school. I picked my college major, Physics, in the middle of my visa interview – I thought Physics would be less common for a female and might increase my chances of getting the U.S. student visa.

While in college, I realized that I was bisexual. Rather, I realized that I loved someone so much that I’d want to live with them for the rest of my life and that I didn’t care that we were the same sex. Sex and intimacy came later. But the trigger was my boyfriend, at the time, getting frustrated with how much time I spent with my girlfriend and telling me that she and I may as well be married. That’s when it struck me that I was attracted to her. Unfortunately, for my boyfriend, he was right. She and I shared a life together for many years before another triggering event caused us to split up. It was a mutual decision and I’m ok with it now. She’s a fantastic person and doing something she loves now which probably would not have happened if we stayed together.

There is a trigger for this trip as well. I had a really fun, sometimes difficult, relationship with another beautiful lady for three years. I thought we had something that could grow into a shared life, living together and perhaps even raising a family together. I knew it would be a long wait since she is younger than I am and was still going to college and planned to go on to graduate school in a different country. I was willing to wait but she wasn’t sure if she could stay committed to a long term and long distance relationship so we broke up. I won’t lie that I wasn’t devastated. After my breakup with CY, I thought that there could be no chance of me ever finding someone I loved so deeply again. So when I fell in love like that again and then lost it, I was sure that I would never be able to share that kind of love with anyone else again. I’m still worried that my luck has run out but I have to move on.

In any case, the trigger was our breakup. I had no desire to buy a house and live in it by myself. I wasn’t about to jump into another relationship and it didn’t make sense to me to keep living my life with work and everything as it was with this huge hole of a missing relationship on my mind. It was time to go away for a while. I had been talking about going on a Trans-Siberian Railway trip with a friend of mine for about six years so why not do that?

But there is more. There would be no point in me running away from my troubles if I plan to come back to the same place afterward. I’d have to change myself and my thinking and grow from the experience so I’ve decided to explore my creative side by putting together a documentary of sorts on my trip. I’m a theater lover and I love the art of telling stories through performance and other media. I also really enjoy radio news and stories and have learned, through NPR and KCRW, that stories can be much more vivid when presented in only audio form because your brain can fill in the unique details of the story in much more interesting ways than when watching the same story through video. So I’ve decided to document this trip through audio, pictures and this blog.

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