2013: Everything Happens So Much
Earlier this year, FourSquare released this nifty little visualization graph for your check-ins. When it came out, I joked to my friends that mine told a really sad story:
I was in a relationship at the start of this chart. And I loved him dearly. I saw bits of Perú, France, and Spain with him, ultimately ended up in Austin largely because of him, and I did some pretty awesome stuff with him, like dancing salsa and learning sign language. So it wasn’t that he made me a boring person, quite the contrary–he brought out a very deeply compassionate and interesting person in me and I’m so thankful for that. But soon, I realized I wasn’t being as independent as I normally am. And I ignored it. I wrote it off with excuses and thought I didn’t need to do anything about it. And I was wrong. I don’t want to dig into any more personal detail than that, but as soon as I realized this, it was the most intense wake-up call I’ve had in my life.
In February this year, I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to continue being that person anymore—it didn’t suit me. So I started doing all these different things. I figure I must have looked, to many people like I was having some existential manic crisis.
I am always saying “you can never go home,” but well, I didn’t want to go home. As someone who has always sought logic and rational conclusions to things, I wish I could say why, but I never figured out why I felt that way. All I knew is that I was tired of thinking the same way and feeling the same things. I love myself, but at the same time, man, I was just really fucking sick of myself. So I turned my brain off and I stopped limiting myself to the expectations I’ve always set for myself. I met people who worked with blind kids, people who grew up in the middle east, people who were artists and really damn good ones at that, people who knew a thing or two about whiskey, people with opinions on things I had never given much thought about. What these people all had in common was that they were all people who made me feel like a really tiny, insignificant dot… yet made me feel really proud about it because it humbled me into seeing how much I had to grow.
What I didn’t expect from feeling insignificant is that it would make me less afraid of pushing my boundaries, I suppose because I was curious to know how out there I could get.
Sometimes the moments were thrilling, like jumping out of a plane carelessly in my hot pink sneakers. Or standing on a balcony in Munich drinking a beer with two historians whose jobs were restoring some of Europe’s oldest literature. Or sitting on my fifth floor outdoor terrace imitating the recording played by the bicycling tamale vendor in Mexico City (“Hay tamales oaxaqueños, tamales calientitos”, a robotic voice chants arrhythmically from blocks away). I write about these things. People think it’s glamourous.
In so many ways, it has been awesome and I will never take that for granted,
But It’s not always glamorous. It can be downright cruel on the heart sometimes, doing this to myself… Sitting in a Manhattan apartment, crying because I feel like such a loser being the only one not invited to a birthday dinner partially because of my inability to commit to being somewhere in a timely fashion. The time I sat indian style like a bum on the sidewalk of Via Cavour in Rome with my laptop open, slowly pushing code to dA’s git repository. The time I slept on the floor of LAX as a vacuum cleaner bumped into the backpack I was using as a pillow. The times I really wanted close friends with me but all I had were people I had just met… or worse, no one.
The worst things that happened weren’t disasters or mishaps. I know how to navigate around those just fine, even when sometimes it means laughing while awkwardly apologizing to my work cohorts on a Skype call because some guy is playing Careless Whisper on a saxophone 5 feet away from me. Those weren’t the worst things.
The worst things were emotions, emotions that I felt like no one else in the world… or in my world anyway… could identify with. Irrational emotions that couldn’t be explained. Emotions that I knew would pass, but in the moment, made me want to cry… and often did… which made me feel nothing like a bad-ass. It just made me feel like a little girl. I wanted my own bed to sleep in. I wanted my best friend there. I wanted someone to hold me. I wanted to feel loved. I wanted to know that somewhere out there, I was wanted somewhere and wasn’t just a shadow. I wanted to know that even though it’s my responsibility to find my purpose in life and perform to it… that I had a purpose in other people’s lives already.
But I’m thankful for those moments too, because they add up to something much greater when I realize how human I am for feeling them. When you feel this way, you become aware of the fact that it’s all on you to make the best of it… and to will yourself through the feelings anyway and to smile your way through any tears. This whole experience clearly has given me a lot in return because I wouldn’t change a single thing that has happened, good or bad.
Some of my favorite moments this year:
- Pretty much all of SXSW in Austin, even when I had the stomach flu
- The time Joel FourSquare stalked me and Luka and Andre reacted by stealing my phone and having some sort of awkward drunken argument with him via text.
- Indoor sky-diving for the first time with my friend Ryan and accidentally doing a barrel roll in the wind tunnel because I was so excited
- Outdoor sky-diving for the first time with Joel
- Hiking and geocaching with Krishna, Josh, and James and jumping on a giant trampoline on top of a mountain while watching the sun set.
- Flying from 80-degree Austin weather into snowstorm-ravaged Croatia and having a snowball fight with a bunch of people my first night there in a parking lot.
- My friends Ivor and Hrvoje taking me to Samobor, Croatia when I was warned by the U.S. embassy to leave town due to xenophobic war veterans protesting the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet in schools.
- Getting to try Croatia’s most renowned delicacy, ketchup pizza.
- Seeing the Croatian coast on a sunny day.
- Getting to eat traditional Serbian food in Novi Sad with a bunch of people in May.
- Visiting my first and only splav in Belgrade and being totally over it immediately because I’m not a 19-year-old.
- Going to pekaras in the morning with my eyes half-open and pointing at different types of burek because I was struggling to audibly read Cyrillic, but almost always walking out with the most delicious meat/cheese pastry ever consumed that seemed to go perfectly with yogurt.
- Being blinded by the sun in late morning Athens as I stood at the Parthenon looking down at the most expansive city I’ve ever seen.
- Playing piano in my apartment in Belgrade while drinking the duty-free ouzo I brought back from Athens 🙂
- Scaling Lycabettus in the hot Greek sun only to be met by the nicest old man ever at the top, who gave me water for free.
- Having a “Before Sunrise” moment with a cute Australian fellow on the train from Novi Sad to Belgrade.
- Licking all the rocks in London’s Museum of National History with Dom (who did not lick any rocks)
- Riding a bike through Hyde Park and then watching Dom have a really lengthy argument with an old lady in Speakers’ Corner.
- Every Wednesday afternoon at Jo’s Coffee with my friend Brandt, finding it easier and easier to talk his ear off with sign language.
- Every and all moments on my bike, Kendra Scott.
- As much as I hate him right now, every time my friend Ethan came over late at night and we sat on my couch, watching horrible, horrible movies together like Howard the Duck.
- Feeling completely at peace with myself as I trudged through the rain in Munich and feasted on beer at the best beer halls ever while reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
- Celebrating Día de Muertos by eating pan de muerto and getting my face painted like a skeleton.
- Taking a tour of Belgrade with a random reader of my journal who told me it felt like he was “hanging out with Oprah.”
- Visiting 5 Pointz in New York just a month before it got painted over and seeing the phenomenal art and color along with astounding music and professional dancing… and knowing that that art culture formed organically quite powerfully.
- Making llamaparty.org at dT’s offsite and then rather oddly convincing the DJ at the deviantART holiday party to play Venga Boys’ We Like to Party and dancing my ass off to it.
- Filming the pilot episode of a TV show made by AirBnB which I’m going to be in, airing sometime next year
My least favorite (even though they were pretty funny):
- Getting accosted on a dark Mexico City street and having to pay $60 USD for a shoeshine out of fear of getting robbed.
- While suffering from water sickness, being forced by an old woman, in order to leave the restaurant, to eat a plate of paella that was bigger than my head.
- Commercial fireworks being launched every 10 seconds for 36 hours straight during Día de San Judas Todeo
- Being permanently banned from J. Black’s on Austin’s 6th Street during SXSW.
- Arriving to my apartment in Rome only to discover that due to a broken modem, I would be forced to survive on a bandwidth-restricted 4G hotspot for the week in order to work (I left Italy early because this was so awful).
- Pretty much everything and anything related to Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey (and I went twice).
- The time I ate a space cake in Amsterdam, got mistaken for a prostitute in the Red Light District, and then spent an hour and a half running home, screaming in the streets because I felt like I was a golem with a tiny goblin inside of me controlling me.
- The time I had to walk an hour to get to game night on the east side of Zagreb from Novi Zagreb because a fare inspector came on the tram for the first time in like, a century.
- Having to get my host’s old non-English-speaking Serb dad to come over to my apartment at 3AM to rip a phone out of the wall because vandals smashed in the front door call box.
- Getting detained by US border patrol on returning to Austin from the Mexican border for absolutely no reason.
- Literally sleeping with the fishes in Brighton in what felt like a murder house.
What I’m saying is:
If you were in my life this year, regardless of the context, I’m grateful for it and you. Thanks for making my year… and consequently my life… weird.