Tag Archives: traveling

New Beginnings

We all want a fresh start. Either the year was hard, the semester was hard, or the holidays were hard. My father’s company died 10 months ago, and he has yet to find another job. He has 30 years of experience in his field. Ashley moved home immediately following graduation and has been working at a coffee shop for 9 months because all the recently laid-off or unemployed executives have the entry-level jobs, and what else is a coveted “well-rounded” education for? Georgia scored the coveted paid internship, but is also at the beck and call of a high-powered woman who expects the world to revolve around her. So while the group of friends is out commiserating together, Georgia is back in her office retrieving the left behind cell-phone for delivery to the boss’ home. With a liberal arts degree, what choice does Tim have but to go back to school after already working his ass off for said degree? And after losing her best friend to cancer, Lindsey wants nothing more than for the holidays to end so she doesn’t have to constantly be reminded of the missing loved one.

While I have changed the majority of names above, at least one of their stories will resonate with every single reader. So we look to the new year for change, and hope that it brings better luck. Except we are actually half-way through the academic year (congratulations students), a fourth of the way through a fiscal year (how’s your portfolio doing?), at the end of the Chinese year based on the lunar calendar, and only at the beginning of the solar year as according to the Gregorian Calendar. Therefore expectations are that because the earth has successfully completed a full rotation around the sun, our lives have the potential to start anew. And so according to some tradition of our species, the 6 billion intelligent animals on the successfully spinning rock of space vow to themselves that their lives will be different on this next rotation. We make plans to uphold some obligation that has the potential of making us happier, or more successful, or appear to be a better functioning human.

If there is one thing that 2011 taught me, it’s that the only thing I will ever be successful at is the thing my heart actually wants. I go to school because that’s what grown people tell me is required of becoming grown up. I look for paying jobs because that’s what society tells me stable, mature people do. My friends get married because that’s what our culture says is the most secure thing for a woman to do. I travel because that is what I love to do. I write because I enjoy it. While these endeavors do not necessarily lead to the kind of success that society requires of its adults, I am successful in every one of these attempts because I am motivated to do what I enjoy.

What would it look like to choose a resolution that corresponds to an actual personal desire? And if we are going to gain inspiration and seek new beginnings with the patterns of earth’s rotation, why not look to every rotation, every reappearance of the sun on the horizon?

Every. Single. Day.

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“Higglety Pigglety Pop!: or There Must Be More to Life”

by Maurice Sendak. Chapter 1:

Once Jennie had everything. She slept on a round pillow upstairs and a square pillow downstairs. She had her own comb and brush, two different bottles of pills, eyedrops, eardrops, a thermometer, and for cold weather a red wool sweater. There were two windows for her to look out of and two bowls to eat from. She even had a master who loved her.

But Jennie didn’t care. In the middle of the night she packed everything in a black leather bag with gold buckles and looked out of her favorite window for the last time.

“You have everything,” said the potted plant that happened to be looking out the same window.

Jennie nibbled a leaf.

“You have two windows,” said the plant. “I have only one.”

Jennie sighed and bit off another leaf. The plant continued.

“Two pillows, two bowls, a red wool sweater, eyedrops, eardrops, two different bottles of pills, a thermometer, and he even loves you.”

“That is true, ” said Jennie, chewing more leaves.

“You have everything,” repeated the plant.

Jennie only nodded, her mouth full of leaves.

“Then why are you leaving?”

“Because, ” said Jennie, snapping off the stem and blossom, “I am discontented. I want something I do not have. There must be more to life than having everything!”

The plant had nothing to say. It had nothing left to say it with.


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I feel as if I will have two entirely different experiences in my eight months. One is the perspective of a resident. I don’t acknowledge every white person on the street (just because we share skin color does not mean I will automatically like them…); I have a favorite food vendor, clothes tailor, and know where to go to “hide”; and I’ve learned how to blend- what not to say and wear that make me look like a starry eyed tourist. I have a routine; a standard rise time, a standard meal plan, a sense of normalcy.

And then I was asked to stay for two weeks to help as a film production assistant for a second documentary. The film crew are the starry-eyed tourists who try their hand at the token Kinyrwanda phrases and get photos of themselves while dancing with rural children.

Its been pretty great to experience both ends. I laugh frequently; at the absurdity of my experiences and at the Rwandans who are laughing at me. Great fun to be had by all.

Today, I was holding some lights for an interview, when the bus driver informed me that the mayor needed to see the film permit. So I run out the gate with the necessary paperwork, and decided to just stay with this cameraman on the street to make sure he didn’t run into any additional trouble. We walk down the street, about five yards, and pass a group of women and children. The women ask me if I would please take their photo. I politely inform them that I cannot (1. it is an expensive video camera I am carrying, not a photo camera and 2. after I take their picture, they will ask me for money that I get from showing said photo in the west. These smart Rwandans know that pics of “suffering Africans” make money.)

Anyway, I hear: Muzungu! Take my photo.

-Sorry mama, we just want the city.

-The city?


She leaves me alone while Kasey captures the skyline. Then he turns the camera upwards for a shot of the sun behind the clouds.

-Muzungu! Why are you taking photos of the sky? My children are beautiful and standing here. (I made that last part up, she yelled it all in Kinyrwanda. I caught phrases and think that was the point, but…)

-Haha, I don’t know mama. You have to ask him.

-Well, muzungu, give me money.

-Sorry, I don’t have money. BUT see that muzungu up the hill? He has money.

-What is his name?

-I don’t know, go ask him.

And I sent the whole group up the road to the sound guy to ask for money. You’re welcome. 🙂

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Carrier Pigeons

Okay. I didn’t really want to admit to this, but five months in I think it is time to call it quits.

I can’t send all the lovely postcards I bought for you friends and lovers. (Nor can I send the tax information vital for my loan status either, awesome.)

Why? you ask me. Well, that is an excellent question.

From what I can tell, this is because the U.S. has previously received bombs in printer cartridges through the mail. So they said fine, all other countries can’t send us anything larger than a printer cartridge. That’s fine and well, except Rwanda got really confused by this. And rather than, you know, buying a scale or something, the Rwandan post office said we just won’t send anything at all to the U.S.

This story makes sense, so I believe it. But it came to me via hear-say. I have exhausted internet research trying to figure out why the clerk at the post office told me there is an “embargo” against sending mail to the U.S. And ex-housemates who have returned to the U.S. had no better luck finding official notices.

Sorry guys. I can still receive letters though, and I do have an address for that purpose. If you are a kind enough soul to wish to send me something with no expectations of receiving your postcard in return, contact me and I can send you the address. I’ll be here ’till August.

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“Why Not? is a slogan for an interesting life.”

Risks and dangers and ‘everything that can go wrong’ too often keep us from doing the incredible.

It is time to pursue something new.

Don’t worry, I will be back. But for the next two weeks, I will be Tanzania slowly walking up to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro.

See ya!

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