Cost Benefit Analysis, Destroyer of Lives

The covered balcony at our condo has a privacy wall and a menagerie of birds around it. Some neighbors have bird feeders and bird baths, so they twitter and tweet about all day long. I keep insisting we, too, should get a bird feeder so they’ll come visit us directly, but Dear Husband is fairly certain we’ll collect bird shit as a result. Give the birds a chance, I said. They haven’t shit all over everything *yet*, and if they do, what is the total amount you will have sunk into a bird feeder? Not much.

(I didn’t win this debate.)

What we have agreed upon, though, is that the balcony is a nice place to sit and eat breakfast or dinner. This past weekend, we sat at our patio table in pajamas and had bagels, fruit, coffee, orange juice; no pesky bugs around, birds were singing, one of them swooped down to gently offer a napkin to me…not really, but we’re living the life and I can sense your jealousy already.

As we sat and enjoyed the food, I looked at him and thought about other meals we’ve shared in far away places and it suddenly felt a bit strange.

“Now that you’ve known me here, do you find it surprising that I would move to Taiwan like I did? Do I seem like someone who would do that?” I asked.

He finished chewing his food and looked at me a bit and said “Yeah, kinda surprising.”

“Really? Why?” I laughed.

“I don’t know. I think maybe you were feeling very desperate or just wanted to get away.”

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Little Stefanie

When I was little, I had a laundry list of dreams. I was going to see the world just like my grandfather and my aunt. I was going to work for National Geographic and someone would pay me to see the far reaches of the globe, take photos of it, and write to my heart’s content. I was going to study anthropology and the origins of modern man. I wanted to be a pilot, and I would work for NASA and participate in interstellar space travel right after I mastered quantum physics. Somewhere in between all of these lofty dreams, I would get married and have kids and build my dream house (the floor plans for which I could frequently be found drafting on graph paper when the mood struck) and read books.

Why didn’t I do all of those things? What derailed these precious gems of my childhood?

Nat Geo:  I did look into National Geographic internships during my college years and found that not only were they (of course) terribly competitive, but they were all in Washington, D.C. Cost benefit analysis finding #1: Nat Geo would be amazing and I would be off to meet interesting people, but I was clearly going to starve to death in a cardboard box because I wouldn’t make enough to pay for my living expenses there.

Dr. Hadley, Anthropologist:  I started off at Central Michigan University with the intent of being an anthropology major. I loaded up my first semester with history classes on the cradle of civilization, cultural anthropology, and an intro to biological anthropology. I was enjoying myself but constantly looking forward (as is my nature) and fretting over what job prospects lie ahead. Cost benefit analysis finding #2: Through my own research and conversation with my parents, I convinced myself if was a fool’s endeavor where again, I would find myself in a cardboard box due to lack of “real, gainful employment”. I wouldn’t be Indiana Jones, I’d be struggling in Indiana.

Pilot:  Yeah, my vision is terrible and this dream was likely the result of being exposed to a higher proportion of war flicks than most little girls my age would ever see in their lifetime. (Thank you, Dad.) Fringe side effect: I’m able to hold a relatively compelling, knowledgeable conversation with a large subset of middle aged/senior citizen males, at least in part because since we’ve seen the same movies.

NASA: My math wasn’t good enough to be a scientist and the only other way I’d get to space (realistically) was to pilot the shuttle. Please see the aforementioned pilot fail. (For the record, still wanna go to space. Just not going to try.)

Now we’re down to the classic domestic scene of a happily settled life, one with a lovely house, 2.4 children, and a dog. As of today, I have none of these things. I do, however, have a husband. So….go me!

What ties this all together? Well, let’s state the obvious and acknowledge the tendency toward risk aversion. I wouldn’t characterize myself as a risk taker, nor would anyone who has ever known me. Non-conventional, in some respects, but conservative with regard to what I’m willing to lose. With that in mind, going to Taiwan might seem entirely out of character for me.

Except I had literally nothing when I made the decision to go. No relationship, no children, no mortgage, no full time job, just a college degree, youth, and a clock ticking on the loan deferment. When framed in this manner, going to Taiwan may have been non-conventional as a solution, and adventure, sure…but risky? Not really.  If I hadn’t found work or was miserable when the first two months were up, I had a round trip plane ticket back home. It might have been a touch nerve-wracking to go, but it was one of the easiest cost benefit analyses I’ve ever conducted.

The rest of my life decisions are wracked with anxiety and fear over whether I’ve got a plan, whether it’s the right plan, and what the ramifications of said plan are. Simultaneously, I will acknowledge that life cannot be completely planned and we must adapt/overcome that which comes along, and then freak out about my lack of control and the artificial sense of permanence I assign to my choices.

What’s worse, these aren’t even truly serious choices or fears in the larger scheme of things; I’m not at risk of homelessness, I know where my food is coming from, I’m relatively healthy, I’m not facing war at my backdoor or persecution from a government. My life is not that difficult and yet I fill my heart with the angst of contradiction. When I’m living on less than 15,000 USD a year and happily exploring the world, I feel guilt at not having ‘real’ employment and a retirement fund, etc. How will I ever ‘settle down?’ Yet when I am ‘gainfully employed’ and have a 401k, an IRA, a car, PTO, etc., I feel like I’m missing out on what’s happening in other places. Why can’t I go there again? I have money for a ticket if I choose…but I have to work. (Strange how that works, eh? Got the money, but don’t got the time. Got all the time and have NO MONEY.)

Every. Single. Day. I weigh the pros and cons of my life in West Michigan versus a life gallivanting somewhere else. Some days, I choose to stay put and feel roots digging down into the ground; heavy and burdensome, but safe. Other days I plot an escape and try to decide what the best game plan would be for a return to Taiwan, perhaps. The back and forth and constant analysis makes it impossible to enjoy the present or feel any sort of sustained peace. I sometimes wish I had no desire to go anywhere, like some folks who seem content to do the same old thing their entire life and raise their kids in the same tired old town they grew up in.

Should I even agonize this much? Perhaps it’s inevitable; unlike last time, I have something I worked hard to build this time. If I left my job and went a different direction, there’s every possibility it could be an irreversible decision. There is no try it out and if you change your mind, come on back. What is more valuable to me, transience and adventure or the American Dream? I’m greedy and want both, hence my self-inflicted plight.

Cost benefit analysis ruins lives, sometimes. No one should be consumed by this, no one should allow too much of their finite time on the planet to be spent agonizing over such details. But I probably shouldn’t discount the very significant differences in cost this time around, either.

What do you ultimately value and does cost benefit analysis ever control you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Day With Laura

This photo post is dedicated to my most favorite traveling friend. We could wander for hours just taking photos of interesting things and people watching. My first trip to Daan Park was in April 2010 and what a beautiful day it was! Was it really that long ago now? I’m so glad that at least some of my shots turned out the way I envisioned they would.

Some of the best sidewalks in Taipei are near Daan Park.

Some of the best sidewalks in Taipei are near Daan Park.

One of my first Chinese character lessons! It's 'gong', Teacher.

One of my first Chinese character lessons! It’s ‘gong’, Teacher.

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Looks just like Ft. Myers to me.

Looks just like Ft. Myers to me.

So pretty...

So pretty…

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They were so cute.

They were so cute.

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Probably my favorite photo of Laura that I've ever taken.

Probably my favorite photo of Laura that I’ve ever taken.

Statuesque, no? Taipei 101 in the distance.

Statuesque, no? Taipei 101 in the distance.

A fascinating building and I liked the juxtaposition here with the traffic light...the building is the Mormon compound in Taipei.

A fascinating building and I liked the juxtaposition here with the traffic light…the building is a beautiful university in Taipei.

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The Playlist

The thought has often crossed my mind that I should document the musical progression of my life in Taiwan. When I hear certain songs that got a lot of play in those days or remember the ones I kept putting on replay, I drift back to it.

Not too long before I moved to Taiwan, I bought an album that seriously changed my life: Battle Studies by John Mayer. It helped set me on a trajectory more so than any other influence, because I tend to frame my life around what I’m listening to, both consciously and subconsciously. When I hear songs, they imprint on me and take up residence in a special place in my memories.

From start to finish, Battle Studies was the album I needed at just that moment in my life. I’d have it playing in the car almost constantly, including my drive to Ann Arbor to get my TESOL/TESL/TEFL certificate. Never before had an album spoken to me so distinctly and with such impeccable timing and depth. I’d listen to those first bars of Heartbreak Warfare and just drive. The clarity it wrought from my pain was unbelievable. War of My Life came on later and became an anthem….no more suffering, no more pain, never again.

Transitioning into my new life was mostly filled with upbeat music and stuff that had a quick enough tempo to match my pace as I walked everywhere.  My first job was, at a quick pace, a 20 minute walk away. Rain or shine, I walked. Beach Boys, Jason Aldean, Shakira, didn’t matter who it was as long as it made me feel energetic. I had purchased both of Adele’s albums over the course of my time in Taiwan but the track that sticks out is Set Fire to the Rain, because hearing it felt like shedding an unwanted skin that had outlived a purpose. The freedom of escape from a past that no longer deserved my attention was elating and I felt I had a stride that held more purpose and weight when it played.

I listen to so much music that at times, I get bored with what I’ve got. Thousands of songs, and heard ’em all too much.  My grand adventure had remedies for that, too. I had never heard of Cold War Kids prior to getting together with some other girls that Laura knew in Beitou area. We were hanging out at someone’s flat and this album was playing in the background.  It had a different sound than anything else I usually listened to and I immediately found it online after returning to Xindian. When I hear Hang Me Up to Dry, I think of hanging out with Laura and the thrill of the new that enveloped my life in Taiwan.

That’s The Way I Always Heard it Should Be  I wish I could recall exactly where I heard this song first. I acquired it at some point and when I was loading music onto my mp3 player one day (I had a small capacity player then), it ended up mixed in. I found it very moving and unexpected because previously, I wasn’t much of a Carly Simon fan. The live version I’ve linked to is incredible and it’s thought provoking on a long train ride when you’ve got plenty of thinking to do. It’s not an idyllic song about love or lust or a breakup…it’s a complicated story that echoes a less rosy reality.

Homesickness usually brings on a wish to turn back the clock. I listened to a variety of genres in my youth as well; each artist or genre is a different facet of me.  I guess the piece I wanted to return to periodically in Taiwan was alternative rock. I loved the Foo Fighters, Matchbox Twenty, Counting Crows, and Oasis growing up. Nostalgia seemed like a far better place for my thoughts to linger than anything that was currently bothering me, so when I put Everlong, How Far We’ve Come , Round Here, or Don’t Look Back in Anger on, it was like turning back a clock and enjoying a simpler time. Besides, perhaps especially when you’re enjoying a new world far away, you need something familiar that speaks to where you come from, something you can relate to more easily.

Traveling Songs

Songs I favored for bus, train, or scooter rides get their own special category in this post. They’re songs that made me feel free…

No. 1 Bus song: John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High went with me on my way to Yeliou Geological Park. I looked out the bus window at the blinding sunlight and gorgeous blue ocean and felt like there was nothing I wanted to do at that moment except be exactly where I was. I wasn’t worried about work, I wasn’t worried about any problems, didn’t care about money, men, or possessions…I was just thrilled to be with friends and have a ticket on a bus to go a place I’d never seen before. The lyrics of Rocky Mountain High were just for me, it seemed. It still brings a smile to my face.

When I think of riding the MRT, a three come to mind more than any others, for some reason. The Manual, Pearl, and You Make My Dreams Come True.  What a mix, eh?  The Manual makes me think of heading north on my way back to the apartment on the mountain, Pearl makes me think of the Blue Line toward Xinyi District and my shoebox next to Yongchun station, and Hall and Oates, well…they’re just awesome. And trains are awesome. :)

Riding on the scooter meant running around with Scott…the songs that were on a loop during the first year or so of our relationship are permanently etched. Nothing could ruin these songs for me; they sound like heading to Banciao Global Mall for frozen yogurt and a movie, buzzing around Hualien, and flying up and down Yangmingshan and Maokong just for the hell of it, running down to Tainan for a weekend…everywhere that makes my heart sing along.

Heartbeat

Only Girl in the World

What’s My Name

Cuando Me Enamoro

 I’d Rather Ride Around With You

Reminds me of the last trip we took to Hualien…

The mountains are so wondrous.

The mountains are so wondrous.

Makin a phone call while I got off because I insisted I needed to take more photos...

Makin a phone call while I got off because I insisted I needed to take more photos…

Moon House! Oh how I want to go back here. :)

Moon House! Oh how I want to go back here. :)

The charming bed and breakfast where we stayed :)

The charming bed and breakfast where we stayed :)

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The Evolution of My Husband’s English

It’s hard to think back and remember exactly what conversations with my husband were like when we first met. I remember bits and pieces, really. Certain phrases he would use were cute to me. The more incorrect/awkward, the better.

What was even more fun was when he would surprise me with vocabulary I had no idea he even knew. Like the day he got really angry and instead of losing his grip on English in the midst of emotion, he blurted out that something was a ‘#$%^ing scandal’. I wasn’t expecting ‘scandal’ right then and somehow, even though a native speaker wouldn’t have used it for that situation, it worked anyway. I couldn’t come up with a hard and fast rule as to why he couldn’t use it, so I decided that his description was far better than anyone’s. For at least a week straight, I deemed many a thing to be a ‘#$%^ing scandal’ and then laughed hysterically.

A few other of my favorites over the years have been ‘Is it any possible….’ and fantastic tongue-twisted ones like ‘mattrix’ instead of mattress or ‘kidnick’ when he meant kidney.

Sadly for me, his vocab and usage has gotten exponentially better…which is saying a lot, because he was pretty good to begin with. (After all, I had trouble helping him with his grad school homework because he understood the American finance textbooks he was reading better than I did.)

Some things I can take credit for, like when I tell him that Kelly, our cat, is not feeling so well and his response is “Aw, poor little lady.” < – – adorable, yes?? He totally gets that from me.

What I did not expect was the way in which exposure to my family would influence his word choices. I’m hearing my mother come out of his mouth at different turns…he’s cutting up vegetables and I try to say we shouldn’t cut them so small, and he looks up and says things like ‘Do you want my help or not?’ or to ‘take it easy’…? < – – NOT something he learned from me, nor did he ever say it prior to living at our house.

The trip to Costco takes the cake, though. I’d recently discovered the ‘buttery sticks’ we’d been using in place of butter which are non-GMO, gluten-free, MSG-free, lactose-free, non-hydrogenated, expeller-pressed oil vegan buttery sticks (yeah, I know) are not actually…*gasp*…organic. Why should this matter? On any other day, it wouldn’t, but I just figured hey, why not find out what else is out there, right?

I’m wandering down the aisle in Costco after we’ve already grabbed what we came for, just to see what fat options are out there for me that might be organic. I don’t see many choices, really. I walk out of the aisle. My husband is following me and has no idea what I’m doing.

“What are we doing?” he asks.

“I’m just looking to see if there are any other options for butter here, but I don’t see many choices. Those sticks we have aren’t organic, and I just wondered if maybe they had something similar that was,” I explained.

His response?

“I don’t want you to get too wound up with this organic stuff…”

^ What! ‘Wound up’? [insert shock here]

Dad? …is that you?!

I called my parents later to scold them for teaching him to say such things to his wife. They laughed.

And laughed some more. “You’re welcome!” they said.

I told my husband that he should never tell me to not get ‘wound up’, because it will infuriate me and then I will *show* him what ‘wound’ looks like.

At the same time…I was never more proud. His sense of context and timing is superb. I can’t wait to hear what new ridiculous thing comes out of his mouth next.

 

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My husband is such a model.

My husband is such a model.

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Hello, old friend.

It’s been forever since you last saw me. I remember the day we said goodbye; it was like yesterday, which was a lifetime ago now. You were a quirky life preserver in a fantastically leaky ship and you had absolutely no idea.

I wonder if you know how many times you were the only one I had to eat my dinner with. You sat in the back, but you had no need to. You could’ve been out doing anything, but I’m glad you were there.

I saw your face last night. I’ve seen it at least dozen times since our parting, and I wondered how you were, but not enough. I can’t say why.

I saw your face last night and something struck me. I opened my Gmail and typed in your English name, hoping something would pop up. And there we were, frozen in time. You had that hair! There I was…I was thinner, more tan. I wear similar length hair recently…not sure how I pulled that off. I don’t even have that shirt anymore, but oddly enough, I was wearing the necklace at that moment…the same one I wore in the photo. The one Yi Wei helped me pick out on our 2011 Chinese New Year trip.

You look different than in my memory, something more than age; there is a story within your face now. There’s more grey in your hair, but it’s unmistakably you. My eyes turn to your name…and it dawns on me. I never knew your given name. I didn’t even know your family name. Did I ask you? I hope I did. If I did and I’ve forgotten, I’m somehow more okay with it.

Your wife is still striking and your son…I can’t believe how big he has become!

I likely had less impact on your life than you did on mine, and I’m okay with that, too. I’m just grateful for the times I walked in to work and found you back there at that tiny counter.

It’s nice to meet again, even if it’s only on the internet.

Hello, old friend.

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Languages that don’t require translation

Every so often, when someone discovers how much time I spend listening to music in languages other than English, I get asked a similar series of questions.

“How can you listen to that? Do you know what they’re saying?”

Me: “Sometimes, but most of the time, no. I don’t need to know what they’re saying.”

“I mean, it sounds pretty good but I want to know what they’re saying.”

My inner thoughts: Why do you NEED to know? Why not enjoy the music for what it is?

In classical music, the melody is carried by instruments, not by words. Do we like classical music less? I certainly don’t; I adore classical music.

Is opera any less breathtaking simply because it’s not in English? I’d argue the classics would lose something intrinsic through translation.

When you get right down to it, the human voice is yet another instrument, and the words that make up lyrics are just another quality, similar to timbre, in my mind. Beauty is beauty, and at times, our own personal reaction to certain word choices or topics in a song can detract from the emotion being expressed through the music.

I suppose the most telling evidence of a song’s quality is if it has the ability to stir me without my understanding the language used. If the emotion is sincere and the music is rich, I will feel joys and pains regardless of the language…or even if there are no words at all.

4 artists who don’t require translation to be understood:

1. Kim Jong-hyun

I first became familiar with Jong-hyun through the group Shinee.  This solo by him is a Korean version of a Spanish song, Y Si Fuera Ella.  ( < – – how’s that for not English? hahaha)  It is a spectacular piece and Jong-hyun is on point with his range/depth considering how young he is.

2. Joe Hisaishi

The favored composer of famed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, Hisaishi is incredible.  His music sets my imagination on fire.  It was tough to only share one of his pieces here, but I went with a live video of the man himself, directing the orchestra and playing the piano from his music for the 1984 animated feature, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.  I can’t even breathe while listening and this live performance is just astounding. Best 11 minutes of your life, trust me. (Sidenote…if you haven’t seen the Studio Ghibli movies…you have homework to do!)

3. Taeyang

Sometimes popular songs in Korea, Taiwan, and Japan will have English sprinkled into the lyrics. Sometimes it’s done horridly, such as 99% of the song is not English and then an English word is thrown in somewhere randomly and it’s jarring. But I have to admit that when done well, it almost tricks my brain. There is just enough (the hook and some of the refrain) that my brain recognizes that the rest is easily accepted and just flows.  At some points, I almost start to think I understand and I don’t differentiate between the other language and the English.

Taeyang made it big as a member of Big Bang, but has recently debuted as a solo artist. I love the album Rise, and this is one of my favorite tracks.

4. Yiruma

Lee Ru-ma, or Yiruma, is an outstanding contemporary pianist/composer. I find his music soothing at times and a fuel for my imagination other times.  Spring Rain is one of my favorites.

Allow yourself to be open to music in all its forms, all its languages, and it will reward you with a larger world that never gets boring.  :)

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Notes on My Soul

When I lived in Zhonghe, I lived on Alley 252 off Yuantong Road, right near Shuang Ho Hospital (雙和醫院). Sometimes instead of taking the O2 (I love Google Streetview… check out the bus stop  I used to wait at), I would skip over and get on the hospital shuttle bus.  It was much smaller and sometimes I felt guilty if there were a lot of old people waiting to get on…but if I’d missed the O2 and needed to hurry up and get to the MRT station, I’d take my chances with the shuttle.

That shuttle bus always played great music…old people’s music, I was told.  I loved every minute of it, but the main issue was I had no way to tell anyone about the songs I’d heard.  Later on when I’d see Scott, I’d try to repeat some of the phrases I’d heard but it wouldn’t work. He had no idea what nonsense I was babbling.

Luckily, I am now becoming more familiar with some of the artists I’d been enjoying.  I’m still at the tip of the iceberg and as anyone who knows me well can attest, I am awful at choosing favorites…there’s too much in life to love…but here are some really great classic pop artists/songs that I’m dying to share with others any and every time I’m listening to them.

Tsai Chin ( 蔡琴 )

Tsai Chin is….her voice is just like silk.  I used to say Teresa Teng was the best, but Tsai Chin has won me over.  Her voice reminds me of Karen Carpenter mixed with the versatility of Barbra Streisand, except…that’s not quite the right description.  She is her own category for sure.  I can’t say enough about her so just listen instead.  This song is called What is Love?

Teresa Teng (鄧麗筠 )

Teresa is an icon in Taiwan as well as Asia in general. Beautiful lady, charming voice, loved by the masses.  Just one listen and you’ll see why.  This particular song is so quintessentially Taiwanese to me that I felt compelled to choose this one.

Andy Lau (劉德華 ) **Update** Andy Lau is actually a Cantonese artist; however, his widespread popularity in Taiwan merits his inclusion on this list.

How many ways do I love Andy Lau? More than I can count.  I love to watch movies he’s in, I love to listen to his music, and he has great hair.  In all seriousness, I have every album from about 1985 to 2008.  Unfortunately, all the filenames are either in Mandarin or in nonsense symbols and it’s hard for me to identify the songs by name. This one is so great…I was semi-disappointed to find out it’s a sad song.

There are more current artists in Taiwan that I also shuffle through my playlist, as well.  I can’t say I stumbled upon those in a hospital shuttle bus.  I have my husband to thank for these next ones.

David Tao

David Tao is just awesome. I have two of his albums and I like him so much it’s hard for me to choose one song….so I’ve included two.  He has a great emotion to his voice and the musical styles are varied within a single album, so I never find him boring.  He also has a knack for including traditional instruments within a pop song that is reminiscent of Andy Lau songs.  A good example is this first one, which is a modern take on the song Teresa Teng made classic, The Moon Represents My Heart.  This video is a great one to share with you because it has the Chinese, the Pinyin, and English subtitles so you can understand what he’s singing about.   The second one is so chill that I can set it on repeat while I’m at work and it’s a stressful day.

Power Station (動力火車)

Power Station is a group I had never once heard about until Scott played this song for me (embarrassing side note, if I play this song on my laptop, he will start singing it even if he’s in another room).  The group is a pair of Aboriginal Taiwanese from Pingtung.  Strong voices, lots of guitar ballads…this particular song is called Walking along Jhonghsiao East Road Nine Times.  The video is really special to me because I’ve walked along that road many times and the views of Taipei are just nostalgic.

Mayday (五月天)

Mayday is a rock band that’s been around since the 90s and Scott is pretty fond of them, so I have a lot of Mayday albums on my hard drive.  I can’t say I love all their work, but they have some pretty good stuff. This one is Scott’s favorite of all time, called Fool:

Jay Chou (周杰倫)

He’s worth mentioning, okay?  You either love Jay or you hate him, but he is undeniably talented.  Western audiences may know him from his supporting roles in The Green Hornet and films such as Curse of the Golden Flower and True Legend, but before he was ever in a movie, he was a prolific musician in Taiwan.  My fave from him:

Some music in Taiwan is political.  This next one is the anthem of the 2014 Sunflower Movement in Taiwan.  It is powerful to those who understand the emotional and political struggle of the Taiwanese people.  Don’t be turned off by the chanting in the beginning…read the subtitles (English) and feel energized. They sing of a fight for democracy, a fight for a voice…the values we as Americans espouse and claim to protect.  It’s worth paying attention to.

Enjoy the music…and get ready for more.  The long overdue K-pop post is on its way!

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Wanderlust

Sun Yat Sen- 101 Jan 2012 078 GOOD

Ralph Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending is rising and falling within the stillness of the apartment. Cinnamon and cream court the melody in tandem as I thumb longingly through the pages of Condé Nast Traveler. I finally come to a rest on a gorgeous spread from Cathay Pacific: a single cymbidium orchid upon a wash of subdued green. It is a sweet pain, a luscious agony, one I willingly indulge on mornings such as this when I am free of obligation or schedule.

Cathay Pacific is my favorite airline; in a life where I so infrequently designate favorites, they are the jewel of my air travel world. Suddenly I wonder if I can convince Scott to pack a carry-on and slip down to the airport to get on a flight.

All precious resources are inherently finite and life is bound by the same law. How many days out of the year are we forced to choose practicality and reason over adventure and abandon? Are we content to forgo our truest desires in order to look back and see dedication to responsibility? More importantly, how many reward points do I have now?  (The answer is 160,00…so not enough to use them for the sort of trip they’re being saved for.)

As I write this, my thoughts invariably turn to financial goals. If I finish paying off my student debt, the world will again open up to me and in turn, I will have more opportunity to know myself in new ways with every locale I set foot in.

Learning to look about me instead of ahead or behind…that is a journey, as well.

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