Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day Seventy-Seven

I stayed up all night...I guess not having to go to sleep caused me to not remember to blog. >.<

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day Seventy-Six.

I've heard that you need to lose a few battles before you can win. This strategy isn't faring so well for me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day Seventy-Five.

Walking home tonight, a leaf flew out of a tree and landed on my head. It made me giggle--it was such a big leaf. I plucked it from my hair and walked with it for a bit, just looking at it and feeling its soft fuzzy underside and the veins in the top. I held it up to let a street light shine through and smiled at the beautiful pattern that traced its way throughout. I was in the right place at the right time for the leaf to find a new perch upon my head. At least I know I have one thing right.

Something clicked for me today. I don't know who flipped the switch, nor how, but at last, I found myself speaking Chinese without thinking about it. Everything makes sense now. Reading can still have its difficulties, and my writing is definitely improving, but, at last...I have my voice. Look out, Taiwan; I'm going to use it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day Seventy-Four.

Some walk, others run. I'm breaking down my walls and I refuse to settle for less than what I can achieve. I will run until I can't take another step--it's one of the few things that remains to feel correct in my life. Tonight, however, proved that I could run forever if I were to try. Twenty laps at a steady jog, sprinting two, then walking three only to jog two more, and walk the last three laps. Thirty laps total. If my calculations are correct and each lap is 200 meters, I ran a total of six kilometers tonight; for those of you at home that's just shy of four miles. Now it's time to rest up and see how far I can go on Sunday. I refuse to let Ian get the best of me this time.

I. Will. Not. Stop.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day Seventy-Three.

And when all material things seemed to no longer matter, I have been brought back to Earth like dove falling from the sky, having taken a shot through the heart. A pattern of bruises have formed on my left arm, all below the elbow. They begin as small knots I find under the skin, and when I rub them out, they blossom into dark contusions that leave me without answers. I'm worried. When, at last, it seems my body is fit and able to run for a seemingly endless period of time, my muscles are tight and my body seems healthy, why this? What infirmity plagues me now? I am tired of these games that never lead to higher understanding before they simply disappear as if they never were. All I can do is hope and pray this isn't the one that brings me down.

Jesus, please heal me once again.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day Seventy-Two.

I'm afraid today's post will be a little inconsequential compared to yesterday's. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred. Oatmeal breakfast, cafeteria lunch, steak dinner. What was I expecting? To wake up in an entirely new world? Maybe. Did I? Yes and no. It is the same world that I have always been living in with the same possibilities and opportunities, however now that my caerulean eyes have been opened, the world sparkles with new life and colour. Every day is a new day to start fresh and explore; every mountain that I tumbled down previously is ready to be climbed. I may not have walked on the moon, but I can certainly try.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day Seventy-One.

"The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquillity of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice." -Adam Smith

I can not articulate how much this experience has changed my life. Today is day seventy-one, but I feel much more than only seventy-one days the wiser. My mind has expanded with the possibilities, both real and synthetic, of happiness, hope, and plans for the future. I am humbled by the sheer greatness of life itself, and am growing ever more conscious of how I choose to live it. This is more than just an opportunity; this opportunity changes everything I have ever known about life and humanity. Growing up on a farm in rural West Virginia did not exactly expose me to a variety of cultures, but it prepared me for life in other ways. I have a deep love for nature, family, and friendship. My mother taught me to respect my elders and give credit where it is due; my teachers worked over hours to explain topics that interested me. My friends were kind and selfless and taught me lessons that neither my mother or teachers could. Every lesson was valuable in itself, but nothing, it seems, prepared me for this literal tearing down and rebuilding of my 'self'. This then raises the question: If my 'self' is new, a different 'self', then who is the old 'self'? Can we each be simultaneously one and multiple selves? If not, then what have you to do with the memories, thoughts, and feelings of the old? If so, then what keeps us from reverting to our old selves, thus causing the paradox that we have not created a new self at all, but rather a new layer to our old selves like putting a new layer of paint on an old house. But truly, am I still the small child that sat in my father's hand as he lifted me into the air? Am I still the teenage girl who melted into the church pew at her best friend's funeral? Am I still the same naïve girl who stepped off of the airplane only seventy-one days ago? Or am I only those people in my memories? When I close my eyes to dream, how can I adequately re-experience my memories if I am observing them from a different angle and point of view?

What I do know is this: satori seems a little far off, but I have found my own epiphany on life and will continue to strive for understanding. I am here for one reason, and many reasons all at once. I have my own personal agenda and one that was handed to me the day I was born. I do not plan to forsake either in this journey. Life is beautiful. Thank you to everyone whom I have recently and not so recently met that have brought me to this point--my past teachers, and current muses alike. Adam Smith also stated that we should never complain of that which it is at all times in our power to change. Life is so much more amazing when you let go of the trivial things and just realize that, through second guessing every action one has ever made, one is constantly reliving the past instead of actively participating in creating the future. My time of walking backwards and seeing everything in retrospect is over.

Hello, beautiful World. Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day Seventy.

Some mysteries are better left unsolved.

I went to the movies today with Herb to see Source Code. Great movie. While there, I discovered something about Taiwanese "fast food" dining: most is not fast food. You get a legitimate meal on a plastic plate. I had chicken and vegetables on a nice rice pilaf today. It was delicious and a reasonable price. Upon further investigation, the only fast, fast food places I discovered were of US or European origin. Interesting....

Maïa's birthday party at MiCasa was awesome last night. It was my first time out to a club here and two of my friends were having their parties there at the same time. It was great to see my classmates in a new element and get to know them a little better as well as dance a little...or more than a little. The lady at the door looked at me a little oddly when I produced my US driver's license as proof of ID, but other than that, the night went flawlessly. Well...almost. Did I mention I left my cellphone in the taxi I took home? Don't worry, by some method I still have not discovered, my friend Jeannie now has possession of it. The idea of this still boggles my mind. Let me lay this out for you. MiCasa is 25 minutes away by taxi with some traffic or so, and there are thousands of taxis in Taiwan. Jeannie had not left the club yet when I arrived home. So the question still lingers of how did she find MY taxi and MY cellphone? I almost don't want to know, but I do. What happens if the truth isn't as miraculous as I've chalked it up to be? Maybe some mysteries are better left unsolved...

Tomorrow at 3:30, I am meeting some new friends to run in the park. I am definitely looking forward to new people and running buddies. Running alone here on the track gets boring and I don't keep as good of a pace as I should; I can't push myself without a pacer there to urge me on. I'm curious to see how well my training has prepared me to run with real runners--cross your digits that I don't die.

Bedtime. Peace out, cub scout.

[In real news, two great photographers were killed in an attack between the loyalists and rebels in Libya. One of the men recently produced the fantastic documentary "Restrepo." Their work was life-changing and they will be remembered.]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day Sixty-Nine.

So many things.
And Right.
If you could only see me now.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I finished writing my report! 969 words!! I'm so happy!

I have started a bit of a routine in the mornings. I get up at the same time, I shower, get ready, leave, stop at 711 and buy the same thing for breakfast, go to class, get lunch after class with a friend, and return home every day around the same time. I like it.

After coming home today, I took a nap to catch up on the sleep I lost again last night (Darn Kitty!). Herb woke me with a text saying he was out of class and on campus, so we went to play some ping-pong and then he introduced me to tennis. In case anyone is wondering, I was not born for this sport, but by the end of the lesson, I could at least serve and volley with him for a while before I hit a terrible ball that went flying off to chill with Pluto. I mark that as a success. I really like it, to be honest, but it's going to take hard work and many hours of practicing--I think that's just what I need.

I treated Aileen to dinner tonight for being such an amazing help with writing my speech. Without her, I don't know what I would have done. I finished writing and editing by myself tonight and I believe it is ready to hand in tomorrow. I just need to print it out and I'm all set. That is one less thing I have to worry about. Next on the list: Marketing presentation on May 4th. Ew.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day Sixty-Seven

The internet in the dormitory has been exceptionally flaky lately and I have not yet discovered the cause. I had class from 9-5 today and slept after since I didn't get much rest last night. I did actually get some work done tonight though; Aileen helped me with my speech. 800 characters about Alice in Wonderland? No problem.

Yesterday we played frisbee again and I met another American. They keep popping up! Where do they come from!?! Well, this one is from Alabama. Introducing, Herb. He seems like such a nice person; I am definitely looking forward to getting to know him.

Caleb was on the radio at 2Am last night...and of course, I had to stay up and listen. Their band is actually really good. If his appearance on TV and the radio two days in a row isn't enough to get him a new girlfriend soon, he's a lost cause. [That's right, Caleb. Now America knows too.]


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day Sixty-Six.

Internet went to crap tonight. I'll update later.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day Sixty-Five.

Tonight was Linda's last night in Taiwan; tomorrow she returns to Bangkok for school. I am going to miss her so much! At least we made some great memories, and I know I will see her again. Fun photos to come soon of us together tonight--no worries.

I taught the girls how to play Frisbee tonight and it definitely was interesting. They picked it up so quickly that Caleb and I separated forces and we played Ultimate with them. Yvonne's extremely good at it--it's awesome. So for a last game, Caleb and I joined forces with Yvonne to take on the other 6 girls...and we won. Epic win with a long distance throw caught by yours truly. That's right, Taiwan; it doesn't get any better than this.

Tomorrow the magic ends and I have to come back to reality with school. This week is going to be a hard one with all of the work I need to do, but I am ready to take it on. At last I am clear of mind and ready to take on any task set before me. I am not here to do just enough to get by--I am here to give it my all and squeeze every ounce out of this experience. Let's do this.

But first, sleepy peepy time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day Sixty-Four.

Rainy, rainy day.
Baozi and salad dinner.

I have to say, though...God has blessed me with the best of friends, both here and at home. I don't know what I would do without my beloved Yvonne, Aileen, and Joanna here to cheer me up and remind me that I'm not alone. Thank you guys!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day Sixty-Three.

Another outfit-coordinated dinner with my American friend. The people of Shilin aren't going to know what to do if they keep seeing two matching, tall blondes out and about. One is a phenomenon, but TWO? The outfits just make it even funnier.

Today, was terrible...except for the one hour of dinner, I want to erase it from my mind. *zoiiinnkkk* gone.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day Sixty-Two.

[This was written last night, but apparently I was so asleep I didn't post it. Sorry, everyone!]

I released the URL to my new website today, if you haven't seen it please check it out here. It is flash based, so if you are running on a slow connection or are reading from an iPhone, you will not be able to access it. (Sorry, Mom!)

At last, it is Friday. Midterms are over. It's the weekend. For me, this is such bittersweet news. On Monday I wished for Saturday to arrive; now that it is here, I'm not as happy about it as I thought I would be. I have more homework than I thought, including the discovery of an assignment I've had since the beginning of the year for Chinese class. I have to prepare a 15 minute speech for next Friday's class on top of the usual homework. Also, the Marketing presentation is much, much closer and my group hasn't even started on it. I have a bad feeling I am going to prepare the entire thing and just tell everyone what to do. Last Friday my law professor gave us our thesis assignments and I have to prepare a 30 page, fully researched thesis paper within a few weeks. I feel like, all of a sudden, I am drowning in work again. I don't know how I am going to finish all of this. Jesus, help me.

In case anyone has been curious about an American's day-to-day clothes in Taiwan, a quick study today revealed that the normal American, male or female, tend to fall back on ripped denim jeans, a light gray v-neck t shirt, and aviator sunglasses. The footwear varies by gender or depending on the weather, either sandals or Chuck Taylors. No. I'm not kidding. I called Caleb today after class to tell him I was finished so we could meet and walk over to hot pot and meet everyone. He comes downstairs wearing exactly what I am: gray v-neck, ripped jeans, and aviators. Completely unplanned. Slightly awkward, but hilarious. We walked into hot pot looking like two tall, pale, blonde twins. Don't think for a moment that I didn't get so much crap from the girls for it later either. I have been brutally teased, so no worries. Hot pot was phenomenal, just as expected. I got to meet Linda, a cousin of one of the girls. PSA: She's awesome! I wish she studied here; I'm pretty sure we'd be best friends.

Frisbee was cancelled for the night, but I'm hoping to make up for it tomorrow night. I think I'm going to hit the books and try to get some of this work out of the way tomorrow. By evening I am definitely going to need a rest. Even now I am emotionally and physically exhausted.

Time to hit the hay.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day Sixty-One.

I want to start by thanking Rob for reminding me to blog tonight. It's been a long day.

At last it seems the people in the area know me. I get smiles along with stares, "hello's," and waves. I even had a man whistle at me today to get my attention...and then he waved. Sorry Mr. Dumpling Cook, I didn't mean to forget to wave at you today! The weeks are flying by; I can't believe tomorrow is already Friday! I have a nice Hot Pot lunch planned with a group of friends to celebrate the end of midterms week, but really, I just wanted a reason to go to Hot Pot again. Who am I kidding? I don't have midterms.

I also created a new photography website today. It's flash-based just like the other. I even used the same basic template, but the two are very dissimilar. As in, this one rocks out loud. I need to refine my portfolio and switch out the stock photo gallery for my own and then I will launch the website and release the URL to the public. Please stay tuned!

Today wasn't particularly eventful...went to Shilin tonight with Jay and Andy for dinner and a little shopping. There seems to be an increasing number of foreigners inhabiting the area which sort of creeps me out. I've made it into a hobby to walk along with my friends and point them out while speaking Chinese. The locals love it and start laughing with us when they hear and see us 'also-foreigners' calling out the others. This was great until I ran into two guys from Cleveland, Ohio. I have nothing against Ohio--I was born there. I have a problem when the inhabitants of the state don't know of the existence of other well-known cities in their own state. They also asked me where I was from. Did I mention I was wearing WVU sweatpants? Yeah, the entire left leg is inscribed with "West Virginia" in Old Gold on Blue. Sorry pal, I'm from Texas. Not.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day Sixty! (Already?)

I can't believe it's already been sixty days! I feel somehow it has been simultaneously more and less than that amount. It is amazing how comfortable I feel here now; I feel like I am home. I have friends that I care about dearly, who make me laugh and I can call when I am sad. People on the streets recognize me now and say hello. When I think of the future now, I see myself here working, learning. I can't get enough.

I registered for classes yesterday at WVU. It is so difficult for me to think about not being here in the fall...I am most definitely going to try to return next summer for a while, and recently I have been thinking about graduate school here. The life is amazing! I have so many opportunities here. Let's see where I can go.

I awoke this morning to the sound of my cell phone was my classmate Koek. The time was 10:30 AM. I was late. Very late. I was, however, very comfy in my PJs in class after running from MCU main all the way to JiHe in less than 6 minutes. I'm not sure if my alarm didn't go off, or I simply slept through it, but let's just say I have three alarms set for tomorrow. Hello, 7:45AM. I will definitely be seeing you soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day Fifty-Nine.

I finally received the package my grammy sent a few weeks ago! I am very pleased to receive her letters and candy! It definitely brightened up my dreary afternoon. A random text message prompted me to take a spontaneous trip to Yang Ming Shan while in the middle of doing my homework--wonderful food, sights, and company. Now back to studying for my test tomorrow!!

I am so tired. Guh.

Also, registered for classes. I'll explain everything tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day Fifty-Eight

Sadly, the end of my relaxing weekend is drawing nigh. I've finished all of my homework except the work that is in the's a little difficult to do it when I don't have the book. At least I finished all of the vocabulary words, the essay, and the workbook--not too bad. I finished in time to go to hotpot tonight with Caleb and Peter. I'm pretty sure I'm going to explode--my head from the atrocious country songs Caleb decided to sing and my stomach from filling it with so much food.

I think I need to sleep now...I can't believe it's class time yet again. Let's hope Friends in Low Places doesn't haunt my dreams...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day Fifty-Seven

[The first night I've been here that I missed a blog.]

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day Fifty-Six.

It's interesting when your mind goes from missing home to thinking "foreigner" when you see someone that doesn't belong. I realized I had flipped this mental switch when riding in the car last night with Caleb, Canle, and Stanley and we pointed at the one Caucasian guy walking through the street. I wonder how many people see me and think the same--I'm going to prove them wrong.

It seems like so much has changed. At last, I've found myself.

To recap the last few days:

I finally got the change to get out and do things. Chinese class is under control, and I'm making so many new friends. I'm sorry again that my last few posts have been lack luster!

Tuesday- We went to the study hall after lunch and worked on homework; I finished my essay and my vocabulary words in around two hours. That is definitely a record time for me. Study hall = magical. I went back to the dorm and received an IM a little later about dinner, so I headed out again to eat noodles. They were delicious! We found some milk tea and went to sit under the MRT track on some rocks and talked half of the night about culture, life, language, and everything in between.

Wednesday- After class I had lunch with Joy, Jun, and Jay again, and following our routine from the previous night, bought some tea and went to the park to talk. It was a beautiful day and we all sat in the grass and just goofed off, taking silly photos and whatnot. Everyone had homework to do, so we went back to JiHe and found a classroom to work in and received night-altering news: The Manchester United vs. Chelsea Premier match was at 3AM that night. Making the decision to attend, we went to grab a quick dinner then everyone went home to try to rest.

Thursday- The game was amazing as you saw from my post. What was NOT amazing was being incessantly flirted with by a drunken Englishman for most of the game. A group of Europeans walked in and one of them saw me, pointed, and said, "HEEYYY!!!!!" I was thoroughly confused and thought maybe I had met him previously or something so I laughed and said hello. Worst mistake ever. He spent the rest of the night trying to buy me a drink and talking to me during the match. I wanted to punch him in the face so badly. When I finally made it VERY clear I had no interest in him, they left. Sheesh. The game ended with Man U up 1-0 and we caught a taxi home. I made it to bed by 5:20 or so and was back up at 7:45 to shower and go to class. Did my homework during the second hour of Chinese in around five minutes and handed it in (I told you I'm getting better! Got it back on Friday, 100% correct). I got lunch with Ilya since I hadn't spent time with him for such a long time and had a great time laughing over the silly things that have happened since the beginning of break. After arriving home, I had a nap and then grabbed dinner, milk tea, and MRT tracks to sit on the rocks and talk again. Needless to say, it was a very long day.

However, out of all of that, I still have to give first prize for Best Day to Friday. Let's hope I can keep having better and better days and continue to trump my "Best Day."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day Fifty-Five.

At last, the weekend! Long day today with the usual 9-5 class time. I had lunch with Jay and Peter today and put on a bit of a show in the park near campus afterwards. It felt wonderful to sing praise and worship songs in English and Peter and Jay in Korean--definitely something to see and hear. After class I went for tacos (finally!) with some of my classmates then met up with Justin (henceforth Caleb) at the MRT station to spend the evening with him and two of the guys he teaches English to. We went to a spectacular restaurant where Caleb had worked previously and I ate once full! Canle and Stanley are amazing people! I definitely am looking forward to hanging out more, getting to know them, and practicing my Chinese.

I have a fair load of homework to attend to this weekend, but it shouldn't be too bad. Since I've been using Chinese more outside of the classroom, it is becoming much easier to speak, use, and understand. At last, I feel like I'm home.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day Fifty-Four.

Game. Was. Amazing. I have to much to say, and no time. It's 3:40AM (Friday) and I need to sleep. I'll put everything in tomorrow's blog to make up for the lack of information over the past few days.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day Fifty-Three.

Going to bed. Meeting friends at 2AM to watch the Manchester United vs. Chelsea game at the Brass Monkey....tomorrow is going to be a very long day...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day Fifty-Two.

Best night ever.





more food.




and origami.

I think I'm going be just fine.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day Fifty-One.

It's amazing how one little slice of home can literally change everything. Until now, I've just been going through the motions, trying to get a grip; I hadn't found my niche. Tonight, after Pokémon and The Walking Dead I have to say, I'm starting to feel like I'm home. Taiwan has been here all along, waiting for me and at last I feel like I've taken root. Now all is left is to dig in and grow.

Justin, Fiona, Fantasia and I went to Ji He this evening, found an empty classroom, and watched Pokémon on the overhead. So awesome--I felt like a child again. After Pokémon, we decided to go for the full effect, and turned on The Living Dead. Lights out in an empty classroom, empty building, sitting on the edge of our seats, we peered though the slits of our fingers as they covered our faces in anxious horror then laughed as we jumped at the slightest thing. It was definitely a humorous sight, and a wonderful way to spend the evening. Thanks, guys.

I must confess, even now I am procrastinating. I have not yet started my Chinese homework for the weekend. I have ten words to define, and a 220 character essay to write on top of studying for my cumulative exam that will take place first thing Wednesday morning. It is my hope to get a rough draft of the essay finished tonight and have a friend look over it tomorrow and help me to fix it. However, as it is 2:40AM, I feel that hope fading in place of a more urgent hope: sleep. I must rise in the morning at 7:45 to shower, then I am meeting Jae for lunch. Who knows what the evening will hold? Let us hope it holds the completion of my homework and a good night's rest.

Farewell for now.

Day Fifty!

My apologies for lack of a grandiose entry. I decided to spend the day relaxing and did so without hesitation. I believe it is time again to sleep. Tomorrow the work begins.

During my leisure time, I found my deskspace to be depressing, ergo I decorated it with drawings of paper cranes and made a model to match. Yes, that is Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends" scribbled in the corner. A nice touch if I may say so myself.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day Forty-Nine.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I didn't end up going to Yang Ming Mountain. Regardless, I had a pleasant evening being geeky and teaching Taiwanese people to speak hick with Justin. Nothing makes me laugh harder than "mayonaisse alotta people round these here parts" coming from my Taiwanese friend's mouth. Almost brings a tear to my eye...I'm not sure if that is from the ridiculously bad grammar or from the humor of it all. I'll let you pick.

Goodnight, World.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day Forty-Eight.

Today, I said "howdy" for the first time in eons. I had lunch with two of my new friends, John and Jay, and ended up running into Justin (so many J's!), the full-time American guy from South Carolina. After a wonderfully eventful lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant near campus, the boys were nice enough to keep me company while I waited out the rest of the time before my two o'clock International Trade Regulations class. As you can see, we were a little bored and began taking random photos. Yes, that's a banana peel on John's head. Their dorm leader walked by and gave us each a "mountain" banana...I don't specifically recall the difference, but it was delicious. The peels also gave us 30 minutes of fun as well, but that's a different story. As usual, it ended up with lots of random photos, and John went home bleeding from the foot. Don't worry, Mom. It wasn't my fault.

At last, Spring Break is here. Four days to relax, hang out with friends, annnndddd study for my unit exam on Wednesday. I am meeting some friends at the entrance to MCU tomorrow at eleven so we may embark upon our epic journey to Yang Ming Mountain. I googled it--it's gorgeous. Let's hope I'll capture some nice images to post!