“I purge compulsively. I’m constantly shedding things.” -Andrew Sullivan

Following my “goodbyes” post from Friday, I figured I can write about a huge part of this whole China adventure, which has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. (Also it’s a quick way to write a post.) So today’s subject is the process of packing.

As you may or may not be able to imagine, packing to go live in another country for an extended period of time is not the easiest process. Having done this sort of thing before, I know that I have to be careful as to what and how much I take with me. I’m allowed one 50 lb. suitcase and a carry on. Anything additional will probably cost me $200.

On top of the prospect of packing exactly what I need for a year on the other side of the planet, there’s a good chance that my folks are moving out of my childhood home before I come back. So I can’t just leave everything else behind, I have to single out what is important so that they don’t throw it away when they move.

I have two things going for me: I have done a few purging processes over the past few years (so my closet is only full of fairly recent junk), and I love getting rid of things I don’t need. If I was a psychology major I could probably find some sort of reasoning behind the relief I feel when cleaning out my old junk, but as an English major I’ll just put it down to an Ernest Hemingway-esque minimalism, except without all the inherent misogyny.

However, even though I like the feeling of watching clothes I don’t wear and junk I’ve accumulated just disappear, it’s not always that easy. There’s always stages of packing just like there’s stages of grief. This applies to any time you’re moving out of a place you’ve been living in.

Anyway, without further ado, here are Samwise’s quick-and-dirty stages of purging:

Stage 1: Procrastination

Stage one can last anywhere from a few days to a few months (anything more should be considered preprocrastination, which isn’t covered in this how-to guide) and starts exactly when you say to yourself, “Yes, I am officially moving.” You don’t have to believe yourself, but it’s important to know when you actually start putting off the things you need to do to make it happen.

This stage is a pretty easy concept and I won’t spend much time on it. Basically you know what you need to do, but you’d rather watch Netflix.

Stage 2: Denial

Stage two lasts anywhere from ten minutes to a half hour. In this stage the packer still has yet to address the reality that they are purging their possessions, and usually spends this time laying out their items and just looking at them. They refuse to admit that they are getting rid of anything, but they feel like they’re making progress by pulling things out into the open.

Stage 3: Nostalgia

Stage three generally lasts anywhere from a half-hour to several hours, and in case you’re not sure; you do actually have to start the purging process to reach the Nostalgia phase. You may experience some nostalgic feelings during your Procrastination period, but that’s just a side effect of you ignoring your anxieties.

During the Nostalgia stage, packers find themselves pouring over each and every item they uncover, reminiscing about where it came from. Nostalgia is an important phase, because it allows the packer to fully consider the object’s value. It is also a dangerous phase, because it’s really easy to feel attached to the items that you’re pulling out of storage and haven’t even looked at since you moved it from your last residence. (There are two technical categories these items fall into; heirlooms and junk.)

Stage 4: Apathy

Stage four begins as soon as the packer realizes they’ve lost most of the day in the nostalgia phase. Typically the Apathy mindset is accompanied by a lot of trash bags and phrases like “Yeah, but I don’t really need it,” or, “I haven’t used this in years,” followed by trips to Goodwill. The Apathy phase can be dangerous because packers might accidentally throw something useful or valuable away. This stage can also be important because, honestly, no one gets anything done in the Nostalgia stage.

Important: What is interesting about the Apathy stage is how it changes when there are multiple packers. Stages 3 and 4 may occur at different times for each packer, and usually not simultaneously. In a situation where two packers are at work, such as a married couple, generally one partner is in the Nostalgia stage while the other has reached Apathy. Even more significant are situations with more than 2 packers, where two or three packers may be engrossed in Nostalgia while there is still only one Apathetic packer, who generally wishes the other packers would just **** off.

Stages 3 and 4 also have a tendency to repeat themselves, and should not be taken as a rule.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Stage five begins when a packer has completed stages 3 and 4, potentially multiple times, and the packer stops for a breather. At this point the packer will look around the room and realize they have mostly just made a huge mess. They will then look at the trashbags full of clothes, count the number of times they have visited goodwill, and decide enough is enough. A packer in the Acceptance phase decides to put the remaining heirlooms/junk back in the storage area and resign themselves to starting the whole process over again tomorrow. They inevitably will not follow through with their promise, starting back at Stage One.

It is recommended that the Acceptance stage be followed by a cold beer, or treat of the packer’s choice.

“Goodbyes, they often come in waves.” -Jarod Kintz

Wednesday was my last day at work, and I realized that I am terribly awkward when saying goodbyes.

This was unfortunate, because of course everyone wanted to say goodbye.

So here’s the different types of goodbyes that I experienced yesterday, and my reactions to them:

1. The we-didn’t-really-work-together-a-lot goodbye.

“Oh hey, this is your last day? Well, good luck overseas. I hope it is a lot of fun.”

This one is probably the best and easiest for me to respond to. It’s quick, it’s painless, and best of all it’s genuine. It’s pretty great because you just have that shared understanding of “I recognize we worked together, and I really do hope you have a good life, but I’m not about to go home and cry,” so you just say something polite and non-committal and move on with your day.

2. The we-only-had-a-formal-relationship-but-I-want-you-to-think-I’m-overly-emotional-about-it goodbye.

“We’re going to miss you so much!! But you’re going to have so much fun! This really is a life-changing experience! I’m so sad!!! We can’t replace you!!!!!”

This one is the least fun, because you kind of have to put on a pleasant poker-face and lie through your teeth. These people usually weren’t great to work with, or at best made no real impact on your time with the company, but when it comes time for you to leave they want everyone to know how sad they are about it. Especially you. And especially everyone else too.

So you say, “Um, yes, thank you. I will miss you too. But I’m really excited too.”

*Internally screaming*

3. The I’m-going-to-act-like-I-was-your-mentor-when-actually-we-never-really-talked goodbye.

“You are going to make such an impact on this world. You are such a caring and honest person. Remember to be true to yourself.”

This is the longest conversation you have ever had with this person, and they’re clearly set on changing your life with their words. So your response comes out, “Yes, thank.”

4. The actual goodbye.

“Don’t leave me!”

“You’re a jerk!”

“So you’re coming back, right?”

They might say all of the above. Or none of it. You may not have the conversation at all. The thing is, you actually talked to and got to know this person. You are actually and legitimately going to miss seeing them on a regular basis. So you skip the fake-ness.

You just say, “yeah, I’ll see you later,” and you get their email address so you can send them pictures sporadically when you remember to.

The Cotton State Acid Trip

****Challenge Accepted!****

I was given: “Katy Perry, Alabama, tape dispenser, become a Jedi,” by Danni. I came up with this:

Once upon an Alabama eve
Katy did wander all a’fright
For swamps are known to eyes, deceive
And ladies to vanish in the misty night

Furthermore, she did implore, to avoid what the world had in store
For in her hand, you understand, two tabs of paper and a wedding band

Ms. Perry’s path did vary
‘round snakes and frogs and fog-turned-smoke
Nervous, she whispered her query
And spun on an old crow as it spoke

“Little one, why did you come? Though wandering may sound like fun,
Getting lost, you end up cross, or lose yourself with morning frost”

Our lady shrieked and fled
The silence split on her cry
Her luck was gone, for this new path led
Straight to a large reptilian eye

Even stilled, the water’s filled, below the surface churned and milled
Big or small, short or tall, but deadly beasts one and all.

Katy feared she’d found a croc
Her knees shook, though ground was firm
The beast rose and she re-took stock
For now she looked upon a wyrm

What’s more, with a roar, the creature’s talons gouged the floor
The dragon’s ire, she must admire, into the air a burst of fire

Off our hero took again
As if for the other side of the globe
But instead found a strange new friend
A little green man in an oriental robe

Put your trust, in me you must, and into her arms a parcel thrust
With a quick scrape, she unwrapped the shape, and found a plain dispenser of tape.

She looked up and the man was gone
With the fading sound of “use the force”
Then she faced the demonspawn
And tried the tape—no use of course

She would be lunch, her bones would crunch, just a snack for him to much
The dragon spoke, his nostrils smoked, and she closed her eyes in time and woke.

****A New Challenger Approaches****

If you guys like these, keep sending me a person, place, object, and quest. If you don’t like it, suggest a challenge for me of your own imagining!

“Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.” -George Carlin

I have decided to stop believing in things.

In the words of Chris Rock’s character Rufus, “I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier…” (Dogma 1999). I wish I could say that I don’t make a habit of taking advice about life from low-budget films, but that would apparently be a lie. Comedy usually makes a lot of sense to me, even if a lot of the time it comes out as anger. This is, admittedly, one of the stranger sources of inspiration that I’ve chosen to take to heart.

Rufus does, however, have a point. Beliefs can be problematic. They can be hard to change, even in the face of some solid evidence to the contrary.

Beliefs become part of you; they are a statement of allegiance, of purpose. People feel called to defend their beliefs, and think they are entitled to forcing their beliefs on others. They try to use their beliefs as factual evidence, as the foundation of an argument. Heck, people go to war over their beliefs.

Ideas are not quite so stringent. Ideas can be malleable. Having ideas is easy, and when confronted with new information it’s much easier to change your mind. After all, it was just an idea.

I’m not actually saying I think beliefs are bad, but I feel we’ve come to the point where people are more concerned with shoring up and defending their beliefs than anything else. We attach our beliefs to our political parties, to our friends, to every aspect of our lives. We are making a habit of not allowing new information, new ideas into our lives

I still believe in a lot of things. I believe it is never okay to take away someone else’s agency. I believe it is not my place to decide who lives or dies. I believe in people, individually and as a whole, that we have the capacity and the ability to always be better. I believe in myself, that I will make a life for myself that will be worth living.

I only think, however, that I will find someone that I want to marry. I think that I will be a great dad, if I have the chance, because I have a great example to follow. I think that our best shot as a species is to branch out into outer space. But I can’t hold these things as beliefs, or it will be much harder to find out that I am wrong.

I think we started adding belief to our ideas in an attempt to give them more weight, but all we have managed to do is polarize our opinions. I think we should use our belief sparingly, because otherwise it may start to mean nothing at all.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” -Bill Gates

Thank you for choosing Dickendustries’™ Social Interaction Tech Support!

In order to better accommodate our Users, we have compiled a series of FAQ’s, separated by Social Interaction OS. (To speak with a Dickendustries® Support Specialist, call 1-800-252-8661 at the low rate of $9.99/minute.)

I. Boyfriend 2.0/Girlfriend 2.0

  • My Boyfriend 2.0/Girlfriend 2.0 keeps throwing up error messages.

This OS is known to occasionally have errors, which is usually a sign that User maintenance is needed. While all errors have been known to occur in both Boyfriend 2.0 and Girlfriend 2.0, there are a few differences. Girlfriend 2.0 is more likely to run the crying.exe program, whereas Boyfriend 2.0 is more likely to initiate a system lockup and become unresponsive.

Due to the variety of issues that may occur, Users are advised to run a System Inquiry and a virus scan. Users should also make sure they have the most recent updates for the Communication Player application, or the Inquiry Report may not render correctly. IMPORTANT: Do not allow error messages to continue unchecked, or the OS will likely crash.

  • I’ve recently upgraded from Boyfriend 2.0/Girlfriend 2.0 to Spouse 7.1, but a number of programs seem to have stopped working.

Spouse 7.1 is an excellent upgrade, but it is not a direct extension of Boyfriend 2.0/Girlfriend 2.0 as many Users seem to think. It is possible to run all the same programs such as BodyImage, Romanticism, and even the fun add-ons like Compliments, but the Spouse 7.1 OS is designed for long-term reliability and User adaptability, with a highly flexible processor. In contrast, Boyfriend 2.0/Girlfriend 2.0 are adapted for shorter-term, flashier interfacing.

All programs from Boyfriend 2.0/Girlfriend 2.0 have cross-platform compatibility, however they have been reformatted to give the User in-depth, personalized returns like the Commitment Virus Protection application, instead of the spontaneous DateNight features of the previous model. Users should be able to run old applications by using the Remember When search feature, and Spouse 7.1 should quickly re-incorporate these programs into its Love&Understanding back-up feature.

  • My Boyfriend 2.0/Girlfriend 2.0 has crashed. Is there a way of recovering the OS?

It is possible to shortly recover the Boyfriend 2.0/Girlfriend 2.0 after a terminal crash, but Users have largely found the recovery process to be limited and short-lived. If a User has lost their OS and are not ready to look for a new model, we recommend trying our Cat 1.2 OS (see below.)

II. Supervisor 4.5

  • My Supervisor 4.5 seems to have a virus, and I can’t get any work done.

Supervisor 4.5 is an older model, and very virus-prone. If the User is experiencing error messages such as shouting.exe or incompetence.tif, we recommend taking Supervisor 4.5 to the local Dickendustries© Tech Repair outlet. Many models of the Supervisor 4.5 are also likely to have a malfunction in their A.S.S. Port, and there may be debris lodged inside. If the User’s Tech Repair Specialist cannot fix the virus or dislodge the debris, we recommend shutting the OS down by running the iQuit application, and then purchasing a new Supervisor 4.5.

III. Cat 1.2

  • My Cat 1.2 seems to be malfunctioning.

Cat 1.2 is impervious to errors. If the User finds their Cat 1.2 is running scratch.exe or hearing the Yowling.aif error noise, it is likely that Cat 1.2 is simply running it’s primary application, FeedMe.

“We Can Do It!” -Rosie the Riveter

It has been a while since I wrote anything with a specifically Feminist message, and the men’s rights activists have finally stopped picketing my house from my first feminist post, so clearly it’s time to write another. Because who doesn’t enjoy lectures about equality accompanied by a trilby, neckbeard, and over-aggressive, misguided chivalry?

1546066_237421899763043_1814976263_n

Stop. Please.

However between Men’s right’s activism like #notallmen, and the actual issues like the Elliot Rodgers shootings (that quickly and helpfully prove #notallmen to be an incredible waste of breath), there’s a lot going on in the Feminist world. And frankly it’s all pretty rough.

You know what? This was going to be one of my usual silly posts, highlighting the unfairness of how men’s and women’s pants are sized, but as strongly as I want to make jokes about how hilariously cruel it is for women to have to play pants-roulette to find something that fits, I don’t think I have it in me today. Which stinks, because I really wanted to.

After re-reading the Rodgers shooting, I’m not sure I can continue to make jokes about fake feminist issues, because there’s so many real ones out there. Violence against women is very real. Rape culture is very real. Even the neckbeards who call themselves “nice guys” are a real problem, because when they complain about being rejected and how unfair it is, they show they feel entitled to the girl in question.

Let me reiterate that: They feel entitled to the emotions and decisions of another human being.

We are institutionally teaching our men to feel superior, to feel as if women owe them. We are teaching them their value is based upon their success with women, and that women are a commodity. We are teaching them that women are to be conquered. With our “boys will be boys” attitude, we are teaching young men that they are all inherently rapists. And that we believe it is okay.

Furthermore, in all of this, we have somehow convinced our young women that it is their fault. We are teaching our women they are to blame, that they should be afraid. We are teaching them they have to hide their faces and their bodies, and stay quiet and out of sight. We show them unattainable standards of beauty, and then condemn them for wearing makeup and showing off.

We encourage our boys to be excellent, to be leaders. We tell our girls they’re too bossy, and need to be modest.

We cannot take this lightly. We cannot brush it under the rug, ignore the fact that we are a culture in which men are told they can make decisions for women. I am not asking you to march on Washington. I am asking you to open your eyes and acknowledge what you see.

I am asking you this because there’s only one crime in today’s world where we ask what the victim was wearing.

 

“Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession.” -Kingman Brewster, Jr.

After growing up using primarily Apple devices, I recently purchased a little Asus laptop from BestBuy and begun my adventure with Windows 8. I’m familiar with Windows through school and work, but 8.1’s obnoxious apps screen has started to wear on me. So the other day I decided to try out Linux, because knowing how to actually work your computer is for little babies. Just last week I successfully installed Ubuntu on a flash drive, which was about as much of a headache as I had expected. But now at least I can try it out.

There’s still a lot about Linux that I don’t understand. I’m perfectly aware that Linux OS is a work in progress, and which largely appeals to a tech-savvy crowd who prefer a hands-on approach to their personal computers. I also know I’m clever enough to figure it out. Yet somehow I feel I am encountering some unnecessary hang-ups.

This is when I realized it was all the damned jargon.

Jargon is natural, I know. Trust me, I’ve been working in the medical field, and there’s a heck of a lot of jargon to learn. I was even farther behind because I don’t really have a medical background. I still get plenty lost when clinical staff is talking shop, and it’s my freaking job to know what it all means. Jargon is incredibly necessary in a medical setting. No one wants to have to spout off “electroencephalogram” when they could just say “EEG.” And that’s not even considering all the Latin.

Jargon can also be a hindrance, like in my case, as I was on the outside of a fairly specific body of knowledge. In the process of figuring out the different components of the software and following link after link on Ubuntu’s website in an attempt to find an installation guide appropriate for my hardware, I turned to the forums for advice, which is rarely a good idea.

They were using jargon to explain other jargon, and I knew I was in trouble.

In the midst of deciphering the Jargon-ception (We have to go (D:)eeper!) I am pretty sure I found a line that read “connect the BFG to the hyper drive and reverse the polarity,” though I could just have dreamed that after my eyes crossed and I dropped unconscious. At some point I’m pretty sure I was learning how to input source code manually, and don’t worry, I don’t know what that really means either.

Regardless, I eventually figured it out, and now I have a shiny new Ubuntu OS sitting on my flash drive. In case you’re still lost, this is an exciting thing to have. The operating system itself is very intuitive, though I still need to find the appropriate applications to flesh-out my computing capabilities.

So even though I may jokes about it, I guess I am just showing off my own ignorance. Still, I can’t help but feel that though jargon is very useful for quickly expressing a specific body of knowledge, creating impermeable walls of abbreviations and techno-babble only really serves to create exclusivity amongst computer geeks.

Also I say “geeks” the only way it should be said: Lovingly and with great respect. And a little bit of fear.

“The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.” -Pamela Hansford Johnson

————Challenge Accepted!————

Last week I prompted you to give me a person, place, thing, and a goal. Chris was the only submission and gave me “Caveman, Frozen Wasteland, Wood, Making Fire,” so here’s what I came up with:

 

Sing to me, Nodd and Tuk,

Spirit leaders of our tribe.

Whisper me tales of strength and luck,

And on the winds of history we ride.

 

I will tell you a story of the first ones, the old ones

From ages past, before your grandfathers’ grandfathers,

Passed down to us ‘tween moons and suns

From when we were many, not all together.

 

In the elder days our Mother was wild, alive

In her springtide, the Spirits ran free

And from their likeness, others derived

Creatures from majestic elk to tiny flea.

 

What youth! What greenness!

Fruit and wine did much abound

And in this verdance, Mother’s children keenest

Our grandfathers, the men were found

 

This land of plenty had no lack

And thus no need for clans, just kin

Yet, when wise ones turn minds back,

We find perhaps this was our sin.

 

I can only say we do not know

If the worlds’ turn must be the same,

Or if our coming did begin the flow.

Still, our Mother began to wane.

 

Days grew shorter, nights grew colder

Life itself seemed to have fled the leaf.

As prey does vanish, hunters must be bolder

But as we caused death, we only found grief.

 

As our numbers dwindled, we broke into pairs

One man to hunt, and his mate

Bearing a single child, as food was scarce,

And an extra mouth could seal one’s fate.

 

Of such a match came a child born twain,

A pair of boy-childs, both of good health

And though the hunter thought it too vain

His mate kept both, in spite of herself.

 

But all was not joy, as the two grew

It was soon clear they were down to the bone

To keep from splitting their hearts in two

The strongest young hunter set off alone

 

His steps were unsure, for his journey had not end

There was little to be found, the land unforgiving

But he soon chose a path, his head did not bend

For he knew nothing of hope, only of living.

 

He traveled for miles, past tree and hill

Seeing less creatures and greenery than ever before

The ground underfoot grew icy and still

And still the young hunter kept to his chore

 

Four days without food, he crossed frozen ground

He grew more certain the ice would be his grave

Still he drug along until his eyes found

A tree, on a hill, which might prove safe have’.

 

As he reached its foot, the slope seemed to grow

It stretched to the sky, yet he started to climb

Not far up, a cold wind did blow

And he felt to his bones he was near out of time.

 

He dared not stop, as he knew he would freeze

He dared not think, as he knew he was doomed

He kept in his mind, stories of Mother’s Tree

Said to give of pure life when it bloomed.

 

As he crested the top, he could see for miles

Yet could see most of all that he had been right

The tree was full dead, and for all his trials

He would freeze too, by the end of the night.

 

As if in mocking, the skies did darken

In his despair, he sank to his knees

The winds started howling, screaming, barking

He collapsed on the hillside and began to dream

 

His dreams contained flashes of pure, bright light

And falling, no! Flying like a leaf on the breeze

And with a great crash, he awoke in a fright

And fell to the ground amongst the debris.

 

Surrounded by charred wood, smouldering, smoke

The young hunter was first to awe and admire.

He understood, though she never spoke

He was given Mother’s last gift: Fire.

 

We know he returned the way he had came

To his brother, his home, and their grief,

And though we know naught of his name,

We know he became the first Chief.

 

Thus ends the tale, praise to Nodd and Tuk

Carry it with you, though times may look bad

For though the young hunter had only luck,

Luck was the best thing he could have had.

 

****Next Challenge****

I’m extending last week’s challenge. Give me a person, place, object, and goal, and I’ll turn it into some type of poetry!

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” -George Bernard Shaw

We need to redefine our idea of a role model.

Growing up, I idolized Luke Skywalker. And Han Solo. And Aragorn. And Indiana Jones. As I grew older, I noticed my peers transferring their adoration to athletes, which I was told is normal. But I always thought it was weird because no matter how well Peyton Manning plays Football, he’s not a Jedi. He’s just a guy who’s good at playing Football. “That’s fine,” I thought, “they can love Manning. I’m going to stick with the guys who beat the Sith Empire.” So maybe my idea of a great person is skewed by the fact that my idols were fictional.

But is that such a bad standard? Probably, yes. It’s not fair to hold actual human beings to the standards of archetypal paragons of virtue. They will never measure up, because Skywalker holds the advantage of not actually having to be a real person.

However, this doesn’t mean that your role model shouldn’t be a good person.

Peyton Manning seems to be a pretty good person, but I already said I don’t really identify with athletes. Like anything, you have to focus on what’s important to you. For me, a role model is someone who uses their intellect and resources to try to make the world a better place. Elon Musk is quickly proving to be one such person.

Musk is the CEO and Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors, the automotive company that recently released the Tesla Model S, a fully-electric luxury sedan. There’s an excellent and amusing review done by The Oatmeal, so clearly I can’t help but love it. It’s like a law or something.

Elon Musk was also the co-founder of Paypal, and got a cool $165 million when it was sold in 2002. He then took that money and sunk into a new company, SpaceX, whose goals are as follows: 1. Reduce the cost of space transportation. 2. Colonize Freaking Mars. Talk about a lofty goal, pun intended. Also there is no “3. Profit,” no cash cow to this operation, and they’re succeeding anyway. NASA gave them a contract in 2006 to resupply the International Space Station, and in 2014 they succeeded.

What I am getting at is that, between Tesla Motors and SpaceX, the companies Elon Musk gets invests in are not only successful, but prove there is a better way to work. They blatantly disprove people’s objections concerning expense and practicality. They push us forward as a species.

Want more proof? Tesla Motors just released all their patents for their electric automobiles, according to Elon Musk (again, CEO) because, “If we can do things that don’t hurt us and help the U.S. industry, we should do that.”

Honestly, I don’t know if Elon Musk is a good person. I don’t know that much about him (though I do know he has and still is donating his own money to save Nicola Tesla’s laboratory and turn it into a Nicola Tesla museum, which is really awesome.)

What I do know is that Musk is taking on all comers, because he can do it better. He’s proven it. And he’s going to drag you kicking and screaming into a better tomorrow.

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” -Buddha

Now that I’ve made it known that I’m traveling again, I’m getting a lot of familiar questions. My coworkers, especially, seem to have conspired to take turns asking me the same things over and over in what is probably just a by-product of an office environment, but sometimes feels like an incredibly elaborate test of my resolve. However, I don’t mind because every time I get more and more excited. They might also be starting to catch on to the fact that I love talking, but who knows.

Here’s a quick rundown of the types of questions and comments people tend to make when they hear I am leaving the country, and how I like to respond to them (if I have the time):

Aren’t you scared?

Heck no! 

… which obviously isn’t true. I’ve written all about how scared I am of different things. But for a lot of people, being scared is a reason to not do something, and it’s hard to explain how I feel. If I know I can do something but it scares me to do it, I feel like I absolutely have to do it. I at least have to try, because I know I will regret not trying a lot more than I will regret my failure.

Do you speak any Mandarin?

No. 

And following the last question…

Isn’t it going to be hard because you don’t speak the language?

 Yes. 

… but not for the reason you’re thinking. Most people are worried about getting around, ordering food, and finding a toilet. What they don’t consider is that you have no choice but to learn those things. Either through bad pantomime or sheer stubbornness, you will survive because you’re programmed with these basic needs.  What I’m more concerned with, however, is relating to the people around me. It’s true you never feel more like an outsider than when there’s a language barrier, but in my experience the gap is most evident when you lack the ability to actually express yourself. Not being able to explain how I feel or understand how someone else feels is going to be a much bigger pain than ordering a beer will be.

How do your parents feel about it?

Excited for me, but scared. Haha.

Yes, we laugh about it. And I love my parents and I am glad they support me. But they also couldn’t stop me if they tried, so is it entirely relevant? I don’t know. Moving on.

That’s so exciting; this is such a great opportunity! You really should do this sort of thing while you’re young. I have always wanted to travel.

Yeah, it’s great! That’s why I’m doing it.

It could be any one of these things, or all of them, but it’s guaranteed to show up. I have to remind myself every time not to let this sort of comment go by casually, and remember to say “Well, you should go travel then!” I’m no expert at this point, but I’ve had more than my share of travel opportunities, and if I want to continue to travel I have to take every excuse I can find. Probably the most important and best advice I’ve ever given or received was this: There is no right time. It’s understandable to try to save up the money, but if you don’t set it aside for this express purpose, you’ll find something else to spend it on. There is no right time. You can spend the rest of your life waiting for the ideal time to travel, and never find it.

The world is a humongous, wonderful place. You owe it to yourself to go see as much of it as you can.