Archive for the ‘……uncategorized’ Category

This is a question that I ask on first dates. It’s probably the most important question- because it will shape the rest of the relationship as far as duration.

If they answer incorrectly, I know that there is no future of us living together- which usually takes off the pressure- because then I know.

“How is this the most important question?”

I’m glad you asked!

It’s a matter of real estate.

Imagine:

We’re living together. Late at night I get up with the munchies and want to make burnt toast with nut-butter. We like different kinds- so there are both kinds in the house. (Crunchy and smooth). Because it’s dark, I unknowingly pull the wrong one from the shelf and make my snack. I take my first bite and realize what I’ve done: I’ve unleashed the flood of disgust.

I let out a yell. You come running in to see what’s wrong, even though (bless) you have a big important interview the next morning.

But I don’t care. Your choice of nut-butter has tainted my mouth and ruined perfectly good burnt toast. I yell at you for your poor choices in nut-butter (as I’m totally irrational- and don’t realize that *I* am also a choice of yours) and then we argue. I’ll skip the drama, because in the end: you lose sleep, have a terrible interview the next morning, you resent me for resenting you and we break up.

(This may be hyperbolizing…. slightly. But only just.)

So- see? This question is WAY more important than the usual ones of “what religion are you?” And “have you ever killed a person?”. Who cares about those questions? This one saves a lot of time, future heart-break and deposit money.

Trust me. The nut-butter question is the most important.

(Followed by pulpy/pulp-free orange juice).

For the record:

Creamy is the correct answer. I prefer cashew, hazelnut or macadamia nut butter. Almond butter is a staple when I’m back home. Peanut butter is only consumed when I’m traveling internationally via long bus rides.

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Happy Birthday, Fathead!

Posted: September 16, 2014 in Hope, Ramblings
Tags: , ,

Today is my brother’s birthday. His name is Josh. I call him Fathead.

Growing up, Fathead and I didn’t always have the best relationship. ok- I hated him. From the instant he came home from the hospital it was rumored that I picked him up out of the crib and dropped him on the floor.

Oh yea- and that time that I kicked him down the stairs.

And nearly cut off his fingers with hedge clippers….

And… ok. you get the point.

But I (mostly) did all this because I was the big sister and he was the annoying younger brother who wanted to be exactly like me. He wore my cool over-shirts, he would invite himself to my pool parties, he stole my halloween candy, he wanted to learn to ride a bike like me! Guh! Annoying, right? How dare he!

This continued until I moved out and went to college (uni). Then he grew into his own self and I was less suffocated from the small town I lived in. He developed his own taste, friends, style and I finally saw him as a (gasp!) cool human being- not just a pest that is my younger brother.

Confession: Actually, he was way cooler than me. His parties were renowned and full of #winning AND #tigerblood- before it was even cool!

Now growing up with Fathead wasn’t all that bad. We tag-teamed-tortured my parents, played a lot of cards, built snow forts, put on plays,  went to camp together, caught crayfish in the creek, watched a lot of TV and movies together… You know, normal stuff.

Actually, the term “fathead” is from an old Bill Nye episode where they explained that 80% of your brain is fat– so technically, we’re all fatheads (fathead!). 

Last year I had this great thought of going to Melbourne during their winter (America’s summer). I thought it would be “a nice change of weather” from the balmy tropics that I had been living in for 7 months prior. I was right in that regard: it was a change! But I suffered greatly for it with my seasonal depression and the whole lack of sun thing. Looking back at my journal- it was some of the most emotionally miserable months of my life that I had to force myself to be pulled from. You get the picture: it was a really rough time for me. In my last attempt at some sort of normalcy, I started emailing everyone I knew- including my brother.

He was one of the only ones that wrote back. And I’m forever grateful for this.

Apparently we had a lot to talk about- because this correspondence went on for months! We hashed out everything (ALL THE FEELS!) over epic-long emails: Girls, boys, freak outs, mistakes, lessons learned, thoughts of death, thoughts of the future, hopes, dreams, theater productions, “this one time I got drunk off goon”… you name it!

It was probably some of the best times I had in Australia was getting to know my brother- who was 16 time-zones away. I guess that phrase “distance makes the heart grow fonder” really *IS* true, because I can’t imagine my life without him. 🙂

 

Happy Birthday, Fathead. Thank you for being an amazing human being that I look (physically down, mentally up) to.

Amy Purdy was a teenage snowboarder. When she was a teenager, she heard about a boy who lost his legs in a freak accident and confessed (on a Ted Radio Hour) having the thought that if the same thing happened to her, she would wheel herself over a cliff to end her life. 2 years after hearing this story (about the boy) she ended up getting bacterial meningitis (suddenly) and losing both her legs below the knee, her spleen, both kidneys and her hearing in the left ear. She considered herself lucky because it could have been both hands and her nose, too.

In less than a year, she got a kidney from her dad and partnered with a prosthetic maker to create legs for her. She went back on her snowboard and ended up being a 2-world cup winner in the Paralympics. (She has also been a finalist on “Dancing With the Stars”– which I really love).

The thought process and determination to get back on the board and snow is probably one of the most attractive traits to me in human beings. Someone who is faced with an absolutely impossible situation and (somehow) manages to pull through.

I’m not talking about the “stuck on 95 during rush-hour and you have to ‘somehow’ get home in time to let the dog who has a bladder problem out before she pees all over your floor” impossible situation. (It should be noted, however, that this *IS* impossible) But more along the lines of “You’ve been diagnosed with cancer and you decide that through chemo, you’re going to have the best year of sales of your life” type.

The latter happened to a friend of mine, who I’ve met in Africa. She said that even though it was difficult, she knew that she was going to beat it. “It was harder for my family because they were scared. but I threw myself into my business- not in to the sickness- because that wasn’t worth spending time thinking about. It was just trying to hold me back- my business was exciting!”

She ended up growing her business 20-fold that year alone. She’s one of the best and most humorous people I’ve ever met.

 

On the other hand, some people just get the “deer in headlight” moment and stay there. They freeze and can’t get past the crumbling problem. They spend so much time wallowing in the problem that they forget that they, alone, have the power to FIX (or get over/around/whatever) the problem. We’ve all been there!

I once knew a guy who was a registered sex offender. Long-story short- he was getting to 2nd base, in public, with a girl who had an abusive boyfriend. (News to him). The bully’s best friend walks by- calls out to them, she then files a sex-offender case against the guy because otherwise the bully would beat her up. That was 6 years ago and the guy is still crippled by this problem. Instead of taking life by the horns and figuring it out- he’s sitting there like a deer in headlights.

 

Which gets me to my real story:

We’re in Africa. We are staying “in the bush” where we hear lions and jackals and elephants (oh my!) at night. When walking from the main lodge (food) to our tents, we need to be escorted by a staff member (local). “Why?” You ask– I’ll tell you! Because a lion could be there! And what do you do when you are face-to-face with a lion? You stare at it… straight into the eyes- and you back away slowly. Eventually someone will lose interest and you both will continue on with your lives.

Even though this safety talk has been explained numerous times, they still have the gringos walk with locals because the locals know what to do. They don’t rely on their gut. (Gringo’s guts would say do one of the following:

1) Run away (what you do with bullies)

2) get big and loud (what you do for black bears)

3) play dead (what you do for crocs, bulls, elephants, rhinos, grizzly bears, etc.)

4) punch it in the nose once it gets close enough (sharks)

All of these would get you killed by a lion, btw.

 

But my point is that even though we are told to do one thing, when faced with a huge crippling problem, we don’t know what we would do. The best (and most attractive) people, in my opinion, are the ones who get over the problem/obstacle the quickest – without getting swallowed up… By life or lions.

 

Thanks for letting me share.

Fighting

Posted: February 12, 2014 in Hope, Ramblings
Tags: , , , ,

Since coming back to The States, I’ve been hiding out. Purposely avoiding a lot of people and crowds of people because I just don’t feel comfortable- which is weird, because if it were Chatuchak Market in Bangkok or Carnaval in Baranquilla it would be fine– but it’s different here somehow. I get overwhelmed like it’s Walmart on Black-Friday.

I moved to Austin to avoid the arctic vortex that was hitting the east coast/north and came to live with my soul-roommate, Cristi. She works at GrassRoots Leadership and was in a protest against immigration on the Monday after the Superb-Owl. I drove her and participated and took/posted pictures, as our society dictates. (Social Media!!!)

After posting said pictures, a few friends from Philippines and Thailand messaged me on Facebook. “What are you doing?”

“Why are you in jail?”

I tried to explain- but I came up not really knowing what to say…. Why *was* I doing this? It just seemed like something to do. We have to fight, right? It’s what we do as Americans.

The last part is what I wrote back- knowing how my friends wouldn’t understand at all. Especially my Thai friend who just protested against her government in the Bangkok Riots. 

I remember the times before I left. I remember working super long hours and arguing with bosses over aspects of my job- feeling like all just fight a little harder to get my point heard. “No! Honest! This is the way this sound should be. It’s better this way! I’ll stay up all night to prove you wrong!”

I remember my past relationships and how we used to fight- and “if I just made one more heart-shaped pancake, he would love me more!”

I remember thinking “well, I didn’t fight hard enough- that’s why it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.”

I remember believing that all these negative thoughts occupied my heart and mind while the good would come and go all too quickly. Sometimes so much that I believed I had no good in my life at all.

As much as I appreciate our country’s passion and drive to fight for what we believe, is it really necessary? I guess it is if you want to get any sort of news coverage. Love and acts of it doesn’t get any airtime- unless you’re a Coke commercial.

All of this is inspired by this blog post. I feel like my trip made me change in drastic ways- which was the point. I’m not the same Hobbit. But to feel so uncomfortable in my own country? To feel like I don’t belong? To not understand AT ALL what is happening on twitter or facebook? This was more than I planned for.

Do you think America will eventually stop fighting? Or is it just so engrained in our culture that it’s pointless– or, even worse, do people even want to stop?

Recently I was in the world’s first amateur production of Phantom of the Opera in Melbourne, Australia. It was put on by Cloc which is made up of ALL volunteers (and some of the best people I’ve ever met).

Now– coming from Video Game development (and trying to explain this to my dev-friends) I couldn’t help but draw similarities between the two. Allow me to visualize this for you:

Both are immersive but in different ways. In theater you are (usually) a voyer… Watching what happens on stage. In video games- you are the protagonist (ignoring the annoying recent fact that many video games are just cutscene after cutscene) and you decide the fate of the story.

Illusions. Video games is (kinda) easy because the illusions are digitally created. You can shoot someone in a video game and see blood (or oil in Germany). In theater- the illusions need to be pieced together out of real objects- making it more like magic.

Acting. Obviously in theater there are a lot of different roles and characters that are portrayed. This is the same in video games- except for the whole linear vs non-linear thing. I would argue that non-linear is more difficult to achieve because of all the unknowns. A decent example is the last game I worked on (Nike+ Kinect Fitness) where “Good job!” had to sound natural after running in place vs doing 2 pushups vs doing 500 pushups. The number of heads/testing/writing that goes into video game voice-over should not be ignored. The actor’s job is then to sound as natural and genuine as possible in certain situations- and then give me a totally different read on the 2nd time. A theater actor’s job is to define perfection and then keep hitting that bar night after night (which is also super difficult!)

Long nights and long hours. Bump in/Bump out for theater is when you move the set/everything from the rehearsal space to the theater and set up. Theater also has rehearsals/dance sessions/etc that could last all night. You keep working until the person/group gets it, until the set piece is done, or until the curtain rises… Living on lollies and red-bull to stay awake/sane. Same with Video games- you work through the problems, sleeping at your desk- living on donuts and red-bull until a producer comes in and says “ok. we need to ship it now”.

SPACE! In theater- it’s about literal space as there is only so much room behind the stage/in the wings to hold set pieces/props/etc. In video games, each department has a budget that they shouldn’t go over (but usually do) so they can all fit on the disc.

“Crunch” (my favorite part, personally)– where you need as many hands/feet/bodies on set/stage/etc as possible. Even for just a moral boost- you need people there to carry things/pick things up, to bring you wires/hammer/grapes. This is where the going gets tough for everyone– and where you meet your best friends.

This is all I could think of at the moment. Comments/suggestions? Anything I’ve missed?

 

 

Herbie Hancock

Posted: January 26, 2013 in ADVENTURE STORIES!, Hope, Ramblings, TRAVEL
Tags: , ,

Last night I saw Herbie Hancock perform. It was actually kind of amazing. I should note that I felt pretty amazing before the concert even began. I was freshly showered, dolled up and slightly tipsy from the rum and cokes that we were drinking before hand. Then we walk into the convention center, sat down in our seats and I allowed myself to be overtaken.

 

Usually when I hear jazz, my evil school background comes back and I start analyzing everything. “Oh, that’s a dim9 chord—and yes, he just resolved it but then he turned it around and is transitioning into a Dmajor key—but only for a second because he just played a ii…..” etc. Annoying, right? Yea- for me, too. But not this time! I was bound and determined to not let my stupid schooling get in the way, so I let my old career do it instead. So, while listening to Herbie free-style on the piano I tried to imagine what movie he was scoring.

 

It seemed to be following my life.

 

Quitting/”retiring” from my old job in software. The anxiety that I felt leaving that old life behind. Knowing that I won’t come back “the same hobbit, if at all” was all perfectly matched with each passing-tone in the right hand.

 

The random melody going in and out of emotion perfectly matched my travel adventures… Sometimes, admittedly, drawn out and seemingly never ending—other times fast and quick, mimicking how I feel when someone speaks Spanish to me. Wanting so desperately for them to slow down (just a smidge!) so I can catch up, breath, understand the cascading melodies.

 

He flowed in between pieces- taking only a moment for a brief applause- a quick inhale- before diving back into the story of my life. (Because, honestly, this whole thing is about me and MY life. Duh.)

 

The last piece was about love. Finding it, falling in it, growing and experiencing it. There were two people having their first kiss, holding hands, not knowing how they felt for each other because of that terrible awkwardness of “does he like me?” mixed with the “do I actually like HIM? Or just this feeling?” The dynamics of his hands expressing the uncertainity, assurance, truths and mistakes and…. loss- or doubt. One of the two. Either which way, the pain, the questioning. The longing for ANY ANSWER AT ALL. All the notes are wrapping together and the turmoil of the left hand not fully syncing with the right until, finally. The resolution.

 

The answer. A short pause before striking a quarter-note Cmaj7 chord.

 

That’s it. That’s the answer. That’s the end. Simple, elegant. A perfect reminder that relationships are about the chaos, the journey, not the end.  That we should enjoy what we have because (as cliché as this sounds), the end will be quick and will come up faster than you think.

Dear Cristi

Posted: January 23, 2013 in ADVENTURE STORIES!, Hope, Ramblings, TRAVEL
Tags: , , ,

A brilliant guy told me to write TO people if I wanted to improve my writing- so this is my attempt.

Dear Cristi,

You wrote me an email, after reading some of my recent blog entries, and asked me if I was still sad. Honestly, I had to think back to what you were referring to- then I remembered my <last blog entry>.

To be honest, these moments happen rarely now. I remember when I was living in Seattle/Edmonton/Madison (and sometimes even Baltimore) where I would get depressed and mull over these feelings and dwell and sink lower into my depression like a sand pit on a golf course. Each stroke I would take to get myself out of the pit (of despair) would dig me deeper- farther from the glorious sunshine (or happiness.. whichever).

But here- there’s too much new-ness. Too much awesomeness that I can’t dwell and sink. There’s “too much muchness” (as an aussie said to me the other day) to even be bothered on the small stuff/annoyances that later turn into depression.

How could I dwell on depression? How could I even THINK of sad things? All I felt was that I’m going to Panama, I SHOULD HAPPY! so I’m going to be (damnit!)

I don’t necessarily have the answer to depression. Someone much wiser than me (Suzanne, I’m looking at you!) said there is a trifecta of solutions:

1)   diet

2)   exercise

3)   being social.

For me- #3 is traveling… or doing something that I haven’t done before… or doing stuff that scares me. Because when you’re scared, you’re learning. And when you’re learning, you’re growing. And when you’re growing- you are enjoying yourself because everyone likes to grow/advance/Level UP! So therefore- when you’re doing something you enjoy, you are rarely depressed.

So – no. I’m not sad. 🙂 I’m traveling.

Love,

LN