Hooray Collective: The Olive Branch

On the 30th of every month, I post on the awesome collaborative blog Hooray Collective. Here’s what I wrote for this month.

I offered him an olive branch but he wanted the tree.

It wasn’t enough, you see. It wasn’t enough that I gave him the branch as a peace offering, a token of goodwill. He wanted that and more.

I offered him an olive branch but he wanted the olive.

A peace offering indicated that there were amends to be made, that there were wrongs that needed to be atoned for. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, have that. The past was in the past, wasn’t it? So why not forget and move on?

Read the rest of the post over at HC!

My Travel Wishlist

I have a world map on one of my apartment walls that I often find myself looking at while lost in thought. That map was one of the many things my mom gave me when I moved out of home. She knew I loved that map; in fact, I had pinned it on top of a bulletin board and stuck pins in the map to mark all the places my family had been. I had color-coded the pins for each member of my family and everything. Now the map hangs in my studio apartment sans bulletin board, but I find myself looking at all the places in the world I’ve been and all the many, many places I want to go.

(I was traveling when I booked my flight to Chile and when I came home, one of the first things I did was look at that map and run my finger from DC to Santiago. I remember thinking to myself, Wow. I’m going really far south, aren’t I?)

As much as I love my map, I’ve been looking at the “scratch off” maps that are all the rage now. These maps allow people to “scratch off” countries they’ve been to. Not surprisingly, I am IN LOVE with this idea (I mean, I pinned all of my family’s travels to a map as a kid!). Since I’ve been looking up different kinds of these scratch maps and debating between several before I click “buy,” I’ve got wanderlust and travel on the brain.

I’ve concluded that I would love to go ANYWHERE in the world. No, really. I’d never say no to going somewhere, although there are currently areas of the world I’m a bit leery of due to current events. I do have places I’d prefer going to over others, but I can’t really think of a place in the world where I’d think “Oh God, I never, EVER want to go there.” Can’t knock it till you’ve tried it, you know? But if I had to pick five places I want to go to RIGHT NOW, it would be these five, in no particular order:

Iceland

Aurora Borealis. Geothermal spas. Dog sledding. Blue Lagoon. Gullfoss Waterfall. Geysir. Glacier hiking. Whale watching. NEED I SAY MORE????????????????

Hungary

When I was 11, I watched the movie “An American Rhapsody.” It’s about a Hungarian family’s move to America and the daughter’s journey to Budapest to better understand her roots and why her parents chose to flee to Iron Curtain and go to America to give their family a better life. I’ve always wanted to go to Hungary since then, specifically Budapest. (I set my short story for THE DANUBE EXPRESS in Budapest for that very reason!) I’d love to see the banks of the Danube River, visit the Szechenyi baths and eat lots and lots of goulash.

Northern Lights

Burma

I’d like to do a “Golden Triangle” trip and visit Burma, Laos and Thailand. Out of those three, Burma tops the list, mainly because I’ve already been to Laos and Thailand (but would go again, especially as I haven’t been to northern Thailand). Burma has mystified me since I was in junior high and one of my good friends was half Burmese. Now that it’s opening up to foreigners, I’d love to go see it before it transforms completely/is overtaken by other cultures’ influence. There’s just something very rare about a culture and way of life that is untouched by the outside world, and I’d like to experience that for myself in Burma. Plus, Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” episode about Burma looked AWESOME, which only makes me want to go to Burma more!

Burma

Peru

I’ve recently fallen in love with South America and am DYING to go back already. While I’d love to see parts of Chile that I missed, as well as revisit Argentina to actually see Buenos Aires properly and the rest of the country, Peru is high on my list of places I want to visit because of Machu Picchu. The Lost City of the Incas has always been a place I wanted to see ever since I first learned about it in high school. (Also, I’d like to go visit the site before it crumbles.) Ultimately I’d like to do the Inca Trail, but I also want to visit Cuzco, too, among other Peruvian cities. And eat my weight in ceviche.

Macchu Pichu

Norway

I’m part Norwegian, so I’ve always wanted to visit the country that holds some of my roots. (My friend vacationed in Scandinavia this summer, so his daily Snapchats only fueled my desire to go.) I’d love to go to all of Scandinavia, but Norway tops my list because of, well, heritage. I’ve always wanted to visit Oslo, see the fjords, check out Bergen, view the Northern Lights in Tromsø… and that’s just things I want to see! I’d actually love to go to Norway with my brother as I think it’s be a neat trip for us to take as siblings looking to discover our Norwegian roots.

Norway

Birthday

This post is part of my The Alphabet Series project.

I write this from my bed, still in recovery mode from my birthday the day before. (Context: the sun has already set for the day. Oops.) My head is no longer pounding and I’ve snuck out of my apartment for food (nothing beats pho on days like these). But still, I’m enjoying my lazy day. I’ve been going non-stop all summer, even all year, and sometimes it’s nice to just to have a day off.

I have had the best birthday weekend I’ve had in a long, long time. I talked a little bit about how I just somehow knew this birthday would be a good one in my birthday-themed VEDA vlog, and my intuition was right. It wasn’t so much about the people or the places or the food or the dances or the drinks: all of which were wonderful, of course, but more so about how far I’ve come in the last year.

It helped that this birthday weekend was all about me (Leo at heart!) and filled with my favorite everythings, but what was also so great about it was that so many elements of it were staples in my life: hanging out with friends, brunch, dinners at awesome restaurants, shopping, going out to bars and dancing. None of these activities are new favorites of mine, but last year, I think I did the above only a few handful of times. I was so unhappy, so lost, and around my birthday last year I had the sense that things were going to continue going south before they got better, as I had yet to hit rock bottom. (My sense on that turned out to be right. Here’s a lesson: follow your gut.) Which meant that despite my friends’ best efforts, my birthday last year pretty much sucked.

It’s hard to put into words or give context to just how much I’ve learned to love myself in the last year or how much happier I am or the brilliant people I have in my life now. My memories of my birthday last year and experiences with it this year have shown just how wonderful 2014 has been to me after I swore to leave 2013 in the dust. I’ve been thinking back to events of yesterday all day and each time, I can’t stop grinning like a fool because of how happy I am. I’m an incredibly lucky girl; the best people have my back and this past year, let alone my birthday celebrations, wouldn’t be possible without any of them.

I still have plenty of birthday well wishes I need to respond to and so many people to thank for contributing to the fantastic experience that was turning 24. But luckily, I can do that from bed. I think I’m going to stay in bed for just a little bit longer today, reflecting and savoring the many wonderful memories this birthday weekend has given me.

It’s Time to See the World

globe

“How long are you here for?” he asked.

“10 days, total,” I replied. “Seven in Chile, three in Buenos Aires.”

His eyebrows raised. “You live in DC, you said?”

I nodded.

“That’s a very long way to come for not a very long time,” he observed.

Of course, my 10 days in Santiago and Buenos Aires were paltry compared to his six months roaming the South American continent. And from his home in British Columbia, he had a further way to travel than I did.

But he was right. Ten days is not enough to see multiple cities on a continent I’d never set foot in before. It’s a tease, a tantalizing glimpse of a new culture, local life, something foreign and exotic and wonderful to experience first-hand. I’ve not been a working professional for very long, but somewhere along the lines of my two-ish years in the workforce after university I’d somehow managed to fool myself that a paltry 10 days or so off a year were enough to content my wanderlust.

Guess what: it’s not, it’s SO not. Travel or no, 10 days off a year is a joke. And when I have family that lives half a world away and a heart that aches when in one place for too long and a brain that loves learning new cultures and languages and eyes that yearn to see the world, the joke becomes a cruel one.

I studied for a year in Beijing and it changed my life. I took six weeks to backpack Southeast Asia and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. And reading about NZ Muse‘s six month round-the-world honeymoon and Amanda‘s plan for a six month European honeymoon and hearing about my friend’s 10 month stint in South America and his six month South American adventures have stuck with me, stuck with me in a way that I can’t – won’t – seem to shake, one that is fueling this void inside that grows the longer I try to ignore it.

It’s my turn to get back out there and see the world. To pack up all of my worldly belongings, swing on a backpack that’s more than 3/4 the size of me and hit the road. To become an expert at hostels and 20+ hour bus rides and phrases in other languages and meeting other world travelers who are just like me. To hop from city to town to country and back to city, keeping in touch with friends and family only when a hostel wifi allows for it and not thinking anything of being disconnected from the world for days.

My brief time in South America has sown the seeds for a grand adventure in the hopefully not-so-far future. I haven’t decided when or where or for how long, but I’m confident that with enough planning and saving and thinking ahead, I can work things out in terms of time/money. As for where to go, I’m open to any and all ideas. I’d love to go everywhere, anywhere. The world’s literally my limit and hey, I’ve got plenty of time to figure things out.

Making Chinese Dumplings

I’m on the road for work and have found myself lost in a good book rather than trying to keep up with things online while I’m traveling. I’m fighting a losing battle with keeping up with everything online; I figure that I’ll spend a solid day or two catching up when I get back home and I’ll be good to go. In the meantime, I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s THE POISONWOOD BIBLE (oh my God, SUCH A FANTASTIC BOOK) and have just started Robert Galbraith’s THE SILKWORM.

The only online thing I’ve “kept up with” is VEDA, and I put that in quotations because does it really count as keeping up with it if I’m really behind on commenting and watching others’ videos? Probably not. BUT I haven’t missed a day yet, and watching/commenting on VEDA videos is just one more thing I plan on getting caught up with as soon as I have the opportunity!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share one of my latest VEDA videos on my blog as it’s food related! The theme was “cook us something!” so I filmed this before I hit the road. If you ever wanted to know how to make Chinese dumplings, then this video is for you! Ingredient measurements are in the video description box on YouTube.

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