I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to living life on the
run move, one becomes so engrossed in the push and pull between Past&Future and the There&AndThere that inevitably the mind loses the capacity to focus on the Here&Now.
At this point, I’ve come to assign this particular affliction the title of Wanderlust, which isn’t exactly a ground breaking discovery, but nonetheless certainly provides a larger context (and thus tangible reassurance that no, I’m not the only one fighting invisible daemons) for my self-induced curiosity about places that I’ve experienced, heard of, or dreamed about.
And, if the only way to enter into the 12-Step Program for Finding Oneself by Actually Finding Oneself is to acknowledge that I’ve got an identifiable and thus treatable condition… well, I’m now at least partially there. Yes, I’m still a bit non-comittal.
It’s actually quite ironic.
I’ve found it so easy to become enveloped in things that have happened and things that might happen (but usually don’t) that I foolishly miss what is right in front of me. The result is that weeks, months, or years down the road I wake up one morning and say, “Wow, wasn’t it a great time that I had when…”, which is the kind of romantic reminiscence more fondly known as nostalgia. Subsequently, the thought creeps into my mind that it might be a good idea to go try and find that kind of amazing experience again but with a new twist, all the while re-enacting the kind of epic fail that can be compared to a batter swinging blindly at a ball which has already hit him square in the face — an embarrassing and totally avoidable situation that is easily prevented by not chomping away on bubble gum while getting lost in day dreams induced by the glare of modern stadium lighting.
Like I said, this isn’t brand new information for the world to consume, but it’s certainly a minor revelation for this lost traveler which has led me to proclaim: I solemnly swear to try to live life Here&Now… and also that I am up to no good.
better known for meatballs and ikea (or even better, meatballs at ikea!), sweden has been my home away from proverbial home for the past 11 months. throughout my time here i have made many great friends, and experienced life as never before. from soaking in sun at summer houses on the east coast, to the dead of winter where the light is sucked out of the sky here in the rain plagued landscape of västragotlands’ göteborg. and back again to seemingly never ending sunsets and a new appreciation for the concept of seasons.
the journey that has transpired along the way has been a memorable one, to say the least. but my time has now come and gone and it is time to write a fitting ending for this milestone in life.
i’m a believer in the idea that the more we bend, the less likely we are to break. life rewards the ability to roll with the punches, and unlike our bodies, as each year passes our minds become more flexible and open to the idea of change as inevitable.
last month the clouds of change started rolling in. they came in different shapes and sizes than before, but they were unmistakable. faced with a choice of attempting to hold out in sweden or experience something else, i choose to go with the flow and allow myself the freedom to move on.
for several years now, i have been gravitating towards korea. both as a reconnection with my motherland and as preparation for the rest of my life. it is something that i have literally dreamt about. it didn’t used to keep me up at night. but it does now as i ready myself for a journey that spans much more than the 9 hours and 7077km of atmosphere that i will pass through while encapsulated in a speeding bullet in the sky.
on wednesday, july 21 i will say hej då (good bye) to göteborg. behind me i will leave people, a school, and a city that have been fantastic in every sense of the word, and which other descriptors regretfully fail to add any significant understanding to.
i will make a 36-hour pitstop in helsinki to visit friends, eat food, and shave.
on thursday, july 22, barring any earth-shattering events, i will board a plane to seoul.
and on friday, july 23, i will arrive in the country of my birth for only the second time since leaving. more than have of my life has passed since my previous trip, and when i touch down i feel as if i will be embarking on a sojourn that has been 26 years in the making.
how often are you bored by the music you listen to everyday? if you’re like me, the answer is may be something like “every other day”.
this morning i’m listening to a podcast from npr called “all songs considered”, a name spinoff from the ubiquitous “all things considered” and something that will hopefully provide me with a continuous stream of new and interesting music. with the latest blip in my sojourn around the world being my departure from sweden to korea (more on that in an upcoming post) i’ve found it funny that this program is featuring music from 3 artists from the 3 cities in which i’ve most recently lived in. (maybe there is something about second cities, after all.)
baltimore / the lower dens
san francisco / sunny & the sunsets
gothenburg / junip (josé gonzalez)
if you’re so inclined (and i certainly encourage you to do so), take an hour out of your regularly scheduled music programming, put on your headphones and get prepared to be refreshed.
since i’ve been here in sweden, i’ve been introduced to the wonderful world of spotify (http://spotify.com/), a music streaming service which allows you to listen to most songs you want to hear for free (supported by audio ads). it’s been a wonderful ride, but i have to say, their app has left me wishing for a better UI and the ads keep getting more, and more intrusive. now, for a mere 99kr (~ $12/mo) i could banish those ads, but now a new solution has popped up.
i first saw grooveshark (http://grooveshark.com/) last fall, but didn’t pay much attention to it. i was still stuck to my itunes library which contains 30,000+ songs that i almost never listen to. but as my frustrations with spotify have increased and my memory of grooveshark returned, i’ve ended up as a really happy user. in fact, it’s made my week much more productive with it’s banner ad only approach (not annoying audio ads every 5 songs) and ability to easily manage playlists, find artists (many more than spotify offers, including those from asia), find new music via the ‘radio’ feature, and the ability to quickly share with your friends – all they’ll need is flash to tune in.
anyways, my point is that i’m really happy listening to grooveshark, and thought i’d share a bit of the music i’ve been taking in this week. hope you enjoy!
my name is jay. four years ago i got on a plane to japan. when i got there i had my life turned upside down. the photo above is of my first meal after landing.
basic communication and daily activities were intimidating. i didn’t speak the language. i couldn’t read what food i was buying. i was jet-lagged, but having the time of my life.
my friend ben and i lived in an 18m square apartment together for 4.5 months.
we often rode our bikes past familymart; our closest convenience store, over the bridge and down along the river where the cherry blossoms were blooming in the distance, past the rice fields with the occasional farmer hunched over paying us no attention, through the rolling hills to school.
occasionally we made the 45 minute walk back home as a result of staying out too late down by the ishikawa river while drinking with the other students, witnessing wild stunts such as a guy eating an entire of wasabi paste, or someone jumping into the cold, dirty river water.
most often, though, we made our way under the vines shading the winding alley behind our apartment, past the old man with the one room bicycle shop, down the street and then through another alley behind the pachinko parlor where it wasn’t uncommon to encounter a drunk peeing man, cats, or bees (quite an odd assortment) before spilling out across the street from our local train station by the same name of our town – tondabayashi.
this was just the beginning, but putting everything down into words is something i’ve wanted to do ever since i got back, and i hope this will be some kind of reminder to myself to make that wish a reality. every time i try, it always comes out a bit jumbled, missing some things here and there, and generally indecipherable to others, but i really want to find a way to tell this story, at least for myself.
no matter what i do, i can’t escape japan.
today might be more than three years since i left, but i’m still a bit caught off guard with how much that experience has affected me. maybe that is the beauty of being lost in translation. unfortunately, i’ve never been able to explain it very well in words, so here it is (one more time):
i think i just left part of me there forever, and sometimes i’d like to be able to get back to where that is.
when i first went to japan, i had no idea what i was getting myself into. on the plane ride over there came a moment when everything stopped and i realized, quite suddenly, that home was far, far away and it would be a long time before i went back. in essence, i realized that the situation i had put myself in was not one that i was prepared for, nor knew how to prepare for. i now had to face the consequence of my seemingly rash decision to study abroad 6 months prior.
what i didn’t understand at that point in time was how the next four and a half months would affect the rest of my life, and the degree to which i would have my outlook on life + the world reshaped. it would be many, many months after i had returned from studying in japan before i started to gain even an inkling of how i would be changed. so when my new friend in sweden, duck, left to return home to korea this week, it reminded me of the solitary feeling of departure and the uncertainty that the future holds for those at the end of a journey, not yet aware of the new ones yet to come.
for me, the kind of change experienced from living abroad is one that has come from the inside out, and from the outside in. i have opened up to a new reality, a new way of viewing the world – one in which i exist as a struggling entity rather than a knowledgeable adult. thus, the power of traveling and finding yourself in new and unfamiliar territory is something that i will forever embrace as an agent of change that can be deployed at will, time and time again.
good bye duck, you might not know it yet, but there are wonderful things to come.
(re)discover + (re)capture + (re)live
it’s the mantra i’ve been repeating for the last half hour of my life.
last fall i applied for a scholarship that would take me to korea for an entire year’s worth of research, study, and experimentation with hanguel typography — korean typography — while providing me with time to explore a country that is both familiar and very, very foreign. in preparation, i enrolled in korean classes and have been studying (with some degree of success) for the past 6 months. i prepared my portfolio, wrote my proposal, got an amazing and inspiring affiliate, and in january found out that it wasn’t meant to be.
now let’s pause for a second. from past experience, i know that things don’t go as planned. in fact, that is for me the rule and not the exception. so that means that i always need a plan b. and a plan c. and in some circumstances a plan d. but with all these variations in plans, it also means that there is a large amount of room for misguided directions and tangents; the equivalent of flailing about a barnyard hoping to find a needle in a haystack. i’ve found (or am finding) that taking the time to really understand the ‘why’ part makes it much easier to come up with those subsequent plans.
that being said, my reasoning for going to korea was both to find inspiration in korean culture (specifically typography + design) and spend some time in the country where i was born; both items of fair game. for the sake of clarity, let’s define the priorities as follows:
1) travel to another country to be inspired and explore culture through design
2) go back to the source of my roots, find comfort in awkward familiarity, live
taking these requisites into account i came up with this:
plan b: attend graduate school in sweden (the academic + professional development approach)
plan c: look for another job in the land of stripes (the conservative, yet non-complacent approach)
plan d: hold tight and stay put (the logical approach)
see, the problem is that after plan b, things get way off track and start becoming stop gaps. they don’t have a thing to do with the catalysts for this change of direction, and therein is the problem.
so now let’s come back to the present. plan a (going to korea for a year) hasn’t panned out, so it’s time to move full steam ahead with plan b (studying in sweden). the program is great (business + design), and i love sweden. the problems are that they are currently not teaching the program in english, and i don’t speak swedish. i don’t know, this might deter some people but i’m still going to apply. it’s a school whose reputation with me has grown over the year’s as i’ve seen what my friends who attended the school are doing and whose student work is generally very solid. and then there is the real problem, i still want to go to korea.
here’s how it came about. over the past few weeks i’ve noticed that my interest in korean class has started to wane. i’m not as excited, i don’t do my homework very well (although i’m still doing okay in class) and it has become hard to focus on it knowing that i may not be putting it to use anytime soon. this is disappointing to me because i have put time, money, effort and even a little bit of dreaming of the future into the process of learning korean. it also signals to me that i’ve been losing the passion i had for making that trip a reality and this has been the real turning point.
i’ve realized that because i’ve stuck to protocol in moving from plan a to plan b, i’ve inadvertently backed down from my original goals. in fact, the assessment of my reasons for traveling were made just this evening, not months ago when i made the plan. i’ll still follow through on plan b, and maybe this feeling will pass, but i can’t help but think that what i needed was not plan a, plan b, plan c, plan d, but plan 1a, plan 1b, plan 1c, plan 1d, i.e., a variety of ways to achieve the same goal.
after dwelling on this idea for the past week or two, tonight has been a mini-milestone along what will be a long, long journey. i’ve realized that it’s not a failure for plans to fall through, but it is a disservice to yourself when you let your dreams creep away in a clouded moment of panic. with a mind that is constantly whizzing and whirring away, i need to remind myself that i know what + why i want to do, and now is the time to find out how to do it.
and so, here is to the future and keeping dreams intact. let’s go.
okay, i admit it. i am one of those hapless fools who starts a blog with good intentions, only to neglect it and let it sit by the wayside. my desire for this blog was to record my thoughts during a period of my life where things were changing fast. i moved clear across the entire country, picked up a job, made some friends and fell for a girl.
a girl? yes, a girl. which if i’m honest, is a pretty damn good excuse for having fallen off the train. so, in what i hope and pray will be a short series of posts, i will attempt to stitch together pieces of the past; pinching, squeezing and otherwise desperately trying to pull out some worthwhile details of my otherwise quotidian life.
My last post ended with the declaration that I would get out and about and start doing things.
I’m proud to report back six weeks later that I have done just that in the name of friends, fun and productivity (imagine that!). I have not only moved a mere 2 blocks away from work (thereby reducing my commute from 1.5hr to 5 min), but spent a couple of great weekends with friends from the far coast and the rest of the time plugging away at my own personal work.
I’ve also managed to spend a good amount of time outside of the confines of the city and enjoyed experiencing The California Suburb—much like any other suburb, but with better weather with the addition of some “extra thing” that keeps it from feeling like the mundane and quotidian neighborhoods that I grew up in on the East Coast.
This upcoming weekend will be spent in the great outdoors, under the blue blue sky of Lassen Volcanic National Park and I hope to keep up the fun with a flurry of events of the next couple months.
It is with some regret that I must confess that I have no great (or even not so great) thoughts on life at this point.
If there were anything I could say along those lines, it would be that it is very rare that we come across people that we create strong bonds with and life has shown me thus far that the saying Few and Far Between is a true statement in regards to finding friends and companions.
It’s always nice to make friends.
sometime this morning while walking through a cloud (i could tell it was a cloud because when i pulled out my phone, it was instantly sprinkled with water and when i stopped staring at the ground in front of me as i walked, i saw that my glasses were also misted over)...anyways, so i realized that recently, i have made a point to be in the point of realizing things. this is great and all, and i have come to some good conclusions and thought very pointedly about a whole list of things that have been on my mind, but i’ve not really given myself the chance to stop “realizing” and start living.
so, with that being taken note of, i am off to what will hopefully be a wonderful weekend with friends from east coast, west coast and no-coast of pure living.
My mind is spinning in circles. With what rationale do people make these decisions?
It is way too early for me to be awake. 5am and I am cruising (probably the wrong choice of word) through San Francisco with some strangers knees jutting into my back on the way to the airport. I don’t know when I will be back to this city, but one thing is certain - it won’t be on the same terms.
Generally, it has been a successful trip, receiving good feedback from NY to SF. I’m not tooting my own horn, but if I’m honest, it has been nice to hear people’s feedback. However, maybe like most journeys in life, I have been left with more questions than answers. Oh, and a lot more confusion, too.
So long San Francisco, I may be rolling out but am I rolling on?
From Here to There
So this past week has been a blur of movement, from Baltimore to New York to San Francisco and on Tuesday, back again. (My apologies, but this will be more of a summation of these events.)
My job search has led me to these places both near and far and along the way I have run into a fair number of friends. At Meg’s Birthday in New York I saw many friends in one place (can you ask for a better thing?) and had my entire job search world turned upside down by none other than the realization (again) that I enjoy my friends all too much to easily uproot myself and transplant myself onto the west coast.
It actually took one of the partners at a studio that I interviewed at (they are, unfortunately, not hiring at this point in time) who spun my own work and words back around me in such a clever way that I couldn’t help but seriously consider his words.
This project was for a travel agent who specialized in setting up more “adventurous” vacations, hence the name, Gallivant Nouveau (my own naming). Josh (who interviewed me) said that it takes a certain amount of up rooting if you really want to gallivant and that I should keep that in mind when making my decision. He also said, “You can come to New York City and 5 years of your life will go by and you will wonder what you’ve been doing all this time.”
And so, this has been on my mind quite a bit. Or rather, it helped snap me out of my determination to make New York work for me.
My time in San Francisco has been chock full of running all over the place. That is the reason for the lack of updates (I’ve tried to keep those on Facebook in the know with my status, but not everyone can see that). In a nutshell here is what I have done:
- Arrival in SF
- Met my cousin at her apartment where I am staying
- Intervew #1 @ Albertson Design (http://www.albertsondesign.com) went very well
- Interview #2 @ Noise13 (http://www.noise13.com) also went very well (+ they have 2 dogs!)
- Met with my friend Sarah from the high school days in Maryland and her boyfriend, got burritos, went out to a couple bars and stayed the night
- Lazy day, took a nap
- Went out with my cousin and her roommates to a party and then Hookah bar
- Met a friend of a friend in Berkley, went to lunch and then to Amoeba Records on Telegraph
- Relaxed in the afternoon!
- Interview #3 @ Mende Design (http://www.mendedesign.com) went very well (this is a trend, apparently)
- Made baklava with one of my cousin’s roommates
- Dinner with cousin and roommates + friends
All Loud on the Western (and Eastern) Front
So, for whatever reason, I have thus far had good feedback from all of my interviews (still waiting to hear from Interview #3 which was today and I have a second interview at Moment Design in New York this Friday). It’s a bit overwhelming and I really have no idea what to do. Maybe I will have some heart to hearts with people this weekend. I just don’t feel equipped to handle this kind of decision despite the fact that it is mine to make in the end. So, who knows what will happen…I certainly don’t.
I’m finding it harder than ever (despite the lack of anything to hold me back) to take the plunge. The question becomes, with the ability to do anything I please and go wherever I want to go, which side will win out?
Old + Familiar or New + Exciting?
Stable + Secure or Wild + Spontaneous?
New York or San Francisco?
Solids or Stripes?