As Mother’s Day comes around I’m reminded of just how lucky I am to have the family I do.
At the beginning of last school year one of my fellow teachers was venting about the frustrations she was experiencing with her family. She hadn’t heard from them in weeks, not since she’d moved to Egypt. They hadn’t called, emailed, skyped, sent messenger pigeons…nothing. I tried to sympathize, but I realized that I had no idea what it was like to not have a supportive family. Sure, we have our ups and downs, but when the chips are down, we’re all there for each other. We call or skype on birthdays, major holidays, and just because. I probably talk to my father more when I’m on the opposite side of the planet than when I live thirty minutes away from him.
By the end of this week, every single member of my immediate family (mom, dad, and two brothers) will have visited me while I’m living overseas. How lucky is that?
There are downsides, of course, to living so far away. I haven’t gotten or given a birthday hug in five years, I’ve spent a few Christmases by myself, and I can’t be there when my brothers or parents need me.
In honor of my amazing family here are some fun pictures of the adventures we’ve had since I’ve moved overseas. More will come after Dad concludes his visit.
Mom and I on a horseback riding adventure.
Steady as she goes.
I got Mom on a horse!
Silliness in Mongolia. Who doesn’t need a decent fur hat?
Mom found coffee!
Mom and I attend a traditional Mongolian wedding.
Mom speaks to the Mongolian mother of the bride.
Everyone loves a good photo op.
Nick and I just after he arrived in Beijing.
Almost all the pictures I have of Nick involve food of some kind.
Nick explores Beijing.
Nick and I enjoy a beer on the Great Wall of China on New Year’s Day.
Nick at the Great Wall of China.
Cooking class with Nick in Beijing.
Where does my sister live?
Mom in front of the Great Pyramid of Khufu.
Mom and I visit the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
Walk Like an Egyptian!
Mom explores the spice market of Luxor.
Mom and I take a short boat ride to Philae Temple.
In front of the Muhammad Ali Mosque
Joe and I at the Pyramid of Khufu (aka Cheops).
This would look great in my backyard.
Joe and I visit the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
Where are these pyramids you speak of?
Joe visits Karnak Temple.
So my year in jewelry started out so promisingly. I really did want to write about my jewelry. I swear.
I even took pictures of the pieces I wore every day…for a while. Then I got busy of course. I got too busy to write every day, so I decided to write once a week. Then I got to busy (and lazy) to do even that.
I did learn some things from this failed experiment:
- I have a lot of jewelry
- I learned to appreciate the truly meaningful pieces that I own
- Sometimes less is more with jewelry
- Sometimes more is more fun!
- No outfit is complete without jewelry (even if it’s just a simple wristwatch)
- Just because an experiment doesn’t work out the way I plan doesn’t mean it’s a complete failure
Here are some of the pictures I did manage to take of my jewelry collection.
Perhaps some day I will get around to telling the stories attached to the pieces, but probably only to my (future) daughter.
31 Important Things You Learn When You Move Across The World
1. You learn how much unnecessary stuff you own when you attempt to pack it into a reasonable, movable state.
2. And when you’re forced to get rid of some of it, you realize what is truly important to you.
*This process is particularly traumatizing if you’re a book lover.
3. You learn that somehow, every country in the world gathers to play football for a month, but we can’t all agree on one type of electrical plug.
4. So your entire home is littered with adapters, which are your new life support system.
5. You realize that while you thought you possessed a general understanding of money, you actually only understand value in your currency.
6. So, depending on where you’ve moved from and to, your constant conversions teach you how rich or poor you actually are.
7. As much as you may have cursed and loathed it in the past, you learn that Google Maps is a godsend in an unfamiliar city.
8. In fact, the internet in its entirety is a lifeline.
9. You learn that absence makes the heart grow self-aware.
It teaches you which of your relationships were most meaningful, and which ones were simply based on convenience and proximity.
10. To keep up the former kind, you get really, really good at constantly doing time-zone calculations.
11. And you learn, quickly, that conventional sleep schedules are a luxury afforded by people whose loved ones all live in one time zone.
12. All the mundane things you take for granted about a place become the things you miss the most.
13. Even if you’ve never, ever realized it before, you’re suddenly aware 24/7 that you have an accent.
14. And a couple of months after moving, you learn that it’s subject to change.
15. The things that stay constant from place to place – even if you didn’t love them before – are now havens of comfort.
16. You learn that a house is not a home until it has Wi-Fi that automatically connects.
17. And a bed you look forward to sleeping in.
18. You learn about the universe of free international calling/messaging apps that exist for vagabonds like you.
19. And, very soon after, you learn their limitations.
20. You learn that the most important words to learn in any language are “I don’t know how to speak this language.”
21. And, tied for a close second, are: who, what, when, where, and fuck you.
22. You learn that your passport is as important to you as most of your loved ones.
23. You learn that forms that ask for a “permanent address” are evil, and didn’t account for people like you.
24. You learn that the most acceptable and innocent acts in one culture are punishably offensive in others.
25. You learn that “where are you from?” is an incredibly difficult question.
Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage
26. You soon memorize a short answer and a longer, more honest one.
27. And it takes a long, long time, but you eventually get pretty good at figuring out who wants which.
28. Most importantly, you learn that to drop everything and move somewhere new is as rewarding as it is terrifying.
29. And you wouldn’t be half as brave, thoughtful, or self-aware if you hadn’t done it.
30. You learn that “home” isn’t a place – it’s the people you come to love there.
31. And you learn that the world is a huge, thrilling adventure just waiting to happen.
1 January 2015
Today marks the beginning of a new blogging adventure: A Year in Jewelry.
Several years ago I was living in Beijing, China, when my younger brother, N, came to visit. We spent a week exploring the city, eating strange foods, drinking, and generally having a blast.
On December 31, 2012, I decided that it was time to get my nose pierced. I’d thought about it for a while, and decided it was high time. So, I plucked up my courage, gathered my brother, and headed to the nearby shopping center, Golden Towers.
Idioms are a weird thing in any language. They make total sense to native speakers, but are nonsense to language learners. For example, telling someone “I’m all ears!” means you’re listening intently, not that you’re made entirely of ears. Or the phrase “let the cat out of the bag” has absolutely nothing to do with felines or purses, but is all about telling secrets.