Tuesday, April 25, 2017

thursday in honolulu

Recently, AG Sessions declared his amazement that a judge "on an island in the Pacific" could block Trump's immigration order. He was referring to U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, a federal judge hailing from the state of Hawai`i, who indefinitely extended the court order against that revised travel ban on Wednesday, March 29th.—the day before I flew to Honolulu for the very first time.
Being able to go to Hawai`i for work was a treat (those flights are expensive!), but I didn't expect to love the Pacific isles annexed by the U.S. in 1959. I've seen too many cheesy movies and shows; and I'm hardly the ideal candidate for personifying that "Aloha spirit".
But... then I touched down into retro-humidity and glanced out at the cloud-topped mountains and gasped in gleeful relief. The real Hawaii! I was *faraway* yet still within the bounds of my home country, and it was unlike any place I'd ever known or been.
My heart was content even after the costly stay in Waikiki. And my fascination that bilingual meant English and Japanese (versus Spanish) was exceptionally humbling. 1.5 million Japanese people vacationed in Hawaii in 2015; duh—the proximity, the history, the cultural exchange for which I am so clearly uninformed about. I learned, too, that peaceful politesse is expected and that the well-publicized pride for Hawaiian culture is beautifully sincere. When I flew from O`ahu to Kaua`i with three leis graciously bestowed upon me by my client (after we raised a great thousands for programs for girls that encourage courage, confidence, and character), I cannot even tell you how eager I was to discover more.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

a lady of leisure in amsterdam

There's a particular relief in (and pride to) the ease I feel in a city like Amsterdam. "Oh, how cosmopolitan you are," I tease myself.
Yet the pride is sincere. I spent so much of my early twenties searching for a sense of belonging to a place after having lost that in a person. I struggled to define myself while blending in, to simultaneously indulge my intellectual as well as my immature cravings.
And in doing so, I learned how to be comfortable be in unfamiliar settings. What made Paris special had little to do with the fact that Paris is Paris but that I chose it and made it home (as opposed to having accepted convenient opportunities). I imagine Amsterdam holds a similar significance for my brother—who's now taking a Spanish course in Spain and will have to repatriate soon enough.
Los Angeles and I, on the other hand, have a slightly different relationship. I came back to the U.S. because I could as much I felt I should—how irresponsible it'd be not to accept a serendipitous job offer. I chose a career, perhaps, but I did not choose this city.
Has it grown on me? Most definitely, though I continue to say I won't stay. I'll admit (as I roll my eyes at myself) that this fact pioneers my insistence of returning to Europe at least once a year. I need the reminder of that aforementioned feeling; to hold onto it.
My days in Amsterdam last fall were spent as a "a lady of leisure".  I walked miles through its narrow streets and ruffled through more shops than I had in all 10 months prior and stopped into museums deemed as having the most intriguing exhibitions. It was so wildly unlike my reality. And each evening, I met up with a beloved "local" at a traditional beer bar or modern food hall. Too good, almost.
The fall before then, I'd chosen to make as many active life choices as possible—I moved across L.A. to a walkable neighborhood feel; I took the time to enjoy the friendships I'd found; I stringently applied for new jobs, a.k.a. only those that 100% excited me. Although I was barely getting by financially, I became happier, firmly self-assured, and eventually, I joined a company that fit the bill.
It was hard to wrap my head around how fortunate I'd gotten—and yet it shouldn't have been. I've worked hard to earn my life here. I have all I need inside me to move forward. And however prideful, I will never once worry I won't be able to relocate when needed.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

wilde zwijnen

After my 2009 pre-orientation visit, I didn't expect to return to Amsterdam. Of course I'd enjoyed the charming city, and I'd been introduced to Indonesian cuisine there— as well as polarizing populism: we studied the tensions following Theo Van Gogh's murder by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch, Moroccan, and Muslim man—but I wasn't exactly hooked. Then, Lorelei was hired to work in the Hague and Jorgie was accepted to a Master's program at the University of Amsterdam. Last November 19th, I returned to the Dutch capital for the third time (via a train from Paris) to reunite with my brother and best friends. Rachael had flown in from London.
From Centraal Station, Rachael, Lorelei, and I ventured to Brouwerij't for a beer before our dinner reservations at Wilde Zwijnen, where we then opted for the chef's tasting menu and sparkling apéritifs. By the time Jorgie came to meet us, we were a few glasses of wine in, giddy in our catch-up. We'd already fully debriefed on the then-recent election results. For a night, all felt right in the world.
And it really was, because there's something to be said about being thoroughly cozy and well-nourished, surrounded by those with whom you can freely express ridicule of impending new rules and the elimination of others while also admitting cynicism towards infinite Bey-worship... we're all equally human, no? (I suppose the question itself suggests some of us do "opt for enlightenment".)