the pensieve

As I get older, it’s harder for me to distinguish one calendar year from the next. Unless, of course, it’s bad; 2004 sucked, for instance. On the other hand, 2008 was such an amazing year that I felt sad counting down its last seconds, as though saying goodbye to a friend who had been particularly kind to me. It felt wrong to let it pass without commemorating it in some way. So here goes:

Highlights

Lowlights:

  • The US and then global financial markets imploded, resulting in the destruction of trillions of dollars of wealth. I avoid opening my 401(k) statements now.
  • Shattered a glass shower door in my hotel room in Sao Paulo, resulting in stitches (& an upgrade to a VIP suite). Being surrounded by shards of glass without contacts or clothes makes one feel extremely vulnerable.
  • Got three fillings.

farewell, first home

I wrote this in August after I arrived in California. Wing was still living in our condo at the time. The new owners moved in three days later.

Buying the first house we saw on our first house-hunting trip ever may seem rash. It was only days before that we’d thought that it “might possibly be time to buy something”—but sometimes you just know.

Wing’s already explained a few of the reasons why we love our house: the natural lighting, hardwood floors, and the tall trees that offer shade and privacy (and a whole host of bird droppings to any unlucky car parked underneath). There were our upstairs neighbors, who we met as an unmarried couple but moved out as a family of three, and Henry, the friendly gray cat that came around whenever he sensed some action. And of course, there is all the food we ate in our disproportionately large kitchen with our friends who became like family.

This place only got better with every happy event, every home improvement, every piece of furniture schlepped in. Even when we passed the honeymoon stage and realized that the toilet seat never stood up and the closet space was non-existent, we stayed enamored. It’s true we would have needed something bigger at some point, but we left before we outgrew it.

I know it’s silly to have such a strong emotional attachment to a condo, but our “home” was the first thing that Wing and I built together. It’s the setting of some of my happiest memories.

The same can be said for Boston. College and grad school come with very clear endpoints after which people scatter in all directions; this changes the very character of the city. But over the course of the six years I lived there, Boston became more than just the sum of my school experiences. Every memory became so woven into the backdrop they became impossible to separate.

wanderlust

i’ve traveled more this year than i ever will again. places i’ve visited in 2008 (roughly chronological):

  • santiago, chile
  • pucon, chile
  • sao paolo, brazil
  • rio de janeiro, brazil
  • buenos aires, argentina
  • dar es salaam, tanzania
  • arusha, tanzania
  • kigali, rwanda
  • volcanoes national park, rwanda
  • zanzibar, tanzania
  • philadelphia, pennsylvania
  • st. thomas
  • british virgin islands
  • raleigh-durham, north carolina
  • los angeles, california
  • las vegas, nevada
  • venice, italy
  • split, croatia
  • crete, greece
  • santorini, greece
  • corfu, greece
  • kusadasi, turkey
  • florence, italy
  • siena, italy
  • cinque terre, italy
  • milan, italy
  • bay area, california
  • new york, new york
  • boston, ma

i have two more trips to toronto and la for weddings and then i’m retiring my frequent flyer card. 

Posted by email from jen’s posterous

congrats to f+g

many congrats to mr. and mrs. wang.  so very happy for you both.

Posted by email from jen’s posterous

entitled

this spring i went to tanzania. it is a beautiful, unspoiled country which relies largely on tourism to fuel its economy. we traveled in open-air jeeps and sat on the roofs to take in the scenery. as we passed small villages, children would run out to the road, shouting and waving hello. at times it felt like we were on a parade route.

these children had almost nothing materially.  their clothing was dirty, stained. most went barefoot. we saw one kid happily towing his “toy,”  an aluminum can tied to a rope. others asked to be photographed, then excitedly leaned in to see their images on our digital cameras. those we spoke with aspired to become tour guides when they grew up.

what struck me was not just the poverty, but how happy they seemed despite these circumstances, how delighted they were by the simplest things.

crafty

“this time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”
- ralph waldo emerson

i’ve never been someone who has had a lot of hobbies. at least not the ones that i can tell people about. now i’m faced with three months off with no immediate plans or responsibilities. this poses two problems: 1) wasted time makes me grumpy and 2) the amount of free time i have is directly proportional to how much i shop; too much can have dire financial ramifications.

i’ve come up with a list of goals and to-do’s to keep me busy. for example, i’ve always wanted to make jewelry (and since discovering etsy have thought about setting up a shop). so far i’ve excelled at buying materials to make jewelry…the production part, not so much. it’s disheartening to see stuff in stores that looks better and costs less than what i can make on my own.

wing has been, unsurprisingly, totally supportive of this new obsession. he didn’t even flinch when i told him about the $150 strand of gemstones i bought and, as the weeks passed and my supplies piled up, never questioned when i was going to actually make something.

after weeks of feverish supply shopping, i realized i no longer had an excuse. i laid out my tray, mat and beads to start my first project. wing poked his head in the room, saw what i was attempting and beaming, exclaimed “i’m so proud of you for getting a hobby!” five minutes after that, he came running back into the room with his camera and started snapping away.

i think this is a sign i need more hobbies.

commencement

i’ve been playing around with the look of my blog for a few weeks now. i’m hindered by my rudimentary html skills and the fact that this was initially set up by my tech savvy husband, whose current talk of dreamhost, ftp and unzipping files is reminiscent of my finance professor explaining how and why to unlever a beta – some things just don’t take.

this theme seems okay with the exception of the kentucky derby inspired header. disclaimer: i haven’t developed a love of horses, although i did once win $40 at a racetrack when i was in the fifth-grade. that was a lot of money to a ten-year-old.

*
in honor of graduation season, i recently read through commencement addresses from this and yesteryear. a few of my favorites:

every year’s a souvenir / that slowly fades away

(thanks for the title, lee)

i’ve spent the last hour re-reading my old blog. brings back good memories. the funny thing is that the experiences themselves don’t come back to me as vividly as the process of writing about them do: the quiet room, familiar music, time spent deliberating over every word.

i’ve written a lot these past two years in bschool, but as wingerz so sweetly reminds me, it’s nothing that anyone wants to read.

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