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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

a thousand beautiful things

lovely ruffle wedding cake

signing table

I'm making the men in our wedding party boutineers just like this one

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Attaining Nirvana

a place or state characterized by freedom from or oblivion to pain, worry, and the external world. this is nirvana. I've felt it before. Mostly in little clips of time, once for several months. The time spent in nirvana is the best use of time a person can have. For me it comes in the little things. A small fork in the road that leads you to a great adventure. A person that enters your life to remind you what love feels like. A friend who knows what you're saying without you speaking a word. These things are nirvana. Oblivion to pain, worry, and the external world. 

These days the nirvana is scarce. It is overrun by to-do lists, errands to run, weddings to plan, money to earn, exams to take. Is my nirvana escaping me because of my lack of upkeep? I hope not.  I refuse to be overcome by the grasping hands of worry and pain. I choose to live in my nirvana endlessly and to do so I'd like to remind myself of a few nirvana conducing pieces...

- Listening to songs like Aqeous Transmisson by incubus, Into Dust by Mazzy Star, and Society by Eddie Vedder

-Letting my cat get her fur all over my bed but listening to her rhythmic purring to help lull me into sleep

- Having dreams about riding on the backs of orca whales and remembering them

- Belly dancing at 2 o clock in the afternoon, alone, in my living room

- Listening to the heartbeat of someone I love

- Remembering days of travel and adventure with great friends and dreaming of more to be had

- Learning to understand a language that once sounded like gibberish to me

- Learning about the billions of other galaxies in our universe and the intelligent civilizations within them that are more likely than not.

-Learning anything

-Wanting to read a book more than watching tv or checking my email

- Observing people who stand for something

-Listening to a stranger's words and knowing they are true

- Laughing. At anything. And not just a chuckle. Laughing really hard.

- seeing photographs of mysterious places and knowing that if I try, I can go there too 

These are some of the things that bring me peace. These things help me capture my nirvana again when I feel it slipping through my fingers. 

Attaining Nirvana once again.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

dreaming of the main land....

My class pet/biggest trouble maker, Scotty

Bliss at the top of Shi Zhu Shan in FuQing

Kung Fu lessons, every thursday morning

the great wall of china, and some of the greatest girls in the world

moto bike

good times at KTV!
When I decided to drop everything and move to China, I didn't realize how much my entire life would change....

I never thought that I would be sitting here in a comfortable home in America, surfing the internet with no delay, a belly full of healthy and delicous food, a soft and comfortable matress to sleep on, a hot shower to use at any hour of the day, and be wishing that I were back to living in an impoverished state in a rural city in China. The thought of yearning to live in a smoggy, second hand smoke breathing, knockoff purse haggling, cold chicken foot eating, frogger-esqe street crossing, nude transiant wandering, uncomprehensible language speaking, freezing, sweltering, chubby cheek rice eating environment sounds totally insane. As a matter of fact, I think it is totally insane. Which is precisely why I love it so much.

I can't even begin to describe the impression this place can make on a person. It's not exactly the most comfortable living circumstances in the world (Envision 100 % humidity, occasional hot water, and sleeping on box springs...), but it is without a doubt, the most special and amazing place I have ever visited in my life. I sit here reminiscing about the four short months I lived in Fuqing, China and can't help but think it was all one of my bizarre dreams (see previous blog). My thoughts are turned to nights of freezing humidity, huddled between nine other girls that I've only recently met but feel like my sisters. We are under fleece blankets that leave fuzzy fluff balls all over our clothes. We are eating pop-corn, a rare and precious commodity, we are watching the famous super star Jay Chou playing masterfully on his piano and watching his love story unfold before our eyes. We miss our friends and families in America, but we would not trade this time for anything.

I am dreaming of 8 naughty chinese children. Scotty, Benny, Sparky, Jet, Trevor, Ollie, Will, and Daisy. Instead of practicing sentence structure and drilling them on their BMC's, I teach them an excerpt frrom a Missy Elliot song and teach them how to shake their tiny little booties while singing Hey! Hey! Hey! I'm what's happenin'! Their chinese accents only add to the performance. I teach them to say "this sucks!" They teach me what da pi gu means (big ass, as they so adoringly called me). And every day at the end of class, I'd excuse them one by one, give them a kiss on their dirty little cheeks and made them say, 'I love you teacher Riley'. Some of the first words I taught them will be some of the last words I forget.

I am remembering being on what seemed to be an everlasting train ride to the Yellow Mountains. Breaking every rule of Chinese society and sleeping on the train floor where the loogies are hocked and the babies pee only to be woken by my hair being stuck in the mop of a train attendant. Unarguably the most disgusting transportation of my life and undeniably one of the most worthwhile trips to be made.

I'm reflecting on finding our way through the streets of Fuqing. 3 Chinese on a motorcycle in the city is no problem, 1 chinese (driver) and 2 Americans is another story. Better still is 1 rickshaw, 1 ancienct Chinese driver, and 10 Americans piled in the back. The rickshaw is moving about 4 miles per hour and creating a major traffic jam, accompanied by chorus of car horns. An emergency red light on the dash indicates the pain we are inflicting on the rickshaw, but that sweet little man driving us just keeps on grinning. What a gentleman.

There are so many moments just like these that I reflect upon on a regular basis. Those four months were the best of my life. I was just so at peace with myself and my surroundings and the whole world. Everyday I just felt happy. I wasn't wishing I were somewhere else or trying to hurry up and pass the time to get to the next thing I wanted to do. I lived in every single moment in that place.

Someday I will achieve that nirvana again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

never before read dreams enclosed!

When people tell me they don't have dreams I can't help but pity them. I like to think that I have some of the strangest dreams that anyone has ever heard of and I would not give that up for anything. My mom has this great dream interpretation book called 'The World of Mirrors' and I refer to it on a regular basis. I don't know how accurate it is but it sure is fun to see what it says.

Over the last few years I have started keeping a dream journal. I'm not totally faithful to it because when I first wake up in the mornings I'm as good as dead. Then I try and remember the pychodelic dream that occured earlier and I can't remember it for the life of me. Some of my best (and when I say best I mean solely for weirdness value) dreams come about in the few minutes before I wake up. Or maybe it's the few hours before I wake up... It's hard to get a grasp on time when you're dreaming. I would like to establish a better habit of recording these strange phenomena right after they occur, but until I do let me reflect with you on some of the more bizzare... I feel there are a lot of symbolisms in these dreams. If you care to take a shot at deciphering them, please do so.

Feb 19, 2010
I dreamed me, Ry and Tal went to Xiamen, China (a beautiful city I visited). It was a bustling town but it didn't look like the real Xiamen. There were too many white people. We were looking for Bobby (my China school love) so we were looking for the restaurant he worked at. We looked everywhere and fianlly found it and just when I caught a glimpse of him the lights all turned off. I found a light switch and I saw his dad yelling at him. I didn't like that. Then he saw me and gave me a big smile. He looked so much different but I could tell it was him. He was shorter and a little bit fat and his beautiful teeth were stumpy gums. I told him he looked different as he pointed at his teeth and said "stumps". Pretty good for a guy who speaks almost no English. It was a little bit funny. So he made us some chicken dumplings. As we were walking away, all of the sudden I was with my friend Jessica. She stepped into a rickety elevator made of PVC pipes that took her up to the top floor of the building and started doing a coreographed dance/cheer. Everyone watching joined in and started doing it too. I decided to head back to the hotel with talia but we couldn't find a cab. then a cab came by that was being pulled by a giant rooster and we had to jump on as it was running past. the roosters tail feathers were slapping us in the face the whole way home. Bizzare dream.

April 22, 2010
I drove down a country road in a truck with my family. We ran into Sunny's uncle, who happened to be black, cooking fish on the hood of his green camero, He was using the heat of the engine to cook the fish. It tasted like pickles.

July 4, 2010
I had several dreams last night. One was with me and Talia and someone else. We were on a tiny boat paddling through a channel in the middle of a huge ice sheet. There were tons of orcas underneath the ice. they came up and bumped our boat and talia fell off the boat. An orca grabbed her foot and tried to drag her down but we went and got her. We finally got back and returned the boat to Best Buy.

(this dream contains explicit content)
Aug 5, 2010
I can't remember most of my dream but I do remember one part in particular. I was in China with the girls I went to CHina with last time. We were all hanging out and I noticed that Ryleigh had a bag of milk hanging off her hip so I said, "what is that?" She proceeded to unbutton her shirt and show me a tiny breast pump stuck to her boob with a little tube going down to the bag. She told me it was goats milk for a service project in Thailand....

June 12, 2009
I dreamed I was hikinh with my family on some treacherous terrain. There were wild hedgehogs that kept trying to bite us. They scratched and bit quincy a lot. Then I was in an elevator at the hotel I was staying at. There were two toilets in that elevator. So i sat down on one of those toilets and went to the bathroom in front of everyone.

and finally...

June 8, 2009
I dreamed I was trying to kill this dragon monster that was also a boy. The last thing I remember was trying to shove a huge cheese burger in his mouth.

Monday, February 21, 2011

this is the first day of my life.

For some reason today the song 'first day of my life' by bright eyes keeps cropping up in my mind. I think it's a sign. Something about the lyrics rings so true to me. I would go so far as to say it is a masterpiece. I feel a little envy underlying my awe only because I wish I could put my feelings in poetic verses like these. I love the sensation of finding a song that says everything you wanted to say but in better words. I pretend I invented these.   It's like a theme song playing in my mind. These days I feel like a lot of days are the first day of my life.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I used to think I spoke Chinese....

Ugh! I just wanted to learn all of the Chinese language by now! Shouldn't 23,000 characters sink in after a year of studying? You would think so.... I like to claim to speak Chinese but the only person I can really keep a conversation going with is Sunny's 3 year old niece, Mi Mi. She likes to figure which Chinese words I know and then use those words to create repetitive questions that I will definitely know the answers to. The girl is a saint. Although we're saying simple things like 你喜欢糖果吗?(do you like candy?), she makes me feel like I'm in the loop. On the other hand, I listen to Sunny talk on the phone to his parents for ten minutes and maybe pick up 5 words. 

Sunny dropped a bomb on me the other day by letting me know that Chou ba ba, Sunny's dad, would like me to give a little speech at our wedding party in Taiwan for around 5 minutes. Great. I can't even give a speech in English for 5 minutes. But I will persist. My speech may sound something like, 'Are you a teacher? I would like two bottles of cola' but I will execute those sentences perfectly. Who knows, I might even get a little crazy and throw in a 'nice to meet you'. I'm sure I'll win over my new family with that one. 

However slow the progression, I refuse to give up. Dear Chinese language, bring it on!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

i'm sorry journal. i think maybe you got replaced for a second...

type. delete. type. delete. the upside of keeping a journal is that i write in pen so once something is down on paper, it's there to stay. no re-writes for a more pleasing presentation. my first post on my new blog has already been written and deleted more than i care to mention. not because i need to have my thoughts organized just so, but more because i started writing about something and then lost my train of thought. it is 12:43 am for crying out loud. but somehow, my drooping eyelids can't curb my enthusiasm for this wonderful creation of the electronic blogging world. just the thought of recording life as it is happening and being able to share it with others, or just me, makes me smile. 

the purpose of this blog, or maybe it's mission statement, is to be an outlet for all the things that clutter my mind. maybe it's wedding plans or ideas, perhaps it's the perils of the academic world, or it could be my concerns about politics or human rights or ice cream flavors. whatever the thoughts may be, putting them down helps me to calm the tumultuousness inside of my head.  thank goodness for this or else i might never sleep. which i intend to do right

therefore, this blog is open for business!