joylani-thumbnail.JPGI enjoy planning events. Events depend on details. A good plan is built upon the anticipation of various outcomes and reactions, and what could go wrong, as well as the insight to know what is necessary, what will be memorable, and what people could care less about. This trip is just an event, a really long one. I’ve spent more time planning for this trip than any other thing in my life. With that in mind, it would make sense that Matt and I are basically done with all the important things, and maybe just have a few things left to do. Ha!
The last few days Matt and I have been working towards crossing off all the little random things on our to-do lists that we saved, or, rather, procrastinated on, until now. It’s tiring and tedious; I am easily bored and distracted. But I know it needs to be done so I keep pushing myself to not stop. Paperwork for power of attorney, making sure everything fits in our packs, finally getting the wedding dress cleaned…the deadline for completion is no longer indefinite or even weeks away. Four full days are left before our departure, and even those days I don’t want to be doing prep stuff. Hopefully I will be able to complete all the important items on The List and will be able to relax enough to not worry about looking for the perfect travel toothbrush holder. Some things actually matter, and a lot of things are just fluff. But in the end the event will happen, and as long as we get the big stuff done and follow-up on most of the details, and I think things will turn out OK.

1 Week!!!

“The child says, “When I am a big boy.” But what is that? The big boy says, “When I grow up.” And then, grown up, he says, “When I get married.” But to be married, what is that after all? The thought changes to “When I’m able to retire.” And when retirement comes, he looks back over the landscape traversed; a cold wind seems to sweep over it; somehow he has missed it all, and it is gone. Life, we learn when it is much too late, is living and enjoying every moment of every day, whether we are ten or eighty.”
-Stephen Leacock


164_6445-4.JPGJust three of the many things that made me realize how much I’m gonna miss baseball:

  • I received my All-Star Game tickets today, which I must sell because we’ll be in Europe on July 10th.
  • I played my last softball game tonight.
  • I also went to the Giant’s-Yankees game on Friday night and saw Bond’s 749th homerun. It was probably the last homerun I’ll ever see Bonds hit, in person. I won’t be at ATT Park for #756.

It’s going to be painful without baseball…

“The other sports are just sports. Baseball is a love.”
-Bryant Gumbel, 1981

Last Day of Work!

164_6445-4.JPGIts funny how events that we anticipate so much can turn out so unexpectedly. Pretty much since I’ve started working, I’ve been looking forward to the day that I’d have the means to quit working and travel. For two years, I’ve been envisioning my last day of work, anticipating the excitement that accompanies the realization of freedom. I had it all figured out in my head, it fit right into our story: our trip was sticking it to “the man,” escaping cubicle life for the refuge of the road, my last day of work was to be my emancipation from corporate slavery. I guess my expectations were a bit too dramatic, idealistic, yet also cynical.

My last days of work were actually pretty fun. They reminded me of all things I would actually miss. I didn’t want to stick anything to the man. The man actually gave me an opportunity, which helped me learn and grow. And my cubicle wasn’t so bad. In fact I liked it. Talking and joking all day with my work buddies. Throwing promotional foam balls at each other all day. And work wasn’t even close to slavery. Some, locked in contracts, would say indentured servitude, but I enjoyed my job. King Solomon of ancient Israel once wrote, “there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work.” (Ecclesiastes 3:22)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to be done working. But the end of work was more like the end of college. Of course, nobody misses the lectures, papers, labs, deadlines, and so on. But its tough to say goodbye to the lifestyle, the parties, and the friends. Likewise, I’m going to miss the perks, the parties, and my friends. As far as my last week itself, the guys threw me a great party. I came into the office this morning to many kind cards, emails, and words. And like all Friday afternoons, I went out for lunch, in what’s become known as Pitcher Fridays. It was a great finale. It was perfect- just me and my four best work buds. There’s nothing else I’d rather do on Friday afternoons and no better way I could have concluded my time.

An interesting week

Yesterday, we came home from San Diego to my parents’ house, where we’ll be until we depart for Europe in two and a half weeks. This morning, I dropped Joylani at the airport as she’ll be in Hawai’i for the next week visiting family. And after dropping her off, I drove to work to begin my final week of work. Those three changes should make for an interesting week, to say the least…


164_6445-4.JPGI played cricket for the first time today. After arriving home from San Diego, my brother Alex got a call from a friend to see if he wanted to play cricket. Having only watched, I decided it’d be fun to play. So we drove over to a nearby park, where there’s an astroturf cricket strip set in the middle of a grass field. We joined the dozen or so Indian college-students already playing. I pretty much just did what I was instructed to do and learned some of the details of the sport that I never picked up from just watching on TV. Like any time I’m playing sports, it was a great time. There’s few things I’d rather do than be outside playing sports. Whether its a morning football game with my friends or an afternoon of baseball, I’m happy. The smell of the grass, the freedom to run and dive, the competition- nothing can beat that.

I was thinking it was good that I played cricket now though, since I’ll be traveling around the Commonwealth over the next couple years. I think its good to know the sport, because I’ll be able to join a pickup game in India or Sri Lanka or somewhere. Otherwise, I don’t know what I’d do for exercise outside of walking/hiking; I suck at soccer and baseball’s not that big in Asia (except in Japan and Taiwan). Hopefully, I can learn about and play other sports while I’m abroad, to fill the void from a lack of baseball and football.


164_6445-4.JPGMy sister graduated from UCSD today. It was our third and final graduation to attend this week. Besides getting a little sunburnt, I reflected on the common themes of the ceremonies. They were all optimistic and idealistic. Students are full of so much confidence and optimism, yet its lost somewhere in the transition to the working world. Perhaps, its stripped away by the challenges and realities of the real world. There are very few people in the professional world that have the same degree of “I am capable of and can do anything” attitude as in school. This is natural and probably healthy, as much of the idealism that accompanies that optimism is balanced with pragmatism. But it might be good to keep some of that optimism and idealism, however naive it may be.

The only reason I bring all this up is because the idea for this adventure was borne during Joylani and I’s time at UCSB. As optimistic students, we promised ourselves that we’d see the world. We didn’t know when exactly; we simply committed to taking the time when we had a chance. Now that we’re working and caught up in cycle of rent, bills, and paychecks, I don’t think we’d go if he hadn’t made that committment several years ago. And while the planning, preparing, and saving was fully driven by practicality, the inspiration was borne from our idealism as students.

Out of the Zone

Monsoon Palace Portrait

joylani 130pxIn July my husband and I will be embarking on an around-the-world trip for the next couple of years. I was born and raised in a small, homogeneous town (particularly so when compared to the Bay Area), and never expected, or even desired, to go on a trip of this magnitude, or destination (Asia), until a few years ago. I credit this to a general lack of knowledge about countries in Asia as well as lack of contact with anyone who had traveled there, that is, until I went to college. It’s not that all people who live in small towns have limited perspectives, but for me, my knowledge and understanding of the world and cultural nuances definitely opened up when I moved away.

During my senior year of college, Matt, my boyfriend at the time (now husband), went to India for a 6-month study abroad program. Before he left, I had no desire to visit him there—why would I want to go to India? I thought of it as dirty, hot, and, honestly, nothing else. Besides the Taj Mahal, I didn’t really know what there was to see in India. However, once I started hearing his stories and reading his entries on his travel blog, the country and its history sounded so intriguing that I decided to visit him in India before school started in the Fall.

I quit my summer job early, bought a backpack, and flew halfway around the world to meet up with Matt and experience my first non-western country. I arrived in the early morning; it was still dark out. As our taxi navigated the quiet streets, I remember seeing a monkey sitting in a doorway along an empty sidewalk. Later I realized that monkeys in the city were pretty normal, especially after seeing packs of them swinging around the capital building. However, at the time the oddness of a medium-sized primate just hanging out on the street is why I remember my first monkey-sighting so vividly, while the other monkeys I saw have been blurred into passing memories. It’s the first time away from the familiar that is most notable.

India was thrilling on multiple levels: historic sites, culture, terrain, and non-stop sensory stimuli. Color, sounds, smells, and the HEAT came at me from all directions, and all were constantly changing. India was dirty and hot, but it was also wonderful. No matter where I looked, all was new to me. Completing simple tasks like finding ice or getting to the train station became unexpected adventures.

After a long day of being lost in the mountains on a motorbike, Matt and I decided to have dinner at a lakeside restaurant. It wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered a couple hundred red spots on my feet and ankle areas. Apparently there were many little bugs that had dinner the same time as I. To make matters worse, one of my ankles was already swollen from a motorbike mishap when our moving moped hit a parked one, jamming my foot in the middle. I had had it. My feet were swollen and itchy, and I just wanted to go home and have everything be better.

Matt and I went down to a local pharmacy (think snack shack at the little league field only stocked with medicine instead of red ropes and popcorn) to purchase some calamine lotion, which made the itching worse. We decided to look for ice instead. How hard could it be to find some ice? Ice was nowhere to be found.  I was uncomfortable, mad, and needless to say, very irritable. It was time to head to the train station for our trip back to Delhi, and I came to terms with abandoning the search for ice. We found an auto-rickshaw that was decked out in Lacoste stickers, and the driver quoted us a reasonable price to take us to the train station.

In a last ditch attempt to find some solace for my swollen feet, I asked the driver if he happened to know of a store where I could buy some ice. “I will take you to the ice shop!” he said. Great! One of those shave-ice drink stands or a place where I could buy a bag of ice cubes came to mind, but before I got deep into visions of a corner store like the ones at home, the auto-rickshaw turned into a back alley and pulled up to, literally, an ice store. Sitting before me were blocks of ice the size of the auto-rickshaw I was sitting in. “How much do you want?” he asked. Matt and I looked at each other as we held in our laughter; obviously we did not want a whole block of ice. I motioned for a piece about the size of brick, and the iceman sliced off a small hunk of ice with a chainsaw, wrapped it in a plastic bag, and handed it over.

Our enthusiastic driver quickly whisked us off to the train station. Occasionally Matt and I would talk to the drivers, but it was always just trivial inquiries: “How’s business?” “Are you from this town?” “Where is a good place to eat?” This guy needed no prompting from us, he couldn’t stop talking. The driver told us how he had a regular gig taking school kids to and from class each day, about his family, etc. He was a very personable driver, taking the time to look back at us while he was talking…and driving. The driver reminded me of a kid who happened to get the fast golf cart, driving more recklessly than the marshal would prefer. I had visions of flipping over as he hurriedly maneuvered through the crooked, narrow streets of Udaipur. My knuckles were turning white as I held tightly to the side of the vehicle, and I threw Matt a worried look as the vehicle grazed the side of a cow. Luckily we arrived at the train station unscathed and I in a better mood, less focused on the events from the day before as I marveled at the morning’s unplanned adventures.

our happy driver

Looking back on those days of discomfort, I notice two things: 1.) a bad situation (e.g. swollen feet) can lead to good experiences. Throughout the trip there were so many great things that I was able to experience, despite being uncomfortable, and sometimes because of my lack of comfort. Of course, most of the time these things don’t seem so “great” when they are happening, and only in hindsight do they glow in a more favorable light. 2.) I wonder what new things I failed to notice because I was so engrossed in my own wants and needs. What little details, like the monkey in the doorway, slipped by unnoticed? Luckily, India provided me with plenty of opportunities to experience new things, and looking back I realize that my physical discomfort was a notable aspect was of the trip. Forced outside of my comfort zone, I realized that out of the zone is not necessarily a bad place to be, whether at home or on the road.

As I prepare for my upcoming trip, I am not going into it with the expectation of being comfortable. I will miss my own bed and pillows, I won’t like having to bargain for goods and services, and doing laundry every other day in the sink will get old quick, probably after the first week. But this time, in addition to my backpack and Cipro, I am taking with me the hope that in times of discomfort I would not be so focused on thoughts of home that I miss the good things around me. It would be a shame to only experience the good parts of “bad” experiences in hindsight.