These statistics should break our heart, and they should compel us to act.This quote is from President Obama, speaking about the crisis facing young, black American men today, but also how I feel about a few other particularly tragic statistics. It’s overwhelming when widespread injustices are highlighted by statistics, because then what do you do? What can anyone do in the face of such staggering tragedy?
When I have days like today, where I feel overwhelmed and like nothing I can do will ever make a difference, I have to remember to think small. You do what you can, where you are. One good deed, help one person at a time, that’s what I can do for now. Maybe studying policy or grander solutions will come later on, but for now, this is what I can do. And something is always better than nothing.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season for us Catholics. If you’ve seen random people walking around the grocery store with dirt smudges on their foreheads, this is why.
For those of you who might not know, Lent is sort of a swift kick in the butt to get your life together and re-focus on things that actually matter. (Worth a note here: I’m not a theology scholar by any stretch of the imagination, so I’m sure there are much more eloquent explanations out there. This is just my simple way of looking at it!)
As part of the season, many Catholics choose to give something up for the forty days of Lent. Whether this means abstaining from Facebook, chocolate or watching television, the idea is to temporarily give up something you enjoy in the pursuit of the larger long-term goal of becoming a better person and growing closer to God.
Blah blah blah. You get the point. The reason I’m telling you this is because I decided to do something a little different this year, something that I anticipate being way more challenging for me than any other Lenten sacrifice I’ve made. And I’ve given up sweets before, so this is truly saying something.
For the next 40 days, I’m giving up frivolous spending. This means I won’t spend go shopping for new clothes, buying a weird amount of stuff at Target, splurging on fancy makeup at Sephora or going out for lunch every single work day.
I heard about this lady’s contentment challenge a while ago and loved the idea of it. I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about how I want to be more conscious of my spending. Just because I now have an adult income doesn’t mean that I want to be someone who spends their money carelessly; I want my spending to truly reflect what I value in life, if that makes sense.
In addition to not shopping, I’m also working on getting rid of stuff. Especially clothes. I have WAY more clothes than one person needs, and I don’t even like the majority of them anymore. This surplus of stuff makes it difficult to keep my little Chicago apartment tidy, and I’m sick of it. My goal is to use this time of no shopping to donate all those things that don’t fit my life anymore and only keep the things that I actually like and can use.
So. That’s what I’m working on these days. Just thought I’d share.
I eavesdrop all the time. You could say it’s my hobby, though I don’t seek out opportunities. These slices of language come at me through the air, begging to be heard, like small, precious gifts I cannot refuse, mini vacations into other lives.Margaret Hawkins, in “Confessions of a Lifelong Eavesdropper" for The New York Times.
Full bellies, happy hearts. This brunch feast was exactly what my jet-lagged self needed yesterday morning, and we all left the meal feeling blissfully content.
Can we redo the weekend please? I’m not ready for another work week.
Parisian Advertisements Replaced with Classical Works of Art
As part of a series called “OMG, Who Stole My Ads”, French artist Etienne Lavie replaced billboards with reproductions of iconic works of art throughout Paris. Such a cool idea, right? See a few more photos of the series here.
I’m back in America! Well, to be fair, my plane landed late on Sunday night, but jet lag has seriously kicked my butt. It’s been challenging to survive the past two workdays without falling asleep in meetings, so I’m just now mustering the energy to type a few words for you all.
Isn’t it funny how even the smallest task can seem insurmountable when you’re exhausted? After successfully dressing myself this morning, I felt a level of accomplishment that I think is usually reserved for people completing marathons. I’ve never had jet lag this bad before, so now I finally understand why people complain about it so much. Anyone have tips for overcoming jet lag? I don’t think I can keep functioning in this zombie state for much longer.
But I had an amazing trip, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain about being tired.
My week away felt like it flew by in an instant. I loved being back in Beijing. That gritty but fascinating city will always hold an oddly special place in my heart.
I haven’t lived there for two years, but the crowded streets and chaotic markets still felt like home. I thought I wouldn’t remember any of the language, but I was surprised by the bits and pieces that came flooding back. A lot can change in two years, but some things stayed the same.
Most importantly in my book, our favorite Uighur restaurant was still open for business. It’s a tiny place sandwiched between a fruit stand and a bao zi shop that serves up steaming plates of yu xiang qie zi (a delicious spicy eggplant dish) for 11 kuai (less than two US dollars) a plate. It’s heaven on earth in the form of a hole in the wall restaurant, and I’m relieved it’s surviving in the brutal, perpetually evolving Beijing restaurant marketplace.
And oh yeah, being reunited with Zac? It was even better than I imagined. I could gush endless amounts about how nice it was to see him, but I’ll save the girly mush for another time. For now, I’ll simply say…I’m so happy it’s silly.
I like when he surprises me with flowers, but spontaneously booking plane tickets? A whole new level of awesome. China, here I come!
I can’t believe it’s already Thursday. Where has this week gone?
Here are a few things that are currently making my life happy:
- 5 of my best girlfriends all meeting in one place tonight for drinks and dessert. I know it’s incredibly rare to stay close with the people you met your first week of college, so I feel extra blessed to still have these ladies in my life.
- A job that keeps me challenged. We’ve been exceptionally busy this week, but I’m loving all the new responsibilities I’m being trusted with.
- Fun new professional clothes. So superficial, but I swear long work days and big meetings are less stressful when I’m confident in my appearance. Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just a me thing?
- A boy that finds a way to call me from rural China just to say good morning. Sorry for gushing, I just kind of like him.
- The fact that my flight to China leaves in less than 48 hours! I can’t wait to be back in Beijing, eating my favorite foods, bargaining in Mandarin and exploring with that boy.
I’m in love with people that are in love with the world.Bill Mackin
Thanks to my brown hair and your stellar lipstick advice, I’m a recent convert to the power of a red lip. It’s glamorous, fun and just the right amount of sassy.
P.S. If you ever need lipstick advice, ask whitegirlblog. She’s a makeup pro and also just generally awesome.
My life has been chaotic this week. Have you ever tried to get a last minute visa to enter China while the embassy is closed for Chinese New Year? Not fun. I don’t recommend trying it. This was made even more stressful by the fact that I’m juggling 3,000 work projects this week, so I don’t currently have enough time or patience to mess with dumb paperwork and bureaucracy.
Anyway, I’m don’t actually want to complain about that because I will be in China in 9 DAYS so obviously these tiny hassles will be totally worth it. But this is your warning that my brain will be in a perpetually frazzled state for the next week or so.
What I originally started this post to say, what I’ve been meaning to say for a while, is THANK YOU. You all are so sweet and supportive! With your lipstick advice, sweet comments about my writing, and excitement for my upcoming trip to China, you’ve made me sincerely appreciate this little community. Thanks for being awesome.
And new followers, I’m not sure where you all came from… but I sure am happy you’re here!
That’s all for now, more soon. Xo.
I’m not usually a selfie person, but this seemed like the appropriate way to announce that I’ve (temporarily) joined the world of brunettes.
Crazy, right? So let me give you some background.
He is spending this year abroad doing research (he spent the fall in Rome and is currently in Beijing… the exact same program I did two years ago) so we decided to end things, mainly because of the distance, when he left for Rome this fall. Things ended pretty amicably between us, but for whatever reason, we hadn’t really talked at all until a few weeks ago when he called me while boarding his flight to China.
Because obviously, it’s a good idea to call someone you haven’t spoken to in months while flight attendants are yelling at you to turn off all electronic devices, right? Boys, I’m telling you, sometimes they don’t use their brains.
Anyway, we started e-mailing back and forth after that, and then we started talking on the phone, and so on and so forth. The next thing I knew, he was telling me how much he missed me and that he was still in love with me and all other kinds of sweet stuff that he had planned to wait to tell me in person but just spilled out then instead.
I was shocked but relieved, overwhelmed but absolutely giddy. I’d recently started going on actual dates with other boys… and I hated it. Even with the attention of these smart, sweet, handsome men who currently lived in the same city as me, all I could think about on those dates was how much I missed him. Despite how stubbornly I tried to get over him, I realized, around the same time as him, that I am very much still in love with him as well.
After a few days of talking as much as humanly possible, I thought he was joking when he offered to buy me a plane ticket to Beijing. I studied there two years ago, and he knows that I miss it desperately.
So this long, rambling post? It’s my round about way of telling you that a boy just bought me a plane ticket to China. Excited doesn’t begin to cover how I feel right now.
I leave for Beijing in less than two weeks. This is all crazy, flat out insane, and I know that. But I’m insanely happy, grinning like an idiot, and for whatever reason, I just feel sure this is the right thing to do.
*Side note: When I asked my boss if I could take time off for this last minute vacation, she laughed and said “Hey, when a boy you love buys you a plane ticket, you don’t ask questions… You just go.” My boss is the coolest. Life lessons at the office, for the win.
Our job is to love people. When it hurts. When it’s awkward. When it’s uncool and embarrassing. Our job is to stand together, to carry the burdens of one another and to meet each other in our questions.Jamie Tworkowksi. One of my all-time favorites.
It may look sunny outside, but don’t let that fool you. The polar vortex is back in Chicago, and it’s here with a vengeance.
It was so cold that my office got to work from home again today. This was nice, but I’m starting to feel a little cooped up in my apartment. Winter, can you please calm down a bit so that we can all resume normal life around here? I’m officially ready for spring, and we’re not even out of January yet. Oyyy.