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Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Thanks, Mr. Wilde for that reminder. We all try to adhere to societal norms and put our different masks on whether its through out the day and our moods or with other people. The most important thing to remember is that you’re the only you in the world. I’ve realized I like being me. I hate the constant reminder of what society thinks I should be- “You must lose weight to wear these clothes.” “You must look a certain way to be beautiful.” “You must work 60 hours per week to still be in debt and to work paycheck to paycheck.” I prefer to be who I am than who The Man tells me to be. I prefer to travel when I want; to work whenever I want; to look the way I feel about myself; to look at myself in the mirror and pretend for more than a minute that I am who I should be. I prefer to be the ambitious, aspiring travel writer, Harry Potter super nerd, thick-thighed and thick everywhere else, depressed/anxious, likes beer and carbs-type woman because I’m all of those things and more. Of course I have my moments of doubt and envy for things I wish I had or wish I would do in order to have “that body.” Of course, I say things like, “I’ll be happy when I’m 30 lbs lighter with a handsome boyfriend” but what kind of life is that? I’m alive now! I’m happy who I am now. I see quotes and videos on Facebook about finding your happiness now with what you have right now. Those are the types of things we should be saying to our present- selves not to our future-selves.

I have a goal in mind for this blog which includes travel and the “to do is to dare” attitude. I’m going to write about what challenges my body, mind and soul. Join me on my journey. Audere est Facere.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Spring Break 2020

Welcome to 2020, your spring break has been extended indefinitely! Please stay calm and wash your hands while the coronavirus continues to close down all the places you go to on a daily basis. *Slow clap while the whole world is in chaos*

This was bound to happen eventually. No matter what the Chinese did or didn’t do, a pandemic or an epidemic was expected to happen whether it was 2 years from now or in 10. The world is over-populated, there’s a food shortage, global warming is getting worse, and animals/ocean-life are going extinct. Basically, humans are a poison and we are destroying our home. Not only that but we needed a wake up call on well, everything. Basic hygiene is one of those things! Can you believe it? Uh, yeah, sadly.

What have we noticed while the world has has been told to stay home and slow down? People are finally enjoying the little things and getting out in the sunshine more. I know I am! Dolphins are coming in closer to Italy and animals are coming back to the previously human-infested land. China’s air pollution has dropped rapidly since the virus outbreak. Parents are understanding what it’s like to teach their children and e-learning has become a challenge for most. Introverts have finally found solace not being pressured to go out and enjoying time reading or watching movies. Hey, that’s me! We are relearning how to wash our hands with step-by-step instructions via social media. People are panic -stocking their homes buying more than enough toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Friends and family members are connecting with those long-lost loved one’s to check if they’re safe and healthy. Have you done that lately?

I’m looking forward to seeing what the world learns and sees after this virus has died down: If we are more kind to each other; if we’re more conscientious of our environment and what we’re allowing in/on it; if we’re more humbled and if we learn integrity; if we learn more about ourselves and each other; if we become more emotionally intelligent or intelligent because we’ve been reading more! (Hopefully.) I hope we get more out of this than not. I guess that’s all we can do now, hope.

Metamorphosis

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fears; knowing what must be done does away with fear.

Rosa Parks

The blur of changes that have made up these past couple of months, although tough at times, has made it an overall wonderful time here. I’m so lucky to have family that have taken me in and have been adjusting to my changes along with me. These changes are not only the observable but the emotional and mental ones too. I’m definitely not the person I was when I left Batavia 6 years ago but I’m happy about the experiences that Reno gave me and shaped me into the woman I am now and the years to come will help me become more of the woman I want to be. There are many things happening in my head so I’ll do my best to describe it.

To begin, moving back to my childhood home in Batavia, Illinois from Reno, Nevada is a minor culture shock. My parents are here with me but we also have Airbnb guests who make it an entirely different world. Batavia is pretty different from Reno too. Reno’s slogan is the “Biggest Little City in the World” and let me tell you- IT REALLY IS and you can’t get away from it. You would work with one person who went to school with your friend’s mom who dated that person’s cousin who was in college with a person with whom you were doing community service. Yeah. And oh man, the list can go on. It got a smidge harder when you wanted to date someone. The community I found was so supportive, big and joyful and they are continuing to be so 1800 miles away. Here in Batavia, I have my family and just a couple of close friends so I’ve been trying new things to meet new people.

The thing that urged me to make my decision to move back to Illinois were the parts of hardship-emotionally and physically draining stressors that of course, humbled me, but continue to ail my existence. I thought about my move for a couple of years and it was a difficult decision. I had cried and cried about leaving my friends and the life I had made out in Nevada but realized it wasn’t helping me grow anymore. My lease was up and this guy was continuing to break my heart. Now, I know you’ll tell me, “Nancy, don’t cry over a guy” or “if he was worth it, he would’ve shown you” or even, “Why did you let that decision drive you to move back?” This was troubling and it took me a long time to acknowledge and accept it. I’ve also realized that changing environments has also helped heal my heart and my mind. I noticed it instantly. It does creep up and take me from behind sometimes then I remind myself what happened and focus my drive on my goals. Anyway this transition was much needed.

On the way here, I drove with my good friend and my cat, Oscar. Driving with Oscar wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be but I don’t think I could’ve done the drive without my friend. I was incredibly nervous in the weeks prior because I had no clue what I had gotten myself into, I mean, the short ride from my old apartment to the vet wasn’t always fun but to my friend’s house was not a great start. It sounded like Oscar was going to attack me from the inside of his carrier. We ended up having Oscar roam in the car (there were only a few places for him to go because my little car was filled to the ceiling) and we had the litter box out for him behind me. I cleaned it out every time we stopped. My friend gave me CBD drops for him and I think they helped him calm down but really, the only times he seemed to be freaking out, was when he was out of the car. The first day was the hardest and the longest due to hitting a snow storm in Wyoming and because I wanted so badly to get to Denver. We had seen so many cars and semi-trucks in the ditch from the storm that after we had almost hit an antelope, we were done. “We. Are. Done!” we both said. My friend looked up pet-friendly hotels and we got to Laramie, WY just as our adrenaline was starting to go down. We decided to stop after 12 hours the next day in Des Moines, IA because why go through another snow storm? We drove the last 5 hours the third day and we were so excited to have no storms on the radar. Oscar wasn’t happy to get back in the car but he made it! He definitely is enjoying the big house and all of it’s hiding places. He’s also loving the attention from all the guests.

The Airbnb has changed the atmosphere as well. It keeps us on our toes and seems to be enriching for my parents who are both retired. It helps with their income and they thrive with people coming into their home. We used to have exchange students when I was growing up. They came with Rotary International and we loved each one but with AirBnB, they have an income. They’re also empty nesters…erm, mostly empty nesters, so they have the rooms available and they love the company. Being so close to Fermilab and Chicago, we have a wide range of people from all over the world come stay with us. A lot of them keep to themselves and others keep our company. We have several come back as eventually, they feel like family. It’s cool but I look forward to the quiet times, having our space back and more time in the bathroom!

I will end with this thought: I thought about who I was before I left for Reno and I considered how coming back to my childhood home would bring back the mentality of that person. That thought really terrified me. Of course, that’s not really how it actually is because even though I constantly second guess myself, I have been trying to find my peace with doing things that make me happy and calm but also stubbornly being the independent and strong person that I am.

Enjoy the Little Things

Every once in a while, probably every month to two months, I like to rewatch Harry Potter. I keep meaning to reread it as well but I’ve been trying to read other stories. “Trying” being the prime word. Anyway, rewatching Harry Potter, and I mean all eight movies, has a calming and cozy-ing effect over me. As I’m rewatching them now, I can honestly say it’s a fantastic feeling of knowing I can be in the worst mood and HP will make it better. I can be in the happiest mood and HP will continue that happiness. I can be depressed and it will make me feel whole again. I’ve met a few several people who say that they haven’t gotten into it and they don’t understand why myself or other people are into it, well, here’s why:

  1. Family/Love: Harry is sent to live with his aunt and uncle but they’re, as Professor McGonagall would say, “the worst sort of muggles.” If you haven’t read (or watched) HP, “muggles” are non-magic folk. He grows up being bullied by his cousin, Dudley, and his uncle Vernon and aunt Petunia are both horrible to him but he finds family and the love that he deserves among his friends at Hogwarts and the Weasleys. The love that he’s shown reminds me of my own family: the acceptance, the protective nature between all of them and the unconditional love.
  2. Harry’s perseverance to do the right thing: If there’s any role model that has these specific characteristics in your life, keep them. I feel like Harry and his friends are the most determined in every way to continue to do what is necessary for the greater good. No matter the cost. They broke several school rules and then later, several laws (probably) for the protection of the magical community. Of course, that doesn’t make it okay to break rules. Duh. Although his thick-headedness can get in the way of thoroughly thinking things through, he continues to take risks to eradicate the fear from his friend’s world.
  3. Friendship: The friendships and relationships are strong and keep getting stronger as the story progresses, especially amongst the trio and the marauders. They don’t give up on each other no matter how difficult or how angry they are at each other. Relationships are hard sometimes but true friendship is getting through the messy stuff together and coming back from it. And they continue to do that very thing. International friendship whilst the Triwizard Tournament- Dumbledore said, “Even though we come from different places and speak different tongues, our hearts beat as one.” This quote should mean something more now in the real world. We have growing tension as the United States, especially the president, continues to do whatever suits him and the only way to make peace again, is to understand that we have to come to the realization that we all want the same thing: to live in a world with love and peace and to raise our children in a safe environment. We’re all humans made of flesh and bone and we all have similar hardships, don’t you think we should respect each other as such?
  4. Strong female characters: These women have continued the rebellion in the last book/movie beside the men. Hermione Granger, played by Emma Watson, was right at the beginning the “brightest witch of her age.” She was at the center of the battle and finding all the horcruxes to defeat Voldemort. What impressed me the most and also broke my heart, was when Hermione had to erase her parents’ memories of her so they wouldn’t be in danger. Emma Watson is a complete badass outside of the wizarding world too. She’s fighting for gender equality with her HeforShe movement and making influential steps to making the fashion world safer for the environment. Ginny Weasley and Mrs. Weasley are mother and daughter. They have the fierceness, veracity, and cleverness that helped the defeat of the rebellion. Luna Lovegood is never afraid to be herself and that is quite the feat in itself. Rowling calls her the anti-Hermione because, well, she’s strange and sees the abstract instead of logic. But I think she brings quirkiness, wit, and wisdom to the darkness of Harry’s world. Bonnie Wright, who plays Ginny, and Evanna Lynch, who plays Luna Lovegood, are ambassadors for Lumos as well as environmentalists. Professor McGonagall, for being at Hogwarts as the head teacher, she is a talented, powerful witch that looked out for the trio and protected all of the students at the school. These women fought for the rights for half-bloods and muggle-borns to be part of the magical community. They all share the same commendable strength to stand up for themselves and what’s right.
  5. The storyline and the depth of the story: With every book in the series, J.K. Rowling pays attention to every small detail in each character and part of the story. She is one of the best storytellers because of this alone. She goes in deeper and deeper in each book about the characters’ back stories, the development and the main plot between Voldemort and Harry Potter, Severus Snape and Lily Potter, the Marauders. Not only does she bring depth to the story but her wisdom and teaches life lessons such as being yourself and doing the right thing. One of my favorite quotes of hers is “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” spoken by Albus Dumbledore. I always say that to myself when I feel like I’m losing my mind. I also love this quote spoken by Sirius Black, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
  6. Magic: I keep hearing, “Nancy, why don’t you read some non-fiction?” “Why do you always read fantasy?” “Don’t you want to read something that actually happened?” Well, I do, I read a lot of articles from the news and some from medical journals but why should I read something I know will give me heartache when I can read something that inspires my own writing. Nowadays, the news is depressing so yeah, I totally will read books that will get me out of reality with dragons and magical creatures. I do believe in magic but I also think the meaning of the word changes with how you use it. In Harry Potter, it’s the pure turn-a-petal-into-a-fish kind of magic but I also believe love is magic. Energy, or what you put out into the universe, is magic. That’s my own personal thoughts on the subject.
  7. Enjoy the little things: Harry and his friends do this very thing. Harry and his friends had a wedding during the darkest of times. They had Christmas dinner and loved being with each other. They noticed how beautiful it was to be at a place like Hogwarts, which was filmed in Scotland. In a world with so much hatred and chaos that was the wizarding world, they found time to see that life isn’t worth living unless they enjoyed the little things and had a sense of humor.

I could be here all day justifying Rowling and this story but only you can decide to read it. If you do intend to read the books, and I truly recommend that you do, you will understand a lot more because the book is always better than the movie. Always.

Audere est facere.

The Fox and The Moon

There once was a fox who loved the moon.

She waited and waited for it to loom.

When all of a sudden, there came a boom

Her moon disappeared in the gloom.

The wood around her came down in a crash

When humans came out unabashed.

She ran and ran until she was free

And the moon watched her as she fleed.

The man in the moon showed her the path

Until she was out of the firestorm’s wrath.

written September 2018

Autumn

The change of season has graced us with the lovely colors of autumn in Reno. Fall seems to be a shorter season here in the high desert. The barrenness of Nevada has a few places in which there are trees where you can witness the beauty of autumn: Idlewild Park is one of those places. It is a forty-nine acre park near Reno’s downtown and on the Truckee river but not only does this place have children’s areas, ponds, and a rose garden but it also has giant cottonwood trees, which happen to be my favorite part. The park during the fall is a sight to behold. The light coming through the trees show off the reds, burgundies, oranges, yellows and browns as they go dormant. We notice the roses already in their dormant state walking through the rose garden but there are few buds and blooms that have drooped from the first frost of the season. This garden now growing two-hundred kinds of roses used to be a petting zoo and before that, in the 1920’s, was a municipal zoo to house antelope, bears, pheasants, monkeys, and bison. Those weren’t the only changes! Wa-Pai-Shone or The Whispering Giant by Peter Wolf Toth is a carved statue, and was dedicated in 1986 to the three main tribes here in the area: Washoe, Paiute, and Shashone. It is carved from Douglas Fir and is seventeen feet high. There also is a Sensory Garden with five sections focused on each of the senses created by Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) and the Idlewild Train that runs four days a week. Idlewild has an interesting history and you can find more at the link here.

There were people standing in small groups all over the park and at first, I thought there might be a festival going on but my roommate says, “No, it’s probably Pokemon Go.” She was totally right, my roommate and I got to Idlewild when there was a Community day for Pokémon Go, a game where you can “Catch’em all.” While the others were playing, I made a new dog friend, naturally. Her owner was a nice lady who engaged in small talk (the weather, what her dog’s name is, what’s happening here, etc.) while she played. The sweet old dog’s name was Tarryn who also happened to be a three-legged dog. She loved the attention that we gave her. We kept strolling down the path while seeing more dogs and their owner’s with their heads in their phones. I breathed in the sweet chilly air that smelled of drying leaves and the fishiness of the river but enjoyed the walk, nonetheless. We saw the old man and his guitar playing through his songs as we kept walking along the path. He still sits next to the path with his story written on cardboard which we read through. He doesn’t look up from his music. We make a stop at The Hub to talk through our hopes and dreams as we sip our coffee and tea.

She and I make our way back to my car taking in the fresh air. We take a longer route around the children’s area where mothers and fathers are laughing with their kids.

Time Warp

The excitement of the next destination, the timeless universe, or the multi-cultural slash lingual environment fascinates me in many ways about airports around the world. Passengers seem to be in a standstill in the time gap which freezes life only to begin again at full speed once boarding occurs. However, it seems to continue for the regular business person or the airport employees or the one’s with children. For a single woman who has only the priority of getting to her destination in one piece, time is nil. It’s completely fine if you get a beer at five o’clock in the morning because you’re on the outskirts of reality. It’s okay if you go to sleep on the floor or those connected chairs because there, in the multiverse melting pot, general sleeping habits have disappeared. I tend to bring a few things to do (laptop, journal, book, etc) but I always tend to people watch, listen to music, get a snack and find a nice big window to watch the planes come in and out.

Also, finding out that I have a longer layover is like Christmas because I enjoy meandering towards my gate and seeing what the airport has to offer. I was recently at Portland International Airport and on my way to my gate, I came across a coffee stand called Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Naturally being in Portland, I had to try it and I had also been up since three o’clock in the morning Chicago time. Do I have to justify getting a cup of joe? I had the Woodblock Mocha made with Woodblock chocolate and locally roasted coffee beans from Stumptown and I also purchased a chocolate croissant. Needless to say, it was delicious and if I ever get the chance to go back, I’ll go. Give me all the choco-latte!

Maybe it was growing up around strangers from around the world or getting my degree in Linguistics or going to a new destination that intrigues me about airports and the multicultural time warp that they are, but no matter what it is, I feel comfortable there. I feel extremely lucky growing up with exchange students and being an exchange student because as an adult, I’m more appreciative and more curious of cultures and languages. I hope that more people from this side of the world will travel and experience these incredible cultures. Get out there!

Audere est Facere.

The Man and the Guitar

As I sit across from my roommate, I eat a muffin and and drink a Chai tea latte. The ramblings of passersby come and go. Billy Cassidy’s Bye Bye Miss American Pie goes in and out of ear range with closer noises drowning it out. I’m across the street from the river at one of the best local coffee houses in Reno. An older gentleman plays his guitar for strangers as they stroll down the path. He wears a knitted beanie and a cargo jacket and has white long hair and scraggly beard. A little dog goes up to him with his owner to listen while his owner speaks to the man with the guitar. At the Hub Coffee Roasters, you have the eclectic- coffee person experience with the outdoorsy side of Reno.

Deoh comes up on the playlist going in and out as traffic comes and goes. The man and his guitar slowly progress through a song with a metronome. Birds start chirping in an unknown location amongst the color-changing trees. Deep breaths in an ever growing hot sun, I begin to relax. A man with a stereo over his shoulder skates by every so often along Riverside Drive. His music blasts in the atmosphere making people look up from their devices or conversations. I look at my roommate smiling and we chuckle, rolling our eyes, and we go back to reading and writing. Every once in a while, the smell of the river comes to my nose but goes away with the smell of roasted coffee beans.

Elton John’s Tiny Dancer plays with gusto and a soft wind goes through the trees. Cars drive by trying to go the speed limit as the driver glances out to the outdoor patio to see if they know anyone. New people roll up on their bikes to get a treat.

The man and his guitar starts to play American theme songs such as America, the Beautiful and The Star Spangled Banner. He flows into each one seamlessly. Journey comes on at the Hub mixing with the laughter and chatter of the tables around us. A couple with a baby and a dog speak with a realtor next to us. Smells of people’s cologne and perfume waft near my nose with every rush of breeze.

As you walk into the Hub, you see a small counter with an espresso machine, the register, and a clear display case for baked goods. The three baristas dance around each other to complete customer’s orders. The shorter menu also makes for a great experience so you don’t get the overwhelming sensation you get at Starbucks.

Looking up from my writing, I notice new people and their dogs walk by, a familiar female runner running back to where she came. The sun going behind the building which makes it chilly. It doesn’t make a difference in the atmosphere around me. The man and his guitar keeps playing, runners keep running, and the Hub keeps roasting coffee beans.