Heading on back to Beijing

It’s official! Well, it’s been rather official in my mind for a while, but putting a signature down at the bottom of a page makes things real. I am moving back to Beijing for the next six months and working as part of the expat team of HHS center. This trip already feels so different. Instead of blindly traipsing across half the globe to an unknown place, I’m going to a city that I feel I am starting to know, filled with people, places, and things at once foreign and familiar. My excitement just cannot be suppressed.

This guy knows what I’m talking about.

In other news, temperatures in Ellicott City have been above 50F/10C every day this week (I guess I don’t hate this place too much), and I’ve branched out a new food blog, dubbed Another Bite. I’ll be posting sloppy food photos, errant humor, reviews, slices of life, and other non-traveling/photography related news there. More to come soon, of course, you know, counting down those 7 days till my flight back to Beijing.

Location: Ellicott City, Maryland

Lights are silly

Habit is such a funny thing. Moments ago, I was sitting in bed reading, enjoying the end to a way too dramatic and short day. I have two bedside tables, each an arms-length away, decked out with matching lamps. Typically, I only ever turn on one of these lamps, the one at my righthand side (due to convenience, proximity to door, ease of location in the pitch dark, etc). Recently, however, the on/off switch had suffered a bit of a meltdown, working only every third flick or so, and I had switched my nighttime lighting to the left lamp. As I came to the end of a chapter in A Confederacy of Dunces, and stifled a yawn, I decided I was done for the night. I reached out to turn off the light.

Flick. Confusion ensued for the briefest moment as my light popped on instead of off. In my habitual state, I had reached towards the right lamp and flicked it on rather than turn the left one off; instead of basking in darkness, an unexpected multiplication of light flooded my room.

I’m not quite sure why this specific act fascinated me so, but it probably has something to do with the multitude of psychology lectures I’ve been listening to on OCW as of late, or the rather unintentional and silly slips I’ve been making all over the place: forgetting to buckle my seatbelt the instant I get in a moving vehicle, nearly signing a check without tipping, spending ten dollars as if it’s ten yuan.

Some habits build hard and die easy. Running, exercising, staying healthy: it astounds me how much effort people here make to work out everyday, through the sludge and snow and second jobs. Yet other habits build easy and die hard. The habit of staying out all night with little respect for the tasks to come with morning? Gets me every time.

Location: Ellicott City, Maryland

Time grinds to a halt

I’m not quite sure when this happened, when I turned from a mostly introverted person to an unceasing extrovert. I think it was some time in my college years, likely the summer after my sophomore year. I remember making a conscious decision that I would try to alter my social behavior. Ultimately, I think the outcome of that decision was positive, but I still laugh a little when I think about it, how one little thought altered my perspective so permanently.

Nevertheless, I’m a lot worse at being by myself than I was even at this same time last year. I still enjoy aloneness, in fact, I rather need it. But I’ve lost the ability to be cooped up in one place perpetually. It feels as if too many thoughts are stuffed inside my brain, needing a valve to quell the pressure. I can’t remember the last time I accomplished so much, and hated it so.

Well, perhaps I’m just looking forward too much, thinking about where I’ll be in a few weeks (Beijing), where I’ll be in the summer (somewhere else in Asia), and where I’ll be in the fall (which is an absolute mystery yet). My mind is already somewhere else, thinking about exchanges and interactions yet to happen in another space and another time. And as much as I am not listless, I am equally frustrated with now, because it’s just now, and not the future.

Somewhere back there, my realist self lies. But right now, I’m rather content thinking about things that might happen, could happen, or rather, could be willed to happen. Amongst all the twisted tendrils of future realities waiting to be built, I single out the ones in which I am my most productive self.

Then, onwards.

Location: Ellicott City, Maryland