I am an occasional hoarder

From an objective point of view, I dislike clutter. Simplicity is attractive and sometimes I imagine how much easier life would be if only I adhered to ‘simplicity’ not only in thoughts but also in action. Though I’ve lived out of a traveler’s backpack for months at a time, once I’m reunited with all my STUFF, it’s virtually impossible to tear them away again! The same goes for my laptop, phone, room, possessions in general, social media connections… pretty much everything in my life ever.

Only a tiiiiny percentage of downloaded apps on my phone, ipad, and programs on my computer are used. And YET every few weeks, the urge to browse top free downloads creeps in and instead of 5 photo editing apps, I’ll have 8, 9… and another to take panoramas because panoramas are just so amazing. I have next to no self control when those dormant hoarding instincts kick in. Though I undoubtedly regret the next-day clutter hangover, they’ve never been enough to force a change of habit.

I suspect the enabler of these hoarding episodes are resets in clutter. For example, I’ve moved once a year for the past five years. Four of the five moves required reducing all my earthly possessions to a 20 kilo suitcase, an incredibly heavy carry-on bag, laptop bag, purse, and as much as I could wear. Getting through metal detectors while wearing a large portion of my jewelry collection required significant preparation. It would have been much easier to just be more selective while packing. Logically, I know this… but things can’t easily be replaced and it’ll be more expensive to get it again and IlovethatwintersweatertoomuchevenifI’mgoingtoHongKong! So on, so forth. Getting a new electronic device provides only temporarily clutter relief… until my hoarder self takes over and I sync dropbox.

The goal now (in addition to building healthy habits like eating breakfast and going to sleep before 3am) is to simplify life. There must be plenty of tips and hints and step-by-step guides out there….

  • Step 1: Gather all possessions
  • Step 2: Get rid of possessions you do not want/need and can part with without regrets
  • Step 3: Get rid of at least one thing. You can do it! …No?
  • Step 4: S.O.L.

… but what would work for me? What are the motivations and underlying goals? Is my life not really cluttered at all, but seems like it because everything is so disorganized? Do I need more smart-storage and external hard drives? Maybe what I’m really doing is creating a project for my future incredibly old self to relive youth by sorting through a mountain of stuff and digital memories…

Conclusion: I need to dream more about living a simple life.
(…And this may never work. Crap.)

In titling this post, I actually went through quite a few definitions.

define: glutton (Noun)
An excessively greedy eater.
A person who is excessively fond of or always eager for something: “a glutton for adventure”.

define: greedy (Adjective)
Having or showing an intense and selfish desire for something, esp. wealth or power.
Having an excessive desire or appetite for food.

define: avarice (Noun)
Extreme greed for wealth or material gain.

define: horder (Noun) <- Winner
a person who accumulates things and hides them away for future use.


Reaching out to people through the chaos that is life

Everything I do online is very… solitary, in a passive sense. I’m one of those (yes, somewhat annoying) people who go around like-ing your posts but never really commenting. Actual interaction? Oh no, oh my! But it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while: to give and become part of an online community. As it currently stands, I’m merely the occasional visitor. Perhaps I’m just so used to being outgoing and proactive in person that assuming a rather ghostly internet self is just the more comfortable path?

Many people are different in group settings than in one-on-one conversations, and even more people are more outspoken online simply because of the freedoms that exist. International organizations and media giants, presidents and CEOs, neighbours and friends, everyone and everything and influence and possibilities and, and, and!! It is simply overwhelming.

Yet, when I chart out the course towards an eventual goal, which yes, I will eventually figure out, the online world is sure to play a large part. How can anything exist nowadays without their own website – be it NGO, restaurant, or person? There are also so many fantastic, wonderful and inspirational ideas floating about this mystic digital realm and I can’t help but want to… improve because of it, be a part of it if only as an audience member, and some day, perhaps even contribute to some greater whole. I’m being driven by a search for independence and purpose. And really, can anything or anyone ever exist alone?

Perhaps the possibility of living in Hong Kong for more than a year prompted me to move. Though friends are scattered, perhaps they’re more likely to visit Hong Kong than elsewhere. Perhaps I will be a better correspondent with facebook, twitter, and wordpress apps on my phone.* Perhaps the energy of this city will make me more efficient and productive, certainly I’ll walk faster! Perhaps the opportunities are endless. Perhaps I only make use of them.

In the month and four days that I’ve been on Hong Kong, so, so many things have happened!

Got here on Cinco de Mayo – just in time for a friend’s party with Corona and lime and tortillas and everything. Since then, I’ve found an apartment after looking at countless others, been given the one month notice due to ‘cultural incompatibility’**, found another apartment (going to move next week!), gone to two interviews a week, successfully landed the part-time job as a graphic designer, received a formal offer for a full-time business development position pending a visa (which I’m terrified won’t go through), worked like a crazy person to edit over 1300 photos this past week and completely destroyed whatever biological clock I have left! Slept from 4am-12pm and only went out today to do laundry. No, not even for food, because I cooked ham, eggs, beans, and a sausage. What a day, eh? Thus, we arrive to right now – this very second.

There are two to-do lists in my sketchbook, a daily one and a weekly one. On the daily list are things like having breakfast and checking the news. The weekly list has items like ‘spend at least an hour learning Cantonese’ (ha) and ‘draw more!’. It also has ‘blog’ on there, which I’ve really never done with consistency… but if all goes according to these to-do lists, I will soon! Blogging includes splashing thoughts here and also drawing comics, so between the two, some sort of weekly update should happen? Blogging will now also include writing comments and generally communicating with other bloggers through something other than ‘like’. What a goal, what a goal!

This past week has been terrible. I would harshly judge myself based on actions from the last few days! It’s not a life that’s easily maintained, and I’m not about to give it a try. And yet, it’s so easy to fall into old patterns! Or rather, to fall back into a complete lack of any pattern at all.

“Is this something you want?” “No.” “Can you change it?” “Yes.” “Then do!”

* During the beginning of the Cinco de Mayo party, my first few hours in Hong Kong, I sat in a corner with the phone downloading apps that aren’t available in Play from Mainland China. It was a joyous occasion.

** Oh, yes, I kid you not. The conversation began with the soon to be ex-flatmate giving me $500 and saying “here, for the stuff you bought when you move out”. I thought it was a joke and it really wasn’t. When I pressed him for an actual explanation, he said I was too ‘North American’. He doesn’t much distinguish between culture and personality… It’s a topic I’d rather not think about!

People Without Accents are Non-Existent

Normally I enjoy reading thoughtcatalog, whether the thoughts are silly, interesting, wise, or whatever else. I don’t agree with some of the thoughts posted there, but the one I read today actually made me mad. As in, fume in an empty living room with anger, furious. But I’ve calmed down a little since and realized I shouldn’t be in rant-mode when typing up my reaction to ‘People with Accents Are Stupid’.

If the title is some tricky way of saying everyone is stupid, then I’m more inclined to agree. I just don’t think that’s it.

The author clearly separates those without accents (people who sound 100% ‘American’, I’m guessing? It wasn’t clarified whether non-accented people are from San Francisco, Dallas, Detroit, Boston, or New York) and… everyone else. How do you react to something so absurd? People without accents do not exist.*

It would be easy to take shots at the ridiculous sentences included in the article and vent. ‘I’m so glad the author-person was able to convince an accent-biased girl to dance and hate her for it!’ ‘As long as you wear purple velvet and speek liek zis, Vogue would totally hire you! They wouldn’t be annoyed at all that you merely take up space!’ I wonder if the author ever tried being a charismatic, enchanting worldly American. They can exist, you know.

There were little bits I reluctantly admit I like. Capes, for example. I’ve always like capes. It might actually be amusing if the title changed to ‘People With Fake Accents Are Stupid’. Most people with fake accents fake them for the very purpose of acting stupid, being silly, providing entertainment, sparking laughter, or all of the above.

Changing a person’s natural way of speaking takes a lot of work and often a lot of time. Even then accents can blend together for something completely unique. A person’s accent is a part of who they are, regardless of whether or not they are a ‘foreigner’ in your eyes. We’re all foreign to somebody and accents are just a part of the difference.

To me, the sentence ‘people with accents are stupid’ is something along the lines of ‘people with hair are dumb’, or ‘people who wear clothes are idiots’. You know, hair definitely drains all the blood from a person’s head so they can’t think as clearly, and wearing clothes just hides who they truly are!! Yeah – NO.

* Even if a person speaks sign language, there are also ‘accents’ whether angles of gestures or different vocabulary!

I Hate Eating Alone

Being in the middle of Hong Kong makes me wonder how it was possible, how I managed to vegetate for such a long time. Now I feel only the restlessness associated with standing still amidst busy productive people. During the day, my few friends here are at work while I wander streets surrounding my apartment in search for food. This has been my 2-3pm for the past three days.

I’ve never liked eating alone. With coding skills, I would definitely begin ihateeatingalone.com! It will be for all those not wanting to be assigned to a table full of strangers, awkward glances, and the vague feeling that I too should be on my phone. Once, I tried to start a conversation and the other person looked at me as if I’d sprouted an extra head.

It feels as if I should be one of the speedwalkers here, with a full load of duties and responsibilities. I should work on self-improvement, read books, generally be more productive. Walk faster! Yet, when I finally spoke to a corporate lawyer friend (after she got off work at 9pm), the conviction that I’m not meant for that type of life again washes over me. It’s about finding balance and a routine that works for me.

I bought ham, eggs, bread, and cream cheese today. Tomorrow, I will cook and eat with my laptop.

Hong Kong Makes Me Think

Tomorrow, May 15th, I will move into my new apartment. I’ve been in Hong Kong for 9 days, spent ridiculous amounts of time searching, and finally found a place. I’m excited but suspend the celebration until after the fact, until after The Move.

During the house hunt, I’ve seen rooms that fit a single bed and only a single bed, a shared flat with an Indian family of four, and a room with two windows – overlooking a square meter dubbed ‘the living room’. But hopes are high for tomorrow!

Now it’s onto the difficult part. Employment.

Hong Kong is positively brimming with opportunities. A lack of jobs isn’t what makes this difficult. What makes it difficult is that I feel as if I’m simply spamming when sending cover letter and CVs, even if all the messages are customized. Maybe it’s because I haven’t found any positions that call to me, or something. Or am I simply too inexperienced for those I am interested in?

There’s an entire list of things I want to accomplish and want to improve about myself so that I can be the candidate some of these amazing companies are looking for. What makes me unique, makes me stand out? What if all I can come up with is… nothing much? I can talk in circles around just about anyone about absolutely nothing. Is that even anything to brag about?

I want to learn Cantonese. That’s important here – and important to me. I want to create a portfolio. I don’t have one yet. Because I didn’t go to art school. And I want to work in design. Or do I want to work in design? I just want to be surrounded by ideas and people and inspiration somehow.

Being here has been amazing thus far. I’ve commandeered a friend’s living room for the duration and spent my first Hong Kong afternoon downloading phone apps: twitter, wordpress, facebook, etc… the classic list of apps banned in the Mainland. It was doubtful whether that phone would ever leave my hand again! Staying connected feels good, but I know there is so much more that can be done with these connections. Another goal.

I’ve been oscillating between wildly optimistic, anything is possible!! To aw crap, I won’t be able to afford bread tomorrow. Granted, real bread here can be pretty expensive, but during those slumps, I was terrified of such uncertainty. I’m not untalented (just a little bit modest), but I don’t have the degrees on paper to do what I want to do here. <em>Then I remind myself that I’m here, and that in the end, I will succeed because I’m determined to, according to my own definition of success.</em>

Spending more time staying connected to the world has also led me to some amazing people, whether in visual arts, design, writing, comedy… anything and everything! Can’t handle so much amazing! I have to learn from them and their hard work. Maybe I’ll even try to structure blog posts at some point instead of just writing out whatever comes to mind. But isn’t that what blogs are for? I need to organize my thoughts and organize my blogs and…. the to-do list gets longer. But that’s a good thing!

Am I reading too much into this, Universe?

My flight was cancelled on Tuesday. It was scheduled for 5pm and I received a text less than four hours before. On the way to the airport. (Thank Beijing traffic for that one.) A friend later said she’d actually shown up before they told her about her flight cancellation, so it could have been worse. We headed back and I was fully prepared to spend the rest of the evening doing nothing, because nothing had been scheduled, because I was suppose to be in a different city. Thank goodness for friends and the speediness of the internet.

I ended up going to a friend’s place in a hutong, where one expert taught the rest of us how to strategically plant and harvest beans. (First result when googling ‘bean card game’. Hey look, 6 spinoffs and 13 expansions… WOW.) It got pretty intense. Then there was coffee, dessert, and wine. A lot of wine. As luck of have it (oh hey, universe), Wine Wednesdays had been moved forward this week. A friend hosted, and in addition to meeting some awesome new people, I also saw old friends whom I had given up on seeing due to their hectic schedules. It was an amazing night and it couldn’t have happened if my flight wasn’t arbitrarily canceled (Hainan claims weather, HAH), if my friend hadn’t texted when she did, if I’d been lazy and decided against the hour+ metro, if Wine Wednesday hadn’t become a one-time Wine Tuesday, and if a whole lot of other circumstances hadn’t worked out exactly the way they did.

Around 4am, I took a taxi back. My Chinese was spectacular after however much wine, and the taxi driver and I had a pretty interesting discussion about China and the issues facing the country today. He mentioned how the last two customers were both heading to Tiananmen Square for raising of the flag and whatever else May Day ceremonies were planned. He mentioned problems of corrupt officials and how taxi drivers have no say in the raising of taxi prices next month. (Minimum from 10 to 15 kuai in mid-May, he said.) We also covered the economy, the cost of healthcare, Western attitudes, and the usefulness of GPS. He loves his job.

Yesterday on the plane, I sat in an aisle seat for the first time in years. Literally years. It was the middle row with three seats. Next to me was an 18 year old (think about this: she was born in 1995. Made me feel like a fossil), and she was heading to Guangzhou to visit suppliers for her budding online business. Sitting next to her was a dance professor who also runs a successful high-end clothing brand. From what I gathered, she speaks fluent English and French, has business contacts all over the world, and is generally a very talented person. She took time to speak to us, share wisdom, and give advice. It was inspirational, the way she spoke of her experiences and failures and eventually amazing success in the industry. Yesterday was one of the first times I didn’t specifically request a window seat.

Chance, chance, chance. Risk, risk, risk. Opportunities knock more often than we think, we just need to be prepared to open the door. If bad things happen, accept it, learn from it, and move on. If good things happen, be happy, enjoy every second, and move on. The future can never be planned down to the last detail, and perhaps the taxi driver and the professor business woman have already changed my life. But maybe I was actively looking for the message the universe gave to me through them. Or amazing coincidences really exist. Or maybe, just maybe, having a positive mindset open to possibilities and ignoring the inner sloth will get people much closer to their goals than anyone thinks. Universe, am I right?

When to Believe?

You know that feeling when something fantastic happens, but it’s too good to be true, so you refuse to believe it? Until it smacks you in the face? That’s how I feel now. I’m refusing to believe in the good news until I have multiple sources of tangible proof that what’s happened has actually happened.

I may have gotten my first job as a graphic designer. !! !!!!! !!!!!!!!!

Currently in a cafe, found out via skype, the people sitting around me likely think I’m nuts because I’ve been laughing and gasping and overly excited, but that’s okay! Because I may have gotten my first job as a graphic designer! !!! !!!!!

…Again, refusing to believe this until it is firmly confirmed. In the mean time, I will pour all my happiness and excitement here. It’s amazing what the words ‘this is our offer for you’ can do to a person’s mood. My mood. Granted, my face will probably be sore tomorrow because I’m grinning like an idiot, but that’s okay! Because I may have

Deep breaths, deep breaths.