Thoughts and experiences that changed me in 2017…better a few weeks late than never 🙂
- For the first time, I had the experience of living with a roommate who was abusive, petty, and tyrannical. I know that sounds really dramatic, but if you ask anyone else who was witness to the situation (i.e. my other flatmates), they’d agree. This person went so far as to throw a chair at me, return home drunk and yell at us late in the evening on different occasions, and even stomped around the apartment slamming against walls and screaming while my mother was visiting and asleep in the next room with only a thin sliding door separating us. She woke up and was very upset and confused as she does not speak English. This (former) roommate is an alcoholic, not to mention a misogynist. Living with people can be difficult and I will not pretend I was faultless, but this really took the threshold of acceptable roommate conflict to the next level. Every time he spoke I felt my fight instincts perk up as I had to prepare to defend myself verbally and physically. I am so happy to be out of that situation but as I always try to see a silver lining, I am also grateful that I had the experience of living with someone I fundamentally disliked. It was an essential character building experience and I became close with my other roommates as we allied against our common foe. In the future I will utilize my ‘F*** Off Fund’ much sooner to get out of toxic situations like that. Sure, the rent was cheap and the apartment and location were superb, but future me will know better.
- I witnessed the birth of the dragon fan club. This is going to sound real cheesy but, having this family called CHOLA in my life (which I described back in this post and this one too), I never expected I’d find an equivalent chemistry in another friend group. I have always been better at relating to people on an individual level and as much as you can introduce your friends to each other, it’s not often that you will all have the same level of intimacy with each other. We all work together and were individually friends, and somehow organically over weekly viewings of Season 7 of Game of Thrones, we became a unit. Every time one of us needs a drink, a shoulder to cry on, or a meal to share, we’re there for each other and that has been a really beautiful and unexpected gift this year. So here’s a shout out to Nessie, Longerweenie, and Shushu ❤ ❤ ❤
- The new countries I traveled to this year were South Korea, Vietnam (Saigon, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay), and the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo & Punta Cana). It’s kind of crazy to think about, but this was also my first full year abroad without any trips back to the States since I was a small child. I made trips around Japan to Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, Okinawa, Kagoshima, Yakushima, as well as return trips to Kyoto, Shimoda, Los Angeles, Miami, and Taipei. I love shaking up my external environment as it encourages me to both reflect deeply and step outside myself.
- It’s amazing how many deep connections with people you can cultivate over time without fully appreciating it, and again this year’s reunions have been rewarding and refreshing. I am grateful to all the people whose friendship I have had the pleasure to re-encounter in Japan this year. (Shout outs to Deanne, Dimitri, Colleen, Oscar, Chris JY, Harmeet, Heather, Molly, Dan, Elise, Chris C., Sam, Sarkis, Will, Priya, Charat, my mama (parts I, II, III, IV) and to Caitlin who I met up with in Vietnam!)
- I read 11 books this year, which I think is pretty weak. Now that I’ve finished taking the blasted LSAT and applying to law schools I will have more time freed up to read and I hope to blast through my usual diet of novels and add more non-fiction and science books to the mix. Sapiens by Yuval Harari for example has been recommended to me by several people. I think The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories was my favorite this year, which is funny because my favorite book last year was also gifted to me by my friend Fernando. Where will I turn for book recommendations when we’re not living in the same town @moveitlikef3rny? Guess we’ll just have to keep up a long-distance book club 🙂 Typically I read one book and concentrate all my energy on it, but in these past few months I’ve been reading 5 different books at once. My attention span has been flighty, but I much prefer losing myself in one imaginary world or way of thinking before moving on to the next. That way, each period of my life is demarcated by the magic of a particular set of written words. Check out more of this year’s reads on my Books page.
- My blog continues to be a source of inspiration, blood-letting, and self love. There have been days where I’ve missed a close friend only to scroll through the pages preserved from our time spent together and have those vivid memories come rushing back with full view of the photographic evidence. True to form, talking to myself has proven to be one of the best ways to work through my issues. This year I have had visitors to this page from 56 different countries on 6 continents (for some reason Antarctica does not appear on the wordpress visitor statistics map). Hello to friends far and wide! Thank you for stopping by.
- The most important lesson I have taken away from this year is the bittersweet embrace of impermanence. So many times in the past I have mourned the lost of certain relationships/friendships, routines, or wonderful daily sights. As I collect experiences that enrich my worldview, I encounter again and again this sadness over the loss inextricably tied to transition. But no moment can last and our true appreciation of the Eternal Present lies in knowing that it can never be lived again. This notion has brought me peace as well as pain. I read a book over the summer called The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy which interprets Stoicism as a school of thought and applies its principles to how to live a good life in modernity. It shares that to hug a loved one as if it could be the last time you will ever be able to do so can bring tranquility instead of anxiety. This reminder of appreciating every moment encourages me to not regret when things change, because I know that in the moment that it was, I loved it completely.
These were my goals for 2017:
- run my first marathon
- apply to law school
- go on a mid distance bike & camping trip
- get scuba certified
- learn to pull espresso
- string together some legit japanese sentences
So how did I do?
√ Crossed the finish line at the Tokyo Marathon.
√ Applied to law schools and am waiting to hear back.
X Sadly, I did not get the chance to go on a biking trip in Hokkaido and instead opted for a hiking trip on Yakushima instead. I hope to complete a multi-day cycling trip in 2018.
X Attempted to get my Open Water Diver Certification during my trip to Okinawa, but due to the restriction on flying within 18 hours of diving, I didn’t have enough days to accommodate the training. I hope to do this sometime in 2018.
Pulled espresso like a boss at Fuglen Coffee in Shibuya. Yeah, that didn’t happen, but in 2018 I will knock this one out for sure.
√- And I can speak more Japanese than I did this time last year, but still, I’d give myself a C+ for needs improvement on this goal. Language acquisition is a process of life-long learning anyway.
what I want to do in 2018:
- achieve B2 proficiency on the French DELF scale
(In case you’re curious…The diplôme d’études en langue française, or DELF, has 4 levels: A1, A2, A1, and B2. The B2 is an advanced intermediate proficiency required for undergraduate and graduate education in France and it tests whether the student has a degree of independence that allows them to construct arguments to defend their opinion, explain their viewpoint and negotiate. The candidate is expected to have a degree of fluency and spontaneity in regular interactions and is capable of correcting their own mistakes. I’d estimate that I’m at A2 level now but I am still awaiting the results of my official French language evaluation.)
- travel solo in a foreign country (seems extremely likely to happen with my globetrotting days ahead, and while I have traveled solo in Japan, I also lived there so it doesn’t really count in my mind)
- get scuba diver certification
- multi-day biking trip
- learn to pull espresso
- travel to 27 countries by the time I turn 27
- call my mother at least once a week!
take a peek at my year in review from 2016 here if you’re interested
Happy New Year my friends!
xo your friend alice
2017 best nine // @alicelenator on instagramLocation: Tokyo, Japan