Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Opposite of Bored

I feel like I'm on a scavenger hunt.  Since I arrived here, I've been reaching out to people throughout Hong Kong that are involved in the entrepreneurial scene in one or way or another.  One of the reasons why I am slowly falling in love with this city is that all of these people have e-mailed me back.  What is that?!  In New York, maybe I'm just particularly annoying but I have found that cold e-mails get <50% response rate, even if they are flattering to the recipient.

Once I'm over the shock of actually receiving a response, I arrange to meet with them, whether it be for a quick coffee, lunch, or just plain old conversation.  When this process begins, I glance at my empty calendar to suggest a time and carefully concoct a way of not sounding too pathetic with my lack of plans.  Then, before I know it, someone else e-mails back.  I arrange a meeting, spending less time on not sounding pathetic since now I actually have something else on my calendar.  Rinse, repeat until calendar is completely full.  Since I am a) not making money and b) still learning the map of Hong Kong, this has several implications:
  1.  I do not know what I am getting myself into when I eagerly respond, "I can meet you wherever is convenient for you!"
  2. # meetings per day * 15 minutes = minimum amount of time I am lost per day
  3. The MTR (Hong Kong's take on the subway) and I have gotten to be good friends.  The trains are frequent, punctual, and clean.  HK > NY in this equation.
  4. # of meetings per day * 25 minutes = minimum amount of time I spend walking within the MTR train stations.  They are sprawling and go unimaginably deep underground, often involving multiple, extremely long and steep flights of stairs.  NY definitely > HK in this equation.  Small subway stations have their advantages.
In spite of the above, it has been great because every morning I wake up and my iCal is like a treasure map.  I don't know where I will find treasure, but I know where to look (kind of).  Yesterday, I headed down the escalator to Central to meet a local enterpreneur.  Then back up to Soho for coffee with a woman running an association for digital marketing.  Then back down to the MTR to take me to Quarry Bay for lunch with a financial professional interested in startups and angel investing.  Then over to Jordan to see a friend of a friend who is a reporter for a local newspaper and runs a photography business.  Then to Wan Chai to stop by our partner space for classes.  Then over to Sheung Wan to pick something up at the new apartment.... you get the picture.

Before I know it, it's dinner time and I am finally back home to examine the gems I've picked up over the course of the day.  No, I don't mean business cards.  I mean the pearls of wisdom, new friends, sometimes painful learning experiences, great coffee spots, and exciting tidbits of potential for building something great here.  I've realized if there is one way to really bring out people's true colors, it is by talking to them about ideas and by asking their opinion.  Conveniently, this is also the best way to learn things.  These things may or may not be true, but such is life.

Clearly you're catching me on an up day :) 

Monday, November 26, 2012

fn(life) = sin(everything)

When I first started at Goldman, people always told me that the trading floor was the King of highs and lows.  From day one of my first internship, the quintessential words of wisdom were, When you have a great day, you're on top of the world, but when things go bad you'll never want to come back again.  By day two, I was saying it too.  Two thousand days later, I realize I should have been saying, No shit, Sherlock.  It's called life.

Staring into the deep, dark abyss of building a life in a different country, my first foray into cohabitation, and setting up a new business, the trading floor looks less like the King and more like the Court Jester of highs and lows.  I mean, we're entering uncharted territory with the scale and dimension of the ups and downs of life these days.

I kind of like this list thing, so instead of blabbing on and on about what's been going on, here are a few of the highs from the weekend:

  • Brainstorming how to make our first General Assembly events and classes in Hong Kong happen.  The possibilities are endless and seeing other people get as excited about this as I have been for months is thrilling, validating, inspiring, all at once.
  • TEDx Hong Kong - I went with a few new friends here, saw awesome ass speakers from the second row, met a lot of incredible people, and had great conversations on how social media can spur spontaneous acts of social good.  It renewed my faith in people's inherent positivity and desire to connect with each other.
  • Selling donated Christmas gifts and housewares at a volunteer holiday bazaar and seeing how hard people will work to help others.  Also, totally arbitrarily pulling prices out of my ass, and getting to be on the other side of bargaining with Chinese people.  
  • Stopping by an awesome (and amazingly tiny) speakeasy type bar in Sheung Wan on Saturday night where an intimate and appropriately buzzing crowd is huddled around candles, bottles of red wine, and a small group of musicians jamming on some Johnny Cash.
  • Finally getting a phone and a permanent number!  Add me on Whatsapp and Viber pleaaase.
Quickly followed by some deep lows:
  • Realizing my boyfriend is probably really sick of hanging out with me, but I don't really have anyone else to call to hang out on Saturday night.
  • Facing how incredibly lame I am because I am so fucking tired by 11pm on Saturday night that I don't know if I would even want to call anyone else to hang out.
  • Trying to figure out how I am going to spend my time every day, and realizing that I have no structure whatsoever but a million things to do and it's all up to me which is great but hugely intimidating and sometime results in complete paralysis.
  • Living together is scary and means you can't hide any of those silly little things you used to do on your own that nobody could judge you for.  Like reading Perez Hilton, or staying in your PJ's all day, or just staring at the ceiling for an inappropriately but oddly satisfying long time.
  • No matter how hard I try, I just don't understand how to use hashtags -- and why the fuck can't I watch Hulu here!?!

At the end of the day, I know it's all good stuff.  Yes, I know how lucky I am.  And yes, I do love life.  But sometimes it still feels like everything sucks, I'm never going to figure all of this out, and I am a fool for trying.  And the worst part is that talking about it really doesn't seem to make any of it better, because all anyone can say is, That's how life is.  To which I would still like to reply, No shit, Sherlock.  But who can blame them - I guess I don't know what else to say or do about it either.  I just have to embrace it and buckle up for a particularly bumpy ride for a little while.   

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Hong Kong Thanksgiving

When you celebrate Thanksgiving in a foreign country (and yes I've lived in Asia for all of 3 weeks now so I'm going to speak in generalities), it sneaks up on you pretty quickly.  There's no day, or even half day, off work.  No cornucopias in the grocery stores.  No food drives for the less fortunate.  No Pachelbel's canon. No parades. Nobody even notices or brings it up.  I guess who can blame them, it's not even Thanksgiving in the U.S. for most of the day here due to the 13-16 hour time difference.  Most locals don't understand what it is and I found it embarrassingly difficult to explain.
Yes, we all binge eat meat and carbs to celebrate that a long time ago when we were starving and the Indians saved us by sharing their crops with us.  No, not from India. I meant to say American Indians... er... um, Native Americans -- well yes, I am originally from America but this is different.  Anyway this was a long time ago before the U.S. existed.  Right, it's a national holiday, not a religious one.  But in order to establish our nation, we ended up displacing and murdering most of the people we shared this meal with.  But we do stuff a turkey and then ourselves every single year as a way of saying thank you so... we just call it even.
As a quick side note -- Hong Kong does understand Christmas quite well.  Given 75% of the city is shopping malls, this should be an obvious statement.   Every single one of those malls is teeming with all of the holiday's decorational glory, my favorite of which was 2 giant white sparkly reindeers with abnormally large interlocking antlers that rose toward the sky like a skeleton Christmas tree.  These super-sized and slightly frightening displays plus the fact that the weather still 80 degrees and humid are going to make for a very interesting holiday season.

Okay back to what's relevant.  The American community, or really the entire expat community, in Hong Kong does manage to celebrate in style.   Since turkeys aren't as plentiful in Asia as they are in the U.S. this means it ends up being quite an expensive holiday, with a decent sized bird costing upwards of $100 USD.  All of this money apparently flows directly into the pockets of the Mandarin Oriental hotel which, for a low cost of approx. $300 USD a pop, supplies all of Hong Kong with a diligently prepared turkey and all the corresponding fixings.  Admittedly, this is the best turkey I have ever tasted in my entire life (sorry, Mom and Dad).  Moist, thick, flavorful, deliciously briny... you won't even need that seventy-five-dollar cranberry sauce.

So yes, this year's celebration had a completely different flavor (pun intended) than any other year, but amidst all this change I wouldn't expect anything but an unusual start to the holiday season.  Most importantly, it did make me stop and think about what I'm grateful for --

Here are the top ten, in no particular order:

  1. The fact that it took me several minutes to figure out what an MD from Goldman was talking about last night when he was telling a story about the "orange Lambo he bought after bonus season in 2006.  And omigod guys, it was, like, sooooo orange."  
  2. All of my friends in NYC who took the time to make me feel loved and appreciated before I left.  It was a tough time and it helped to feel like there were people that noticed I'd be gone.
  3. My blockmates from college who are all amazing and inspiring women who just get it.  I'm also grateful that they have put up with years of my incessant whining about what I should be doing with my life.  (Sorry guys, but it's not stopping anytime soon).
  4. The doorman with white gloves at the China Resources Building who walked me 2 blocks to the MTR when I couldn't figure out the directions he was giving me.
  5. The privilege of traveling to all these different parts of the world and getting a chance to see what life is like outside of my bubble.
  6. Everyone I work with at General Assembly who helped me realize that this is a world of infinite opportunity and possibility.  But especially those that got me chocolate soymilk and that amazing vegan cake on my last day in NY.
  7. Ellie Goulding's cover of Your Song which I am listening to right now.
  8. My family, who truly have an infinite amount of love for each other, even though they might not always know it.
  9. My newfound appreciation for social media, which really does make you feel less alone when you share a random silly thought and you know someone, anyone, is reading it. 
  10. The opportunity to bring General Assembly to Hong Kong.  And everyone that is even half as excited about it as I am (follow GA_HongKong on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter if you haven't already!)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  If you're not from America, congratulations for being able to enjoy your dinner without the blood of millions of Native Americans on your hands.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I moved here, but now where do I put all of my stuff?

So now that my "real life" here is supposed to start, the first task at hand (at least on my personal agenda) is finding an apartment.  Needless to say, not knowing anything too in depth about Hong Kong, its neighborhoods, or the local apartment hunting process, I was extremely intimidated by this major life project.  Not to mention the fact that Hong Kong is renowned for its absurdly expensive real estate, even by New York City standards which is really saying something.  However challenging this hunt seemed, in a way I was grateful for a project to address considering I returned from my trip facing the stark reality that I have exactly zero friends here.

In terms of getting started, my theory for these types of projects is that you do a little bit of easy groundwork way way in advance.  This serves several purposes: 
  1. It eases the anxiety of needing to accomplish something but not being able to check it off your list for weeks or months to come.
  2. You typically forget that you've already done some work on it, which results in a pleasant surprise when you actually go to check it off the list because you've already given yourself a general context for the problem and resolution is mostly a matter of simple execution.  
  3. It allows you to give off the sly impression that you're completely relaxed about the whole thing and totally not one of those crazy people that makes lists just to check things off of them or anything like that.  Yeah... definitely not one of them, I swear.
Following this sneakily type-A strategy (or maybe it's blatantly type-A but whatever), I set up time during my interim week here to go along with a real estate broker to see a few places and get a sense of what was out there before we needed to actually find a place.  By "broker" I mean a person with a couple keys who is apparently paid to walk next to you while talking on the phone the whole time. Some initial discoveries from this exploratory trip:
  • When looking at 1 or 2 BR apartments, "bedroom" is a loose term sometimes used to describe a medium sized closet.
  • The words "kitchen" and "bathroom" are also loose terms typically used to describe a small closet with pipes somewhere within it.
  • Most apartments are actually pre-furnished with really tacky pieces that do not follow any type of coherent theme but are somehow supposed to be a selling point for the space.  This results in an intense negotiation where you are actually willing to pay more for an apartment WITHOUT any of that ugly shit in it.
  • These places all have an odor vaguely reminiscent of my childhood violin teacher's house - a unique blend of mothballs, microwavable meals, and old books.
  • All the apartments are empty.  In NYC most apartments a broker would take you to were fully inhabited and you were forced to negotiate with the previous tenants in order to find a day around the end of the month that would allow you to hire movers at reasonable rates.  In HK, my guess is that people buy the real estate as investments and are less concerned about renting them out and more concerned about just sitting on them as they appreciate (theoretically) in value.  
  • Some landlords/ladies are offended when you try to take pictures.  Seems counterintuitive to me, no?  What do they think you're going to do, spoil the surprise for anyone else that might be interested?
  • Most new buildings have gyms and pools but apparently you are not allowed to see them before you rent an apartment, even though they seem from a distance to be quite nice.  There is also a distinct possibility that this was an excuse from the real-estate broker who didn't want to get off the phone to ask for access.
Anyway, my first day back - Monday - I saw 6 apartments and the 6th was… absolutely perfect.  Great location in a neighborhood I can only describe as the HK equivalent of the West Village, safely within our budget, just big enough that we can be in the same room but not on top of each other, a few extra square inches in the bathroom (that I am desperately dreading to share with a boy), decent light so it doesn't feel like you're living in a dungeon, a kickass dining table that doesn't match anything else in the apartment but is still awesome, and enough built in closets that our shit won't be everywhere cluttering up the precious square feet we are able to squeeze out of the rest of the space.

My boyfriend went to see it later that night, we did a bit of negotiating this morning and BOOM we have ourselves our very own humble abode.  We also have an ugly couch and a desk that doesn't match - both of which would have cost a pretty penny to NOT leave in the apartment - but you can't always get what you want.  I know that I shouldn't get used to major tasks being this easy, but I do feel quite lucky to check this one off the list pretty damn quickly (on Day 2, thank you very much).  Move-in is in exactly 10 days, which will be the 4th time I have moved in 5 months.  That doesn't make it any easier, but at least I have already thrown away most of my superfluous belongings. 

So now, lucky for me, I can spend the next ten days focusing on other items on my list, er, I mean… things.  Like how to hide a couch in the middle of a room.  Or how to procure a phone number and source of funds for all the coffees, lunches, and drinks I'm setting up in order to convert my number of friends into a positive integer.  Then again, maybe the math analogies are hurting my game.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tidbits from the road

After spending 16+ days travelling, I just got "back" to Hong Kong last night.  I would have really loved to update with my random thoughts from the road but neither Myanmar nor Bhutan had regular (or any) internet access.  I suppose this is a good thing considering it allowed me to remain completely free from distraction and get a real sense of what life is like outside of this little bubble we somehow believe is "normal".  I was also able to properly acknowledge any temporary discomforts as 'First World Problems'.

I'd really love to craft some sort of meaningful post here where I can draw some deep conclusions about the state of the world and the pettiness of our political squabbles compared to the plight of those whose basic rights have been oppressed for decades.  And that is true, which I may or may not elaborate on later since I was in Myanmar during the US election.  However, as I have mentioned before - if I wait for that kind of inspiration this blog would be over before it started.  So instead, I'll just get started.

Here are Ten Tidbits that I found interesting and thought might be worth sharing:

1.  Is it Myanmar or Burma?  

There are ~8 main ethnic groups that make up the country of Myanmar, which is its official name right now.  Burmese people make up 65-80% of the population (depending on who you ask).  The name "Myanmar" is supposed to capture all of the groups while "Burma" is representative of the large majority of culture there.  As a result I'd think Myanmar is more politically correct, but Aung San Suu Kyi said in an interview that she prefers Burma since the name was changed without consulting the people.  That brings me to #2.

2. Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced Awng Sahn Soo Chee) is kind of a big deal.  

Have you heard of her?  Well, she is a badass and all of Myanmar is obsessed with her and after spending 8 days there, I kind of am too.  I will attempt to give you a brief background (somewhat akin to that drunk history youtube video given my level of accuracy so please forgive me).  In short, Burma was a British colony until 1947 when her father General Aung San helped get the Burmese people on their feet, founded the army, and attempted to bring democracy to the newly independent nation.  Some real assholes murdered him almost immediately after he took office and the government that ensued was brutally oppressive and violent for years to come.   His daughter Aung San Suu Kyi moved abroad, studied in the US/UK, married a British guy, had 2 kids and was going along her merry way when she returned to Burma in the late 80's after her mom died.  Upon her return, she was lauded as the next great leader by a population starved for a hero (should I say heroine or is that too cruel of a pun?) and ended up founding the National League for Democracy.  The government didn't like that she was encouraging freedom and put her on house arrest for the better part of the next 20 years -- which, by default makes her awesome because how the hell do you survive and keep your faith in life and your country while you're confined to your house?  I can't even survive 1 day.  Anyway her picture is everywhere, people affectionately call her 'The Lady' and she seems to be a generally awesome role model.  And she's really pretty to boot -- Michelle Yeoh played her in a recent biopic called 'The Lady' and the resemblance is striking.

3.  Everyone knows about U.S. politics and everyone loves Obama.

We were staying in a small town near Inle Lake in Myanmar when the US presidential election happened.  We didn't have any access to the internet or news in our hotel so we were resigned to not knowing who won for a few days.  So we went on with our vacation and rode bikes 30-45 minutes away from the already tiny town to a remote village where there was a monastery and a small private school.  The village popped up around 2 years ago after a reknowned monk moved to a cave there.  Seriously.  This guy's thing is he lives in a cave and never comes out.  He has a loyal following that came with him and set up shop nearby when he decided to switch up his cave.  He's got a couple other monks that bring him food and receive visitors and stuff so we went up to the cave and we were visiting with one of his sub-monks.  First off, the guy lights up a cigarette.  Ummm okay, noted.  Then, two ladies scurry by as we enter the cave to sit down and shyly ask where we are from.  Naturally, we say the U.S. and they say 'Go Obama!  So glad he won!'  And that is how we found out who won the US presidential election.

4.  Buddha is a pretty big deal, or something.  

That was sarcasm - he's a huge fucking deal (and so are his corresponding donation boxes).  Throughout this entire trip, Buddha was everywhere. and it became quite apparent that Buddhism is pervasive in this part of the world.  There are good and bad parts of this and I don't really feel like offering an opinion on all of this because it's kind of inappropriate and I'm not sure what I think yet anyway.  The point is that there are THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of Buddha images all over Myanmar and Bhutan.  It's incredible, there are gold and jewel-encrusted Buddha statues towering over desperately poor villages filled with starving children.  It's very confusing, but the people there apparently would not have it any other way.  One of our guides estimated that there are more Buddha images than people in Myanmar.  Bagan, an old capital city in Myanmar, alone had 3,000 stupas (little cone-like structures that have a Buddha image inside).  Another cave had 8,000+ gold-covered Buddha statues inside of it (see this picture).  There weren't a ton of Americans so I enjoyed being regarded as both tall and a celebrity of sorts.

5.  Being a Buddhist monk is not what you think.

All men in Myanmar are required to enter a monastery as a monk at least twice in their lives.  They can stay as long as they want but have to at least give it a go.  There used to be a 'Monk Tax' in Bhutan which required families to send at least one son to a monastery.  Everyone does it at some point, and a lot of these monks look so young -- see picture above by Sir Michael Sloyer... I love the look in this guy's eye.  He's like "Yeah, what up I'm a monk.  What do you care?"  Others smoke cigs (see #3 above), others chew tobacco, and others can be found sponsoring girls at 'Live Musical Shows' which are a strange Bhutanese mix between a karaoke bar, strip club, and nunnery.

6.  Bhutan has an interesting history.  

Our 6 days in Bhutan were filled with interesting folklore.  Let me share an example, which is a story used to explain why there are artistic renderings of penises everywhere throughout the country.  Wooden penises, metal penises, fresco penises, you name it.  The story is about 'The Divine Madman' who was a religious master who used to wander Bhutan a few centuries ago.  He taught in a very different way, a method that typically involved sexual exploits of some sort.  He was also really good at archery (the national sport there) and so he wound up his arrow one day and asked, 'Mr. Arrow, please land where I will be offered delicious local wine and I will find me some super fine ladies'.  He went to the town where it landed and started doing his thang (think tantric).  Finally the townspeople were like whoa dude, are you sure you're a religious master if you're into all this sex stuff?  He said 'Yea, wanna bet?' and they're like 'Yeah, we do - show us something magical.'  The Madman said 'Sure, now bring me a cow and a goat.'  They obliged and he proceeded to eat the flesh of both of these animals and throw their bones in a pile.  He said some stuff that sounded magical and official and the bones rose to form a hybrid animal called the Takin which to this day is the national animal.

Please imagine trying to keep a straight face while your guide tells you this story in complete seriousness.  To be fair, the animals do look like a mix between a goat and a cow.  Here I am offering it some weeds (which are not to be confused with the actual marijuana plants that grow in abundance alongside every road and in every field in Bhutan).

7.  Puppies aren't that cute.

Controversial statement I know, but most countries in Southeast Asia have a major problem with dogs.  They aren't revered as pets in the same way as they are in the US and consequently are allowed to run (and mate) in the wild.  This means there are unkempt, untamed, and un-vaccinated puppies everywhere.  This is a picture of what appears to be two cute puppies, and then you realize they're gnawing on a raw chunk of red meat.  Then they come to you for a kiss.  No thanks Pup.

7.  You thought kids in New York City grow up too fast?  Check out this little rascal.

8.  Apparently I like feeding animals.  Really, I just wanted to reward this lil' guy because he is manually making peanut butter which is one of my favorite things ever.  I thought he deserved a little reward for what he is adding to the world.

9.  I spent two weeks covering up my legs and shoulders and taking my shoes off every ten seconds.  Obviously, that makes for a very sexy vacation with your boyfriend who you haven't seen in several months.  I think this picture is worth including because it makes conservative clothing and shoe tying look hilariously dramatic.  I am also wearing red socks, which is silly, and since I look awful in every single other picture, figure it's worth a little glamour shot?

10.  This picture has not been edited or altered in any way.  All natural beauty, baby.

Okay I think that's enough for now, for anyone who's still reading :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Checking Out

After a whirlwind of a first week in Hong Kong, I'm officially going off the grid for the next 16 days.  I will be spending a week in Myanmar/Burma and then onto Bhutan where I'm hoping to absorb some extra happiness through osmosis (lame joke, but they are allegedly the happiest people in the world).

I'm really not exaggerating when I say that less than a year ago, I had never heard of either of these countries.  I should be embarrassed by this but it also kind of makes me proud in that I'm expanding my horizons and bit by bit chipping away at my ignorance of the world beyond my immediate surroundings.

There's apparently not even internet in these places, which will be both refreshing and frightening as technology withdrawal can manifest itself in very real ways.  I will be sure to return with many significant revelations, obtuse metaphors, and other random musings to share.

Signing off for now!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Step by Step... Literally

For anyone not familiar with Hong Kong, it is geographically situated somewhat similarly to New York City.  There is a body of water, Victoria Harbor, that separates two main parts of the city: Kowloon, which I would liken to Brooklyn because it is much bigger and less expensive, and Hong Kong Island, which is similar to Manhattan in that it is where the financial district and more expensive shops, restaurants, and homes are located.  There's even a really pretty park in the Central district.

However, one major difference between the two cities is that Hong Kong Island is situated on a huge slope that eventually leads to Victoria Peak at the top (They must have really liked this Vicky character).  Great set up, right?  This means there is no shortage of gorgeous views, plenty of challenging hiking trails, and lots of other exciting perks of living on a hill.  It also means it's a bitch to get from the bottom (area called Central, name is pretty self explanatory) to the Mid-levels where I am staying at the moment.

Lucky for me, and lucky for you whenever you come to visit, is that they built a GIANT escalator that goes up the entire length of the incline.  This saves you time, energy, and also presents plenty of thrilling opportunities to get shoved around by a crowd on a moving walkway.  Now, in the theme of a path of destruction following me wherever I go (Hurricane Sandy, T10) of course the most relevant section of the escalator has been broken since I arrived.  Consequently, every time I venture out of Mid-levels, I have to climb hundreds of stairs.  On the upside, it's good exercise since I can't join a gym yet, but it's also quite exhausting and my legs are painfully sore after only 2 days here.

Climbing these steps is extremely painful and exhausting in both anticipation and in reality.  If you're standing at the bottom of the hill looking up and you know those 5 flights of stairs between you and your destination are going to make you really tired and sore, that doesn't change the fact that once you start climbing they will actually make you really tired and sore.

In the interest of extending the metaphor, the first few days here have left me exhausted in every other sense as well.  It's much more difficult than I thought it would be, or at least it feels that way. In order to get even the simplest task accomplished, I have to take it step by step - and patience is not a virtue I possess.

I think I had a decent grasp of the various challenges of moving to China.  Perhaps it is my ego or just plain old arrogance but I really thought I could take it in stride (maybe I would be if the damn escalator was working).  I'm not sure how you would define "taking it in stride" but let me list some of the things that have lead me (step by step) to exactly two panic attacks in three days:

  • Trying to set up my phone
  • Figuring out what to eat for lunch
  • Not being able to call and chat with your parents or friends while you're walking somewhere during the day because they're sleeping
  • Not being able to call anyone at all since you incorrectly set up your phone
  • Getting lost in the endless maze of shopping malls
  • The metal bars that prevent you from crossing the street where you need to and instead having to walk an extra 5 minutes to get to another set of steps to climb that take you to an elevated walkway that changes directions halfway across the street and leaves an another 5 minutes down the road from where you wanted to be in the first place
  • The only coffee shop you remember from your last visit being closed 

Once I catch my breath and feel my feet on the ground again, I keep telling myself it's okay that I am panicking at these moments.  The typical comforting declaration would be "This is normal" but that's not really what it's about.  I don't mind being overly emotional, nor am I afraid of being abnormal (good thing, right?!)  However, I am afraid of not being able to keep moving. I do mind staring up at those steps and not being able to take the first one.

I still haven't quite figured it out, but so far my solution has just been... continue sobbing but just keep climbing the steps at the same time. That way, at least I'll get to where I'm going eventually right?  And on the upside, the sense of sheer panic will distract me from how fucking sore my quads are!  Not sure how that metaphor translates, but nothing's perfect so I'm going to cut it there.