My 2016 was a year of three major themes: academia, travels, and health.
+ a bunch of little things in between.
my last academic year & my first year of feminism
Spring semester called for thesis writing and if you're not an honor student, you can't write about whatever you want. You had to pick a class with a specific topic. Research seminars, they were called, and I joined "the urban post-colonial," thinking we were going to read novels about transitioning from the country side to big cities, and it was sort of that. Mostly the cities part. And about halfway through the semester, I was slapped with the reminder that I was attending the most liberal college in the world (it seems). Hopelessly, I picked a book, 49 Views of San Francisco. The author, Gary Kamiya, explores San Francisco on foot, bike, boat, whatever. He talks about his experience, he meets and interview folks, and visits the past history and the present-state of such locations that appeared in the book. Romanticism in San Francisco. That's what I wanted to write about. A man describing the city through female pronouns and comparing her beauty and power to Cleopatra and a goddess. My professor, the magnificent Nadia Ellis, loved the idea but confirmed that I must write using what's been discussed in class, which was racism, sexuality, gendered violence, and so on. She would say to us, "you're all radicals! I love it!" and I would sit there itching to grab my phone so I can look up the definition of radical, then later disagree with her statement because I wasn't a radical. Not yet. So I was devastated and hella fucking stressed out. I had already struggled to understand the topics of this class, only because I've never been exposed to them before. I was not resisting. I was just confused.
Then a good friend of mine, a friend who helped me from the very beginning, a talented friend, pointed out a fine line on one of my saved quotes. Kamiya wrote about what was before Golden Gate Park, and how hard it was to force nature into becoming a city. Just like in Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay, Sweet Sixteen was forced to become something she wasn't. And there I wrote a beautiful thesis on the language of gendered violence through personification of San Francisco. Once I finished that, I felt like I could do anything. And I did...
In 2016, I learned a lot of things. One of those things being: Haiti is the poorest country in the world. Heavily influenced by the band, Arcade Fire, I've been itching to volunteer in Haiti, but I wasn't apart of a church group, nor was I religious at all. Can a uncertain agnostic join a missionary? I googled for opportunities and most of it was linked to churches, but my eye finally caught the word "deaf."
Not only was it stimulating to meet beautiful and intelligent children, but I also met some of the most incredible people in my missionary team. Surrounding yourself around other religions can be inspiring. I'll admit, sometimes I am skeptical because of stereotypes, but as long as I am able to be myself, I can be open-minded about others. I've made lasting friendships with the team AND the children --which is why I plan on returning in 2 weeks.
I also learned that Haitians have a lot of pride. They love their country. And I love it too.
not getting an 'everything happens for a reason' tattoo but sometimes it true and you just accept it
It was two weeks of living in hostels in cities and one week living with a host family in the middle of nowhere, before I headed home on emergency. I was reminded of how many wonderful people there are out there, and also, at home. Being away from my husband for five weeks was one of the most hardest things I've had to do and in an odd way, I was lucky to be gone for only three weeks.
Because of my trip to China, I am now closer to my dad than I have ever been.
This was THE trip that my husband and I needed after basically not spending time together for over a year (me in school full time + 2015-16 solo travels). We admired the Spanish life in Barcelona, the kind locals, the fucking architecture and everything in between. We even produced inside jokes that we still bring up to this day (the title is one of them, and you're supposed to say it in a deep batman-like tone). It was the the most relaxing trip of all our trips together, and as a couple, we remained open-minded, rational and argument-free. Don't deny it, a trip is nothing without an argument.
Fun fact: my body does not float. I cannot tread in the pool. I will drown. This trip was approximately around the same time Stranger Things premiered on Netflix. Through the show, I learned that high salt content in water boosts the chances of floating because science. I walked into the clear Mediterranean and let the ocean take my body. I float.
This trip also inspired me to start learning Spanish. I ordered a Spanish (American) Language software call Fluenz and it's been nothing but easy-learning (but I'm only like four levels in and that's like 6% of the learning process so bare with me).
Also paella. Paella, okay?
upright young lady seeking a gram of saffron. must be potent, legit and robust
Last, but not least, 2016 is the year I addressed my health concerns and changed my views on food. Not only have I returned to the kitchen and owned it, but I also developed a relationship with food. A wonderful one that is. I fell in love. The ability to feel good, physically and mentally, through consumption basically makes food a drug. Wait a minute. That doesn't sound right. Of course In-N-Out or Oreos are kind of drugs because you keep wanting more. But I am talking about the ability to heal your body through good food. Like a pharmacy drug. Does that make sense?
This also led me to get rid of the toxic things in life, including people.
also the year:
I had short platinum hair like Draco Malfoy
I joined yoga
I was prescribed glasses for my unknowingly horrible eye-sight
I went to Disneyland and Yosemite Falls for the first time
I figured out how to make sure my eyebrows were on point
I watch my sister-in-law flip backwards on an ATV
I bought my first pair of Air Force Ones
I walked on gold sand
I got hit by a car while walking across the street
I saw whales for the first time, from a cliff on Patrick's Point
I wrote two short stories
And most importantly, my relationship with this guy grew stronger
I am halfway through 28 and I can feel the underlying fear of being promoted from a student to an adult and am dealing with it. Happy New Year, dear friends.