Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Eleventh Tale: The Pros and Cons of Wandrin'

As many of you know, I am currently in St. Louis, Missouri, my hometown, visiting some of my oldest and dearest friends. Given the situation I'm currently in, one can only imagine the feelings of temptation that arise in regards to "settling". Just like any woman, my
ovaries are probably starting to tick a little, and sometimes the thoughts associated with this phenomenon are more along the lines of comfort over adventure.

However, I DO still have that travel/adventure bug in me, and it just doesn't seem to want to go away, ovary-ticking and all. Given this conflict of, um, head and heart, I decided to compile a pros/cons list for traveling, and one for "settling". :D. I intend to be brutally honest, so watch out.

Traveling: Cons
- the act of traveling itself (sitting on an airplane for hours, etc.)
-trying to figure out directions to places
-getting lost in foreign countries
-not being able to talk to people b/c of language barriers
-living out of a suitcase
-sleeping in crappy beds
-having to budget money all the time
-getting ripped off by locals
-having to start all over again wherever you are
-having to share bathrooms with other people (and decades of crud. I should
mention that this is my absolute least favorite part of traveling)
-meeting attractive foreign men
-missing friends/family

Traveling: Pros
-getting to experience amazing landscapes, historical sites, museums, parks, buildings, etc.
-trying new/awesome types of food (this is a huge one for me)
-making new friends from varied cultural backgrounds
-completely experiencing another culture as natives do
-learning new languages
-being an ambassador for your own culture
-overcoming logistical challenges on your own
-gaining confidence from being able to overcome those challenges
-feeling independent and strong
-getting to try new activities
-meeting attractive foreign men

Settling in St. Louis: Cons
-being bored
-missing out on many of the aforementioned pros
-being surrounded by "things", possibly learning to value those things more than experiences

Settling in St. Louis: Pros
-having my own bed (you can tell this is #1 for me, call me
the Unsinkable Molly Brown)
-being surrounded by good friends/closer to family
-living in a diverse community
-having the opportunity to date someone steadily without worrying about where I will be in 3 months
-feeling a sense of comfort and security that only a home can provide
-investing my money instead of throwing it away

So, interestingly enough, it seems that I value NOT being bored so much that traveling is where I turn to. This is especially true because when I get bored, I also tend to get depressed and anxious, which in my book is no good. So if I were to settle, I would need to have constant projects at a job that kept me challenged. I have to say that I know something about myself: I value having a sense of security more than any traveler should. However, I have found that when I am able to stay in a place for at least a month and not be essentially
living out of my suitcase, I feel much more secure about living wherever I am and tend to enjoy the experience more.

One thing is for certain: the lifestyle I have chosen isn't for everyone, and it certainly isn't for the feint of heart. I have to say, though, that even with the temptation to stay, my heart still wants to see far away places and experience different cultures. I guess it's good to be aware that the possibility of coming back here still exists, but God willing, St. Louis will still be here should I ever choose to take that route. For now, the jury's still out. :)

Thanks for reading, God bless,
Love you all!
Xoxo, Anna

P.s. I wrote this all on my iPhone so I apologize if there are any spelling/syntactical errors. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Tenth Tale: Back in 'da Lou!

Yesterday, I departed Orlando for my 10 day trip back to my hometown of St. Louis. Waiting in the airport, I had the feeling that the flight would not be a comfortable one; children were abundant and screaming, fresh from their wild adventures at Disney World. In fact, one gorgeous looking curly-topped boy in particular spent the entire 1.5 hour wait running from one side of the waiting area to the other, in front of the window and just past the chair I was sitting in, forcing his very lanky looking mother to run after him with arms outstretched. There was a pole with a keypad on it that seemed to hold the same appeal to him as a rocket ship, and he took great pleasure in voicing his discontent every time his mother managed to pry him off the thing.

So, of course it was no surprise to me that I was seated right next to this boy and the mother on the airplane. The surprise that did come was that as soon as the plane ascended, the boy dropped off to sleep and slept almost the entirety of the 2.5 hour flight. However, behind me was a mother who kept scolding her toddling, 2 year old-ish child harshly. At one point I heard, clearly, "you been at gramma's one week a'ready and you acting like such a baby...a spoiled baby", and I thought, well...the child LOOKS about 2 years old. How is he/she supposed to act? The worst out of all of the child scenarios, however, was the one towards the back of the plane that could be audibly heard by everyone. As soon as the plane started to descend, this particular child started crying and screaming, "I want to be off of this plane!! I don't want to be on here anymore!! Get me off of here mama, get me off of here, please!!!!" This was particularly traumatizing, because as we all know, the act of flying itself can be stressful for a lot of people. That, coupled with this child's lamentations, really was cause for one to start hyperventilating.

Lucky for me, we touched down and I felt a feeling of overwhelming peace and joy...it was so strong, I almost started to cry. The voices of all the children started to mellow when I realized that I was home, and it had been so long since I had been here. This is a place that I have such a strong emotional connection to. I was born here, grew up here, and had so many life experiences here-not to mention that it is home to a few of my best friends and so many connections. It's impossible not to feel bonded to this place.

Soon after I landed I was met by my father at baggage claim, and we headed to downtown Clayton for dinner. We were originally planning to go to Chez Leon, but were informed by a half toothless concierge that "thur [was] a prahvate pahrta" going on. After that lovely intrigue, I remembered that we were very close to one of my favorite sushi restaurants called "Tani". It is owned by the same people who own "Haruno", my favorite sushi restaurant in Springfield. So, we went there and had the most amazing sushi and sashimi...my personal favorite is the "Eye of the Tiger" roll. I could have thousands of those. In any case, it was nice spending time hanging out with my dad. I don't get to do that very often!

This morning I woke up at my friend Kate's house (after a lovely night of catching up with her) in U. City, and went to my former workplace: the St. Louis JCC (Creve Coeur). I was instantly greeted by some of the amazing people I used to work with, and was able to spend some time talking with them. Then I went out to lunch with my former boss, James, and we had a really wonderful time. I was so glad I got to reconnect with these people.

The odd thing is that this place is just like I remember it. Everything about it is the same as it was yesterday...only I am the one who is different. I feel different in it; foreign, strange. It's like traveling back in time, though so much has happened between now and then.

I have concluded that I am a different person than I was when I lived here. Because of that fact, I don't think I would ever choose to live here again. Right now this just seems like a beautiful dream of nostalgia, an island off the coast of life I've envisioned for myself and continue to circumnavigate. I appreciate it, I love it, and I will always visit it when I can. However, I have moved on. the purpose of my life is still a mystery and so I must go forward and explore. Until then, I am just listening to the cacophonous sound of multivariate birds and the quiet wind slithering through the brilliant blooms on the Dogwood trees at the house in Wildwood, and loving the feeling of peace and serenity that only gorgeous nature can afford us (well, I'm also looking forward to the cacophonous sounds of the people at the bars and restaurants in U. City, Clayton, CWE, Tower Grove...etc. Not gonna lie ;).

Anyway, I hope other people out there are feeling as peaceful as I am right now.

Much love, xoxo,
Anna <3

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Ninth Tale: Love vs. Independence

I was talking the other day to a good friend about something I read that made me think a lot about this whole situation of love vs. independence. I was reading about 'birth numbers', which to me is basically the equivalent of astrology: just as unsubstantial; while entertaining, it should not be taken as dogma. Anyway, I am, according to this system a "37/10". When I read the chapter about myself, it said, "emotional neediness sometimes clashes with a deeply rooted independent streak." Strangely enough, that struck a chord with me.

How true have I known that to be my entire life, thus far. If I am feeling emotionally needy, I am at my worst. If I'm feeling independent, I'm fiercely so...and I feel happiest when I'm in this mode. Given this nature, I often feel conflicted about the thought of sharing my life with somebody. I'll admit, sometimes I really want to have someone to share life experiences with; to confide in; to love and be loved by. Hell, I appreciate the cheesiest chick flicks with the rest of 'em. Yet, right now, the thought of committing myself to someone still feels like being hog-tied. I start asking myself all sorts of logistical questions as soon as I see a possibility of a relationship becoming serious, and then I freak out. Well, what if I want to travel more? Is he going to come with me? If he doesn't, am I going to be sitting by the computer waiting for emails? HELL NO. I don't want to do that!! AHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! See my point?

As for the relationships I've had so far, I can honestly say that I have never really known true love throughout them. The feelings I felt in those relationships, while harsh to say out loud, were more like infatuation. Did I care deeply for the people? Of course-- I felt like a mom. But, who wants to feel like a mom in a romantic relationship? I don't think love is the kind of thing that is bred out of desperation to feel something deeper than you actually do. True, I believe infatuation can grow to love if it's nurtured properly...but I wasn't with the people long enough to get to that point.

Then there's the issue of independence. I LOVE being independent...knowing that I only have to answer to myself. If I make a mistake, it's my mistake. I made it and the consequences affect only me. If I want to go somewhere or do something on a whim, I can, and I don't have to run it by anybody. I don't have to worry about someone else's feelings, or 'entertaining' someone else or being 'on'. I can just be myself, honestly, and make no apologies for that. I can be happy or sad or grumpy and feel whatever I want to feel without it affecting anyone else.

That may sound seemingly like the sick and twisted confessions of a control addict (which I can definitely say I am), but I have found that my experiences in relationships thus far have only had negative effects on my personality. I have felt the emotional gamut, straight up from pure jealousy to sheer insanity. Mostly, though, underneath those feelings, I have felt smothered and resentful (even though, believe me, I was a willing participant in every aspect of these relationships).

I don't pretend that these issues weren't brought about in part by the other party in the particular relationship-I certainly didn't feel that way just out of the blue. So, maybe part of the reason I haven't been able to love is because I haven't been with the 'right' person (someone who brings out more positive qualities in me, and doesn't make me feel bad every time I open my mouth). Then there's also a deeper issue; maybe another reason I haven't ever truly loved anyone before was because I was impulsive about getting involved right away, then it just seemed like the correct evolution of a relationship. It was immature. Sort of like getting drunk for the first time- you don't really want to, but it's intriguing-and everyone else seems to be doing it. Before you know it, you're stuck with your head in a toilet, vomiting your guts out. So, I was going through the motions. I may sound crazy on this one...but I think a lot of people get into relationships this way: unconsciously.

Unfortunately, even after having confessed all of this, I'm not feeling any more resolute about the situation. Just slightly more honest, lol...and maybe a bit sheepish about past behavior. Oh well. I guess the only thing that I can do moving forward is to keep living my life, goals in mind, brain in head, with my eyes and heart open. Sounds easy, doesn't it? ;) Guess I'll have to give updates later and let you all know how that worked out for me.

Anyway, those are the thoughts for today. Hope everyone is well. :)

<3, Me

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Eight Tale: Chain, Chain, Chain...

Hey all,

So I'm going to take a break from the outrage I've been expressing concerning the U.S. Government and what's going on right now politically (yes, you can all breathe a sigh of relief for a moment) to express something that's on my mind this morning: how our actions affect other people.

I woke up too early and can't get back to sleep (It's 5:23 as of now, I am supposed to get up at 6, woke up at 5...don't you hate that when that happens? I so do). You know what happens when you can't go back to sleep...your mind starts to wander. My mind this morning was wandering about how the actions of others can affect so many people.

On the negative side, I was thinking about some of my mom's family members on her mom's side (there is about a 0.0000001% chance of any of them reading this, so not to worry). Not her immediate family, mind you, but some select ones further down the line. These particular people have estranged not just my mom over the years, but her entire family (including me). On an everyday basis, I don't really think about them, but occasionally I do and I start to get upset about it. You see, my mom was born Jewish into a pretty wealthy family. When she married my dad, she not only married someone who wasn't very wealthy, but he was older, a foreigner, and raised in a Catholic family (basically, she hit the trifecta ;). When my mom married my dad, she essentially converted to Christianity, but it was of her own accord. Still, the mystery remains as to why these people just won't accept any of us. Is it because of one of these many things? Are we not wealthy enough? Are they pissed about my mom's conversion? Or are we just too plain 'weird' for their taste?

The strange thing is that I HAVE NO CLUE; none of us do. These particular feelings have never been expressed on their side, and whenever we encounter these people, they act like everything's fine and normal, are pretty darn friendly even. Yet, over the years we have been excluded from certain family events. At one point, my mom saw one of these family members and that person expressed interest in getting together with my family...however, no matter how much my mom tried, they never could get a date set. Some of these family members who are closer to my age are nice to me when I see them...over the years, I have tried to communicate with them, even go so far as to see if they would like to get together...but every time I try, it's worthless.

It just goes to show that our actions, no matter how small, DO affect others. We might think that they don't matter, but even now, at almost 27 years old, I feel hurt because of their actions (or, non-action). So...the question for me is, should I express my feelings at some point and give them a chance to tell me why they behave this way, or do we just let these kinds of things go?

It makes me reflect on my own actions, and I'll just take the opportunity in this blog to express regret to anyone I have caused pain: if there's anyone who has been hurt by me, I'm very, very sorry.

Anyway...I intend to use the lesson that they have taught me, and devote some more time spreading love to others instead of ignoring them. It's always a good wake-up call.

Much, much love...xoxo,

<3 Me

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Seventh Tale: The State of The Union (wait, what Union?)

I have decided that I need to stop reading/watching the news so often. It's hard to ignore so many big things going on right now. The thing that's on my mind most recently is the direction of our government and how much politics sicken me.

Believe me, I'm as Rousseau-ian as they come. I definitely believe in a social contract-we give up some rights in order to have protection from the government. However, it makes me so mad that intelligent people, such as the economist James K. Galbraith, are being completely ignored when they say that "spending" is good for the government. The issue of "spending" has become such a talking point for the Republican Party. For those of you who criticized Obama's "Campaign for Change" movement, it's time to look at the tactics of this party and see them for what they are: talking points for the next election. What caused the Great Depression of 1929? The fact that people panicked, and they stopped "SPENDING". Because the government is not going to INVEST (not "spend", which has become the umbrella term for all things good and evil) in new and existing programs that create jobs for people to have and products for people to buy, there will be less liquidity in the system. So, people have less jobs, less money, and they individually spend less. How is this good for our sytem? Please, someone tell me.

I'm not saying we can't revise our budget. Of course we should, and look at programs that are completely ineffective. I really this is no easy or small feat, because almost all programs will be effective for somebody. I'm just saying, let's look at that, and let's also look at the things right in front of our faces-- like giving tax cuts to the wealthy. According to the Center for American Progress, "the Federal Treasury loses twice as much revenue due to tax breaks than Congress appropriates on all nonsecurity discretionary spending". Also, why are so many of the programs being cut those which benefit poor and older Americans? This is a good article which graphically shows some of the cuts being made in all areas: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/02/tax_breaks_infographic.html. If that's not enough for you, check out FOX News' own story about budget cuts, which says "Republicans are already pushing extreme measures like privatizing or making deep cuts in Social Security...At the same time that Republicans are threatening to undermine Social Security, they are defending $20 billion in government giveaways to oil companies that are raking in record profits, arguing that these handouts should be off the table when it comes to spending cuts." Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/09/house-gop-targets-dozens-programs-spending-cut-plan/#ixzz1IaK3ec8Y.

I believe in a more collectivistic society, and am saddened by the fact that in the U.S. we have become so increasingly individualistic. I remember when I was canvassing for Obama, and this guy came out of his (million dollar) house and said "I'm not gonna give my money to a welfare woman on dope." I mean, SERIOUSLY?!! Have we reached this level of ignorance and selfishness that we have lost all compassion for those needing help? I got news for ya: there are ALWAYS going to be people who take advantage of social programs, but they are a small percentage. Also, how can we blame those who have not had the education and/OR opportunities afforded to them that we have had? Of course, we all have responsibility to be active members of society and we can all rise above our circumstances- I am not advocating for laziness, and get just as pissed about those who take advantage of the system as the rest of them. However, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Even my own mom at one point in my very young childhood needed the support of food stamps. My mom is one of the most intelligent people in the world in my view, and had lots of financial opportunities that others did not during her own childhood. All I'm saying is, anyone can find him or herself in the same situation. Say Mr. "No welfare woman on dope" man might at one point find that his business isn't able to be supported anymore, and then he isn't able to make his house payments (certainly I am not wishing this on this guy, just using it as an example). Where is he going to get a new job when people won't hire applicants above 45 in his highly specialized field? Where will he go when his kids need to be fed? We all need help sometimes, and we all need social programs to get people back on their feet. We can't do it without financial support, and that's a fact.

I sometimes feel so helpless in the face of what's happening politically here. More and more I see our society becoming like that of "A Brave New World" a la Aldous Huxley- being bred into caste systems from birth, retarded in utero. Only now we can't even do what we were bred for. No wonder I have thought many times that I don't want to live here, in a place where we don't care enough about our people to find a health care system that works for everybody. Then I know that there's no perfect system, and that there's no place in the world that won't be affected by U.S. action. Everyone follows the U.S. lead and is affected by us economically. Pretty soon, even health care systems in Europe may not be able to (financially) be supported, and they may find themselves in the same predicament. It is just sad when it's too much to ask to have a clean, decent place to live for a reasonable price, basic and preventative medical care, healthy food on the table, opportunities for education and a job in order to be able to contribute to society.

I am grateful and so blessed to have what I have. I just want others who want the same thing to have the same opportunity that I have. Maybe I'm naive, but I believe there are a lot of other people out there who have these hopes and dreams. I also want the same for my future kids, if I decide to have them.

My contribution to the world will be to help people educate one another about where they come from, especially those with preconceived notions about other cultures and their understanding of the rest of the world. I want people to see that it is OKAY to listen to other people's viewpoints, that they don't have to be afraid of their own opinions being changed unless they want to change them. I want people to see that, underneath everything, we are all just people trying to live together in this crazy, mixed-up world. That is my dream. Call me an "idealist", "socialist", sticks and stones.

That's all I have to rant about for now...chew on that. :)

Much love,