Thursday, 15 June 2017

packing up and moving on

Today is June 14, 2017. As of today, I have been a resident of New York City for twenty-five days. Twenty-five!

I think twenty-five days is sufficient time. Sufficient time, I mean, to have let elapse before sitting down in front of a screen and trying to cobble together some words that might help me, at a later date, remember the experience of packing up almost-seven years of cold, windy summers and bunk beds shared with best friends and delicious, impossibly moist, tomato-sauce-less, meat-less pizza such as you'll never find anywhere outside of the Bay Area (because who in their right and sober frame of mind would think that pizza without tomato sauce and meat could be a good idea?) and love, so much unfathomable, bottomless love, and stuffing it into suitcases and boxes and moving all of it, the winds and the blankets and the pizza and the love, as indelible memories, across the country and into a new city.

Moving itself isn't new. I've moved before, and not just a few blocks down the street. Across a couple of continents, across an ocean. South Woodford to Seoul, Seoul to Berkeley. In 2002, my dad finished his PhD at the University of London; we went back to Korea ("Back? What do you mean, 'back,' Mum? I never lived there!" "Don't cry, you can just come back to England for college."). In 2010, I finished high school; my parents shipped me across the Pacific ("Yoojung-ah, don't go to college in England. You already lived there. England is boring. America is so much bigger. Just go to Princeton.").

So I've left homes before, made new ones in new places. But leaving California was the first time I left a place not because someone with the last name Kwon had finished a degree, but because... I chose to.

I felt like it. I felt like a change.

While this is true, it also makes it sound like I moved entirely on a whim, which is a bit misleading. For some people, "I feel like it" simply does mean "I feel like it, so I'm doing it." I am in awe of and slightly terrified by these people. (Also I'm convinced they don't exist.) For me, "I feel like it" means "I feel like it, but I can't really decide if I actually should or if this is just a quarter-life crisis creeping up on me, and I've been thinking about it but, agh, I just can't decide, and I've been praying, but God is being all mysterious about it and won't just tell me what to do--so annoying--and I really don't want to leave my church, and no YOU need to stop freaking out, and no, no, I do want to go but I can't so maybe I will just live in Americana Apartments forever and be buried in the Bay, and what do you mean I need to calm down I'm totally calm I still have my chill look it's right here, it's good, everything's good, I'm fine, we're fine."

I mean that's...that really about sums it up. The whole thing at the beginning about packing up seven years of sun and pizza and frigid summers--when it came to it, the packing was easy. (Emily and I started early, like responsible adults. It's the most adult-like behaviour we've ever displayed.) The deciding to pack was what was so enormously hard.

Mostly what it came down to was that I felt life had become stagnant for me, in the Bay. I was very happy--I generally am, most days, as long as I haven't run out of milk for my tea or stubbed my toe on the dresser--but it felt too comfortable, too still. There were a lot of days I walked down Shattuck Avenue and found myself thinking, if I have to walk this exact path down Shattuck one more time I'm going to lose my mind. (Dramatic, am I? How dare you!)

I think someone wiser, more mature, and more grounded than I would have been able to stay put and still find new challenges and ways to grow in an already-familiar environment. I, however, am not that wise, probably still less mature, and about as restless as a five-year-old suffering through a long, dull church sermon.

Eventually, like any good five-year-old, I tugged on my mother's sleeve and whispered loudly that I was bored and wanted to go outside, or in other words, after several months of sitting on the proverbial fence, I walked into my boss's office and asked her if I could transfer to our New York office. And then, much sooner than I had expected, she said yes, and to let her know when I wanted to go, and I promptly clambered back onto my fence, and sat there some more, until I finally just fell off and landed on the side that said "New York."

And suddenly, faster than I could say "wait can I maybe get back on that fence for a little longer," I had to say goodbye! To friends, to my first home in America, to a very full and happy life in California with unlimited access to good tacos and boba. Saying bye sucks. So much. Livingwater was the hardest, of course. I cried so hard on my last Sunday that I was surprised to wake up the next morning and find that I could still see.

How do you leave behind a community that has nurtured you and loved you so well, so genuinely, for the better part of six years, that has played a crucial role in helping you to understand, with a startling clarity, your identity as a daughter of a loving God, that has shown you time and again the very great joy to be found in walking with Christ, with others?

If I sound like I'm obsessed with Livingwater, it's because I am. And I miss it, and all the people in it. But you can't hold on to perfect, or near-perfect, or not-anywhere-near-perfect-but-I-still-love-you things forever. You treasure them while you have them, say a sucky, weepy, snot-filled goodbye when it's time, and move on. Livingwater, my Berkeley friends, my coworkers, In-N-Out, Elmwood Cafe and Moe's Books, the deep bond I'd formed with another physical place I'd taught myself to call "home"--all of these were things I had to reckon with as I sat on my fence and let myself fall.

Falling was painful, but I'm glad I did it. Leaving a place behind is one sucky, sad thing, no matter how ready you are to leave; arriving in a new one is another, tremendously exciting and life-giving, thing entirely. I feel newly energized here in my new surroundings (although who knows how long that will last, with a very hot and humid summer fast approaching--place your bets now!), and happy to be living in a crowded city again.

Contrary to most expectations and all well-meant warnings from other people, New York and its residents have been kind to me so far.

I will not jinx it by elaborating too much, but I will just say that the lady at my local Dunkin Donuts gave me two free Munchkins with my coffee the other day when I asked if I could just buy a single Munchkin instead of the minimum four, so.

If free Munchkins are not a harbinger of a bright new chapter in New York, I don't know what is.


I wrote most of this sitting at a little table in Bryant Park after work today, enjoying the warm summer evening outdoors and eating a quinoa-chicken-salad bowl with avocado. Avocados, in my mind, will always be associated with California. Californians love few things more than they love avocados. They might as well be the state mascot.

It is funny what little things can make you feel connected to another place, a previous home. If ever I get homesick for the west coast, maybe I will just run to the nearest bodega and buy an avocado and the Bay will suddenly feel not so far away.

Until then--I think free Dunkin Donuts are about enough to help me get adjusted to New York. Change is good. So are free donuts.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

advice extorted from my friends for a newly 24-year-old (me)

I turned twenty-four yesterday, April 23, 2017.

Can we dwell for a minute on the fact that April 23 is also 1) Shakespeare's (observed) birthday and (actual) date of death, and 2) World Book Day? (A fact that I will probably never tire of beating people over the head with?)

I mean, what the hell. I never stood a chance. I basically emerged from the womb declaring my undergrad English major. My first wails were probably the expression of a primal instinct that sensed all the budget cuts to hit English departments in institutions of higher learning across America in the years to come. Or the rise of Amazon and the slow death of independent bookstores, exacerbated by the pain of knowing that I, too, would one day contribute to this, in my early twenties, just because "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" would turn out to be cheaper on Amazon than at Moe's Books.

If Moe's ever goes out of business I know this decision will haunt me. Please Lord, that I may live guilt-free, let Moe's flourish long and happily and continue to bless generations of students and bookworms with their complimentary candystriped bookmarks for decades to come.

What was I talking about?

Oh: I turned twenty-four yesterday.

Turning twenty-four is a solemn affair. Twenty-four, in my eyes, is just over the brink of "real"' adulthood. Past denying liability and getting away with it, the way you might be able to at twenty-three. No one takes twenty-three very seriously. Probably because it's a prime number. Being a prime number age is the worst. That is a Fact. I know it's a Fact, because I say it's a Fact, and we now live in an age when anyone can declare something to be a Fact, and that automatically makes it so. That is another thing that has changed from twenty-three to twenty-four.

Because twenty-four is thus from the outset presenting itself as a year of many challenges, not the least of which include trying to act like a real adult and also moving across the country, I gathered some of my older, wiser friends in one place yesterday (with a couple of exceptions for the two friends who are still a prime number and therefore not to be taken seriously), ostensibly to stuff ourselves with Korean BBQ and drinks and "celebrate," but actually just to squeeze them for advice on how to be good at being twenty-four. (This is one of the many benefits of being the youngest/near-youngest in your friend group.)

As you can imagine, I received a range of responses. Some thoughtful, some funny, some spectacularly unhelpful, but all most very appreciated. I'm recording them here, so I can look back and remember, when twenty-four gets hard.

1. Brace yourself. Alternatively, embrace yourself.*

2. Get married.

3. Don't do drugs. Well, maybe just once, just to see. But not the stuff that gets you addicted on your first try, like cocaine. Maybe a brownie?

4. It's okay to be confused.

5. Keep reading and writing.

6. Twenty-four...is the year before you turn twenty-five. THE YEAR BEFORE YOU TURN TWENTY-FIVE.**

7. Make friends with more people who are very different from you.

8. Travel solo.

9. When you move to New York and your cost of living suddenly increases, don't let that hinder you from being generous with your finances. Continue to find ways to give, and bless others, with your money.

10. When you make new friends in New York, and you will, and it will be great, don't forget you will always have friends here, and don't be afraid to reach out whenever you need.***

11. Keep loving the Lord and other people, with joy.

12. Eat healthy. Take care of yourself physically, because as you get older, your body will start healing more slowly.****


*This is a reference to a Livingwater Church-wide joke, but the advice still stands, I think.
**This one is blatantly not a piece of advice, but a statement of a fact. I included it because it was presented with great urgency and significant emphasis on and repetition of the last six words (italicized/capitalized to reflect this emphasis).
***I will admit this one made me a little bit teary on the inside.
****This one also made me a bit teary on the inside, but for multiple different reasons.

Writing this all up and looking it over again, I can see clearly that this list contains (for the most part) some genuinely good advice; it is practical and wholesome and fun and I aim to follow it the best I can in the year ahead. But I also see that this list is more than the sum of its parts, more than just discrete tips; this list is love and laughter and encouragement; it is "we love you" and "we will make you laugh" and "we want to help you be the best version of yourself" and "we are here for you."

It has been said by so many people all the world over who have all believed it to be true for themselves and themselves alone, but:

I have the best friends.

Everyone else who has said this sentence before me was obviously deluded, because mine are, Objectively Speaking, the best.

Mine make twenty-four seem a little less daunting and a whole lot more exciting, and for that and for everything else that they do and that they are I am very grateful.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

what i watched in 2016

So I've come to a point where I've realized that if I procrastinate any longer on writing this post I'll find myself in 2018 and by then this will be neither timely nor relevant. Also, it's too late at night now to start the next episode of ์‹œ๊ทธ๋„ (Signal) without effectively committing myself to nightmares about serial murderers tonight, so here we goto follow on from my "what I read in 2016" list, here is my "what I watched in 2016" list, and accompanying reflections. And to clarify, "what I watched" here refers to movies only, because if I included TV shows the total number of hours I spent looking at medium-to-big screens last year would skyrocket to frightening heights. The partial truth is much more bearable.

The first thing to note is that I watched an unprecedented number of movies in 2016. That is, unprecedented for me, in my own life, not unprecedented in the history of the world, obviously, because, movie critics. It was a good year for personal entertainment, escapism, and empathy, and a bad year for my wallet, which now has burn marks from the hole that Hollywood put in it.

So why so many movies? What's with the obsession? When did it start?

I'm not sure when exactly it started, but the why it started is easy. There's a quote from a piece by Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker from a couple of years ago called "The History of Loving to Read," which I really liked—mostly because of how much it talked about Jane Austen—that about sums it up. "The rise of TV and movie fandom—with its generous affection turning, when it’s betrayed, into lavish scorn—seems to be an extension of our love affair with books. It’s a way of loving a canon in the present tense." In short, I came to love movies because I've always loved books. I've always loved books because I've always loved stories. It was a natural, inevitable progression from an obsession with one medium of storytelling to another.

As for why so many movies in 2016, well, the easy explanation is that 2016 was such a spectacularly crap-on-a-cracker year that the movie theatre and all that it offered in terms of escape became more appealing than ever. And that's partly true, but also I think it was, very simply, that I realized last year that I have a good amount of free time outside of work and ministry, and that there are few ways of spending this free time that I enjoy more than watching movies, whether with friends or by myself.

Where my "what I watched" list differs from my "what I read" list is in the fact that it doesn't reflect who I was and what I was thinking in 2016 so much as it reflects who society was and what society was thinking in 2016. The former list is dictated (mostly) by whatever comes out in theatres in a given year, the latter by my more deliberate choices of which books, from a span of centuries, I am curious to read. So while my annual books-read lists will maybe paint a picture of who I was in a given year, it will be interesting to see how my yearly movies-watched lists will maybe paint a picture of the backdrop against which I found myself in that year (Zootopia and Moonlight, together, might just sum up 2016 for America).

So. Favourites from 2016. Zootopia, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Captain Fantastic, Sing Street from the spring/summer. Miss Stevens, Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, La La Land from the fall/winter. And Moonlight, Lion, 20th Century Women, and Hidden Figures—though since I actually watched all of these in 2017, I haven't included them on the bulleted list below.

Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, La La Land, Moonlight, and Hidden Figures all had plenty of noise around them during awards season (and rightly so). I loved them all, but everyone on the planet has already said every good thing that can be said of them, and then some. So here are some thoughts on a few of the others that I loved from last year.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople: So damn funny. It probably elicited the most laughs out of all the movies on this list. But it was also heartfelt and sincere. I loved it because I loved its hero: Ricky Baker, an overweight juvenile delinquent who writes haikus as a way of dealing with his anger issues. (My favourite haiku: "Kingi you wanker / You arsehole, I hate you heaps / Please die soon, in pain.") I loved him and I believed in him and in his relationship with his crusty foster "uncle" Hec (Sam Neill), and I somehow also believed in their shared run from the police through the New Zealand bush, absurd as it all was. Wilderpeople was smart, hilarious, warm and unassuming, and thinking about it eight months later still makes me smile. (Side note: the director, Taika Waititi, is next going to helm Marvel's Thor: Raganarok, which is a jump that makes me think of Colin Trevorrow's leap from Safety Not Guaranteed—one of my favourite movies of 2012—to Jurassic World. Are we going to keep losing all the good indie people to impersonal franchises?! Don't answer that.)

Captain Fantastic: I'm still upset that Viggo Mortensen didn't win the Oscar for his role in this movie (and angry that Casey Affleck won instead, but that's a whole separate issue), even though I knew it was probably the least likely outcome and that I should celebrate the fact that he was even recognized with a nomination at all. But Viggo Mortensen was really, truly fantastic in this movie, playing a progressive, countercultural father raising his six kids completely off the grid in the Pacific Northwest and also raising questions about parenting. Watching him and his interactions with his kids and with other characters made me feel as if I were watching a real person, with very real emotions and flaws, not just a tidily crafted character. And I appreciated that while the film's sympathies were obviously for Viggo's character, it also highlighted the many questionable aspects of his parenting. Other good things: the kids (all of them!), the humour, the emphasis on thinking for yourself and talking about your ideas, the costumes, the colours, the lack of fear of being sentimental, the story itself—all wonderful. But really this movie is all about Viggo. Viggo, I love you. Please be my adoptive father.

Sing Street: Here's the thing. La La Land was amazing. But my one gripe with it will forever be that its splendor completely drowned out the other great movie musical of 2016, which was Sing Street. To describe Sing Street is basically to create a word bank of all the words that describe the type of movies I like best: sincere, feel-good, triumphant coming-of-age. With great music (tributes to 1980s pop/rock). And lovely accents (Irish). And so much sympathy for its young protagonists and their dreams that you feel heartened by their every small victory and plunged into the depths of heartbreak with their every pitfall. Everything about this movie was so lovely. I'm going to go and listen my way through the soundtrack again and soak in the "happy-sad"-ness of it all. And then be amazed all over again that none of the songs were nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. But oh well. I am just happy this movie exists (and now on Netflix!).

I think I'm done now. Here's the full list of movies I watched in 2016, and again, most memorable in bold:
  1. Hail, Caesar (2016)
  2. Zootopia (2016)
  3. Love and Friendship (2016)
  4. The History Boys (2006)
  5. The Jungle Book (2016)
  6. The Departed (2006)
  7. The Lobster (2016)
  8. Finding Dory (2016)
  9. The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
  10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
  11. Captain Fantastic (2016)
  12. Star Trek Beyond (2016)
  13. Seoul Searching (2016)
  14. Indignation (2016)
  15. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  16. Whiplash (2014)
  17. Sing Street (2016)
  18. Eye in the Sky (2016)
  19. 13th (2016)
  20. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
  21. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
  22. Breach (2007)
  23. Arrival (2016)
  24. Moana (2016)
  25. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
  26. La La Land (2016)
  27. Don't Think Twice (2016)
  28. Nerve (2016)
  29. Miss Stevens (2016)
  30. Howards End (1992)
  31. Cafe Society (2016)
  32. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Monday, 6 February 2017

what i read in 2016

I have been keeping a list of all the books I've ever read since 2006. The list started out in a free notebook I got from Starbucks one year as a token of appreciation from the green mermaid herself for buying more caffeinated drinks in a year than was likely healthy for a pre-teen who needed to grow, and since then has moved into a Google spreadsheet home more suited for this digital age.

It's a fun list to look at. It tells me that I was at my most literary in the year 2009, when I read 41 books (only a few of which were for school), and that I apparently forgot what a bookstore was in the years 2014-2015, when I read a total of 14 books over the two years combined. I'm inclined to think that can't really be right. The only explanation I can come up with for this dismal number is that I graduated from college in 2014 and spent much of the following year worrying about whether I would be able to stay in America. Thus, the time I would normally have spent reading books I spent instead defeatedly reading articles explaining how I essentially had less chance of getting an H-1B visa than I did of weightlifting for Korea in the next Olympics. I wound up getting the visa, so the joke's on me, I guess, and on all the bookstores that otherwise would have made much more money off me.

I thought it would be nice to start writing up my yearly books-read lists here. I have a hunch—or maybe it is wishful, romantic thinking—that I will be able to look back on a particular year and paint a picture of who I was that year, what I thought, what I wanted to learn about, based on the collection of books I read.

I say this, and then I look at the books I read last year, and it strikes me that a significant fraction of them are stories or memoirs written by celebrities/actors/musicians/entertainers. Which, you know. Doesn't really paint me as the bookish intellectual I'd otherwise pretend to be. Though this is not to say those books aren't great, of course. Mindy Kaling is one of the funniest writers of all time, and B.J. Novak's short stories are clever and poignant and feel so acutely unreal-but-real. But Kaling is not Kipling and Novak is not Nabokov and what my 2016 list accurately reflects is that this was the year that I reached new heights (or depths?) of immersion in pop culture, and consumed an unprecedented amount of TV and film. And it spilled over into the books I chose to read. I am more than fine with this. If anything, my 2016 list serves as a reminder of my first time watching "The Office" (both UK and US versions), and of the weeks of endless laughter it brought me. That will always be a happy thing.

There are other hints too, from my book list, as to what I was thinking about last year. 2016 was the year I stepped into a greater awareness of how important my Korean identity is to me. It's the year I began giving voice to the feeling that has increased over the past few years of my living in America, that I do not really, wholly belong on this soil, that there will forever be a part of me that cries loudly to be on another soil across the Pacific, and that such a cry cannot be so easily tamped down beneath a love of Hollywood movies and a deep-rooted attachment to Chipotle. And so last year I read a novel by a Korean-American author for the first time in my life, recognizing in it a something from within myself that I had not found in other books, and reveling in the novelty and the joy of it. The following month, I made my way through a collection of short stories by Tablo (of Korean hip hop group Epik High) and reveled more. Both books were lent to me by friends, both of whom are Korean, and it made the experience of reading them so much the more wonderful.

My 2016 list is a marked, intentional improvement, quantity-wise, on my 2014-2015 lists. But looking at it does make me want to set some goals for my 2017 list. More books by people who have been dead for over a century. More books by people of colour. More books by women. (I'm on the right track so far on that last one: the first new book I read in 2017 was The Devil Wears Prada—a very important book in the modern fashion-literature canon by a highly talented female writer, obviously.)

So, anyway. The first of many of these lists to come, here are all the books I read in 2016 (not counting those I re-read for the seventieth time, like Anne of Green Gables or Little Women)—most memorable in bold:
  1. Girlboss, by Sophia Amuroso
  2. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., by Adelle Waldman
  3. Undine, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque
  4. A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson
  5. The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss
  6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews
  7. The History Boys, by Alan Bennett
  8. One More Thing, by B.J. Novak
  9. The Haters, by Jesse Andrews
  10. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, by Mindy Kaling
  11. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  12. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
  13. Howards End, by E.M. Forster
  14. Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
  15. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  16. A Gesture Life, by Chang-Rae Lee
  17. Pieces of You, by Tablo
  18. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  19. Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal
  20. The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty, by Amanda Filipacchi

Thursday, 19 January 2017

january things, or, let's not be afraid to record the mundane

It is January in the year 2017. It is a prime number year, which I hate. I lamented about this long and loudly in the weeks leading up to the new year to everyone who was unfortunate enough to find themselves in my immediate vicinity, until someone got tired of my complaining and told me to get over it, after which I largely kept my dislike of specific numbers, prime or otherwise, to myself.

I am twenty-three years old (another prime number) in January in the year 2017. Twenty-three and three quarters, to be precise the way you are in elementary school when being eight-and-a-half means you are significantly older and wiser than your friends who are only eight-and-a-quarter. I have been twenty-three years old for nine months and in those nine months I have learned a few things about what it is to be twenty-three.

None of those things are very profound.

One of those things is that when you are twenty-three, decisions gradually begin to feel like they have more weight attached to them than you remember them having. What to do, where to go, how to live, who to be. It happens slowly, imperceptibly, like gaining physical weight. You don't feel it as it's happening, until one day you step on a scale at your friend's house and squint at the number, hmm, that can't possibly be right, I didn't feel like I was putting on more pounds -- but if the scale says it, it must be so. Choosing to live in America at this current stage of my life had never seemed to me a big deal -- or even like a conscious decision -- until last year when it began to dawn on me faintly that it was in fact a Big Decision, with Significant Consequences. Most significant of which: having to accept that it meant being far away from family. It is hard to explain why this was such a new realization, after five, six years of already being separated. I suppose it is the difference between being a student and being an adult.

--

Things that have happened in my life as a twenty-three-and-three-quarters-year-old in January in the year 2017, so far:

I spent the first half of the month at home in Korea, as I've been fortunate enough to do every year since I came away for college. Edwin came for a portion of the trip as well, and did important things like meet my dad, and the Sullivans, and teach my sisters how to play Settlers of Catan, and watch a lot of Korean broadcast network awards shows with my family. I did a couple of things for the first time on this particular visit home, like spending a 24-hour (count 'em) period making a single batch of cookies with Eugenie, and taking Izzie shopping for clothes, just the two of us.

Samie came to San Francisco with her boyfriend, and I spent a full, glorious (jet lagged) day with them, walking along the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building to Pier 39 to Lombard Street. She exclaimed several times about how pretty San Francisco is. It made me realize I have been here for a long time, to take it so for granted as I do now.

I received another email from my high school AP lit teacher Mr. H, in the sporadic but flourishing email correspondence that sprung up between us after I graduated. His email was characteristically pithy; my response was characteristically, uncontrollably wordy. I am twenty-three, the age he was when he taught me and my peers, which is very weird. He is now married and living in Beijing, and I am now flailing about as I try to navigate the unpredictable waters that are post-college young adulthood. He still asks me about the books I am reading, and I ask him about the books he is reading, and on occasion I also ask him things like "how do you do this whole adult thing and does it get any less hard" and he says wise, encouraging things in response like "don't get overwhelmed by it all" and "trust your intuition and trust God" and "get excited about what's going to happen and how cool it will be."

One of the earlier emails in this particular chain was the one in which he had wished me a happy birthday last April as he has done every single year without fail since I graduated. In my reply to that email, I remarked that it had been six years since I graduated high school and I was still receiving happy birthday emails from my AP lit teacher, and that this was how I knew that life was kind to me.

I still know it now, from these emails that are sent my way every so often from a computer in Beijing: life is very kind to me.

--

I like to think I am becoming more okay with the uncertainty of everything in my life, but I am not sure if that is actually true. What is true is that I am becoming more okay with saying that I am becoming more okay with the uncertainty. I think part of me hopes that in saying it more often, it will eventually become the truth. If you say something enough times, does it become true?

I like tomatoes I like tomatoes I like tomatoes

I forgive you I forgive you I forgive you I forgive you

I am okay with uncertainty I am okay with uncertainty I am okay with uncertainty

--

I took some time earlier this month to sit down and reflect on the state of my faith, and on where my walk took me over the last year. The two words that impressed themselves upon me were intimacy (as in, a lack of) and idolatry (as in, far too much of). There is still repenting to be done, and still -- thankfully -- grace to be sought and received.

--

It is January in the year 2017 and I am twenty-three going on twenty-four and a lot of things about my life feel uncertain and still more things feel deliciously sturdy and I am feeling hopeful for what this year will teach me. It is a nice feeling.