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Moving Forward

I hate to post something that’s mood-dampening, but I have felt many emotions since Tuesday night: shock, concern, and more – and I think it’s important to write them out. At the same time, I know I am very fortunate: the results of this election don’t affect me that much; my life can easily move on.

Many of the students I teach are recent immigrants, and they do not have the same privilege I do. I cried the day following the election, thinking of these children and their families, the life they want to lead, the work they put in, and the possibility that they might not be here a year from now. I couldn’t move on.
Immediately following the election results, I was mad. I was angry that the United States could have allowed this to happen: a billionaire businessman with no political experience, considered as a joke 18 months ago, against so many things the country holds dear, is now the president-elect. There are a lot of reasons and articles explaining why this happened, but I still had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this is happening for real. Sure, there was the slight chance that something might happen between now and inauguration day, but anybody who said Trump “wasn’t that bad” was in my line of fire. I was off Facebook on Wednesday, I think it was for the best.

After a little while, I began to think a little more. There just might be hope out there. Listening to Hillary Clinton’s speech gave me a case of the sniffles (Okay, there were tears.) All is not lost… right? Then I began to think about God. Where was He in all of this? I certainly don’t see Him in Trump, even if people have told me otherwise.

To those who did vote for Trump: I don’t think your votes intended to represent a bigoted, misogynist, ableist, anti-immigrant person. I presented an argument against Trump to you, and you defended him with things like:

Mocking people with disabilities isn’t okay, but…

Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals was out of line, but…

What he said about sexually assaulting women isn’t right, but…

“Whatever your reasons, a vote for Trump required a rationalization. In order to vote for Trump, something mattered more to you than his mistreatment or discrimination of certain groups.” (Shannon Dingle) You admit that Trump has said and done some things… but. You rationalize, defend, and as a result, support and voted for what that man represents. Remember: A half-hearted vote counts the same as the vote from his number one fan.

But you know what? I’m not here to rant, be angry, or insult. I’ve realized that I can’t wallow in my frustrations, because that is going to get me nowhere. I have to make a choice: love or hate. So, I decided that it’s the Jesus in me that will love the Jesus in you. I’m going to pray for him. I really, really, REALLY hope and will be praying for our country to come together. Trump begins his presidency in January (the truth, no matter how painful it is to type), even if we don’t agree with anything he stands for. The Bible says to pray for your leaders, so even if I don’t want him sitting in the White House, I need to pray for him. Even if I don’t see God in Trump, I will pray for God to move through him.

Some have suggested “You just need to move on.” When you move on, you forget and concede that “it’s okay, forget it”. I certainly have the privilege to do so, but I couldn’t do it on Wednesday – and I won’t anytime soon. However, with God’s help, I will be moving forward. Pain and sorrow like this doesn’t go away; it makes me who I am. And with everything I am, I put one foot in front of the other on the same dusty path, remembering His enduring faithfulness every step of the way.

 


Side note: I found some C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters fan fiction: letters from an older tempter/demon mentoring a younger one.  This quote still hits the nail on the head, and I think it relevant for a time like this.

cs-lewis-quote

How to survive a long trip: 11 Do’s & Dont’s

Nowadays, in-flight movies have great selections. But you’re not always flying, and the plane doesn’t always have a TV. So what to do? I recently traveled for more than 24 hours straight (including layovers). So I can say with confidence: it’s hard, but you can do it. Also, I know I have more do’s than I have don’ts. I guess I’m just a positively-thinking person? Sorry if I’ve disappointed you with my 7 do’s and only 4 don’ts. But remember, these are just suggestions from me – you can disregard them if you’d like, but these are what I’ve found helpful.

  1. Do: Bring a good book: It can be a book you’ve read before, or one that’s been sitting on your list for a while. Just bring something that you know will take up your time and keep you engaged.
  2. Don’t: iPhone/electronic games: If you’re on a long flight/trip, it has a good chance of running out of battery. These days, a lot of airports provide outlets to charge your phone/computer. Regardless, I would go with the paper book (or other non-electronic things) if possible, but if you trust the battery level to power through (literally!), then go ahead. I’m not there to stop you! If you’re going internationally, your phone bill will thank you later if you turn your cellular data OFF and go into airplane mode for the entirety of your trip.
  3. Do: Sleep. It seems like a no-brainer, but you want sleep – that new time zone demands it. If you’re like me, you’ll be needing a Pillow Pet or some kind of cushion so your neck doesn’t fall off, and maybe an eye mask/ear plugs so you can black out (in a good way, of course). For your trip, you might want to try falling asleep to the tune of your destination’s time zone, so you’re not COMPLETELY jet-lagged.

    Sleeping

    Getting over jet lag like…

  4. Don’t: Talk too loud. Respect other people by keeping quiet. They might be trying to sleep, didn’t read this blog post, or forgot their earplugs at home – and now they’re depending on you. You might be sitting with your best friend for the next 12 hours, but everyone else doesn’t have to know.
  5. Do: Bring food. Check ahead of time to see what meals you’ll be getting, if any. If you have a lot of layovers, this can be important. Even if you are getting food, it might stink and you might be allergic to it. If you have layovers or transfers (i.e. plane to train to car, etc.), then who knows – you could get delayed, and you don’t want to pay 5 times what you should be for a bottle of water, amiright?  This is especially important on buses, where the only food is at the station. Plus, you get the food you want, when you want it. Sounds good to me!
  6. Don’t: Bring fragile foods. You might love your fruits and crackers, but they can get easily smooshed or explode and then leak. That would be terrible. Also, for the sake of your fellow travellers, don’t bring anything strong-smelling: you can have egg salad or tuna any other day.
  7. Do: Bring toiletries in your carry-on: Brushing your teeth, a splash of cold water on your face, or for the ladies out there, some eyeliner is one of the best ways I know to freshen up. A little mouthwash works too, if the space is an issue. For plane rides, make sure it’s 2 ounces or less! A comb can go a long ways as well. These tools are best utilized at the very end of the trip, like the last hour (or every 12 hours, depending on your travel time). I know that you know that you need a toothbrush, etc. But I would make a note to myself: bring it in the carry-on. It’s easy to stick it in the suitcase, but when you need to look pulled together as soon as you hop out of a taxi, bring those toiletries. Maybe a mint, too. Hopefully it won’t, but carried-on toiletries become much more important if your luggage gets lost!
  8. Don’t: Ladies, if it’s that time of the month, you don’t want to be caught unprepared. I think that’s all I need to say about that.
  9. Do: Bring puzzles, etc.: Scrabble grams, sudoku, crosswords – all legends. They drive me crazy, but hey – you will have the time to work through it! When I’m sick of my book but can’t seem to sleep (shoutout to the crying baby), a good Scrabble gram will keep me engaged and doing something.
  10. Don’t: Leave luggage unattended. If you’re travelling with a friend, ask them to watch it while you use the bathroom. If you’re not with a friend, make a friend! Ask them to watch your things for you. You might also want to bring your most-valuable things (i.e. phone, wallet) with you to the bathroom or wherever.
  11. Do: bring a notebook or journal. I journal a lot, so while I was travelling, I wrote a couple entries. But you don’t have to be a consistent journal-er to find time to write down your thoughts on your 13-hour flight! I’m sure most people don’t, but I also practiced my cursive and made a list of the things I was going to do once I landed. At the same time, paper isn’t limited to journaling! My brother and I have this game where one person draws an unnamable squiggle or line, and the second person has to make it a recognizable object. Once I drew a swirl, and my brother made it into a snail. Another time Jon drew a boxy shape, and I made it Spongebob. It passes the time, and it’s fun!

And an extra “do”: Locate the bathroom. it seems a little weird, and I might be the only person to do this kind of thing, but on a long ride I’ll find the bathroom and utilize the facilities… to get my crazy out. See, I have wiggles. They need to come out. So I get them out by doing some exercises like squats or high knees or just any kind of movement. Tip: Don’t do anything too crazy in a bus bathroom, it could shake it and you could get weird looks after you walk out!

But above all, do TRAVEL and LOVE IT. After 18-hour flights and 24-hour travels (including layovers, etc.), I can say travelling can be VERY hard and can definitely take a toll on you! But it can also be VERY worth it. Don’t let a bad experience get you down – there are still so many beautiful, amazing places out there to see! Take a deep breath, remember why you’re travelling, and book your next flight. 😉

Paris

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” -Mary Ann Radmacher

Winter China 3: A Chinese Family

After our glorious days in XiShuangBanNa, we had to leave. No vacation lasts forever, especially ones to tropical places! We took the plane to KunMing, followed by a transfer flight to NanJing, in the JiangSu province – my mom’s hometown. The plan? To visit (albeit distant) relatives, friends, to lavish on them gifts, and stuff ourselves at every meal. I mean, what else is there to do in China, besides to give & receive gifts and stuff yourself with food?

My dad decided that my mom should take the reins in JiangSu – as in, make all the travel arrangements and be the ‘tour guide’, something that my dad has always done. Was that a good decision? Well, that is neither here nor there. All I can (or should…) say is that we had an adventure: wandering the streets to find a hotel, figuring it all out as we went – and we eventually got to our destination. I don’t know about your family, but with my family, you just have to take things as they come. Almost nothing is a surprise to me, and I’ve just learned to go with the flow, keeping hopes high but expectations low. (hey, that rhymed!)

After getting off the flight, we searched for a dinner in NanJing, then decided we would get to our destination best by bus. So we boarded a bus for a few hours, and got off at ZhenJiang, my mom’s hometown. We wandered around a bit, and then found a place that seemed relatively decent to spend the night, and then went out for Papa John’s with my mom’s cousin, aunt, and family. Yup, Papa John’s! (Although it is not quite as big as Pizza Hut or KFC. KFC and McDonald’s are huge in China. But that’s irrelevant!) The next day, we went out for actual Chinese food. We went to lunch with the same cousins and aunt, as well as good family friends. The days following consisted of more meals to stuff ourselves, attended by different people: more family, other friends, as well as a trip to Pearl Buck’s house along the way. Although that was an extremely brief summary, there are times I’m especially thankful and happy that I have Chinese heritage in me. My family and I talked a lot about Chinese culture – if you will, let me enlighten you on a couple aspects, on meals in particular, in case you’re ever hosting a meal in China:

  • The seating around a round table at a meal is an essential part of the meal. The person sitting directly across from the door is the host. If it’s not the host, it’s the most important person in the room. At a fancy restaurant, their napkin will likely be the poofiest. The person sitting to their right is the most important guest; the person to their left is the second-most important guest. The seating arrangement rules don’t end there – but I will, for both of our sakes.
  • It is VERY important that you argue over who pays for the meal. Fight over who will bring out their wallet. The fight might become physical, and that’s okay. Continue to do argue as loudly obnoxiously as possible for as long as you can until you sense that the fight could be a fight to the death. It is at that time you can tell your guest(s) that the meal has already been paid for, or slide your wallet to the waitress.
  • Force food onto a guest or honored person’s plate. It is extremely impolite to let a guest go hungry, so to make sure that doesn’t happen, put food on their plate whenever a new dish joins the lazy Susan, or whenever you remember to. They will probably say that they do not need more food. Pay no attention – it doesn’t matter what they say; their plate needs food on it regardless of how full they say they are. Remember to honor your elders and those who are honored, so do the same to the them too. On the flip-side: as a guest, you should never finish your plate or bowl. If you do, you are insulting your host by making it seem like they didn’t give you enough to eat. That would not be okay; do not finish your plate or bowl at all costs.
  • A concept derived from the above rule (never let a guest go hungry) is to ALWAYS give and do far more than necessary. So your guests will most likely bring a gift of some kind – any kind, really, but just so you know: chances are high that your gift will be food or tea-related, possibly extravagant and entirely unnecessary. But it’s the thought that counts. (Note to guest: never go without a gift to a dinner by invitation.) There might be a time when actually want some of these gifts (e.g. money or snacks for the train), but it is vital that you DO NOT accept any gifts right away. Make sure you say tell them that no, you DO NOT need or want these gifts at all, that they are too generous and good to you, it really is okay – at least three times. Once those three times have passed, you can then feel free to exhale loudly and accept the gift with gratitude, thanking them many more times than necessary.

These rules seem ridiculous, but the Chinese people take them 100% seriously. In Eastern cultures, it is the host’s responsibility to make the other feel honored, welcomed and appreciated by sacrificing a lot of yourself for them (sometimes a little too much!). As the receiver, one should not find themselves accepting everything; they are not actually in need of help, but the gesture is greatly appreciated. Fighting over who pays? It is the act of generosity that matters. You want your friends and family to do well, so it is almost your obligation to oversee that, as much as possible.

The days of ‘continually going to meals and eating’ continued when we traveled back to Beijing. We have friends there, so we had lunch with my brother’s host family (the one who is studying in Beijing), and lots of meals with friends. Every time, my brothers and I would practice our ‘Chinese manners’ and, of course, dramatize everything.

Being Chinese has its perks – for instance, the monetary gifts! Of course money isn’t everything, but it is definitely nice to remember that your family has always got your back. When China decided it would roll with us (that is, make conditions about everything but make it seem like the New World), we decided we’d roll with China. (It’s a pretty sweet ride.)

Next time: California and Home. We left China eventually, leaving Jon behind and going to California to see my mom’s brother, family, and parents. Dumplings ensue.

Anne Frank & Tumblr

Sooo I got a Tumblr, which I’ll be updating more frequently – with short quotes, fun GIFs, anything I come across. It would be awesome if any readers from here would like to see my ever-other-day-frequency posts. Unfortunately WordPress and Tumblr aren’t connected. 

I would be ever so grateful if you came over for a look! http://www.tumblr.com/blog/mcwright51495

Anne Frank once said, “You can be lonely even when you are loved by many people, since you are still not anybody’s one and only.” Good point, Anne. You were wise beyond your years. However, I’d like to turn your words around a little, so that they can become even more true: 

“You can be lonely even when you are loved by many people, since you are don’t realize you are God’s one and only.”

Doesn’t that make a little more sense? If it doesn’t…well, I can’t fully explain it to you. Check back later and I will try. (FYI – it’s something that you will eventually have to figure out for yourself – not I or anyone else can do it for you.) BUT! Right now, I got some rockin’ GIFs in case you needed one for a birthday or happy occasion:) Have a lovely day!

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier.” -Mother Teresa

Among Other Things

I wish I could say something inspirational. Something that’s ‘freshly-pressed’ worthy, something that I can just write and the masses adore. But too often, that’s just not how it works, right? I used to write (my first couple posts – at the very, very beginning) deep, deep stuff. And that was popular. But, alas, life took over this blog. I wish I could spend more time here. Listening to Frank Sinatra/Michael Buble Spotify radio, drinking Sleepytime tea, maybe with a biscotti, maybe even with a good hour or two to read my Pride and Prejudice. But summer ended, along with the time to write (or rather, type). But I have this one Sunday, so I’ll make the most of it. These things, among others, are the things that get to me. In no particular order:

#1 People. I love people. I still haven’t figured out if I’m an introvert or an extrovert – I love being with people, but I still need my alone time. I’ve never been the life of the party, but I do love parties! At the same time, I need quiet time every now and then. But people, oh people, how you get on my nerves. My good friends are ever-so-dear and near to my heart. But there are so many other things that drive me crazy about people. For example, I can’t decide on a pet peeve – I just have so many! My family is a good explanation of this: my three younger brothers have recently gotten hooked on celery, arguably the loudest food on the planet. And they eat it – all. the. time. I have to work downstairs, listening to them chomp on celery – and all their other foods, because it’s like they have no control over their mouths. And that’s not including sniffling, random bad singing, etc. etc. But that kind of annoyance, though a huge nuisance, I can deal with. The things that really bother me come from the outside: my prime examples come in two forms: chorus and Chinese. I love singing – unfortunately, I’m not as good as I’d like to be. In school, I’m in chorus – but I joined my junior year. I made the huge mistake of joining yearbook, and that’s my biggest high school regret by far. Chorus is fun with the right people, but there are some things in there that’s kind of like an inside joke that’s only revealed to you when you’re in chorus for <2 years. And then Chinese – oh Chinese, I could tweet #thestruggle for every assignment. I’m in Chinese 4, but there are some kids that know Chinese like the back of their hand (they are Chinese, naturally), and get all A’s, every time, without studying much at all. There’s one girl in my class who almost never does her homework, but has an A-, and yet at the same time, I work my butt off to get the homework done every night, but I have a D+. It’s true that I should study more for the quizzes – and I am by no means using this as an excuse – but it seems like it’s unfair to take a class that’s elementary for so many.

#2 Parents. Yuppers, they had to come up sometime. I’m not saying I don’t love them, but recently, I’ve often found myself not liking them. Mom yells at me for “not working hard in Chinese”, and dad is the kind who presses you to the point of annoyance: “Margaret, work hard at ___” My dad is a little better, though he does have his times of way-too-seriousness. I just have to remember to cry silent tears in the car, and remember that it’s God and my stuffed animals who’s always got my back, even if my parents aren’t always supportive of my current efforts.

#3 Natures. No, not the nature like outside trees. Nature, as in human nature. It drives me crazy. We are born to be wonderful, perfectly with God, and yet, we have broken off because of our human natures. It’s frustrating, really, knowing that in this life we’ll never be in complete harmony. People do horrible things, annoying things, evil things, for an inexplicable reason – but it can almost always be traced back to our human nature.

But we can take comfort in a couple things: We have our moments of harmony – those times when everything seems to be going right, few times they may be, they just make us remember that there is something perfect out there, eventually. We also know that we will mess up, every single day. We can also remember those little moments in our day when we see God – when you get that parking spot that you just rolled up to, when you’re driving and you see the prettiest sky, ever, or when you get the nicest smile from someone. But the greatest miracle of all is that we have a God who wants us so badly that he scoops us up every single time – no matter how far we’ve fallen, he will always be there, picking us up, ready to bring us back. God doesn’t promise an easy life, but he promises a beautiful eternity with him. Which puts all those things – among other things – aside, because I couldn’t think of anything better.

“He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. And all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.” -David Crowder Band, How He Loves

Strangers Have No Danger!

Last night, I went to Staples to get school supplies with my mom. We took almost two hours. In high school (middle school too I think), they don’t give you a list before the school year starts, so you have to go after school starts – and they expect you to have it all by the next day. So you have to go that night, and you can’t go without buying stuff or else you’ll be unprepared. So I went last night… just like everyone else. The line, I kid you not, went to the back of the store. And not just to the back – it wound around different mini-aisles and curved around to the side. It was long. I had to get supplies for my brother and myself, so I had his sheets of paper – running around everywhere – and I had my one organized list. I’m that kind of person 🙂  About halfway through our shopping, my mom and I figured it would be a good idea to begin waiting in line. So my mom stepped in, and it’s a good thing she did, for two reasons. First, and most obvious, once I had finished scavenging for supplies, we had moved up a teensy bit in the line. Second, we were standing next to strangers.

If we had known them, we would’ve been jabbering on like the two Chinese women way out in front of us. (I speak Chinese and knew what they were talking about.) But we didn’t. For the first 15 minutes of our wait, we were pretty quiet. We were standing next to an Indian mom who didn’t mind her kid running off to play in the swivel chairs and a high school boy who’d come by himself. Then the guy dropped his binders… we were getting tired. We helped pick them up for him, and he did it twice more during our one-hour wait, and by the third time it was getting funny and we laughed. We talked a bit, and by the end, we were cheering together. “Oh look, we can see the end!” “We made it!” Sounds cheesy, but it was, in a slightly twisted way, fun.

Okay, I take my first statement back. There are some dangerous strangers. But why are parents always telling their kids: “Watch out – stranger danger!” or “Don’t talk to strangers!” I guess the latter is good for the very young, but I think more and more often, we are discouraging the small talk that makes my day. I remember once I was at a carnival/fair event. There was once of those rides where you get in swings and it spins around. I was maybe 10 years old. There was some girls my age near to me who were all friends, and a girl about six with them. As we were waiting for the ride to begin, I said hi to the younger girl, but the older one warned, “Don’t talk to strangers!” Honey, I’m 10. There are so many opportunities that we have to make friends, but if we’re so afraid of them, we’ll never be able to have a good laugh. Life is so much more enjoyable when you’re open for some small talk. Of course you should be cautious of the things you get into, but you should never judge strangers as dangerous! Judge them instead as a decent person, and once you get to know them, you can make your final judgment.

(I wrote this about 3 days after school started – around three weeks ago, and I found this laying around as a draft for some odd reason. So no, school has not just started for me!)

“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met.” -William Butler Yeats

Fall Blog Cleaning!

Yes indeed. A yay is required. I’m not totally satisfied with this theme, as I am absolutely sick and tired of this (body) font. I might go to the Fresh & Clean theme once I find a good picture. But the font was haunting my previous theme, and that theme, pretty as it was, blew the headings way out of proportion – with the exact same font everywhere. I was, as you can imagine, annoyed. The only reason I kept it was because the background looked so pretty. But… enough was enough, and I decided to do a couple switcheroos. Speaking of which, I also changes my title: Girl Meets World! I never really liked ‘Jotting Down My Journey’: it was really bland and boring, not to mention long. I think I’m now a little more excited to blog now that everything is looking spick and span – or at least, ‘cleaner’ than it was. Hope you enjoy and come back!

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” -Dr. Seuss