Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One year later

So this is it. The day. The number. It’s here. Doesn’t matter if I’m ready or not, because here it comes: Bye, bye twenties. Hello thirties!

It’s funny, because when I have, in discussions with fellow patrons, tried to share my slight fear of entering 3.0 and leaving behind 2.0, my worries have been compared to “silly ideas.” “The thirties are the new twenties!” everyone keeps saying (no one who’s still in their twenties though!). I’m actually not sure if I agree, or even wish to agree.

I mean, do I want be 20 again, being so full of what I know, yet know so little? Do I want re-do my university years, spending hours in a dusty library, trying not to fall asleep at lectures, writing essay, articles and assignments who never see daylight but that are marked and put into a folder to collect dust? Do I want to go back to living on a minimum budget and eating 3-minute noodle meals so that I can afford a glass of wine at night? Do I want be a fresh graduate again, and have my positive energy and excitement killed by companies and employers who don’t want give “people with no real work experience” a chance? (God, getting that first job was a nightmare!) Do I want be the girl in the office that everyone refers to as “so young and inexperienced” and who takes on tonnes of unpaid overtime just to show that she’s ambitious and hard-working? Do I want do about 7834862 odd jobs so that I can finance going back to school in order to learn Mandarin, having everyone around me questioning what I am going to do with this “third language” and what my “future plan is” (hell, I had no plan!)?

Nah. I’m actually pretty OK with the thirties being the thirties.  I’m done with the twenties. I feel satisfied, as I believe I really made the most of it. So, come thirties. Bring it on. I’ll just go on like I’m used to, trying to have an even better time than I’ve already had. I mean, at least I have learned from all the mistakes I made in my twenties. And just being able to say that is pretty cool.

So to start with some follow-up on my three “to dos”:

1.   Visit all four countries that I have referred to as home during the last 10 years.


In January we went to Australia again (the place that was my “home” for almost 3,5 years: 2002-2005). I just love Australia. I love the country, the atmosphere, the people, the nature, ah… everything (Australians, you are some lucky people!).

This time, we visited both Sydney and my beloved Perth. We made the most of our time: went crabbing, sand boarding, had picnics and dinners, caught up with all of my Aussie friends, and enjoyed wine tasting and beach walks. It was two fantastic weeks and, as usual, I cried like a baby when we eventually took the plane back to Shanghai.

The Pinnacles, Western Australia

In May, I went to London (the place that was my “home” for around 6 months in 2001-2002. I had actually only just turned 19 when I went to live in London but for some reason I still look at this as something that happened during my 20-ies. I guess it was the move that started everything) to be part of my best friend Tess’ wedding.

Tess (who’s my oldest friend) has actually been in London all these years. It was the two of us (+ 4 other friends) who went there together on September 11, 2001 (yes, THAT 9/11) And, as for today, she’s still there! On May 19 this year, she married her significant other, Will, in a beautiful ceremony that took place in Oxford. She looked gorgeous in her extravagant gown (made in China at the wedding market with me as her personal adviser), and me and three other friends of her also looked pretty good in our blue bride’s maid dresses (also made in China! I mean, how could I not offer to help for her big day?!). It was a magnificent day, and I am so happy I got a chance to be part of it!

As we came all the way from China for the wedding we took some extra days off and spent them catching up with friends and (in my case) visiting nostalgic London spots. I still have so many friends in London, so in a way it felt like coming home. 

Tess' and Will's wedding, Oxford, UK

Then summer came, and I went for a long wknd in Tokyo, a city that has been on top of my “dream destinations” for I don’t know how long.

My Finnish friend Anna (who I met when I was a student in Suzhou) just happened to be there on an exchange semester, so the timing couldn’t have been better. I went to Tokyo, caught up with Anna, and the two of us had the best time! I fell truly (madly, deeply) in love with Tokyo and Japanese people, who were so polite and friendly. We went out every single night, visiting the quirkiest little spots, taking “kawai” photos with cute Japanese girls, and, obviously, enjoying some of the best food I have ever eaten. I have always had a feeling that I was going to enjoy Japan, but I never knew just how much. Tokyo is simply outstanding and I cannot wait to go back to see more of Japan. I am even considering doing an evening course of beginner’s Japanese next year (this fall is too busy).

Heavenly sushi in Tokyo

In July we went for a summer holiday back “home.” We started off with a quick stop in Sweden (where I haven’t lived since 2001, but it’s still referred to as “home”), just for four days, to catch up with friends and family. I threw myself a garden party one month prior to my actual birthday, which was a great idea, as I managed to catch up with all of my old friends from back home. We were some 25 people: friends from all walks of life: childhood friends from my tiny little hometown, friends that I went to London with, friends that I lived and studied with back in Australia (one of my old housemates who celebrated my 20th birthday with me in Perth!), friends from Shanghai. And, of course, all of my siblings and their partners. It was a perfect day/night.

Bday celebrations in Sweden
After Sweden we went to Finland (where I lived 2005-2006) and spent the rest of our holiday over there. We stayed mostly in Tampere, but also went to the summer cabin and had a long-wknd in Helsinki to catch up with friends. I went running in the forest 5 days/week, swam in the lakes, had sauna, cooked myself all that kind of food that I tend to crave in China, caught up with friends, and made the most of the extra amounts of daylight (the sun doesn’t set until maybe 10-11pm) by going for BBQ picnics and evening walks.

In Helsinki

We came back to Shanghai (where I have lived since 2006, so more than 6 years now) just in time for my real birthday (that was on August 15) and on August 18 I friend of mine threw me yet another birthday party, this time for all of my Shanghai friends. We had a great evening at a lounge bar in central Shanghai, and I was overwhelmed by the turn-up. Although the next day my boyfriend asked “so, are we done with the celebrations now?” and yes, I guess we are.

Bday celebrations in Shanghai

Run a full marathon (and at least one more half)


Yeah, this dream of mine wasn’t even close to be fulfilled. When running in Finland last summer (2011), I started feeling pain in my hip. Silly as I am, I ignored the pain and kept running, which turned out to be a bad decision. That hip pain has stayed with me since, and although it’s slightly better now, I can still feel it on weeks when I do heavy exercise (I went to two different hospitals to have it checked, but found nothing).

I guess this is a wake up call saying “hey, you’re not invincible (anymore)!” By running a lot, you obviously run the risk of getting injured, and this is just what happened. So the last year has been quite boring, exercise wise. I’ve kept my fitness level up by doing alternative training: spinning, yoga, and then around May I started running again. But like I said, I can still feel discomfort in my hip, and lately, my Achilles tendon started hurting, so I guess I need to slow down a bit. I am not sure if I will be able to run a marathon this year, but I still haven’t given up the thought of it. Not at the price of injuring myself badly though.

It is a bit of a downer, because I love running, and especially long-distance running.

Write a book.

Fail. But then again. I did get something pretty cool published… 

The book thing is a sensitive matter. I’m an idiot for publicly announcing it on my blog like I did last year, but I thought that by doing so, I would be under enough pressure to get it done. One of the reasons why I stopped blogging, was because I was going to spend that morning hour (that used to be devoted to this blog) writing on my book.

It didn’t really work out.

I did get started. Several times. And in the beginning I went for weeks. Then, I don’t know. Something happened. And I stopped.

I am pretty lucky to have some amazing friends, however, who kept reminding me to stick to my promise. So for my birthday, one of my friends gave me this book, and told me that now the pressure is off. The first book is out, and I should start focusing on a follow-up.

SHE in China -first edition!

And as for blogging –I’ve actually really missed it! I’ve been thinking a lot about starting a new blog. I don’t think I want to have an anonymous comment function though, because seriously, people behave like jerks when they don’t have to reveal their real name, and I had some pretty wacky comments towards the end of this blog. I never published these comments, obviously, as it was some pretty foul language, but overall it wasn’t that nice to start your day by opening blogspot’s comment moderation page, and be greeted by 15 comments telling you to go to hell and get out of China. So yeah, I am a bit torn when it comes to all of that.

When you blog, you obviously have to put yourself out there. No one wants to read a blog about some anonymous person who doesn’t dare to share his/her experiences. But by sharing you need to be able to take all those kind of weird comments. Am I ready for that again? Not sure. But let me tell you this much: just writing this blog post has been a treat!