I'd always thought of "elevator pitches" as well-practiced word missiles that only sleazy salesmen and con artists used.
Before my plane finally landed in Los Angeles, it had been nine months since I saw many of my friends and family; or slept in my own bed; or got to eat ah-maaazing peanut butter; or got to choose from different clothes that weren't from a suitcase; or got to truly communicate my thoughts and feelings without them being relentlessly wrung through different language and cultural filters. (If you're just tuning into my blog, you can read here and here and here to see how this all sort of started.)
I even joked to some friends that I'd actually been pregnant the entire time. (I wasn't.) To me, the nine months whizzed by like a Tokyo bullet train. It wasn't just fast; it blurred. Apparently, some friends and family felt the same way, but I don't think that's a bad thing.
These days, my internal gauge of what's “normal” or everyday is no longer...well, normal. I'm in a foreign place, where everything is fascinating and new and wonderful and seen through my rose-colored American tourist lens. As a result, I tend to reach for meaning in anything and everything, for better or worse.
For example, I’m in Japan during cherry blossom (or sakura in Japanese) season now. I’d see falling sakura petals or just a bunch of them on the ground, and I'd think about the fragility of life juxtaposed against the beauty of nature; and how life is like those pink petals: so beautiful and admired by many. Once fallen and lying on the ground, it’s going to be stepped on, or worse, forgotten and its existence ignored.
Yup. All that just from tiny pink petals. Seriously, it gets all Willy Wonka-ish up in my noggin’...and I swear I am completely sober.
Some heart-to-heart confession time. Okay, here it goes:
I'm really, really bad at honestly expressing myself. It doesn't matter whether I'm writing, having actual words tumble out of my mouth, or awkwardly fidgeting with my hands because I never know what to do with them (WHAT DO WE EVER DO WITH THE HANDS?)--I'm bad. As a writer, that's no bueno, right?
Writing is supposed to be one of the purest forms of self-expression, a chance for my "true self" (whatever that means) and thoughts to seep through the haze of my online persona, Stephanie Lee of FitnGeeky; or Stephanie Lee of Lifehacker; or Stephanie Lee, the Sriracha Devourer.
Working out is a no-brainer for me. It's like choosing pie over cake. Another no-brainer. But it’s been so long since I last talked about my fitness on my blog that some of you wondered if I even still worked out at all.
In the words of a true 90s kid: Uh-duh.
I still bust my ass, and I have gym selfies here and new personal records there on my social media to prove it. I guess I just assumed you'd assume that I would roll up my sleeves in fitness whether I talked about it or not. So, it’s not really a question of whether I work out--the answer will always be “yes”--it’s a matter of how. This post is about that "how" and my experiences with fitness in other countries.
Five months ago, I packed up one giant suitcase, my laptop, a protein shaker, and portable workout equipment, and took off to Japan. The plan was that I'd wander around Japan, visit my family in Hong Kong, and be back in the States by January, February at the latest. Well, it's March now and I've just mapped out the next couple of months:
- March 12 - May 10: Back to Japan
- May 10 - mid-June: South Korea
- Mid-June - July-ish: Singapore
- Beyond... ???
The schedule above is still tentative (at the time of this writing) and doesn't even include possibly shorter trips to places like Taipei or Bali, but all in all, it looks like I won’t be returning for a while.
Okay, I heard you thinking: "Farewell, poor savings." or "Is she the Nigerian prince I've been hearing from all these years??"
One day while slurping some ramen and flipping through a Japanese event pamphlet, I stopped at a picture of an all-female Japanese pop group. In Japan and many other countries in Asia, pop groups--female or otherwise--are dime a dozen with many commonalities: eccentric attire, beautiful facial features, lots of hair spray, and perfect eyebrows. The one peculiarity about this group, however--well, can you spot it?
Despite the title of this post and the number of times I use the word hereafter, I don’t especially like saying (or even writing) the word fuck.
And by the way, if you've already clicked on this post and have read this much, you're okay with profanity. It's all for a purpose anyway...I swear (see what I did there?!).
I'm not sure how I've made it this far into adulthood, but f-bombs leaving my own mouth feels a little wrong. In the nanoseconds between the sound ffff forming on my lips and escaping them thereafter, I sense the tiniest but ever-so-present flutter of guilt, the kind that a daring kid who knows she’s done something mischievous might feel. It might seem like I have a potty mouth to some, but for the most part, I truly avoid dropping fucks unless I feel fucking strongly about something.
This time last year I took part in a sort of ritual that changed my life.
Don't worry, it didn't involve any pictures of Keanu Reeves and chanting, hanging goat entrails around my neck, or anything like that--I save those fun times for Friday nights.
On January 2015, I became one of a dozen or so Bodybuilding.com employees who would publicly share their 12-week "transformation" journey to--as per the company's motto--"become my best self." In less vague terms, that meant I'd commit to a personal fitness goal and put the highs and lows of my 12-week journey on blast via YouTube and social media, reality TV-style (minus the drama and gym, tan, laundry).
In the last three months, I’ve…
- Set my own work schedule, like a boss.
- “Commuted” to my laptop situated on a desk that’s usually two and a half steps away; or to a coffee shop in a random town a train ride away; or on a bullet train while traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto or Hokkaido, like a boss.
- Relished in not having to answer, let alone hear, the loathsome question about my weekend on a Monday morning, like a boss.
And best of all, I’ve not had to bother changing out of my pajamas when I work, like a boss.
If this all sounds pretty neat, that’s because it absolutely goddamn is. I mean I am a boss--my own boss. I must call my own shots. I must write my own (imaginary) employee handbook, the first and only page of which so far simply reads: Don’t forget your pants. (I never said it’d be very helpful, you see…)