A soul charging weekend on the beachfront of LA.Read More
A curated list of events, restaurants/bakeries, local attractions, and new things Jiaxin will be trying out in the month of January.Read More
With their packs filled and excitement high, a crew of 13 young and attractive wanderers set out to find the perfect campsite for their leader Kate’s birthday. Firewood, beer, and foil-wrapped meals lined the insides of their 65L Ospreys as they began the 1.5 mile trek out to Nordhouse Dunes.Chatter fills the air. People weave in and out as walking tempos change, leading to new connections and conversations. We feel our hiking boots softly hitting the sand while catching glimpses of the lake, as well as the familiar burn in our calves that accompanies a dune hike. Everyone’s flirting with the idea of running into sweet sweet Lake Michigan as sweat drips down our foreheads, but we all know the delayed gratification will be worthwhile.Michigan is a magical place. And there’s nothing that characterizes the Great Lakes state more than miles and miles of Lake Michigan coastline kissing sandy dunes. Cotton ball clouds line the upper troposphere and watch over us as we stake out our spot and begin setting up. Tents up, rain covers on, sleeping pads and bags out – we establish some mental semblance of home for our temporary stay in the wilderness. Indeed, this will be our community gathering area for the next 24 hours, where we will eat, drink, and laugh together around a fire.We’ve set up our home base, and we’re ready to hit the water. It’s one of those days, those perfect 70 and sunny days where you spend all daylight hours in your swimsuit on the beach. I sprint out to the water, kicking up sand and little stones in the process. Lake Michigan is sacred. There is NOTHING like swimming in one of the biggest freshwater lake in the world, surrounded by clear blue skies. The beauty and calm combined with unbelievably safe swimming conditions unlocks an overwhelming sense of serenity and peace. There’s nothing more awakening than the constant switching between swimming in the cool lake and laying on out on the warm sand.I soon hit that point where dinner time is on my mind. We cook, we eat, we burn popcorn – our night is young.The seemingly endless sunshine is, however, about to come to its conclusion for the day. Stomachs full and beers cracked open, we find ourselves back on the beach where we were earlier, this time donning sweaters and pants instead of swimsuits. Ahead of us is the blue of the lake and sky, temporarily split by a narrow beam of soft setting sunlight. We share an embrace, a few drinks, and a view of incredible clouds scattered across the sky as the sun completes its baton handoff to the moon.The night is getting darker, and our small community returns to home base where the fire we started for dinner is still going. Collective experiences, storytelling, camaraderie and love shape our final night cap.
Goodnight friends – until our next Nordhouse dream together.
5 tunes kickin on my Spotify right now:
- Sleepless by Girlpool (Heads up they're on tour, in Seattle on Fri 5/26) Girlpool knocks it out of the water with some strong and hella playful female vocals.
- Lose My Cool by Amber Mark* If the rhythm doesn't hit you then you're probably an impenetrable human. If you don't find yourself groovin by 1:20 then I have failed you as a tunes curator and I deeply apologize.
- Want You Back by Haim The Rockenhaim trio does it again. The oh so familiar vibes of Days Are Gone.
- Poolside by Baynk Nice, chill, easy.
- Home by J.Lisk Also nice, chill, and easy.
*denotes this week's fave
After 30+ hours of airports and airplanes, I have arrived in Tokyo. My journey started in Lansing, MI, where I then flew to Chicago and Toronto before finally getting onto a 13-hour flight to Tokyo. This was by far the most pleasant extended flying experience I have ever had. The plane was around 70% capacity, allowing there to be an open spot between my aisle seat and another patron's window seat -- freeing up additional legroom and space to sleep. Additionally, there was an outlet *AND* USB charging portal at each seat, and the flight attendants were also quite generous on alcohol. The 13 hours just flew right by.
After arriving, going through customs, picking up my overloaded Osprey from baggage claim, and getting a JR Rail Pass (highly recommend for anyone going to Japan), I immediately went to the closest convenience kiosk.
These kiosks are BALLER. From bento boxes to beer to cigarettes to newspapers, they have everything a hungry traveler could want. I picked up some sushi and water for my train ride into Tokyo via the Narita Express, for a grand sum of about $5.
My final destination was Hachioji, where my uncle lives. Getting to Hachioji required a transfer at Tokyo station, but with some confidence and broken Japanese the transition was smooth.
I was so excited to finally see my uncle when he picked me up from the station. It's been at least 7-8 years since I've seen him, and we have both changed a lot. He immediately took me to a restaurant with incredible tonkatsu, setting the bar high for this next week of food exploration!
Externally, the transition from 2015 to 2016 coincided with major events that I am still adjusting to and trying to re-establish emotional equilibrium for. Internally, I've also been so uninspired by my day to day and itching for creativity. So after a particularly unproductive Tuesday morning (skipped class and missed dance practice, sigh), those two parallel paths have merged and compelled me to revive my once active love of
typing shit on the internet blogging through Jiaxin Machine.
I'm aware it's halfway through February and that I'm a little late to do a "year in reflection" type of post, but the calendar year ending feels so trivial to me. December is one of the weirdest times for students, and it's definitely not a time where I want to be doing some long and hard thinking about where I've been and where I'm going. I'm all coked up on caffeine from finals, and then when winter break finally rolls around I'm ready to let my brain melt and do nothing. Eventually, New Year's Eve hits and that's all fun and booze, but alas, nothing really feels quite monumental just because the calendar commands it.
I've settled into 2016 a bit now though, and can definitely say that 2015 was a lot. Lots of highs, lots of lows, and of course lots of mediocre moments in between. From getting my dream job offer in Seattle to breaking up with the boy I loved for 7 years and thought I was going to marry, my heart ran in 1000 different directions in the course of what felt like a very short time. Top that with running a 200+ member student org, increasing social anxiety regarding it being senior year (am I supposed to hang out with everyone on the face of the fucking planet?), and the usual 18 credit course load, I realized that perhaps I should have started seeing the lovely counselor that has helped me re-establish equilibrium sooner.
But above all, 2015 taught me that there is no such thing as a perfect narrative, and striving for one is the silliest thing you can do because they do not exist. Whereas I thought I had forgone a perfect narrative with my grades and career and my personal life was all that I had left to my perfect story, I realized that the story in itself doesn't matter so much and no one really cares. It's okay if your story is nonlinear, ends abruptly, or just doesn't make sense. Indeed, I've realized how this narrative oriented way of living life forces you to continually look back on what's already happened, rather than embracing the objective beauty and reality of being alive every day.
So in a nutshell, 2015 was an attempt at continuing a perfect novel, realizing I was not happy despite the nice story, and then throwing the manuscripts as well as the typewriter away. But 2016 will be vastly different. I am cherishing every day and the raw joy and emotions of being alive. Maybe I'll write a few things down here and there, but alas, there is truly nothing like the present.