Monday, December 15, 2014

What it's like to work at Airbnb, yo.

On Tuesday mornings my phone vibrates at 8:50am on my desk, and everyone at the office snags the last bagels from the toasters, fills up with coffee, and piles into our open area on the third floor for the weekly meeting. For any other workplace, this is probably a mundane, pain-in-the-ass gathering..but not at Airbnb.

Lots of people have asked me about what it's like to work at Airbnb. The way they ask, you'd think I worked at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. And I suppose, from what they've read online, magazine covers and the experiences they've had traveling with us, it's understandable. Airbnb is unlike any other company in the world. 

First off, I love working here because of the people. I don't know how they did it, but I could sit through an international flight with anyone in my office. Everyone has a story, we are all passionate, with a heart of gold. The people I work with every day have been hostel owners, baristas, magazine editors, non-profit founders, boutique owners, and any other profession you can think of that demands intelligence, resilience, hard work, and a love for people. Dreamers AND doers. We have our own unique hobbies and expertise outside of work that we share with each other, like fine beer tasting, button making, coffee roasting, marathon training, safety lanyard making, painting with Bob Ross, etc. Most of us love to host or attend fun, local events (like once I almost got killed in paintball), which makes living in Portland so much more interesting. We have a Happy Hour every Thursday, which means an open bar at super hipster venues and we all share coconut water with each other the next day. Well, not like SHARE..but we have loads at work and we drink it. Since most of us have lived in Portland for a fair amount of time, my colleagues are also a wealth of Portland knowledge. It's really easy to belong at Airbnb because we're so diverse that you're bound to find someone with the same quirks. We've also got each other's backs. If I'm ever in need of a pick-up truck or want brunch buddies, I know I can send out an office email and be taken care of. Many of us are Airbnb hosts in Portland, and ALL of us have traveled and stayed at Airbnbs. We are fans. I think if you want a spectacular company, you need to start with spectacular people. Airbnb knows this, and the people that continue to join us are just, so cool. 

Second, our work. When I started in our office in Portland, we only had about 40 people. Now we have over 220 people, and we're still going to be growing into next year. That's just the Portland office, the headquarters are still in San Francisco. We are a start-up, but becoming one of the largest start-ups in the tech world. We are making history in live time, because we are changing how people travel. The mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and where there will be no more strangers. Far fetched? I think not. On my last trip, almost every stranger I encountered became a friend. Love and friendship is an international language. In every new city I visited, I booked Airbnbs and so I had someone there waiting for me, to welcome me, to highlight the best places to go, and we left as good friends. No joke, we're Facebook friends and everything. I felt like an Airbnb commercial. Most of us in the Portland office are Trip Experience Specialists. I talk on the phone every day with users, both hosts and guests from all over the world. They tell me everything, from the good to the bad, but one thing is apparent to me: everyone just wants a unique accommodation experience and to connect with others when they're traveling. And we do that. One of my favorite things is that if a guest is having an unexpected experience, since I've had plenty of my own traveling mishaps, I can genuinely emphasize...and I can save them. You have to have been through it in order to understand it, and luckily my colleagues are also explorers, travelers, and determined free spirits with a deep concern for others. The great thing about Airbnb is that if something goes wrong, we will do everything within reason to save the day, whereas other companies won't. I feel good about the morals of our company and the choices I get to make, and I would not say the same of every company I've worked for in the past. There's definitely a feeling of being a part of something bigger, and it's so exciting. 

Third, the perks. I know this is what everyone is curious about. Yes, it's all true, and I don't take any of it for granted. Airbnb takes very good care of their employees. We are, after all, Airbnb Family. If you follow my Instagram (missw0ng, #airbnb #airbnbpdx #airfam), you know we have amazing, organic and local catered breakfasts and lunches every day. We have an espresso machine but also a selection of freshly brewed, gourmet coffee available. We get lots of vacation days, reasonably flexible schedules, beers on tap, impressive health care benefits, and travel credit with Airbnb. We get office picnics, team getaways, Bluestar/Voodoo/Wafflewindow deliveries, and the building is even dog-friendly. The pay is not bad either, and with the company growing so quickly there are lots of opportunities for upward mobility or to get involved with the community through Citizenship or designing office space. Oh, this week we finally revealed our office space to the public. Our office space might be the envy of all of downtown offices, with our yurt, tree house, hammocks and beautiful living room nooks. It's really nifty, and coworkers come in even on days off to hang out. We even have 'landing zones', which are like standing desks with cubbies so we have a place to store our stuff, but in an innovative, non-desk like way. We don't have assigned seats, and the views out the window make me fall in love with Portland all over again. We all have MacAirs, and tons of Airbnb swag. I could probably go a whole week just wearing Airbnb clothes. Gotta rep that RAUSCH bélo. 

I love Airbnb as a host, a guest, and an employee. It's been undoubtedly one of the best things that have ever happened to me, and every day I feel like the luckiest girl alive. There's magic where I work, and it's probably even better than Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. 

PS. We are allowed to bring guests in for tours or even for lunch! If you would like to come by let me know in advance. 

Here's a nice little thing about us on OregonLive

One of my favorite rooms

It feels like...a home. 

Doggies are a big part of our family. 

Even when it's raining outside, it looks so pretty from the inside. 

Our treehouse! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Confessions of a Single Girl (oh shoot, that's me.)

The best thing about traveling is that you get to experience the best of all worlds. I love making new friends, trying local food, picking up languages, seeing beautiful scenery..and then coming home and falling into my soft, ever-welcoming bed, enjoying craft beers, and having good times with my beloved, established friends. In fact, traveling makes me love my home even more...if I don't make that obvious enough.

But the holidays have got me feelin' funky. I know you wanna hear it, so I'll confess-lately I've been kinda wanting to fall in love. Like, the type where I end up going steady, in a committed relationship, with a boyfriend, whatever you want to call it. I have no idea how I could ever find one or what to feed it. Wanting to be in a relationship seems to be irrationally unpopular these days, for my age and in my city. I think I may have just committed social suicide, but I don't really care. Flirtations are easy to find (Tinder, duh!), but where do you find the boyfriends? At home, having a beer and watching Netflix? Well how the hell will I ever meet them then if they're all in their own homes?! Everyone seems to have someone that they belong with, and no matter how hard I try to focus on other insatiable hobbies, wanting companionship nags at me with the same force as wanting to travel. Traveling is much easier to gratify though, you just buy a plane ticket and go.

The problem is, my standards for an actual match won't stop rising and it's getting out of control. I think one of the most heart-wrenching moments during my trip in South America was when I was out kayaking with a French dude I met on the bus. We're just friends, and he stops padding to ask me in a heavy accent, "I don't understand. You are so pretty and fun. I just don't understand how you do not have a boyfriend." I just laughed and told him that every time I like someone (and I rarely ever do) he's not right for me. It was the simplest way I could explain it, and it's pretty accurate. I had proved it true just the week before, when I fell for a frustratingly charming man in La Paz. He was traveling through the country as well, and he just had this confident, playful grin and genuine energy to match. But we had to kiss goodbye, cause our buses were leaving in opposite directions and I'm not naive enough hope for anything more. See, never right for me.

How in the world, filled with billions of people, do two people meet and actually like each other? And what are the chances that even if they like each other's personalities, looks, have similar interests, goals, values, live in the same country, are ready to date, and have chemistry...who knows if they will want to commit to each other? And not fuck it up a week later? I guess that's why they say love is magic. 

I am very happy with my life, and I love the time I'm getting to spend with myself. I need the space and freedom to breathe, grow, create and be lazy if I want. I'm not mad about being single, and the bachelorette life has treated me well. I'm pretty awesome and I don't need this validated by a guy. But if I'm to be honest with myself, I'm still feelin' funky.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How I Survived Machu Picchu

First off, I barely made it. Whoever told me that anyone with average fitness levels would have no problems is a liar. Hiking the four day, three night Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was one of the hardest things I've ever done, mentally and physically.

Maybe it was harder because I had expected it to be easy, and I admit I've been in better shape before. It's not my fault Portland is THE beer mecca and beer is my biggest weakness. Anyways! Hiking Machu Picchu now requires you to go with a guided tour group, and I went with Llamapath. I highly recommend them, because they were amazing. If you want to do the classic 4-day trek that I did, you have to reserve your spot months in advance, like I did. In order to go in November, I paid for my spot in August. Otherwise, you can show up to Cusco, walk up to a tour agency, and buy a day package to go straight into the Machu Picchu ruins via bus. Don't be lame.

To prepare for this hike, I bought hiking boots and zippy pants, two things I would have never been caught dead wearing a year ago. But I figured everyone else would be wearing the same stuff there, and functionally is the most important thing (IT WAS). I was also convinced into renting hiking poles, and I forgot my sleeping bag so I had to rent that too. HOW did I forget a sleeping bag?! I brought my big Osprey backpack which was incredibly light whenever I had it on due to how the weight was designed to be distributed. Our group had a prep meeting the night before leaving in Cusco, so that they could tell us we were going to meet at 4am the following morning. I didn't even get a chance to go to the expat Irish bars!

If you go, bring clothing for all four seasons, 'cause the guide said it, and nothing was closer to the truth. Bring sunscreen, bug spray, a poncho, a really warm jacket, sunglasses, everything. Every day was different, but some days it would be scorching hot and then it would hail on us! My tent-mate (I got pitched with the only other single girl traveling alone..she was from Canada and let's just say we did NOT become best friends) (but I loved everyone else) brought duct tape to wrap around her toes to prevent blisters. Also, I carried my own backpack cause I didn't want to be a wussy, but in hindsight I wouldn't recommend it. Hire a porter, a native who works for the company to carry things for you-their calves are bigger than your head! Almost everyone in our group had a porter, and although I'm proud of myself for enduring the massive annoyance, I would have enjoyed the trek more if I had been free to prance around. The path was rocky and steep, with really massive inclines at some points and slippery, narrow descents. It was always changing and some parts were alongside cliff drops, so we had to focus on our footing.

We hiked for hours every day, starting really early in the morning like 5am and then ending around 4-5pm for dinner. I felt like I was in the army or something and we were on a mission, so I rarely complained. Each day we had to cover certain distances in order to reach our next campsite, which the porters would run ahead to set up and prepare for us. We had delicious, elaborate multiple course meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, like ceviches, fried Kondor drumsticks, kababs, pizza, mashed potatoes, steak salads and even cake. It was like a magic show every time they brought out the next dish. Everyone thought we were going to lose weight from hiking all day, but we certainly gained it back during meal times. I guess our excuse was that we needed it for energy, but honestly everything just tasted so good, and it got extremely cold at night so we all almost overdosed on Milo and instant coffee.

And the views really were breathtaking, just like everyone said. It wasn't overrated at all. We took multiple breaks to drink water, reapply sunscreen, and take photos. I cried often whenever we got to a viewpoint (okay, maybe more like silently shed a few tears) because being amongst the clouds up in the mountains just filled me up with awe and appreciation for the beauty of our earth. And also, it felt really, really good to take my backpack off. Our guide would have us sit in a circle sometimes to tell us stories of the Incas as we overlooked ruins. It was hard for me to pay attention to the history of the stuff, even though I knew it was very important. I would just be the first to walk up and touch the rough stone surfaces and trace the cracks and patterns engraved there from so many years ago. Whenever we got to a site that had homes, I would walk through the doorways and try to picture which room I would want. From what our guide said, the Inca Trail was made to be a pilgrimage for the future rulers of their civilization, and the different sites along the way all served different purposes. He also told us tons of random facts, like how potatoes originated in Peru. Then the Spaniards brought them to Europe. And the Europeans brought them back to the States. Haha!

On Day Four, our whole group decided to be the first ones to reach the Sun Gate. Usually our group would camp at different sites, but on the last night all the other trek groups are at the same site, in order to get to Machu Picchu first thing in the morning. We had to get up at 2:50AM to be the first. WHAT THE HELL. I honestly didn't really care to be the first group in, but everyone was so adamant about it I just pretended to be excited too. The Sun Gate is a lookout point that overlooks all of Machu Picchu, the entrance. I was drenched in sweat from racing to the top with my group, so disgusting that I didn't even want to take a photo. OH! Did I mention there were no showers for the duration of the trek? Baby wipes all the way. The view was pretty, but I was so dizzy from it being a weird hour and running with the altitude that I was just happy to enter the site.

You know how they say it's about the journey, not the destination? This was a perfect example. I'm not saying that Machu Picchu wasn't impressive, but it wasn't much different from the other ruins we had passed on our way to get there. It was just a lot bigger, and flooded with tourists. Still, we had to get that money shot. You know, the one on the rock with Machu Picchu in the background. I had spent the entire trek rotating my thoughts between boys and how to post for this photo. There were also a lot of llamas wandering around, just to meet everyone's expectations. But we were so damn triumphant about completing the journey, I bet we could have ended up anywhere and been happy. 

After a few hours, I got on a bus to take us down to Agua Calientes, a little town 30 minutes away to recoup, eat, and prepare to take the train back to Cusco. I had a beer, but I would recommend skipping it and just getting a piso sour instead.

And that's it!

Dead Woman's Pass

Setting up camp after Day 1, a lady with a basket was selling beer haha

Good morning, our base camp of Day 3 and sweaty laundry

Day 3 ruins

Taking a moment to soak in the sun.

We ate well, really well. 

Morning of Day 4, waiting for the Sun Gates to open-almost there! 

Gringo Ladder, how bad do you wanna get there?

Money shot-group photo first. 

It really was all about the journey. 

Look, I found llamas!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Moment to be Thankful

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, primarily centered on gathering with family for good food...and then going on shopping rampages afterwards. For me, I've witnessed others feel most homesick when spending this day abroad. We always made the best of it and each year, whether if I was in Taipei or Honduras, I was always thankful to be surrounded by people I loved and cared about.

I guess those warm and grateful feelings of spending this significant holiday with fellow foreigners and expats stuck with me. This year even though I'm back in Portland, I chose to have dinner with my dearest colleagues instead of relatives or family friends. I've been a Thanksgiving orphan for too long, so now there's something special about this special gathering with new friends. And the fact that each year I have friends to call my family on this day, that is a true blessing.

This year, like every year, I have more and more to be thankful for.

+I've moved back home to Portland, Oregon and have fallen in love with it all over again.
+I've gotten a job with one of the best companies on earth, and an amazing work family as well.
+I've moved into the neighborhood of my dreams and every day I feel lucky to walking to work.
+I've collected more passport stamps, saw many beautiful sights, and lived to tell about them.
+I've continued to meet and make friends that enrich my life and inspire me.
+I've learned to marvel and enjoy the simple pleasures of the world, like gourmet bread, falling autumn leaves, drinkable tap water, yoga pants, and long conversations.

Portland is my home because my best friend was waiting to pick me up at the airport on Tuesday night. I'm not a very mushy person and I didn't even tell her, but I was moved to tears that someone wanted to welcome me back after weeks of me arriving at unknown places alone. Years, I suppose. This year, after all my travels, I'm most thankful for familiar faces I love and a place to call HOME.

"Travel not to find yourself, but to remember who you've been all along."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Bit of Bolivia

I landed in La Paz on Tuesday, the capital city of Bolivia and highest in the world. All the emergency warnings about altitude sickness worried me a bit when I was on the plane, but my, the view of the Andes from Cochabamba was unforgettable. As soon as I landed I remembered to move slowly so that I wouldn't faint, and I didn't! Yay! 

La Paz is chaotic and smoggy, but somehow I find pockets of it to be simply charming. It's a tight city where everyone either takes taxis, hops on minibuses, or walks everywhere. There are cable lines making a jungle above street traffic, but no underground metro stations (my favorite! Boooo) The streets and buildings have colorful, weathered walls and the windows have seen better days, but they're beautiful to me that way. Most of the buildings are pretty low, and the streets are never level nor paved, so I can't see myself living here. Everywhere I walk is like going for a hike. I'm even wearing my hiking boots today! Sadly, I also discovered that their draught beers and coffee isn't very good at all. But the people are friendly and helpful, and I'm finally using my Spanish here! 

I've been shamelessly checking off the touristy to-do lists. First stop has been Sagamaga street, aka Gringo Alley. It's the touristy street where they sell handicrafts, and tour packages and etc. Surprisingly, there are barely any foreigners there. I was expecting parties on the streets and Austrailians in dreadlocks, but this street is relatively modest and calm. Most gringos here are just passing through after Macchu Picchu and heading down south. I enjoyed browsing through the stalls of gorgeous rainbow hammocks, pillow cases, leather satchels, and trinklets but only bought bracelets due to my limited luggage situation (thee big backpack). 

I also walked to Calle Juan (preserved history alley way), people watched at multiple plazas (pigeons galore!), zipped through museums, rode the scenic cable car, hiked up the San Francisco church's bell towers, browsed Witch's market (dried baby llamas ehhhh) and ate a ton of street food to make that typhoid vaccine worth it. I think if you're as ambitious as me, two days in La Paz is more than enough to do everything. Everything is super cheap too! 

My favorite part of this place is how the streets look. They're always sloped so intriguingly in one way or the other, and since La Paz is in a valley, every picture I take has the mountains in the background. All the streets are gritty with 'cholitas' selling gum and Kleenex on the sidewalks, exactly like all the postcards I've ever seen of Bolivia. The lighting here is also spectacular, most of the photos I've taken don't even need filters! 

Tomorrow, I'm taking an overnight bus to the Uyuni Salt Flats, the main reason I've wanted to come to Bolivia and I'm super excited! I don't expect to have wifi on the buses, but you know, hope for everything and expect nothing :) Ciao! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Brazil, it was real. I'm coming back for you someday..

I´m at an internet cafe, waiting for the airport shuttle at the bus terminal. I cannot believe my week in Sao Paolo is over, but I am sure I will be back.
I´ve always had this theory that within minutes of landing in a new city, people generally know if they can love it or leave it. Since I worked a full week at the Airbnb office during my stay here, I had to rapidly adapt to a routine that pretty much stimulating what my life would be like here...and yes, I could totally move here.
Sao Paolo is the largest city in Brazil, and the world´s 12th biggest city. There are many types of neighborhoods: modern, old, colorful, swanky, hilly, all sprawled out with character. The metro system is fast and cheap and will take you everywhere you need to go. On Paulista Avenue, I found skyscrapers and that´s when I decided this city was big enough for me. The friends and aquaintances I´ve met here are friendly, open, intelligent and crazy creative. I completely fell in love with the street art, food, and energy of this place. Even more so, I´m captivated by the Portuguese language and have tried to learn as much Portuguese this week as could be reasonably expected.
To say that I've seen this city would be a huge understatement. That's what kills me when I leave a city I've fallen permanently in love with...there's no closure because I know there are so many places I haven't discovered yet. I didn't even get a chance to go to Rio de Janeiro!! There's a whole life here waiting for me to live. I would eats tons of fruit and drink 'vitaminas' and get really tan, wear white pants and tight floral dresses all the time and fall in love. My brazilian boyfriend and I would go for drinks with our friends at outdoor patio bars with live samba music.  Why can't I just travel without envisioning moving my whole life?

My colleagues here became my new friends and family. Boy, do Brazilians know how to party! These people are a blast, and have hearts of gold.

No shortage of culture (good beer and good food) 


+Meeting all my coworkers in Sao Paolo, was like a reunion of siblings separated at birth. (Okay at least that's how I felt) and going out to lunch with them everyday to a new spot, and them kissing me all the time. 

+Staying with Wolfgang and Renata, super host in Brazil and getting to be a part of their amazing life, like testing recipes at their new co-kitchen space and being treated to homemade passion fruit pudding for breakfast. 

+Venturing out to the Liberdade, the Japanses neighborhood and having the most amazing salmon handroll in my life. Then washing it down with super cheap local canned Skol beer. 

+Meeting Brazilian friends and going for drinks at Aspicquelta avenue! Such a lively place and fun people. 

+Browsing through Benedito Calixto open market for souvenirs and eating from the authentic food carts (I haven't gotten sick yet!!) 

+Getting invited to a local balcony house party! The back opened up to a view of the city, I learned how to was a magical night 

+Finding and exploring Batman alley on Sunday morning. This is a tucked away alley in Vila Madalena where artists get to display their best work. Lots of people, tourists and locals alike, come here to marvel and take pictures of the art. 

I want to add links and more photos but it's so hard doing everything by phone! Thanks for reading still, and I hope someday you'll get a chance to come to Sao Paolo!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sao Paolo-Part One

So I left my laptop at home for this trip, and I really wish I hadn't. Why? Because there is SO much I have to write now!

First of all, Portuguese is NOT Spanish. It kind of sounds like Spanish, but it's not. My ego has been slowly withering away with each conversation I've staggered to have with locals in Spanish, forget English. This has left me downloading Portuguese phrases on my phone asap, especially after I sat down for my first menu and didn't recognize a single word aside from áqua. I found my listing without any issues, and found out that my hosts are not only Superhosts, they will be flying out to San Francisco in a few weeks for the Host Open. They are awesome. They are so awesome that their kitchen has been replicated into the kitchen inside the Airbnb Sao Paolo office.

I spent the majority of my first evening lost in my neighborhood, Vila Malalena. It's considered a trendy, upscale and safe area with lots of restaurants bordering one end and there's a pretty crowded party street on the other side called Rua Aspicuelta. There is graffiti EVERYWHERE on EVERY wall in Sao Paolo, but it's most definitely not vandalism here-more like wall art. I was looking for an alley called Batman, which is a famous alley full of wall art that my host told me about but never found it. I was happy to see people drinking out on the sidewalks, and felt kind of out of place in my Chucks. I've been tripping nonstop, partially because all the buildings are built like rainbow, overcrowded teeth and I can't stop looking. And also because the side walks are literally broken up and slabs of concrete are everywhere. After I survived weaving through the crowds of beautiful tan people, I found myself staring at menus in Portuguese, searching for the only word I could make out: CERVEJA (beer.)

In front of a bar called Melegrano, the owner came out and asked what I was looking for. I asked if he had any beer and I've never seen an old man beam so proudly. Turns out Melegrano boosts one of the fanciest and largest emporium of fine local and import beers. He was thrilled to practice his English and brought out some dark beer he claimed to be the best porter in Brazil, something called Petroleum. It wasn't on tap, but I wasn't expecting too much. He poured it into a fancy glass for me, pointing out excitedly that it even flowed like car gas. It was perfect. I really enjoyed people watching out on the streets with club music thumping in the background, wondering if it was weird for me to be alone. I think I'm going to do that more when I get back to Portland and maybe pretend I'm just a mysterious lone traveler.

I have to leave this desktop now and go out after work. More later, CIAO!

Don't they look like toy houses??

My host's puppy, I want to steal him away. 

My workspace this week, gonna have those sweets.

Monday, October 13, 2014

On Getting Called Out...and everything else that's good.

This week was pretty normal. However, if I lived a thousand lives and this was one of them, I would be the luckiest girl in the world. (My fave quote)

Keeping my life balanced is a ever-ending endeavor of mine, but I am super blessed with all the tools and strength to do so. It feels like every week I'm diving into a different form of self-improvement, from working on my personal finance skills, home decor, outdoor sports gear, cooking, travel planning, Spanish, dating (how this is positive is highly debatable) kickboxing, and even the Paleo diet. It's weird how everything usually lasts only about a week. It's not a bad thing, it's just a sign of my restlessness and insatiable appetite for living life. I have yet to get into my gardening stage, a canvas painting phase, or serious typewriting stage but I know it's going to happen eventually.

One form of self-improvement that I have not mentioned in forever is my relationship with God. It's definitely not a phase though, it's just who I am and will always be-a believer. I'm a Christian girl. Do I go around telling people this? NO. You can't tell it by the way I live, so I don't want to give people the wrong idea... However, once upon a time, being a follow of Jesus was my biggest identity. I even had a whole blog on my journey with Christ. He was my first and everything. I can't say that any particular incident turned me away or that I've turned away at all. I've just placed God on a shelf somewhere, and wandered off, globetrotting the world and falling in love and enjoying my whimsical little life and God is just there, getting dusty (and probably getting irritated and plotting to strike me with a lightening bolt to remind me that I'm NOT building towards my calling). That's not how it's supposed to be, and that's not what I want. The hardest thing about stepping back into the God journey is that He will suck everything you have into it, including your soul. And then He will save it. 

I've always believed that we don't get to choose Jesus, He chooses you. It's been burning in my heart for awhile, and so I went to service at Imago Dei this morning. The pastor shared a story about a tax collector named Zacchaeus who climbed up on a tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus as He was walking by (Luke 19). And that's how most people 'seek' Jesus. We are interested, but don't want to get too serious or too close. The thing is, Jesus saw this man and He knew, and called him down. It's like trying not to make eye contact with your teacher or boss but they know you have an answer so they just call you out anyway.

I don't really have a point, just that Jesus shouldn't be a phase or something I balance into my life, I need Him to be the core and I just want an extra push. I'll push myself, but it's always good to be held accountable.

After all, He has poured SO many blessings into my life. Even if He hadn't...but He has. One of my friends has a routine Thankful Thursday post so that she is always reminding herself of things to be thankful for. I'm not that disciplined, so here's my just random list from this past week:

+Having the best girl friends a girl could ask for. My girl friends are funny, ambitious, smart, supportive, fierce, kind, loyal, gorgeous, strong, wise, and all over the world. I love that I can turn to anyone of them at any time to either go out for drinks or vent about school loans. I wouldn't be sane without them <3 Today I was especially happy to have one of my besties visit home, and for an amazing brunch.

+Living where I live. I don't mind staying in my NW Portland hood like, all the time. I love Trader Joes. I love Powells. I love Washington Park and the Popehouse. I especially love walking to work lately cause the leaves are CHANGINNNNNG COLORSSSSSS. I love that I can walk practically to anywhere I need to go to and that I feel perfectly safe doing so. There are still many restaurants I haven't been to yet..although I've been a regular at most of the bars :D As I've repeated many times before, moving back to Portland was the best thing I've done for myself in a long time.

+My job. Everyone knows I have a very cushy job loaded with too many perks and we are spoiled rotten. Monday we had a pizza and beer party after work to share stories in the office. On Tuesday the avocados were back, and macaroons. Wednesday we had a biker guy making us fruit smoothies and had massages, then a Timbers game. Thursday we had a keg of Pumpkin Beer, a Pumpkin bread bake off and a kil
ler happy hour at the Bitter End. Friday we had more Pumpkin beer. I don't ever want to take this for granted and we all work hard every day. But seriously. I am so blessed to be SO taken care of.

+Having the means to do this Paleo Diet. No dairy? No grains? No processed foods or sugars? Not everyone has access to fresh fruits and veggies and organically farm-raised meat, but I do. I have been thinking about this privilege since I started two days ago, and I don't know why I get to have this choice but I do, and so I should treat my body better. So far I enjoy eating tons of salad with meat and eggs on it. It makes me go to the bathroom a lot. A I must be losing weight. :)

+Being able to travel. Never an understated luxury. I don't care where you're from or where you've been, but if you can travel, be grateful. Truth be told I'm a bit nervous for my upcoming solo trip, but excited. I'm going to San Francisco next week for a short stint to process my Brazilian visa, and then in November I'll be off trekking through South America for three weeks, conquering Macchu Picchu at the end. I know some people spend their entire lives dreaming about this, so it's amazing that I'm just gonna do it next month. Yeah, JUST DO IT. Sometimes, I surprise myself.

+That it's Autumn. Time for scarves and plaid and corn mazes and PUMPKIN PATCHES! I don't give my guy friends credit for putting up with me, but I should. I'm thankful that my friend Andrew wanted to go to the pumpkin patch today and now I have two pumpkins I don't know what to do with.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Week I Thought I was In Love

I can't believe my relationship posts got over 5x more views than my BELOVED TRAVEL ARTICLES. Sheesh you guys. I guess that just shows humans are obsessed with love, heartbreak, drama and everything in-between. Besides, my dating life is a tad bit more happenin' than my travels at the moment, since I'm not going ANYWHERE for another month. Oh, to San Francisco for a bit for besides that.

So what's the story today? At 26 years old, I finally understand the difference between infatuation and love. I met a guy last week, and it was magical. We couldn't get enough of each other, and I found myself letting all my guards down and telling him everything and wanting to share my future with him. Instantly. We texted all day and all night nonstop, to the point of my iPhone threatening to die before getting out of the office to see him almost every day. I was so head over heels that I've announced to my best friends that I was positive he was The One (they were all skeptical, as they should be. It's a wonder no one tried to slap me out of it). He was completely flawless and perfect to me, and I had decided that whatever issues that might come up, I would do whatever it took to resolve them so that we could continue to be happy together. It was too good to be true. I realized that I was ready to be in a relationship again, because I found the one I wanted to have it with. For one week, I thought I had fallen in love and it was the best feeling ever. Like getting hit with a train.


The thing about infatuation is that it's like a drug, and it's like the cheap vanilla extract instead of the pure vanilla of love. I became addicted to him. Any texts/contact from him throughout the day were like shots of adrenaline. It was so hard to focus at work, and I would wake up too early every morning day dreaming about him. He told me he felt the same way. Scientifically speaking, my brain was releasing huge amount of dopamine which changed the wiring in my brain, then synaptic neurotransmitters  made a connection between my lover and dopamine production and thus intensified my feelings for him which vetoed all sense of logic. Google it. I happily obsessed over him because it was being reciprocated, and I didn't see how I was subconsciously building up irrational expectations for him to maintain this incredible high. We foolishly declared how much we wanted to feel this way forever! Not his fault, not my fault, it was just the way it was.

The tragedy with infatuation is that 1) it's not reality, 2) it screws up judgement and 3) it's not sustainable. It's a dangerous stage, and sometimes it will turn into a healthy, long term relationship (if you actually find the right person)...but I think more often than not it just ends and you feel like shit. I panicked like an unreasonable, lovestruck girl when I sensed he wanted more space and therefore, got put into the 'crazy' category. Guys, please confirm but I'm pretty sure I know this already: If a guy puts a girl in the crazy box, you don't EVER get out of the crazy box. Sigh. It's like guys getting put into the Asshole box. Or worse, the Friend box. UNFAIR FOR EVERYONE but since when was life ever fair?

Events that unfolded after this incident made it clear to me that it was not love. Damn it, hindsight always kills me. Usually it might have taken me weeks to figure out, but I'm so much wiser now. If he had loved me, he would not have put me in the Crazy box. If I had loved him, I wouldn't have whined about him wanting to do what was most important to him. I wouldn't have been a selfish little moron trying to keep him all to myself. If he had really loved me, he wouldn't have shut down and pulled away from me. If I had really loved him, I wouldn't have looked at him like he was magic but instead with loyalty and kindness. If we had loved each other, we would have tried to work things out. Love is about putting each other first, and making them feel secure and supported. Real love is accepting each other and seeing each other clearly, then choosing to commit to them anyway. 

So I failed at falling in love. HAHA! Figures. It was only seven days, but the withdrawals are painful, and oddly feel quite similar to heartbreak. As in, it hurts. I could have loved him, if he had stuck around-but the fact that he didn't just shows it wasn't meant to be. I feel much, much better though after writing/processing this...and you know what? Next time I'll know the difference. I know there will be a next time because I'm actually not crazy. In fact, I'm going off to be amazing now. I love my bed.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My favorite summer things to do in Oregon

I’ve been spending most of my time doing things rather than writing about them, and I’m a bit sorry but not sorry for doing so. This tends to happen most during the summer time, and since the end is near I’ve been saying YES to every opportunity in or around town that arises for me to bask in summer adventures in all her glory. Here are some activities I highly recommend to do, in no particular order, in case you wanna live in Oregon for a summer (or forever):

-Driving and hiking around the Columbia River Gorge: Along the border of Washington and Oregon, these are my favorite views of the Pacific Northwest. Drive up a smooth highway carved off the edge of endless forest-covered mountains, with a sparkling river below, and stop at trailheads to begin your hike. There are numerous hikes up along this Gorge and they are all fantastic. My favorite is still Angel’s Rest, because the views are spectacular and I’ve seen the most chipmunks there. The Multnomah Falls are in this area as well, so is Crown Point and you can continue up to Hood River. Check out these hikes:

-Floating down the Sandy River. It’s a thing. This is the perfect adventure with your friends on a sizzling hot summer day, when you’ve got the whole day to worry about nothing. Make sure you have at least two cars, one to park at the start (wherever you choose to start, Dabney is the most popular lot) and one at the end (Lewis and Clark is where most people turn in). Grab a cooler, stock it with beverages, bring rope to tie your group together, load up your tubes and get your tan on. I love dipping into the water when it gets too hot, toasting to new friends along the way, and extra kudos if you’ve got waterproof speakers! Beware; you may be sunburnt with a midday hangover by the time you pull your inner tubes out of the water. Prepare to spend the majority of your day in the river, the float can take anywhere between 3-4 hours to 7 hours depending on the current. Make sure not to leave any litter behind!

-Beer festivals. No summer in town is complete without spending numerous weekends chipping in those tokens for multiple tasters of delicious beer. I think I’ve hit almost every major beer fest this summer, from the organic, local, specialties and internationals. I usually hear about them by word of mouth. I love the white tents, the drunken old people, the confused lines for tapped out editions, the accompanying concerts in parking lots and parks, and running into everyone from high school. Most of all I love how they’re always outside and beer just tastes better when you can drink it outside! Here’s a nifty guide:

-Movies at the park. They’re free, play classics, and you can have a dinner picnic with your friends! Perfect weekday activity for a chill evening, plus the location is always changing so you can explore new parks. Make sure to bring a blanket, lawn chairs if you’re smart, and munchies! The only downside is that you can’t drink alcohol, because it’s a park and you might be watching Nemo with little kids. Upside, the little kids might give you their glow sticks for no reason. It’s happened to me. Looks like the season just ended, but there’s always next year!

-Drinking on bar patios. I’m really good at drinking beer when there are so many amazing brews just steps from my door. I love sitting in the back patios where they have strings of little Christmas lights above the tables and you can gather tons of your friends or go on causal dates. There are plenty of these patios all around Portland, but the ones on 21st are the most convenient for me cause I live there. The warm summer night breeze combined with a chilled mojito is just perfect for hanging out on those wooden bench tables. Decks close at 10pm. I also love catching up with friends down by the Brewery blocks at Rogue, Deschutes and Bridgeport. I have also been introduced to Bailey’s Taproom this summer and it’s changed my life a little. The possibilities are endless, so you’ll never go thirsty. Below left is the patio outside of Valentine's, and right is White Owl Society. 

-Running up Washington Park to see the Rose Garden. I do this at least once a week, and I know its cliché but it’s my happy place. The Portland International Rose Garden draws visitors from all over to admire the vast rows of roses in all colors and variations. It’s just a beautiful sight and there are always people with big cameras and couples strolling through. There are numerous trail paths weaving around the garden and I will sometimes continue on running into the woods. I think the time to go is in June/July, but it’s September now and there are still plenty of roses in full bloom. Don’t miss the Japanese Gardens while you’re there.

-Heading out to the Oregon Coast. I hesitate in putting this one in cause I’ve only made it out to the coast once this summer, but I hope to get out there again soon, plus I grew up making multiple trips a year. The Coast is about 2-3 hours out from Portland, depending on which beach you have chosen. Seaside is my favorite for a touristy beach, and Pacific City is my favorite getaway beach. The Pacific Ocean is NOT warm, but the sand is hot in the summer time, and I LOVE the little towns and seaside cottages. The seafood is phenomenal (have oysters! Clam chowder! Crab omelets!), have an ice cream and rent a funky bike. The sunsets are gorgeous on the coast, and remember to bring a windbreaker.

-Going to Timbers Games. I went to my first game on a whim, and I knew it wasn’t going to be my last. The Portland Army is a fierce and passionate crowd as any-if you come to a game you must sit in the Army section. We have our own war chants and victory songs, and the audience is so captivated and fueled on microbrews that no one sits down. If you love soccer, you will have a blast. If you don’t, you will still have a blast and probably leave as a lifelong Timbers fan. Season is almost over, so grab your tickets! Here are some chants for your entertainment:

-Skipping brunch to go for pho or ramen. I’m not going to go too far into the crazy food scene here, so I’ll just stick to this. As much as I love a nice omelet and hashBROWNS, after a wild night out on the town all I want is broth and noodles. It might be an Asian thing, and it’s a good thing cause the lines for the best noodle joints aren’t 2-3 hours long and the worse thing when you’re hung over is having to wait for food. My favorite place for wonton noodles is Good Taste in Chinatwon. For pho it’s gotta be Pho Hung on 82nd although Luc Loc is trendier and closer so I go there too. I just discovered Boxer Ramen and I’m so happy it’s down the street from my house, and definitely hits the spot.  My picks are confirmed here, under the 10 Best Asian Noodles in Portland:

-Always having back up indoor activities. Remember it still rains here, that’s why we have living room theaters, Glowing Greens 3D underground mini-golf ranges, DIY painting studios, Powell’s Bookstore, Ground Kontrol Arcade, and of course our cozy homes. I suppose beer can also be consumed indoors once we have to. I’ve spent so much time outside this summer I’ve barely been home. Right now I’m in bed on a Sunday and I wanna stay here all day.

There is still SO, so much more to do in and around the city that I don’t know about or haven’t gone to yet. That’s another thing I love about this place, that it’s a new city to me because it’s evolved so much but the roots are still where I remembered them. I am looking forward to Autumn, and all that entails. Pumpkin beer, haunted corn mazes, OSU football games…I’m ready for you.

**All photos are my own except the the movies in the park one. Mine all turned out too dark for those :)