FOREWORDBefore anything, I should share this: this summer, I will be spending a little over a month and half in Europe. The first month, I'm going to be taking French classes intensively in Normandy, France. For three or so weeks afterward I'm planning to backpack alone to a number of countries using the Eurail. Though I went to study abroad for five months in Ecuador a year ago, I've never really traveled completely alone on my own itinerary and all. So this is kind of a big thing for me and it's something I have dreamt of doing for many years. I am fortunate because my mother has been generous to offer me any kind of financial support I need to make this happen.
TABLE OF CONTENTSToday, I had three main things on my agenda: (1) To establish basic plans for this trip; (2) to go watch "Tangled"; (3) to do the MC for the World Peace Prayer at the community center in Santa Ana.
The morning began well. I got up refreshed before my alarm went off and showered. Cut my bangs impromptu, and then had a slow, easy breakfast in the cafeteria with friends. I brought back breakfast for a sick friend and when I returned to my room I chanted for a good 45 minutes. My mind may have been unfocused but at least it was "raw" in the sense that I was in tune with myself. I chanted with the determination that no matter what, I'm going to have a good day, and that somehow by bedtime I will have "won."So Tangled. Since everyone and their moms and their hairdressers and their first grade daughters all have seen it, I reeaaally wanted to see it before it was out of theaters. But I texted a hoard of people and everyone was busy. So I said, "I am going to watch a movie in a theater on my own!" I'd never done it before and I had always associated movie-outings to social bonding opportunities. But you know, Amelie does it. And because Amelie does it, it's always been a kind of wonder to me. I saw through myself and knew that the hesitation to go to a theater alone is my insecurity acting up and breaking through this is a step toward my solo backpacking in Europe.
VICTORY NUMBER ONE: NOT BEING CRESTFALLEN BY UNPRECEDENTED EVENTSFandango.com said that there was a 12:50 showing so I took the 12:30 shuttle to Edwards Cinema, only to find out that no, the movie began at 12:20. See, usually, this kinda mishap totally throws me off and my initial reaction is always to give it up and go home. But I've recently been repeatedly preached to "always have a backup plan!" (-Mom). Well I wasn't going to pay $10 for a movie 30 minutes in. So I bought the next showing at 3:25. This would mean I wouldn't have a ride back to campus since the shuttle wouldn't be in service by the time the movie's over. Plus I'm not sure if I can get back in time to prepare for the meeting tonight. Oh, there were so many things that could go wrong. But I stopped myself and my tendency to think negatively. And I decided: no, this will be a minor adventure. Let's see what I can do with this new situation.
VICTORY NUMBER TWO: A MILESTONE TO INDEPENDENCEWell now I had 2.5 hours to kill. If I had internet I could begin researching travel plans. But aha! There's a Barnes & Noble in the Town Center! So I went there and burrowed into the travel section. I had a wonderful book at hand, Europe by Rail, which provided precisely the information and advice I needed. By the end of an hour's reading, I had my basic route selected. From southern France to Switzerland, Austria, crawl northward to Germany and head back westward to Belgium with a possible flight over to Turkey. Having built the foundation to a potential itinerary, I finally felt a hint of ownership to what could become a wonderful project for myself--not only an educational adventure but an experience that may very well polish my character and independence. In the words of Elizabeth Bennet: "It is a small kind of accomplishment, I suppose."
VICTORY NUMBER THREE: EARTHLY PLEASURES ARE ENLIGHTENMENTI still had an hour and a half to kill. I was getting hungry since I skipped lunch. So I grabbed a bite at a Greek cafe (I had just read a chapter on Greek food and I was craving pita bread). The waiter was a tall, friendly guy who wore black framed glasses and spoke Greek. I ate as I read the first few chapters of The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. After that I treated myself to a Coldstone "Savory Strawberry" shake--like it size, of course. 3:20 came in no time and I felt like a giddy little schoolboy in the Smithsonian as I walked into the theater--alone! Ha! Theater 6 was mainly empty aside from a couple parents with their 5 year old kids, a young couple and a creepy man on the phone in the back row corner. The movie was pretty darn adorable and I'll elaborate on that in a later post (probably with some fan art, too). But Flynn is definitely a better name that Eugene IMHO. Things also worked out with my ride back because I got my friend Natalia, who conveniently needed to go to her car anyway, to swiftly pick me up. That was the end of a surprisingly marvelous afternoon in the good ol' Town Center.
VICTORY NUMBER FOUR: DETERMINATIONS ACTUALIZEDI got back to my room in time for a quick change of outfits before heading off to the meeting. I faced the Gohonzon again and chanted briefly with a mind set on a successful meeting. When we arrived my co-MC and I had only 15 minutes to go through the agenda and plan things out. I felt nervous for the first time in a while. I had always seen the role of an MC to be crucial to setting the tone and direction of a meeting--I get irritated when I see MCs lacking energy or engagement. So now that the responsibility was bestowed upon us, you can understand that I had set pretty high standards for myself. As I felt myself blanking out, I reassured myself that it all comes down to enthusiasm.
Well, it worked out okay. As a matter of fact, the meeting was great. There was some fantastic encouragement and guidance from leaders and some very young members (two 9 and 12 year old sisters who have used their Buddhist practice to fight their inborn autism and lethal allergies) and my friend performed wonderfully singing with her acoustic guitar. At the end of the meeting I was surprised to receive many praises and felt doubly triumphant when they said my MCing to be "exemplary" and "uplifting."
CONCLUSIONIt was past nine when I returned to campus. I was pretty drained from the long day and the persisting jet lag but a couple girlfriends and I had arranged to go out for boba so we drove to Cha for Tea at UCIrvine. I saw the friendly, Greek waiter guy from lunch today! We played a few games of rummy with my magical Harry Potter playing cards (they vanish!) and we drove back to SUA after an hour. I was cold and tired when I returned to my room but I wanted to write about this here before I closed the day. See, it may not have been too exciting or eventful to read--and I apologize if it's fairly anticlimactic and I thank you for even bothering to read this far--but it's been a long time since I've stepped out of my comfort zone or determined to accomplish something. I've been depressed for a long time and the rehabilitation period was equally long. I'm only just easing back into my old gym shoes but I'm also at the point of wanting to explore new facets and potential in my identity. Today could've been an average day, like yesterday and the many yesterdays before that which I spent clammed up in a sheltered cove where I hibernated for months to recover from depression. But the choice I made as I chanted in the morning led me down an unbeaten path. It may have been small--as small as going to watch Tangled alone in a movie theater can be--but at least today was not a repeat of yesterday. Today I had four small victories. Today, I won.