Category: Life

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

POUND THE ALARM, is this a real life update?

So, hi. It’s me.

If I haven’t seen you in the past two months (which is highly likely, given how ridiculously hermitic I’ve become), do I have an update for you.

A month ago, I left my first “real-world” job at Google, one I’d had for the past 5+ years, to go back to school. (Yes, it’s the same job I’ve had since I announced, way-back-when in July 2011, that I’d be moving cross-country from New York to San Francisco. Boy, has time flown by!)

Which is to say: I’m pleased as punch to announce that I’ll be attending the design program at STANFORD (!!!!!), where I’ll be for the next two years!

Am I excited?

The short answer: Hell yeah!

The longer answer: Hell yeah! But of course, it’s bittersweet to leave behind the first job and neighborhood and life that I’ve had since leaving college. I technically won’t be moving too far, but after a decade of living in a city, moving to the suburbs of Palo Alto will be an adjustment. There will, in fact, be a lot of adjustments, from not relying on free food at Google to dorm life to having things called classes. How do you all-nighter again?

So, here’s the gameplan. Anybody who’s known me in some capacity of familiarity knows that I travel — well, a lot, so it should come as zero surprise to y’all that I’m going nomadic and spending the months between now and Stanford.

May – June: I’m driving cross-country, with a primary goal of visiting all the states I’ve never been to (Idaho! The Dakotas! All of Middle America! Vermont!). If you’ve recommendations for Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Vermont, I’d be happy to hear them! I’m also making my rounds through the Midwest, the East Coast, and bits of Canada. Bonus points if any of your recs involve using a National Parks Pass:

As of now, my roadtrip has taken a turn for the south (literally speaking, thank god), and I’m currently in Little Rock, ready to begin the Southern leg of my trip (Arkansas – Mississippi – Alabama – Georgia), just after finishing up the Mountain timezone and Great Plains legs. So if any of those number markers look familiar, send your recs my way!

Late June: New York!

July: I’m then off to South Africa, with stops in Victoria Falls and Seychelles. I’ll be hitting up Cape Town and Joburg, where I’ll be for roughly two weeks, before I head to Morocco for ten days.

August: It’s back to New York for about a week, and then it’s Brazil, where I’m finally finally going to Rio, among other places. But mostly Rio, because how the hell have I been to Brazil twice and still not managed to have set foot in Rio?

September: WHAT’S GOOD, Western Europe! My endgame is to hit up the first weekend of Oktoberfest, which is my last weekend before I need to move back to California. As for everything else in between, welllll. I’ve got London on the list, but this is the one that’s most flexible, aka HI I DIDN’T BUY MY PLANE TICKETS HAHAHA.

And then it’s school time.

So. I’m committed to updating this more regularly, especially since New and Exciting™ Things are happening in my life that are worth documenting. For a more real-time update experience, I’m on Instagram as (surprise, surprise) cindypepper. For everything else, there’s MasterC—

Wait, wrong commercial.

Stay crazy, 2013.

Yikes.

I just realized that I haven’t blogged at all in 2013, and I can only attribute this failure to a variety of different reasons below:
A. I suck
B. I suck
C. I suck
D. All of the above

And it’s a shame that my suckitude exists, because 2013 was a hell of a good year. Far be it for me to attach hyperbolic meaning to things like these, but as the end of a year approaches, I get into a hyper-reflective mood where I think about all the awesome (see: husky sledding), new (see: dyeing my hair pink), crazy (see: jumping off the world’s biggest swing) things I’ve done in the past 50-some weeks, as well as the lowlights. 2012 felt ridiculously stagnant, and by the end of it, I was getting several months’ worth of cabin fever — which helps explain why I went nuts in 2013. Maybe decades from now, I’ll still look back on this and think, holy hell how did all of this happen in one year, but trying to encapsulate all of this in a nutshell only begins to scratch the surface. I’ll give it a shot though, and make an attempt to give you Cindy’s 2013, the Abridged/Instagrammed Version™, aka what I’ve been up to this past year:

I kicked off the year with a week in the world’s classiest place: New Orleans.

Shortly after, I got accepted to volunteer at Obama’s inauguration, which led to a birthday trip spent in New York and DC.

In February, I went to Japan (Tokyo, Nagano, and Kyoto), and got to see the places that I had only read about in my Japanese Civ textbooks.

In March, I joined Elena for a quick weekend in Montreal, where I stuffed my face stupid with bagels and poutine.

The following April was spent in California — but considering the fact that I participated in Holi, spent the weekend in Santa Cruz, and made a crazy mad dash towards Half Moon Bay, I ain’t complaining.

The latter part of May was spent traipsing around Norway, Sweden, and Denmark — a trip that Melinda and I had bought tickets for 9 months ago — with four of my friends.

In June, I spent a superfun weekend in Austin (TEXAS, y’all — and the place where I almost ended up working!) with a few friends who had been prepping me for Texas months in advance.

I also happened to meet Neil Gaiman and visit San Diego for both the 4th of July and my cousin’s wedding.

Then in August, my family and I went to Hawaii, where I joined them for a few days in Kauai and learned that I don’t suck as much at surfing as I had previously believed.

In September, several of my friends from NY moved out to SF, joining me on the West Coast, and then I switched apartments.

I also found out that month that I got approved for a last-minute business trip to India, which meant that I found myself flying on what remains the longest flight of my life (17 hours!).

Hyderabad was lots of crazy fun, and I figured if I was in the vicinity, I’d visit Bhutan, a country that had long been on my travel bucket list. And visit Bhutan I did.

I barely spent the month of October at home, given that I had just gotten back from India/Bhutan and I had a high school friend’s wedding in Nashville to attend. A total far cry from my previous trip, but with so much good food, who was I to complain.

The day after Halloween festivities at Google (props if you can recognize my costume!), I was on a plane to Dublin, where I’d spend four weeks for a work ambassadorship.

Ireland was super, but there was no way I was going to bypass the ease of travelling within Europe, so I ended up in Munich for a weekend where I checked off another bucket list item: seeing Bayern Munich (my favorite football team and also the main determinant of my blood pressure levels) live.

After my ambassadorship was Thanksgiving week, so I used the holidays to go to Finland and Iceland, thus putting the rest of my Scandinavian adventures from May at full circle.

And finally, to round out the entire damn year, I went to New Zealand with my family on a trip that we had delayed for a few years, and goddamn I love this country. Instagram filters do a piss-poor job at capturing the awesomeness of the NZ landscape, but unfortunately, these photos are all I have as this trip is still in progress. 🙂

The point is, despite the fact that I have a chronic habit of falling by the wayside when it comes to blogging otherwise known as Cannotus b. arsedus, I plan on blogging more, especially in this coming year. I even have a queue of over 30 blog drafts at the ready, waiting for me to post! I’ll ramble on about the new places I’ve been (India! Bhutan! Ireland! All of Scandinavia! New Zealand!), the places revisited (Japan, Austin, DC, Canada, Nashville), and everything that happened in between. And I’m sure 2014 will be hustling along as I’ll tell you guys everything, and if it even holds a candle to the ridiculousness that was 2013, then let’s just say I’ll be blogging for a long, long time. Bring it, 2014.

New York, I Love You.

Remember when I told myself I was going to update more regularly? Remember when I totally failed at that?

Anyway, hi. I’m digging myself out of yet another hole, because the long and short of it is, I miss blogging. Despite the fact that I’m absolutely pants at it. I guess I’ve had a bunch of photos piled up on my hard drive that one day I finally went, enough is enough and finally got around to writing this.

So what have I been up to these days? I’m still in San Francsico, and I hit my one year milestone of becoming a California resident (and a Googler!) in July. I still blatantly refuse to forfeit my New York license, partly out of my love for the state and partly because the amount of patience I have with DMVs is nonexistent. In fact, I went to New York twice — the first time in August to help my brother move into college and the second time just last week, mostly to visit friends, Comic Con, and J.K. Rowling.

Yeah, you heard me. J.K. Rowling.

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We’re biffles now. Don’t be jelly.

Backtracking a bit, J.K. Rowling was at Lincoln Center in New York last Tuesday to discuss her new book The Casual Vacancy. Considering I paid $43 for my ticket including all the extraneous convenience charges and I got a free copy of The Casual Vacancy ($35) and she signed autographs for everybody at the event and I got to see her live/in-person with the possibility of projectile fangirling her — the net price for all of this was — what, $8? Real life, what are you even. Get out.

To clear up a few things: yes, J.K. Rowling is a very classy and humble lady, even when she was talking about porn and Fifty Shades of Grey (which may or may not have been my favorite part of the talk). Yes, she is quite nice, even when she spent at least two hours patiently signing autographs for her fans. And yes, I somehow resisted projectile fangirling myself off at her. Somehow, I don’t fancy myself a restraining order.

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JKR and Ann Pratchett (of Bel Canto fame)

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JKR reading an excerpt of The Casual Vacancy

The interview was more like an insightful back-and-forth dialogue between JKR and Ann Pratchett, as they discussed the book as well as other general topics, such as the editing process of writing a book and children’s literature. (If you’re interested, the full video of the interview is here.) Afterwards, they called up each row to wait to get their book signed, and while I might have waited two hours to get my book signed, the chance to meet JKR in person was so worth it. I feel like I should give myself a congratulatory pat on the back for not being a blubbering mess of emotions like I thought I would be.

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The line for autographs. They were really hustling us out there.

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I was able to snap this photo right after I had my book signed, as it was my only window of opportunity, but right after the shutter clicked, the security guard waved his hand in front of me and said, “Ma’am, you’re good.” and pointed me to the exit. NO, I GOT A BLURRY PHOTO OF MY FAVORITE AUTHOR WHOM I JUST MET TEN SECONDS AGO DO YOU THINK I’M GOOD.

All capslock aside, though, I’ve made it a new life goal of mine to have a conversation with J.K. Rowling that’s longer than:
ME: I’m a big fan. Thank you.
JKR: Thank you very much!

Hold me to it.

JKR aside, New York was still all kinds of fun, and while I feel like I should be utterly appalled that I’ve already made three visits in the span of five months, I keep staring back at these photos and wishing I was back already. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

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Despite the ridiculous lines and crowds, I still managed to collect some free Avengers-themed swag at New York Comic Con.

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No trip to New York is ever complete without my fix of chicken and rice from the halal cart on 53rd and 6th.

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Green apple sorbet at Chikalicious

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Pistachio, peanut butter & strawberry, and pumpkin cupcakes from my favorite bakery, Sugar Sweet Sunshine

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Meatball sandwich at — where else? — the Meatball Shop

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Shrimp and grits at Peels

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Biscuits and gravy at Peels

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Banana walnut pancakes at Georgio’s Country Grill

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Banh mi at Xe May Sandwich Shop

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Fig and ricotta tartine at Le Pain Quotidien

Until we meet again, New York.