The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts from the “Bucket List” Category

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Posted on November 22, 2013

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The “Fuck This _____” moment is a moment of patent irreconcilability. It’s the instant that you decide you can no longer live a certain way, cloaked by a certain pretense, a declaration of the unsustainable. You can move mountains in this moment and your resolve is so strong, any objection, internal or external, is hushed even before it’s voiced.

I’ll be in Vietnam sooner than later. January, to be exact. A year there and then I’m off. There’s the whole of Asia to see, you see, and the Middle East and Africa’s spine. Turkmenistan has a hole in the ground that is perpetually on fire, Namibia has sand dunes on which to sand-board and a dark sky preserve of that supreme quietness where only the universe is speaking to you, Japan has hole-in-wall ramen joints and I have a passion for ramen that is unmatched by anyone. There is something for me in every Place, just like there is something for you, but only if we choose to see it that way.

It will be a trip where I internalize, happily, the fact that I as an individual don’t mean much, I am bound to nothing, and I am free to roam the earth with good consequence. My lightness of being will only be kept semi-grounded by a small backpack, thereby keeping me from floating away.

I look at a map and the world seems so small. But what I really mean is that our world is finite. Ever-changing, but finite. And so I look at maps and I’m comforted by this thought, that there is only so much to see but it is enough to keep me busy.

Then there’s this romance: East Asia to Africa is everything and nothing to me.

Road Trip Brain

Posted on August 25, 2013

We sailed through California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah, clipping Montana and Arizona along the way. No mind-numbing traffic, rolls of hay for days (each scene could’ve had its own frame, entitled The Great American Landscape), blocks of bright green surrounded by seas of waterless yellow, decrepit road-side shacks, small places with big stories, ordinary towns at the base of extraordinary mountains, deep red and pink. This was the America I hadn’t known. We ended up spinning over 3700 miles of road in twelve days. Exponential tire rotations. Twelve tanks of gas. From San Francisco to DC, then practically back again. And yet it feels like nothing. One hundred miles pales to 1000. Before, as many as fifty would’ve been a big affair. Three…

Pho: A Worthwhile Tedium

Posted on June 11, 2013

A large portion of my living budget is designated for pho, an overwhelmingly flavorful Vietnamese soup that consists of different types of red meat, animal parts, and rice noodles.  As such, making pho from scratch was scribbled on the 2013 bucket list; I figured, bowl for bowl, making it would prove cheaper than buying it, leaving me more money for chia pets and beanie babies and more pho for moi. The process was fairly simple but fairly long; this soup consumed six hours of my day; another six were spent eating it. To be fair, three of these hours were just letting the pot simmer. This step was most excruciating as I stood over the pot for all three hours, smelling the beefy, spiced…

Now What?

Posted on May 23, 2013

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I have a diploma in my possession as well as a world of opportunity, I like to believe.

But now what? You’re done unpacking and you wonder, “now what?” That standing still, tilted head, hands on hips now what. A small moment with big questions and even larger answers.

In the spirit of transparency, I’m not quite sure. But uncertainty is the nature of every worthwhile endeavor. There’s a lot of cover letter writing in my midst, broken up with random Internet searches of opportunities abroad, primarily in Southeast Asia. These activities are supplemented with bucket list projects and hugging my dog. Overall a good situation to be in.

If you’re wondering what ever happened to the truck broken down in the middle of the Gobi Desert, not to worry. Mongolians make things happen.

The New Beat

Posted on March 23, 2013

John Clellon Holmes once said, “Everywhere the Beat Generation seems occupied with the feverish production of answers—some of them frightening, some of them foolish—to a single question: how are we to live?” Holmes was a kind of wrangler of his wayward band of brothers – Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Cassady. He collected and compiled all holy data equally induced by drugs and existential despair to document and thus immortalize the claudicant enlightenments of his lost thinkers. And that’s what it was all about; the beatniks occupied themselves solely with the single most relevant question of any person’s life: how are we to live? In this way, we are all beatniks. No one’s experience or story counts for more than any other, just as no one…

Beatniks in Wine Country

Posted on March 8, 2013

and all I’m taking is my camera, film, toothbrush, and books. While I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest, it’s not the sites I’m concerned with this time around. This week-long adventure is completely people-oriented. One of my best friends goes to Berkeley, so I’m flying to San Francisco and soliciting her for her company and food recommendations. Then it’s off to Oregon, a supposedly magical state where some epic kids I came to know and love in Russia now reside. First Eugene then Portland, the city “where young people go to retire”. I look forward to the beers and reminiscing of our stint in Petersburg. Seattle is last, and this is where I get to have a much-awaited dinner with my travel muse,…

Sinister Soups and Buckets

Posted on December 31, 2012

I did a lot of what I wanted to do this year. I hope you did too. All the same, my Bucket List 2012 will be left incomplete. I didn’t manage to run 16 miles in one session, but I set a new personal record of 11.2 miles! I didn’t read 52 books this year, but the ones I did read were enlightening and awesome and I’m a better person for it. I didn’t have dinner with my friend Amy Leah, either. If all you need in a relationship is a spark and timing, the timing was all off. This is okay. There’s always 2013. I’m still going to be running towards the big 16 and reading as many books as I can. And…

Soviet Secrets are Forever

Posted on August 20, 2012

May, 1991: Antoliy Dyatlov Kills Himself by Way of Rope. This isn’t true, of course. Dyatlov died in 1995 of heart failure. * * * There was a cartoon published in the New Yorker shortly after the incident. Two dogs are having a conversation. One dog says: “They attributed it to human error”, and the other replies: “But everything in the world is due to human error.” * * * “The one common thread through all of these accidents is the complete failure of the Soviet system to manage modern technology in a safe manner. This failure is due in large part to the secrecy that was endemic in Soviet society and to a lesser extent in twist Russian society before it. Society existed in compartments,…

A Robot, A Film Camera, and Eastern Europe

Posted on August 14, 2012

A melody, maybe?

Bucharest

I arrived to Bucharest on its hottest recorded day ever. What can I say, I do that to places.

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Sighisoara

Dracula’s hometown manages to attract many visitors, but it’s not difficult to leave the beaten path.

This woman is a Holocaust survivor. She also happens to be as sweet as sugar.

Lokoshaza//En Route

I was bored, okay??

Budapest 

Currently in Krakow; rain is pouring. I am beyond excited to be back in Poland where much of my family is. Obligatory pierogi pig-outs are happening. Trying to stop them would be like trying to pull a large ship to shore with a piece of floss.

After Krakow, it’s off to Ukraine. A bit random, I know, but I have a very important bucket-list matter to tend to. Putting it off any longer would just be woefully irresponsible and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?