Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010, the year I traversed the world

I intended to write a post summarizing my life in 2010 on December 31, but did not get a spare moment to do so as I was frantically attempting to tidy up my miserably messy abode as I had invited a special someone over to our home.

So, my friends, I'm sorry that I have to offer this post a whole five days into the year 2011.

I rang in 2010 in a large warehouse in the 798 District in Beijing with a couple of friends from France and an Israeli friend of mine. The 798 District is basically a bunch of art galleries housed in formerly abandoned warehouses in the northeast part of the city. Straight from a party with my Thai and Korean friends, I arrived dressed in my trusty purple qipao, despite the below freezing point temperature.

I was finishing up my first semester of the Chinese language program at Tsinghua University - the number one university in all of China, though not known for its Chinese language program. I was torn over whether I should stay at Tsinghua for another semester or head back to America.

At one point, I had a conversation over dinner with my friend Sun - who is a delightfully sarcastic and pleasing Chinese Irishman. I debated over whether or not I should return to America, move back to Los Angeles, and pursue my dream of acting. He encouraged me to do so - and that I should do so while I still had that drive and goal. A difference of a semester would only be several months, but perhaps it would be vital.

Needless to say, I stayed for another semester. Whether or not that was beneficial for me is debatable as my Chinese probably did not improve very much as my mind wandered aimlessly as I sat through Advanced Chinese I. Nonetheless, I met some new friends and performed in a couple more shows - including BITE's Shakespeare Reveries (the link features a photo of me - uncanny!), a performance loosely described as Shakespeare improv, directed by Ian Reed. Additionally, I did a bit of freelance voice work and was even credited on the cover (without my knowledge) of an English textbook. Pretty nifty, right?

There was a period when I realized how lonely it can be to be an actor...or any type of artist for that matter. I had a close friend of mine agree to come to one of my shows, only to not show up. He promised to attend the next one, only to cancel an hour before the performance with the excuse that he really just wasn't interested in plays. I expressed my disappointment, given all the time I had put into rehearsals and the fact that these things mean a lot to me.  I really love the stage - and I know that sometimes I will be alone in my love as it is something which not everyone can understand or enjoy. But I did have other friends show up, so I'm glad I had their support.

As far as my travels go, I did a fair amount in 2010. I spent two weeks in Vietnam in what I describe as my most hectic and least relaxing trip - mainly due to bumpy roads and women being violently ill for hours in the sleeper addition to the thousands of motorbikes, occasional cheats, and the questions of whether or not I was Vietnamese a dozen times a day. In June, I spent another week or so trekking about the southeastern part of China - reaching Guilin, Lijiang, and Shangri-la. I befriended a Chinese girl at a hostel in Kunming. She was amazed to discover that beyond my Chinese appearance, I would say things that definitely would identify me as *not* being Chinese.

Instead of flying straight home to America after my semester ended, I decided to make a detour in Europe as a one-way ticket to San Francisco from Beijing was ridiculously expensive. It would cost me about the same to fly to Europe and then to SF, so I figured the Europe route was much more exciting than a straight shot home. I flew to Norway, where my friend Jon graciously allowed me to stay at his home. Following that, I did my solo journey over to Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Brno, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, and Warsaw. Along the way, I met a few new and old friends - much love to my dearest Annie who followed her love to Poland. Of course, by naming all of those cities, you can't really imagine any of my experiences - but I'll save that for another post as I think it has been proven that people have short attention spans and will begin to skim blog posts after a certain length.

I finally touched back down in America in September. Since then, my life has definitely gotten a lot less interesting and a lot more confusing with the threat of real life. Interestingly enough, my Israeli friend (who was present at the New Year's rave) told me that that idea was bullshit. Real life is whatever is right now. The fact that I was abroad made no difference. That life was as real as it would be. Well, save the whole commitment to living in America part, I suppose.

In attempt to give myself some more formal training, I enrolled in classes with Film Acting Bay Area and Studio A.C.T. I audited another class with a teacher who was terribly rude to me (I'll give you the story if you'd like). Project-wise, I starred in a student film called Bipolar Express, which will be finished sometime later this month. The film is about a couple who meet for the first time after an online flirtation. I'm supposed to be the bipolar one (seems like a natural role for me). Additionally, I made my first trip back to Los Angeles on my 24th birthday in November to attend ActorFest - which reminded me that acting is really a business down there. (The afterparty definitely wasn't an afterparty, though...just had to throw that in.) In December, I had the supporting role of the sexy neighbor in a modern adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, as I mentioned in my post below. Anyway, I'll definitely have to sharpen those auditioning skills as I haven't always been the best at those. The same goes for interviews!

But I know I've been blessed with what I have. I don't really have much reason to complain. Sure things could always be better, but hey 2010 definitely wasn't the worst year of my life.

So, this time, instead of ringing in the new year in a gigantic abandoned warehouse in Beijing, I rang it in with the fireworks, hot chocolate, and 'tall, dork and handsome' next to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Pretty good stuff :] Hello 2011!


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