To make it official, I even came up with a big long list of challenges for myself for the year. These challenges include your basic New Year’s resolutions, like get back in shape and stop procrastinating and start being a better person. You know, the typical kinds of things you come up with when you’re feeling delusional at the beginning of the year.
And, to make it even more official and because I’m a total nerd, I typed up a bulleted list of the daily, weekly and monthly tasks I would need to complete in order to reach my goals. Then I printed it up and hung it on my wall.Originally, I thought I would space these challenges out over the course of the year kind of like how Gretchen Rubin does in her book, The Happiness Project.
(Or at least that’s what I think she does in her book. I should probably mention here that I skimmed most of the book as I’m not particularly good at reading books that promise to make me a better person. I should have really made that one of my 2012 challenges. But I didn’t. So instead I’ve been using my spare time to read The Hunger Games series. Because, apparently, I’d much rather read books about children killing each other than books on how I can become a better person. I have a feeling I’m not alone on this one.)
Despite my intentions to slowly chip away at my list of challenges over the course of the year, I somehow managed to accomplish five of my goals over one quick weekend trip to Hong Kong the other week.
It was kind of like my own personal Happiness Project, except it took me a lot less time and included a lot more dumplings.
Which I think we can all agree would make a very awesome book. I’m planning on calling it The Dumpling Project. Or the No Hunger Games. Or just I’m Awesome. (Publishers, call me!)
Challenge 1: Be BudgetyI can’t say I’ve ever been the type to choose budget over convenience. Especially if the budget option involves waking up really early or having a long layover or being crammed on to a budget airline carrier.
The last time I took the cheapest flight I could find, I was served bark as an in-flight meal. I know you all think I’m joking right now, but I’m not. I don’t joke about stuff like being forced to eat bark.Despite my penchant for being served actual food during flights, I still went the budget route and picked one of the cheapest flights I could find for my trip to Hong Kong.
In fact, I ended up flying into the border city of Shenzhen rather than Hong Kong, as the flight from Wuxi to Hong Kong cost approximately the same amount as my monthly salary. Whereas I could fly into Shenzhen for about a quarter of the price, and then catch a bus over to Hong Kong.
The Shenzhen airport website assured me the bus would only take seventy-five minutes. And an extra seventy-five minutes of travel time in exchange for being able to buy groceries this month seemed like a fair trade-off to me. (I’d like to point out here that the Shenzhen airport website is either a really big liar or really, really bad at math because it took me, like, twice that amount of time to get into Hong Kong. But I still get to buy groceries this month, so there’s that.)Luckily, I’m happy to say my flight into Shenzhen was rather pleasant.
I particularly enjoyed the in-flight entertainment, which consisted of cartoons illustrating various cautionary tales about the dangers of leaving your seat during turbulence or smoking on the plane.
Plus, the in-flight meal did not include bark of any kind.
Well, there was this, which I couldn’t exactly identify, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t bark:
So, yeah, being budgety didn’t turn out so bad after all. I may just try it again sometime.
Challenge 2: Try New ThingsThe main reason why I went to Hong Kong was to perform at the Hong Kong International Improv Festival with The Pirates of Dotombori, my comedy group from Japan.
Admittedly, performing improv is not anything new for me. I’ve performed off and on since college when I discovered that improv allowed me a chance to get up on a stage and get lots of attention. But it didn’t actually require me to memorize stuff or, you know, be able to dance or sing on key or anything.
Despite having years of experience performing improv, it still felt like a new thing for me because I haven’t done it in such a long time. The last time I performed was almost a year ago at the Beijing Improv Festival.
You see, improv is kind of like doing a sport. You have to regularly practice it to be any good at it. Performing improv requires the ability to think and move quickly. Neither of which happen to be natural abilities of mine.I performed during two shows at the festival, and I spent most of my time on the stage looking like this:
Needless to say, I was a really integral part of both performances. I mean, I was obviously really good at getting into character. Just as long as that character happened to be the village idiot.
Challenge 3: Talk to BoysOne of the bestest parts about going to Hong Kong was the fact that I got to hang out with some of my favoritest people on Earth.
Like the director of the comedy group, Mike, who is pretty much the nicest guy you’re ever going to meet, and I’m not just saying that because I know his mom reads my blog. (Hi, Mike’s mom!)
I also got to hang out with quite a few people I’d performed with before either in Japan or last year at the Beijing Improv Festival and a few other people I’d never met before.And seeing as improv tends to be a male-dominated kind of thing, most of those people were men. As much as I’d really, really love it if more women did improv, I do have to say the male-female ratio did kind of work in my favor.
I mean, come on now, I got to spend the weekend being surrounded by a group of attractive, funny guys. Which, I have to say, is not a shabby way to spend the weekend… not shabby at all.
Challenge 4: Eat BetterOf course, a trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without some dim sum. After a raucous all-night after-show party on Saturday night, we headed to a dim sum place for Sunday brunch.
Because, really, there’s no better way to recover from a hangover like eating brunch with two-hundred of your closest Chinese friends in a restaurant that’s decorated with enough shiny stuff to make your eyes spasm.
While the decor wasn’t exactly hangover-friendly, the food definitely was.
Well, maybe not these:
But these were:
As were these:
And definitely this:
Okay, so originally when I made the resolution to “eat better” I didn’t mean “eat more dumplings and pork.”
But, I think we can all agree that I should have meant that. Because, really, you can’t eat much better than dumplings and pork.
Challenge 5: Be PositiveI would like to think I’m a naturally positive person. But, the truth is I’m really not.
I mean, I have a feeling naturally positive people don’t have to write things like “Be positive” on their bulleted lists of goals for themselves. (Instead, I bet they write things like, “Stop hugging strangers so as to avoid any more lawsuits this year” and “Start singing in my head when in public.”)
Sure, I have my moments of joy when I’m the human equivalent of a rainbow and pretty much everyone wants to slap me.
But, on most days, I can be pretty cranky.
And, when deprived of sleep, personal space and regular doses of coffee, I can be downright vicious.
But, miraculously, I managed to stay relatively upbeat and chipper during my two whole days in Hong Kong, despite having very little sleep and having to share my hotel room.
Okay, so maybe I did have something of a tantrumy moment when I learned the dim sum place did not serve coffee. (I mean, what’s the deal, dim sum place? If you can have a karaoke machine and a fish tank the size of Kansas, you can invest in an expresso machine, dontcha think?)But I totally didn’t kill anyone.
So, in reality, that means I accomplished six challenges last weekend. (Not that I wrote “don’t kill anyone” on my bulleted list of goals. That would be weird… and kind of hard to explain in case anyone looked at my list. But I’m pretty sure it’s implied.)Fess up: How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?