26

26.

I was born in 1990 and today I turned 26 years old. But I felt I have been born many times. I was reborn at the age of 18 when I left China for college in a small town in the US; again at the age of 20 when I decided to become a programmer; again at the age of 24 when I had Essure; and now, again.

In between 25 and 26, I became a serious runner and spoke fluent Spanish. I started running in 2015; I was merely bored with my life and decided to see if I have the capacity to do something I always hated, which is running. Then something happened and changed everything. In December 2015 I ran my first half marathon. I signed up for it because everyone I knew on Facebook seemed to have ran a half, and I wanted that as a milestone. Instead during the course of my training, I became the person who studies training plans and discusses them endlessly with friends and even strangers behind water fountains. The night I finished my first half, I signed up for a marathon. Then in the next few months, I signed up another two marathons. Running went from something I occasionally do to who I am.

Spanish is something I always wanted to learn, but never had the resource or time, until I moved to New York City two years ago. I went to the first class at Instituto Cervantes and just kept going. In August I traveled to Mexico City alone and suddenly found that I could understand almost everything. I also went on Spanish speaking day trips with Peruvian and Colombian tourists, went to cheer the Mexico City marathon and made friends with fellow Mexican marathoners, and we were planning to run the Rock’n’Roll half marathon together in Mexico City next March.

I’m a good student and I worked hard: I hardly missed any classes and I always do the homework and the required reading; I took a lot of notes and on Friday nights I would study them instead of going out. The classes were expensive at $580 per course, and that’s about 30 hours of class time. But it was all worth it.

It is this year that I became a new person again, the person not quite who I want to be, but much closer to the goal. I reinvented myself into a runner and a Spanish speaker. I had to, because the person I had been would never have been capable of. In the next year I will probably focus on getting better: run faster and learn to understand more Spanish dialect. And the person in 10 years will again be completely different from who I am now.

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人民币上的毛

这个周末要去墨西哥度假10天,于是今天下午我去换了一些墨西哥比索(Mexican Peso)。

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从某种程度上讲,墨西哥和中国其实很相似。墨西哥也是一个历史悠久的国家,是美洲文明的发源地,有辉煌的古典时期。近代同样经历战乱,殖民以及独裁统治,最终成为现在的民主共和国。在墨西哥比索上,有古典时期的哲学家,国王,殖民时期的诗人,近代的革命英雄,总统,艺术家。有男人,女人;有土著人,也有混血儿。我不禁想到,为什么我们的人民币上只印有毛泽东呢?难道中国五千年的历史,到头来只有毛一个人值得印在纸币上吗?墨西哥并不是一个模范民主国家。我们在新闻,报纸上都能读到,它的政府腐败,它的边境上犯罪率很高,失业率也很高 (因此美国有众多的墨西哥非法移民)。但是起码可以从纸币上看到,墨西哥政府对自己国家历史以及文化的尊重。而我们呢?上下五千年,我们有数不清的文学家,哲学家,书法家,帝王以及大臣… 旧版的人民币上起码还有五十六个民族大团结,可是新版的人民币上却只剩下了毛。我真想看看,是不是朝鲜的纸币上只有金家王朝…

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ClassPass is truly “Unlimited”

UPDATE

Jess from ClassPass has contacted me and made my account unlimited, and I was able to book my 31st class in my current billing cycle!

It is because ClassPass automatically sets a 30 class limit when we joined, but if we reach out to them, they can always increase it.

Original Post:

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I tried to register a class the other day and ClassPass didn’t let me, instead, it showed me this:

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“You have already reserved 30 classes, the maximum number allowed for you ClassPass each cycle”.

I wish that instead of saying “unlimited”, ClassPass could just tell me it’s 30 classes per billing cycle.

Machines are racists!

I just found out that machines are the most racists — on Friday night I bought a novel in Spanish on Amazon, then ever since, I started receiving marketing emails from Amazon in Spanish and a lot of them, suggests: “if you like El Alquimista, you might also want to check out books about GED preparation!”

Someone should change those recommendation engine metrics, because not everyone who reads in Spanish is a high school drop out!

My Own North Korea Experience

The Movie “The Interview” reminded me of my own trip to North Korea several years ago.

The day we went to the DMZ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Demilitarized_Zone) I wore a T-shirt with Garfield on it. We had a tour inside one of the conference rooms on the border, and then our translator started asking me about my T-shirt. He pointed to Garfield and asked me what is that, and I told him the cat on my T-shirt named Garfield, from a comic book, he hates Monday and loves lasagna and donuts. Then he asked if Garfield is Chinese, I said, no he’s American but the comics were translated into Chinese a long time ago, I grew up with them, and in short, I love Garfield. He then asked if other Chinese kids also like Garfield, I said I can’t speak for every Chinese kid, but my friends also love Garfield. In the end, he told me he was so surprised that China had became so “Americanized”, where even the children had started reading negatively influential American comics (like Garfield hates Monday and loves food, that’s not good for a society). And I was really sad because now I knew kids grew up in NK didn’t even know about Garfield, they are missing so much fun in their childhood :(

Some of the pictures I took in North Korea: https://shengkaidehua.com/2011/09/19/north-korea/

My perfect English name

My Chinese name 赵婧仪(zhao jing yi) means elegant noble woman. It’s really feminine, and it embodies the expectations of who my parents intended me to be. So instead, I decided to adopt a masculine English name, so as shatter those expectations and reinvent myself.

When I was in the 5th grade, our English teacher asked the entire class to choose our English names. I listed my choices as follows:
1. Harry
2. Daniel
3. Lester

Harry Potter was really popular back then, when I was growing up, and was probably the most desired English name.

My 2nd choice was Daniel. When I was in the 5th grade, I was not only interested in the character “Harry Potter”, but also the actor that played him, Daniel Radcliffe. I had hopes of someday marrying him, but first I had to meet him, and thought that naming myself Daniel would be a good first step. I imagined the scenario playing out to be a chance encounter, I’d be sitting/standing next to him in some public place, and people would recognize him and call out his name, “Daniel!”. I’d respond to that, pretend to be surprised, and then casually mention to him, “oh, your name is Daniel too, nice to meet you, I’m Daniel…”

I forgot why I chose Lester as my 3rd choice.

My first choice was quickly taken by another girl, so I went with my second choice, and I became Daniel.