Uncategorized, United States


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There are days when it feels like everything has been flecked with rose gold and hazel and honey. They are rare and they’re when I feel my heart in my throat and even sleep deprived and synapses slow, everything feels delicious.

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lifestyle, Personal, real estate, United States, Work

Open house.

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Take one look at my planner and you’ll understand why I’d like to schedule my coffee with you two weeks in advance (three weeks if it’s dinner), why my kitchen looks the way it does (horrible), and the reason I have to hit up the gas station every few days (thank the Lord for low petrol prices).

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Cambodia, Expat, lifestyle, Personal, Phnom Penh

An update.

Photo credit: Jesse Morrow

All may seem quiet on the Southeast Asian front in the life of Anna- however it’s anything but. Hence my lack of blog posts. Nothing exorbitantly exciting (other than some freelance work based things that I am actually really chomping at the bit about) has happened since the out-of-towners left but I’ve managed to stay busy with various things- photoshoots, designing, working on collaborations, freelancing, networking, working, etc etc etc.

This post will be short, since I literally don’t have much to say about my own personal life, well- at least that I want on the internet. Have to keep some of the mystery alive, eh?

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Cambodia, Music, Personal, Phnom Penh, Travel, United States

Glass Half Full. December 18, 2012.

It’s that third month.

“We’ve been over this. You posted about your three month residence in Cambodia on the 5th,” you’re thinking.

This is different animal.

Since the third grade, I’ve managed to remember or imagine that something incredibly bad happens every three months. I’m sure it’s simply a superstition or a mathematical way of dealing with life, expecting the worst but hoping for the best, but mainly expecting the worst. Even now, fifteen years later, I clench my teeth and brace myself for the hard hit when that three month mark comes around; a death, a loss of some sort, a personal misguidance, heartbreak, or physical detriment. Maybe I dealt with “it” already with the visa issue, but I was able to let go of that so easily it seems like that can’t possibly have been the bit hit! I haven’t discussed this with a therapist so who really knows what that would bit is other than my undeniable pessimism, but I can say so far…December has treated me well.

First, Allison arrived. Gone are moments spent alone laughing in bed at something ridiculous on the internet. Disgraceful Top 40 guilty pleasure songs are now being played again. I get to engage with someone who is experiencing newly minted expat life along with me on a deeply personal level. Horror movies can now be watched in company(even though she hates them) and my terrible eating habits have somehow made their way back into my life after a 2 week health stint. Then, the exciting discovery of a perfect 4 bedroom villa in what I think is BKK1, could be BKK2, honestly it doesn’t really matter since the terrace is gorgeous, the floor plan is spacious, and our future flat mates are on the un-creepy side of the male gender, aren’t vegetarian, and showed up with hilarious passport pictures involving serious faces and basketballs. My mom has officially decided to return to Cambodia after her trip in January which is a huge relief as I would miss her more than anyone can ever imagine and I’ve had the immense pleasure to have met truly inspiring individuals in the past month, whether it be for their travels, business ventures, or passion for life; some having been given the gift of all three. I’ve enjoyed partaking in three photo shoots, an especially delightful one working with a fun, creative, and energetic photographer, Chatti, and so look forward to seeing the end results.

A “normal person”, a “balanced individual” would take this all and just embrace it and thank God that they’ve been blessed with such treats and experiences, but its as if some latent guilt or fear of something indistinguishable will keep me on the edge of my seat until January 5th. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit this ridiculous time frame for failure or pain I’ve cultivated, but I can only now express it so freely because I can truly say it’s lessened to the point of almost non-existence. A fleet of emotions with the tempo of a jazz song make their way across my days and nights, but apparently it’s enough to make me forget that something “bad” is going to ruin me, I’m just so focused on every other rampant thought raging through me I can’t make time for something like that.

One moment I’m acting like I was at ten watching cartoons and laughing at all the wrong parts and the next lying in bed listening to Iron and Wine and wondering if the romance, the love my mother and father shared will ever be known to me and an hour later trying to decide at just what level terrified I am of learning the ways of mergers and acquisitions. There are hours when I’m scrolling through friend’s Instagram accounts from the States and seeing Christmas lights and family gatherings and Hot Toddies that an ache for the known and loved ones takes me over. Then there are evenings, the hours of existentialism with some of the most endearing, honest, and wonderful people sitting on the front porch after MacGyvering two bottles without a wine opener talking about every aspect of everything openly and honestly; Fear and Loathing at Mischke No. 12.

This entry has no real point. I am simply here, figuring things out literally day to day, accepting the relationships as they come, the friendships as they go, learning, growing, failing, fearing, loving, despising, being humbled. I’m a young, young woman and I’m going to just allow myself for growth. No longer do I have to be the five year old who once said to her mother “I know everything.” I happily accept that I don’t know everything, I’m further away from it than the world has from being peaceful, and I’m grateful for the growth I have yet to do because if I really do know everything, life is going to be pretty darn lame.

I’ve been asked every single day for one reason or another,

“How long are you planning on staying in Cambodia?”

I’m honest when I say I have no intention of leaving any time soon. An end date is not something that has been acknowledged or visited and although I know nothing of what is to be in the coming months, whether  pure excitement, success, joy, and education or of pure hell, Sylvia Plath perfectly expressed in a personal journal

“Perhaps some day I’ll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow.”

Until that happens, I’m going to look at the glass half full. Full of purified drinking water, Pastis, or battery acid; it won’t matter. Something worthwhile, it’s happening. Bad can’t be recognized until it’s over. Then in my experience, as I look back on the time in the future, it turns out it was good because I lived through it, stronger than ever.

Cambodia, Personal, Phnom Penh, Travel

Week One

It has now been exactly one week since I have physically been in the country of Cambodia.

I feel slightly pathetic for not having taken the time to compose an entry until now and it’s a personal shame as I’m sure I’ve lost key details that would so interest a reader from abroad (or even near in proximity) through a glorious haze of sleeping pills, indulgent foods, a riotous assortment of human beings-some in particular proving to be intricate and special, and every rogue insect in between.

I’ve read through various blogs, pings, tweets, notes, forums, and the like that emotional pain last only 12 minutes and that anything further has been self inflicted. This theory (entirely unproven by scientific fact) has in many cases been tested wrong after crying jags lasting 6 months or longer but not proven actually correct personally until my departure from Washington. I chose to allow myself to mourn the loss of a domestic and wonderful life in Tacoma with the comfort of friends, cats, and loved ones for a week or so before my leaving knowing that it would ease my emotions as the actual date of my leaving came. I don’t regret that one bit. I spent full, rich times with co-workers turned best friends and best friends turned family that will nourish me for months to come and I hope that my gratefulness for this crosses oceans.

It came down to this: I had the choice of spending the entirety of the 21 hour flight to Cambodia wetted with tears and to check my melancholia along with two fifty pound suitcases or shedding my fears and sadness of detachment along with my zippered boots at security. I chose the latter.

The goodbyes were ritual, sticky and necessary, and on several occasions was told that “I hope you find what you’re searching for”, but nothing proved to render me incapable of placing one foot in front of the other until I arrived at Gate S11. The heaviest thing on my shoulders was the gigantic Poler Duffalafugus that I so smartly purchased before leaving.

A whirlwind is what best describes what I arrived to when my plane touched down in The Charming City, Phnom Penh. Five hours after landing, I boarded a chartered bus along with twenty four other people for a retreat as the staff of Beyond Interiors to the Mondolkiri Province, roughly eight hours from the capital.

To attempt to accurately recreate the experience everyone shared in Mondolkiri would be an insult to one’s senses, but I’ll go ahead and butcher it anyway. Our first day we visited our first waterfall, although lovely in it’s own murky, slippery way it left some to be desired after witnessing some of the most fantastic during a recent Summer trip to The Rolling Huts in Eastern Washington (“WATERFALL BITCHES!”-J.M.) I got the first taste of the unrivaled passion that Cambodians (Asians?) have for taking pictures, posing for pictures, and taking pictures of people taking pictures of people posing for pictures and realized that in fact, the peace sign is still avidly used in photos around the world. I did also receive a suitor of the leech variety and unknowingly brought the slimy character onto the bus all while being fed on. We were lucky enough to stay at a resort-ish place called “The Nature Lodge”, whose name fully describes the experience. The cabins were open enough to the elements that you really did feel as if you were sleeping under the stars and on the grass, but with a mosquito net dividing you from the elements. Families of long-lashed cows, velociraptor-like chickens, and roaming horses greeted our group as we ascended to the Lodge’s restaurant, perched unceremoniously in a gigantic tree and a symphony of cicadas and frogs rose up as the sun set.

Over the following 2 days, our group visited the much grander Bousra Waterfall further into the province, felt the velvety rough skin of rescued elephants at a reserve, and tried to understand a little better the effect that illegal lumber trafficking causes on the natural world and it’s inhabitants. Pot bellied jugs of rice wine were drunk through long stemmed straws, (unknowingly Freudian) teamwork building games were played, and a bond between humans and the outdoors was forged that can only happen in the deep wilderness and open arms.

So far, I’ve found myself feeling unexplainably ecstatic. During glittering, fleeting moments with legs slick with soft, warm rain while riding a tuk-tuk driving on the “wrong” side of the street or hearing a familiar and favorite song in an Andy Warhol inspired bar or looking up over a baguette and seeing your mother’s all knowing face or realizing that you recognize the street you were sure you could never find on your own or being woken up in the middle of the countryside by deafening lightning or getting drunk on Frangipani (aka Plumeria aka a species of flower) in a bathtub like breeze.

Someone wise told me I’m in the honeymoon phase of my travel. But if this is what I came searching for,

then why would I ever look back?