Kicking Some Unwanted Balls & Throwing Up Cherries

At the Books Hostel in Rio

I woke up at 5 am today, 4 hours jet-lagged. My computer had crashed last night, so any attempts of writing, contacting potential clients, or any type of freelance search was out the door.

To add, after drinking milk and tea, I felt nauseated. Then I threw up in a public bathroom. Cherries literally included, not on top, but in it.

I asked god why I always had to go through with things like this. Why can’t I just adjust back to life like normal people? Why can’t I be normal enough to have a normal job waiting for me?

Then I’m reminded that I’m supposed to LET GO.

This is a lesson that will take a long time to learn. Especially when the facts in your life don’t seem so stable, a little discouraging at best. Especially when you find yourself comparing yourself to other normal people who don’t go off for a month and experience the most life changing shit ever.

By the way, I’m quitting alcohol for a month. Please keep me accountable. I need to cleanse my body from travel bugs, literally.

I guess it’s easy to be negative, but I’ll try to be positive. I woke up with the most amazing travel story idea. I’m going to write about Traveling Solo As An Asian Woman- Not Your Typical Travel Story. I’ll also write about harassment I experienced being an Asian woman in South America. Scandalous enough for an article, scandalous enough for people to be intrigued. It’s not your typical story. Yet, at the end, coming out a wiser person, knowing how to avoid nasty stares, avoid forced kisses, avoid and kick some unwanted balls.

I didn’t really have an easy life growing up. But it has made me who I am today, I would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the hardships. But guess what, I think it’s time I became gloriously awesome and fought for as a speaker, teacher and consultant. Even if I don’t feel like it right now, especially since I threw up just now.

Since I can’t pitch stories to publications because my hard drive just crashed, I’ll wait for the universe to pamper and flourish me, according to the right time. Meanwhile, sitting at the Apple Store, I’ll finish this blog post with some pictures that could erase the image of me throwing up cherries. 😉

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Some exclusive graffiti from Rio, Brazil.

Traveling Messes You Up

On the beautiful Ipanema Beach. There are some big butts there, seriously.

I’m sitting on my couch, enjoying the stillness and quiet of my house. The leaves are orange and yellow, the sun rays reflected on the wooden floors, I’m back in LA. It all went by so fast. After a crazy week in Rio, Brazil- I woke up after a 6 hour bus ride from Rio to Sao Paulo. I was the last person on the bus because I barely slept at all in Rio. I had $49 in my account, plus bills to pay, but memories I will never forget. Travel really messes you up.

Big time.

My brain still feels overloaded with smells, pictures, flashes of dancing on the streets of Rio, holding my dress and spinning in circles. I remember conversations, people from all over the world- England, Uruguay, China, Switzerland, Austria, New York, the list goes on. I think of the fuzzy dogs that my host family had, getting lost and listening to the voice within, buses, strangers, lots of strangers. In fact, before my trip to South America, I did not know a single person that I was going to meet. Now that I’m back in LA, I am close friends with at least 15-20 people. Friends that I can message and stay with all over the world.

It’s a bit difficult to squish my trip all into one summary.

So for this post, I want to tell you about what I learned.

I learned that despite being alone at times, we are never alone. The world is full of strangers turned friends. In my quest to see Marco, my sponsored boy, I saw that 3rd world countries are happier than we imagine them to be. In fact, I can say that despite everything Americans have, we seem to pop more anti-depressants than the kids running around without shoes on.

I always wondered why I had the desire to live simply, yet loved the world of fashion and glam. I wondered why I loved the idea of free swag, high heels, makeup and gratis but also the idea of living out of a backpack and being anonymous.

Now I understand. Perhaps, my goal in life isn’t just to help the poor…perhaps it is to help the rich let go of security and stability to live the life they want. In Ecuador, I visited the jungle and saw communities drinking out of rivers. Yet, their simple lives caused them to appreciate people and relationships. In contrast, in America, we are constantly bombarded by material things and status. We are constantly virtually contacting people, but never for the simplicity of enjoying the moment.

I met foreigners who wanted to volunteer in Ecuador, and now I realize, these 3rd world country kids should teach us 1st world folks how to live and love. Going to South America taught me the hospitality of a stranger. Strangers took time out of their day to help me, they literally laughed and smiled for no reason, they were open to you, not closed off or busy.

Brazilians seriously know how to party. This is something we can learn from. I am a different person from last month. For days I didn’t look at a phone or know what time it was, but the natural inclination of what I felt enabled me to live according to my inner self, the people around me, and free myself from time constraints.

The more I travel, the more strangers I meet, the more my craving to be alive and to break out of social constraints increase. We don’t have to be slaves to society, we can be trailblazers, we can still live the life we want when we’re all grown up. I can’t say I have it all figured out, because even now I don’t know where my next paycheck is coming from…but I have experienced it all, I really do live in faith knowing I’m not crazy, but destined for greatness. 

After arriving in Rio after a 6 hour bus ride sleeping sitting up, 2 hours trying to find the hostel, I met these 3 friends. I must have been crazy because I decided to hike 2.5 hours to see the Christo. Midway, I stopped several times to hear the quietness of the forest. I had come to Brazil to be still. This was it. After half- dying, hearing the pounding of my heart and running up to the Christo, I started screaming JESUS I’M HERE.

The Christo was startling, beautiful. I was sad to see he didnt have eye pupils. It just shows that statues can’t represent anyone.

Jesus I made it! I climb 2 hours to see you.

Watching the sunset in Rio @ the Christo

 

How It Feels To be White In A Foreign Country

Hi friends,

You must be wondering how I am faring in a foreign country such as Brazil? Well, I now understand how it feels to be white.

Now, I have lots of white friends. I never knew how it felt to be white and always took pity on friends when they looked at me quizzically when my mom or relatives would speak mandarin. Jesting about the gringo is common; though the white friends can´t understand it. Of course, I have Indian friends too, but it just feels way different being white.

In Brazil, hardly anyone speaks English. According to my newly adopted Brazilian brother, you only learn vocabularies such as “dog” and “cat” in school. Thus, my Portuenglish is often returned with a empty look “what the hell are you saying? Are you from outerspace?”.

And of course, “JAPONAISE” is the common comment about my race. If anyone says I´m Japanese again, I will seriously choke the life out of them. I said, “I´m from LA but I´m Taiwanese”. “Thailandness?”- they reply.

OMG. Stab me!!

Thus, this is how it feels to be a multi-cultural, tri-cultural German born Taiwanese American. How does this relate to being white? Well, I often see my white friends have these typical quizzical looks when a restaurant worker or some non-english person would say something.

Now, I see it in the mirror. I, myself, carry a constant quizzical mask. The mask says “what the hell are you saying?”

It is in South America that I finally realized, “dayam…I´m American and I´m proud of it. Yes, I´m a confused American that happens to be Taiwanese and was born in Germany, but I´m still American in culture. I love my ghetto personality.”

ABOUT BRAZIL: 

I am going to miss Brazil because the people are incredibly warm. They are naturally positive, they smile and laugh for no reason. Well, reasons I can´t understand. They are laid back and can take hours to get out the door, but they enjoy relationships and talking. I have learned a lot from Ecuador and Brazil, the people are SO unlike Americans. They live simply, save and recycle, and they seem a lot more content than…well, me. So this is what I´ve learned from them- relaxe and enjoy the sun.

 

South America: Finding Home in Brazil

Yes, that is my name on a towel. This is my first time couchsurfing and I was a little hesitant, but the family has been incredibly nice. They have one dog and two cats, the dog is named “Maggie” and has two poofy hairdo´s on the side of its head.

I now have complete access to internet, it`s incredible. After a horrible experience dying from food poisoning in Ecuador, I had to fly back to Quito and then to Brazil. Yesterday was a full day of flying, and my stomach was aching so bad. But thank God, today I feel great and I´ve learned a few Portugeuse words…unfortunately, with a Brazilian computer, I can´t spell check my English.

Small note of gratefulness: I had thrown away my crappy towel in Ecuador because I didn´t want to carry too much. On the way to the house, I asked my friend if they had an extra towel. When I got to there, they told me to look in the bathroom….voila- a new towel with my name on it. This may be a small surprise, but to me I knew that god had provided one with my very name on it. He sure takes care of His kids.

Everytime I look at the picture I am reminded that I have a home here in Brazil. I´ve been looking into a lot of travel writing sites, am trying to stop myself from compulsive workaholic behavior and not submit while I´m here. I know that I have something lined up in the states, there´s no human explanation, but my friend said that I´ll be working one on one with people, some kind of consulting work.

After going to the jungle, meeting Marco and working with the kids, I had 3 days. Even though, I didn´t have the money, I knew I had to go to the Galapagos Island because when would I return to Ecuador again? I put it on credit (yes, I know, not too smart, but somtimes  you have to sacrifice, plus it´s not like I have college loans) and flew there. I got sick the second day, wabam, diarrhea and vomit galore. I was praying my ass off (to put it nicely) and tons of people were back home to support me. But I felt completely alone and vulnerable.

As a 3rd world country, Ecuador sure had awesome hospitals. As a foreigner, I got to see the nurse for free and only had to pay 21 bucks for medication. They stabbed my arm with a vaccination shot and gave me some acid eating medicine. Wow, if I was in America, I would be screwed over with tons of bills.

Some pictures while I was still alive:

Galapagos

Turtoise

No I´m not in Taiwan, but there´s a street like the night market. There I met a Taiwanese, no kidding, straight from Taiwan. It felt good to talk in Mandarin because I had been speaking really bad Spanglish for 10 days.

I will expand on more when I return to the states. More posts to come!! And do keep the comments coming!! I love them! God bless!

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Trash To Treasure, Pre-Brazil Film: Waste Land & Vick Muniz

As I was flipping through Netflix, I saw Waste Land with Vick Muniz, the most famous Brazilian artist. In the beginning, I thought I would lose interest, but when they started interviewing the recyclable material “pickers”, my interest piqued. The film turned out to be inspirational, tear- jerking and one that ALL artists and humanitarians need to watch. It is also a great film for those that DON’T understand the importance of the arts, when you watch this film, you will SEE the concrete and soul changing IMPACT that art can do to a community, people and even the government.

What is the film/documentary about? Filmed over three years, Vick Muniz visits the trash pickers of Brazil, in Jardim Gramacho (the largest landfill) in order to create portraits out of trash/recycled goods and to bring awareness, raise funds through the art. His visit turns into a collaboration with the trash pickers, who are inspiring, cheerful, positive people. The catadore (garbage picker) support each other like family; aka someone broke 2 arms and a leg due to being crushed by a trash truck and 20 people donated their blood to him.

By the way, did I mention I picked this movie because that is by far, one of my favorite artworks in history (man in bathtub, dying).

Result of All This? The community was so encouraged, some got to go to London, they got to see the ACTUAL work of their own hands….they realize that they could do something great. One lady left an abusive husband because she SAW herself and her worth through creating art. Art empowered her. Moreover, they raised so much money from the art that in 2012, Jardim Gramacho landfills will be shut down and they will be transitioning to another system. Vick’s efforts has led to a learning center which educates and

You can see the trailer here:

Why Am I Talking About This? This film truly shows the LIFE changing power of the arts. The art seeks to bring beauty and worth to the audience as well as the creator. This film was also vital for me to understand an outcasted part of Brazil, where I will be going May 23 to June 7. Though I have applied for the press program in Brazil, I have yet to hear from them. Watching this film made me realize that perhaps it’ll be okay to pave my own path, whatever that may look like. Perhaps I will meet people on the street that I may become good friends with and teach me about life, I am open to where the spirit will take me.

I can also relate to Vick because like him, I had to work my way up (well, now I don’t think of “going up”, I think of “going forward” since we Americans have such disjointed views of what that looks like). He was born into a lower/middle class family and was relatively poor. One time he accidentally got shot by a guy who had money and compensated him for the wound. Vick was smart enough to use the money to fly to NY where he became a renowned artist.

I don’t think it’s accidental that I watched this film. I have always pioneered to create art that made people think, someday I want to be a successful artist who can help people like that. But for now, I think I’m already doing that, though I can’t see the impact sometimes.

Help me raise $2,600 by May 13 so I can experience the film first hand in Ecuador and Brazil. The leader of the Pickers Association had a dream to have an association, even his family rejected him and people thought he was crazy (even the people he tried to help). At one point, the $6,000 he got from the bank to pay his workers was taken by a stranger who put a gun to his head. He wanted to give up at that point- I started crying because I KNEW EXACTLY HOW HE FELT. You believe in your dreams, but few people do. You meet obstacles and you want to give up. I’m telling you- DON’T. 

“I’d rather want everything & have nothing than have everything & want nothing because at least when you want something your life has meaning, it’s worthwhile. The moment you have everything, you have to search for meaning in other things. I spent my whole life wanting everything, but having nothing. Now I have everything, but I don’t want anything.” -Vick Muniz

Comments are very welcome! Please leave a comment even to say hi! I appreciate it!

SUMMER MUST-HAVES! NEW Hello Kitty Glass Frames & Snap Pop Purses, All For A Good Cause.

Adorable HELLO KITTY GLASSES FRAMES – get your exclusive pair for only $25. What can $25 help me with? It will help me with paying for ONE night’s stay at a hostel, yes, that is if I’m not able to couchsurf. Though my friends have already told me to stay at a hotel because Ecuador is a 3rd world country…I’m just letting the spirit lead me.

Of course, there’s POP & SNAP purses, stores any size of sunglasses or glasses. Great for makeup, makeup brushes, cameras, phones! Not only are they silicon material, but they are great for those silly BIG handbags that causes women to search incessantly for their belongings…because it’s insanely bright. POP & SNAP purses start from $12-$16! They of course also fund my trip.

Yes, fundraising to go to Ecuador and Brazil is still happening! So far, I’ve raised $1,200 which is awesome! But it’s not enough for me to actually travel within Ecuador and Brazil. It’s enough to cover the flights, visas, etc. Thus, you can actually shop my extremely cute and original store online while supporting me while I volunteer and meet my sponsored boy of 4 years in Ecuador then to Brazil. I’ll be in Ecuador for 10 days, then Brazil for the next few weeks. I’ll be stopping at Panama City (layover) and Chicago when I’m coming back to LA.

Speaking of which, I’m fully liberated and have been slowly coming to terms with my self-employment. I’ve been really grateful for friends who have amazing mom/dad cooks that cook INDIAN FOOD, one of my faves. The other day I went to the Brazil consulate and was amazed by their efficiency! In order to get my visa, I had to make an appointment. After getting stuck in traffic, I ran to the consulate (after finding parking in cramped and expensive Beverly Hills). When I got there, I got a number, sat for 3 minutes and was at the window for one minute. Talk about efficient. I’m starting to like Brazil already!

You can also make a direct donation if you believe in my cause to help others and to write about my adventures! I’ll be volunteering and seeing my sponsored kid! DONATE NOW.

Thanks for reading friends! I appreciate it!

Rebekka’s Debut Art Show…Behind the Scenes & My Ecuador Trip

Come to my Debut Art Show- RSVP on Facebook

Rebekka Lien’s Debut Art Show – “The Reckoning”

Art sales/Rebekka Lien jewelry sales will fund her volunteer trip to see Marco, her sponsored child in Ecuador. To learn more/donate click: http://indiegogo.com/alien
+All regular-priced merchandise @ TaxiCDC will be 40% off. Night of only!
+Refreshments will be served!

“Yes, you need to be careful, don’t carry 20’s and hide your money in your shoes”- she said. I randomly met a girl who lived in Ecuador for four months. We talked about traveling solo as an Asian woman. It’s hard to believe, but from experience, being Asian (and traveling) is definitely different from being any other race. Traveling is another ball park, depending on where you are. If you’re in France, sometimes they start speaking Japanese to you (even though I’m Taiwanese). If you’re in China, but American Asian- they get totally confused. Some countries that stereotypically love Asian women, well, cat calling and stares are pretty typical.

As I’m preparing for the art show (above), I still haven’t booked my return flight. I’m not sure how everything will fall into place, I’m still waiting as you can see. I wanted to go to Brazil to cover their fashion industry, but after a few months, I still haven’t received a response.

A few people have urged me not to go out of safety, but now I am thinking of staying in Ecuador for a shorter time, and then flying to San Paulo. The only thing is that if I go to Brazil, I need to apply for my visa ASAP!

So all of this, up in the air……..everyday before the art show, I’m mentally focused on getting my art together. So much mental energy goes into an event. For example: getting fliers printed, inventory, marketing…my brain is spinning even though it may just be a two hour event. As an artist, I’m concerned about maximum turn out and maximum fundraising! Also, I really need to get my art done, framed, ready to sell. This all for the love of people and traveling.

Subscribe to my blog on the right for UPDATES on my South America trip!

Come to my Debut Art Show- RSVP on Facebook

To learn more about Ecuador & Marco or donate: http://indiegogo.com/alien