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2015: Moment

Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

In 2014, it was a moment in a writing workshop that I had achieved greatness. In 2013, it was talking to Yasar Usta in Istanbul. In 2012, it was using the ocean as a “big toilet” while floating outside Palawan. In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End to the Night.

I want to say that it’s the moment that I realized that I really finished (writing) the Ice Cream Travel Guide. Although it can’t be it, because the layout isn’t finalized. So is that it?

What I think of is all the moments that I felt like I had truly achieved my goals: getting accepted as a speaker for Interaction 16, successfully established a design and research practice at the last project, writing the short story “Rainbow Sprinkles”, building a “ship” at Epic, giving a talk about ice cream and research.

But interestingly, it might really have been the moment about 10 minutes after I took this photo:

Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião

I had been casually following the idea of manslamming—the idea that I don’t move aside for anyone. And yet. After visiting the catedral, Chris and I walked to the main street through the catedral’s parking lot. By then, because it was a Saturday, the lot was deserted. We didn’t think much of it, and Chris walked ahead (to this day, he claims that he was ahead to confirm that an exit existed so that I didn’t have to walk more than needed). I noticed a group of young boys walking toward us. Chris walked away from them. I walked behind and with the manslamming philosophy in my head, I kept going in the direction I had set for myself, not changing my path even though it seemed the young boys were directly walking to me.

This ridiculous thought crossed my mind: Boys need to be taught that women don’t go around them.

As we passed, one young boy leapt up and grabbed my hat. Surprised, I turned and tried to think of all the Portuguese words that I could. But I couldn’t think of any and yelled “hey” as I ran after them. It’s interesting that I would say that I felt alive at that moment, because thousands of thoughts ran through my head—let go of the hat, what to do if I catch up to them, does Chris know, do I beat them up if I catch them. A Catedral employee in a car yelled at the young boys, and the hat dropped to the ground. I ran up and picked it up as the young boys ran away. The employee came up to me and yelled at me in Portuguese, gesturing that I needed to put my bag in front of me. All I could do was agree. And I was angry at myself for heeding the whole manslamming philosophy.

Perhaps the being alive is the idea that in situations like this, where there is a clear right and wrong, I insist on making things right. And I will make it right. And in that effort, I felt alive.