Mid-June, 2011, less than one month before departure

I lay on my bed, laptop in front of me, the total of my purchase glaring boldly from the screen. I did it. The excitement is making my heart pound, and I feel a bit lightheaded.

I was moving three days after my return, so I was packing for a month-long trip and a cross-town move. My room was chaotic.

Monday, July 4, 2011, 4 days until departure

The anticipation is about to breach its threshold. I think about it constantly, and now I’m finally starting to really prepare. My flight is early Friday morning out of Taipei, and late Friday morning in Los Angeles I’ll be greeted by a face I haven’t seen in person since late September.

What’s the next month going to be like for someone who has spent 315 days in Asia?

It’s hard not telling anyone back home. I actually feel guilty about hiding my trip from everyone. Two weeks in Texas is hardly enough time for everything I need to do, though, so no one knows my travel plans save for my family.

My backpack. The monkey serves as my pillow on flights and as a magnet for kids to yell, "MONKEY!" as I walk past them.

Friday, July 8, 2011

This week has been busy and full of emotions. Right now I’m sitting at my gate waiting for my flight to Japan.

That's my plane.
At the Narita Airport I used a bidet toilet for the first time in my life. It was quite the experience.

On the other side of nearly a 24-hours’ worth of travel is a hug and the closest feeling to home that I know.

Upgrade to Business Class for the flight across the Pacific. Slippers, legroom, a cardigan, a menu, a fully reclining chair, two windows - this is the life.
Airline food in Business Class goes a little beyond little bags of pretzels.

Just yesterday I got the invitation, mailed to Hsinchu, to Julie’s baby shower, and if the date had been within my travel dates, I briefly, seriously considered going and shocking her. No can do, though. And how rude would it be of me to surprise her and make her go into early labor?

What’s it going to be like to be back in the US? I really have no idea what I expect. I’m nervous. I’m excited. This is actually happening.

Time to go.

Hipstamatic picture of me on the plane at Narita Airport. This would be BEFORE...
...and this would be AFTER, about to land at LAX. At this moment I'm sleepy, overloaded with excitement, and on the verge of happy tears.