Saturday, September 28, 2013

Phone Blog

This message brought to you courtesy of my iPhone and the free wifi in the Ulan Bator train station. (Thanks Steve Jobs, Al Gore, forward-thinking Mongolian administrators, human progress et al.)

What a week. Buzzfeed published the article I've been working on for the past month and a half. Technology has not progressed far enough for me to embed a link, so if you want to see said article and have not already, Google North Korean and Buzzfeed. It's called:

Was An American College Student Kidnapped By North Korea.

It went over well. I received my lifetime's validation: a retweet by a New Yorker staff writer. Aw yeeeah.

Now Mommy Dearest and myself are one week into our Transsiberian adventure. We saw Beijing, we saw a bit of Mongolia, tonight we head to Irkutsk.

I probably won't post pictures until the end, but if you can't wait that long my Instagram handle is lesleslielie.

We found the food wanting on the China-to-Mongolia train leg, so now we're prepared: we have a suitcase full of instant noodles, sausage, cheese, pâté and three (yes, three!) bottled of wine, so we ought to be good.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I arrived in Austin Saturday night. I went to Houston for two days once at the end of college, but that was just a jam-packed interview session (for a job I didn't get, wah-wah). So this is my first time really seeing Texas.

The sky really does seem bigger and bluer. We've had a ton of good food. I had my haircut at a hipster barbershop, and within two days I saw two women with the outline of the state of Texas for tattoos. I think I'll like it here.

I go back to Oregon this coming Saturday, then I'll be back at the end of October once my mom and I complete our long-awaited Trans-Siberian trip.

A brief summary of first impressions: People are friendly and more small-chatty than they are in equivalent-sized cities in the northwest. Lots of people have tattoos. Grocery stores sell Catholic candles. All the UT sorority girls wear oversized t-shirts and short shorts. This reminds me of what I used to wear to bed when I was 8 and also makes me feel extremely old and out of touch. People say "y'all" a lot. There are a lot of food trucks. I've been getting puzzled looks from James' friends when I ask things like "So what's walkable around here?" because I keep forgetting that in the US, even in most cities, people don't walk to places. Plus it's reeeeeally hot, so you wouldn't want to anyways.

I'll feel better once I have a job situation sorted out, but I do think I'll enjoy living here.