This is 27

When I was 15, I bought a book called something like “The Attitude of Che” (can’t remember exactly), in Chinese, an anthology of Che Guevara’s writing, about his ideology and belief in guerilla warfare and revolution. It inspired me so much to be rebellious that I wanted to visit Cuba and get a Che Guevara tattoo since then. It seemed like an impossible dream for a 15 year-old who barely spoke English and had never left her home country to travel to anywhere. But then I left my home country for the first time at the age of 18, and moved to Upstate New York for college.

I spent the first half of my twenties as a starving student, being mostly by myself, reading and studying all the time, learning everything I can, trying so hard to improve my “competitiveness”. I didn’t start traveling until I secured a job offer in my junior year, and I felt like I had to make up for the lost time.

So starting in 2013, wanderlust became my life. I started traveling to different states, then Latin America, now onto Africa… ever since then, I spent almost all my savings on trips and tried to get away whenever I can. I love the idea of last minute weekends — the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina is great for swimming and trail running in summer and Puerto Rico is wonderful for a long weekend on the beach in winter. The last time I stayed home during a three day weekend was Presidents Day in 2017, and before that was Thanksgiving in 2014… I also like last minute planning, so I often pay for wifi on the plane to research my destination or wait to see what is available on the ground by asking locals whenever possible.

Good conversation with locals is essential, as I speak Chinese, English, Spanish and Japanese, most of the time I can learn a lot from whoever I talk to during my trip. I’m also partial to local jewelry, historical architecture, nearby mountains and hikes…and as many museums as I can handle. As a vegan (though not gluten free but I don’t eat bread), I mostly miss out on local food but I’m more satisfied with no animals being harmed. But I do enjoy authentic vegan food whenever possible. Even when I had a 4 hour layover in Mexico City, I ran out to Zócalo to have some street corn and nopales tacos, and nearly missed my connecting flight.

Between 26 and 27, I was robbed at gunpoint by two guys in Guatemala (in a hindsight it became somewhat a highlight), traveled to Cuba (childhood dream came true), and ran several marathons. I also did a half Ironman, because after 26.2 miles, I thought to myself, why stop there? So I swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles and ran 13.1 miles on a course with no shades on a 90 degree day. It was a humbling experience and I’m willing to suffer that again at 27.

I’m not big on birthdays, but 27 seems different somehow. My life never has stayed fixed in one position for very long, and as I decided to never have children, I also never expected to live a long life. Like Malcolm X had said, after living as fully as humanly as possible, one should then die violently. Speculating that my life would end in one way or another in my mid fifties doesn’t disturb me, but in this way turning 27 is a little shocking — halfway to my mid fifties, halfway done. It came with a sense of urgency: time running out with so much still left to do.

It’s interesting to think of the world goes on without me. I remember all those people I grew up with, people I went to elementary school with. We shared my first 18 years of life together. Between 18 and 27, some of them got married, some even had children, and I stopped being part of their lives, like I’d never knew them, and I might go through the rest of my life without ever knowing what happened to my old friends and extended family.

At the age of 27, “someday” doesn’t apply anymore, because there might be fewer years in front of me than behind me. I want to make a list of what I haven’t done, and what I still want to do. I have to do this before turning 28.

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2017 New Year Resolutions

2016 has been an incredible year for me, so I want to have even more in 2017:

  1. Read 10 books in Spanish
  2. Memorize a dictionary in Spanish
  3. Finish an Ironman 70.3
  4. Learn Arabic
  5. Run a total of 2017 miles in the year

26

26.

I was born in 1990 and today I turned 26 years old. But I felt I have been born many times. I was reborn at the age of 18 when I left China for college in a small town in the US; again at the age of 20 when I decided to become a programmer; again at the age of 24 when I had Essure; and now, again.

In between 25 and 26, I became a serious runner and spoke fluent Spanish. I started running in 2015; I was merely bored with my life and decided to see if I have the capacity to do something I always hated, which is running. Then something happened and changed everything. In December 2015 I ran my first half marathon. I signed up for it because everyone I knew on Facebook seemed to have ran a half, and I wanted that as a milestone. Instead during the course of my training, I became the person who studies training plans and discusses them endlessly with friends and even strangers behind water fountains. The night I finished my first half, I signed up for a marathon. Then in the next few months, I signed up another two marathons. Running went from something I occasionally do to who I am.

Spanish is something I always wanted to learn, but never had the resource or time, until I moved to New York City two years ago. I went to the first class at Instituto Cervantes and just kept going. In August I traveled to Mexico City alone and suddenly found that I could understand almost everything. I also went on Spanish speaking day trips with Peruvian and Colombian tourists, went to cheer the Mexico City marathon and made friends with fellow Mexican marathoners, and we were planning to run the “C” edition of Mexico City Marathon together next August.

I’m a good student and I worked hard: I hardly missed any classes and I always do the homework and the required reading; I took a lot of notes and on Friday nights I would study them instead of going out. The classes were expensive at $580 per course, and that’s about 30 hours of class time. But it was all worth it.

It is this year that I became a new person again, the person not quite who I want to be, but much closer to the goal. I reinvented myself into a runner and a Spanish speaker. I had to, because the person I had been would never have been capable of. In the next year I will probably focus on getting better: run faster and learn to understand more Spanish dialect. And the person in 10 years will again be completely different from who I am now.

My Decision To Be Sterilized

I chose to get sterilized after listening to an interview on NPR with Andrew Solomon, on his interview with Peter Lanza, whose son, Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook killer, had killed 26 people and his own mother before committing suicide.

It was March 2014, my boyfriend and I were driving back after spring break in Miami and Orlando. It was a long road trip, we were on the road for about 20 hours for the last two days, and the news coverage had been completely over the disappearance of Malaysian Airline. So when the interview with Mr. Solomon came up on the car radio, we were craving for something different, so we stayed in the channel.

Mr. Solomon talked about his own experience as gay growing up in a strict and straight family, his new book ‘Far From The Tree’ on raising non average children, and this article in the New Yorker of the interview. I remember that he mentioned, at the end of the interview Peter Lanza told him, that he wished that his son Adam had never been born. I was little shocked on hearing that, and immediately made up my mind on sterilization, because I don’t want the same regret.

I have contemplated getting sterilized before (summer of 2013, when I was 22 and went to the college hospital asking to be sterilized), but not too seriously, and also I was too young at the time, everyone around me told me that I would eventually change my mind. I knew I wouldn’t but decided to wait.

Peter Lanza got a divorce from him wife after exhausted from raising a difficult son, and exited the family. He hadn’t seen Adam for years and didn’t know what his son had become. Where I grew up in China, divorce was still uncommon, and children from single parent families usually received more attentions and gossips behind their backs in schools. And yet still there were fathers and mothers fled away, or went on never ending business trips. I have grown up knowing several children from single parent families, and because of differences in culture and social acceptance in China and the U.S., some of those kids didn’t end up with a good life. Where did all their parents go? Did they ever think about their children afterwards? And why escaping the life they have is so essential that made them left?

I wanted to ask my parents why they didn’t leave.

To my parents,  family is something you always choose without a doubt. I cannot be like them. Freedom is too important for me that I’d either be free or I’ll kill myself. Anyone who knows me well would admit that I’m unfit to be a parent. I want to have my life for the unexpected.

Just like that, I made the decision to get sterilized, and started the process as soon as I graduated from college and started my first job. And luckily it was covered 100% by my insurance (Aetna Choice POS II).

(You can read Andrew Solomon’s article on New Yorker here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/03/17/the-reckoning)

Childfree, Two Years Later

It’s been two years since I started this blog, and I’ve been busy working and enjoying my life. I’ve traveled back to China a couple times, took my boyfriend with me in one of them to see my entire family (my grandparents from both sides, my maternal aunt, my cousin, my cousin’s wife and daughter, my paternal uncle — I have a very small family), went to Puerto Rico and snorkeled for the first time, and about to embark on another vacation to Mexico at the end of August! My boyfriend has some good news too. The start up he cofounded was sold to a big company and he got stocks and some much needed time off. He learned how to swim and I started running and have run 3 half marathons and 1 marathon since.

I learned a new word in my Spanish class the other day: manutención. It means child support. It got me thinking about all those people I knew in my life, those that seem to enjoy their lives the most, some are married and some are not, and all of them don’t have kids.

My running coach John was an Olympian, and has represented his country in the Olympics in marathon. Now in his 40s, John coaches not only beginners like me, but also elite athletes all over the world, and travels to meet his elites for races or just simply hang out. John has never married nor have kids.

My other running coach, his name is also John, has competed in mid distance in track and field for the US in the Olympics in his 20s, but retired from professional running due to an injury. He then had a successful career in Wall Street for 20 years before coming back to running again. John is currently the world record holder for master mile, and he told me his goal is to run his first marathon when he turns 50. John is married without kids.

In the last month of 2014 I was taking Spanish class with this amazing lady Yoshie, who twice my age, had just finished the NYC marathon at the time. Yoshie enjoys training and competing in Ironman Triathlons, surfing, and has a successful career as a manager. Like everyone else I’ve mentioned above, Yoshie is married without kids; she and her husband have two dogs.

Somehow this old article Notes from the Child-Full Life from Outside Magazine was shared again on Facebook and I happened to saw it. Yes, you can still have it all after you have kids, but I believe it’s only for some people — Just like Mark Zuckerberg became rich and famous from Facebook, not everyone else who tried to start a social network.

I remember one time about 2 years ago, my dad told me his dream is to bike along the Beijing – Hangzhou Grand Canal after graduating from college. However it never happened and you know why — because he got married and I was born. Then he and mom just worked and worked for many years to support me, all my schools, language classes, extracurricular activities and study abroad expenses. Finally I started working and no longer required their financial support and my dad felt the tugging to chase his dream again. I plan to book a 12-day cycling trip from Vietnam to Cambodia for my dad, and I’ll go with him next year. I hope this relatively easy and flat 12-day trip will motivate him to get back in shape so he can go biking the grand canal (1,104 miles with rolling hills) on his own with mom driving a support vehicle some other time. Eventually my dad will realize his dream … only some 30 years later.

Hello World!

My name is Danni, I was born and raised in China, briefly lived in Japan before moving to the US. I currently live in NYC and work as a programmer.

I turned 24 at the end of 2014, around the same time I received Essure permanent sterilization. So now at the age of 24, I’ve never had children and will never be able to have children – and I’m really happy with that.

The most questions I was asked, including what if I regret in the future, or what if my boyfriend wants kids. I actually don’t know how people came up with these questions.

About boyfriend: the guy that can become my boyfriend, of course doesn’t want kids just as much as I do, or even more! Guys that think they’ll marry and have many kids, I don’t even go on dates with them.

And about what if I regret: this study (Sterilization in the United States) found that up to 26 percent of female patients that went through sterilization say later that they regret the procedure, according to statistics cited in the study. That means only 26% later regretted, so that means most women are happily sterilized. Also there are plenty of girls who have given birth to their children at the age or younger than 24. If someone is mature enough to make the decision to have children, then someone should also be mature enough to decide to never have children – it is essentially the same decision.

If you have any questions or thinking about getting Essure and wants to know my experience, leave me a comment, ask me a question or let me know what you think!