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I got rid of a lot of things before I left to travel. It was a nice feeling to purge everything unnecessary, everything unneeded, from my life. In the end I sold, threw out, or donated over two-thirds of my belongings. Still, I kept many things, a couple of boxes of books included. (Plus a few more boxes dedicated entirely to The Baby-Sitters Club...

  I've had this bookcase forever. OK, not forever, but probably close to ten years. It's actually just from Target. For a few years in the mid 2000s they used to hold an annual "Global Bazaar" event featuring worldly-inspired limited-edition furniture and accessories. It's a hard-wood piece and, even though one of the sidebars is loose and falls out when I stuff too many books on the shelf, is pretty solid. It's another one of those pieces I can't imagine ever not having. It's pretty, it serves a purpose, and it serves that purpose well. The bookcase fits nicely into the little...

  Thai superstition says that the owl is a cursed, evil, symbol: if one lands on your roof, horrible things will happen. In most other countries the owl is much brighter figure, representing intelligence, perspective, wisdom, protection, mystery, power, fortune. It seems that only in Thailand does the fowl bring misfortune. So, maybe, it's kind of ironic that my owl collection began in Thailand. I never meant to start a collection of owl souvenirs. I didn't. I simply walked into a hipster art store in Chiang Mai and fell in love with an adorable painting of an owl. I simply bought something I thought...