Wednesday, October 23, 2013

LIVE from New York: Launching the Book!

Vol. III, No. 3

A memorable Lou Reed interview (Photo: Gabriel Garcia Rosa)
On Monday night, the night of my book launch, I paced a lot. Due to a wardrobe malfunction, I paced in snakeskin tights paired with snakeskin shoes, which means I wore a lot of snakeskin, faux snakeskin of course. The last time I wore all this snakeskin, Lou Reed pinched my bottom. That was after a Sinovision WE Talk interview, and I use the word 'interview' very cautiously. What happened with Lou Reed was more like me asking a lot of interiew-ish questions, and Lou telling me I was an idiot, followed by Lou abruptly walking off the set. 
Anyway, the LIVE from Mongolia book launch was Monday night at Manhattan's Opera Gallery. The Opera Gallery is a beautiful space filled with art created by artists following dreams of their own. My favorite artist always was and still is Patrick Boussignac, who paints as if he's painting his own dreams. Boussignac's art is surreal and vibrant and the piece I bought from him many years ago is the one thing I've clung onto from my banking days.

Making the speech. (Photo: Eugenia Hom)
As many of you know, when my book and I first met each other in person last week, my publisher Beaufort Books told me I would have to make a speech at the launch. I wasn't too thrilled by this edict, and spent the next six days talking to myself in the East Village, Dumbo, and all the cafes and trains in between.

In the end, I stood in front of all of you at the gallery and talked for ten thirsty minutes (I was really thirsty) about why I followed my dream out of Wall Street and into journalism. I told you that Christiane Amanpour inspired me, and she still does. I explained why I waited nearly a decade to follow my dream. And at the end of the speech, I thanked Mongolia, for giving me a chance I did not deserve. 

Mr Ganbold Erdene, Councillor, Mongolian Mission to UN (Photo: Melisse Seleck)
Just as I was thanking Mongolia, I noticed that Mr Ganbold Erdene had come to the party. Mr Ganbold is Councillor to the Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations, and it was an honor to have him at the launch. He even stood up to say a few words, and presented me with a photo album called "The Beauty of Mongolia." Looking at that photo album, I've gotten thirsty all over again. Thirsty for adventure. But I'm still in New York, working on all the things that need to be worked on after a book is launched. Which means that I'm actually still pacing.

Yesterday afternoon, while pacing, I found myself in the company of another Union Square/East Village legend: the guy who wears a top-hat, marshmallow coat, and skirt made of rags. His marshmallow coat looked new, and I admired it while furtively snapping a photo of him. Top-hat Guy yells at people who take his picture, but then he yells at pretty much everyone anyway. While Top-hat addressed the crowd of onlookers sitting on the steps in Union Square park, shouting about something I couldn't understand, a little girl walked by. She was about four years old, carrying a plastic cell phone. Her plastic cell phone was glued to her ear, and she was talking animatedly into it, giving imaginary instructions to the imaginary person on the other end.

Watching her, my heart was in two camps: my love for this amazing and unique city, and my love for my little girl and my guy who feel so very far away.

- LIVE from Mongolia is available on and has been featured in The Daily Beast.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

LIVE from New York: Preparing for the book launch!

Vol. III, No. 2
The famed Mosaic Man NYC

My book and I are sitting together in a cafe in Union Square in New York. It's fall, and the leaves are changing, but only on a few trees here and there. Occasionally, someone I recognize from my old neighborhood will come into the cafe. We won't say hi, because we never did before, but we will nod our mututal recognition.

Earlier this week, I went walking with my friend Andrea. Andrea walks a lot. In fact, Andrea says she's come to regard herself as a "Professional Walker" and if you counted your miles each day the way Andrea does, and if you regularly clocked 15 or so miles on a daily basis, you'd consider yourself a professional too. Anyway, on our stroll, we stumbled on Mosaic Man. Mosaic Man's real name is Jim Power, and he's a little bit of a local legend. Jim is the guy who creates art on New York City telephone poles by spackling mosaic onto the base of the poles. While Jim told us his story (a little convoluted and better read about on his website), a local shop owner approached Jim and offered him broken dishes from his dish shop. Jim was bowled over, and so were we. Seeing this local legend at work was something of a little dream of mine. I'd always wanted to know who did this, who took the time to create this street art for the public, without pay.

Familiar sight in New York: the smokestack
And speaking of walking, I've been walking a lot too. On Monday, my book launches. There will be a party to celebrate this, and at the party I have to make an important speech. For the better part of this week, I've been practicing that speech, covering a lot of ground in the East Village, talking to myself and gesturing. Which is to say, no one takes notice; I fit right in here.

It's been a little difficult being so far from my little girl and my guy, and last night we all Skyped. Although it's only been a week since I left them, my little girl didn't look so little anymore. She looked bigger and older and her hair seemed longer. She was clearly very excited to see me though, and tried to feed me chewed-up apple skins through the screen. She's always been generous like that with chewed-up food, and I did my best to smack my lips just as I would have done in person.

In the meantime, I've been trying to create a sense of calm for Monday. However, there are some things that are just unforgivable, like using dill as a food substance. Or what happened yesterday.

Everyone knows, at least I thought everyone knew, that you shouldn't stand stock-still in the middle of a New York sidewalk (or any city sidewalk) and stare down at your phone. All around you, people are in a hurry, and you're wasting everybody's time while you text and we divert. Especially when you're standing under scaffolding and everyone has to squeeze past you, single-file.

So yesterday, after a calming and thought-provoking yoga class at Abhaya Yoga, and a beautiful long lunch with my friend Julia, Julia and I went for a stroll in Soho. We happened upon some scaffolding, and beneath it two women standing stock-still, texting. At the time, I was in the middle of making a telephone call, and I didn't hang up my call before (only briefly, and not all that rudely) giving the women a piece of my mind.

"Hello?" the shopkeeper answered, just as I was mid-mini-upbraid.

"Oh," I said. "Sorry, I was just in the middle of telling someone off. But they deserved it."

The shopkeeper gave me the directions I'd asked him for, and a moment later, Julia and I were in his shop, ordering champagne for Monday's party. There, I tried again to explain why I might've been a little rude on the phone to him. I was sorry to have been abrasive; he seemed like a nice man and he'd even cheerily introduced himself as "Vic, like Victor."

And then, Vic-like-Victor gave me one of those delicious New York moments, one of those unforgettable interactions that make you love New York for what it is, warts and all. Vic-like-Victor waited for me to finish apologizing. He cocked his head to one side, and without a hint of irony said, "I don't give a f*ck."

New York, I do love you.

- LIVE from Mongolia will be released Monday, October 21st. Available now for pre-order on Thanks for all your support, all you dreamers out there. I look forward to signing your copy. Especially if you're in Mongolia!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

LIVE from New York!

Vol. III, No. 1

At Beaufort Books, preparing for the 10/21 launch
It was 1996, winter, and I was in Madrid, Spain, on my first overseas trip. By way of welcoming the new students to the study abroad program, Flint addressed us all in Spanish. I had to concentrate hard on what he was saying. I'd been studying Spanish for about eight years, but I'd never been spoken to at length in any language other than English. But then Flint said something and I understood immediately, and I never forgot it:

"Welcome to your new country. From this point on, you will never again have a home. You will fall in love with little pieces of each place you visit, never feeling quite settled and never again knowing 'home' as home."

And so it was this past weekend, arriving "home" to New York, to the East Village of Manhattan. Obviously, I desperately miss my little girl and my guy. Without them, I feel like a part of me has been amputated. But there's something else. And the something else is making me feel like I'm peering into a window of what my life was, before I chose to pursue 'our' dream instead of 'my' dream. It's lonely, what I'm witnessing, my old single-minded pursuit.

So let me tell you about the coconut stand.

The first thing I did when I arrived in New York, after gawking at a whole new level of shoe fashion (thigh-high leather stilettos paired with red nylon short-shorts in rather bracing October weather), was attend a yoga class. Yoga and meditation are my methods of cutting the noise out of organized religion, of just being quiet and listening. Given all that's about to go down in the next week with the book launch, I knew yoga was where I needed to be.

Jet-lagged, I arrived to a 95-minute class not at all prepared for what was about to happen.

"We'll begin by meditating," Austin at Jivamukti instructed. "But," he added to our tiny Sunday-morning class of just four, "you will sit facing the person next to you." We did as we were told, the four of us, gazing into someone else's eyes as we meditated. My palms were sweating and I struggled with the discomfort, but Austin knew that would happen. He said so. And then he pushed us further.

"Now," Austin said, "tell the person you're meditating with that you love them."

So, to a man I've never met and whose name I can't remember, I said, "I love you." Austin's point, which has stuck with me in these first few days back in New York, is that it is awfully difficult, but shouldn't be, to find compassion and camaraderie in an urban setting.

The next morning, I returned to Jivamukti for another class. With that kind of backdrop, I knew I had to. And that's when I learned about the coconut stand.

This time, the teacher was Mimi Chen, a friend and someone whose classes I've sought out for the way she manages to teach profound concepts on an attainable level. Recently, Mimi had spent time on a retreat in India. She was focused, she explained, on her yoga practice and her meditation and it seems her mentor picked up on just that. Her mentor was an Indian Sanskrit teacher named Lakshmish and he often warned her, "Don't go to the coconut stand!" In fact, he didn't just warn her, but he reminded her, constantly, that she shouldn't go to the coconut stand. Even when he knew she hadn't been to the coconut stand, because Mimi doesn't actually like coconuts.

According to Lakshmish, the coconut stand was where all the visitors hung out, where everyone got their social groove on, and forgot about the real reason they'd come to India. Smack in the middle of a lesson, Lakshmish would ask Mimi once again, "You didn't go to the coconut stand, did you?" She hadn't, Mimi told him again and again, and she wouldn't either. Mimi was focused.

Lakshmish's point was made to Mimi in India. Mimi's point was made to me in class yesterday.

Right now, here in my supposed 'home' in New York, I am feeling oddly far from my comfort zone. On Monday, my book is being published. I have given up a promising banking career to take this leap into the unknown, and Monday will be the test of whether or not I can stand up in front of all of you at my book launch and tell you why this story was worth telling.

And one thing's for sure now: I won't be spending very much time at the coconut stand.

Live from Mongolia will be released on Monday, October 21st! Get your advance copy on for 40% off sticker price, or come to the launch to buy it and I'll sign your copy for you. Good luck with your dream, whatever that dream may be. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Nudity & Pursuit & The Pursuit of Nudity

Vol. II, No. 11, Final for "Following Someone Else's Dream"
Ancient Chinese cupping therapy

"Your shoulder no good," the Chinese therapist said. He was young, maybe twenty-two, with a slight frame and big hands. "I fix it for you." And with that, he mimed what he was promising to do by cupping his hands and displaying a book of matches. 

At first, I had no idea what he was trying to convey. My husband and baby and I were in Beijing, and while she slept, we took turns exploring. Incredibly, I stumbled on an underground massage parlor, the exact same one I'd stumbled on years earlier when I'd visited Beijing with my mom. Back then, she'd joined me in China to see me off on my adventure into Mongolia. It was my mom who'd insisted (and, of course, nagged until I complied!) that I write a book, and that's the book that'll be released on October 21st, the true story of what happens when you follow your wildest dream. So, all this in mind as I stared in awe at the same parlor I'd visited seven years ago, I knew I had to pay them a visit again! But this time I'd get something I hadn't bargained for.

And that's when I realized what the therapist was offering: Chinese cupping. Cupping therapy is one of the most ancient forms of medicine. It's been around for 5000 years, and was discovered as a treatment
Cupping therapy: "Shoulder no good!"
in the oldest medical book (published, I believe, on papyrus, and probably not available on Kindle). Cupping uses suction to draw blood flow to the injured area to encourage healing. I hadn't heard of it until I'd moved to Singapore years ago, where my colleagues raved about its healing properties. So there I was in China, getting a chance to experience cupping for myself. 

I laid down on the table, topless, and shut my eyes. The therapist pressed a dozen or so glass cups to my back, lighting a match beneath each to create the vacuum suction, and then left me alone in the dark for a half hour to ponder what was happening. I couldn't see anything, and I couldn't move, so when he finally came back, I asked him to take a few photos.

And really, this is all a long-winded way of explaining the pictures at right, a long way of assuring you that I don't actually have a dozen enormous nipples. The top photo is during the treatment; the bottom is after the treatment. It was fascinating to see which spots were reddest, in particular the shoulder he'd pointed out before he'd even begun the treatment. 

Drop everything and come here. If you can find it.
If we'd stayed longer in China, I'd have returned regularly to cupping therapy, because for the first time in years, my shoulder felt better immediately. But alas, we were off, to move to New Zealand. Which brings me up to date. 

This weekend, I'm heading home! Home to New York City and possibly Cincinnati too, to publish my book. As many of you know, the book has been a long time coming, and I've been through a lot of trials and tribulations, a lot of sitting in my pajamas at noon wondering if I'd ever make it to this day. A few months ago for WE Talk, I interviewed Tian Hao Jiang, a Chinese factory worker who worked his way all the way up to opera singer, opera singer at The Met no less. When I asked Tian how he faced down his own obstacles to his wildest dream, he told me this: "Although I doubted myself now and again, I never doubted The Path." 

I couldn't agree more.

*Goodreads is doing a giveaway for LIVE from Mongolia! Two autographed advance review copies are available to anyone, anywhere in the world. Click here to enter to win: Goodreads giveaway ending October 14th.*

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of what can happen when you follow your wildest dream. She's also the host of Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how celebrities and artists have overcome big obstacles to follow extraordinary dreams. She's on Twitter @PatriciaSexton and on Facebook @LiveFromMongolia

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Live from Mongolia by Patricia Sexton

Live from Mongolia

by Patricia Sexton

Giveaway ends October 14, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

I know, I know! I promised nudity—some degree of nudity—in this week's blog post, but isn't a free book so much better, a free autographed book? So let me address business first, before getting to what happened to me in Beijing during an ancient alternative therapy session at an underground Chinese massage parlor.

LIVE from Mongolia has been featured in The Daily Beast! The Daily Beast has a section called "Women in the World," and it's chock-full of stories about Mexico's female vigilantes, Hitler's "killer women," and Russia's Pussy Riot. And me! You can read the article here; it's all about why I took 'the leap' out of Wall Street to follow my dream. There are some surprises in there, stuff that's not even in the book.

Also, I'm really excited to announce that Goodreads will be doing a "giveaway" for LIVE from Mongolia. Two free books are up for grabs: both are advanced review copies, and both will be signed. To join the giveaway for your chance to win, click the link above! The giveaway starts in just a few hours, and lasts until October 14th.

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of a Wall Street woman chucking in her job to become anchor of the Mongolian news. She's also host of Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how celebrities and artists have overcome big obstacles to pursue extraordinary dreams. She can be found on Twitter @PatriciaSexton and on Facebook @LIVEfromMongolia