31 December 2011

out with a bang (the grand finale)

As Steve Jobs said thrice on his dying breath, “Oh wow.”
This has been quite a year. I have really never had a year like this, starting with laboring over my anatomy textbook during my junior year Christmas break and finishing with college applications on senior year break.
Can you believe last year tomorrow I was in Staples getting my 2011 calendar made by the employee who gave it to me for free? Crazy stuff. The things that can change in a year, it’s just wow. Do we all remember the earthquake and tsunami in Japan? The Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Middle East protesting and conflicts? South Sudan seceding and becoming its own country in July? It all happened this year.
And from macro back to micro, I went into my last year of high school, I went to Central America for the first time and swam in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, I applied to college, I got a Facebook. We all tested the strengths of our friendships and family bonds as issues continued to hang over us. And sometimes I really, honestly had nothing good to write here. I often just said, “well kid, you’ve gotta write something.” There is always light in a dark situation, which I have learned. You just have to find it. And sometimes it’s harder to find than other times.
Something unexpected I learned from physically doing this blog: visions change, and it’s ok. I didn’t follow my original plan of optimism and finding happiness. Because you can’t always find happiness. Some days you are feeling down, and you can’t pull yourself back up again. It takes time to find enough strength to overcome things that . Because you can’t always find happiness. Some days you are feeling down, and you can’t pull yourself back up again. It takes time to find enough strength to overcome things that knock us down, and sometimes repairing pains does not allow for happiness. You can’t be happy all the time; you have to learn to better appreciate the happy times.
And while we are a convoluted species, we are actually pretty simple in our needs and wants. If you don’t focus on all the things you do not have, the simplest things, like friends, family, and spending time with everyone who matters to you will matter the most. Life is made up of the experiences we life; when we live earth someday, we go to rest not with our iPhones and Blackberrys, but with the memories of a life hopefully well-lived. I have found so many things in my life that are just simple things – like texting a friend all night long, enjoying the amazing weather of a fall day, studying with a group at Starbucks, or teaching children English words in Costa Rica – that truly make you happy in the long run. They are the intangible things that give us value.
Did I follow my original 2011 new year’s resolution of finding happiness in the little things of life? Not really. But I found something better – a deeper meaning. I didn’t need to “find” happiness; I just needed to dig deeper. Not shopping at a different store, just checking all the nooks and crannies of the same old store.
I hope that this blog brought some thought into your life everyday; or if not every day, than at least some days. We all have the potential to make our lives whatever we want them to be, no matter if we are 75 or 17, sick or healthy, privileged or not. We’ve all got it in us, and I challenge you to make finding a deeper meaning in a life a resolution for 2012.
And as Clark W. Griswold, Jr. says of his feat to pull of the most ridiculous yet wonderful Christmas ever in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, “I did it.”

Here’s to 2011, and here’s to happiness.

30 December 2011

this is not goodbye

It is really just hard to believe that this is basically my last post. And even though I will be happy to have reached the end, its very sad because I have gotten so used to pouring out everything here, and now I will just go to bed like a normal teen every night. But this has been such a cool journey. And I will have it forever. And people after me can find it and read it. They can cherish my words and my ideas. And I can see what I thought life was like when I was this age. And who knows - maybe it'll turn into a book. Or a book-turned-movie.
I came to find happiness. And tomorrow I'm not going to find a big bucket of happiness waiting for me. I have found happiness all along. Some days I didn't find it, and some days I found so much I couldn't even fit all I wanted to write. But it's all about what happens when you get there, because being at the finish line is the quickest part.
So this is not goodbye. It's just the end of this journey. But I will have more adventures. I will write again. I still have that other blog I planned on writing in sparingly this next year. Every Wednesday, I think I decided. That way it will be pretty regular but not everyday and wicked intense.
I want to thank you for being there, even if I couldn't see you or if I didn't even know there were people there to listen. You are the driving force behind the blog. I don't even know who reads the blog, but that's OK.
Anyways, get ready, because tomorrow's blog will be the last of this segment. Get the Kleenex box ready.

29 December 2011

trails, skates, and ships

The weather today was so incredibly splendid I wish I could keep it in a jar and open it up when I want to feel as wonderful as I did in the moment. But I suppose it wouldn't be so special if I could access it every day.
We walked the cross country trail at school today, and while school is the last place I want to be at right now, it looked so serene in this happy winter day. It was great.
And then we went ice skating at the rink where my sister plays, not the old one, because this one is very nice. I haven't skated in a while, and one of the blades was pretty dull, but other than that it was a wicked fun time. My sister had a helmet on because of her concussion, and we couldn't risk it - again.
It was just a really fun time, talking and skating, and just enjoying vacation. It was awesome. I wasn't worrying about applications or school, just about the moment. And while we have to plan things for everything to go smoothly, give yourself time to enjoy the moment.
We also went to the frozen yogurt place, and the guy who works there is so incredibly nice, and it just makes going there even better. Plus they had two of my favorite sorbets, and you can't get much better than sorbets.
It was a great way to end the day :)
Great day, really tired, really late, and tomorrow I get to go back to the dentist - my favorite place on earth.

28 December 2011

games galore

We play a lot of games in our family. Games galore. Non-stop gaming. We are pretty intense when we play games, we aren't just vapid game players.
Today we basically played all of the best games, except for Monopoly.
We played a huge game of Risk today, and of course my sister wiped everyone clean off the board. And after that we played a few thousand games of Othello, and a game of Parcheesi, and then a game of Clue. Quite a gamey family.
And when we finished playing thousands of rounds of Othello, we just made up our own ridiculous game because we're so darn competitive. Can't wait for people to come over when we play Monopoly..
Games are so incredibly fun. Even though I never win any games. Luck or strategy, it doesn't matter. I never win. Including bingo. And at some point in one's life, you win bingo. Still waiting for that point to come.
I don't know why games are so much fun. I absolutely love them. Just a simply pleasure in life. And the best part is you have to play games with people, which makes it like a bonding thing. I mean, try playing Connect 4 with yourself. It's possible, but way on the boring side.

27 December 2011


We are almost finished, folks. I don't know how I feel about this..but every artist needs to know when to finish.
For some reason I'm really tired, even though it's earlier than I usually go to bed. Maybe it's because the day has been jam-packed with fun because my best friend from Massachusetts came to visit!
We went everywhere around town and got our nails done, went to get ice cream, and out to dinner. It was such a fun time, especially because we never get to see each other. We used to live 15 feet away from each other, now it's more like 1000 miles.
One of my friends couldn't believe we still kept in touch. Some of my mom's friends are people she has known since she was 5, and they still talk like they never lived far apart.
Friends like this are more like sisters than just friends.
And when family lives far away, it's even more special when they come to visit.

26 December 2011


So I redid the title on the front of this blog. A little late for vamping it up, but that's OK. Better to go out with a bang.
So anyways, my Nana made this huge DVD slide show of pictures of my dad and my aunts from when they were little - it was from my dad's toddlerhood to age 10.
There were probably 400 pictures, and surprisingly it took about 45 minutes to go through.
It was like going back through a time machine into decades past - it was so cool. Especially seeing it through the eyes of my family, and seeing the familiar places that, for some of them, did not change at all (ironically).
I saw my dad from when he was a baby, and it was crazy to see how much he looked like my brother when he was little. Now I see why all my great aunts were in awe when he was a baby, because they looked so similar.
And my aunts looked so similar to my cousins, it was almost as if they were the same people. Two different generations, and yet they looked so strikingly similar it was freaky.
Anyways, my computer could be under attack (!) by a virus, so I have to close rather abruptly. Sorry friends!

25 December 2011

merry christmas, to you

I literally have 1 more week of blogging. Actually I have a ton of make-up blogging to do.
So first of all I want to say

Merry Christmas!

I hope you had a really great Christmas. I had a magnificently wonderful Christmas in case you were wondering. I got wonderful gifts and it was just really a great time.
The best part was that we were all together and we weren't stressed, fighting, worrying, or rushing. We were all amiably opening presents together in a circle and talking and smiling and laughing and thanking. It was just a lovely lovely time.
It was so special, because spending time with these people is exactly what I wanted to do. Presents are a pretty big factor in Christmas, I have to say, but how much fun would it be if I opened all my presents by myself? And then spent the rest of the day with myself?
And every year we put on a Christmas show, which is usually quite good. But this year was way too busy and so the show was lacking in quality. But it's OK, it will be a great one next year.
Christmas for me is all about traditions, and that's what today was - great Christmas movies, great food (lasagna), good time with the family. Unfortunately no white Christmas. Just a wet Christmas.

24 December 2011

saturday evening post *christmas eve edition*

I can't believe it's almost Christmas..with all of the craziness at school and at home, it's hard to jump right into the spirit of Christmas. When I was a little kid, it was sch a magical holiday, because there was always snow on the ground and we had little to no stress in school, so Christmas was on our minds from the start of December.
But now that we're older, it's hectic around these times. But it's exactly the times like these that remind us not to take life too seriously and to enjoy the holidays.
Today we went to church, which we haven't done since Easter (which is sort of not very religious..), since tomorrow will be filled with fun and craziness, and plus we've always gone on Christmas Eve. And there was this one part when we were praying for various groups of people through the holiday season, and it was very sad. The priest led us in prayer for people who would spend Christmas in hospitals and nursing homes, not in the comfort of their own homes. And for people who would be spending it in jail. How terribly sad, to spend Christmas in jail; while many of the people in jail deserve to be there, some do not, whether they just made one big mistake or they were falsely accused. All alone with no sympathy or care on the biggest day of the year, for many people. It's just very sad.
And for the people who are all alone, and the people who have lost a friend or relative. No one to share the beauty of Christmas with. Or the poor - not enough money to afford a nice Christmas.
I cannot fit into any of these lists. And tomorrow I will be spending Christmas with the four people closest to me. A lot of people can't say that.
It's cliche to say that the true meaning of Christmas is not about material items. But it's true. Christmas is the mass of Christ - celebrating the day that Jesus came into the world and how his holiness united mankind. Whether or not you believe that story doesn't matter; it's the main principle of this grand holiday.
Other than helping increase our GDP and investing in corporate America, Christmas is about togetherness. It's about families coming together again. "Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more; through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow." College students flock back to the nest, single relatives pack the airports and join their siblings, grandparents open their homes to their kin. It's a happy time of unity and letting the spirit of Christmas tie your family together again like a nice Christmas bow.
Although it's been said, many times, many ways ~ Merry Christmas, to you.

23 December 2011

body love

For some reason, I remembered something that happened a few years ago. When I used to do gymnastics, I was a lot more fit than I am now, and I was a lot smaller. I'm not fat now, but back then I was pretty unhealthy and emaciated. So I had this bone scan to see how tall I was going to be when I was done growing completely. I was hoping I would be of average height, since at the time I was barely 4 and a half feet tall. That's a lie, it was more like 4 foot 8.
So when we got the results back, they said I was going to be about 5 foot 1.
And I was so utterly depressed about it for so long. I had always been the short kid, and I didn't want to be the short adult. As it was, I looked like a 7 year old when I was in seventh grade, so being feet shorter than the average Joe was a little annoying.
I'm not an adult yet and I'm 5 foot 3 and a half, but I claim to be 5 foot 4. And I'm not extremely elated that I'm not 5'1; in fact, thinking back, I don't know why I got so upset about it. Because if I were 2 inches shorter, I highly doubt that I would care. It hasn't impacted my life to be 2 inches taller than they said.
A lot of times we want to change things about ourselves. There is always something that will bother us about our appearance, whether it's trivial or really glaringly eyesore-ish. Sometimes we can change those things, like changing our weight or with plastic surgery (which is pretty disgusting). And sometimes because of our health, we have to change things about our appearance, whether we want to or not.
But health aside, we change our appearance for beauty purposes a lot more than we change it for real reasons. People color their hair, cut it, straighten it, curl it. We change our bodies with plastic surgery. People are constantly getting Botox injections. Some people with perfect vision get contacts to change their eye color. We tan and bleach our skin. The things we do for "beauty" are pretty over-the-top sometimes.
Because we are too busy worrying about what isn't our favorite part of ourselves. We never think about the things we like about ourselves. I always notice how large and bulbous my nose looks whenever I look in the mirror, or this small lump on my forehead that I got when I was three (long story), or how I'm fairly unshapely and Lego minifigure-esque in body shape. But I don't really ever look at the things I like. I like my hair color and how it gets all different colored highlights in the sun, and I like the color of my eyes. I used to actually want brown eyes like my dad's, but I've grown to like blue.
I challenge you to find something about yourself that you truly like - it doesn't matter if you feel dumb admitting it or if no one else agrees with you - even if you just have one feature that makes you feel special or unique. It can be easy to self-deprecate, but don't be afraid to complement yourself.
There is only one version of you, so there is no one else to compare yourself to. Since there is only one of us, we are all almost like rough drafts - we all have flaws, but we also have wonderful sparks of beauty throughout.

22 December 2011

field trip to the dentist

Finally done with finals! So excited to be on winter break.
And one of my assignments over break, that I assigned myself, is to finish all the blogs I didn't finish throughout the year, so by the end everything will be done!
So after finals today, I had to go to the periodontist. And just to let you know, I don't like doctors. No one does. Some people don't mind them, but I really really detest them and I hate going. A finger prick is a sufficient amount of pain for me. I hate even thinking about going to the dentist to get a cleaning. I have had a rather traumatic dental experience. I have had 8 of my teeth ripped out and I've had braces twice. I am not a fan of the dentist, nor are they fans of me.
And now I have to have gum surgery.
Which is extremely traumatic compared to the things I have had done. I have never had a surgery in my entire life, and I was hoping to keep it that way. I don't like the idea of someone else having control of my body while I sit helplessly and limp as I surrender myself to someone I don't even know.
But apparently these teeth are going to fall out eventually if it's not fixed, which made me cry even more, and now I need to have a part of my gums lasered off.

Imagine someone lasering a part of your body off.
I don't like lasers. Nor do I like dentists or surgery. And I don't like Novocaine needles jabbing into my mouth or laughing gas masks. I don't like the smell of dentists or their offices. So needless to say it's going to be a fun, fun day.
And the best part is, I get to go to school the next day! Or if it's in the morning, I can go right back to school then! It's a jolly good thing!
I just absolutely don't want to do this. And in no way will it bring me happiness. But I have to do it. And the things that make us change into better people are not the happy things that we enjoy doing; they are the harder things that we detest, or that we are scared of, and how we can overcome them.
And now I have officially decided that I will not be a bone marrow donor. Nor will I ever donate blood. I'm sorry.

21 December 2011

the triumph

Finally I get to post. Apparently the problem was a scam, someone trying to coax me into spending money to protect against a virus that wasn't even real. What freaks. What kind of person wastes their time doing that?
So anyways, it's finals week and tomorrow is the last one of the week and then we have Friday off! So today I had my AP Lit final and we got our research papers back.

And I got a 97!
I was really excited because I do well on research papers, but not this good.
Every time I get a research paper back, I am always afraid that I did something really wrong, like formatting or citations. But nope! Good so far.
My favorite part is when someone asks me, "Hey, do we need to put citations in the paper?" or "Is the works cited page optional? Because I didn't do it. Will I get points off?" I just sit and nod my head in awe. Clearly some people come to school without brains. The better question is, why are these people in my class?
I might not have gotten in Georgetown early. Things I wanted to happen might not have. But life gives you good things all the time - sometimes they just aren't the things that we expect. Just be on the lookout for everything, and don't stay caught up in the things that might not happen.
Life's about the unpredictable, and our expectations get let down a lot. Just don't miss opportunities to smile.

20 December 2011

i dont really know what is going on, but my computer is still being attacked by this virus and i cant use it. very disapointing :(

19 December 2011

18 December 2011


Every Sunday, I read Parade. Before I even eat breakfast, I read Parade. Sometimes it's great and sometimes it's not. And it wasn't here this morning because we canceled the newspaper, but then we got it again (long story). So today's Parade was all about 2011 as a whole; everything that happened in 2011, from the Super Bowl (I can't even believe it was 2011, it happened so long ago) to the Osama bin Laden situation, to new musical phenomena like Adele.
And it sort of reminded me of my blog. I started it almost a year ago, and I'm coming to a close. As sad as it is, I'm glad that I have accomplished this.
I just want to tell you a little bit of the behind the scenes at this little blog. A lot of people ask me questions about my blog, and I wanted to answer some of those questions.
I have to admit, this blog is pretty time consuming and hard to maintain. And a lot of people say, "wow you must have TONS of free time! I could never have enough time to do that." Well I don't exactly sit around and do nothing all the time. I find the time to blog. I make time by knowing that I need to set it aside every day.
Also, I don't ever know what I'm going to write about until I open the page and click "New Post". And 90% of the time I sit there thinking about the day and thinking about something to write. The other 10% of the time I know what I'll write and during the day I'll think "Hey! That's blogworthy!"
Also, even though this is called "the quest for happiness", it's not really a guide to happiness blog. It's basically a blog about life - how I experience it, what I think about it, how the great things in life lift me up and how the bad things change me and how I think about things.
About 95% of the time, I listen to music when I blog. It helps set the tone of my writing, as if the beat is controlling my writing.
Another thing: I'm not always happy when I write. I know that I have blogged through my tears on multiple occasions. Don't think I'm a big emotional mess, because usually I'm not.
This is also one of those things where my initial intentions are different from the outcomes. I intended to write a blog about how I find happiness everyday in little things. But I've found that happiness doesn't come everyday; if it did we wouldn't recognize it, and we wouldn't appreciate it. We have to learn to cherish the beautiful things we often take for granted.

17 December 2011

yes you can!

After not sleeping because of my research paper, I got to not sleep again because this morning, at 6am, I was on my way to school to swim at Emory all day long.
So at 7am, when we got there and walked outside into the coldness, we had to take off our warm clothes and put on out suits, and dive into the pool. At 7am.
We warmed up for awhile, and then we had an hour to basically sit and wait for the heat sheets to arrive so everyone could swarm to the wall and copy their events on their arms, pushing and shoving like savages in a claustrophobic mob. It's a mess.
And then we swam from 8am to 3pm, and we didn't get out of our suits all day. I got out of mine at 6:30 that night.
And all day, I basically ate about 15 mini brownies, you know, the little bite-size ones, about 4 bagels, or fragments of bagels, and a bunch of iced tea. Super healthy diet.
And we went back and forth from hot to cold to shivering to sweaty, to wet to dry.
But best of all,
I was swimming my favorite event and another relatively easy event, and a relay. I was swimming a 50 free first, and I had to make sure it was rather stellar. And there were so many people at this meet that there were 22 heats (basically 22 races of the same race). I was in one of the latest heats, which fortunately means you are on the fast side. Single digit heats are just not extremely impressive.
So I cut off time on that one, and I also won the heat, and I was pretty wicked excited. I couldn't even see the results because I'm so blind, so it just looked like a neon blob bleeding all over the black screen. Oh well. But I did win, and I was pretty excited, because there were 215 people swimming it and I came in 45th. Not exactly wonderful, but better than I expected.
And my other event, the 100, is tricky because technically it's a sprint, but you can't go all out like in the 50. So I paced myself and I cut off 2 seconds, as well as winning the heat again, which I was pretty pumped about.
Too good things about this: one, I won, and I have not felt this victorious in a long time, especially with college deferrals, and general misfortunes. It was just what I needed to keep pulling through.
And two, I started swimming when I was 13. 10 years before, I had a dreadful water experience, and I almost sort of drowned at my 3rd birthday party. So I vowed I would not go past the bottom step of the pool stairs until I was 16.
You can overcome fears, no matter how long it might take, and you can become great at something, and it doesn't have to take forever. You don;t have to start when you are born; you don't have to start the piano lessons at age 4, or begin learn-to-skate at age 3. Follow your heart and your ambitions, and don't listen to people who say your dive is bad. Because you can get better at it, and soon enough - wait for it - you will blow them all out of the water (ha ha - nice little pun right there; you didn't see that coming!)

16 December 2011

loved ones

The best part about today is that the research paper is complete! And even though everyone else is relieved and bragging about the vast amount of hours of sleep they will get this weekend, I have to be at school at 6 tomorrow for an all-day swim meet. These are the ones I don't look forward to because they basically are never ending, I always eat too many brownies because the swim team moms bring little brownies, and I never go to the bathroom because I'm strapped into a swim suit for about 12 hours. Oh well. I am swimming one of my favorite events ever, so I can share it with you tomorrow.
Ironically I am extremely energetic right now. I could probably run a mile and feel triumphantly glorious. But I won't do that right now.
So anyways, I always go on this wonderful website called Ragestache, which consists of ridiculous comics and they are extremely hysterical. They are usually satirical and they mock moments in the lives of teens, like being "forever alone" as well as other mishaps at school and in social life. But I saw one that was really nice and it was the main character, Derp, sitting eating dinner with his mother and he was thinking about how one day he won't have her and he would really miss her. So then he started tearing up and his mother said "what's wrong, Derp?" and he just said "I love you mom!"
It was fairly cheesy and ridiculous but it was pretty nice, because no one is ever going to be in your life forever, including your friends, so appreciate the wonderful people you have while you have them.

15 December 2011

another "i have something due tomorrow" post

Hello folks. Well it's 12:49, and I have been making progress with my research paper, which happens to be due tomorrow. I am so fabulous at procrastinating that I should be given an award for completing things with so little time to spare. But that's OK, I'll get it done, because I'm almost finished anyway.
But I'm not having as dreadful of a time as I imagined. For one thing, I have spread all my note cards all over the floor and made a giant mess. But that's exactly what I had to do to get it done. In school I would try and keep them in little piles, but now they are spread out and I can see each individual one perfectly and categorize them just so. Plus I would rather do it all now than a little at a time.
But anyways, I am blogging because I have gotten tired of analyzing Beloved and I am hoping that writing about something else with no boundaries or rules or formats will be soothing. And it is. Look at that - I just wrote a fragment. A nice little break. Well, time to get back to my good ole paper. And then math studying. Should I feel guilty for sleeping?

14 December 2011

good neighbors

Family can extend further than just those who are related to you by marriage or blood.
My family has been going through some difficulties since my sister's concussion, and it has been hard for everyone in their own way to deal with everything from doctor's appointments to missing school and the drama that lies in the interstices of it all.
Last night there was a neighborhood moms night out thing at this cute restaurant close to our house. But unfortunately my mom couldn't go for reasons I described above, so she had to miss out, even though all the hipster moms there are so fun and nice.

So today at the bus stop (I believe it was the bus stop at least), one of our neighbor's told my mom that they wanted to make us meals during the week, alternating people bringing the meals, and that they all talked about it and they were going to do it no matter what.
The cool thing is that we all did this when our neighbor had brain surgery, and it was a great way for the neighborhood to pitch in and really impact people.
But I couldn't believe our neighborhood would actually be so nice to take the time out and make us meals. It's not like they're going to Hallmark and getting the 99 cent card and throwing it in the mailbox. They are taking the time to do it. And that's the coolest thing. When our immediate family is so far away, it's great to know that we have a family right here in the neighborhood.

13 December 2011

phone angels

I have now written 350 posts, excluding this one.
So I had a story I was going to tell yesterday, but I was too overcome that I couldn't share it. It's a happy ending story, for once.
So as you might know, I lose things. Everything I have ever owned I have lost at least twice. And it appears that the most important things are the things that I lose (i.e. phone, permission slips, money, purses, etc.). 90% of the time I find it or get it back, but yesterday was different.
So I was sitting in AP Macro listening to the endless economic drivel and I pulled out my phone to check what time it was. But my phone wasn't there. Oddly enough, I wasn't freaking out because I remembered exactly where I had accidentally left it. So at the end of class I left and went back there to find it.
But it was gone.
And since it's a Blackberry Torch, and not a land line I stole from home or some 1995 model, I knew it would be something someone would steal. It was stolen and my whole life was over.
No worries, I thought. I'll just ask at the office. They showed me their cell phone pile that accumulates throughout the day. Not there. Then I went to the front office. They didn't have any phones. Instead they looked at me a little strangely for losing my phone - God forbid anyone brings a phone to school - and I made up a story that it fell out of my bag.
But anyways, not there. That was it. My whole life was over.
In a frantic panic, I emailed my dad from the school computers (it just so happens we were in the library anyway). But there was nothing he could do, so I just fought back tears and I thought about how I would pay for a new phone.
So I walked begrudgingly to art and told my sad tale when suddenly this girl in my art class and my first period class pulled my phone out of her bag and gave it to me. She said she knew someone would steal it, so she took it and, knowing she would see me again that day, saved it for me.
She saved the whole day! Well at least until I opened the mail yesterday!
Not everyone is like that in adulthood. And I was more than positive that someone had stolen it. But instead, a friend saved it so no one could steal it. What a person. And now my phone is safely next to me.
People can be really considerate. And I know that if that happened to someone else, I would turn it in or give it back to them, if I knew whose it was. But man, she saved me!

12 December 2011

the sun will rise again

Today was either going to be the best day ever or the worst.
And it wasn't the best day ever.
It was a rather crushing, devastating, disappointing, sad, lugubrious day. That's the type of day it was.
Because despite all my efforts, I was deferred from Georgetown. I didn't even have to read more than 5 words to tell from the dismal letter. There were no exclamation marks or balloons. Just a "sorry, but" and a few "thanks for your interest"s. So I fell into a depressed coma all day long and played sad music in my head, like really emotional Adele songs and dark John Mayer songs. I felt my energy draining away. For all the things that go wrong for our family and all the bad luck we have, there has to be something that will go right. But nope, not always. The cycle continues.
I know I still have another chance and I am not completely rejected, but I have lost all hope. Basically, I will not be going there next year. But the sad part is, if I just went and didn't need to apply, I would probably do fine, just like all the other folks going there.
But I'm not going.
I'm not going to pretend I'm not sad because I cried all day about it. And I'm not going to say that I regret doing anything I did. Because everything on the application was perfect, I thought.
But I don't have to say that I hope things will improve, because I know they will. The sun always comes out after it rains. No matter what, it will always reappear. There will always be something to make me smile or laugh after I cry.
I'm not going to brush it off, because it's devastating for someone to say "we're too good for you". But I realized after a few hours that the world isn't completely over, and if I want to continue with my life, I can. If I want to sit on the sidewalk and cry, I guess I can do that too for some time, but eventually I will want to come out into the light.
I don't know what they were contemplating when they put me in the slender business envelope pile, and I wish I could change it. I'm not going to force myself to be chipper tomorrow if I'm not, but I'll remember that life will keep going on - with or without me.
This post is for everyone who has ever been rejected by anyone or place - the sun will rise again, mes amis.

11 December 2011

I found this, and I thought it was worth sharing.

And I was going to write something about it. But I think sometimes things should be left for the reader to interpret. Happy Sunday readers!

10 December 2011

the answer to humanity's problems

Here is something I think everyone needs: understanding and empathy.
That's actually two things. But maybe it's one thing collectively.
I think the cause of every social problem in the world is caused because of a lack of understanding and empathy. It works on a macro and micro level.
For example, if you are going through something really hard, conflicts start when other people don't understand it, and they get impatient and annoyed. Friendships can disintegrate. People can stop trusting each other and relying on each other for support.
And wars all start because of a lack of understanding. Racism stems from it too. People don't understand how other people feel, even if what they feel might be irrational. And sometimes people don't want to step outside of their minds to accept what someone else is feeling. We don't really want to be open to new ideas. We just sort of want our ideas to be right, and even if we are wrong, we don't want to accept it.
The war of childhood - bullying - also starts with a lack of understanding. We only know what people tell us. That's it. And we sometimes we are bullied for what people think we are. No one can ever know everything about you, and they aren't supposed to. But bullying is when people don't understand, nor care, about what's really going on.
Try to have empathy and understanding for people, even if you can't quite understand. Just try to imagine yourself in a similar situation.

09 December 2011

the only ship that won't sink

This is the 19th post until the end. Can you believe I have less than 20 left? Pretty amazing.
SO this is going to be a short post because it's really late, but I got to Skype with my best friend in Massachusetts tonight with my sister and we had a fun time just talking and hanging out. And even though I haven't seen her in months, it's just like we saw each other yesterday. It's always so fun and low-key, and I'm so glad I have someone like that, someone who I can talk to about anything and have a good time with, even if we only see each other once a year. And of course, I have even more amazing friends like this here.
It's just comforting to know that even though we are thousands of miles apart, we are still so close - and perhaps even closer - now.
Good night folks!

PS - the title of the post is from a joke that my friend told me. It's more like a riddle: What is the only ship that can't sink? Friendship.

08 December 2011

we're all in this together

You can really get through anything with people around supporting you.
For some reason, my swim coach for the high school team decided to put us in events we never swim - or better yet, have never swam - tonight at the meet. And it just happens that I got the 2nd and 3rd most miserable events, and 2 relays. The 200 IM and the 100 butterfly. First of all, I don't swim butterfly because of my rotator cuff issues. I don't swim more than a 25 without being in pain. And I didn't swim it at all last year. At all. And then the 200 IM. 8 laps of everything. Pretty ridiculous. Every turn is scrutinized, and there are more than 15 ways to screw it up and get disqualified. So I was super duper happy when I looked at the heat sheet. But the relays were relatively easy, so it balanced. Not really.
So I swam the 200 IM and I came in 4th from 12 people, which I suppose is satisfactory for never swimming it before.
But the 100 butterfly, even though it was half of what I just swam, I knew I was going to drown. I started calling it the 100 drown. You don't normally see "Swimmer Drowns at Swim Meet" in the headlines, but I was pretty sure that was going to happen. I am sort of physically unable to swim that stroke.
But all the senior girls were put in that event, and a bunch of people were videoing it so we can laugh about it at a later date. And since we are always the biggest team, we were in a heat by ourselves. And we looked around at each other and just laughed, because even though we could try as hard as we wanted to, sometimes there is only so much we can do. But knowing that we were all in it together (High School Musical reference!) and that we were all supporting each other no matter what. We were all out of our element, so no one was going to do well, but it was about trying something new and having everyone support everyone. And that's what teams are all about.

By the way: 5th of about 20 in butterfly.

07 December 2011

what does it mean to be happy?

I have been thinking about the things that make people happy. But the key to being happy is not necessarily in certain things or items that you can get to make you happy. It's about experiences. And those priceless things - memories, spending time with people, life experiences, trips - are the things that bring us true joy.
So I have compiled some of my thoughts on this subject.
First is the optimist versus pessimist thing. Being optimistic does not mean you are happy all the time; it just means you have an idealistic view; you hope things will go well and you believe that you should focus on seeing the best in things. Pessimists assume the worst and are glad when good things happen. So in a way, optimists lose because they can be more disappointed than pessimists. But at the same time, pessimists may fail to see the little things in life that optimists do see. So it's not optimism versus pessimism; it's a balance of both.
Something else I have learned: sometimes, it's worse to regret not doing something than it is to regret doing it, especially when it comes to a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Like when I was in Costa Rica, we were all jumping off this cliff with our clothes on, and while I didn't really want to at first, I knew I'd regret it if I didn't. I knew I probably would never do this again, so why not?
Life's about pushing yourself to go places new, see different things, stretch the parameters of your mind, and basically throw yourself into situations that you feel "out of your element" in. Life's about risks, and doing things you never thought you could do. And happiness comes in the pride you gain from doing different things and engaging in new experiences.

And to put it simply, do what you like to do. There's no point in being an orthodontist if you hate it, even if it does pay well. Find a true passion and follow it. And if your passion does not work out for you, would you rather fail trying or fail having done nothing about it?
And finally, surround yourself with friends and family. People who love you, and people you love. People who will be there to listen to you vent when you are really upset, people who will buy you an ice cream, people you can trust, people who you can have fun with. People you would do anything for in a heartbeat.
Not one thing on that little list was a material item. Not ironically, with such a heavy weight placed on materialism in this society, the futile pursuit of satiation of our endless wants often leaves us feeling depressed. Life is so much deeper than that. You just have to be willing to dig.

06 December 2011

living a life-ful life

Last year, when I was sitting in the yearbook room doing nothing (because yearbook is 10% rushing to get things done for a deadline that just popped up and 90% waiting around for something to happen), I randomly went onto the bone marrow donation website and I researched it because I want to donate bone marrow some day. I think it would be a really great way to save someone's life, and I don't have any of the thousands of health restrictions that prevent you from donating. However, I am not old enough yet.
And I was thinking that it would be cool if I could do it now, but then I forgot that I'm not 18. And then I sort of wished I was 18. But then I took it back, because I will be older than 18 for a long time, but I won't be 17 forever. And instead of wishing for time to pass, enjoy it and let the good times roll. Time will pass anyway; why wait in agony? You will always get older, there is never trouble in that. But you will never get the younger years back. Enjoy whatever age you are right now, and live it to the fullest. Dance crazy, sing loudly, and surround yourself with friends and family. Live a life-ful life. Do things that make you feel good and young. Face the hardships bravely, and if you don't come out triumphantly, don't fall so low that you can't get back up again. Life will always be going by. The question is, are you going to let it pass you by, or will you chase each fleeting moment with vigor?

05 December 2011

humanity's oldest institution

Guess what? Remember when I went to the Aviva USA website and I ordered a Youmanity token? Well it came today! It's basically a little token that you register online with the code on the token, and then you do a random act of kindness for someone and given them the token. And because it is registered online, you can then track your token and see where it travels to around the world. So when the time is right, I will pass my token along to someone.
But also, I went to my sister's band concert today - the only type of concert I have actually been too, unfortunately - but it was really all of the bands in the whole school.
Regardless, it was a concert, and it was really quit impressive, especially the hard core wind ensemble that played "Sleigh Ride" at the end, and I swear it sounded so much like the Boston Pops I literally thought that it was them. My mom said it was like a recording of the Pops. Pretty cool.
But one of the reasons I love music education and arts education is because those two things are the oldest institutions in humanity. People, and their earliest ancestors, have been making art and music since before Homo sapiens was even a species. And today, while it is much more refined and technologically-oriented, the principle of music is the same. It's and expression of life and emotion, and it's so cool that we still have that connection to our past.

04 December 2011

i'm a kid and proud of it

I don't really understand why people are all into being an adult. Because being an adult doesn't seem nearly as fun as being a kid.
Today we went to the country club for this nice Christmas brunch and ornament-making. And Santa was there as well.
I was probably the only 17 year old at this brunch, and I was definitely the only one going to see Santa as well.
But you know what? Who puts age limits on fun? I think that kids have the most fun on Christmas because they are captivated by the magic and happiness of Christmas, while teenagers sort of grow out of those things. And just because you are not in elementary school anymore doesn't mean you can't enjoy things like Easter egg hunts, Halloween trick or treating, and Santa, the way you did when you were a kid.
At this rate, I'll probably be trick or treating until I am at least 35. And I will never deny myself the joy that comes from childhood wonders.
I guess people think it is too cool to engage in childish activities that will make you seem like a fool. But you shouldn't listen to what other people think if it makes you happy.

03 December 2011

friendship garden

"Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher" ~ Oprah Winfrey
I have heard this quote a bunch of times. Evidently I like this quote a lot.
Life is too short to bother with those who drag you down. And life is too fragile and beautiful to endanger. Much like a garden. There are many beautiful flowers in a garden, like good friends and family, but sometimes there are pests and weeds that can ruin your garden.
And you simply have to remove these pests so that they do not take over your life and rule over you. You just have to free yourself from them.
While sometimes we don't plant weeds or invite pests into our gardens, we can change them so that the sun only shines on the good in life.
Oprah really knows how it is.

02 December 2011

tis the season

Today we went out for frozen yogurt (actually just the samples for free) and there were a whole bunch of people there, as well as a keyboard and microphones. Then we saw a girl with a guitar. It was like an open mic night sort of thing, and the two people playing were teenagers, probably about my age or younger.
One of them sang a Christmas song and played the guitar. I didn't know the song, but the girl was really good. Better than some "professional" singers when they sing live. And she played and sung at once. The other girl sang and played the keyboard, and it was one of my favorite songs that I know by heart - "Like A Star" by Corinne Bailey Rae. And she sung it just like it was sung in the song. It sounded very good, especially for someone so young.
Their parents were there, as well as basically everyone who worked there and some other frozen yogurt goers. But it was so cool to see some people who are my age - people you go to school with, people you see in the mall - performing in public. I don't know how I would do performing like that in public, and they handled it really well.
That's one of the things I love about the Chirstmas season; everyone sort of comes together and does fun things as a family and community.

01 December 2011

the power of being nice

Some people think the only way to be happy in life is to be domineering, imperious, and annoying. Stepping on people, being backstabbing, and manipulating people is a way to get things done, sort of. But there are other ways to be happy. Like being nice. Being nice is not only good because it makes you feel good, but because you're making someone else feel special too.
Remember a few days ago - maybe it was a week ago - when I got a letter back from that solider in Afghanistan? Well I emailed the teacher at school, because it's her son. Mostly I did it because in the letter, he said that if I see her in the hallways at school, just to let her know that he is doing alright. And if a soldier fighting for my safety and the safety of other people in America and Afghanistan is asking me to do something, nothing will keep me from doing it. So I emailed her, because I've never had her before and she doesn't know me at all. It would be an awkward encounter, I could envision it now, if I waltzed in and randomly started talking about it to her in person. Email is good.
So I got a reply this morning when I went to the computers in the classroom and she said that my email "made her day". And I smiled and felt warm and fuzzy inside. Everyone probably wondered why I was sitting on the chair beaming at the computer, but that's cool. She said the holidays can be really hard without him there, but that she's happy that there are people who really do appreciate what he and thousands of other men and women are doing abroad to serve the country.
And I made someone's day. How special is that, to know that you made an impact in someone else's life and that they really appreciated it? It makes you feel more wanted and less lonely. The power of niceness!

30 November 2011

underground shakespeare project

Would you like to know something cool?
Well here it goes.
So today we had a sub in AP Lit. So we were supposed to be doing work, but instead we were all talking about the Hamlet optional projects. And then one kid was remembering this really funny scene in the Mel Gibson version when Hamlet is pushing everyone's heads aside when he's trying to go to see Claudius's reaction to the play. And we were thinking of how hysterical it would be if we did it in the cafeteria and pretended to reenact that part. And then the epiphany..
We decided that as a class, we were going to all do an optional project as a group. We are all going to work on making a 10-minute version of Hamlet, and then since we will all have a part in it, we will all get points!
And it's all a surprise. So on optional project presentation day, we'll tell her that we have a class project and we'll play the reenactment.
So today we started casting people for roles, and tomorrow we will hopefully meet and discuss how we can do this in 2 weeks. I am so excited.

Everyone is so excited to work on it too. It's going to be a fun way to bond and make a fabulous movie about an even more fabulous play. I was so incredibly excited!
While individual victories and achievements are great and very rewarding, sometimes group efforts are the same - and maybe even more rewarding because you are working with different people: different ideas, different perspectives.

29 November 2011

keep oiling your machine

Sometimes I have to do too much stuff that I can't even eat meals without worrying about finishing. And this morning, I was worrying about going to school because I have too much homework to do, and school will be a waste of time. Pretty ridiculous.

And then I got really unproductive, like a poorly-oiled machine, and that's the end of that.

But the key isn't to keep on working; it's to take a break and relax. So I listened to some Christmas music from Pandora and took this soothing bath. It was so chill and serene.

And then you can become refueled and energized to work again. because if your engine starts running out of fuel, you can't keep exhausting it. The only way to make sure your engine stays well maintained is if you help it. You can only ever do the best that you can do.

By the way, here is a cute picture I found. It's a fish tank (get it?)!

28 November 2011

spreading good cheer

Officially a month's worth of blog posts left to write.
Today is one of those days that doesn't really stick in your mind because it was just sort of filled with immediate things to do and mundane activities. Not bad, just not memorable.
But we need days that aren't memorable, or else our brains would explode. Or implode.
But today when me and my dad went to the grocery store after school (after we bought some foam at the craft store), I was really incredibly starving, so I bought a bagel at the backery. And the lady was really nice for no reason. Just smiling and happy. And when we checked out, the cashier and the bagger both said that they hoped we'd have a good day and that they were glad that they shopped with us.
It was probably something they say to everyone. But it was just really nice. Just a nice little way to make someone's day a little brighter. Especially because it's storming.

27 November 2011

making it to the finish line

I never finish anything.
I always have these really great, larger-than-life ideas. And I get so excited about them at first, but then my excitement dies quickly and I move on to another idea. So I have half finished paintings, stories, projects, and even songs I wrote on the flute stored in various places in my room, in my computer, and stuffed in folders all over the place.
But the problems is school. When I have a school project, I am completely obligated to finish it depsite how daunting or laborious it may seem.
And last week we finished our wire sculptures in art. And it was a nightmare of the project. While it turned out pretty good, I detested the project and it was difficult as well as painful.
When I say "finished", it means that it was due, and I wasn't done with it, and frankly, I was completely done with it. I was totally sick of working on it.
But what's the point of doing something if you're not going to finish it? It seems like I have a ton of things that are almost worthless now because I have not finished them.

But I finished my chameleon wire project; I added the tail and the fourth leg and now Fortinbras is complete. I decided to name him Fortinbras, because he is the last person talking in Hamlet, and this is the last project of the semester.
So I think next year, my resolution will be to finish the things I have started. It will probably be incredibly hard, because there are few thigns i actually finish, but if I finish this blog that will be one thing that will prove myself wrong.

26 November 2011

good as new

About a month's worth of blogs left to write, and boy, will it be weird when I don't click on the good old "the quest for happiness" bookmark everynight. It'll be mighty weird. But I decided that I will be working on something that at the moment does not have a name, but soon will. I will use the last week of the year to basically reminisce about this blog and remember the insightful things I might have said along the way, and put the 7 main points of interest into blog topics for the day. And the last day will be the biggest, most special blog I will ever write.
But anyways, that's the plan. Get excited!
So today we went to this new store that opened up next to the best ice cream place around, and in fact, it was the very house that was boarded up a few months ago when my grandparents came to town. My grandpa (who is a painter) sketched the house and made a really amazing painting of it. So it's cool, I have this sort of personal connection to this house. And now it is renovated and re-purposed as a store.
It's just like the store that I used to consign at.
Just like it.
We asked some of the workers at the store about the house. She said that it was built in about 1908, and that it was a farmhouse and at a time, an antique store, just like it is now. But then it became old and worn, and almost dilapidated. But then it was renovated in the past year, and now it's a store for the little residents of Milton.
Isn't that the coolest thing, that this little wooden, one-story house, has been renovated and now it is completely restored? Just think of all the things we could do with old things if we recycled them.

25 November 2011

black friday 'festivities'

Today is quite an important day for the economy. The single day in America when everyone stands in lines at midnight and shops all night long. It's sort of ridiculous.
And this year, 2 people were shot in San Diego and some freak pepper sprayed people.
And this is a time when we should be saying to ourselves, "what am I doing here? Why am I standing in line at Walmart for 12 hours waiting for a sale?"
Everyone knows that Christmas basically begins today, and the shopping therefore also begins. But do we actually remember the reason we have a holiday on December 25? It's to celebrate the birth of Christ, and while it's a Christian holiday, the world seems to join in the fun. But recently, it's becoming more of an economic booster program and a commercial shopping palooza. Where is the real reason behind Christmas? It's supposed to be about showing people you love a little extra love, not about pepper spraying people so you can get a video game for your kid faster than everyone else.
And what is it that you are buying? I don't know many people who actually had a list of things they intended on buying when they were going bargain hunting. People are just running around like wild beasts searching for a deal. And before you know it, people have tons of things no one wants that will eventually land in a pile behind the customer service desk, waiting to be re-shelved. It's a twisted system, which is why we never go out on Black Friday.
Why not focus on the real meaning of Christmas - giving, generosity, and love - and not on finding the newest toy, appliance, or Apple product on sale. Spread some love this holiday season!

24 November 2011

a thanksgiving post

Would you like to know something interesting about Thanksgiving? The "first" one - you know, with the Natives and the Englishmen and Massasoit and all his men - was not the first, hence the quotes around "first".
Thanksgiving was actually a tradition among the native peoples. So the holiday is literally ingrained in the American tradition, which makes it even more special.
But today is not about the food we eat; as my How To Read Literature Like A Professor book says, meals in literature are usually symbolic. And in life, this feast symbolizes a harvest and a celebration of our achievements and what we are happy to have in our lives.
We had this really nice turkey that my parents spent most of the day cooking and we also had mashed potatoes, squash, rice, pie, cake, stuffing, green beans, and muffins! So it was really great and we had a fun time watching the parades, the dog show (it's the biggest one of the year), and hanging out. Plus, my dad's cousin came over and we had a really fun time.
So we always say a prayer before we eat Thanksgiving dinner, and we usually give thanks for the meal and for each other. When I was little, I would always do this because we would also say prayers at my old school (Catholic school) and we'd say it before snack. But I never actually thought about it. I sort of said it emptily. It was like it was expected, so I said it.
But I didn't really back those words with meaning. But now that I'm older and wiser (well, just a little more perceptive), I know that really there is so much to be thankful for that I can't even list it all here. Nor will I ever be able to crack the surface in my lifetime. The things I have - material and intangible - will always be so great that I will unfortunately not be able to appreciate all of it in my lifetime. But when I sit and think about it, the list is infathomably long.
To begin, I spent today in my huge, brand new house with my family, and we had a huge feast. And in America, there are tons of people who can't even afford that. I saw this photo gallery of celebrities helping out in LA at this Thanksgiving food distribution for people who cannot afford their own meal.
There are some people around the world who cannot even get a meal all day today, and they might get something half-edible tomorrow. They will never be financially secure. And on the other hand, I personally have never had to worry about that, and even when I live by myself, I probably won't worry about it nearly as much as some other people in the country and the world.
Another thing: the other day I got a letter from one of the most dangerous countries on earth right now, from an American soldier. Who is not with his family today, not in his own country, and surrounded by people who fear him, strongly dislike him, or could potentially harm him. He lives in danger ever day.
I have neevr experienced war, poverty, lack of shelter, money, or safety. I haven't lived life as it si defined by the difficulties we must endure.
We all have our own struggles and problems, and they are difficult and sometimes they seem insurmountable. Sometimes we can't even find someone to turn to for help; it can seem impossible to find that one person who can actually understand how you feel.
But life has ways of working magic on us.
I have heard that the 3 main requirements for life are food, water, and shelter.
Yet there are billions of homeless people and starving people.
And when there are so many without food, water, and shelter, I can't help but think that if the porbability of being so disadvatged is so high, why do I have so much? How did I come to acquire this much, and seem to have little wrong with me?
So today, after you have read this, do a little Thanksgiving relfection. Go to a comfy chair and thnk. Or take a walk. Or stand on your head. Whatever you would like. Just thiknk, for even a few minutes, about what you are truly thankful for.
For me, it's obviously my family first. My parents do eveything for me, and they are always there to talk to and help me, with say, AP Macro homework, or trying to cut down a college essay to fit into the parameters. And my siblings are always there for those times when I want to laugh about something stupid, or play a game of Monopoly, or play in the backyard, or talk about anything and everything.

My friends are always there for me too. Liike the other day when I had a really terrible day, I stayed up late telling some of them about it and they gave me advice and listened to me while I vented. They also give me rides when I don't have anyone to pick me up, and they are always there to share a laugh - which is usually everyday!
Also, I'm pretty healthy, I have access to healthcare of all sorts in one of the most affluent countries on earth, and I live in a safe environment with all sorts of opportunities.
We aren't all born with great opportunities. And there si no way we can have everything, and that we can always be content with how things are going in life. But 99.999% of the time, my life is amazing. And I have a huge list of things to be thankful for, including this blog that has let me ponder about life more deeply, and to come to this realization.

23 November 2011

leaf-throwing and ornaments

Almost a month's worth of blog posts left to write. And then I will have finished this project.
But to take my mind away from something so sad, I want to tell you about something fun I did today.
So for some bizarre reason I woke up at 7:45, ready to bound out of bed for school, but we don't have school because we're on vacation. So then I got up and I had the earliest start to the day ever (on a non-school day).
So I decided to walk around my neighborhood. And then I met my sister walking around too, and we started to take pictures of ourselves looking ridiculous. And then I had this fabulous idea that we should take pictures of throwing leaves in the air - you know, that quintessential leaf-throwing, happy-go-lucky fall picture that requires perfect timing and proper arm positioning to avoid failure pictures. So I got this great picture, and it was so perfect that my sister wanted to try, but unfortunately, it didn't turn out stellar, so we kept trying. And basically we just took all the leaves from someone's yard and threw them all over the place and into the street.
But later, we went to Crate and Barrel (another one of my favorite stores, in addition to Home Depot and Barnes and Noble) and bought Christmas ornaments for our tree and also for our little baby trees in our rooms (well. they will eventually be in our rooms).
And later, to celebrate our stellar performance in AP Macro, me and two of my friends got manicures at the bets place in town, and I got the kind that lasts for over a month, so it will be perfect throughout the swim season. I'm excited!
It was a perfect first day of vacation. And I really really needed this little vacation, even though it will be filled with finishing art projects and starting new ones, but it was fun to just relax and enjoy life.

22 November 2011

who are we anyway?

Today I got something cool in the mail. And it wasn't from another college I don't intend on applying to. It wasn't a Thanksgiving card. It was a letter from Kabul, Afghanistan.
It was from a solider!
You see, about a month ago, I went to someone's house for a senior swim team meeting, and we all had to write letters to the soldiers. It all started because my assistant coach's son is in the army, but he now is on leave, so we are supporting another teacher's son and his troop in Afghanistan. And my coach said we can write our address on the letters we wrote, and they might write back.
And lo and behold, he wrote back.
He was the teacher's son, and he said that he and his group (I don't know what you call them, but a bunch of soldiers are at the same base together..a troop? I don't know) are building schools in Afghanistan to train the soldiers in the Afghan National Army. He said Afghanistan is the 5th poorest country in the world, and after doing some research, I found out that Niger, the Congo, Liberia, Somalia, and some other central African countries are also the poorest. Afghanistan is also the worst place in the world for women (from guardian.co.uk), along with India, the Congo, Pakistan, and Somalia.
He described what it's like living there. He said that most women wear burqas, which are big veils that cover your entire body (except your eyes), yet there are some women who take the rick of only wearing a head covering and "western" clothing.
And something I wouldn't have expected - and probably more so the entire country - is that the Afghans he has met have been pretty friendly. He said they are just people like us. While some of them have their reservations about Americans, there are others who don't. It's just like us. Many Americans are hesitant of people from the Middle East and Middle Eastern culture, believing it is made up of extremists. But this is just a misconception. I know people at school from the Middle East, and I know girls at school who wear head coverings. And to me, they are just high schoolers like me.
But everyone has reservations about people that they don't know. We are afraid of the unknown, and that is how humankind is. Fear of the unknown is not uncommon.

But really and truly, we are all the same on the inside. Same bones, same blood, same species. We all evolved from a common primate, and going back far enough, every living thing came from a prokaryotic cell. We are really no different, and that letter reminded me of it.
He said he will be coming home soon to see his wife and family. And his mom teaches at my school, so I think I'll show her the letter when we get back from Thanksgiving break.

21 November 2011


We can't be happy all the time. And if we aren't happy, we can only hope for it in the future. But at least I know that even if some things don't go right, I know that I have people I can depend on to do things for me if I need it.
And having friends like mine makes everything better. As they say, friendship is a priceless gift that can't be replaced. And if you want your friends to be there for you, you have to be a good friend to them too.
And this Thanksgiving, my friends are definitely at the top; not just because they are fun to be with and because they make me laugh, but because they are always there for me.

20 November 2011

making memories, part 2

So, I'm not usually good about making up posts that I couldn't do the day before, but I did yesterday's tonight, so have a look! Yesterday was so fun, I can't even touch upon all the fun we had in just one blog post.
The cool thing is, none of the people on the team are necessarily my bets friends forever. They are just a group of teens who swim. Some are good (one just signed with University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill) and some just started swimming. Some are old, some are young. Some of these people are good friends, and one of my best friends was on the team, but quit. And with new people coming every year, we are all strangers to each other.
But the best part is that we can bond not over just swimming, but at meals, in the hotel, on the bus, in the grass patch (a reference to the other post), and at swim team pizza parties.

You'd be surprised with the variety you can get in a group of people, and how bonding for 20 straight hours can really make you into good friends.

19 November 2011

making memories

So you see, yesterday I was at a swim meet in Tennessee and I could not blog, but luckily my dad made a placeholder blog post so that I could come and fill it in when I got back today.
So yesterday morning, at 4:07 in the morning, I woke up and realized I still had some time to sleep before we had to get up. So at 4:45, I got up and rushed to school to get there before 5:15. And then we got bagels! But after the bagel I fell asleep and surely we were there. At 7:45 we jumped in the water to warm up. Which is the most fun activity ever before 8 in the morning.

So anyways, I swam two events in the morning, one towards lunch, and another at night. But yesterday was such a fun day filled with so many memories.
First, I showered a record number of 4 times yesterday to keep the chlorine out of my hair. That was a blast. And at the end of the prelims, we all showered and there were probably 40 girls in the locker room, all wet and gross and hot. But some nice girl from another team that I don't even know let me share her shower, and a bunch of people from our team started Christmas caroling in the showers. Everyone else was rather scared. Then we attempted to not get wet as we put on clothes.
Then we went back to the hotel and in no time at all we were back to the pool for finals, shimmying into our wet swim suits again. But that wasn't a problem, at least I was swimming in the finals. So we all went down to the pool deck to do the cheer that the seniors made up at one kid's house at a swim team meeting and we were all laughing and sweating and probably looking especially attractive. And then we did the timeless "donuts and cheese" cheer, which really does not make sense nor relate to swimming, but it's a tradition, so we have to do it. And everyone was looking at us strangely. But the best part was when the sophomores were asking "wait, do we actually have donuts and cheese here?" Oh, sophomores..
So after finals, we found out that we came in 3rd our of 26 teams, and we went to CiCi's Pizza - at 9pm - for dinner. And the poor employees had to brace themselves for our insanity. All of the families in there were a little horrified when we stumbled into the restaurant like a herd of some hoofed animal and basically took over the restaurant. And later we played arcade games and got ridiculous prizes, and after we went back to the hotel at 10 and played games outside on this ghetto-ish, anthill-infested patch of grass next to the hotel. We played Red Rover and freze tag and basically we ran around like madmen until 11:30.
We pretty much stayed up from 4:30am to midnight - basically 20 hours of nonstop craziness and mayhem and fun - hanging out, swimming, cheering each other on, singing, dancing, eating, and making some pretty fabulous memories. I can't remember laughing so hard at a swim meet before. Good times, good times!
And all the while, we had parents creeping around taking pictures..let's just wait and see how attractive we look on the slideshow at the banquet..

18 November 2011

out of the box

Today a representative from the Rhode Island School of Design came to talk to people who wanted to apply there. And so I went. Plus, it was during math, which was totally OK with me.
So he was talking about the school and what they do there, and since this was the first art school I had been at an information session for, I didn't know what to expect. But he said that for starters they are looking for creative people. Which might seem obvious.
You can make a badger out of pinestraw and people would say it's creative. But there is also creativity in solving problems, coming up with alterations, and approaching art-making.
He was explaining some of the projects he had to do when he was at RISD. One of them was a team project where they had to build a boat out of cardboard, plastic, and duct tape. And then it had to float. Another project was to make a violin out of cardboard - without using glue or tape or staples, and it all had to be unfoldable into one piece. Another was drawing - in the shower. And my favorite one: doing a self-portrait and drawing what you feel - you touch your face and draw what you feel. Crazy!
It's so cool that they do that because it forces you to do things in an unconventional and different way. It's like opening a jar. What if you tried with your feet? Or you made a contraption to open it? It's just a different way of looking at life.

17 November 2011

the shortest and sweetest

It's important to have a longest blog post. But it's also important to have a shortest blog post. And this will be that very post. I must finish my wire chameleon for class and I need to study for 2 tests, therefore, I cannot write my normal wonderful-ness. I'll save that for tomorrow when I will have nothing to do. Oh wait, I'll just have to get up at 4:30 for a swim meet on Saturday. Awesome time!
But at least my life isn't as bad as Hamlet's at the end of the play. At least my cousin-turned-stepfather, mother, lover, and childhood friends were not poisoned/drowned/condemned/stabbed to death. That's a plus.
Ladies and gentlemen, the shortest blog post ever.

16 November 2011

when disaster strikes

So today I had a blog all planned out. I had a swim meet today, and I was either going to write about how winning is really great because it makes me happy and boosts my confidence levels, or about how winning isn't the only goal in life and it's just about having fun and doing your best.
But now I can't write about those things because I didn't have a meet today. It was canceled because of the tornado warning.
So here's how it all went down.
We were in lunch, but all the art kids stay in the art room and a few of my friends and some other people come and we all eat lunch in there. And then we work while everyone else talks. And so we were wiring away when this announcement came on and it said "we are now under a tornado watch" and we all just sat there and kept working and eating. But then our teacher came in and said we had to go out in the hallway as a safety measure.
So we went out in the hallway, and we ended up staying there for an hour. On the floor in the hallway with about 100 other kids from the hallway. And I had to leave for this swim meet at 2:15. And the time kept on passing by - 1:38. 1:42. 1:54. 2:02. And that's when they said we weren't leaving until 2:30.
A small panic attack ensued at this moment. My coach would blow up if I missed the meet. But then again, we were all going to, so it was OK. And then at 2:20, they said we could all leave and go to 6th period, or for me the swim meet. So I met my mom and she gave me my swim bag, and then we went to the coaches room. But then some kid said, "Oh yeah, the meet's canceled". And so it was. My mom had to come back with my backpack and it was a disaster. And then we waited a while and took the team picture and went back to class at 3:15. So no one went to the meet and no one got in trouble. It was a whirlwind day. Especially since it was canceled due to a tornado.

But it reminded me that people generally don't make plan Bs. Most people just assume plan A will work, and the possibility of error does not enter our minds.
But the weather is something we are all dependent on, no matter how much money you have or how smart you are. It's a unifying factor of humanity, and sometimes we forget that. Nothing you ever plan is 100% going to happen, and I think we need to remember how depsite the fact that we are all very influential, when it comes to us versus the earth, we are pretty powerless.

15 November 2011


For some reason, people think that getting things will help to increase happiness levels. I apologize for sounding technical and using words like "increasing" "decreasing" and "levels", because I just did a ton of AP Macro homework.
For example: If I get a dog my life will be happier. If I get a new wardrobe my life will be so much better. If I get the newest model of this BMW I will be the coolest cat in town and I will surely be happier.
But thinking about everyday, we don't normally get things everyday. We usually just do our daily routine. Which consists of mainly mundane things.
And when I think of the times I was happiest, it was definitely on holidays like Halloween, the Fourth of July, Easter, and Christmas (not because of getting presents, but because they are fun holidays to spend with family), when the seasons change (that's definitely the best - when it gets hot for summer, when the leaves turn colors in the fall, when the snow starts falling, when the weather gets warm again..), in school with my friends and going out to eat with my friends, swim meets (definitely a great, great time with tons of people I love), the summer vacation (especially in Nahant with the family and the beach), commiserating over school assignments with friends, and meeting up with family members from a while ago. That was the longest sentence ever.
But I wasn't happy because I had a ton of material items; I was happy because I was spending time with people that I love, doing things together.
And that's what happiness is all about - the memories of the mundane that always give you something to smile or cry or laugh about.
Wealth comes in the friends you have and the family that has been with you forever. And while you didn't buy them, they are the best things life has to offer.

14 November 2011

leave them at the door

Sometimes we wake up and we already know if it's going to be a good day or a bad day. Sometimes these determinants are extremely small things. Sometimes they are larger things, like falling down several flights of stairs.
The best way to have the best day is to forget about those things and pretend that each new day is a clean slate. Don't approach the day as if it will be wonderful, because something could go wrong, and then you are disappointing yourself even more. And if you go into the day thinking it's going to be horrible, you might miss out on the things that are great about the day.
Think of each day as a blank canvas. Leave all of your previous ideas and extraneous thoughts at the door and start anew. It will help you to clear your mind and focus on getting the best out of the day ahead of you.

13 November 2011

pullin' a polonious

I was thinking about things that make people happy - money, food, good fortune (those are some of the superficial ones) - and then I thought about the things that would make people unhappy - using these same dumb examples: lack of money, lack of food, and bad fortune.
And a lot of times, not having things is why people will become sad. People will dwell on the good things that they don't have - like a new car, or the best clothes, or a better TV - and not on the good things that they do have.
But judging on today's standards, and especially in this affluent country, it may seem like you always have the short end of the stick. But instead, I propose an alternative method.
Think the opposite: think about the bad things that you don't have.
It sounds pretty stupid at first.
But when you think about it, the list can get pretty long.
Most likely:
you aren't dying from malnutrition,
you aren't homeless,
you aren't plagued by severe medical problems that threaten your everyday life,
you aren't wondering when you will get your next meal,
you aren't living in a war zone,
you aren't wondering if the safety of you and your family is in danger,
you aren't worrying about half of the things that more than 80% of the world population worries about everyday, like food, the weather, clothes, sickness, housing, and violence.
You are all clever people - try pulling a Polonious. As you know in Hamlet, Polonious (father of Ophelia, Hamlet's lover) conjures up a plan to learn about the things his son Laertes is doing in France. So he tells Reynaldo to ask around start spreading rumors about Laertes, and depending on how they react, that would tell him what Laertes is doing (i.e. "Hey, did you see Laertes beat up that idle mob?" "No way! Laertes would never do that! He's at the library studying!" So we find out indirectly that he is a studious and good-doing person, by asking the opposite). Clever Polonious is at it again!
It's just like with happiness - instead of directly evaluating your life, trying doing it indirectly, by thinking of the opposite of what you are actually trying to find. And you may find that it works better than you planned. Although for Polonious, life takes a sharp turn for the worse when he is killed in Act 3. Hopefully you won't be "slain" in Act 3.