31 July 2011

make it work

Finally, we're home.
After more than 20 hours in the car, traveling up the East Coast and back, we're back in Georgia, almost unpacked and hot.
We knew we would be hot, because it's the ATL; "Hotlanta", as they say. But our air conditioner (central air) broke upstairs, and it's not doing so great in the rest of the house either. So while it's in the 90s outside, it's about 85 in here. It's not the most pleasant of feelings to be sweaty and gross, but it sort of reminded me of Costa Rica and what our rooms felt like.
But when things like this happen, you just have to, as Tim Gunn (you know, the guy from Project Runway) would say, make it work. You might not have everything you need to succeed in that moment, but you can use what you have to make it work.
And in the meantime, it makes us think about what really matters. Not like we can't live without AC, but we take it for granted. We assume that places are air-conditioned in restaurants, houses, and other buildings because we're accustomed to it. But if we take it away, we realize how much it impacts us. It's like that song, when they say "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone". It's true; we need to experience life without one of our amenities to realize how much it really matters to us.Check Spelling

30 July 2011

deeper thoughts (car blog 3)

Hello folks. Sorry for the delay, it was crazy yesterday. We had a late start and left MA later, but we still got to the hotel, albeit late.
It was a sad morning, leaving a place I love to go home to summer reading and the impending stresses of school. But if I lived here, I wouldn't probably love it as much. It would be normal rather than magical to wake up to the ocean everyday. I'm just glad that I can get to see it and enjoy it like we did these last two weeks.
While I was in the car, I was doing some thinking. After all, we're in there for 12 hours both days, so we have a lot of time on our hands. And I was thinking about my blog post for today. And I was thinking about what I'm writing and what I'm writing for. And I realized that happiness is not a feeling as much as it is a lifestyle and an attitude. You don't have to wait for a happy moment to come along, you can go make one. You can change the way you live so that every moment is a happy one. You can make sure nothing rains on your parade and that you look at things in light and not darkness.

29 July 2011


Today was a great way to spend the last day.
We went to Burlington and shopped at their enormous mall and we went everywhere - Anthropologie, Lego, Vera Bradley, Brookstone, Lucky - the list goes on (better at the list goes on to my page of phrases!). I got some great deals - $20 for 2 shirts (original prices: $40 and $60!) and we had great pizza in the food court.
After a great day at the mall, we came home and had my cousins, my nana, and my best friend for dinner and a small birthday party-ish thing for me. My mom and dad originally said that my birthday present was my Costa Rica trip, but my mom also got me some special things at the mall.
She got me a special book all about beach / ocean memories (it was sort of a memoir) and reading it reminded me so much of our life here at our beach house. It's such a great lifestyle.
She also got me something that I've wanted for a while: a Pandora bracelet. It's a pink one, more of a muted rose color, in honor of the Susan G. Komen breast cancer research foundation. And on it was a rose bead charm, my favorite one from the catalogue. It was a such a special present since my mom picked it out and it was exactly the kind I imagined I would have. It's so special and I just love it. Presents like that are so sentimental and that's what life is all about. My aunt and cousins also gave me some money for my camera purchase and they got me a musical Phineas and Ferb card, which makes everything that much better. What's better than P&F? Maybe milkshakes, but that's it.
My nana gave me money too, and my best friend got me a gift card to one of my favorite stores and some special things she got on her vacation to St. Thomas. They were all so thoughtful, I truly loved them.
But now comes the time when we say goodbye. I remember in my Oxford blogs I wrote about how in The Parent Trap, that depressing monotone song that goes "every time we say goodbye I die a little . . ." comes on, and it's raining and depressing and everyone is sad and crying. That's what tomorrow is going to be. It's the same, the car gets packed and we drive away, tears in our eyes - well, mine at least - back home, where we get jolted back into reality and realize school's in 2 weeks and summer reading isn't even close to being started. Let alone done.
But things are more special when you have to say goodbye to them. Can't wait for tomorrow.

28 July 2011

everyone's a winner

I've been keeping a bucket list while I'm here so that I can do all the fun things we do when we're here and not forget anything. So tonight we went mini golfing at this place in Salem. We've been here countless times with cousins, by ourselves, for our birthdays and for other people's birthdays. It's even better now because they have go carts and what not. It's a party.
So the first best part is that we got another round of carts for free (it was an accident) and some fool's cart was broken, and we got extra laps because of the delay. It was great. I'm actually a pretty good driver on those things. If only real driving had 3 different straps holding you in and tires and cushions lining the roads. Then maybe I'd consider driving.
Afterwards we all went golfing, including my parents who usually hold the sweatshirts and the hats and the pencils and the scorecards, messily scribbling illegible scrawl on the cards as we frolic about and prance nonchalantly from hole to hole. My mom and dad traded off and each did nine holes. So we started off pretty good, but it was hard because of the wind, so we all did pretty bad. I was pretty sure I lost. But the ironic, twist of fate, rare, only-in-movies moment happened: me, my brother, and my sister all tied. We all got 61 strokes, and my mom and dad's team effort got them 67. Can you believe that? It's pretty rare. But tonight, everyone was a winner. You know, like in elementary school talent shows when we are all waiting to see the kid who jumped rope and pogo sticked simultaneously win, and then the principal comes out and praises everyone and says everyone's a winner? Yeah, kind of like that. But sometimes it's fun to have everyone win, and have everyone feel special.
And before all of these shenanigans, we went to downtown Marblehead and went to the little shops and looked around. It's almost like Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard - tons of places to look around, street vendors, tiny stores with fun trinkets - all only 15 minutes away. I was shocked - I had never seen anything this nice around here. I never knew that you could find amazing little streets like this if you just looked right outside where you are living. You don't need to go far to find treasures.

27 July 2011

old ones, new ones

One of my favorite things to do is reminisce. A lot of times I revive myself with the energy from memories of the past. I almost live vicariously through a past version of my own self. I always say "remember when we all went to that place and we--" and then I get cut off because someone finishes the story, usually because I have already told it.
My best friend's birthday was a few days ago, and since she was away, we had her over at the beach today for fun and games and then we went to dinner and ice cream. It was most wonderful, but one of the best parts was when we went back to her house and walked around the familiar rooms, laughing at things we did before and laughing at things from our childhood. I pretty much lived in her house a lot of the time, and she lived at mine for a lot of the time too, and we share so many memories from those times. I've known her for almost 13 years; we met when I was 4. We've had countless sleepovers and parties, days spent together at the beach, on vacation, in the snow, at my house, at her house.
And when I moved, we changed, but not in a bad way. We have even better stories to remember and memories to cherish. Life's about remembering the small things, but at the same time seizing the moment to make even more memories. Hold onto the past, but don't let it take over right now. Because it's the "right now" moments that make memories.

26 July 2011

give it a chance

Greetings from the beach!
Sometimes, we think we are sort of invincible. Like I think that I can't get sunburned. But sometimes we're wrong, and we get sunburned. Sometimes I think I should put sunscreen on, but then I just decide not to. Sometimes some people never learn.
This morning it was cold and cloudy, which was disappointing because me and 4 of our cousins were here, as well as my aunt and uncle, and we wouldn't be able to enjoy the beach.
But the thing is, even though we were the only ones on the beach, we stayed. And we waited it out, and eventually the sun came out and no clouds were in the sky. It turned into an amazing beach day. A lot of times if things aren't going as planned, we are too quick to judge them and we don't give anything a chance. Like last night at the baseball game when it rained - we could have left, but we all stayed and it turned out to be great. You just have to wait a little, and things can turn themselves around. Sometimes that's the best thing to do.
And after the beach we went out to one of my favorite restaurants, Bertucci's, and had a great time. Everyday here just seems to get better than the one before, which seems hard to do. And I have a hard time picking out the best parts of the day because every part is so great to me. Everything leaves me feeling content and eager for the next day. But arrivederci until tomorrow!

25 July 2011

crazy games and kid menus

Sometimes people think there is an exception to my blogging, like if I'm tired I won't do it, or if I'm at a hotel I won't do it. The only exception is if there is no Internet coverage, in which case I can't post anything. But I do post every night.
Including tonight, even though it's 1:30 in the morning and I'd much rather be asleep right now. The reason for my tardiness is because we went to the Red Sox game tonight at Fenway, one of my favorite places on earth. Baseball - actually the Red Sox and Fenway - sum up the epitome of happiness. The organ music, the action, the overpriced food, the yelling and laughing - it's all part of the wonderful experience.
Right now, the game is still going on - they're in the 14th inning as I blog - and we left at the 10th. Who knows how much longer it will continue . .
But every part of the game was fun, especially the people there - such dedicated fans who waited 2 extra hours in the cold rain waiting for their team to play, despite a rain delay. Fans who came from all over, clad in Red Sox spirit wear, cheering on everyone on the team even if they didn't play well.
Like they say, there's nothing like a Boston sports fan. Especially the Sox.
In addition, we went bowling today, and I won one of the games, which is incredibly surprising because I never win any games that involve throwing, pitching, hitting or catching a ball. I got 86 points. With bumpers. I play training wheels bowling. But I was still satisfied with my win.
And before that, we went to Friendly's - what an adventure that was! They thought I was a kid - surprise, surprise - and I got a 12 and under menu. Which also means I got a cool straw that changes colors - yes, changes colors - when you drink through it. What other place can change the color of plastic with liquid? It's amazing. I even got a Fribble - a real throwback, I hadn't had one since I was 3 - and it was just as good as I remember.

24 July 2011


Hello to all of my friends!
Today was an utterly satisfying day. My mom's side of the family had a family reunion with all of my aunts and uncles and cousins - even the baby cousins! We all had a great time playing croquet and catching up on each other's lives.
We had fancy catered food from a fancy place and it was all quite delicious, but the best part was definitely when we were all outside together after dinner, taking pictures, rolling around in the grass, and laughing. I brought my camera out and we were all snapping away at each other having a great time.
And when we got inside, my aunt showed me pictures she took of me with my baby cousin on my back, and we were both smiling and laughing. It was one of my favorite pictures ever because it wasn't a line-up-in-a-row-and-smile-like-you're-having-a-blast picture; it was a candid - a snap from the day, one one-thousandth of a second that spoke infinite amounts about the joy we shared in each other's company. It was such a great day - hearing my cousin's innocent laughing while he rode on my back around the yard, listening to the stories people told around the kitchen table, and playing games together like the good old days.
I flipped through the pictures I took, and when I looked in the pictures and saw the happy faces and the smiles, I knew that this was real emotion - it wasn't faked for a picture, it was captured magically. And that's the best part of all.
And also, I bought something cool today: a ukulele! I don't know how to play, but I'll learn. Then I can blog about it! But for now, I'm going to sleep, and then off to practice chords. Happy summer!

23 July 2011

pools, pictures, and people

Good evening folks! I hope you all are enjoying your summers as I am.
After breakfast, it started raining. That completely foiled my plan to go to the wharf and take pictures. But luckily, the rain simmered down and I went to the wharf.
I went on the rocks and took some shots, but be warned if you try this: the wet rocks or the dark rocks are always slippery. Hold onto dry ones and be careful. But after that I wandered off onto some private property rocks, but they overlooked the ocean, which is obviously not private. So I sort of hovered over public property. No big deal. I got some amazing shots because the sun was coming out, but the dark cloudy sky blended with the blue of the ocean and it looked completely surreal. That's the best part about photography; it's always inspiring because the subjects are endless.
Then we visited my great aunt and they had a pool (so many great aunts with pools!) and we stayed awhile. My brother is sleeping over there actually. It was so much fun and we had a great time talking, swimming, and catching up on things. And the weather took a turn for the better which made everything better.
Sometimes it's nice to have the newest phone, or the next technological "it" thing, but really, nothing beats human interactions - friends, family, neighbors, and just other people (like the sketchy wharf-goers). Every moment we have here is special, and we can't forget that.
I'd also like to leave with another thought in mind. In case you don't know, there was a big bombing / shooting in Norway on a small island (don't know the details). About 90 people died, all of them young, and the shooting was based on extreme contempt towards Muslim migration and other ideas. The suspect, who admitted to the insidious crimes, was a conservative who apparently was a Christian.
Regardless of religion, people are people. We aren't different on the inside; Muslims don't have different organs than Christians, Jews don't have different blood than Hindus. We look different on the outside, but no one could tell the difference between us if we were all blind. Basically, looks don't matter.

But fundamentally, they do. We judge people, we know off the bat if we like someone or don't. This applies to groups too. For various reasons, justified or not, we have predispositions to not like someone or a group. We might know nothing about them. But we still judge.
We can't ever stop ourselves from judging others. But we can change the way we judge people. We can base our judgements off of facts, not assumptions or generalizations, and we can be more open to change and new ideas; ones that may challenge our perceptions and values.
The sad thing is, it takes a tragedy to make us realize these things; and some don't even see past it and realize what can come out of something like this. How many more tragedies will it take to knock some sense into us?

22 July 2011

shiver me timbers

The locals are saying that the water is warm. But a cold front is coming in and it's rather cold. But that doesn't stop the die-hard wharf jumpers. Even if they get water in their ears and freeze.
One of the best things in the world is jumping off the wharf. It's a wonderful adrenaline rush. And there's nothing like it in the world. Jumping off the cliff in Costa Rica was different, and so is jumping off the high dive at the pool. But there's something magical about jumping off the wharf into the dark and seemingly endless abyss of dynamic ocean. It's almost like you are being enulfed by it, but then you come out victorious. It's so much fun, and it's even more fun because it's cold. If it was warm, it wouldn't seem as difficult to do it.
And we can't forget the colorful scene at the wharf. All of the interesting people that go down there and the special ways they express themselves verbally. Yeah . .

You can't get anything like that anywhere else, which makes it so special. The people, the adrenaline rush, the freezing waters - it's a package deal, and it's amazing. You can't help but feel so utterly enthused when jumping off the wharf. Even if it is cold.

21 July 2011

sorry folks

The wifi is a little spotty; sorry folks, a full post will come soon.

20 July 2011

deep waters and science

You might think by the title of this post that it was a bad, intense day. It was appropriately named "deep waters" because that's what we were in today. We went to my great aunt's pool in Beverly and they had a diving board and a deep end for treading water. Which we did. We had a treading contest and I won. By 2 whole hours. I could have gone longer, and I'm not kidding, and I do want to try going for a few hours. Yeah.
And then we went out to the greatest place ever for dinner - Polcari's - and then we played some insanely intense games of Othello with the cousins. You know it's intense when all you can hear are the flipping of the game pieces. Freaky quiet..
And now our other cousins are sleeping over, and in fact they are actually sleeping right now. I'm up with my pa, who's watching the Tour I believe. It's been a great time, just hanging out and having a fun time, doing fun things and occasionally worrying about school.
When we were in the car, my dad was talking about the advancement of aging-reversal technology. Scientists are working on slowing the process of mitosis so that cells can live longer and thus yield a greater life. We've already had a growth in centenarians in the past 20-something years, so I guess evolution has been working some magic too.
But nowadays, it's not can we do it, it's should we do it. There are too many people saying no to this research for all sorts of reasons, but one of them is something not political, medical, or even moral, really. If we could reverse aging and make it so that humans could live for 150 years or more, then we would naturally not take everything as seriously as before because we have so much longer to live (excluding any extraneous unaccounted-f0r data, like accidental deaths). If we knew we had 60 more years that normal life expectancy to do things, we wouldn't stop to smell the roses nearly as often.
I once heard that things are most beautiful when time is fleeting. We can't always know when our time will come, but we can always remind ourselves to treat everything like it will only happen once. Knowing that we don't have forever makes things seem even more amazing than they are.

19 July 2011

croquet, cage bingo, and salsa

You learn something new everyday. And today I learned how to play croquet, and I also learned that I have some pretty legit skills at it.
I was playing at my grandparents' house about an hour away from where we are staying on the beach. Most folks my age would think spending time with their grandparents would be a dreadful time. It's quite the opposite with mine. They go on hikes and bike rides and they read fancy magazines and newspapers and write books and paint things for art shows. They're overachievers. One time last Christmas they watched us when my parents went out for a few days and we had a hard time keeping up with their activities - power walks, educational games, the works.
So we went to their house and we played croquet for a while in the front yard, and although no one could beat Grandpa, we got pretty good.
I also got some great pictures of their flowers and plants around their house with my swanky professional camera. Afterwards we went to a friend of theirs in a retirement community sort of place. We talked about college - and in case you don't know, if you are a senior in high school, the topics of discussion revolve around (a) college, (b) standardized tests (SAT, ACT, AP), and (c) wisdom teeth. We left out the wisdom teeth discussion - save it for a rainy day - and we were talking to their friend who was a lot of fun actually. She said that somehow I will end up in the right place and everything will fall into place.
Sometimes we have to trust the situation and hope that everything turns out well, if not as planned. You can't plan anything with any degree of absolute certainty in life. You just have to let it flow and know that you can make it great no matter what.
We came back and I did something I had been waiting to do all day - summer reading. Today's menu consisted of AP bio chapter 2 (review of basic chemistry and physics!) and a side dish of study guide filling in.
I read a few pages before losing interest, then we played cage bingo - the loud circular structure that contains tumbling red balls with numbers and letters on them. There really isn't anything better than cage bingo.
Except for Othello, an addicting strategic game of epic proportions. Here's a handy link to buy Othello, if this casual review entices you.
Then one of my grandparent's friends from Cambridge came over for dinner. She has a PhD already but she is here doing extra research (clearly an overachiever). She leaves tomorrow, but she came to share a great dinner with us before parting.
And since we're such a striking bunch, we went out with a bang: I gave a brief salsa lesson in the kitchen and showed them some of the basic steps. I'm more of a freestyle dancer, but I can throw down something cool if I have it in me. I did tonight.
Today was just such a simply fun day. It left me fully contented. And now I lay me down to sleep, with happy thoughts in my head.

18 July 2011


Today I got an early start, but it was quite unintended. I woke up at 5:30 and after checking the nothingness that happens on Facebook and Twitter, I walked upstairs at 6 and read 40-something pages in my AP biology summer reading book. Until 7. Then I found a Dunkin Donuts bag on the kitchen counter and in it was a chocolate glazed donut. My absolute favorite kind. So, while no one was awake, I sat in a corner, at 6 in the morning, covertly eating a donut by myself, stopping every so often to make sure no one was coming downstairs to catch me.
After my donut, I went back to sleep - engaging in rather lardish activities here on vacation - and at 8 am we were all up, including my best friend who slept over.
We went up to the overpriced convenience store and tried to find the right newspaper out of the overwhelming variety - New York Post, Wall Street Journal (not happening), Daily Item, among others. I was looking for the Globe, but it was all out, and we apparently got the wrong newspaper. One more consumer dollar devoured by the hungry commercial society in which we live.
After buying the wrong newspaper, we came back and went out for a bike ride around town. I wanted to go to the cemetery and water the two plots we visit but we made a few pit stops along the way, like the playground and the wharf (of course).
When we got to the cemetery, I started to take some pictures with my camera and we found my dad's dad and my dad's grandfather's stones in the front of the cemetery, overlooking Short Beach. The flowers were dead and sad looking, so we watered both of them, only it went to waste because it rained in the afternoon. I was glad to see that people were mowing the lawn and that other people were there to fix up the plots of their loved ones. It's important because it's a physical, human, and material way of showing that we love and remember someone who passed.

When we came back, it rained for the afternoon, and we all - me, my sister, my brother, my best friend, and my two cousins - painted at the bar in the kitchen. We were at it for hours too. Sitting, talking, listening, and having fun. I actually made a picture of birds, but they all interlock with each other. Gotta see it to understand it. It could become a new stationery design.
After dinner we went over to Swampscott and got ice cream and sat next to this goose statue (yet another item that completes my bird motif). Me and my sister identified dog breeds that passed. We must have looked absolutely absurd. But sometimes it's the simple things that count most.
By the way, birds relate to this post in many ways: the bird painting I made today, the seagulls I photographed today, and the "early bird" thing. I was a crazy kid.

17 July 2011


Here it is folks, the 200th blog post! Now officially less than halfway there.
Today we got to do some of the things that I have waited years to do, one of which being a kayak in the ocean and of course, wharf jumping.
The last time we wharf-jumped was when the wharf was old, rotting, and dilapidated, and probably not passing any health regulations. But last summer they redid it, and now the house is new, the planks are new, and even the ladders are coated with new paint. I was thoroughly impressed.
And what we do, the kids here in town and kids from surrounding towns, we jump off this wharf into the freezing waters below. We all do it, and it's a wonderfully fun thing to do. It's a big milestone to do it for the first time, and inaugural jumps are almost unanimously applauded by the other bystanders.
In fact, my best friend came today, and she did a back flip off the wharf and started a trend. And her 5-year-old sister became the youngest to date of Nahant wharf jumpers. My cousin jumped off for the first time as well, and we had a great swim back to shore, about a half mile. It's a great workout for the arms and legs too, because of the currents and such.
But what other person would think jumping off a filthy boat dock into freezing ocean water, filled with salt and seaweed, is fun? Or swimming in that water to shore through red tide? But it's about the memories from year to year that we keep with us and keep alive every year. And memories are what keep us alive and connect all of us.
By the way, a wharf is a boat dock, in case you were not au courant. Now you are.

16 July 2011

back home (car-blog 2)

Sorry guys, no Wifi at our Massachusetts house yet so I'm blogging from my phone. I already wrote a post on my iPad so I just need to cut and paste it tomorrow. Technology - gotta love it!

15 July 2011

scarves, car mechanics, and youthful antics (aka car blog 1)

Hello folks! Welcome to my first ever car blog! I'm starting now at 3pm because I'm not leavin' this car for a while and I have nothing to do. I am a little limited for car entertainment because I feel nasty when I read or play video games in the car, and also it's too bumpy to write anything either. I either lie in an uncomfortable position, listen to music, host dance parties, or talk endlessly to people who'd rather not listen.
But anyway, I decided to start now. I'm doing this from my phone actually, but the battery might run out, so I'll finish later.
And now it's later. In fact, 12:02 later. Just thought you'd like to know that that was the first blog post I have ever done on a non-computer device. Pretty rad. TQ4H is going mobile! In case you didn't know, that's a new acronym for my blog. It's not a chemistry formula, as might be a common misconception.
This morning at 7:30 we left the house to drop off our precious cat at the vets and I cried all the way home. I'm going to miss that precious cat (whom I call Precious, among other things). I've never left him for this long, and it's hard to leave someone that you love so much. But I guess it happens to all of us at some time, so we just have to accept it.
We left the house later than we hoped, and then we realized - I was actually not a part of this realization - that the car battery was almost dead. Isn't that great news to hear before leaving on a Transatlantic journey. So we drove for an hour then found a car mechanic and we all got out for 30 minutes to have them fix it.
I was wearing this scarf I bought in Oxford, and surprisingly it was only 65 degrees today, so I wasn't sweating in it. So me and my brother played useless, waste-of-time games while we waited and we had a ridiculous amount of fun even though we were in a car mechanic in the middle of nowhere and we had a scarf for entertainment. We were having fun, and fun comes in all shapes.
Plus, these are the things that you look back on and say "hey, remember when we were driving home and we had to stop at that mechanic?" And in this family we do a lot of remembering and reminiscing. We live in the past a lot, and sometimes we end up in tears and barely breathing from laughter and memories.
We laughed our way through the car trip, until the end when we went to McDonalds and got depressed by the general depressing nature of news. But these are the good old days, as they say, and adventures are not just about the destination; they're also about the journey itself.

14 July 2011

darling's demise and my new surprise

When someone says that they have good news and bad news, it's customary to say the good news first and the bad news last. That way people aren't completely upset at the end.
We don't work the way normal people do here at the blog. We're going to do things the opposite way. So, the bad news. I was working on Darling today, and all of a sudden one of the building walls completely collapsed. The end. It was over. I burst into tears and everything got blurry and one cannot sculpt with blurred vision.
But then I picked up the water and my cup of slip, and I started repairing Darling's building. After an hour, it was finally back to normal, and I had finished the sculpture. At last.
And now onto the good news: I had been wanting this camera for a while, and even though I have one, this one was like an upgrade. And since I want to do photography as perhaps a career, learning about different types of cameras is very important. And so today, I got that camera. My dad picked me up from the tutor, and there it was in the backseat. I have never been so happy. The day before we leave town, and my dad bought me the camera. I am technically going to pay for it though, if I get money for my birthday.
So after we got home and I put on the lens and read a minimal amount of instructions, I went outside and started to take pictures of things. Trees, flowers, grass, the sky, people, people jumping off swings, and anything else I could find. I had so much fun trying out different modes on the camera and seeing what effects it had on the picture. It's cool to see how something so small, well pretty small, can take such an amazing picture that is better than what human eyes can see. A feast for the eyes.
I completely did not realize how epic the title of today's post rhymes. It's pretty supernatural.

13 July 2011


I can't believe I'm only 4 posts away from 200! Seems like the 100th post was just hier..
This morning I got up early and walked around the neighborhood, and then at 9am I worked on my sculpture until noon. It's now almost complete. All I need to do now are the tedious suction cups. The 5mm diameter suction cups on each tentacle..I'll be there for a while..
But on Friday morning we will begin our road trip to BOSTON! 12 hours on day one, 11 hours on day two. It's a great time.
So my sculpture. I decided to name it. Well, just the octopus. Her name is Darling. I don't know why I named her darling, but that's her name. She's climbing up a foot long building and it looks smashing. Except it's not done. But it will be!
I'm just really happy with how it's coming out and how close it looks to what I wanted it to be. In my mind, it's easy for zany images to get in there, but actually turning them into something you can physically touch is more difficult.
I also realized that some of my "techniques" didn't work. I really should have made them both separately, and then connected them, instead of keeping them connected the whole time. But what's done is done, and there isn't anything I can really do about it now. But I'll keep a note of it for next time.
Life's like that too. We make a mistake, and then we remember never to do it again. Like not bringing new shoes to Costa Rica. And not wearing pants in Costa Rica.
But life's about learning. That's your art life lesson for today.

12 July 2011

the happiness playlist

I should change my middle name to "Productive". Because that is just what I am. I am halfway done with constructing my octopus building sculpture, and I've been working on AP biology summer work too. In fact, today is my third blog entry because I updated 2 of the Costa Rica ones today. They're wicked long, so you might need to carve out some time for those.
Lats night when I was bored and trying to fall asleep I was playing songs through my head. So I came up with a happiness playlist while I was trying to go to sleep. Here it is:

Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin
The Sound of Sunshine - Michael Franti & Spearhead
L-O-V-E - Nat King Cole
Upside Down - Jack Johnson
Lean on Me - Bill Withers
Hey Jude - Paul McCartney
Mon pays - Faudel
Everybody - Ingrid Michaelson
Banana Pancakes - Jack Johnson

There are others that I'm probably forgetting. Some of them you know, and some you probably don't. If you don't know them, look them up on YouTube and listen because these are the songs that lift you up on a bad day and carry you through tough times. They also are happy and upbeat and wonderful. I prescribe them if you're down in the dumps.

11 July 2011

simple joys

You won't believe what happened.
I won a contest!
I really did win it.

And I won a special prize along with my contest victory.

It's an iTunes gift card for $25. It's not a very extensive prize.

There weren't that many people who entered this contest. I was one of them. So it was not extremely difficult to win, but I'm still glad that I did.

Because winning is a wonderful chance to be recognized by people and to show them that you do matter, that your talents are great.

In fact, it was a photo contest and I submitted the photo I was talking about the other day. Here it is:

This was at the beach the day we went with the families on home visits. And I snapped this candid of her running and having fun. And it won. There was another person's photo that was taken with a very fancy camera with a special lens, and it was staged and taken many times over again.

But mine was a quick snap, and there was only one of them.

And it was raw emotion, not staged and posed. This was an actual glimpse at the childlike wonder of this family. And it was beautiful.

The thing is, it's not the camera that makes the photo; it's the photographer. And the best shots come from spontaneity. It's much like life in that way. A lot of times perfect things - well, things we want to be perfect - don't end up as we have planned or aren't as great as we hoped. But sometimes the random things, like singing the Beatles in our summer house at night, or jumping off the cliff in Costa Rica, are the most beautiful of all.

10 July 2011


The worst part about deadlines is that they don't seem to be a problem until you realize that you only have 5 weeks to read 4 books (and annotate them!), 4 chapters of a textbook, and make 3 sculptures.
So I started to work on my first sculpture two days ago, and it is actually almost finished. I've made a box and a sphere. But it's going to become a building and an octopus. Just not yet. Today I bonded the two pots I made yesterday, and I put up all 4 walls of the building. Which is surprising because I was afraid they would be too weak (I only have 25 pounds of clay, so I wanted to conserve it). But lucky for me, they stayed up and all I have to do now is put a roof on it and decorate it. Of course.
But as I was thinking about it, my initial vision changed. I was going to have the octopus wrapping around the building, but I decided that it was also going to penetrate the building. And my original motivation for making the sculpture completely changed - from oppression to man vs. nature.
And that's what happens in life too. We have an idea, and we want everything to go as planned. But ideas are dynamic; they are always being shaped by new perspectives and new thoughts on a subject.
The problem is that sometimes we get so stuck on our vision of something that we don't want to change it at all, for fear of the unknown and for the sake of respect to the original idea. It's sort of a "that's not what I planned" thing. But in life, sometimes we think that we want something, and really we don't.

For example, every kid, including the one writing this blog, has ideas about what he or she wants when he or she grows up. When I was like 3, my favorite toy was this Fisher-Price plastic purple wrench from a plastic tool box. Now, it's probably my iPad or something of the sort. When I was in seventh grade my favorite car was a Lamborghini. Now it's a Smart car (the little ones from Europe that are really adorable). When I was around 6 my favorite bands were NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, perhaps even Britney Spears and Aaron Carter. Now it's more like Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Ingrid Michaelson, and the like. When I was 3 (a lot of my stories begin like this) I almost drowned and I decided - I vowed - that I would never go to the bottom step of the pool steps until I was 16. I'm 16 now, and I'm on a swim team. And I have been for 3 years. I swim in oceans, pools, and rivers. I jump off of cliffs too, as you found out from the post I updated.
The thing is, sometimes things change, and we can't try to stop things from changing. We just have to go with it. Life is unpredictable, and we can't try to make sense of it.

09 July 2011

rides, biology, and freedom

I just finished a post from 25 June, so have a look. It was an amazing day!
So today is dedicated to 2 things, both of them unrelated. Perhaps they might be, in some sort of convoluted way, but I am too tired to think of it.
Scratch that, 3 things. First I want to talk about my lovely bike ride this morning. Me and my dad got up at 8am to ride the old wheels around our little town. I wish I brought my camera, but I don't have a neck strap, so it would awkwardly dangle and hit the handlebars with each tire revolution. I am hoping to get a new SLR before we leave for Massachusetts since I probably want to be a National Geographic photographer, and I need to get experience with an SLR manual.
Next, I decided that since time is running out, I better get a move on. I started my free sculpture for AP 3D art, but it's nowhere near done, and I still have 2 more to do, in addition to finishing 4 books and reading 4 chapters of a textbook. Which I did today.
So I was reading the AP biology textbook today and I was reading about systems. It sounds boring. But it's interesting because it said that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. So you can have a bunch of parts, and they might be where they need to be, but something might not work. For a scientific example, take the human brain. Say you get a brain injury. All of your parts are still there, but you might not be able to think properly. And another one: you might have made all-As and have good extracurricular activities and still not make it into an Ivy.

A lot of times, we compartmentalize things. We think that taking things in steps is better for our understanding of a thing. But really, it's the whole that matters. Think of the whole. I do that more often because of art, because everything in art is looked at as a whole and not in pieces, but if we try to see the whole picture instead of pieces, we can understand the world better, ourselves better, and try to achieve contentment.
And lastly, I wanted to recognize South Sudan today. At midnight local time (Sudan local time), today, 9 July 2011, South Sudan became a country. Ever since the region was first occupied in 1956, they had been at war, the north and the south. The wars finally ended in 2005 with a peace agreement, but tensions were not settled yet.
In January there was a referendum about whether or not the south should secede. The result was 99% in favor of secession. And it happened. And today they gained their freedom and independence from the north, and became their own country.
There will be problems with the north again most likely, and there are definitely going to be social, economic, and other problems that the new country will face. But right now, they are enjoying their hard-earned freedom. Welcome to the world. Where hopefully, we can make it safe for democracy.

08 July 2011

sorry for the slacking

So I have been slacking a lot in everything, including updating the Costa Rica blogs. But don't you worry. I will finish them before next week when I go away again. I am excited to share them with you, so when I do update one, I'll tell you and then direct you to it. That's just the kind of person I am.
But last night I couldn't sleep so I decided to come up with a list of things that I say a little bit too much on this here blog. But I will continue to say them, so don't think that this list will go anytime soon.

So is just such a great general transitional word. It's also great for starting conversations that may or may not be uncomfortable. I can use it in place of awkward ones you learn in school like "next" and "following this". Plus, so is a hipster word. And hipsters are "in" right now. So also successfully changes a subject, closes a subject off from discussion, and adds a general comfortable and casual vibe to a conversation. Wonder why I use so so much (ha - a double-so!)

I go on a lot of tangents on this blog. First I will start talking about happiness then veer off into movie theatre butter or emaciated cows. But that's what people do too; we say things and then think of completely unrelated things and then blurt them out. The best catch-all, one-stop shop term for getting you back on track is anyways. It's pretty versatile. If you want to start talking about what you were originally talking about again, you can't just start talking about something or say something weird like "warning: I will now get back on track" or "hey, remember what I was talking about 5 paragraphs ago? I'm going to continue talking about that now." You have to just say anyways.

"if you think about it"
We do a lot of thinking here on the blog. And I always say if you think about it. If you don't think about it, well, that's neither here nor there.

But I really have no good reason for saying it. Maybe it sounds better than just spewing out information. Because when I get all philosophical, it's hard to stop. And people aren't robots who randomly spew foolishness. We have to engage and remember that we are trying to keep people's attentions. And if you think about it does that. It also encourages you to think about it. Whatever it may be.

Well there you go. I have to get some sleep because me and my dad are going on a bike ride tomorrow morning. I get to wear my new blue shoes! Later folks!

07 July 2011

laugh a little, take 2

190th post! And it seems like just yesterday I was making a big fuss about the 100th . .
Sometimes some of my friends will ask me how to write things, like a good story or a dialogue or something of the sort. Even an essay. And here is a trick to remember: if you are physically writing, don't erase anything, and if you are typing, don't delete anything. When I write these little posts here, sometimes - actually most of the time - I will think something in my head, then write it, then realize it's not what I meant to say, then I will just keep writing. I actually just did it when I said "sometimes - actually most of the time". It makes it seem more conversational, especially with a dialogue, like in a fiction piece.
Sometimes people ask me who reads my blog. And the answer is pretty much no one. Except for my mom, my dad (sometimes), and my grandma, who right now is in the wilderness where there is no Wifi (go figure).
By the way, don't just never erase / delete; there is one instance in which it's ok, like typos and spelling errors. I hope you don't make typos when you handwrite though, like writing "hte" instead of "the", because that would mean you're sort of a robot.
So there you go.
Well, let's get down to business.
So sometimes, it's good to act like a freak because it shows that you can have fun. Like tonight when I was making stupid faces in the mirror. And then I took a picture of my new fish, Rami. And then my sister came in and before you know it, we were all posing and looking ridiculous and laughing our heads off. but sort of quietly because it was 11pm, but it was still fun.
It's important to act ridiculous sometimes because if you are always a cold, serious person then you aren't really living life. Because people need to be happy, laughing is a great way to do it.

06 July 2011

pure life

I wanted to show you a picture of a little girl from the school in La Cruz. I took it when we went to the beach with the families.
Here is the link (the picture adding feature isn't working).
I posted it to Facebook under the name "pure life". That is the literal meaning of the popular Costa Rican phrase pura vida, which is a greeting, a good-bye, or a "what's up". And I called it that because of the simple spontaneity of the picture itself. It was amazing and beautiful to see people having such fun doing something so simple.
And then we flash back to America.
Usually American family outings at the beach are hectic and stressful. There are millions of things running through our minds. Did we bring enough sunscreen? Do we have the cooler with all the snacks and drinks? How about towels? Did we remember to bring the goggles so water doesn't get in our eyes? What about the surf boards and the inner tubes and the toys?
And we usually spend all of our time caught up in these things that we forget to have fun. We're too worried about everything - is the umbrella covering all of our stuff? Is sand blowing into our towels? - that we don't know how to let loose and enjoy.
But on this beach, everyone, including the moms (fully clothed too) got in the water and had fun with their kids.
It was the purest form of life I had seen. Kids appreciating what they have and having an amazing time with friends and family.

05 July 2011

futile efforts to find perfection

Most of the time, things don't turn out like we planned. Sometimes they turn out better, and a lot of times they turn out worse. And while sometimes we hope to enter things with an open mind, it can be really hard to do when you expect great things from yourself and other people.
So me and my mom were driving to math tutoring. It's one of my summer activities and on occasions it can be fun. So I decided to check if the ACT scores were up, and they were. It was a bad decision. Since the scores were atrocious. Well, atrocious for what I wanted to get. It was at least 700 times worse than I expected and hoped. So instead of going to math tutoring, we sat in the parking lot and I cried. And then we left since I looked really horrible and was in no state to do math.
And the whole way home I felt like a loser. I still sort of feel like a loser, actually. I know that I am smart, it's just that things like the SAT, the subject tests, multiple choice tests, and evidently the ACT are harder for me than any of my friends, which is disappointing and annoying. And they aren't good enough to get into any school I want to go to.
But if the odds are against you, you just have to remember that whatever people say, it's what you truly are that matters. I would say that it's what you think that matters, but a lot of times what we think of ourselves is based on what the media says: what colleges say are good scores, what Hollywood says is beautiful, and what TV shows say is talented.
It's hard to have confidence in yourself when you compare yourself to other people, but when you think about it, you can't compare yourself to other people. It's like comparing a car and a tiger. They are too different to compare. You can't say a tiger is better than a car, and you can't say a car is better than a tiger. They are different. And while we are all people, we are all completely different subspecies of ourselves. All we can really compare are our biological characteristics. Not our strengths and weaknesses. So when you think about it, who's to say what's perfect and what's not? What is perfect anyway? Because I hear it doesn't exist. And if it doesn't then why do we strive so hard to be better than other people?
You are your own person. I'm my own person. Everyone has their own soul that has certain gifts and talents. And no one can tell me, you, or anyone that they aren't good enough. Because perfect doesn't exist and you should be proud of who you are. Because at the end of the day, you aren't the people who you envy; you're you, and you can't be happy if you are trying to be what someone else is. We will never find perfection. But perfect is boring. And what we have inside of us is so much greater.

04 July 2011


A long time ago, people who came here decided to free themselves from European reign. And they did. Which is why we celebrate the fourth of July, the day that the Declaration was approved and we officially became our own country.
But today, it's a day of grilled, processed meats, cheap glow sticks, and fireworks. Not that these things are bad - in fact this is one of my favorite holidays. But it's hard to remember that so long ago people had a vision for future generations and that we have lost sight of it. Sometimes we forget what we are celebrating because we get caught up in the hype - in fact, there is an app for organizing your Independence Day activities, available for BlackBerry. Not a joke. So before I recount our holiday experience, I wanted to remember the reason we call this a holiday. Because there are some people today who are not free and who are oppressed in various ways. And we aren't, and we don't usually stop to think about those who are and how lucky we are. As we acknowledged in Costa Rica, we didn't ask to be born into relatively affluent homes in America, nor did the kids from La Cruz ask to be born into much poorer homes with little opportunity. But we do have the power to acknowledge what we have and remember it.
So normally on this day we go to Nahant, Massachusetts for fireworks, Dunkin Donuts, and "the races", which if you don't know are this semi-lame but sort of fun tradition that we do simply because of its sentimentality. But today, like last year as well, we went down town to the American Legion and watched as they set off fireworks down there. It is actually quite a good show. Until the thunder came, and the lightning. And luckily we had brought a tent because then the floodgates opened and it was pouring. Everyone left, and our family was the only one left outside at 8 o'clock at night. I was pretty sure we were just going to leave and have no fireworks, which made me even more upset about not being home.
But then an hour later, in the rain, the first fireworks started. And they were great. We all sat huddled in the cold rain under the not-really-impervious tent, watching the beautiful fireworks, and their grey carcases as they drifted along the sky after amazing us with their spontaneity. It was a little fourth of July miracle - from the Founding Fathers and America.

03 July 2011

free items and benadryl anti-itch spray

Sorry I have not updated my travel posts yet, we've just been having a wonderful time today!
You know the people who always win lotteries and raffles? And win great prizes? I would not be one of those people. But today, good things did come to our unlucky family.
But not without something unlucky. You see, my phone broke the second I got to Costa Rica (ok, not really the second, but close). I couldn't do anything except charge my phone, check the time, and make an emergency call to 911 in the US. Which is helpful when I'm not even in the country. So we went to AT&T today to fix the SIM card - the root of these shenanigans - and I realized I was eligible to get a new phone (!) and I had been eyeing this certain one for a while, so I got it! And the good part was that it was only $50, and a year ago it was almost $200. But the best part was that we got it - wait for it - for FREE! A free phone for me! Wow, rhyming and alliteration in one sentence. That's impressive rhetoric.
I picked out a Blackberry Torch - a white one, to be original - and you might ask why I didn't get an iPhone, and it was one, to be original, and two because I like pressing buttons. But I love it and I wouldn't trade it for any other.
Then we went to the shoe store to replace my beaten-up, mud-clad, manure-encrusted Livestrong sneakers, and as much as I loved them, they had to go. But we got even better ones that are blue and green. Two bold colors in one shoe. That's like having a milkshake and pasta in one meal. But in footwear form.
But it gets better! See, my family got me two little fishes for my tank because for about 6 months it's just been a tank mindlessly filtering water that housed moldy, decaying coral. But they died before I got back. So we went to the pet store and got a new one for only 16 cents! Talk about a bargain pet. His name is Rami, named after one of my favorite designers from Project Runway who sadly got eliminated but still went to fashion week. He (we're talking about my fish now) can also be called Vida, from pura vida, a Costa Rican phrase, and because Viva La Vida was playing when we left the store.
So that's the story of my wonderful free items - the shoes weren't free, but on sale - but I haven't told you the other half. So I have these horrible scars from bug bites all over my legs and I sort of look like a leper. It is really disgusting, and not a very good look. But my mom bought Benadryl anti-itch healing spray, and I have been using it all day. It's working wonders. The itching almost stops and the scars are going away.
So that's the final story of the day. Tomorrow hopefully I will have posted some Costa Rica posts so keep looking!

02 July 2011

reverse culture shock

Finally I get to blog for real tonight, because now I have a steady source of Wifi that will not go away in a couple of minutes! I just got back from Costa Rica tonight, and I am going to update the placeholder posts tomorrow, since I know that some are waiting with bated breath to read the things I have to share.
The best part about coming back was the reverse culture shock. The "woah!" at simple things that normally didn't catch my attention. For example, walking into the air-conditioned airport. That was a crazy one. First of all, there is no AC anywhere in La Cruz except for our bus, and a fine layer of sweat, dust, and general grime rested nicely over the most superficial layer of epidermis most of the time. It was cool to not sweat for a while. Until I remembered we had landed in Georgia, which is not exactly the Arctic Circle.
Another thing was technology. I was completely deprived for my time away because one, the Wifi did not work, and two, Wifi aside, my phone broke (not an Internet problem) and I couldn't call, text, email, or anything. Except charge it. And check the time. Those are always fun alternatives to texting and calling.
But I really didn't need them. I didn't need to text people, nor did I need to see that nothing really happens when you go on Facebook once a week rather than every 5 minutes. I was actually living life the way people should live it - in the moment, worrying about things that are happening, and not getting caught up in gossipy details.
Also, showering was something really nice that I forgot about. It was hot and the pressure was perfect. It was utter bliss.
It's really easy to be happy when you think about all the simple things that we do that are so much better quality than what other people have. I thought that coming back to the US would be really intense because of the things I had missed - but it was a perfect wake-up call to all the things I never appreciated before.