Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review 2014

I started writing this intro a few nights ago as I was mourning the state of my college apps. Now that I'm basically done (just a few more edits to go and then a submission) I'm reading it again and it seems quite funny. Here it is:

"It's just past midnight as I'm writing this, and I'm honestly about to cry because salad is so delicious and I'm so emotionally overwhelmed. Ive submitted 5/7 schools on Common App, and I'm putting the finishing touches on the last two."

I can't believe it's the last day of the year already.

Ok, ok fine, I wrote this on January 1, 2015 and scheduled it to be published December 31, 2014, but it's the thought that counts. I've been busy with college apps. Give me a break.

It's been a rough year. Maybe that's putting it too lightly. It's been a year of misery, desperation, depression, and pain. But it's also been a year of self-awareness, hope, resilience, and friendship. I've survived, with the help of friends and mentors at school, and I could not be more thankful. It's all going to be downhill from here. Things are going to be different next year. I can feel it. 2014 is already starting to all feel like just a bad dream. But before we move on, let's take a look back at:

Ten Lessons I Learned / Things That Happened in 2014

»Finding a Hobby
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm so glad that I started blogging. It's a very effective form of cathartic relief. I've learned a lot this year in regards to how to blog and web design. I'm still working towards my ideal as a blogger, but it's interesting how this has turned out to be a very enjoyable thing in my life that I kept up.

»Take Care of Yourself
I've become much more aware of my mental health this year. I've let myself have time to recover, and I've tried to be kind to myself about certain shortcomings. I've also cut ties with people that I don't want to be heavily emotionally invested in, because that is not my nature. Unplugging allowed me to stay more connected with the people that mattered and minimize distractions, and though there are drawbacks, I feel that it has benefitted me in the long run.

»Understand Who You Are
This year, I fully embraced the fact that I am an introvert. I no longer try to keep up social pretenses and be who I am not, and I've never been happier. Whether it's introversion and extroversion, or sexual preference and gender identity, or anything else, stay true to yourself and don't try to be someone you're not, because it won't make you happy.

»Reach Out, People Care
Everyone's suffering in this world. Everyone needs a helping hand now and then. The meanest people could have the deepest sadness. Reach out to people, but also let others reach out to you. Your friends care for you as much as you care for your friends. It's ok to be vulnerable. If you don't feel comfortable talking about personal issues to people you see every day, talk to a counselor or teacher at school. They are there to help you, and they care about your wellbeing.

»There are People You Can't Help
Each person has a unique set of experiences that influence who they are. It is impossible for anyone to full understand someone else's perspective, because no two people have gone through the exact same thing. With that said, it is important to understand that some people just can't be changed, that they don't want help, that they don't believe they're doing something wrong. If you come across a person like that, just remember that you are not responsible for making them see the error of their ways. It's not your fault or lack of effort if they don't want to help themselves.

»Junior Prom
I'm not a huge fan of school activities or dances (Homecoming was horrible) but Junior Prom exceeded all expectations! I made a promise to myself before going in that I was going to enjoy myself and not let my happiness depend on anyone else, friend or foe. I ended up having a great time, one of the best nights of the year! What I learned from this is that it's good to get out of your comfort zone, but by all means, go ahead and mentally prepare yourself to handle the situation in a way that you are comfortable with.

»Got a Tablet!
Which allowed me to join journalism and finish my summer art! Art is a great means of cathartic relief, but paper and pencils or paint aren't always readily available. In that case, a tablet is a worthwhile investment.

»Got a Tumblr!
Which got boring pretty quickly, but for some reason I just keep going back. Sometimes you'll meet the most genuinely kind people, borderline saints, who are willing to hear you rant and give advice back. There are wonderful things on there, and as long as you keep yourself in check, Tumblr is a relatively harmless distraction.

»Two Hospitalizations
These weren't very fun. The most disappointing part was the reaction from the parentals. You'd think that if your child has gone to the hospital twice for depression and suicidal thoughts, you might be doing something wrong and it needs to change, but I guess my mental health isn't as important as your perverse need to be right.

This year, I made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and solidified relationships with people who really care about me. In no particular order, thank you Diana, Wei-Wei, Karan, Sonia, Rachel, Rosa, Phoebe, Melia, and Kylie (and anyone else I may have forgotten to mention! You're no less special to me, but it's 2AM and I'm still brain-fried from doing college apps, so please forgive me. Leave a comment and I'll put you in) for being so supportive and kind to me through a difficult time, and I hope that one day I'll be able to pay back the favor if need be. You guys are the best thing that's happened to me all year, and I love you so much!

Here's to an excellent 2015!

In honor of maintaining my no-resolutions resolution, here are a few things I look forward to this year:
»Starting a Youtube channel (be on the lookout for that!)
»Gaining independence
»Going to college
»Spending more time with friends
»Eating well, exercising, sleeping more, and enjoying life in general
»Being/becoming the person I want to be

Heads up, I will also be changing my blog URL within the next month or so. The new URL will be (if nothing changes between now and then). I've always wanted an alter ego, and I also want more anonymity online, so I can start branching out and getting more involved with the blogging community. Also, names hold a lot of meaning and significance, so taking a new name is kind of like a fresh start. This will be a personal identity that is all mine, that I created, and that I have full control over what I want to do. I'm very excited about it. More information and the story behind it to come soon!

Thanks for reading, and I hope 2015 will be your best year yet! ◊

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Larry Almost Died!

Merry Christmas everyone!

You know the classic Christmas story of the family with a pet who gets sick on Christmas and they forgo presents in order to pay for pet treatment? Well, that happened to Larry last night (without the forgoing presents part because we don't get presents anyway). It was so terrifying, but I'm glad I was able to catch it in time to get him some help.

I had noticed that he wasn't eating or drinking, and he had been vomiting and leaving little accidents everywhere around the house. When I checked more closely I noticed that he was actually having bloody discharge from his urethra. I called the pet hospital, but everywhere was closed for Christmas. We ended up taking him to the emergency hospital in order to give him treatment. They gave us a very dire warning: Larry potentially has a blockage and needs to be catheterized or he will die a very painful death from his bladder bursting.

The problem was that the treatment they were recommending cost nearly $2000, which we couldn't afford because my dad's father was dying of cancer in China. The only other option they offered was euthanasia, to spare him the pain. In my opinion, the costs are ridiculously overinflated. The Prazosin tablets cost $21 on the bill, but looking online, they were only 50¢. Still, if it was an emergency, it had to be done. My mom wanted to just take him home and let him die.

Obviously, I wasn't going to let this happen, so after an eternity of fierce arguing, with both the momster and the vet, I was able to wrangle a half treatment, where they would catheterize him for two hours as an emergency drainage. This wouldn't solve the problem entirely, as there would be a 50% chance of the blockage reforming, but I was willing to take it if it was going to be better than a 0% chance at home. It was going to be about $450, which the momster still wasn't keen to accept, even if I was going to pay for it myself out of savings, but in the end, she finally accepted.

After the two hour catheterization, Larry was considerably more perked up. The vet showed us a sample of his urine and it was completely bloody, but they had drained all of that out and pumped in some saline fluid to keep him clean. We took him home and kept him in the bathroom so he could get some rest and try using the litter box in privacy. At first, he could only go a few drops at a time, but it was better than nothing. I did a bit of research online and read the vet report, and it seems that he has idiopathic cystitis (inflammation and a small plug) rather than a blockage, which means he has a higher chance of recovery. Overnight, he went a moderate amount, enough to be considered well and safe, and I have never been so happy to smell cat pee.

Here is Larry, looking as grumpy as usual, which is a good thing. I'm so glad he's better now, but I'm still monitoring him on the hour to make sure he's comfortable and not getting anything else stuck near his urethra. Luckily, with the lifestyle changes, chances of recurrence are far less. We also found out that he's only 2.5 years old, just a baby, and not the 4 year old middle-aged cat we thought he was (he's rescued from another family who was moving, so we didn't have a lot of information).

It's so sad that so much money is necessary to keep a beloved family member alive and healthy, and the ones who can't afford it can only opt for a humane euthanasia. If anything is to be learned from this, it's that it is so important to keep a close eye on a pet, and any behavior changes should be immediately investigated (oftentimes, if you call the vet office and describe the symptoms, they can tell you if it's normal or needs attention). If something is wrong, get help right away, in order to save your pet some pain and you the money.

Have a wonderful holiday season everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I've Been Reading Too Much James Dashner

I've been reading too much James Dashner. (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD)

He's the author of the Maze Runner series, the three books of which I read all in one nine hour sitting. That was probably not good for my brain. After I finished all of them at 3am I sat around and cried for a bit because I didn't know what I was doing with my life. (Read my reaction here.)

To be honest, I don't really read these books for the writing. It's a bit elementary and bland at times, but there are phrases that are truly satisfying to read, where the words just flow and feeling is directly transmitted through the text. Most other times though, I read for the plot, and my brain fills in the rest. The ideas and plot, especially the endings in certain books, makes everything worth it.

It started after I watched the Maze Runner movie. There were quite a few differences from the book, but since I read it so long ago, it didn't bother me as much. I did really like how they illustrated the maze, as it looked very similar to the cover of the book, but wasn't a huge fan of the Griever redesign. Somehow, as I was searching related topics, I came across a fourth book in the series. "Yay, maybe this will clear up that weird abrupt ending to The Death Cure," I thought. Turns out, it was a prequel.

It's called The Kill Order. I was quite curious as to how the whole decision to unleash a zombie-fying (it's essentially a zombie story, even though they're never called zombies) virus upon a civilian population to save everyone potentially worked out, and even though the book explains it, it still doesn't make sense logically (or at least logically in hindsight, or whatever other observing force would call it).

The backstory is that catastrophic solar flares destroy most of the world, baking the land and causing shortages in resources. In an attempt to save half the population instead of everyone slowing starving out, resulting in the extinction of the human race, the world's governing body decides to release a fast acting, contagious, brain eating virus onto small pockets of survivors in and around the Appalachian mountains.

The virus works at first, but surprise surprise, it mutates (seriously, did not one person on that governing committee wonder, "Hmmm the sun has just released massive amounts of radiation everywhere, and radiation causes mutations in DNA. Are we sure these killer viruses haven't mutated to an uncontrollable level?" Like honestly, how did that never occur). The virus initially killed people quickly and quietly, but the mutated version becomes increasingly slow manifesting and slow acting, allowing it to permeate further populations, as carriers without symptoms travel to more civilized areas looking for help. Infected people die more slowly as well, becoming crazed animalistic cannibals, essentially, zombies.

The story follows a group of characters living in one of the mountain settlements, trying to survive, until they are shot by the darts containing the virus. Most die immediately, but some take longer. One of the group is an ex-soldier, so he and another guy take their weapons and board the aircraft that the people shooting things were on. They manage to bring it down and find a tablet device on board that shows GPS records of the aircraft's travels. The paths converge at a single location, which they go with the rest of the group to find.

Along the way, they find a small girl from another group. She was shot as well, but her settlement was attacked months ago, yet she isn't dead or sick, or have any other symptoms for that matter. They take her along because they think she's important. Along the journey, the other man who was with the ex-soldier starts having dreams or flashbacks of how it got to this point (this man is the narrator, and the story is told from a first person limited point of view). The main group is separated when they split up to investigate a fire from another group. The narrator screws up (I started to hate him because he was making so many stupid mistakes) and he and the ex-soldier must continue without the other three, including the child. When they finally reach the aircraft's origin, they find that the scientists and personnel inside are also infected. They manage to fight most of them off and steal the remaining aircraft in order to head for the nearby city, which is where they believe the other three have been taken.

They get to the city, fight more zombies, but the main characters are starting to show symptoms as well. They know they must get the girl to safety (in this case, Alaska, which was less affected by the solar flares and is the seat of the remaining government) or she will be eaten alive. Since this story is set in the future, teleportation basically exists, so with their last bits of strength, they send the girl through the teleportation device with a note saying to use the girl for research because she is immune, which brings us to the Maze Runner where they experiment on the children to find a cure for the virus. The last chapter narrates the scene right before a small child Thomas (protagonist of the Maze Runner series) is picked up by government officials because he is immune and his parents are infected.

And that's basically it. Most of the book is just the characters fighting off various groups of crazy infected people, whether other settlers or scientists.

Nevertheless, James Dashner books have a way of unnerving me, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. I sat in my bed terrified for a good five or ten minutes before trying to message my friends to make sure that everything was still reality, or something else. All was well, until I read the first book, The Eye of Minds, of his next series, The Mortality Doctrine. And wow, did this one really screw me up.

Here's where I reiterate my point of reading for the plot, not the writing. My brain glazes over most of the words in most books anyway, and constructs a vivid mental setting where I am directly observing the characters from behind. This makes it all the more terrifying because when I'm so concentrated on reading, it does seem like imagination is reality. This series is about a teen's experience in a world where virtual reality is the norm, and people use machines to put themselves into games to play. The skilled ones are able to manipulate the code of the digital world to do what they want.

Please for the love of everything that is good, do not read what comes next if you have not read The Eye of Minds yet. It's such a wonderful plot and I could not bear to spoil it for anyone.

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Don't Know What I'm Feeling

I don't know what's going on right now.

Everything feels so confusing. Feels like impending doom.

Normally that's what I would use to describe a panic attack, but it's all the time now.

Sometimes I just get so disillusioned with everything and start wondering what's the real point of it all.

That's generally not good.

I'm so so so so so so tired. I'm tired of college apps. I'm tired of trying to maintain friendships. The rewards are great and all but they take so much effort, and I don't have the energy for everything right now. I'm just so exhausted of doing nothing. Nothing's happening. That's the key. I feel like I'm putting in so much effort and I'm not getting anything out of it.

Again and again, this blog proves to be the place where I can think. I come in here, feeling so worried and confused and frightened and sad and I spill it out onto the screen.

Journals don't quite work for me anymore. Writing takes too much effort too. I wish it didn't. I'm so tired.

Once I work it out, I feel so much better. I'm exhausted of putting in effort and not having results. I wish I could sleep for a while, sleep for a month or two, a few years maybe, until I know what the results are. What is the point of all of this. What should I do about it.

I wish someone could just make it all okay. I wish I could just disappear and have someone else take over my life for a little bit. I don't know.

Here's a Tumblr quote. I like it a lot, but it's not making me feel better like I thought it would. I wish I could just be content with my life. But I'm not. And I don't know what would make it better. ◊

Saturday, December 20, 2014

#obsessed: Percy Jackson's Greek Gods – Rick Riordan

If you have not yet read Blood of Olympus, WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Firstly, I'm not doing a review of Blood of Olympus because I don't have a copy of it with me right now. I borrowed it from a friend on her nook and read it in one day, but was less than satisfied with the ending, so I do have a few things to say.

1) Solangelo seemed a little bit forced, as Will Solace didn't have much backstory. He just seemed like a character plucked out of nowhere to give Nico a happy ending. The relationship seems a bit ironic, because Nico represents shadows and Will is the son of the sun god. I'm still happy for them, especially at the end, when Nico goes to tell Percy.

2) I need more closure about Lelypso (aka Caleo, whatever you prefer)! Do they make it off the island? How goes their repair shop? Do the rest of the seven all kill him when they find out he's still alive? I truly admire Rick's ability to stay true to the prophecy, but not quite lose a character, and then leave the reader feeling like they've lost the character anyway (if that makes any sense).

3) I miss Percabeth! They had some good moments, but there wasn't as much depth. I miss Percy's sense of humor! I know this isn't his series, but his dry wit was the thing that kept me reading when I first started the books. However, it seems like Rick might have used up all that wit writing Greek Gods, but the result is, Greek Gods is wonderful!

On to Percy Jackson's Greek Gods...

Basically, if the ending of Blood of Olympus left you less than 100% satisfied, read this book! It's a beautiful, large, fully illustrated retelling of the myths of the Greek gods through Percy's tone and perspective. There are lots of pictures and laugh out loud jokes on every page, even the table of contents!

It's illustrated by John Rocco, but trust me, the art is a lot better than the official character portraits he drew for the previous series. It isn't comprehensive of all Greek myths; for the most part it just goes over the main twelve gods. Overall it's a great book that will fill the void in your heart of knowing that there might never ever be another Percy Jackson story. I think that there should be another short story collection like The Demigod Diaries or The Demigod Files to wrap up what happened with Leo and Nico and everyone, but in case there isn't, you need this book. You can read it over and over and over, and it will never get old, and someday, you can read all the short stories nightly to your children as well. I want to buy it for myself, the hardback is about $15, so I might get it for Christmas. ◊

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Messy Mental Bookshelf

I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I don't know where to go, can't do it alone
I've tried and I don't know why

I'm not an obsessed Sherlock fan, but I do ship Adlock (I think they're intellectual complements to each other). On Friday, I discovered an excellent Tumblr comic covering their interactions after the Karachi adventure, but was quite disappointed to see the artist on hiatus after about 3/4 of the comic.

The subject of mind palaces popped up again after reading it. The concept is something that has always fascinated me. But whether it's Sherlock's or Magnussen's Appledore, I can't seem to figure out how they did it. I would imagine that they would just sit down one day for a few hours and construct a mental structure to hold all of their knowledge, but it seems like so much intangible work. I can organize a room pretty easily, but even then it's hard to make sense of where everything needs to go. I can't figure out how to take intangible information in my head and put it in one place.

In contrast to a "mind palace" per se, my thoughts are all crammed in to a messy mental bookshelf, full of books and strings and statuettes. The image above really doesn't do it justice, there would have to be 12x as much stuff to really illustrate the intensity of all the information running around in my head. I say a messy mental bookshelf because if you've ever tried to pull one thing out of an overcrowded bookshelf, you've probably experienced an avalanche of things coming out with that one thing you wanted. It's a bit like that with my thoughts. When I stumble upon a subject, that one thing reminds me of a barrage of related topics, and it takes forever to work through each of them and put it away (otherwise it bothers me endlessly just laying there).

Speaking of avalanches (here we go, I mention avalanches once and it brings me to a whole bunch of tangents) I feel like I'm in the middle of three right now. I imagine my current journey in life as climbing up a large snowy mountain, but I have three rocky avalanches coming at me from three directions: college apps, finals/grades, and health.

In regards to college apps, some decisions have come back for acquaintances at school. I've heard about tons of deferrals and a few rejections and acceptances. I don't know how I feel about college anymore. I wish I was already in college and away from all these passive aggressive brats (I don't know how else to describe them without profanity) at school and at home. After discussing it with a few college freshmen, I don't know what kind of college I want anymore, but I do have a vague idea of who I want to be in college. All I really want is an environment, campus, and community that supports that idea of self. College is such a huge, looming, imminent thing that is exhilarating and terrifying all at once. I want to be at college already, but I don't know if I'm actually ready for it. And this is all very confusing to me.

At the moment what I need most is focus and dark chocolate. Diana went to England for an interview for Oxford; she bought all her Christmas gifts for her friends in London. I had asked for an advent calendar, but apparently they're all sold out. She did get me a Terry's chocolate orange, which was an excellent choice, but it's milk chocolate. While it is delicious, it's not as effective as dark chocolate for focusing and studying.

It all ends here. There is no satisfying, concluding ending. This semester will leave me hanging in all three aspects of life I am trying to deal with. I won't be getting admissions decisions on my college apps, I won't know what grades I end up with in certain classes, and I don't know what the state of my health will be. I'm the type of person who likes closure, everything wrapped up with a nice little bow or put back into its place, but it's just not happening and it's making me so anxious. This is the root of the frustration and paralyzation, and I'm so glad I have this blog to think on and talk it out. Even if I don't know how to solve this problem yet, at least I know what the problem is. Not knowing how to get somewhere is a solvable problem, but not knowing where to go is hanging in a limbo, with the urge to do something, but no idea what that something is. That is the rock that needs to be smashed, this is direction to go in, and once I get there, I know my options to find ways to deal with it. And that gives me a little bit of relief. ◊

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tips For Being More Productive

All I can think about lately are college apps: due soon, financial aid, interviews, acceptances and rejections. New problems are coming up all the time in speech and debate and journalism, and upcoming finals have me constantly on the edge about grades. My eyes are getting blurrier, and I've been finding myself falling asleep in class and losing coordination. I've been making a huge effort to become reduce procrastination, such as quitting all social media, but mostly I need to manage time better so I'm not so tired out from simply stressing about doing things all the time.

A lot of the time, why "just doing it" doesn't work for me is because of anxiety. It's really stupid, because anxiety in front of a crowd or during an argument is perfectly understandable, but when it comes out of nowhere and my hands shake so I can't hold a pencil, and my breathing gets more and more shallow until I'm barely taking in any air at all, and my heart rate escalates to 120BPM (I counted it once, and normally I'm at about 65 BPM, so definitely not good) it just gets to a point where trying to do anything is frustrating. I've gotten better at managing it, but a large part of it still comes from stress, so I want to make sure that I'm doing everything in my power to keep it under control.

The following are a few tips and notes I've collected over the year on how to be productive. Hopefully by writing them down and keeping them at the top of the page of this blog for a while, I can be reminded of them too, now and in the future, so I can stay on top of things and not get mired in work. It's even hard for me to follow these tips (I'm like Alice in Wonderland, "I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it") but after a while, they could simply become better habits. I've probably written a version of this post already, but these things change all the time for me, so I might as well put some more out there.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Decision Fatigue

Somewhere along the line of my late night internet trawling, I came across an article about why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same outfit every day.

He makes it clear that he wants to "make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve the community," and it's a trend that is seen frequently in successful people. Steve Jobs sported his trademark black turtleneck until the day he died. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings demonstrated the advantages of making few decisions in an interview with the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

It's a phenomenon known as "decision fatigue." Though the psychology of it is extremely complex, the basic gist is that making decisions, no matter how small, saps willpower and choice making abilities. Publications such as the New York Times and Slate Magazine have all written articles about it, and it has many implications throughout daily life.

A common problem I face in the morning is deciding what to wear. For some reason it stresses me out to no end, when nothing seems right for the weather, or looks frumpy. I've noticed that I'm happiest throughout the day when I can just grab one of three v-neck tees that I own and throw it on without a second thought.

Eventually, when I'm no longer around so many people that see me every day, or not in a job that requires strict business dress, I want to try this theory out for myself. I plan to buy fifteen of the same v-neck tees from De Masqe in a few different colors, plus one of those oversized cozy all-purpose thrift store jackets. I also want five-ish pairs of plain pants, with at least one dark wash and one light wash soft jeggings in the mix. These are the very basics, and it's really all I need. The quantity is so I can still wash a full load, or have backup in case some get damaged. I can vary up the shoes, because shoe choice actually affects body heat a lot (think flip flops vs. Uggs on the same outfit). Hopefully, with a plainer wardrobe, I won't have as much stress about picking out clothes every morning. It will also probably be a lot cheaper, so I can spend more on cool accessories, and be able to splurge more on special occasion clothing. ◊

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair

I think I'm getting a day of silence to work today. My mother and brother are finishing up their last yells in the house before leaving for a basketball game. It's frustrating, and knowing that I should care  about these disagreements is making me irritated, because I really don't want to. I'm done with it.

I've gotten a decent amount of work done, or I have the potential to get it done right away. I woke up and did some thinking, had a stroke of inspiration, and then became grumpy because I didn't want to get out of bed to write it down. But then I realized that my computer was right next to me; I had been working last night until the minute that I had fallen asleep. I wrote it all down – I talk about the introvert of colleges – and I'm going to flesh out that idea in sentences. Get that draft done, send it to friend to edit. Lather, rinse, and repeat for eight other schools, thirty-two other essays or questions. Words are wonderful, especially in my head, but sometimes they get stuck on the way to the paper, and I'm not sure how to work out that jam. Let if flow, let it flow, let it flow.

I think I should try writing on paper again. It helps me think. The ink glides on a smooth, white surface, the effort translates into lines, which translates into communication. Just ideas to begin with, in my head, but now they are out in the world. Everything is interesting when you think about it enough. That's what people are lacking. They don't think until they stop and take drugs to make them think, and then they think the drugs are good. That doesn't make sense to me. Just use your head, it's not that hard.

A lot of things don't make sense to me. I don't understand why they're necessary. I don't understand why I don't understand it either. None of this is making much sense to me, so it's probably not making sense to you if you're reading it, but that's ok. I like thinking like this. It's a funny way of working things out.

My friend told me that I have an arbitrary yet concrete sense of morals. He said it wasn't a good thing, which, in a way, it isn't. My life is the strangest of contradictions. Most people say that it's not possible to be artistic/creative and analytical at the same time, yet it makes perfect sense to me. I am a dreamer and idealist, yet a cynical realist as well. You need creativity to create innovative, effective solutions for a problem. They are not mutually exclusive to me, but for most, it's one or the other. What a boring way to view the world, in binaries. When things are mixed, that's when they are interesting.

"CASSIO: Not tonight, good Iago. I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking. I could well wish courtesy would invent some other custom of entertainment." I agree. I could say "I concur" but that seems unnecessarily pretentious. Complications are not my style. If something can be understood efficiently in simple language, why not? Language is rich, words are delicious in my head, to think and speak, but if you ate a nine course meal every day of your life, it wouldn't be very pleasant. It takes too much time to prepare, consume, and digest. I don't have the luxury of time.

I'm sitting here on the corner of my bed in sweatpants. It's an old pair, with an ink stain on the left thigh. The last time I put these on, the hems dragged along the floor. They fit perfectly now, but they've lost a bit of charm – still comfortable though.

The counselor came yesterday and did some things to try to help, but we agreed that it's not really going to change at home. I find my parents to be very immature in the way they act and interact, and it was a surreal moment when I realized that. I still don't know what to make of it. I do know that talking to the counselor is very helpful, and I think I'm more comfortable being myself in this situation, because I am able to make a stand against what is wrong, even if there isn't any thing I can really do about it.

The counselor said I should be more spontaneous. I live a very structured and organized life (or I try to) because there are so many things I can't control, and taking control over the things I can control keeps me sane. But spontaneity is good too. The other day, my friend asked if I wanted to go to get ice cream. I wanted to say yes, but I was terrified of two things. One, society is very frightening. I don't know what's going to happen out there. But two, I was afraid of how my parents would react if they came home and I was missing. They complain that I don't have friends or a social life, but when I go out, they complain that I'm not focused on my work. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. I can't let that stop me, because then I'll become an agoraphobic cat lady at age 30. To be honest, I'd be okay with that, but it's not the ideal life I want. It took a while to convince myself, but I did go and get ice cream. Mint chocolate chip is delicious.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair.

But remember Rapunzel, you can't always keep it down and let others climb on it, otherwise what are you going to do for yourself?

It's almost time for lunch. I have chili and cheese, but no tortillas. I have bacon, but no eggs. I have baked salmon, but no rice. We have food all the time, but there's nothing to eat.

I've gotten a lot of work done for the middle school speech program. Everything is all sorted out into a near perfect system. I feel very accomplished, but things get thrown at me out of nowhere, and then I have to react quickly. NJFL memberships have doubled in price. Luckily, I'm a pretty good problem solver. This one is an easy fix.

My room is still in disarray. Two posters, covered in to-do lists, have fallen down. I think I might just throw them out. It's time to have a fresh start. But not everything can be started over.

I've got a ton of notes down for what I'm going to do in the future. They say "Do it now!" but it's actually not possible. Society has constructs, there are limits based on time, another human construct, and as a member of society, I must obey those constructs. But I came to the important realization that behind every system, there are people. Anything can change, because people can change. I can fight the system, I can fight the system, I can fight the system, as long as I'm willing to talk to people. This is important. Behind all systems, there are people.

There is so much meaning in words. I can say something, and the way I say it says something about what I'm saying as well. Everything makes sense if you think it about enough. I just don't have the luxury of time. ◊

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Quintessential Introvert

I started writing this blog post in the extemp prep room at the Santa Clara University Invitational tournament as I wait two hours for the next round to start. Extemp is a solitary event in speech and debate, where the speaker isn't even in the same room as the other competitors at the same time. I am far away from the noisy Benson Center and also a distance away from other people in the prep room. For some this might be a punishment, being so far away from other people for such a long period of time, but I'm ok with it. In fact, I enjoy it. I am an introvert.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#obsessed: Cuddle Fuddle – Passion Pit

Sometimes the best pick-me-up is a happy, uplifting song. I asked Karrot for music recommendations, something energizing so I could get work done, and he recommended Passion Pit again. I think I had heard a few of their songs before, but didn't like it too much. In desperation, I put all of it on shuffle, and after a few songs, this one came up.

It's so wonderful and glowy and bright and bouncy, and while listening to it, I just got up and started doing bio homework. I didn't finish it, but it put me in a really good mood, and I went to sleep feeling happy. ◊

Monday, December 1, 2014

December & College App Life Update

It's officially December, somehow. November went way too quickly and with the insanity of the UC app and having to get it done in three days before my dad left for a trip (he's back now) I completely neglected the Common App. I made a pact with a friend to stay after school for the next two weeks as late as we can to work on apps on campus in order to be more productive, and while doing that, I discovered that the Stanford app with an art supplement was due today. For most other colleges that I am applying to, the art supplement is due up to a week or a month after the actual application, but in the case of Stanford, the art supplement makes the app due even earlier. Since I only had nine hours left in the day at that point to finish the entire Common App and the art supplement, I opted to drop that section of the app, saving me a lot of trouble. I still felt terrible about it though, because by helping other people with their apps, I had almost horribly messed up on my own. After talking to quite a few people and the art teacher, I felt better knowing that very people would actually submit an art supplement. I'm considering dropping the supplement for quite a few of my other schools as well. My art isn't quite "phenomenal" yet.

Yesterday I did get quite a lot of work done in a chocolate fueled fervor, but I'm running low on dark chocolate again, and I'm back to being constantly agitated by the sheer amount of stuff I need to do. College apps are killing me right now and anyone who has been around me for the last couple of days can attest to how brain fried and tired and frustrated I am. I've quit Facebook and Tumblr in an attempt to minimize distractions and get work done, but for some reason I'd rather stare at a wall for five hours than write an essay. I just can't write for some reason. What I find has helped for me in getting ideas is to do art while having a computer document open. It helps me think and move past the aching terror or a blank, white screen. I've generated enough ideas to have a rough idea of what I want to talk about in each essay, so hopefully over the next two weeks I can get everything done.

A combination of college apps and general things in life has kept my anxiety up as well. It doesn't help that Larry has gotten the idea of midnight snacks. He regularly wakes me up at the wee hours of the morning to ask for food, by meowing and scratching the door. I've tried ignoring it, but it doesn't stop. I don't know what's wrong, because he's clearly not underfed, but he always wants to eat. He's adorable, but I really need my sleep and he really needs to lose weight. He also has fleas, and as I am especially attractive to bugs for some reason, I am covered in at least twenty itchy bites all over my body. However he seems quite popular on this blog, so here are some pictures of him after the break.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lush Bath Bomb Dragon's Egg

Wheeeeeeee lookie I finally got a Lush Bath Bomb!!! So exciting!

Some college friends were back to visit for Thanksgiving break, so a few other friends and I went with them to the mall to watch a movie and just hang out. We watched Big Hero 6, a Disney movie (plot: no, feels: yes) and then went shopping for a whole bunch of random things. One friend wanted to test out some concealer so we hit Sephora, which is right across from Lush.

Now, I've always always always wanted to try a bath bomb from Lush. Whenever I go into that store I get so excited I start shaking (the employees always get very nervous and ask if I'm ok). I first learned about their products from blogger and Youtuber Zoella (my blogging inspiration!), who has done tons of Lush hauls, so I really wanted to experience them for myself. The last time I was there, they demonstrated the So White bath bomb, and I was hooked. On previous visits, I ran out of money and couldn't get anything, and right now my bathtub is broken, but I did not care – I was going to get a bath bomb even if would be weeks before I actually got to use it.

There were so many to choose from, but I decided on the Dragon's Egg bath bomb. It's one of the larger bath bombs and it costs $6.25. I think the website creates such an amazing description of it:
"Unleash fire and bathe in a whirlpool of magnificently vibrant, sizzling color and a spectacular explosion of sights, sounds, and scents. Inhale the refreshing sherbet-y citrus scent of lemon and bergamot; you'll feel like you're up and away on the back of your own dragon. This mystical Bath Bomb fizzles, crackles, curls, and ends with a glitter explosion."
It just sounds so magical! It has a very strong citrus scent, which can be a bit overpowering right out of the bag, but in a bath I expect that the smell would be more diffused. I did not know it at the time, but it also has glitter, which I hear can be quite annoying, but I'm excited to try it. When I do, I want to record a video of how it works, just so I can share it on here, and maybe I'll have someone else to share my Lush obsession with. It probably won't be for a while though, because the bathtub is broken and I actually kind of want to save it for a treat after college apps, so maybe in January. Toodley-pip! (I don't know why I said that, maybe I'm feeling British.) ◊

Friday, November 28, 2014

Food Friday #010 – Thanksgiving!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, but I've actually been having really great food all week. Happy stomach = happy body, but I should probably start exercising again to stay in shape. The holidays are a dangerous time for the waistline.

»Smoked Salmon on Plain Bagel with Cream Cheese
I love salmon in any form, but the smooth smoked kind from Costco is my favorite by far. I like to put it on half a plain bagel with cream cheese for a light, delicious after school snack.
Need I say more? Nutella is my fave.
»Pumpkin Pie
I went to Diana's house for Thanksgiving and they had so much great food! Rolls, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, chocolates, and even turducken (quite an interesting experience). This is the first year I've had a fully classic All-American Thanksgiving meal, and oh my god it was so good. The best part was the pumpkin pie with tons of whipped cream (because no one else wanted whipped cream for some reason). I was already full, but I managed to squeeze in an entire slice. I did get a pretty bad stomachache later that night from eating so much, but I think it was worth it. I still have some more pie at home, but there's no whipped cream to go with it, so I don't know what to do.

I hope you've all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots and lots of yummy food! ◊

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Keira Knightly and Kim Kardashian Kontroversy

With the current state of digital media, news is old after not even a few days. College apps and homework take up a lot of time, so many of the issues I want to blog about have come and gone too fast for me to write on while they're still in the public eye. A lot of the time, even if I have a post done, I might already have a whole bunch of posts scheduled, and I don't want to post multiple posts in one day. With unimportant things, I'll do something I call "unscheduling," where I schedule it to be posted in the past, so it only appears in the blog archive, and not on the main posts stream. That way, I have it as a record/diary entry, but it's not up where everyone can see (because quite frankly, a lot of the things that happen in my life are pretty boring). However, for certain issues that I think are more important, I still want to post them where they can be seen, even if it's a bit behind the times.

This post is about the perception of the female body – specifically the naked female body – in society, an issue that is critiqued quite hypocritically in general by the established media and social media. It bothers me that there are all these problems in the world, and lately it's been something that has really been weighing on my conscience. On one hand, the world's problems are so large and complex that an individual's opinion simply doesn't have much of an effect at all, but on the other hand, silence means acceptance, and I can't stay quiet accepting the things I don't agree with. I can't change the world, but things must constantly be spoken about, or else no further change can take place.

Warning: "NSFW" images.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

#obsessed: Guts Over Fear – Eminem ft. Sia

I don't know how I really feel about Eminem; on one hand some of his lyrics are quite violent and offensive, but on the other hand his music really expresses a lot of anger and emotion that can be relatable to a certain degree. With music, I focus less on the brand/artist loyalty than I do on listening to individual songs that I like, but once again, Eminem and Sia both have outdone themselves in this song from his new album. The girl singing Sia's parts is a model named Chantelle Brown-Young, also known as Winnie Harlow. She has a skin condition called vitiligo, which destroys pigments in the skin causing different colored patches. In a society which judges people so harshly for their physical appearance, it's inspiring to see someone who embodies the meaning of the lyrics and puts her passion and pursuit of her dreams above her fear, something I'm in the process of learning as well. ◊

Monday, November 24, 2014

Taylor Swift and Spotify

I remember seeing Taylor Swift for the first time on a magazine cover and thinking that she was oh-so beautiful. I've always been a big fan or hers because I loved her music and personality. Lately, however, with her position on Spotify, I have to say that I admire her less.

To be clear, I still like her music, but "Just because we like something doesn’t mean it’s above reproach. We should practice turning a critical eye on the media we consume, as it gives us a chance to view our own thoughts through the lens of pop culture." This is from a Jenny Trout blog post about Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass, and I think it's important to apply to all issues in social media.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sharks in the Pool

I've been dreaming of lots of sharks. It's not the first time it's happened, in fact it's the third time this month. I can remember having a similar dream once a long time ago, maybe when I was around eight years old. In these dreams, I'm in a deep pool. It's about the same size as a standard swimming pool, but extremely deep, like a diving well. I can still see the bottom, but it's usually pretty dark. Under me, and a little distance away next to me, are a few individual sharks. There are large sharks like great whites, sleek sharks like makos and lemon sharks, and even a few goblin sharks in the deeper parts, but they are not attacking.

I'm not scared, but for some reason I just really want to get out of the pool. The water is comfortably cool, and the sharks are just swimming around in the deep. Sometimes they'll chase after some other people, but those people dissolve into smoke when the shark catches them. I'm swimming across, but I never make it to the other side. When I'm almost there, everything blacks out, and I wake up.

This time, the sharks appeared with tattered black cloth wrapped around and hanging off of their heads and bodies and tails. This made me curious, so I looked it up on Google, and of course someone on Yahoo Answers had already asked this question. Apparently,
"To see a shark in your dream indicates feelings of anger, hostility, and fierceness. You are undergoing a long and difficult emotional period and may be an emotional threat to yourself or to others. Perhaps, you are struggling with your individuality and independence, especially in some aspect of your relationship. Alternatively, a shark represents a person in your life who is greedy and unscrupulous. This person goes after what he or she wants with no regards to the well-being and sensitivity of others. The shark may also be an aspect of your own personality with these qualities. To see a swimming pool in your dream symbolizes relaxation, calmness, luxury and ease. You need to take a break. Alternatively, a swimming pool suggests that you need to acknowledge and understand your feelings. It is time to dive in and deal with those emotions. You need to cleanse yourself and wash away past hurts. Consider the depth of the pool. If you were swimming on the deep end, then it means that those emotions are deeply seeded and may be harder to confront. You will need to work through it, no more matter how difficult. If you are swimming on the shallow end, then it implies that you should be able to easily deal with your feelings."
Somehow, this seems pretty accurate. I've bolded some of the key words in that answer, so I can read this later on and reflect on it in context for myself. I'm normally a very logical and rational person, but I do have an affinity for dream interpretations and horoscopes. They're not always precise, but they are quite interesting.

I am going through a "long and difficult emotional period" right now, and through this blog and talking to friends and counselors and teachers, I am trying to work through all of those feelings. Maybe these dreams are telling me that I'm on the right track and I'm almost there.

Sometimes I have multiple dreams in a row. After this particular one, I had one about how my blog got noticed, and I became famous. It's probably not going to happen, but I can still dream. ◊

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Update: College Apps and Family Stress

Life feels like crap right now, and I feel like I can't talk about it with any of my close friends because I think they're getting annoyed at the fact that all I do is complain. It's not too far of an unfounded accusation, because I'm noticing that they're not really replying to my messages at all. They have their own stuff going on, and I don't blame them. They're still fun to hang out with when I can pretend that there's nothing wrong. I feel petty for complaining about this though.

Luckily, I can rant all I want right here. This is my personal blog, and as of now, I'm not really obligated to post cool, fun stuff all the time. I don't feel obligated to hide my struggles anymore, because I don't feel that it's shameful to have feelings and have a need to express them. I don't have to explicitly tell other people how I feel and expect them to understand; I can be my own validation.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Food Friday #008 – BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse (Again)

On Tuesday, Veteran's Day, there was no school, so a couple of friends and I went to BJ's for lunch. It happened to be one of my friends' birthday during the weekend, so we surprised her with balloons and a card. She doesn't want her picture online though, so here's the burger that I had instead. It was scrumptious and a lot of fun!

Kind of a boring post, but I just really love food. I don't have an Instagram so I'm just going to post the pictures here. ◊

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#obsessed: That's Christmas to Me – Pentatonix

It's only November, but it's never too early for Christmas music (I will literally listen to it in March, if need be.) I have to say, one of the best things the universe has ever done is bring together Pentatonix. If anyone can sing with the "voice of an angel" it's these people. It's such happy music, and it really helps me calm down when I get anxious.

Recently, they came out with their second Christmas album, where they arrange and sing covers to popular classic and new Christmas songs. Here is the album, from Spotify. I honestly can't pick a favorite because they are all so incredible. It's so addicting, and I don't know when I'll ever stop listening.

It certainly is the most wonderful time time of the year! ◊

Update: I love their cover of White Winter Hymnal, but SLEIGH RIDE WILL ALWAYS BE MY FAVORITE!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Buying Books at the Library

This post is from a long time ago, so I don't have much to say about some of the notes I put down. Basically what happened is that I noticed a lot of fines on my account even though I had just paid off everything and returned the books on time. I went to the library to check out another book and see if I could get the fines removed from my account, but when I went to ask about the fines at the help desk, the attendant just brushed me off and said that I should just pay. I demanded to see a manager and got the fines checked out, and he was very understanding. Moral of the story: when a service person is unnecessarily rude, don't try to argue with them, just ask to see another person, preferably someone higher up on the food chain. It saves you a lot of frustration, and you don't have the guilty conscience of being rude to staff members.

I went in to read my books and happened to bump into my friend Rachel. We had a discussion of a long of things, most notably people going overboard in issues such as racism and feminism. There's a lot to say about those topics, so I want to do a lengthy post on that once I have time, maybe second semester. She had to leave, so I sat there for a while, "stewing in my own disappointment" as she so eloquently put it. It was a very satisfying feeling working out some of that angst.

Anyhow, there is a section of the Almaden Library out in the front, off towards the side near the little cafe, with all kinds of used books for sale. I remember going there from a much earlier time, when the library was just newly remodeled. I bought a mini Chicken Soup for the Soul book for just a quarter. The prices now are only 50¢ for paperbacks and $1 for hardbacks. I got these two because they're apparently very popular and I hear they were pretty good. Two books for only $1.50! Whenever I have the time and money, I go there to look for the occasional good book. They have all kinds of books, from preschooler to adult, fiction and nonfiction. There's a copy of Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer and Bill Clinton's autobiography there for $1 each if you want (just kidding). I strongly encourage you to check it out.

I have so many good books to read now, and once college apps are finished, I want to start doing book reviews here. I really can't wait until second semester! ◊

Sunday, November 9, 2014

#obsessed: Shower – Becky G

This song has been around since at least mid-summer, and I found it quite annoying at first, but it's actually quite catchy now that I listen to it again. It's the epitome of teenage love "bubblegum" pop, but sometimes you just need that little shot of happiness in your life to keep your spirits up. The "la da dee, la da da, la da daaaaa" is especially ebullient, and I've found it running through my head constantly.

I have a lot of interesting posts lined up and I just need the time to do them, but unfortunately, college apps and other school work takes precedence. I feel like I'm at least better at getting myself to do things, now that I've found some good methods to become more productive. Maybe I'll do a post on that as well. ◊

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I'm Done With It (Part 4)

3) Hate

Hate is an interesting concept. Everyone assumes hate is unhealthy for you, and being hated is the end of the world, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, the only way to make changes in the world is to get a few people angry.

I had a conversation with my dad the other day (actually, it was more like him yelling at me while I silently made rebuttals in my head), on the topic of liberal arts vs. science. To him, I am badly suited to a career in the liberal arts (I plan on majoring in public policy) because things that I say or do make people angry, and that means I won't be able to make the connections I need when I try to advance myself in the field. He said that it would be better for me to work in the sciences, as an engineer, because I wouldn't be fired if I wasn't nice. To be honest, I don't think I'm someone who easily offends people or breaks connections, but that's besides the point. The way I see it, it's impossible to succeed in the liberal arts without challenging a theory or coming up with something controversial and new. If all people did was to agree with one another, politics itself simply wouldn't exist.

The most controversial figures, the ones that attract the most hate, are the ones that make the largest impact. Martin Luther King, Jr. angered plenty of people, but his efforts helped change a nation for the better. Malala Yousafzai's work as an advocate for education caused her to be shot in the head, but she survived and inspired millions.

Even science attracts hate. Proponents of climate change are often verbally attacked and denounced for their theories, regardless of how much evidence they present. This post was inspired by Derek Muller of Youtube channel Veritasium (a very interesting science channel that I strongly recommend), who posted this following video on his side channel. He explains more on the topic of hate, and it really made me think about what it means when someone disagrees.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I'm Done With It (Part 3)

2) Homecoming

Saturday, October 24th was Homecoming. To be honest, the dance itself was an utter disappointment. The music sucked, and the majority of the people there were people I didn't care about at all. At one point, someone made the comment that Homecoming is basically "Freshman Prom" and I couldn't agree more. All I could see in the middle of the dance floor were freshmen grinding and making out.

The pre-HC was better, though it was kind of a last minute thrown together event. One of the girls went without her boyfriend because he "didn't feel like it" (he sure was regretful later on), and another's couldn't make it because her date was in the hospital recovering from having his appendix removed. We did makeup, ate Togo's, and took pictures on the porch overlooking the valley. Despite the forecast of rain, no one had considered the possibility of clouds blocking the sun, so the lighting wasn't too great, but we all had fun. Here's one of the better pictures, but of course I'm blinking.

At the dance, the GBA was converted into an ice cream bar, with nicely laid out tables and fairy lights ringed around the room. The overall effect was quite nice and the ice cream was delicious. The Giants vs. Royals baseball game was playing on a large screen outside, and every once in a while, you'd hear a huge roar when the Giants scored a point.

The photo booth was also a lot of fun. Various props were available, of which I picked a purple boa that ended up only being in one of the pictures. I actually really like this set, but unfortunately I accidentally bent the physical print.

As I mentioned earlier, the rest of the dance wasn't much fun. Everything sounded the same, and they only played about two lines of each song before switching with a huge pause in between songs. The music was played really slowly, all over one beat, with some of the songs slowed down to match the beat. It was like trying to dance in syrup. We ended up spending about half our time outside taking ridiculous selfies (including the obligatory duckface selfie).

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I'm Done With It (Part 2)

I wrote Part 1 less than a week ago, but I don't remember what I wrote. I didn't even edit it before hitting "Publish," but I kind of want to leave it that way, so when I read it again, a month, a year, a decade (maybe) from now, I can see it for what it is.

A lot has gone on in this last week, and I've been writing down all of those thoughts as notes in this blog post. At the moment, I count nineteen points, but I'll probably combine a few of them so this post isn't ridiculously long and rambling. I just don't know what to do or feel anymore, so I need to sort through all these thoughts and figure some things out so I can actually do something productive.

Regular text is what I've written in this sitting, and italicized text is stuff I've copied and pasted from previous sittings that I haven't edited since writing it initially.

1) Mental Health
In the aftermath of the incident described in Part 1, staying in my room brought back traumatizing memories of being taken in to the hospital, and the condescending treatment from "authorities." It's not as bad anymore, but being in this room still makes me feel anxious. My parents still don't understand mental health, and there's nothing I can do about that because they aren't willing to listen, and I don't have the time or strength to force them to or change their mind. I was supposed to stay at a friend's house when I got back from the hospital, so I could have some time away from the site of the incident, but apparently, they care more about me doing what they want me to do instead of my mental health. There's no point to making a big fuss about that anymore, but it's something that I just need to express.

Child abuse – physical and psychological – is something that occurs behind closed doors and is hidden behind smiles, but it needs to be something that is out in the open. I've tried to tackle this issue in another post that includes other mental health issues that I may or may not publish, but it was too hard to write about everything all at once.

There is a scrape on the third knuckle of my right hand, swelling between the third and the fourth, a nickel sized bruise on my right wrist, and another the size and color of a large fig on my left knee. My left elbow is scraped and I'm sore all over but these are not very important. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will always hurt the most. If it had been any other person, child or adult, saying these things to me, they would be a bully. But with my parents, it is considered to be "discipline." I'll never understand how the system considers physical abuse more severe than any other kind. Bruises and even broken bones heal, but words poison the mind and taint thoughts for years to come.

What I hate the most is that they are manipulative. They are not the only good people in the world. They are not the only people in the world that care about me. I refuse to believe what they tell me anymore. I cannot trust what they say. But the damage is done already. I don't trust anyone anymore. Everyone in the world is out to get me, somehow. I can barely even trust myself.

Another perspective on this issue is with friends. There aren't very many people I trust completely and feel like I can talk about anything to. Some people I trust, but I'm afraid that I'll be bothersome and negative, so I don't talk to them. So I keep the close friend count around two. But then all my problems and rants get cast on to these people. I feel like I'm being annoying or aggravating to them a lot of the time. This may or may not be true, but I end up being very clingy. And when I realize this, I stop talking to them, because I don't want to be annoying and clingy. I really don't know how to think or feel about this.

I'm sorry if it seems like I'm obsessed with my mental illness. It's almost like it impacts every part of my life. It's probably just all happening inside my head, but oh, maybe that's why they call it a "mental" illness.

This post is long enough as it is, and I was originally going to have it have four subpoints. It's probably a better idea to break it up into more parts, which I will do, but publish them all in one day, or staggered on different days very closely together. ◊

Monday, October 20, 2014

I'm Done With It (Part 1)

This blog is a place for me to discuss my thoughts, to work out why I think the way I do, to record things I want to remember, and to validate my existence – all the things, good or bad, in it. I like to record the highlights of my life, so when I look back and read them, I feel happy. But sometimes things happen that I may need to access again in the future, no matter how much I want to forget about them. Last Thursday night, something happened that needs to be addressed.

I've only shared this blog with a few people, but since it is on the internet, it's available for everyone to read. Few people may read this, or it might be something that no one reads at all, but it's not something I feel obligated to keep to myself anymore. It's kind of a long post, so if you don't read to the end, I kindly ask that if you don't have supportive comments, please don't comment at all.

The CPS worker was back again for another family meeting (in case you didn't know, this is actually the fourth CPS case so far) and my parents were not happy. They didn't like the CPS worker being there in the first place, but now they'd decided to "use the social worker to control me" (translated as best as I could from Chinese). While they recognized the good things my siblings had done, they launched into an angry tirade of all their complaints about me. It started with their complaint that the candles I had in my room were a fire hazard. I countered that they were one of my coping methods, one that was relatively easy to use and quickly effective. They had already shot down my other coping methods, either by telling me I wasn't allowed to use them, or insinuating that I was wasting time. My dad kept telling me that if I needed coping methods, I should go running because running relieves stress. This may have worked for him, but for me it would only cause more stress (tied to the first CPS report incident, when I was forced to run to school until I was overheating and exhausted, so running has been a trigger for me ever since). Another was that my alarm clock went off too early, and somehow this conversation escalated into how I would probably be poisoned by my roommate in college because I was selfish and evil. I might mention here that they have a very severe victim blaming complex.

Hearing these ridiculous accusations was very emotionally draining. Listening to my parents say that I was going to be murdered because I was a horrible bastard was something that happened often, but in a highly emotional situation like at that moment, there was no way for me to stay calm. Again my dad mentioned using running as a coping method, and at that point I simply couldn't keep it together anymore. If he wanted me to go running as a coping method, I would go running. I grabbed a pair of shoes and headed out the door, not sure where I was going, only knowing that I wanted to get away. It was 9:27pm (or so I remember it; that might be inaccurate) but Almaden was a relatively safe neighborhood, so I wasn't worried. However, my dad followed, and the whole time he was still slinging abuse at me: how could I be so "selfish," I was disturbing the neighbors with all the yelling (at this point he was the only one talking), didn't I know of all the sacrifices my parents had made, didn't I know that what I was doing was making them miserable and driving them crazy?

Eventually he caught up and grabbed me, and I fought back. This wasn't very effective, and the continuous verbal abuse made it hard to focus. I tried something different – passive resistance. When he tried to drag me back, I completely relaxed and stopped resisting, which made it harder to move. And every venomous insult, I accepted it and didn't dispute. When he said I was crazy, selfish, and more, I agreed with every single statement. There was no way to respond to this. I gave him what he wanted and agreed that I was an evil, malicious, ungrateful vermin, and so there was no way he could object. These were the words I had heard all my life growing up, so how could I ever think of myself differently? He didn't understand this. I told him, maybe, just maybe if he had said that I was a lovely, good child, who was respectful and loved, that these would be what I would grow up to become. This logic was lost on him and the verbal abuse continued. It was at this point that I realized they were never going to bend to sense, because that would mean acknowledging that what they did was wrong, and that was never going to happen.

I got up and ran again, thoroughly frustrated and upset at my parents' hypocrisy, that their selfishness is what prevented them from change, to save their own dignity. This time, when my dad caught up to me, I resisted, and he pushed me onto the pavement and broke my glasses. I remember at that moment thinking about Lord of the Flies and how Piggy's broken glasses represented the abandonment of logic, and realized that struggling more was hopeless. I ran home, grabbed the phone, and called 911 as fast as I could, and answered about two questions before the phone line was unplugged. The internet also disconnected, but luckily I was able to call a friend on my cellphone to get the mobile 911 number. The police arrived after fifteen minutes, and they talked to my parents first before talking to me.

When the police came into my room, I was still in the middle of a panic attack. I kept asking him, "Please, give me a moment to calm myself down, please please let me calm down for a moment," but he kept firing questions at me. I choked and cried as I answered them, and when he asked, "Are you feeling suicidal?" I cried back, "Yes! Is that too hard to understand?" Had I been calm and not in an extremely panicked state, I would not have answered that, but as I was, there was no way I could reply otherwise. This, of course, meant that he would have to take me away to the hospital to protect myself. However, part of "protecting myself" also meant that I needed to be prevented from using my hands, so right then and there in my room, he handcuffed me. He walked me out, and the next thing I knew was that I was thrown into the hard, plastic back seat of a police car with metal handcuffs digging into my wrists.

As if I wasn't already traumatized enough, when I tried to ask questions about what was going on, I was given the worst case scenario. I asked if the incident would go on some kind of record, and he said that it could potentially affect me getting into college and getting a job in the future – the last thing I needed to hear in a panicked state, about to go to who-knows-where, for who-knows-how-long of a time. Adding insult to injury, he said that I was just throwing a tantrum, and if I had been a more respectful and obedient child, none of this would have happened. I was fuming mad and confused, but there was no point in arguing, so the rest of the ride continued in silence.

The rest of the night was a series of questions and naps. I'd talk to a nurse, and she'd record my answers, and tell me a doctor would be with me in just a moment (when they say "moment" they really mean "two hours") and then I'd talk to the doctor, and he'd tell me that I'd be transferred to another hospital in a moment, and at the new place, they asked me more questions and had me sign a lot of forms, and finally let me sleep on a convertible sofa-table-bed with a fluffy pillow, before being woken up in the morning again to eat breakfast and talk to a counselor, and then have a nap before talking to another doctor. They played music at the new facility, but ironically the song "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry came on and ended before anyone but me noticed. Later my mother came in and talked to the counselor and made a lot of promises and took me home, and then broke all the promises.

My friends came over to stay the night and help me cope. I hope they'll still be my friends after this. They say they will, but I'm worried they'll find me too hard to deal with because that's what happened last time, after the second CPS report. We were so close, almost like twins, and we could practically communicate through just facial expressions. She helped me a lot, but after the crisis, we just stopped talking regularly. We talk a little more now, but it's like we were never close friends at all. At least, that's how I feel. I don't know if she'll read this. I miss her.

It's 12:01am on Monday, October 20 now. My early college app is due in eleven days, so I think I'll change it to a regular app. Hospital visits are very disruptive. I don't know how things are going to work out at school tomorrow. Will everything be normal? I don't know what to do.

[Part 2 coming soon, or never.] ◊

Friday, October 17, 2014

Food Friday #007 – CASPA Scholarship Dinner

A while ago, I went to a scholarship reception dinner. It was quite a fancy event, with a whole bunch of unnecessary silverware and plates, but fun nevertheless. The food was incredible – I had no idea chicken could taste so tender and delicious (no really, it was that good!) I was stuffed by the end and couldn't finish the dessert.

Application deadlines are fast approaching, and I still need to apply for more scholarships as well. I'm feeling quite stressed and a bit lost. Hopefully things will get better, but everything feels like it's taking a downturn at the moment. Even on this blog, the pictures aren't uploading properly and turning out blurry, unless I make very specific adjustments, which can be a bit irritating. Eh. :/ ◊

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#obsessed: Girls Chase Boys – Ingrid Michaelson

I have at least three posts that I've been wanting to do, but since school and college apps are in full swing, I don't have the time. In the meantime, here's a song I've really been enjoying.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wish List / Bucket List

Around this time last year, after the buzz about "bucket lists" had died down (I'm always a little late for things), I sat down and typed a list of all the things I ever wanted to do. Then Evernote crashed in the middle of finals season and I was so mad that I pretty much never opened it again.

Today, as I was trying to clean up some of the things in my computer, I found this list again. Luckily I had the presence of mind to title the note with the date, so without further ado, here is my bucket list from October 23, 2013 with [parenthetical] commentary from present day me:
  • go to a concert [I still haven't gone to one! This one's still at the top of my list. Don't know who I'd want to see though.]
  • shopping SPREE [This will still be the first thing I save up my money for, just going on a full out shopping spree buying everything I want.]
  • eat ice cream on a picnic [I always thought it would be funny to try to climb up a hill or go to a park to have a picnic before the ice cream melted.]
  • lie in a meadow and just sleep [When I have the time...]
  • cloud-gazing [Again, when I have the time]
  • star-gazing [I had something with wanting to just watch the sky, didn't I]
  • meteor-gazing [Pretty much the same as above? How did I make these separate at the time?]
  • urban camping [I have no idea what this means anymore.]
  • sing a cover [Hahaha no. What was I even thinking.]
  • walk holding hands [This one's kind of sweet, but I've come to accept the fact that I'm probably going to be #foreveralone or a #catlady, so meh, whatever.]
  • karaoke without a care [Did I really think I could sing at any point in time?]
  • berry picking [Still seems pretty fun, but I'm more of a couch potato now, so not sure if I still want to do this.]
  • sunrise on a mountaintop [Before I graduate! Or leave for college! I want to do the Mission Peak sunrise climb. Spring break maybe?]
  • a music video [Not too sure what this one means. Again, I've now accepted the fact that I will never be a singer.]
  • dance in the rain [Considering that California is in a drought, this doesn't seem likely.]
  • art museum [Maybe Art Club could do this this year. Something good though, not just scribbly modern art.]
  • coffee run [I've kind of done this, but one can never have enough coffee.]
  • stay up more than 24 hours [What was I thinking?!? All nighters are NOT fun. Never again.]
  • classical music in nature [Was I some kind of hippie? Why is this something I wanted to do.]
  • travel [Yes. More places.]
  • be a crazy average teenager [Working on it.]
  • explore a city in full makeup and fashion [Still have to do that fancy photoshoot and be all badass. This will probably have to wait until college.]
  • create an alter ego [Done! Kind of. Will probably be changing blog URL to that name soon.]
  • answer 20 questions completely honestly [Have yet to do this, but not sure if I still want to.]
  • dye my hair bright purple [This is definitely going to happen. Once college apps are over.]
  • travel to cities and islands [Kind of the same thing as travel ^.]
  • Ted Talk about all those things [Still love TED talks. I want to be a motivational speaker.]
  • have a discussion/lecture about how/why the world is messed up [Wow. I was such a pessimist. I still am a pessimist, I guess, but the world is not all bad, and I'm not so angsty anymore. I think.]
  • plot twist! [I don't know what this means.]
  • read to children at a bookstore [Hmm, not as intrigued by this anymore.]
  • be a princess for a day [Yes please!]
So that's that. My old bucket list. I think I've actually changed quite a lot in the space of one year. This list feels like its 50% another person, not me. I saw a comic the other day, with something along the lines of "I'm not where I want to be, but I'm also not where I used to be, and I'm glad for that," and I think that's quite true. Whatever may come, I'm interested to see how I'll be different at the end of it. ◊