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.