who is you

There’s this group of people from a summer camp that I still think are the greatest group of people I’ve ever met. We befriended each other because of mischief. From sneaking out and outrunning the night to passing around an accidental playboy flyer from dorm to dorm; we were up to no good. The purpose of this camp was to learn about environmental science, but we could care less once we found each other. We did fun things and we talked about everything. We had the best conversations. And this one is my favorite.

“Change is inevitable, it just happens to us,” I declared.

“Nah I don’t think so,” my friend said.

“How so?” I questioned.

“I don’t think people change, I think people just become more of themselves,” he explained. “I think over time, we find out more about ourselves and what we like to form our identity and . . . us.”

“And that’s change,” I retorted.

“No . . .” he started, “Change is like your hair being black today and blonde tomorrow, but this is discovery, this is growing, this is honesty.”

I thought it was stupid when I first heard him say this while we were eating lunch and went back to my Starbucks drink. I’m opinionated about everything and stay grounded in them until something makes me consider another truth. I sat beside of him and silently argued against his claim, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. It made me silently hate him during our lunch together, but also grateful for this new perspective.

We start out as blank sheets basically and over time we put some pencil marks there and some paint splatters there. We aren’t just one piece of art entirely of sketches or blobs of paints, but we’re first a sketching, then the painting, the shading, and finally the picture. There are times where we realize we didn’t like how something looked and erase some pencil sketches, but not the whole thing and make it better over time. Then there are times where we paint ourselves a certain color, but not the whole picture because that color means something to us, but does not define us. Essentially we are our own masterpieces of different collections of art we make of ourselves and not just one piece scrapped and becoming another piece.

This discussion still makes me think. I think of myself from high school and how I was obsessed with punk pop music, being seen as an intellect, and into fandoms obsessing over Doctor Who and Harry Potter. I don’t think I’ve changed like I would’ve argued then, but became me. I still like Misery Business and Dance, Dance and will turn it up when it comes on, but do not listen to it all the time. I liked to be complimented for my mind and have realized it’s good to be smart, but compassion, loyalty, and honesty are also admirable traits to have. I am still fond over Doctor Who, but haven’t seen it since Matt Smith left and love Harry Potter, but not with the same obsession. I am still that me from high school, but I’ve also developed an interest in classic novels, developed more sympathy towards others and humbling attitude towards life, and have an undying love for jazz music. I’m still adding color from the rough sketches I made.

This is my work in progress of a masterpiece. I’m still not done yet and you’re not either.

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united divided states

I still cannot believe that a man with no real political experience and over inflated ego that spills on his twitter account is the 45th President of the United States of America. It doesn’t feel real. It’s like seeing Nicholas Cage in any movie and still thinking he’s Nic Cage. It’s seeing Donald Trump doing anything and still seeing him as he is. I don’t see him as President. I don’t see him as qualified. I don’t see him as a different man by gaining that title, but the selfish businessman he is.

I am not bitter and have accepted the fact that he is our new President. However, I do not support his agenda and many of his appointed officials.

The people have taken back their government? Yet the popular vote went largely towards your opponent, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and you’ve entered the White House with some of the lowest approval ratings of the people. The forgotten man will be forgotten no more? Okay besides the middle-class white man who thinks Olive Garden is a classy establishment and only reads the Bible and clickbait articles; what about the forgotten ‘forgotten men’? What will you say to the citizens of Flint who still have no water? What will you say to a child whose family is gone because they’ve been deported? Will you argue that ‘All Lives Matter’ include the black lives, Latino lives, Asian lives, indigenous people lives? Will this United States come together by including and protecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and other sexualities? Will we come together and be ‘great again’ despite our different beliefs of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and nihilism? Have the ‘outsiders’ finally entered politics, when Sir, you are a billionaire interested in keeping and making your profit, but only differ from them in never having a political career? What is your new healthcare plan that is ‘so great and so much better than Obamacare’ and will it also provide for the people, even the marginalized ones? And what will you do to reassure than girls are worth more than their bodies and looks, but have deeper purpose of being intelligent, funny, lively, inspiring and that they do in fact matter in this country?

Mr. President, are you listening to the people?

How do you pick someone as Secretary of Education when they have never attended public school, had children in public school, worked in a public school, or really had any interest with public schools? That’s like telling a doctor to farm the land. They have no knowledge or real understanding of what they’re doing and bound to fail because of their prior experience of medicine and the body instead of crops and cows. I don’t understand how you can appoint someone for an agency when they don’t believe its purpose. I do not understand how you can even appoint someone to a department who wanted to get rid of the department and even forgot its name? How do you appoint people based on loyalty instead of qualifications? Have you forgotten Hurricane Katrina and the government’s slow aid to people who were dying?

Mr. President, do you care?

The campaign is now over and appealing to the parties isn’t as important now as working for all American people. I’m sure the Republicans are satisfied or whatever they call themselves now like alt right, but what about the United States of America and all its citizens, current and future. How will you uphold your promise in keeping us together and working together to ‘Make America Great Again?’ You can’t blame one side for their behavior or call their ideas or claims ridiculous. You can’t tweet about how awful and overrated people who disagree and criticize you are at 3 AM. You can’t be ignorant of the news and the media, when yes I do agree the news now is not the same quality in informing people as before, but you have to acknowledge them and their reputation for letting the people know what’s going on.

Our country is divided and this inauguration is only creating new cracks. Our problems and solutions aren’t black or white. They’re grey because we all have faults and our solution isn’t the solution for everyone. For the next four years, we should not retreat into hearing only our beliefs and tending to our ideologies but listen to the other side and their opinions. When we do not challenge ourselves and open our minds, we make the divide deeper by not compromising or listening to others. What makes America great is its diversity. We have different opinions, ideas, beliefs that make The United States and when we can work together maybe we can be what our Founding Fathers imagined when they created a government serving the people with The Great Compromise. In no ways, do I want Donald to fail, but I do want him to consider the reality of his job and the work he will have to do to serve the people.

In no ways, do I want Donald to fail, but I do want him to consider the reality of his job and the work he will have to do to serve the people. Whatever he does next, it affects all of us because after all he is the most powerful man in the free world now, and I can only pray he does his job for all of us and more importantly this country and that it can move forward, united and more compassionate.

straight & fast

I remember yesterday, I ran a red light going at least 60 mph past it. Before this incident, I had just passed another intersection that was green and thought to myself, “I wonder if I’ll run a red light the next time just because.” As I approached the next lights, I just wasn’t thinking. I was heading towards it green, then it turned yellow, and then it turned red. I didn’t break until I had just made it to the white line and was already too far out to back up or stop, so I just ran it. I don’t know why I did it, but I wasn’t thinking a single thing.

A couple minutes later, the recent event just dawned on me. I could’ve died and I just ran a red light ironically thinking to myself before it happened. The thought didn’t trouble me at all. I only turned whatever crappy radio music up and drove one handed while resting my arm against the window and my hand touching my head. It didn’t scare me how reckless I was but only made me mad. I could’ve died, but it didn’t scare me.

Further driving down the road, it made me think of my one of my favorite novels. In Looking for Alaska by John Green, Alaska drives headfirst into a truck, instantly killing herself. Her group of friends tries to figure out if it was a suicide or accident. They have all these theories that it was an accident because she was drunk and that she was so buzzed that she couldn’t see anything and then that it was a suicide because she was hysterical and emotional before she went to drive, and she saw the car accident as a way out of whatever she was feeling. I fully think that it wasn’t a suicide or an accident, but the same thing I experienced.

She wasn’t thinking and it just happened. There’s no mystery to it, but some things just happen and we can’t take them back or redo them. They happen and we just let it happen and accept it. It isn’t easy, but it’s inevitable and happens. These things happen straight and fast. There’s no explanation to why and no way to stop it because you blink and it’s over.

Don’t read me wrong, I’m not suicidal or a risky driver. I don’t want to die and enjoy my life very much because I have made it the best it could be and making it even better. I drive cautiously and am aware of what I am doing and considerate of others, making sure everyone goes home safe. This red light just made me think of life itself and finally understanding my favorite novel.

Sometimes you are so in the moment, and things happen. They’re good or they’re bad and you might not understand why except that it happened and they happen so fast that nothing else could’ve prevented the event. An explanation isn’t always necessary and once it’s done, the only thing we can do is accept it, forgive, and keep moving. I think that’s the beauty of life, it doesn’t always need a reason, it just has to happen to make it worthwhile.

the American Dream 2.0

I recently watched this documentary on Netflix called ‘The Minimalist.’ It’s about these two guys who had high paying jobs and found themselves increasingly unsatisfied and stressed over the type of lives they were living. They started looking at what were making them so stressed and unhappy and saw that the root of their problems was their connection to material possessions. After this realization, they both gave up this high maintenance lifestyle and begin to live less and a life that made them happy. They gave up their many belongings and started living within a suitcase of materials and started writing about this lifestyle of less.

For a while, I had begun reflecting on my life and looking at what was making me stressed and very unhappy. I started to realize that I was unhappy for the same reasons as those two guys. I was living in an abundance of material possessions that commercials and others told me were supposed to make me happy. These things were only drowning me and making me feel as if these things were supposed to be more than what they were than just a poster or new pair of shoes. Another thing mentioned in this documentary made me think about where my priorities were in life and what distractions disguised themselves as priorities. One of the guys was in an office meeting and ignored calls and one from his mom of a cancer diagnosis. I don’t know why, but that especially made me think about where my priorities were. Were they in gaining success by owning possessions or with successful relationships and being in the moment? This question and other stress factors pushed me towards change.

I had wanted to bring great change to my life, but kept planning and didn’t know when I should do so. I had been thinking of changing for a while, but freaking stats and college work was a good excuse for me to delay acting upon it. When winter break started, I knew that I was ready.

I think one of the biggest things that make me unhappy was social media and the people I happen to know. Everyone is a hypocrite, but some people act more hypocritical than others and to see how unruly people actually were on social media while still shoving their morals on others made me upset. I didn’t see these people every day due to different paths, but I wanted to ignore these people completely by not being their friend or following them. I also didn’t want to become more like them by keeping it real and being myself. I remember this being the biggest factor in deleting my twitter a while back and now my snapchat. I told myself I didn’t have to stay connected through all these pointless social media apps, but by those I actually wanted to talk to and those who wanted to talk to me. It hasn’t bothered me at all and the people who actually care have kept in touch, and that’s good enough.

Like the Minimalist, I wanted to live less and decided that I wouldn’t spend money on any more material goods for at least a year. I live with plenty. I have a couch in my room along with a bed, dresser, two bookcases and books flooding along the walls, a desk, and closet also flooding with clothes. I don’t need anything else and decided to clean out and begin living less. I have a big book addiction and love to buy new books but realized I have lots of books and many that I’ve yet to read. To save and live like the Minimalists, I’ve decided to read all the books on my shelves, borrow them from the local libraries, and read at least an hour in Barnes of new novels. With this money, I want to save for my planned travels across the country and on experiences.

This was my first year driving. I love that it brings more independence and allows me to go more places than before. I have explored new places and new roads since getting my license. I know the backroads to avoid traffic on the highway and shortcuts to get home along with new cheaper places to eat than the ever popular Chicfila and Wendy’s. I’ve made it a goal to explore more and discover new places every day so I can experience the off beaten path and do new things. This also meant for doing more within my day. I want to live so much within a day I feel like breakfast was such a long time ago instead of 8 hours ago. Since living like this, I have been able to bring my friends to new places to hang out and able to leave my phone in my car to enjoy walks in the forest. It’s been great so far living like this.

Duke is my absolute dream school and I want to get there somehow. I really want to push myself to be like Hermione and be ahead of my readings and overall studious. This semester I’m pushing for a 4.0 and so far have emersed myself in my textbook readings. Each subject I’ve read so far is very interesting and I hope I can keep this interest as the semester continues. I don’t want to drown in school work and dedication, but I do want to make a better grade so I can get into journalism and eventually law. This is a dream in the working and hopefully will become a journey despite the obstacles and laziness and procrastination that shall come. Duke is the dream and it’s not gonna be one that only visits me in my sleep.

I also want to work towards my artistic abilities and writing. This semester I would often de-stress by sketching and painting, and saw that I really liked my artwork and how much it has improved over the years. I’ve always received praise for my artwork, but want to be better and create more pieces that make me happy. The only way is through practice and creating more, and this year I want to draw more to be satisfied with my work. I’m happy for drawing things I actually like and look nice. I hope to improve and keep the artistic flow going. Along with drawing, I want to become a better writer. I think this would mean more blog posts and also working on a novel idea I’ve had for a while. I’d love to go into journalism and eventually publish and to get there, I’m going to have to practice writing. Any artist could probably agree that there is always room for improvement and that you will never be satisfied with what you haven’t done yet.

2017 looks pretty optimistic so far in being the best me yet. I am motivated to live fuller and happier. I want to be the best I can be and happy while doing it along with my friends and family. Hopefully, by the end of this year, I can look back and think wow I can’t believe I did so much within a year. I don’t want the same regretful feeling of not doing enough. This year I want to do more and be more. By living with fewer books, clothes, shoes, and other materials, I hope I can live this new satisfied and abundant life of experiences, heartbreak, honesty, and adventure. The new American Dream isn’t working towards a house with a white picket fence and two cars in the driveway because we can afford it and that new couch for the living room and blender to make smoothies, but it is to live knowing you have good priorities and amazing experiences.

Be bold this year. Whatever you wish to accomplish you can do as long as you stay dedicated to it and make it a priority. Keep running, keep the faith, keep eating that nasty kale, keep exploring, keep moving. It’s not just a new year for a new start, but every day is a new day for that new start you’ve been putting off. This is your year, so choke it.

xx

motel room ’16

I’ve found myself looking at past drawings for inspiration. sometimes I get a grand – excuse my phoniness in using this word, I’m making a point – idea and start sketching the idea as a rough draft to draw later. But most times, I find myself wanting to redraw past pictures to prove myself that I’ve grown as an artist and learned a couple things over the years. This is the competitive side of me coming out and wanting to show I’m better now than then. I personally think it’s great to see improvement with my piss poor understanding of anatomy and backgrounds, and to see how my style has developed over the years. My first drawings are cringeworthy with no refinement or understanding of proportions. I used to have a strong anime/manga style and this has influenced my now cartoon style of drawing. I like to redraw old stuff to see the improvement, but I’ve found a flaw in this. It becomes an obsession with the past and stops new ideas and creativity. It’s a recycle of art instead of a journey. There’s no new, there’s only this over beaten path of the past and a compulsion to draw but without passion.

To do anything without passion is a waste. There is no purpose of responsibility in your thoughts and actions. It’s being a tourist in your own life. I’ve realized this after a long year and now understand that you can’t declare an “I’ve made it point” when you become comfortable with life and become nostalgic for the easy past. You got to keep moving and exploring, you can’t settle and think, “This is good enough.” No, there’s much more and you got to keep walking, thinking, moving forth and not wander back.

The past is a great lesson, but it’s a tourist destination. The glamor and fun can keep you entertained for so long before the urge to move on consumes your mind. But to where? Everywhere if you look, if you really look.

During the beginning of this year, I found myself being lured by the Siren’s song of settling. It was comfortable, it was easy. I put my love in the wrong places and invested in the wrong people. I thought I would be better lowering my expectations to a motel that had a $7 coupon in a place I didn’t want to vacation in. If I had loved myself then, I would’ve treated myself to a suite in this depressing tourist stop.

I stayed in this motel until I became its wallpapers and stained carpets. I kept looking at a wall and thinking of all the ways I could’ve stopped myself from reaching this point of staying in this pathetic motel. I never considered the windows with the light begging me out of this place. I stared at the walls too long and never saw the scenery out my window. I became bitter, arrogant, and selfish in this room. I needed change but couldn’t reach the door. Every time I tried, it was like something n this false comfort of scratchy sheets and poor wifi said this was good enough.

But I checked out and decided never to look back.

It’s comforting at first to look back at the used sheets and familiar channels on the satellite, but wouldn’t you want to breathe the fresh air after months of staleness and look at the sunset instead of that faded imitation of a painting on the wall? It’s refreshing, it’s new. Instead of being bitter by what I knew of life, I invited it in and fell in love. This time I fell in love with the right people, places, ideas. With this life, I fell in love with myself and ambitions. I deserve the best of everything and will not be satisfied until so.

Sometimes, there is still a longing for the dimly lit motel room with free soap. Especially with tragedies such as the Trump Presidency, the Pulse club shooting, Aleppo – it’s easy to surround yourself in sheets and draw the curtains. 2016 has left me and others mad, divided and shocked, yet we should not be defeated by them. There are great adversities that can halt us yet we still beat on. There are still births to celebrate, good music to discover, declarations for love and change, and there is still compassion in a world seemingly cold. I and others have this motel room that tempts us to come back and say that this is good enough, but we drive past to an unknown path, sometimes off-road, and take on whatever comes next. We go forth, and we do not look back.

So 2017, let’s go.

When They go Low, We go High

This morning I woke up at 6:20 and wept.

I stayed up until 2 o’clock in the morning with my best friend watching the map turn blue or red. We’re both smart kids and took turns making fun of each of the political candidates for their messy and controversial campaigns. We both knew the consequences of one candidate being President and thought we were prepared for either one being President. But I think we both knew who would be the better President, but didn’t want to say anything since we had agreed both were bad. But the night grew longer, and the map didn’t change, so we both decided we would go to sleep and tomorrow morning we would find out who our new President is.

I woke up and was optimistic for my vote, but wave after wave of the unwanted news began to keep me under. I didn’t want to just google who had won because that’s no fun, so I went on Tumblr and by the post I saw, I knew I would realize who was President in a not so direct way. I won’t lie, the people on Tumblr that I follow are mostly liberal-minded in American politics, and their disbelief, sad, and angry post told me who was President. It was Donald Trump, the one who declared that he would make America great again. I remember hot tears streaming down my face. Within five minutes, my best friend had texted me, “Trump is President.”

I wept. At that moment I wished to be nothing but a beautiful little fool.

I went to watch the news with my mom and when CBS announced Trump’s win, I cried so damn hard. They were angry and sad tears rolling down my cheeks, but without a sound. Things were about to get worst and I prayed to God that I could be okay and follow Him.

So let me get into why I’m angry. I live in the southern states of the United States, historic for slavery, Confederate States, Jim Crow laws, and sweet tea. The people here hold onto their pride and heritage. So as a woman, minority, and person, I am scared. Donald Trump had let a platform largely on targeting and ostracizing minorities, especially Hispanics and Muslims, and that kind of rhetoric he has argued will be acceptable for American society and its values. This means Hispanics will be seen as ‘rapists and taking our jobs’ and Muslims ‘dangerous because they know ISIS.’ The stereotypes these groups have worked so hard to overcome to be assimilated into mainstream American culture will now be the only way to view them with Trump as President. Of course, we have some rotten people in each of our ethnicity or race groups, but the whole group of people cannot be defined by those few people. People who have been in the real world know that people of color are not their perceived stereotypes and have respectable characteristics of hard work, honesty, kindness. But now with Trump as our President, his ideologies are what represent America and those opinions he carried are what made people vote for him because they agreed with his views as representing American values.

Yet race isn’t an issue when we’ve overcome segregation and have more diversity now, right? Well, you can tell yourself that, but the minority see differently. The tension over race is becoming more obvious. At school today, the people who supported Trump with their hats and stickers could only stay quiet and look away as Hispanics, Black people, Asians, and other minorities were upset over Trump. There was no pride in voting for Trump, there were small approvals, but none of them were proud of who they voted for and what it reflected on their beliefs. It’s not only in colleges where there is tension, but workplaces where people are quiet about their vote. Their quiet for the realization that it means something to their minority coworkers who have shared coffee and laughs with them. It’s also affecting the kids. My brother was told to go back to China today. It shows that this is becoming acceptable by socialization at a young age and that this will be the treatment of races within the coming years. It only shows that there is no discerning of groups of ethnicities, such as Asian with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and others, but there is only one way to distinguish minorities, and it is because they are not white. Race relations is still an issue America is struggling with.

I am still sad and so angry in how people voted for Trump. We saw his character from the beginning. We saw his stand on issues. We saw what kind of man that was running for President. His win – despite knowing all of this about him – only reflects on how afraid America is of progress and diversity.

But when they go low, we go high. I won’t let this stop me from accomplishing the American Dream. I will work hard, give and be treated with respect, and accomplish my goals of being a powerful, minority woman in getting into law and being represented. This isn’t just an obstacle, but the motivation to make a change.

Transition

I’m at an interesting crosspoint in my life. I’ve experienced a lot in my years, but haven’t done enough. I’m working towards a goal, but have had many successes. I’m educated but haven’t learned enough.

Before I tell you anything else in this post, I’m happy, I can even say joyous in myself. I’m happy in how I feel about myself and what I’ve accomplished. I’m happy in what I can do and what more I could do. I have brought myself joy and went through a great change to better myself and situation.

However, I’m still working towards something more. I’m not satisfied with where I am and what I’m doing. I don’t want to settle for anything less, but to make the most of who I am, what I can do, and where I am. I’m in this crosspoint where I’m young but also old. Where I am uncertain, but also determined. Where I’m frustrated, but at peace. Where I’m lost, but also on a path.

I graduated from high school a couple months ago and was honestly sick. I was tense and tried to hold onto temporary things. I was so mad that I broke things, even myself. I remember my English teacher pulling me aside and telling me that he noticed that I had become so thin. Of course, the first reaction was to lie, but that’s what I had done that whole year, lie about how I felt and who I was. Most people were not going to be honest, but I was sick and tired. I told him how I was feeling now and the reasons why I had lost weight. Only now do I realize how toxic high school is from the words and emotions that had weighed me down most of that year.

I wasn’t happy at that point and thought the world was and had conspired against me to be miserable. I was sick of my life and everything in it and wanted to begin again. I wanted the last three months prior to graduation to have never happened. I never wanted to see that damn high school again or the people. I wanted to move on and never look back. I was so sick of it.

Yet, I still held onto meaningless relationships, memories, and places. I was working retrospectively to a time where I was happy. That’s the thing about nostalgia; it tricks into thinking times were better than they actually are. Sure I have happy memories, but they were only happy because it was good then, but they wouldn’t still be happy if I had lived them over and over again. Change happens. Happy then isn’t happy now.

Life isn’t stagnant, it changes and we can choose to change with it or be defeated by it. I picked change. And I don’t look back. I keep in contact with a few people, and that’s good enough. I work towards my accomplishments and give no one else blame or credit but myself. I explore something new every day instead of keeping a routine. I’m doing things, I am changing every day.

The place I’m at isn’t ideal in any way. What I’m currently doing at this place isn’t great in any way either. I’m working towards a purpose, but I’m asking myself if this college degree will get me this idea of success and happiness most people connotate with it. It’s work and I’m physically exhausted in trying to do that work, but that’s not the thing asking me if I should quit, but it’s what do I really want in life? College, career, marriage, family, retirement, nostalgia, the afterlife. Well anyone can accomplish that. It’s orthodox, it’s expected. I want experiences. I want adventure. I want the unexpected. I want to travel the world and learn lessons elsewhere from the classroom. I want to eat foods I can’t pronounce. I want to meet people I would’ve never thought to live in such a way. I want to sit still and look up at a clear sky with the stars and open sky. I’m passionate about many things and curious about everything else. I don’t want to be tied down to societal expectations or by anything. I want to be free. I want to be in the moment.

This isn’t about finding myself, but this is about living. I don’t want to follow a path, I want to make my own path. I want to be myself in a world moving around me.

Most importantly I’ve realized I never want to settle, but be satisfied.

the American Dream

I think it’s a goal of everyone to be better. We push ourselves towards our dreams and imagine achievement. We want to be better in different aspects whether it be who we are or how we see the world. We feel the need to eat healthier, work harder, and become successful.

We want to be better than where our parents got, better than our co-workers who got that promotion, better than our peers who made that perfect grade, and our friends who are making their mark on the world.

We get caught up in being better than others, when really the only person we can be better than is ourselves from yesterday. To compare ourselves with others often overlooks our own talents and our own little successes that they cannot see having value. Competition and rivalry aren’t bad, but sometimes we work on improvement that should be focused somewhere else.

This need to be better is something that has always been a working progress for me. I used to be caught up in being better than friends, peers, strangers. But it’s their successes I’ve lusted after and was distracted in making my own successes. Now I’ve realized what their goals aren’t what I want and that I have worked towards nothing that has made me happy. I want to be happy with my own successes and towards my dreams even if people don’t see the value in it, but I’ll feel as I become better every day than the last in working for a reality of a dream.