2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016



I had to revise this post a bit because the initial draft was super depressing.

Truth is, 2016 was pretty rough. Pretty rough for anyone, I think. Politics happened. Horrific acts of terrorism and violence happened. Plenty of controversy arose, with human conflict at its core. Nobody, it seemed, got along, and society became even more polarized.

Personally, it was a harder year for me. I had lots of social issues, particularly at school, that I've already talked about on here and don't want to elaborate upon for multiple reasons. I don't adapt to change quickly or very well, so to experience it in such a stunted period of time was a challenge for me.

But with the lowest of the lows, I had some pretty great highs this year. My family and I were able to visit Europe this year, which was a bucket list item for me. I'm honestly so thankful I had that opportunity, and I hope to visit again soon, both for missions trips and for pleasure.

I was able to procure both my license and a car within the same year, which was fantastic and is currently working out pretty well. Even though I still haven't driven on the freeway by myself, and even though I did get into a minor accident involving a pole and my license plate (nothing serious), I haven't wrecked any other cars yet. Which is honestly fantastic.

I’m writing a book right now, off an idea that I got in the fall. Throwing myself into doing what I believe God has called me to do is fantastic, and I feel nothing but a whole lot of agony (because stringing words together is never as easy as it seems) and a whole lot of fulfillment. I tried out photography for a while, which was cool. I’m starting to blog more and write better (hopefully).

I got closer to my blogger friends. It's kind of strange how it happened, but as a result of Olivia's Tweet, a bunch of Instagram group chats began and we all started following one another and the community is pretty tight-knit now. To my wonderful and amazing aesthetic baegels (Aaliyah, Abbie, Kate, Mary Shelley, Olivia, and Grace), you're all pretty incredible. I shared with them stuff I didn't share with people in my real life, and we learned that we could trust one another and that we're not random middle-aged men on the Internet, lol. And beyond my main people--Morning, Ava, Mackenzie, Rosie, and everyone in that super chat--you guys are the real deal, and I'm thankful to have gotten to know you better. Who knew that pancakes and waffles would create such a chain reaction? Also--shoutout to Jordan for being the first Internet friend I met in real life.

I'm still working on my relationship with God. It took some setbacks, particularly in the fall, but I'm trying--trying to consistently pray and read my Bible and remember to not have a narrow mindset. I used to have a wider perspective, but it's so easy to shrink it back. It’s so, so easy to forget about everything, and especially about Him, what with the distractions and shiny worldly things around me. I'm just thankful that He's there and that He knows me better than I know myself. Sometimes you have to take two steps back to take one step forward. And I know He has a bigger plan for me, so I will be content and wait for what is to come.

I'm thankful for my parents. They helped me a lot this year, both loosening and tightening their reins on me when I needed it most. I'm glad I have their guidance in my life, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in this world.

I'm thankful for my friends, both old and new. Ella, you're one of the only people with whom I can go out and be creative, and I always love it whenever you and your family comes over. Your photography is prime, and you're a fabulous chord maker and song producer and video editor and fellow songwriter.

Rachael, I'm so glad we made those terrible videos together (the Chubby Bunny challenge? the Marshmallow Cookoff?) and became close. I'm glad I can talk to you about anything, including but not limited to: Jesus, boys, photography, the failings of Asian facial features (aka our double chins and teensy eyes), and life in general. I'm so thankful that someone can share my struggles, and you're truly a blessing to me.

Nikita, you followed my Silver Mess Instagram when no one else did, and you're a fantastic co-editor-in-chief. I wouldn't want to share the co-editor-in-chief-ship with anyone else. I wouldn't have kept those terrible New York pictures of you for so long if I hadn't liked you pretty well, and I'm excited to spend the rest of the year together.

Kaylee, we had our ups and downs but I'm glad we get to end this year on an up. Claire, you helped me a lot this year, and I'm thankful for it. We're the Core--don't forget that.

To Jess and Melissa: you're awesome youth group leaders and are cooler adults than I could ever aspire to be. Thank you for listening to my problems, diagnosing my sin issues, and guiding me through the years.

Isaiah, Elijah, and Kayla. You drive me crazy, and we fight a lot, but all of you grew so much this year, and I'm so proud. May there come a day when we can all be in the same room without arguing over something.

Thank you to everyone who follows this blog. You guys are the real deal.
This is literally turning into a yearbook entry but I'm honestly so blessed to have all of these wonderful people--plus many more whom I haven't mentioned--in my life.

2017 is going to be a big year for me. I'm hopefully going to graduate high school in June and move away to college in the fall. Which college, I'm not completely sure yet--I'll probably figure it out by April, if not March. But it's actually kind of crazy to think about--I'm going to move away. My home won't be my home anymore. 

I'll officially become an adult in late September, which is insane and something I don't feel ready for at all. 

I'll probably get my first job.

I'll finally be able to drive other people around legally at the end of January.

And though this year will be full of external landmarks, I'm hoping to make it full of personal ones as well. Beyond simply reading my Bible and growing in my faith, I really desire the opportunity to serve others more--whether they be strangers or acquaintances, friend or enemy--and not only serve them outwardly, but with a joyful heart internally. I'm in a good mood as I write this, which is probably the main reason for this, but I'm also hoping to control my emotions more and not let them control me. Whether I'm in a bad mood or a good one, I want to learn how to serve others in any way I can.

I'm also hoping to become healthier in my diet and lifestyle. I know that everyone says it in the new year, but I mean it. I just want to improve my general state of mind by eating less and better, by cleaning and organizing more frequently, and by exercising and pushing myself physically. I used to crash diet and want abs--and I mean, abs would be nice--but I don't have the time or the energy to focus on it right now. I just want to be healthier and feel better.

(The generic guidelines I'm setting above will probably be the death of me later on. Just warning my future self in advance.)

Lastly, I'd like to write better and more. Since I've now defined that it's what I want to do, I'd like to do it in a more structured and organized capacity, with various different intents. Articles, devotionals, analysis, fiction--I want to do it all, and I want to do it often. I'd also like to force myself to read better fiction, although it's hard because that kind of stuff actually takes effort.

Balance is key, and I'd generally like to be more balanced of a person.

But what I've learned over the years of setting goals and making to-do lists and failing is that nothing is ever really certain. All I can do is try my best, trust God, and trust it'll all work out in the end.


Who knows what's going to happen?


Thank You, Jesus.

SENIOR UPDATES IV

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Previous monthly updates -


→ DID ←


Went on Christmas/winter break. By FAR the best thing that’s happened to me this month. I’ve been getting so much sleep, it’s insane.


Finished the first season of Veronica Mars. My family doesn’t have Netflix, but we do have Amazon Prime, which is cool because I get to dredge up old shows that nobody remembers anymore! But I LOVED Veronica Mars. Veronica’s pretty, she’s smart, she’s capable, and she’s supposed to be my age (although rumor has it that Kristen Bell was 24 when she picked up the part). There’s a lot of exciting moments, and the overarching storyline had my heart pounding. Still a lot of unanswered questions, but I guess those’ll be answered in season two!


Was accepted to Wheaton College! I applied nonbinding Early Action in October, and I received my acceptance letter during the last week of school before break! It was honestly really encouraging to get an acceptance letter, and a small GPA scholarship to boot :) There’s a bigger scholarship that I applied for that’s still in the running, so I’m waiting to hear about that in January and February, but I’m thankful. Even if I don’t get into any other school, I’ll still be going to Wheaton--so I’M GOING TO COLLEGE! Woo!!!


Wrote 6k in one day. After my HaNaNoWriMo fail, I rallied and decided to try to finish my entire first draft by the end of the break. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do it, but I’ll let you know how it goes, haha. I’m just eager to get the first draft done and the editing started. 24k in; only about 16k more to go!


Helped out at the local senior living facility. I went to a local senior living facility with two different organizations (Chick-fil-a Leader Academy and National Honor Society), and it was really cool. We were able to help the residents make sock snowmen (which were really cute, despite the fact that the button eyes were huge and looked like bug eyes), and caroled to the residents (which was also fun, even though we didn’t practice at all prior). I’m thinking about volunteering there or asking if they have a job I can do; I love old people.


Saw La La Land, Doctor Strange, and Rogue One. I’ve been seeing lots of movies with friends lately, and honestly, La La Land topped all. Since I usually watch the typical Marvel action-adventure kind of movies, it was refreshing to watch something different. La La Land has dancing, music, and witty dialogue, not to mention the most beautiful cinematography and color scheme I’ve ever seen in a live action movie. 10000/10 recommend. Go watch it. (Plus, the fact that it’s a little more indie than most movies makes me feel like a legitimate hipster.)


Baked a lot! I made cupcakes for one friend who wasn’t feeling well, cookies for a friend who went on a road trip, and Rice Krispies (which technically doesn’t count as baking, but whatever) for the teachers who wrote me letters of recommendation. Lots of fun. Lots of sugar.


→ DOING ←

Writing! I’ve been terrible at consistently writing lately--judging by the lack of posts on this blog--but I’m hoping to rectify that in the near future. The 6k-one-day thing was really cathartic, and even though I’m sure I’m going to cut 99% of those words, it was satisfying to see the paragraphs and paragraphs on the paper. I’m looking forward to finishing this draft--and after that run, I’m hoping to keep the ball moving.


College apps. I need to finish up some supplementals for UC apps and finish filling out my Common App ones and turn them in by January. I’ve been kind of slacking on it, so I need to pull through and finish it all.


Reading. I’ve been taking numerous library trips (honestly, I think I could live in the library), and I’ve picked up some promising books. Haven’t struck book gold yet, but I reread Flipped by Wendelin van Draanen and Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements and really enjoyed them. It’s getting harder and harder to find a decent middle grade book that I can finish and enjoy reading.


Trying to motivate myself. I’ve been slacking in the areas of Bible-reading, organizing, and cleaning, and I need to get stuff done. I’m going off to college in less than a year, and I can’t afford to be like this when I go off. Like seriously. I’m pretty messy.


→ NEED TO DO ←

Finish college apps. Hahahahahahahaha…


Go Christmas shopping. *cringes* I’m really great at procrastinating!


Clean. Urghghiapweobiidkskskksksksksksks.


Plan for next year. Next year’s gonna be a big one.

[Playlist]
“Clouds” by Trip Lee
“Hallelujah” (Tori Kelly version)
“Hallelujah” (Pentatonix version)
“Pop Out Revenge” by Social Club Misfits

Are you ready for the new year? Any fun things going on?

:)

Monday, December 19, 2016



I haven’t been looking at it the right way.
I know this because the past couple of days, I’ve been either lying around or I’ve been out with my friends. I haven’t been exercising, because my leg still hurts, but that just means I have extra time on my hands without added guilt.
I haven’t been writing. I’ve been reading a little. I haven’t been making.
I’ve just been laying.


It’s time for me to stop.
I’m done with lying on my stomach, staring at my phone for hours, suspended in that dreamy zone, half-wistful and half-jealous of other people’s lives. I’m going out to do what I’m supposed to be doing, which is to be serving, loving, and writing.

Productivity is hard to come by when there’s a lot of freedom, so God help me be productive on my own.

A BOY CALLED MISCHIEF

Sunday, December 11, 2016



I recently had the opportunity to tutor some kids at the local middle school, and man, was it interesting.
I was homeschooled from second to eighth grade, which I honestly thank my parents for, because I was one of the most socially awkward, unadjusted, oblivious middle schoolers in probably the whole state of California. I could show you pictures of what I looked like and samples of what I wrote during that time, but seeing them would probably make your face vibrate in agony from all the cringe. Because I was like that, I’m thankful I didn’t have to suffer the cruelty of public middle school education, which, according to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, is the exact opposite of heaven. (Diary of a Wimpy Kid might be exaggerated. Just a little. But I know that middle school--or any phase of life, as a matter of fact--isn’t a piece of cake, for anyone.)
As a reader and writer of middle grade fiction, I’m always curious to see and talk to and understand sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. It was especially interesting to see the ways the people there interacted--especially because they were all there for Saturday morning detention.
I’ve always been a rule follower. I’ve never really gotten in trouble. The slightest antagonism from anyone--teacher, student, adult--always makes my tear ducts super flowy. If I ever got detention for insubordination or whatever, I’d probably hole up in my room and cry for a bajillion hours and listen to lots of angry/depressed music. I’m not better than the kids I was tutoring--I have my own issues--but I could tell they were wired differently than I was.
So it was interesting for me.
The first Saturday I helped out at was pretty boring. Nothing super earth-shattering happened. But the second Saturday was honestly the trippiest Saturday morning I’ve had in a long time. (Especially since most of my Saturday mornings are spent sleeping. Being awake on a Saturday morning is trippy for me.)

It’s an awkward position, being a tutor. You don’t quite have the authority of a teacher, but there’s a sort of respect that middle school kids give you--you’re one of them, just older. And plus, you’re there to help them.
At the same time, though, there are kids who think they can get away with stuff. And there was this one particular kid--let’s call him Max (not his real name)--that just kept pushing the limit.
It all started when I noticed that he was playing 2048 on his computer. (Remember 2048? That game that was popular, like, three years ago? Yeah.) There was a little pop-down on his screen that let him play 2048, so there he was, grinding away at his keypad.
I peered over his shoulder. “Why are you playing that?” I asked. “Focus on your work.”
That was the beginning.
He gave me this super wide-eyed, half-fake-innocent, half-dang-it-I-got-caught look. Then he clicked back to his work.
Let me just pause here to interject that these kids get freaking Chromebooks. The school district recently decided that it was a good idea to give all the schools Chromebook carts. So, like, if the teacher decided to conduct an online exercise, the class wouldn’t have to walk to the computer lab, like they used to. The teacher can just check out the Chromebook cart for the day, and voila! No extra walking, burned calories, or unnecessary wasted time! Perfecto!
Not.
I can see why that’d work with high school students, but in my opinion, it’s a little wasted on the middle school students. A lot of them can’t control themselves, which means--like Max--they can easily get sidetracked on YouTube or playing irrelevant video games.
Anyway, back to the story.
I strolled around the room, but this time, I had my eye on Max. Not going to lie, he looked kind of like a troublemaker. Like the kind of kid who likes to think that he’s smarter, but isn’t really.
And, sure enough, I caught him playing 2048 again, from afar. This time, I had a weapon: I managed to procure his name from a girl I was helping with math homework. “Max,” I said. His head snapped around. “I know you’re playing 2048.”
“Where’d you get my--oh,” he said. “From her.”
Then he moved.
Instead of being productive and actually getting his work done, the kid moved to a desk adjacent to the wall and turned around with his back to the wall, so that I couldn’t see his computer screen.
That riled me up, man. From that moment on, I decided that I had beef with the kid. I kept an eye on him. But then he started playing the game again.
You know how I could tell?
When you’re playing 2048, you only use the arrow keys. Because I’m taller than a prepubescent eighth-grade boy who's sitting down, I could see that he was using his arrow keys.
“Max,” I said. “I can see that you’re using the arrow keys.”
He groaned and made a hullabaloo, and finally the teacher noticed that something was going on. She asked me if he was giving me trouble; I said yes. So she took his Chromebook away.
Later, as I was walking up and down the aisles, observing and trying to see if anyone needed help, this girl--who was apparently a friend of Max’s--asked me, “Why did you tattle on Max?” Her voice was laced with sass--lots of “I’d-hoped-you-were-cooler-than-that,” “you’re-a-high-schooler-you-should-know-better,” and “you-broke-some-bro-code.”
Because I’m not a quick thinker, I didn’t have the best comeback of all time. Even right now, I can think of a million other things I could’ve said.
But you know what?
After the teacher took the Chromebook away, at least Max actually worked on homework, like he was supposed to.

the calm before the storm

Thursday, December 8, 2016




This week has been unusually quiet. I’ve been finishing my homework by dinnertime, which has given me time to...well, quite honestly, I’ve been pretty lazy. But next week--the last week before break--is going to be crazy, so I thought I’d take advantage of the extra time and write a blog post.
It feels like a brick has been weighing down my hands. I haven’t felt like writing at all. I’ve been trying to read, but nothing is absorbing my attention. I’ve been baking a lot, and eating a lot, and hardly exercising, because my leg still hurts. My driving has been getting crazier.

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