Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I feel like March has lasted like a million years but also one second.

→ DID ←

WORKED ON MY NOVEL. A week or two ago, I decided to change the narration/tense from third-person past to first-person present, and I’m really enjoying the rewriting process. I wrote almost every single day last week, and even though I’m busier this week, I’m still hoping to make time for it and work at it some more.

EDITED (ANOTHER) MUSIC VIDEO. This one is the official version! Check it out in this blog post :)

WROTE MORE SONGS. They’re all pretty bad, though, but it’s a learning curve.

COLLEGE. This has been a BIG one. The decisions have been rolling out in waves, and all of us seniors are just kind of standing there and being hit by them because we can’t do anything else. I got into UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine (which I mentioned in my last post), and UC Santa Barbara. I was waitlisted at UCLA. UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Harvard should all be coming out this week, though, so I don’t know. Judging from right now, though, I’m probably going to end up at UCSD.

PLANNED/ORGANIZED/RAN NATIONAL HONOR SOCIETY INDUCTION. One of the biggest projects that the National Honor Society board undertakes is inducting the new members into NHS. It was honestly kind of fun for me--I love doing administrative work, and so organizing it and making sure it all ran smoothly was fun (but stressful) for me. It was kind of cool to see it all come full-circle; just two years ago, I was in their shoes, walking down the aisle with candles. This year, I inducted my brother and all the other sophomores/juniors who got in. It’s actually kind of insane.

WENT TO A WOMEN’S CONFERENCE! Some of the women from my church (including my mom and I) signed up for a women’s conference at a church nearby! We listened to Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson talk about relationships with our church family, our actual family, and our friends. It was my first women’s conference, and I enjoyed it.

PRETENDED TO BE MY MOM FOR A DAY. My mom went away this past weekend, and my dad had to work, so I was the Substitute Mom for the day. I drove my little sister to her soccer game, then all my siblings to lunch, then both of my brothers to their activities as well. I was so exhausted that when I got home, I immediately took a two-hour nap. I honestly didn’t know driving was that tiring, but now I’m much more appreciative of my mom, haha.

READ A LOT. I went on a reading streak last week because I didn’t really have anything else to do. Honestly, I don’t really remember what I read, but I remember that I read some really good books. I’ve found that reading is kind of my “fuel” for writing--if I don’t read, I don’t remember to write, but if I do read, I get inspired to work some more on my book.

HAD MY SECOND JOB INTERVIEW. LOLZ. I had a job interview at an ice cream place that occurred at 10:15pm at night, which would’ve been kind of shady had three other people not been waiting after me. It went pretty well, but I think my erratic summer schedule is a deterrent for a lot of employers. I’m actually debating just not getting one.

CONTINUED TUTORING. I’ve got a fairly steady $30-a-week job tutoring someone, which I think is going fairly well. I actually enjoy tutoring, so I’m glad that I have at least a little bit of money to spend.

QUIT THE DRUMS. I’ve been trying to keep it up for a few months, but ultimately I decided it wasn’t worth the financial investment. It’s hard to practice, man. (But my brother is going to stick with it, and he’s probably going to try out for the high school drumline next year, so I’m excited for him!)


EXERCISING. Kind of? On average, I’ve been going to the gym about twice a week. Which really isn’t that good. I’m trying to up that to three times a week, with running three miles a day in between, so we’ll see how that goes.

EATING. I’m really, really working to control my eating. Honestly, I just like sugar too much, and since my family likes both healthy and unhealthy foods, it’s been kind of an up-down curve with it. Prayers that I’ll be more self-controlled.

TRYING TO STUDY?? AP tests are coming up and I have no motivation.

WRITING. I’m writing more than ever, mostly because I have a lot of time, which I hope will be fruitful in the long run.


FIGURE OUT WHICH COLLEGE I’M GOING TO ATTEND. UCLA waitlist decisions don’t come out until after May first, so until then, I’ll probably just be waiting. For now, though, I’ll most likely be attending UCSD. Everything is still up in the air, though.

literally just everything.

How are you doing? What have you been up to?


Friday, March 24, 2017

I was walking through icy streams that
Took my breath away
Moving slowly through westward water
Over glacial plains
And I walked off you
And I walked off an old me
Oh me oh my I thought it was a dream
So it seems…

You and I, there’s air in between
- maggie rogers, “alaska”

I’ve been listening to Maggie Rogers’ song “Alaska” on repeat all day long. It’s one of those songs that stuns you with the sheer beauty of its lyrics and production. Please take the time to listen to at least the first minute of it before continuing with this post.

Isn’t it gorgeous? The steady beats, crisp vocals, imagery that conveys exactly what it means in the simplest of terms--all of it made me feel like I was wandering through a forest, dipping my toes in cold creeks and walking barefoot through piles of multicolored leaves. Something about the song hitches in my chest and makes me want to listen to it over and over again, and then create something just like it--before I realize I can’t.

Pharrell sums it up nicely in the video below. He was one of the first ones to hear the song when Maggie first produced it, during a master class at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, and his reaction while listening to it is something akin to what I feel like when I listen to “Alaska.”

“Wow,” he says, after the song is finished. “I have zero, zero, zero notes for that. And I’ll tell you why. It is because you’re doing your own thing. It’s singular. It’s like when the Wu Tang Clan came out, like no one could really judge it. You either liked it or you didn’t, but you couldn’t compare it to anything else. And that is such a special quality, and all of us possess that ability, but you have to be willing to seek, and you have to be willing to be real frank in your music, and frank in your choices...and sometimes, most of the time people will say, ‘Okay, I’m going to make this kind of song,’ and so it ends up sounding like something we’ve heard before, or felt before, and I felt like what...your whole story, I can hear it in your music. I can hear the journey of you having that kind of background, and I love your singer-songwriter verses.”

At the beginning of the video, Maggie states that she grew up in a rural area, and she initially attended NYU to make banjo music. Later, however, she discovered that she had an affinity for electronic music, and had trouble reconciling the two styles until she finally came up with something that meshed both the folksy and electronic together.

And the thing is, you can hear all of that in “Alaska.” I can hear everything she says in the video through “Alaska,” and I can’t explain it, but I hear it. And there is no way I can replicate music like that, because it’s hers and I can’t make something that’s not mine.

This isn’t just for music, either. It’s for writing, or for painting, or for creating things in general. At some point, you stop making things that reflect others and start injecting your own experiences into them, and they become yours. Sometimes it happens unconsciously, sometimes subconsciously. I don’t believe anyone can consciously force style to emerge--it’s something that has to incubate for a while and hatch when it’s ready, which for different people is at different times. When it does come, though, there’s a kind of God-given blissful rightness that comes with making something that you know is one hundred percent your own.

I don’t know if I’ve quite found my own style yet, but I know it’s definitely emerging, piece by piece. Whenever I sit down to write something, whether it be for the blog or for a book or just for myself, I feel a tangible level of excitement that wasn’t there a year or two ago. I’m not quite sure what the source of this excitement is--fulfillment, confidence, comfort, freedom, maybe some of them, maybe all of them, maybe none of them. It could be just plain old pride. But what I do know is that I love to write, that I believe I was made to do it, and I’m going to keep doing it until I can’t anymore. Style will come to me, just like it did for Maggie, just like it did for the thousands and thousands of painters and musicians and writers and filmmakers before her.

It’s a waiting game, where the ones who win are the ones who are willing to wait.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A while ago, I made a music video to a song I wrote for my little sister. I didn't really like it and thought I could do better, so my friend Rachael and I re-shot the scenes with my little sister in them, and the final product is something we like a lot more.

Happy very belated birthday, Kayla!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

It’s not as bad as you might think.

Sure, the mood’s a little stifling up here. A little apprehensive. We’re situated smack dab in between the two other mountains, the Rejected and the Admitted. Rainbows and stars and fireworks are shooting off from the Admitted mountain; the Rejected kids have a giant storm raging over theirs. Here?

It’s still, calm, quiet. Turmoil aplenty, with little sense of peace until after May first. Some of us are  clustered to the side of the mountain nearest the Admitted pile, hoping to catch a wayward spark. Others sit near the Rejected pile, resigning themselves to what they consider to be their inevitable fate. Some are closer to the middle than others. Like me.

Hope? Desperation? Agony? Anger? Regret?

Some people follow those trails and end up in the same spot where they began.

I’m sure I’ve gone through the five stages of grief already. Denial, anger, bargaining, whatever, acceptance. It wasn’t too brutal. Waitlisted isn’t the same as rejected, but in a sense it’s almost worse. There’s no clean break. We learn the actual decisions in two months, which is almost half a year after we applied. Until then, we have to plan, prepare, and carefully calculate our moves. What we say to other people when they ask. What we're going to do if we're not accepted, which we try not to think about but have to prepare for anyway. If everything was up in the air before we heard back, now our--or, at the very least, my--plans are all shot to the moon.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. If I had gotten into UCLA, I probably would’ve gone there. It’s got a great campus ministry, it’s in a city (which I wanted, because I’m a city person), it’s a good school. I know a lot of people who have gone there. At the moment, I’m considering UC San Diego, which is also a good school, and am waiting to hear back from UC Berkeley. Davis and Irvine aren’t quite options. Irvine’s too close to where I live. Davis is planted in the middle of some cow fields. Which could be nice, but I don't think it's really my type.

But who really knows?

One of my major goals for high school was not to regret that which I could control; i.e., how hard I worked and how much effort I put into it. And I don’t regret not working hard enough. I put my heart and soul into everything I did. I studied hard; my GPA was within range of those admitted. I worked my way through the club system, made sure I stood out from the other students who clamored for board positions, and ended up president of two different clubs, vice president of one, and editor-in-chief of newspaper. I maintained my old blog for three years and redefined my vision and brand to start this one. I wrote a few articles that were published on a couple of different sites. I wrote three books. They sucked, but I still wrote them. I did what I loved. Sometimes I wonder if the college admissions officers smiled, vestiges of condescension in their eyes, at my personal essays, most of which chronicled my ambitions to become a children’s book writer, and admitted some aspiring scientist, doctor, or future Nobel Prize winner in my place.

Which, honestly, good for that scientist person. He or she is probably going to save a lot of lives someday.

But I don’t regret anything.

One bit.

So if UCLA waitlists me? That’s on them. If they end up rejecting me? That’s on them, too. I don’t need them to reach the kind of success that I dream of, because ultimately, in the end, God’s in control. I know what He has in store for me is greater than what I have for myself, and when one door partially closes, it’ll either swing open and let me walk through, or close and make room for another to open.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Apathy is like a kudzu vine.

It sprouts up where it shouldn’t exist, thrives where it shouldn’t thrive, climbs over walls and buildings and people and wraps around us and pierces our hearts and minds. It’s so rampant that sometimes I actually get angry.

How many times have we heard the phrase I Don’t Care? Or Who Cares? Or Nobody Cares?

Why don’t we care?

Why are we afraid of caring? Or, at least, coming across as people who care about a lot of stuff?

I’d say that this is particularly true on high school campuses. For some reason, the kids who seem to not really care about anything are actually considered “cool.” They don’t care about school, so they don’t care about doing homework or doing well on tests, and because they don’t care and are, in a sense, “defying the system,” they’re cool. On the other hand, the nerds (aka people like me) care about doing well in school, so we pour almost all our time and energy into studying and doing well. And, as a result, we’re labeled nerds, which in this context has a derogatory connotation. Because we care.

And more often than not, I find myself pretending not to care when, deep down inside, I know I’m lying to myself and everyone around me. When I say that I “didn’t really study,” what I really mean is, I probably didn’t do as much as I could have, but I still looked over my notes and completed my assignments. When I say that I “really don’t care” about an assignment but do it anyway, I’m lying--I do care, or else I wouldn’t do the assignment.

So then why do I even care about coming across as apathetic towards schoolwork, when clearly it isn’t the case?

I think our society largely emphasizes selfishness, because of this, apathy is selfishness: by showing that we don’t care about others or the things around us, we prove that we only care about ourselves. If you’re not genuinely invested in something or someone, you won’t get hurt. And people don’t like to be hurt. So we take the easy way out and choose not to care about something or someone.

But we should care.

We can’t care about everything. But we shouldn’t pretend that we don’t care about the things that we do care about, because the truth is that God cares. He cares about you, and He cares about me, and He cares about all of us enough to send his own Son down to save us. He made us to care.


Care about your family. Care about your siblings and parents, how they're doing, if there's anything you can do to make their lives easier. Care about their futures, and if you care about theirs, then you’ll care about your own as well. Because in the future, you might be all that they have.

Care about your future. Care about the things you put in your brain, care about being curious, care about the things that make you happy, and about the remedies to the things that don’t.

Learn new things, even if you get nothing from them but pure enjoyment. Sit by the side of the road at sunset and think, even if the drivers on the road stare at you and think you're weird. Perfect the art of waiting. Bring cupcakes to people for no reason. Give more, of both the things that you have and about the things that you don’t.

Because life is full of ironies. It’s funny how the things that, on paper, look like they’ll attract less comfort--for example, giving away money--will actually cause you to reap more joy than you would have if you'd simply kept the money to yourself. And it’s funny how the people who “are always on the lookout for Number One” seem to be the most miserable.

Burn that kudzu. Spray it with plant killer. It’ll keep threatening to come back. Don’t let it.

Life is too short to not care.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Pictures! Taken! By! Me! Wooo!

I’ve had a wavering interest in photography for a while now, so when Jordan wrote an Instagram caption stating that she was looking for people to shoot with, I jumped at the chance. The last time we shot, she took the pictures and I was the model; this time around, I tried my hand at photography and editing and actually quite enjoyed it! Immediately following are my favorite shots from our little session.

Hope you enjoyed those!
Have you ever done a photoshoot? Do you have any tips and tricks?
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