We’re responsive creatures, always yearning for some kind of carnal or spiritual fulfillment. So many of our conversations are dedicated to that one question: What makes us feel alive? For me it’s neither people nor adventures. It’s the shapes and colors that make up a city I love.
When I took a semester off in Cali, all I could think about was how much I missed NYC and how exciting it would be to blog about college life there. But four months after I returned to NYU I’ve only written four posts on my adventures here in the Big Apple. Ostensibly it’s because I just haven’t had the time. In reality it’s because I’ve kind of lost confidence in my writing. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good a writer as I would like to be, and I certainly don’t think I’m good enough to capture the sense of wonder I feel every time I step out onto the streets.
I’ve experienced no shortage of epiphanies walking on the same blocks, seeing the same things in different ways. Paradoxes run riot: tattoo parlors next to corporate banks, museums sandwiched by takeouts, apartments stacked atop liquor stores, and chains of buildings in alternating colors – black, tan, maroon – adorned by staircases twisting like rusty vines. It’s homogeneous yet dynamic, indifferent yet inviting. None of it makes any sense yet it all feels so right.
It’s a convoluted maze with a constellation of neon lights and no exit. Horizontal and vertical lines converge to make intersections that look exactly the same whether you’re in FiDi or Dumbo. You’re lost every time you’re out, but you never feel more at home. Last night I was strolling through Washington Square Park in the nicest weather in a long, long time, and I see the arch–silver silhouette inked against the black sky–illuminating the fountain and everyone around it. It was just so liberating. In that moment I actually felt so blessed to be alive. And I just couldn’t help wondering: Why then? I’ve seen that sight countless times in the past year and a half, and I’ve walked through the park in every weather, every hour. But that moment last night was the only time I’ve felt that kind of relief, the only time that those random bursts of sadness and rage I experience everyday felt so far away.
Despite the incurable bleakness of life and the shittiness of human nature, the world itself is still as sublime a vision as you will ever imagine. That vision alone is worth the effort of waking up every morning with a smile. It’s far more beautiful than life is ugly. It’s far more sincere than people are fake. Loving a place is far more satisfying than hating everything else.
Live with hope and live with love, if only for your surroundings. Find somewhere you love. See as much as you can before it’s too late.
I woke up in 2015 with a writer’s block. It’s been two and a half days and I have absolutely no idea what to say. Normally I just stare at my laptop for ten minutes and I’ll be bursting with random topics to rant about, but now there’s nothing. Nothing nothing NOTHING. It’s incredibly frustrating.
The thing is, I usually look inward for inspiration. Like, I’d form this mental map of all the places/people/issues I care about, and when I empty my thoughts one or more of those “points of interests” will automatically jump out. It’s much faster and easier way to generate ideas than actually walking around and observing things. Unfortunately, it also means that I’m always drawing inspiration from my memories, from experiences I’ve had rather than adventures I will have. After more than 100 posts, I’m afraid that I may have ran through my map, explored all the points I’m plotted.
And I don’t know what to do. Make a new map of new experiences? I won’t have any until late January when I go back to school, and I hate doing updates on my banal life. So I don’t know. I’m stuck. I hope not for too long but at the moment I got nothin.
This is a shitty first post. I’m sorry. But at least it can only get better, right?
This is my one hundredth blog post. I honestly cannot believe I just typed that. My first two attempts at blogging ended after the initiation entry, so I didn’t have that much faith in myself when I created a WordPress account five months ago. But alas, here I am: a century of entries later and I’m still writing. I won’t lie and say that I’m still blogging with the same frenetic ardor as I did in July or August. As the novelty of starting a new activity fades, so do the enthusiasm and creativity to maintain that said activity. That’s not to say I’m tired of blogging, of course. I still love it, and reading comments from my fellow bloggers still makes my day. It’s just that now it takes me a lot longer to come up with new subjects to discuss and interesting stories to compose. But I guess challenges are what make blogging worthwhile, and I am happy that I managed to accomplish something in 2014.
I’ve never been one to make and stick by resolutions, but most of the goals I unofficially set 11 months ago were related to grades and internship and building a future (so cliche, I know). And since I’ve been at home for 7 of those 11 months, none of those resolutions were realized. I never did decide on my second major or score an internship or join new clubs or apply to study abroad programs. I spent the majority of 2014 lamenting on what could have been rather than achieving all I set out to do. But with only a week left of this particularly painful year, I find myself appreciating the lessons being idle taught me. Joining the blogosphere improved my writing more than any class I’ve ever taken. Being stuck in the house renewed my love for reading, which all but evaporated after two semesters of binge-reading textbooks I had little interest in. Finding something to do when you’re given nothing is just as rewarding as completing the work you’re given.
Enjoy the rest of 2014, everyone.
Don’t we all wish we can relive the sweet torture of applying for colleges? Sacrifice months of sleep and sweat and hope on bullshit resumes and essays for a bunch of rejection letters. Best bargain I’ve ever made. But I guess it was all worth it in the end, because I can’t imagine having a better time at any other school than NYU. Anyway, the following essay is the only one I didn’t get to use at all, and being the narcissist I am, I figured it would be such a shame to let such a rare piece of literary genius go unread. I’m kidding. Sort of.
Excitement surged through me as I zoomed down a familiar double-black route on Mammoth Mountain, relishing the crisp scent of the pines and the gentle swish-swash of my snowboard against the soft snow. The biting wind sliced into my cheeks as I descended the almost vertical slope. As I leaned on my heels to make a right turn, I lost balance and crashed into something sharp. My torso lunged forward in the familiar manner that preceded a painful fall. I dived into the snow and felt ice seep into my fleece jacket, piercing my skin. Gasping with the cold, I sat up and ripped off my goggles. The sepia landscape blossomed into vibrant colors. Pine trees blotched the bumpy snowy slopes like splashes of green and brown paint spattered across a rough, white canvas.
I found myself in a vividly familiar yet unsettling situation. Lost and alone.
Seeing bark and rocks scattered dangerously over the snow, I realized that I had landed in the off-boundary territory, far from the lifts and farther from the lodge. The darkening sky indicated that I had less than a half hour left before the lifts closed for the day and I would be stranded. I was about to dig out my cell phone to call my parents when I remembered that there was no signal at this altitude. I began to panic. Taking a deep breath to calm myself, I assessed my options. There were but two: to head down this haphazard route or to walk up the steep hill, carrying my board. While the latter was much safer, it may not take me back before dark. My gut instinct was to storm down the rocky slope and take the last lift back to the lodge, but images of broken limbs kept flashing through my mind, like a typical scene from Wuthering Heights. But I was accustomed to taking risks. Taking risks handed me detentions and injuries, but it has also fostered my decisiveness.
Deciding to trust my gut again, I dashed down the craggy hill.
Getting lost on a mountain may not have been particularly profound, but it demonstrates the potential of my tendency to take risks. If audacity combined with naive curiosity was the catalyst that drove me to wander off so much as a child, perhaps it can give me the courage to find unexpected opportunities as an adult. Though life in college will undoubtedly present more complex dilemmas, I believe I will manage as long as I remain calm and take calculated risks.
I hate doing updates on my stupid life because I realize how very dull it is, but I really have nothing interesting to blog about today…and since I’m doing that NaBloPoMo thing I feel kind of obligated to write something everyday, so please bear with me today.
Anyway, I went to Vegas with my parents last week for some weird business show. Actually, they went to some weird business show while I just slept till noon and walked around by myself like the loner I am. And it’s bizarre because Las Vegas is the embodiment of everything I loathe about a city, but somehow I absolutely love being there. I despise LA because it’s high on style and low on substance. Vegas is all sparkles and no jewel, like a Porsche with no engine or a bird that can’t fly (seriously, if I were a kiwi I’d always be wondering why I exist).
As I walked on the tourist-infested streets and through the smoke-infused casinos/hotel lobbies, I just couldn’t think of any reason why someone my age (a.k.a under 21 without a fake ID) would ever come to this place. Okay, the shows are pretty good but what the fuck are you supposed to do during the day? All around me I saw all these giddy Asian tourists posing next to fountains and palm trees and that fake Eiffel Tower with the same enthusiasm as if they were posing next to Snoop Lion or the Louvre or, you know, the real Eiffel Tower. It’s all just so freaking bizarre. I mean, you’re literally looking at a bunch of plants with the same degree of reverence as you would at the Buckingham Palace or something. And that’s why I fucking love this stupid place, because of the pride it takes in its own phoniness. Like, I know I make money off of people’s shallowness and ain’t nobody gonna stop me.
If a place that so blatantly exploits consumerism can garner even more tourist attention than places with fascinating historical and cultural backgrounds, then it really does deserve some kind of admiration.
I have a shitty memory. When I listen to a song or poem, it’s always the impression, rather than the lyrics/verses, that stands out to me. What I mean is that I usually remember how a song/poem made me feel rather than what it is about. I can sing along to my favorite song when it comes on the radio, but I certainly can’t recite that shit by heart. Having said that, there is a part of one song that I can recite in my sleep:
Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]
Hello, hello, hello!
Yep. That tiny portion of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Okay, on a good day I can probably recite this part, too:
With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
Let’s be honest, the last four lines are more like this:
The reason why Teen Spirit is always hovering someone deep in my subconscious is pretty simple: I’m a confused, reckless, stupid teenager. Granted, I only have about five months left in this wonderful, screwed-up stage of life, but I don’t think I’ll be able to escape this teenage mindset until many years later. I’m still aimlessly searching for a sense of purpose, and I’m still trying to find my meaning in a world that has no meaning. I remember the lyrics because I’m still trying to figure out what they really mean. And it also helps that the lyrics are just so damn catchy.
So I guess we’re down to the final two months of 2014. I really should be used to it now, but it still amazes me just how fast time flies by when you’re not paying attention. My attitude about time is pretty clear: I always wish it would slow down (except during math class and awkward conversations). That way you can actually take a moment to access your situation and understand the person you have become. We think we’re jogging side by side with time, living life to our own rhythm, then one day out of the blue we’ll wake up all confused and frantic, wondering how the fuck we went from smoking pot in the principal’s office to raising six grandchildren.
I’m not even 20 yet, and I’ve already had a few of those epiphanies. Just an hour ago I was flipping through the channels on TV when I stumbled into a replay of the 2008 Wimbledon Final between Nadal and Federer. It was one of those matches that you remember exactly where you were when you watched it. I was in a hotel in Christchurch, New Zealand, with my parents and brother. We were on a two-week road trip to the South Island during second semester break (we had four breaks). Fast forward six years: we’re in America, my parents are divorced, and my brother is almost half a foot taller than I. Was that really six years ago? It seems to have happened both yesterday and a million years ago, like a Victorian tragedy that occurred this morning. How did it all happen? I think if I had a moment in those last six years to reflect on what was happening, I would have seen what was to come. But retrospection happens after everything’s said and done; you can reflect and lament, but you can’t fix jack shit. Time doesn’t do pauses or rewinds.
So with that said, I’m totally prepared for November to zoom by as quickly as October did, although one thing we can do to slow life down is to take it one step at a time. Focus on smaller things rather than the larger, more abstract picture. I think taking part in the NaBloPoMo and writing one post a day may help with that. Making every second count, one post a time.
You know how people say stuff like, “there’s nothing like the first time,” and “go with you first choice,” and “first impressions speak volumes?” While I’m sure that’s all true, I just never understood the hype with “firsts.” Yes, with some experiences nothing can surpass the original. Like watching slapstick movies: the first time you’ll probably laugh your ass off, the second time you’ll probably think it’s stupid as hell, and there will be no third time. Or like being pranked: first time is funny, second time you just wanna kill that person. Some things are only meant to be experienced once.
But I think most things are meant to grow on you. Like books. When I first read A Game of Thrones last summer, I didn’t really get it. Sure, it was dramatic and interesting and very graphic, but the writing was so archaic and confusing and long. Very, very long. I only finished half of it (a.k.a 400+ pages) before I went off to college and forgot all about it for the next half a year. Then my friend got obsessed with the adapted HBO series and, being the trend-follower I am, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. Two weeks later I caught up with all 34 episodes released to date (at that time, just after Season 4 aired). Since the series was so epic, I thought it was only fair to give the books another chance. And the second time around I picked up details I missed the first time, cleared up plot points I didn’t understand before, and just got hooked all over again. I don’t know if this is a good example, but basically what I’m trying to say is that the second time can be even more enlightening and refreshing than the first. Maybe we need familiarity to shed light on the original. Some things deserve a second chance.