Summer Sixteen

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Alas, September is here. And that means summer is officially over. Over. Well at least in California it is. I hear on the East Coast, they don’t start until after Labor Day. Am I jealous? Maybe just a little.

This summer was beyond extraordinary. Yes, I’ve been saying that every summer since 2014, but in my defense, each one just keeps getting better. I had the amazing opportunity to attend Stanford University’s High School Summer college this summer and I could not have asked for a better 8 weeks. Before I left, many wrinkled their noses at me and asked why I chose to take more school during my no-school period. Well, yes I did go to school, but that’s really not at all just it.

First of all, I got to live on the most beautiful campus. From the moment I stepped onto the Farm, I was entranced, but as I was able to explore more and more parts of Stanford, I fell in love. It wasn’t just the weather, which by the way, is so beautifully unreal. It wasn’t just the gorgeous palm trees, cool breeze, or intricate buildings. I fell in love with the vibe, the culture, the people, and the way of life.

I was lucky enough to be stuck with a group of amazingly talented and interesting people, with diverse backgrounds and bright minds. We quickly became a family and formed friendships stronger than most I have held for years.

I was lucky enough to choose from a wide selection of courses and take classes that I would not otherwise have been able to. Who knew I was into etymology and classics? Not me, until I enrolled in Greek and Latin Roots of English. I thought I knew what fiction was. Apparently not because I was introduced to a whole new way of writing, reading, and thinking when I took a Fiction Writing workshop class. Both classes were taught and taken by charismatic, intelligent, and creative people. I learned much from my professors, but also from my classmates. Never had I been so excited to attend class or participate in discussions. Never had I been so intellectually stimulated. Never had I found a space where I was so interested and comfortable in academics. Were the classes difficult? At times, yes, but the challenges were all part of the thrill and I learned to appreciate them.

Most importantly, I was lucky enough to be a part of a community culture that respected diversity and tolerance. Where people from all around the globe could gather and learn from and with one another, some (like me) for the summer, and others, for years. Where learning didn’t just happen inside the classroom, but outside of it. Where I learned that many of my beliefs and views were not inclusive of the whole picture. Where listening to other people’s experiences and thoughts fed my own and helped me to understand things just a little bit more from their perspectives.

And in the end, I concede, it was very difficult to say goodbye to the new family we had just formed, but the sweetness counter-weighed the bitterness. August 13th and 14th marked the weekend I cried for almost 48 consecutive hours saying my goodbyes. As my car pulled away from the curb for the last time, I honestly thought I felt my heart break. As I boarded my flight, I felt a sinking in my stomach and had my eyes not already been swollen and puffy (seriously, my mom thought I had pinkeye when I got home) I would’ve let it all pour out again.

I’m a crier. It’s not something I’ve been able to control because when I get emotionally attached, I can rarely hold back the stream so it’s what I’ve just accepted. But I’m also a lover and I can say from the bottom of my heart that this summer has been finding new ways, things, ideas, and people to love. More than I expected and more than I signed up for.

So thanks, summer sixteen. For the ride, the lessons, and the memories. It was wonderful.

Advertisements

The hammock that swings

Apologies for an overdue post, but as you may know, I am enrolled Stanford’s high school summer college program this summer. One of the classes I am taking is English Fiction Writing and the first assignment was an object description paper. We were to describe any object of our choice, and I chose the hammock that swings in the Cardenal courtyard. 

The hammock that swings in the Cardenal courtyard calls to me. The sheet of pastel oranges and reds looks flimsy from afar, but is actually intricately woven and supports the weight of four men. Nudged by a gentle breeze, the carriage sways from side to side. Tightly-fastened ropes hold the apparatus intact, and when plucked, hum as a bass does. They attach the firm, layered cloth to thin wooden planks, which are then chained to strong, black, steel beams that dig into the grass and dirt.

The hammock that swings in the Cardenal courtyard seems to represent tranquility. Its steady rhythm promises an alleviating session. Its constant movement searches for an equilibrium that has yet to be reached. Yet, the hammock stays and sways, its stripes of reddish hues flashing in the sunlight.  But when tipped a bit too far, even in the slightest, it gives, flipping over entirely, and emptying its contents onto the grassy bed over which it hangs.

A small tear on the frontal right hand side is a result of excessive weight and mishandling. But despite its flaw that is to some a sign of instability, the hammock that swings in the Cardenal courtyard remains a popular site for tired students seeking relief, peace, or simply a view. At dawn, the hammock is a platform to watch the sunrise. In the afternoon, under the blazing sun, it functions as a warming mattress, a tanning area even. As the day closes and the sun goes back to bed, frequenters return to see the sunset and when night penetrates, the hammock invites sleepy individuals to gaze up at twinkling stars amidst a quiet sky of black.

Brock Turner – Rapist.

dickhead

Brock Turner raped a girl, got away with it, and the Internet is exploding. These are my honest, uncensored thoughts.

 

I am honestly so infuriated with the way the media is covering the Brock Turner rape situation. He is a rapist. A white, privileged,20 year old Stanford rapist but a rapist nonetheless. Stop showing me his swim times at the end of the articles concerning him. I do not care how fast he can swim. He raped a girl and that rape is not cancelled out by the intensity of his extracurricular activities.  In fact, stop referring to him as “All-American Swimmer” and title him how he should be titled: ‘Brock Turner’, ‘Turner’, or ‘The defendant’. And stop posting his clean-cut Stanford yearbook photo alongside the articles. Use his mug shot. He is a criminal and this is a crime.

Also, to the father of the rapist, I am wholly disappointed that you continue to defend your son and with such absurd backings. If I were to take advantage of an intoxicated and innocent person, damaging his/her self-worth forever, for my sick sexual desires, my parents would be so disappointed in me. They would not try and alleviate the seriousness of my actions by saying that it was only “20 minutes of action” out of my “20 year” life. They would not in any way condone my actions. They would encourage me to make amends as best I could (although such a crime can not in any way be fully amended for) and accept the appropriate measures against me. Your son is a rapist. It does not matter how long it took him to perform rape on someone. He raped her. If you truly think that your son is the victim here because he lost his precious swim scholarship and steak-eating abilities, I am even more disappointed. The victim is the girl he so willingly stripped of respect and security. If this is how you parent, it is no wonder your son has committed this atrocious, unspeakable, animalistic, disrespectful crime.

Next, to Judge Persky, shame on you. Rape is rape. A crime is a crime, despite the characteristics of the perpetrator. To provide such a light sentence is a violation of the justice system altogether. A heavier sentence might scar the boy? What about the way he scarred that girl, when he dragged her outside, removed her clothing, bruised her, scathed her, and used her as a sex object for the pleasure of his erection? He is a legal adult and should be held accountable as one. 6 months is a light slap on the wrist for an enormous crime. Criminals are not defined by their attributes – they are defined by their crimes. A middle-aged, undocumented, uneducated, poverty-stricken rapist is just the same as a young, Caucasian, middle-class, private schooled, privileged rapist. If you have bought into the arguments that Brock Turner is undeserving of a real punishment because of his athletic record and age, you are not a judge. Someone like you should not hold the responsibility of providing fair sentences, as the laws of this land guarantee. I do not usually tap into cliches, but this one holds some worth. “With great power comes great responsibility” and you have proven that you cannot efficiently carry out that responsibility. I do not know how you can look yourself in the mirror, how you can face what you’ve done, and how you can sleep at night, but evidently, you have found a way and that just speaks in of itself for your character and lack of morality. You are an embarrassment upon the justice system. Shame on you, Judge Persky, shame on you.

And finally, to the criminal himself. You can drape your school’s title, your swimming abilities, and your drunken state all over your crime, but you cannot escape it. You are a rapist. You are a sex offender. The court system can go easy on you and you can evade serious punishment, but at the end of the day, you are a rapist and you know it. You have faced a decision: concede and atone or deny and run. You have chosen to deny and run, the way you ran away from the crime scene once you were discovered. And for that reason, you have thrown the worth of your education and your achievements away. And the worst part is, you are lying to yourself. You can try to tell yourself you were not at fault and you can blame it on the alcohol, but you and I both know that alcohol does not rape people. People rape people. “People”, meaning you. And the further you try to run from your crime, the harder you try to dodge the bullets, the harder it will be for you to forgive yourself and move on. I’d like to believe that the Stanford admissions board is quite particular in its decisions, which leads me to the conclusion that you are not stupid. You know what you did and you know you are at fault. But if you fail and you refuse to own up to it – to take responsibility, you will be forever hung up on this. You will forever be the person you were when you raped that girl. And so in the end, you lose.

 

Here are the links to which you can analyze the story yourself:

Victim’s Open Letter (read in court):

https://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/heres-the-powerful-letter-the-stanford-victim-read-to-her-ra

Turner’s father’s Letter in Defense of his son:

http://junkee.com/this-fathers-letter-defending-his-rapist-son-is-all-the-proof-you-need-that-rape-culture-exists/80081

More coverage of the story:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/06/father-stanford-university-student-brock-turner-sexual-assault-statement

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/06/06/a-steep-price-to-pay-for-20-minutes-of-action-dad-defends-stanford-sex-offender/

The Stanford Rapist’s Father Offers An Impossibly Offensive Defense Of His Son

http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_29962311/former-stanford-athlete-brock-turner-years-prison-or

These are only a few sources that I have read and that have contributed to my views. I encourage you to read multiple sources, yourself, before forming your own opinions.

Where I’d Rather Be

(all photos are mine, taken from my trips abroad)

Sunny blue skies, glistening sea

Where the bridge is awake and music fills the streets

Perched on a ridge, sipping iced tea

Prague, Czech Republic is where I’d rather be

 

Winter in July, the air here is sweet

Late nights spent happily down by the sea

Exploring the bush, the people, the city

Sydney, Australia is where I’d rather be

 

Vendors and shoppers keep the avenues upbeat

Warmth fills my heart for I’m with family

It is always alive – this city never sleeps

Bustling Hong Kong is where I’d rather be

 

But beauty and wonder is not reality

For relief I travel into my past fantasies

Here, nights are spent restlessly dreaming of sleep

Anywhere but here is where I’d rather be

A tribute to stila eyeliner

Jet black

.016 oz

$22

 

Stila stay-all-day, you’ll never know your worth

Inky black lines, tattooed onto my lids

Never to smear, never to leave

until I gave the word

 

Stila stay-all-day, you’re what I strive to be

Your smooth, effortless glide

Waterproof and undeterred,

Liquid flexibility

 

Stila stay-all-day, you really stay all day

Through wind, through tears, through accidental eye-rubs

When I break down in public restrooms

And the gates of hell flood out

When the rest of me breaks down

But not my pointy wings

 

Stila stay-all-day, you hold through

You stand boldly

My glistening orbs, though swollen and puffy

Retain their crafted rims

 

They say the eyes are the window to the soul

Well, you are their guardian angel

And though they may be weak and they see not all they should

At the end of the day, it’ll be okay

Because their border stays

 

Stila stay-all-day, you are my daily constance

I know not what I will receive

What life will toss to me today

But despite my teenage angst and craze,

I know that you will stay

 

Friendships fade

Loved ones die

Boys will change their minds

But amidst the volatility, when no one else remains

You always stay all day

 

To keep your pigment

To keep your shine

I know not much but I do know

My eyeliner will stay intact

Even if I cannot.

Why Blog?

Firsts are said to be difficult, because no one is good at anything on his/her initial attempt.

I’ve had my share of firsts (*cue in Lana del Rey*” I’ve seen the world, done it all, had my cake now”) and I can attest from both personal experience and observation that this is true at least 98% of the time.

But, as Confucius once said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Orrr, less philosophically put, there’s a first time for everything. So voila, here it is. The awkward, unsure, first blog post on my site.

Always a fan of straightforwardness, I will answer the question I asked myself before setting up this site: Why blog?

I decided to commit to this blog for a variety of reasons. The most superficial one being that I love to write. And though drafting wild fiction and pretty poetry is a focus of mine, I also take pleasure in jotting down my feelings, thoughts, and ideas, however unorganized and sporadic they may be. I’ve found that regular and informal writing not only taps into my creative lobe, but allows me to unshackle myself from the everyday burdens of life.

I’m not here to complain about my life – no one wants to read that. But, I am here to scribble down my opinions, my views, my notions, and my reflections. Pieces will primarily fit into the categories of : People, Places, or Things. However, I guarantee I will diverge from these central sub-units and discuss other far-reaching or abstract aspects of life, vent (a little), talk politics, gush over whatever I’m currently obsessed with, critique eateries, share media, recommend books/shows/movies/etc, and pose pensive questions that I will likely not have the answers to. This may consist in the form of poetry, prose, or something in between.

So tag along with me on my journey of blogging. My goal is not primarily to reach an extensive audience or garner excessive feedback, but to document my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and hopefully to develop them along the way.

One down, however many more to go…