Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bookstores: An Escape from Busyness

Over the course of my seventeen years, I have never felt so hipster. I wear patterned pants, buy myself flowers, and dream about owning a collection of records, old books, cacti, and mason jars. I realize how much I stand out from a crowd of my own friends and here’s the weird part-- I actually enjoy it. It’s really been full circle from my freshman years where I would do anything to blend in with any crowd. I was talking to my friend at lunch about clothing trends and these days it seems like you’re either hipster or preppy and I am far into the hipster trend. The hipster trend goes beyond clothing though and in many cases, it’s become a way of life. I am a hipster because to me, it means being an individual and enjoying the small little things. I don’t do things because they’re not mainstream or because it’s a hipster thing. I have an appreciation for Wes Anderson because he pays so much attention to detail and sticks to his own unique type of movie. If hipsterdom had a statement, I believe it would be “you do you.” Hipster culture is an embrace of obscurity and how okay it is to like things that are strange and nonsensical. Things don’t always have to make sense and there is a willingness to stray from a certain path.

In such a busy world, where we are constantly moving but not constantly thinking, I love going to hipster/“artsy” places. I have realized the importance of leaving the house and quitting an addiction to Netflix. There is just so much present and available that is wasted. Besides the touristy people at places like farmer’s market, art museums, and bookstores, there is always a stream of people talking, appreciating, and not distracted. As much as I love technology, it’s made our culture absentminded. I can no longer stand the awkwardness of being alone. Skimming Facebook or Twitter is the perfect solution and somehow we’ve accepted a person on their phone by themselves as social. Bookstores remain one of my favorite places because people are off their phones, willing to have a discussion with a stranger or enjoying a book that represents who they are. You are free to be whoever you want in a bookstore and no one will judge you. I never feel like any time passes because I’m so lost in the world that I’m presently in. Bookstores have always created a cozy little environment shaded away from the reality of the present.

I’m not sure why we’re busier now as a culture than ever before. In some cases, I overplay my own busyness because it’s not acceptable to be idyll. In art museums or little ramen shops, it’s okay to not be doing something productive. It’s okay to be having a simple conversation or looking at the beauitful thinks from past to present.

I want to do something meaningful with the rest of my summer so hopefully art class and Mandarin class will inspire me. I think I’ll post short travel diaries of my day to day life and I will try to take some photos. xx

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Retro Rad Faves

I love this city. I love my friends. I love hydrangeas. 
From a single photo, can you tell which one is me? I have come to accept and feel invigorated by being an individual. From printed pants to a spontaneous purchase of beautiful hydrangeas, I am one of a kind and it is not a bad thing. So in this blog post, I've decided to write a little "how to" on being retro-rad, as I so often brand myself.

Sidenote: This week has been magical, truly fantastic. It's been one of the most social and fun weeks that I've ever led in my four years of high school. I haven't had the time or energy to sit down and write a thoughtful post, which I hope can change very soon. I'm leaving for Korea on July 2nd, so we all know about the spotty internet connection. I hope to reign the inner shopaholic and throw all my energy into art and Mandarin, an odd combo I know. I think this blog will function best under short little travel diaries instead of the traditional schedule that I'm soooo good at following. Thanks for your patience xx

I don't know how to do a tutorial on how to be an individual so instead, I'm going to highlight some of the things that I've fallen in love with in this past week.

Wes Anderson is truly my favorite. He is the hero of hipster culture everywhere. I don't know where to begin with his greatness. He is a movie producer/director that has always lived by his own vision. His first goal in making a movie is not to make money but to display art across a screen. He is wildly talented but chooses to make small, independent movies that people don't normally know about. All of his movies are so beautiful and meticulous. Every single detail looks purposeful. Each has a bizarre plot that only works in the Wes Anderson world. In his personal style, he is no different. He embodies individuality and charm through his fashion and quirky preferences. Like me, he is stuck in the past. He enjoys novelties such as typewriters and record players. The world he creates is so absurd and whimsical. It's both obscure and delightful. I appreciate the fact that he is able to be himself in every single way. I hope that when I get a job, I find something that I truly enjoy doing. I want to do something that represents every single facet of my personality and skills. 

I, like any good hipster, enjoy buying things. Here is a little snapshot of some things that have captured my attention.
-Kate Spade black bag: who knew I would ever buy a black bag? It's so fierce.
-printed pants: I am now a proud owner of 2 pairs of awesome printed pants
-flowers: always buy yourself flowers. who needs men in a world where women are fully capable of buying themselves flowers?
-cute little headband/bandana thing
-pineapple printed merchandise
-cat paintings
-books: you can never have too many books

I have a lot of strange interests that are uniquely mine but can be respected by other people. I love cacti, baking, pretty things, and flowers. I love aimlessly walking through buildings without a set purpose. I enjoy mason jars, cookware, and cats. Record players, cassette tapes, and typewriters are all my jam. You just have to be willing to smile while standing out. Stay tuned soon for more retro-rad finds. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reflection on Mona Lisa Smile

6/17: delightful day in Berkeley 
Summer break has been the most joyful time of my life so far. Every day is a fun hang out with someone (usually J and M) and I'm able to shop, eat delicious food, and watch movies. While I'm on the verge of bankruptcy, I'm enjoying the last time I'll ever have a break like this. 

I watched Mona Lisa Smile yesterday and it's a movie about Wellesley and women's education. It's set in the 50s and a couple scenes even made me cry knowing that at one point, women were so repressed that their only purpose was marriage. 

The main character, played by Julia Roberts, Miss Watson decides to teach art history at Wellesley because she wants to be inspired by tomorrow's leaders. Instead she finds that most women end their successful college careers with a marriage instead of a career in law school. Maybe we look at this movie today and be proud at the progress women have made since then. Now Wellesley sends more students than any other school to Harvard Business School. We can't stop here at this immense progress. Progress happens when people question the state of things now. Change happens when just one person watches a movie and asks "why aren't there any smart women protagonists?" I have a hard time with stay at home moms. I know motherhood is a very important job! I know that motherhood is consuming. I can't even take care of a baby squirrel for two days. I know. I also think that women have a lot to contribute everywhere from the political arena to schools to the fashion industry to publishing to business, everything. Maybe it's a personal struggle. I want to be there for my kids but I would never be able to sacrifice my livelihood for them (maybe this changes when you get older). I want my kids to see me as a strong female leader who is doing things with her life. 

This movie made me that much more excited for Smith and everything about these next 4 years. 

Today I went to Berkeley with some friends and I had the most amazing day! I don't need a guy to do fun things and why not squeal about cute coffee shops and the most retro rad shorts you've ever seen with someone who would care. I'm not saying I'm done being a romantic but maybe I can learn to compromise. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What's Up? I Graduated!

Hi everyone!! Sorry I've been so MIA recently. Life has finally calmed down but a lot has changed in these past six days. For one thing, I'm no longer a high school student. It doesn't feel real yet that I won't ever be returning to those salmon colored walls or complaining about teachers or whatnot. I've had a wonderful four years and I couldn't have asked for anything better. However, if anyone asked me to stay in high school for another month, I would be exasperated. I'm ready to move on to a new stage in life.

Yes. That is a cat. No, the Smith mascot is
not a cat. I just really like cats...

As a graduated senior, I just have a few pieces of advice for anyone, freshmen, upperclassmen, fellow seniors, middle schoolers, anyone.
(I have A LOT more photos but my dad is being a lazy butt, I'll make a collage later. peace) 

You do you
It's one of those phrases I naturally picked up around senior. Yes, it's cliche and yes we've all heard it. It's probably the most important thing I learned through these four years. High school, especially junior year, was so great because I was able to find comfort in being myself. I went in to high school as a rather self conscious and shy girl. I could be loud but new people intimidated me and I wanted to be in the awkward corner by myself. It wasn't really until junior year that I became totally comfortable with who I was and doing whatever made me happy. You will find people who enjoy your company if you are genuine and true to yourself. There has been so much literature about this topic and it's something we must always remember in daily life. I'm so fortunate to be able to talk about my love for cacti or the paradox of bowling shoes, decorate a cat on my graduation cap just because, and embody my love for retro rad in everything that I do. 

Five college friends! 
Join clubs 
This goes along with you do you. High school was so great for me because I could partake in so many of the things that I loved. You get tired really fast if you only put 110% in academic work. After having such a low point sophomore year, I rebounded by putting myself out there and doing things that made me happy. Sure taking calculus as a sophomore looks great on a transcript, but that wasn't something that I enjoyed doing. When I started writing for the local newspaper and doing radio, I found it so much more fulfilling. That energy for clubs and other non-school work related things continued junior year, the epitome of a great high school year. I loved loved loved being part of my high school newspaper and the public speaking family. It's really important to find your interests and join them, whether that be track, a writing club, or yearbook. 

I don't have many regrets of high school but one thing I do regret is not exploring enough. Fourth quarter of senior year is really when my social life started. San Francisco is a beautiful city and I wish I had had the opportunity to visit more and take in the culture. It's a shame that I started liking museums and other cultural events starting junior year. I became a full on hipster since then and I have no regrets and no plans to turn back. There are so many wonderful places to visit anywhere and taking advantage of that is something I can't stress enough. 

These are some of my newspaper friends :) 
I haven't told many people the story of sophomore year but I feel like it's an important story for everyone to hear. A lot of people have misconceptions of my academic performance. I did take many honors and AP classes but the thing I will take away from high school is my tenacity to get myself out of the hole. Calculus was a terrifying experience for me and one that I learned greatly from. After getting a terrible grade first semester, I almost thought college wasn't an option anymore and that I had to find different dreams to pursue. It was a dark winter and I didn't want to wake up and face the next day. I didn't do anything drastic but I poured all of that self loathing and anger into things that I wanted to. Even though I could've stopped and gave up on everything, I worked even harder that next semester and continuously throughout. It's never the end and there is always another chance to prove yourself again. It hurts me to see other friends suffering from the same problems that I had. I just want to encourage everyone to work hard because nothing is impossible if you work endlessly. 

Life, not fantasy

College rejection hurts, a lot. It feels like your life is kind of at a dead end because some prestigious institution doesn't want you. At one point, college admission becomes kind of arbitrary as I hope I've made clear in a lot of college posts. Self worth does not come from gaining an acceptance letters, it comes from inside. I was crushed when I didn't get into the New York school of my dreams but I realized that paths open up and that now I am going to the one place where I meant to be. Life works out in the end, and enjoy the ride. Let failure be a lesson not some death sentence. The pain of sadness makes the sweetness of happiness that much greater. 
She is one of the greatest people I met in high school.

Love can hurt
I never really thought that I would have a boyfriend in high school. If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you have probably at least skimmed over a rant about S. Our relationship was both great and rocky because it was the first time either of us had made such a serious commitment. Relationships aren't just about going places with someone to call your boyfriend, as I had thought freshman year. Just be ready for the huge responsibility of sharing your life with someone. I wish I could've ended on better terms S but I realize that he's not really worth my time. 
We were backwards cap
friends. She's a friend from

Reach out for help
At times we think we can do everything on our own but that's such a lie. We need friends and teachers and parents/guardians etc that can stay by with us. During high school, I truly made some of the greatest friends that have been there for me through everything. H (the girl in the picture) is truly someone special to me. We were together through fate by our last names (together we're Ha and Ya) and she's been such a great confidante and advice giver. I probably would've never decorated my cap with a cat without her encouragement. Throughout everything I did, whether that be class, mock trial, public speaking, newspaper, I'm going to remember the people more. 

Be Thankful
I will always be thankful for these four years and the opportunities I was able to have. High school has ended and I'm grateful for being able to have that chapter in my life. I will always strive to be my best self and find the things that light my soul on fire. High school has been very rewarding and a truly awesome 4 years full of suffering, pain, joy, and happy days. Thank you for following me thus far and I can't wait to share my next 4 years with you! WOOOOOOO 2014! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

What are you doing, Adventure Time?

Adventure Time is my FAVORITE show. I've been watching Gossip Girl lately but it pales in comparison to my love, admiration, and dedication for the show. Sure I haven't watched EVERY SINGLE Adventure Time episode, but I love the character arcs, the backstory, and the whole premise behind the show. I love the fact that the illustrators and writers use the obscurity and randomness in order to give a feel good message. Lately, I've been a little bit disappointed with Season 6 and AV Club. 

Season 6 has been focusing on Finn's development as he learns what it means to become a person. It's a sentimental time for me as I'm moving on from high school and learning how to live my own life without someone holding my hand the whole way through. So far, we've learned about Finn's dad's existence and how his life is kind of in a rut. 

In the latest episode, Breezy, Finn tries to have noncommittal flings with a bunch of girls in order to feel something. He longs for emotional connection but the only way he thinks he can have that is if he makes out and has a physical connection with a bunch of girls. He rejects Breezy, the bee that is attracted to his flower arm (I know I sound crazy), because of his perception of her (he's a human, she's a bee, kind of an issue). While her love for him began with attraction towards the flower but ends up seeing what a great guy Finn is. Finn just isn't ready to leave the emotional connections he had with Princess Bubblegum and Flame Princess behind. He is healed by Breezy's sacrifice (she lets go of her independence so that Finn can be saved) and regains his arm. He doesn't realize it was her because his heart and mind are still too young to fully grasp the emotional connection.

It sort of reminds me of the guy I liked freshman year vs S. I wanted a relationship so badly freshman year even though I didn't understand what it entailed. I thought it was just going out all the time and doing fun things together. While that is a big component, I learned junior-senior year that a relationship is the responsibility of having to support someone while they also support you. It's a weird sense of dependence and trust. 

I did not really like this episode though. Although it has a great message and reflection of the hook up culture in today's world, this is not what I watch Adventure Time for. I started watching and falling in love with this show when they showcased obscurity and randomness but also managed to include a heartfelt message. This just seemed like a contrite effort in order to stir something. My heartstrings were tugged a little but the episode fell flat in my opinion. 

I miss the Simon and Marcy days where the story is solely about them. There is no parallels to the world we live in, just the world of Simon and Marcy. Yet the message of growing up, abandonment, love is still able to shine through. That ability is what I admire so much about Adventure Time. I don't go to see "real world" stories told in crazy art and strange characters. 

I absolutely adored the episode Bad Timing because it focused on Lumpy Space Princess's growth in her own character realm. That episode was so sincere towards her feelings yet I felt the heartstrings tug when she talked about how she always loves more and how she's not a big enough entity yet to watch her lover walk into someone else's arms. 

The folks at Adventure Time seem to be working too hard to give off a particular message and I wish they would go back to the Simon and Marcy days, or even the Sad Face days.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Can't Even Watch TV Anymore

For a Spanish project, my group is writing a small skit about the Powerpuff Girls. Each group chooses a well known movie or TV show and writes a basic script. Solely for educational purposes (haha, right), I was watching some episodes of the Powerpuff Girls. It was one of my favorite shows as a child so it's a little nostalgic to hear that background music and see the flashing lights. I stumbled upon the episode Rowdyruff Boys (Season 1, episode 12) and was thoroughly pissed off. Perhaps every week, I'll review some kind of show and look for some aspects that piss me off. If you want to see any particular show reviewed, please comment! I love hearing feedback with you guys. So here another musing/rant begins. 

I know as a kid I didn't pick up any of this. Instead it just is ingrained into your brain. Sure this is a dramatic situation but hear me out. How can we expect young woman of the future to be strong, confident leaders when they grow up hearing that merit only goes so far, that they are inferior to men. 

➊ Ingredients that compose boys and girls
Apparently girls are made of sugar, spice, and everything nice. Boys are made of armpit hair, snails, and a tail of a talking dog. Just as girls are forced to believe that they must be composed, nice, and beautiful, boys are given the impression that they must be tough and insensitive. 

There's this one guy in my newspaper class who I feel sorry for. He's a class A douche bag. However, he also won a local contest for best poetry. He writes pretty good papers and is undeniably intelligent. He never lets that side show probably because of society. He has to act like the only thing he cares about is girls and water polo. I'm sure not all his despicable actions are just a faux exterior but he probably has a lot of issues deep down that he can't express in any other way except hyper masculinity. 

➋ Boys are stronger than girls
When the Powerpuff girls try to defeat the Rowdyruff boys with brute strength they fail. Maybe it's physical anatomy to say that boys are stronger than girls. Maybe not. I just hate that this show perpetuates the idea that girls are weaker and must turn to cheap tricks to win in society. The end does not always justify the means. 

In my middle school PE class, some of my friends always did the amount of pushups or loops around the track to get the A on a boy's scale. If girls had to do 4 (idk the exact numbers) pushups to get an A, boys had to do 6. I was a weakling so I stopped well before that. The scaling was definitely unfair though. 

➌ Girls must resort to using their beauty to win
This is the part that pissed me off the most about this particular episode. The assistant to the mayor, Ms. Bellum (we never see her face, just her beautiful body), encourages the girls to use their beauty and physical asset in order to aspire weakness in the Rowdyruff boys. The girls win when they show up with huge eyelashes and sparkles everywhere. They kiss the boys and the boys vanish into thin air. 

I feel like that is a statement repeated everywhere, even in the innocent TV shows that children watch. Girls aren't as good as guys so they must turn to other methods. I hate that so much, the constant need to appeal to guys. In the tech world, when Marissa Mayer was featured in a beauty magazine, the world went crazy. Smart girls aren't supposed to pretty. We are in a society that values beauty over content. It makes me sad knowing that I was one of those girls who decided to be smart because I thought I could never be pretty. 

I hate the stereotype that girls climb the career ladder using their physical traits instead of merit. This society is not ready to admit that nothing is based on merit alone. Why else would tech companies be so unwilling to submit their stats about diversity? What else explains that 70% of Google employees are white males? 

Let's change the world, one critique at a time. xx

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June Bug

It's finally June! I can almost taste the freedom and joy that summer brings. I'm conflicted about the end of high school. I know more schooling awaits me but the hand holding will officially be over. I was so sad on Friday when the last issue of the Mirador (my high school paper) came out. It would be the last time that I ever participated in the Mirador and I didn't even do that much for the last issue (this is where the seniors get a break and the wide eyed newcomers take charge). I teared up a little inside to see my name back in the staff writers category instead of feature editor. I knew this moment would come but I can't help but feel a little bittersweet.

It's weird seeing everything around me and knowing that a huge change is to come over in the few months to come. Other aspects of college are becoming so real: like the fear of being alone to do your own laundry at late hours.

I talked to S for the first time in maybe 5 months? And it's good to know that we will never be friends again. You would think after 5 months of no communication, holding a conversation shouldn't be that hard. I feel like this confirmed the fact that I'm never going to be friends with him or talk to him again. I asked if he ever wished we had stayed friends and he said he didn't think about it ever. I feel kind of pathetic that I cared so much about this person who forgot me almost instantly. Walking around with him made me realize that he's not even the same person that I fell in love with. He's someone completely different, someone that I don't know. I can confidently say that I don't like him anymore. So that's the end of the chapter, for good.

I've just been compiling a list of all the things I want to do in the Bay Area before I leave for Korea and eventually college:

+ Mission Peak (Kate Spade has a marvelous guide)
+ Mission Peak hiking in San Jose 
+ Snowflake Tea House
+ Hit up some art museums like SF MoMA and De Young
+ aquarium and exploratorium in SF
+ Brunch in Berkeley x2392132 (cute waffles and fancy ice cream)
+ zoo in Oakland or SF
+ boba or bubble tea as some people call it 
+ Music festivals pleaseee
+ City Lights bookstore!! 

Emma is back and I will definitely cherish what is left of school and summer xx